last update 1/20/2016
As we stand in Wuji posture prior to the first movement in Taijiquan, we lightly touch the point at the side of the leg. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) this point is called Feng Shi or “Wind Market”. It is located the following way: “When the patient is standing erect with the hands close to the side, the point is where the top of the middle finger touches.”- Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Cheng Xinnong, p.218.
Wind in TCM and the Wind Market:
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are external and internal factors that the body Defensive Qi (Wei Qi) must be able to tolerate. The first is External Wind pathogen. This wind can be Wind-heat (Yang) and Wind-cold (Yin) and there are small variations of those as we will see in this article. It is said that the Liver and Gall Bladder loathe Wind in TCM. Giovanni Maciocia describes wind the following way: “It invades the Cou Li, a space and texture between skin and muscles. This is the energetic space of defensive qi. The triple warmer helps all three layers: the skin, cou li, and muscles which are prone to stagnation, obstruction, entering and exiting of pathogens (wind, cold, heat, etc.) into the spaces and cause aches and pains.”
Wind-heat needs the body to cool itself and Wind-cold needs the body to heat itself. They are external wind variants, so the body needs to release them externally through the skin. That is why many of the herbs that address wind help release wind pathogen by exterior, through the skin by sweat. Taijiquan as well should be practice of raising your basal metabolic rate to lightly sweat and increasing ability to release cold or heat trapped inside and release externally through the pores.
‘Internal Wind’ is something much more serious. Wind is something moving, swirling, travels around and not in a fixed location. The classic description of someone who has internal wind is that they are sore and achy in different places at different times and pain is hard to pin-point. Wind causes muscle spasms, stiff muscles, tremors, involuntary twitching, and in the worst case scenarios wind-stroke which is the same as stroke in Western medicine. The Wind market means that winds will come and collect at this one point. If you have ever been to a market, people come from far away places and converge to sell and buy, exchange goods, ect. It is a very busy place. The idea here is that various winds from the body can gather here.
Wood Element and Gall Bladder
According to Traditional Chinese medicine the Gall bladder (GB) is related to the wood element. The Gall bladder meridian flows down to the feet and will assist you in your “rooting to the earth”. The gall bladder is responsible for the storage and release of bile. According to Taoist bio-rhythms, the time it best does this bile function is from 11pm to 1am at night during sleep. Gall Bladder has an influence on sleep quality, so it is important to be asleep before 11pm.
The Yang aspect of the wood element is the Gall Bladder, it helps qi circulation especially to the sinews (tendons). GB provides Qi to the sinews to ensure proper movement and agility. The Yin aspect of wood, the Liver, promotes blood circulation to the sinews. The sinews are the pullers of muscles and create action. In taijiquan we want the sinews are to be relaxed and naturally stretch to assist the muscles in storing and releasing power for fajin.
The book, “Manual of Acupuncture” by Peter Deadman, Mazin al-khafaji, and Kevin Baker says that the point Wind market (GB31) is an important point for treating wind, especially wind-damp that affects the lower leg. This can be sciatica, numbness of leg, heavy sensation in the leg with difficult sitting, contraction and pain of the knees.
Below this point near the knee is GB 34 called Yang Ling Quan, which is the Hui meeting point of the Sinews. Deadman writes, “The knees are the residence of the sinews (tendons).” This Gall Bladder point has a long history of being considered the main point of influence for all the sinews in the body.
Dai Mai (Belt Vessel) and GB 26
The Dai Mai or “Belt/girdle Vessel” in the TCM 8 extraordinary Vessels is heavily influenced by the Gall Bladder meridian and shares points. It touches the 12 meridians and assist the movement of qi in the channels that flow up or down vertically. It is the only channel or vessel that flows horizontally. One point in Particular is called Dai mai, GB 26 in the waist.
The master point for the Belt Vessel GB 41 is the confluent point for the Dai mai and is used to treat structural problems between the upper and lower parts of the body with origin in the waist and hips.
Gall Bladder and the Shao Yang Foot (Gall Bladder channel)
Let’s discuss the Gall Bladder and the meridian a bit more. The Gall Bladder stores and releases bile. The “minister fire” (Qi aspect of the Ming Men) warms the gall bladder so it can aid in digestion. Flow of bile depends on flow of Liver qi, and GB qi aids in ascending of Liver Qi. Smooth flow of bile helps the stomach digest, and the spleen to transform. GB’s decision making helps all 11 organs.
In TCM, gall bladder channel mentally has to do with making decisions. Healthy GB helps you make wise decisions. Imbalanced Gall Bladder is viewed as when a person is timid or confused about what decision to make.
In relations to Taijiquan practice
Yang Chenfu’s first principle is, “Raise the head as if suspended from above, or empty, lively, pushing up energetic”. When standing in the Wuji posture, you have to clear the mind and be in the present moment. You have to close thoughts and awaken the spirit. The tense areas of the body (sinews and muscles) must be found internally and released before beginning to practice Taijiquan. You have to decide to do this and the Gall bladder channel is the vehicle to assist this. The mental aspect of the this channel promotes courage and good decision making to benefit the whole body. Relaxing of the sinews and muscles will maximize Qi (Yang) and Blood (Yin) circulation.
3 Yang Muscle Sinew region in TCM
Shao Yang (GB), the pair of Shao Yin (Heart)
Shao Yang foot pairs with Shao Yin hand in the Open, Close, Pivot theory in TCM. That means the Gall Bladder pairs with the heart meridian and the spirit. The wood element is thought to be the ‘Hun” the ethereal soul or the ‘coming and going of the mind‘ and the Heart “fire” is the root of Shen or the “spirit”. That is why when we are in Wuji posture before beginning Taijiquan, it is of utmost importance to Raise the spirit and calm the mind. Otherwise there will not be a high level of progress if the mind cannot be focused during training.
So in conclusion, when standing with the hands at the side touching the Feng Shi point, just decide to clear the mind, relax the sinews, and root down as you raise up the spirit before beginning Taijiquan. Keep it simple. Jiayo!
“A Manual of Acupuncture” by Peter Deadman, Mazin Al-Khafaji, and Kevin Baker. Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications.
“Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion” by Cheng Xinnong. Foreign language press Beijing.
“The Foundations of Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Text for Acupuncturists and Herbalists”, by Giovanni Maciocia. Elsevier, churchill, Livinstone press.