Chinese traditional medicine

The traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) also simply known as Chinese medicine (Chinese:中醫學or中药学, Xue Zhongyao) or traditional Oriental medicine , is the name commonly given to a range of practices traditional medical practices developed in China throughout its millennial cultural evolution. The main medical theoretical foundations of traditional Chinese medicine include the five elements and yin-yang. Treatments are made with reference to this doctrinal frame of reference.

This medicine is based on the concept of balanced “chi” (or vital energy), which is believed to run through a person’s body. Those who practice this medicine propose that the “chi” regulates the spiritual, emotional, mental and physical balance and is affected by the opposing forces of “yin” (negative energy) and “yang” (positive energy). According to traditional Chinese medicine , the disease occurs when the flow of chi is disturbed and an imbalance of yin and yang occurs. The components of this type of medicine include herbal and diet therapies, physical exercises that restore health, meditation, acupuncture and restorative massages.

It is considered one of the oldest forms of oriental medicine, a term that also encompasses the other medicines of Asia, such as the traditional medical systems of Japan , Korea , Tibet and Mongolia .

Traditional Chinese medicine is based on a systematic theoretical structure that includes an important component of a philosophical nature. It incorporates in its principles the study of the relationship of Yin / Yang, the Theory of the Five Elements and the system of energy circulation through the meridians of the human body.

Its philosophical basis is the observation and knowledge of the fundamental laws according to which they would govern the functioning of the human organism, and its interaction with the environment, following the cycles of nature. Seeking in such a way to apply this understanding to the treatment of diseases and the maintenance of health with various methods.


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  • 1 Therapeutic techniques of traditional Chinese medicine
  • 2 Pathologies and syndromes
    • 1 Internal pathology
    • 2 External pathology
  • 3 Clinical Research
  • 4 Transcription, meaning and translation
  • 5 Legends and history
  • 6 Zhang Sanfeng, the Wudang Mountains and the relationship with Taoism
  • 7 Origin of the five family styles
  • 8 Dissemination outside of China
  • 9 See also
  • 10 Source

Therapeutic techniques of traditional Chinese medicine


They are the seven main treatment methods of traditional Chinese medicine:

  • Tui Na or Tuiná Adelma
  • Acupuncture
  • Moxibustion
  • Cupping therapy
  • Chinese Phytotherapy or Chinese Materia Medica (includes plants, minerals and animals).
  • Chinese dietetics
  • suction cups.
  • LUO needles.
  • seven-pointed hammer or plum blossom.
  • acupressure .
  • akebane needles.
  • Physical practices: exercises integrated into meditation practices related to breathing and the circulation of energy, such as tai chi , chi kung , or tai chi chuan , and other Chinese martial arts that can contribute to the rebalancing of the body. These practices are considered simultaneously, as prophylactic methods for the maintenance of health, and as ways of acting to recover it. Traditional Chinese medicine uses herbal medicine and other medicines as a last resort to combat health problems.

Because, according to their basic belief, the human body already has a vast and sophisticated defense system, capable of locating disease, and directing its own energy and resources to heal problems on its own. The objective of the efforts of external origin, would have to be centered above all, in carefully reinforcing the internal functions of self-healing, already present in the human body, without interfering in them. Reflecting this same philosophy, a Chinese proverb said this: “Any medicine has 30% poisonous ingredients.” Currently, traditional Chinese medicine is gradually incorporating various techniques and theories of Western medicine into its practice, especially those types of diagnostic tests without invasive features.

Another technique associated with these methods would be, for example , auriculopuncture , which is a specialty within acupuncture .

  • Acupuncture is based on the existence of a universal energy flow existing from the moment of the creation of the universe, which occurs among all its elements (planets, stars, etc.), as well as among the living beings that inhabit them, being said multidirectional relationship. For this reason, a single individual becomes part of the universal energy flow, which is reflected in the existence of an internal flow that is nothing more than the interaction that exists between the organs, viscera, tissues and orifices existing in the individual. Through needles of different materials such as gold and silver mainly, the proper functioning of our organs and viscera is stimulated in 365 different points of the human body, the flow of energy is unblocked. This great holistic vision,
  • Auriculotherapy acupuncture of the ear is a form of pseudoscience reflexology that consists of the supposed treatment of diseases by stimulating where it is claimed that the acupuncture or treatment points are located, in the ear; reflexes; each one related to a zone, area, viscera or organ; specific to the body, and its functions, not just physical.
  • Shiatsu : it is the art of balancing the different energies of the human body and increasing its vitality, this is supposed to be achieved through modulated pressures of the thumbs and hands. These pressures are applied to the body and often coincide with the Chinese medicine meridian. It can actually work as an effective massage and physical therapy technique.

All these techniques are supposed to help move the flow of energies and blood within the meridians, reduce pain and solve malfunctions and “energy” blockages that cause loss of health, as the rest of alternative medicines have not been documented. blinded clinical evidence showing better results than the placebo effect.

The other techniques of Chinese medicine include Chinese herbal therapy, Chinese Herbal Medicine master formulas, dietetics , exercise for example, Qigong and Chinese massage tuina massage system similar to Japanese Shiatsu.

Movement exercises play a central role, aiming to increase the Qi and make the meridians permeable for it. These include the various systems of Chi Kung , but also Taijiquan and the other internal martial arts . The exercises are used mainly in a preventive way, for the general maintenance of the spiritual and physical health of the human being, rather than as a treatment for certain diseases or ailments.

However, the positive effects of exercise on health are conceived essentially more broadly than for example the effects of sports activity in Western medicine .

Pathologies and syndromes

Internal pathology

In traditional Chinese medicine, internal pathologies are caused by internal imbalances, such as:

They would coincide with the western concept of chronic disorders.

External pathology

In the view of traditional Chinese medicine, external pathologies are caused by the external penetration of foreign factors (or negative Xie Qi agents) into the body: The main energy disorders show:

They would correspond to the western concept of acute pathology.

Clinical research

Clinical investigations carried out within the framework of Western medicine have shown that the regular practice of taijiquan has various positive effects on various aspects of physical and mental health , such as the circulatory system , the immune system , the perception of pain, the balance and in general on body control, mobility and strength.

Transcription, meaning and translation

In the Pinyin transcription , now in widespread use, the name of this martial art is transcribed as taijiquan. Other frequent transcriptions such as T’ai chi ch’uan or T’ai chi ch’üan are based on the Wade-Giles system , which is older and no longer used today, which is nevertheless still used in the context of martial arts.

The symbol tàijí (traditional Chinese: pinyin: tàijítú), representing the polar forces yin and yang , is often used in relation to taijiquan.

The Taiji ( traditional Chinese :太極, pinyin: Taiji) is in Daoism synonymous with the generator supreme principle, difficult to translate because there is no analogous concept in Western languages. It is usually represented by the symbol that is reproduced here, which tries to express the harmonic interplay of the dual forces Yin and Yang. This symbol is used frequently in connection with taijiquan, among other things in advertisement.

In taijiquan movements, this dualism of yin and yang plays an important role, which is reflected for example in the ten basic rules reproduced above (“keep empty and full separate”, “coordination of up and down” and “the harmony between interior and exterior”). Quan (Chinese: 拳, pinyin: Quán) means “fist”; in the context of combat techniques it is used when fighting bare-handed, that is, without weapons . A translation of the meaning of ‘taijiquan’ would therefore be: ‘Fight according to the supreme principle’.

The name taijiquan for martial art probably originated between 1853 and 1880 among adherents of the Wu / Hao style and has been used in all styles since the early 20th century. Previously there had been various other names for this martian art.

In the West, taijiquan is often called tai ji or tai chi for short. strictly speaking, this name is incorrect, since taiji has a totally different meaning in Chinese (see above). Since in some countries the martial art aspect of taijiquan, represented by the word Quán (Chinese: 拳), is sometimes completely in the background, the abbreviated name is partly used in full consciousness.

The Thai chi script appears occasionally, which does not correspond to any usual transcription and is probably nothing more than a spelling error. Taijiquan has nothing to do with Muay Thai .

Legends and history

The data regarding the history of the development of taijiquan are in part very contradictory. Most of those who practice taijiquan today refer to the existence of ancestors or roots from the 15th century or earlier. Otherwise the antecedents and roots would have been transmitted only within a narrow circle of people, a monastery or a family. Correspondingly, they often escape official historiography.

Zhang Sanfeng, the Wudang Mountains and the relationship with Taoism


Martial arts of China.

In the martial arts of China , taijiquan is counted among the internal martial arts (Chinese neijia), being related to the principles of Taoism. As the legendary founder of internal martial arts and therefore also of taijiquan, the immortal Taoist monk Zhang Sanfeng is often considered , who is said to have lived between the 10th and 14th centuries. However, its historical existence has not been proven. According to legend, he discovered the principles of internal martial arts in the Wudang Mountains , after observing the fight between a snake and a white crane .

Historical science knows no documents from the time when the legend of Zhang Sanfeng was first set down in writing, suggesting a relationship between Zhang Sanfeng and martial arts, or even mentioning him as the inventor of a particular martial art. . Some of the texts of the so-called “classics” of taijiquan bear the names of authors who suggest the existence of such a relationship. However, it has not been established with certainty when these texts were written and if the names of the alleged authors were not added later. This could have been done, on the one hand, to give greater weight to the texts, and on the other hand, to fulfill the Confucian virtue of modesty, or simply to emphasize the relationship with the Wudang Mountains.

Very occasionally there are taijiquan adherents who cite even older roots, which are said to date back to the Liang dynasty . Although this is a historically disputed claim, Taoist monks and representatives of contemporary martial arts in the Wudang Mountains argue that internal martial arts (and with them also taijiquan) have been preserved, developed, and made tradition since the time of Zhang. Sanfeng in the Taoist monasteries of the Wudang Mountains. It is added that until recently they would have rarely been transmitted to strangers. Thus, in the 17th century , the traveling monk of the Wudang, Wang Zongyue ( Chinese: 王宗岳), he would have taught his martial art in Chenjiagou village after being requested to do so, thus creating the founding of the Chen style.

The style of taijiquan practiced in the Wudang Mountains as part of internal martial arts and taught to a wider audience in the meantime differs markedly from other styles and is sometimes called the Wudang style of taijiquan, which should not confused with wudang tai chi chuan, developed in the mid-20th century by Cheng Tin-hung in Hong Kong .

Origin of the five family styles

There is reliable data on the history of Taijiquan until approximately the middle of the 16th century . At that time, General Qi Jiguang (Qī Jìguāng, 1528-1588) developed a new style of martial arts based on the 32 styles known to him. Although it is true that taijiquan is not mentioned in it, the book contains numerous techniques that are still part of the chen style of taijiquan today.

Thus, in the second half of the nineteenth century the foundations were laid for the so-called five family styles, each of which was developed, transmitted and preserved within a particular family. The teacher made the complete transmission of his style only to his children, so that the highest representative of a taijiquan style was at the same time the head of the family. An intense exchange took place between the different families, particularly at the time of the foundation. The five family styles are:

  1. Chen style
  2. Yang style
  3. Wu / Hao style
  4. Wu style
  5. Sun style

In the People’s Republic of China in 1956 , the different Chinese martial arts were summarized by the official authorities under the concept of modern Wushu, including taijiquan. The Beijing form, a 24-frame form based on the yang style, was introduced and was elevated to the category of “official” taijiquan, meaning it could be used in competitions. The traditional forms were suppressed and could only continue to spread in private circles.

On the basis of the Beijing Form, a form with 48 frames was developed in 1976, incorporating elements from other styles. In 1989 the 42-frame form emerged as a new form for competitions. The latter contains clearly recognizable elements of the different styles. In that same year, a competition form consisting of 40 tables was presented. Since 1999 there has also been in the Yang style a form composed of 16 and another of 10 frames.

Diffusion outside of China

In the context of the seizure of power by the Communists in China in the mid-20th century and the repression of traditional arts that followed, particularly in the Cultural Revolution , many taijiquan masters fled China and began to spread their martial art. out of the country.

Since taijiquan has become more and more popular and continues to spread, a great diversity of styles has been observed. Innumerable further developments, variants and mixtures have been developed, which are taught and practiced under the name “Tai Chi Chuan.”

In this regard, two trends predominate:

Back to the roots: Some styles refer to hopefully old, “authentic” roots. These styles are often named after one of the familiar styles or even older styles. Best of all: Other styles are new developments, attempting to combine the “best” characteristics of the other styles. Elements of other martial arts, dance, or meditation techniques are often adopted in this context. An example of this trend is the tang lang taijiquan.

Most of the taijiquan styles practiced in Western Europe are variants of the official forms or derived from some of the familiar Chen, Yang, or Wu styles. taijiquan of the Wudang tradition has also been popular for some time.


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