Traditional Chinese Medicine is a developed, systematic, researched type of medicine that was developed many centuries ago and that continues to evolve throughout time.
Chinese Medicine has its roots in folk therapies by the Chinese since ancient times and it includes acupuncture and other techniques.
Medical theories use observation of nature and human health conditions.
Chinese Medicine today represents a very sophisticated and scientific understanding of the body as is that of western biomedicine.
Now, what has to do Chinese medicine with the Chinese martial arts?
The study of Chinese medicine and martial arts went hand in hand in ancient China. During these times medical treatment was in demand with not many practitioners in China. Due to the injuries and health care needed by the martial artist they learn to understand human anatomy.
Martial artist also needed to understand the body for techniques such as breathing, meditation, and inner visualization exercises. Also, they thought medicine was an act of compassion in Buddhists and Taoists traditions.
Chinese texts describe these exercises as based on classical medical theory and became the basis of Shaolin martial arts.
We know the Shaolin Temple for its martial arts traditions, but also for being was a storage place of medical knowledge.
Shaolin monk and physicians developed the used herbal formulas when treating traumatic injuries.
Little by little more detailed medical knowledge merge into martial art systems and practices.
While understanding the physical and energy of body, martial artists developed techniques like:
- Fen Jin -which is dividing or grabbing the muscles and tendons
- Dian Mai – striking acupuncture points
- Bi Qi -sealing of opponent’s breath in order for them to lose consciousness
These techniques made it easier to injure or subdue an opponent.
Parallel to the growth of martial arts in medicine, the use of medicine in treating injuries grew.
The Zhou Dynasty had four systems of doctors, Dietitians, Internal Medicine specialists, external Medicine specialists, and Veterinarians.
Doctors of External Medicine specialized in treating sores, abscesses, ulcers, fractures and wounds or injuries. Such traumatic bleeding and wounds came from weapons, kicks, and punches and also dislocated joints. Martial artists healed with oriental herbal medicine and therapeutic techniques.
Sooner than later the Japanese adopt martial arts and medical traditions.
Chinese medicine was first introduced to Japan via Korea during the 5th Century A.C.E.
Around the 7th Century, many Japanese students left to China to study medicine. By the 8th Century, a Medicine system based on the Chinese model developed. Also, the martial traditions of Okinawa studied the rudiments of Chinese medical theory and Herbal Medicine to strike vitals points of their opponents and treating injuries.
Moving towards the 20th Century, many of the medical and traditional internal cultivation techniques of East Asians martial arts were unknown by westerners.
There are several reasons including poor translation of the Chinese texts and the disestimation of medical philosophies as seen merely as superstition.
The power of herbs became curiosities instead of medicine. Acupuncture and vital points of striking turned into esoteric and dangerous ideas to the western civilization.
Even as late as the 1980’s acupuncture and Herbal Medicine were thought of as superstitious folk quackery.
Current state of Martial arts and Chinese medicine
Nowadays, Chinese Medicine is a professional practice licensed in almost every state of the U.S. Hence, martial arts can be easily found in books, videos, and websites. And there are a number of schools around America.
Both Chinese Medicine and martial arts have deep correlations that merge in one specific aspect: human well-being.
It could be confirmed that martial artists aid themselves from Chinese Medicine to improve their techniques as they had to learn the human anatomy, hence used
many of their Chinese Herbology treatments to significantly help severe injuries and pain.