5 Elements theory


Five Transformative Phases

We are aware that Wuxing theory originated from and cannot be separated from Yin and Yang theory, so we can conclude that Wuxing is Yin and Yang and Yin and Yang is Tao.

Shifu Shi Yanjun

5 Transformative Phases

In ancient China, the universe consisted of five transformative phases or Natures. The world was viewed as a constant interaction and combination of the five transformative phases. The five primary transformative phases are wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Each transformative phase has a particular Nature and a predictable interaction and relationshipIn interaction, elements may clash, balance or nurture the others, depending on their inherited Nature and relative strength. The movement of Nature is a constant interplay of the natural assertions, adjustments, or adaptations of these primary primal forces through the seasons. In this way, Nature achieves a harmonious but vigorous balance. 

The various transformative phases of Nature change or give birth to others. Each specific transformative phase functions to keep another transformative phase in balance with the whole and is balanced by another. When each transformative phase plays its natural part, all things function smoothly.

Meihua quan & culture

Nature and its’ elements have an essential cultural value in Chinese Tradition. The four noble plants in ancient China are plum, orchid, bamboo, and chrysanthemum. They have noble characteristics. Orchid is pure, bamboo is upright, and chrysanthemum represents humility.

Mei (梅) Hua (花), or plum flower, is highly valued in Chinese Culture. It is a symbol of resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity because plum blossoms often bloom most vibrantly even amidst the harsh winter snow.
A Chinese saying: “From the bitterness and coldness come to its fragrance.” The soul of a man is shaped by experience, inner strength, and courage. The plum was given four virtues which embodies the characteristics of Heaven (乾/Qián) in accord with the Book of Change (I Ching / 周易): Great potential in the bud; Prosperity in the flower; Harmony in the fruit, and Rightness in its maturity.

The flower’s five petals symbolize the five blessings: longevity, prosperity, health, virtue, and good living.


Five EleMents

The number five belongs to Heaven and Earth. Heaven is pure Yang, and Earth is pure Yin. A person is half Yin and half Yang. Heaven and Earth are the pillars of maintaining life. The sages understand the spirit (Shen), the vital energy (Qi), and the things (Lei), and know the distinction between people and animals, God and spirits. The person being a creation of God is the door of all the good in the world. It should aim to purify his heart and cultivate his virtues.

In Chinese Culture, the Theory of Five Elements or Wu Xing (五行, WǔXíng) plays a significant role. The theory developed during Han Dynasty and was used in Feng Shui, Chinese Traditional Medicine, Army strategy, Astrology, Music, and Martial arts. The five elements are: Wood (木/ mù), Fire (火/ huǒ), Earth (土/ tǔ), Metal (金/ jīn) and Water (水/ shuǐ).

Five Elements Correlations

There are four different sequences in which elements are organized based on their relationship.

Wood – Fire – Earth – Metal – Water – Wood

Overacting (Grandmother – Grandson):

Wood – Water – Metal – Earth-Fire – Wood

The Water generates the Wood element, and the Wood element exhausts the Water element. The four sequences act as Yin and Yang cycles.

Destroying (剋/克/ kè): 

Wood – Earth – Water – Fire – Metal – Wood

Insulting (reverse/ kè): 

Wood – Metal – Fire – Water – Earth- Wood

Life Cycles (Birth, Death, Conception, Youth, Adulthood, Old age) correlate with the Five Elements: Birth (Wood), Youth (Fire), Adulthood (Earth), Old Age (Metal), and Death or Conception (Water). 

It is a Creating (生, sheng) (Mother-Son relationship) cycleWood feeds Fire (Birth leads to Youth), Fire creates Earth/Ash (Youth leads to Adulthood), Earth bears Metal (Adulthood leads to Old Age), Metal enriches Water (Old Age leads to Death) and Water nourishes Wood (the cycle continues naturally in the Foodchain). 

Five Elements & Qigong

There are many correlations between the human body and the 5 Elements: internally and externally. The law of generation and restriction is used to explain the inter-generating and inter-restricting relationship between the internal organs. The vital essence of the kidneys (water) nourishes the liver (wood). The heart’s heat (fire) warms the spleen (earth). The origination of disease of the human body results from the breakdown of the normal equilibrium of generation, restriction, subjugation, and reverse restriction among the organs and tissues.

Hyperactivity of the liver-fire manifests with a blue complexion, congested eyes, vexation, irritability, taut pulse, dry mouth, and red tongue. According to the generating and restricting law of the five elements, Qigong exercises are used to treat the condition by taking the essence from the moon, nourishing the kidneys to replenish Yin, the exercise uttering “Xu,” and uttering “Ke.” The most challenging condition is triple factors affecting one. It means one organ may be affected by the abnormal function of the three organs at the same time.

The Basic Concepts of Five Elements Theory

The Applications of the Five Elements Theory

Practicing Wu Shi requires awareness that the human body is a microcosm that reflects the universe’s macrocosm, like in the Taoist philosophy. The identification of the Meihua Quan practitioner must be total. Only a great awareness of the fusion with Nature itself and the adaptation to its principles will allow the natural and deep growth of Qi. Precisely this identification can allow the image of the five positions to become highly evocative towards the five elements.
Da Shi is wide and stable, representing the static Nature of the mountain. The mountain can be understood as an extensive reservoir of minerals, including metal. The river’s water descends from the mountain with a fluid movement that recalls the passage from Da Shi to Shun Shi. Ao Shi represents wood reflecting the plum tree, which symbolizes Meihua Quan. The support base is twisted, but the upper part of the body (the branches and fronds) is relaxed and extended to allow the Qi to reach the fingers’ ends and retrace the reverse path to the Dantien. The Xiao Shi position, very narrow and elongated upwards, recalls the flickering of the flames of a burning fire. The Bai Shi position represents the earth, the link between the earth and the sky, representing two equal and opposite lines of force that run along the arms like two tie rods. It symbolizes a person who, grabbing a root, tries to hold a bird that hovers in the air by the tail.

The Taoist model wants the man as an element of conjunction between the “celestial” and the “earthly.” The changes between the movements will become as infinite as the combinations of human existence are infinite.