Wu Shu (Chinese Martial arts) and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) may seem to be two different subjects but they both try to discover and explain the human body’s life energy and structure. They are also interested in how different substances support and repair the body. It is because of these common characteristics that Wu Shu and TCM work well together. For instance, Wu Shu talks about using acupuncture points when attacking an opponent so as to make them lose combat effectiveness or even subdue them all together. These acupuncture points are the same as those described in TCM. But not all points targeted by Wu Shu practitioners are acupuncture points; some are the body’s fatal points discovered through real fighting experience. So combining actual fight experience with TCM theory enriches Wu Shu.
Chinese Wu Shu is broad and profound; it includes different kinds of striking skills as well as defence expertise. For example “Iron Hand” is used for attacking whereas “Iron Shirt” is for defence. Both fall under the category “Hard Chi Kung”. In Taiwan Iron Shirt can also be known as “Iron Ox” Chi Kung. I began learning Hard Chi Kung twenty-three years ago in Taiwan. After any Iron Shirt practice (where we hit our body) we would have to massage our entire body then drink a bowl full of Chinese herbal medicine. It tasted disgusting but was used to prevent damage to our internal organs. After practicing Iron Hand we always used a special Chinese medicine wine (Dei-Da Jio) to massage our hands. It decreases swelling (caused by hitting our hands repeatedly against very hard surfaces) and improves circulation. It also strengthened and hardened our hands after every practice.
There is one Wu Shu adage that goes like this, “Wei Xi Da, Sien Xi Yao” or “Not yet learn fight, first learn medicine”. It means you have to learn the medicine before you can learn how to fight. It calls attention to the equal importance of medicine and martial art skills.
There are two categories of Chinese medicine for the Chinese martial artist: “Auxiliary Medicine” and “Healing Medicine”. Auxiliary medicine includes oral medicine used to strengthen and maintain muscles, tendons and bone. It is used to promote the result of exercise and to help eliminate weariness. A lotion to boost blood circulation is auxiliary medicine. If you know how to use Auxiliary medicine it will help you avoid injuring your internal organs from practicing too hard, as well as decreasing injury to your bones and tendons from practice Hard Chi Kung. Healing medicine also uses oral medicine and two kinds of lotion. Its major use is in treating injuries from practicing and fighting.
It’s very easily to get injured when doing martial arts training and/or fighting in competitions. Therefore it was vital that our Wu Shu ancestors learned to use Chinese medicine at the same time as martial arts skills so they could protect themselves as well as others. My experiences have proven to me how useful Chinese medicine is for treating injuries. Its use is especially important in Hard Chi Kung training because if you don’t use medicine in conjunction with the physical exercises you will damage your body before you achieve any success.
Chinese medicine can be used for any kind of sports injury. Since moving to Canada I have met many young men with injuries acquired from all different kinds of sports. I usually advise them to use Chinese medicine wine for healing. Some of them don’t listen, instead relying on the vigour of their youth to heal their injuries. Unfortunately I know some of them won’t heal as well as they could and will then have to suffer when they get older. Chinese medicine and Wu Shu are a powerful combination that no one should ignore.