Kung-Fu, or Tauist Medical Gymnastics, by John Dudgeon, , at sacred-texts.com
Movements for the development of the body and for the prevention and cure of disease were known and practised in the most ancient times in all countries. We find gymnastic exercises forming a part of the religion of the ancients. The great heroes of antiquity either instituted, restored, or took part in them. Poets made them the theme of their verses; and so, by immortalizing not only themselves but their victors whose fame they celebrated, they animated the Greek and Roman youth to tread in similar steps. Such exercises were then indispensable, the use of fire-arms being at that time unknown. The body required to be strengthened, and health to be confirmed and inured to fatigue. Contests were generally decided in close fight, by strength of body. Hence the origin of gymnasia, where the science of movement, as it were, was taught, and which were always dedicated to Apollo, the god of physicians. The Greeks owed much of their mental greatness to these exercises. They formed one of the three great parts into which all education was divided,
and this branch was the more important in that it did not cease at a certain period but was continued through life. The Greek effort in education seems to have been directed to the attainment of a sound mind in a sound body, and it was on this account that their physicians and philosophers placed well-regulated exercises as of first importance. We know that the officers of these institutions were recognised as physicians. Exercises of all kinds, such as walking, dry-rubbing or friction, wrestling, etc., were a few of the common aids of physic, as they were termed by Asclepiades, who did so much to bring them into repute. The term athletae might most appropriately be applied to the Chinese Tauist priests, the Greek word athlos, from which it is derived, being similar in meaning to kung fu. In other respects, however, they resemble more closely the Agonistae, who followed gymnastics solely with the view of improving their health and strength; and who, although they sometimes contended in the public games, did not devote their whole lives, like the Athletae, to preparing for these contests.
Gymnastics became a part of medicine shortly before the time of the "Father of Medicine;" and, according to Plato, as a means of counteracting the bad effects of increasing luxury and indulgence. It soon passed into a complete system, as already indicated. The gymnasia were often connected with the temple services in Greece where chronic ailments, through bodily exercises, baths, and ointments, could be cured. Æsculapius came to be considered the inventor of bodily exercises. Plato styles two of these Greek gymnasts, who cured disease, the inventors of medical gymnastics, Iccus of Tarentum and Herodicus of Selymbra. The latter in particular made
use of them for medical purposes, which is the reason he is considered to have been the first inventor of this art. Plato relates that the latter was himself ill, and sought what gymnastic exercises might conduce to his recovery. He gained his object, after which he recommended the same method to others. Before his time, dietetics was the chief part of medicine. It was he who advised his patients to undertake the journey from Athens to Megara, a distance of 180 stadia, equal to 6 German miles, and back. Hippocrates, who was one of his pupils and superintended the exercises in his palaestra, tells us that Herodicus cured fevers by walking and wrestling, and that. many found the dry fomentations did them harm. In consumption, he advised the patients to suck women's milk from the breasts, a practice found existing in China at the present day among the old and debilitated. Galen mentions Premigenes, who was great in the peripatetic theory and wrote on gymnastics.
Other ancient nations besides Greece and Rome seem to have been early convinced of the importance of a knowledge of the means of preserving health. Among the Hindu legislators, we find laws enacted with this object; and, with the view of enforcing them and making them obligatory, we see them joined on to religion, just as in China we find similar precepts extensively pervading their sacred books. The Chinese, like the Hindus, have quite a large number of works on the means of retaining health. These have reference to climate, seasons, time of the day, food, bathing, anointing, clothing, housing, sleep, etc. Exercise receives always a high place in all such works; for it increases strength, prolongs life, prevents and cures disease by
equalising the humours, prevents fatness, and renews and increases the power of resistance. In the Book of Rites (1,000 B.C.), we find archery and horsemanship laid down in the curriculum of study to be pursued at the National University. At the present day in China, besides the exercises involved in Kung-fu, the various exercises that prevail in Europe are practised publicly and privately by all classes, especially by the Mantchus, and to a much larger extent than among ourselves. Our present mode of warfare has done much to put an end to gymnastics as a part of education and a means conducive to robust health. The ancients may have esteemed them too highly, just as the moderns neglect them too much. True philosophy points to the golden mean as the place where truth is to be found. There are evils front inactivity as well as evils from excessive exercise; but gymnastics, when practised under proper control, must be invaluable in ensuring good health, a clear intellect, and in curing many complaints. Preventive medicine is coming every year more and more to the front, and gaining more attention and importance. The present age seems to be more alive to the importance of gymnastics than any preceding age of modern times. We find them introduced by enlightened teachers into many of our schools and warmly advocated by many medical men. Treatises on this subject are published yearly. One author considers hygiene to be the most useful sphere of the physician, and he believes that the subordinate value of therapeutics may be proved by statistics. Another writer, also a German, speaks of gymnastics as the principal agent for the rejuvenescence of body and mind.
But it is necessary to trace the rise of this subject in China somewhat more particularly.
The first mention in Chinese history of a system of movements, proper to maintain health and cure disease, dates back to pre-historic times, the time of the Great Yü, when the country was inundated, and the atmosphere was nearly always wet and unhealthy, and disease overflowed, so to speak, the earth. The Emperor ordered his subjects each day to take military exercise. The movements, which they were thus obliged to make, contributed not a little to the cure of those who were languishing, and to maintain the health of those who were well.
Premare refers to the same tradition, where he says in his researches of the time anterior to the Shu Ching:—In the time of Yü, the waters did not flow away, the rivers did not follow their ordinary channels, which developed a number of maladies. The Emperor instituted the dances named Ta Wu (#), the Great Dances. The native author, who reports this tradition, adds that the life of man depends upon the union of heaven and earth. The subtle material circulates in the body; and, if the body is not kept in movement, the humours do not flow, the matter collects, and from such obstruction disease originates. The great philosophers explained in a similar way the cause for the most part of maladies. But that which is specially remarkable in the Chinese tradition is that moisture and stagnant water are considered the source of the endemic and epidemic maladies, and that an efficient means to prevent them consists in the regular exercise of the body or in the circling dances. These movements tend in effect to produce a centrifugal result, from the centre to the circumference, very suitable to restore the functions of the skin, and to give tone and vigour to the whole economy. These dances form part of the institutions of the Empire.
We read also in the Shu Ching that the Emperor Yü ordered the dances to be executed with shields and banners. These two sorts of dances were the first sanctioned in the Li Chi, or ritual of civil and religious ceremonies. Great importance was attached to the regular bodily exercises. Like as in Greece, to sing and dance well constituted a good education. Even to the present day, the people take to exercises, in order to give themselves bodily strength and as much suppleness as possible; as, for example, the exercises of the bow and arrow, throwing and catching a heavy stone with a hole cut in it with which to provide a handle, heavy bags of gravel, the bar with the two circular heavy stones at the ends of it, the various feats of jugglery, etc. This taste for bodily exercise is one of the fundamental maxims which have not ceased to be considered as the base of all progress and all moral development, the improvement of one's self. Pauthier, in his Chine Moderne, mentions a large number of famous dances of antiquity.
The founder of the Shang dynasty (1766 B.C.) had engravers in the bath-tubs—"Renew thyself each day completely; make it anew, still anew, and always anew (#).
From the earliest times there were public institutions where were taught the six liberal arts (music, arithmetic, writing, religious and civil ceremonies with their dances, fencing, and charioteering). We read in the life of Confucius that he applied himself to perfect himself in all these exercises. Regular and rhythmic movements were had recourse to, to develop the physical force, skill to maintain the health and to combat certain diseases.
After the period of movement for the cure of disease comes the period of healing by the virtues of plants, .according to Chinese tradition. Although Fu-hsi had begun thus to cure maladies, the art is particularly ascribed to Shên Nung (about 3218 B.C.). He distinguished all the plants, and determined their different properties. The first Great Herbal is ascribed to him.
The term Kung-fu (#) means work-man, the man who works with art, to exercise one's self bodily, the art of the exercise of the body applied in the prevention or treatment of disease, the singular postures in which certain Tauists hold themselves. The expression Kung-fu (#) is also used, meaning work done. The term Kung-fu, labour or work, is identical in character and meaning with the word Congou, applied in the South to a certain kind of tea. In China it is applied medically to the same subjects as are expressed by the German Heil Gymnastik, or Curative Gymnastics, and the French Kinesiologie, or Science of Movement. Among the movements which are embraced within the domain of this method are massage, friction, pressure, percussion, vibration, and many other passive movements, of which the application made with intelligence produces essential hygienic and curative results. These different movements have been in use in China since the most ancient times They are employed to dissipate the rigidity of the muscles occasioned by fatigue, spasmodic contraction, rheumatic pains, the effects of dislocations and fractures, and in many cases of sanguiferous plethora in place of bleeding. These practices have to-day passed into the habits of the people, and those who are in charge of them are usually the barbers, as they were practised in Europe in the middle ages, who frequent the streets advertising the
people of their presence by striking a kind of tuning-like-fork called hwantow. Those usually who practice these movements are the barbers who have shops, and the various exercises are generally gone through in the evenings. In the sequel of this Paper, we hope to describe the methods pursued by them. There is also a class of rubbers, who go to private houses. or who undertake to teach the art. Here we have certainly a procedure allied to medical gymnastics, to which the Chinese attribute therapeutic value. Kung-fu embraces, as already remarked, massage (a word not found by-the-bye in Webster's Dictionary, from the Greek massein, to rub, or Arabic mass, to press softly), and shampooing (a Hindu word meaning to knead), a practice still in vogue in China and highly esteemed. Massage consists in such operations as kneading, thumping, chafing, rubbing, pressing, pinching, etc. The-barbers, as a part of their duty after shaving the pate and face or plaiting the queue, treat their customers to kneading the scalp of the head, eye-brows, spine, calves of the legs, etc. These operations are practised both by way of preventing and curing disease; but more generally, as in part in Western countries, for the comfort and sense of bracing which it confers. The practice is now largely had recourse to in the West, and with marked benefit in cases of deficiency of nerve force,—neurasthenia, paralysis, hysteria, etc. The various methods of manipulation comprised under the term massage include effleurage, pétrissage, friction, and tapotement. All these movements are centripetal, and done with the dry hand. The effect produced by such manipulations is the promotion of the flow of lymph, otherwise designated humours by the older writers, and blood, and the stimulation of the muscles of the skin and the skin reflexes.
A medical man, who was lately asked if he used massage much in his practice, replied—"Oh yes, a great deal; my butler does it." After that, one should not have been surprised to hear that the electrical treatment was conducted by his footman, and that the kitchen maid undertook the obstetric cases. Mere rubbing or shampooing is no more massage than a daub of paint is a work of art. It is not only a vicarious way of giving exercise to patients who cannot take it themselves, but it is a valuable curative agent. Lady Manners, in the Nineteenth Century, says—"The Chinese are supposed to have learnt the use of gymnastic exercises from the Indians, and the subject mentioned in the most ancient of their books is called Cong-fou, or Science of Living." The late Dr. Macgowan gives the term for Kung-fu (#) as Kang (#), the Great Bear, and fu (#), a charm.
The Tauists, the priests of the religion or system of rationalism of Lau-tse (500 B.C.), have always been the chief practitioners of this form of Medical Gymnastics. These Bonzes, as they are called by the French, a term corrupted from the Japanese and first applied by the Portuguese to a Japanese priest, were the early alchemists of the world, and have for centuries been in search of the philosopher's stone. In cinnabar they supposed they had found the elixir vitæ. Alchemy was pursued in China by these priests of Tao long previous to its being known in Europe. For two centuries prior and for four or more subsequent to our era, the transmutation of the base metals into gold and the composition of an elixir .of immortality were questions ardently studied by the Tauists. The Arabs, in their early intercourse with China, thus borrowed it, and they were the means of its diffusion in the West. Kung-fu owes its origin to these same
investigators, and was adopted at a very early period, by which to ward off and cure disease and for strengthening the body and prolonging life, in which it has been declared a far-reaching and efficacious system. My friend, the late Mr. Wylie, in his excellent Notes on Chinese Literature, remarks regarding Tauism that it has "changed its aspects with almost every age. Commencing with the profound speculations of contemplative recluses, on some of the most abstruse questions, of theology and philosophy, other subjects in the course of time were super-added which at first appear to have. little or no connexion with the doctrine of Tau. Among these the pursuit of immortality, the conquest of the passions, the search after the philosopher's stone, the use of amulets, the observance of fasts and sacrifices, together with rituals and charms, and the indefinite multiplication of objects of worship, have now become an integral part of modern Tauism."
[Note.—The reader, who may wish to consult this curious subject along with the Medical Divinities and Divinities worshipped in Medical Temples in China, will find a series of Papers by the present writer—On Chinese Arts of Healing, in the Chinese Recorder, Vols. 2 and 3].
Besides a system of gymnastics and charms in Chinese Medicine, there are other systems, one of which deserves a passing notice. Numerous works exist on all such subjects. There is one on the Art of procuring Health and Long Life, without the aid of physicians ands by means of regimen and general hygienic measures. Such things are inculcated as the regulation of the heart and its affections; and rules are laid down with regard to dietetics, business, and rest, containing many wise, useful, and quaint precepts, which, if attended to, would certainly
conduce to health and longevity, but which, being persistently neglected, the constitution is ruined and loaded with infirmities, life is shortened, and the body is sorely burdened with disease. [Note.—The reader will find one such work translated in Du Halde].
It is the object of Kung-fu to make its votaries almost immortal; at least, if immortality be not gained, it is claimed for it that it tends greatly to lengthen the span of life, to increase the body's power of resistance to disease, to make life happier, and to make the muscles and bones insensible to fatigue and the severest injury, accidents, fire, etc. The benefit, too, the soul derives from such exercises and the merit accruing to the individual are not to be lightly esteemed. I have seen these priests subject themselves to great hardship and severe trials, without producing any impression upon them.
Having briefly sketched the practice of the art in ancient times both in the Orient and Occident, a few remarks on its practice in modern times are necessary to complete our historical retrospect.
In 1569, Mercurialis at Venice published his treatise De arte Gymnastica, in which he recorded the most important exercises used by the Greeks and Romans, and which has proved a perfect mine for subsequent writers of the 17th and 18th centuries, who derived their knowledge of this subject largely from this source. In 174, according to M. Dally, and 1728, according to Dr. Roth, appeared in English a work by Francis Fuller on Gymnastic Medicine, every man his own physician, treating of the power of exercise in its relations to the animal economy, and its great necessity for the cure of various maladies, such as consumption, dropsy,
hypochondria, itch, and other skin eruptions. This book made a sensation at the time, and it passed through several editions, and was translated into several languages. In 1748, there were published at Helmstadt two works in Latin, entitled Dissertatio de arte gymnastica nova by Boerner, and De Gymnasticæ medicæ veteris inventoribus by Gerike. The medical world was too much pre-occupied with pharmaceutical and chemical speculations to pay attention to the Gymnastics of the Greeks, and still less to those of the Tauists, those Priests of Supreme Reason. Pére Amiot, one of the Roman Catholic missionaries at Peking, drew attention to the subject of Kung-fu, or, as he spells it, Cong-Fou, by the publication of his Notice du Cong-Fou in 1779, in Les Mémoires sur les Chinois, of which more anon. In 1781 appeared Tissot's work La Gymnastique Medicale. In 1821, another Frenchman, Londe, published a treatise on the same subject, or exercise applied to the organs of man according to physiological, hygienic, and therapeutic laws. These works merit study at the present day for the high estimation of the power of regular and methodical movement on the living mechanism which they indicate. The most important works for rational gymnastics have been undertaken on the mechanism of locomotion. In 1794 an English work appeared, by John Pugh, the anatomist, entitled A Treatise on the Science of Muscular Action, showing its utility in restoring the power of the limbs. A work by Dr. Barclay, called The Muscular Motions of the Human Body, published in Edinburgh in 1808, was one of the most remarkable, having for its object the anatomical study of each organ wall relation to movement; and another on The Power of Compression and Percussion in the cure of Rheumatism,
[paragraph continues] Gout, Debility of the Extremities, and in promoting Health and Longevity, by Dr. Balfour, of Edinburgh, in 1819. Various works in French appeared for the cure of deformities of the spinal column and osseous system generally, and chorea by means of pressure, percussion, friction, massage, position, attitudes, movements (active and passive), which constitute the science and art of medical gymnastics, the therapeutics of antiquity, which has had such prodigious success, principally in the deviations and spasmodic and chronic maladies against which modern therapeutics has generally recognised its powerlessness. In 1830 Dr. Koch's Gymnastics in relation to Dietetics and Psychology was published. Numerous other works in French and other languages appeared, treating of friction, ligatures, compression, vibration, percussion, etc. Dr. Roth believes a great part of the results produced by the so-called water cure is owing to the importance of movements, in which the douche, compresses, friction, etc., have so great an influence as well by their dynamical as by their mechanical effects.
We have reserved, for the sequel of this retrospect, notice of the originator of what is now called the Swedish system of Gymnastics, Ling (born 1766, died 1839). His system is based on anatomical and physiological principles; and, in this respect, differs entirely from the Chinese, which can lay claim to no such foundation, and is therefore not calculated to produce all the curative results claimed for the Swedish system. His great principle was the oneness of the human organism and the harmony between mind and body, and between the various parts of the same body. The development and preservation of this harmony is the educational or prophylactic part of the system; the restoration of the disturbed harmony forms the subject
of the medical part. His idea, in Dr. Roth's words, was that an harmonious organic development of the body and of its powers and capabilities by exercises, considered In relation to the organic and intellectual faculties, ought to constitute an essential part in the general education of a people. He looked upon anatomy and physiology as the basis of gymnastics essentially necessary. His intention was to make gymnastics not only a branch of education for healthy persons, but to demonstrate it to be a remedy for disease. The curative movements were first practised in Stockholm in 1813. His system is now largely extended through the various countries of Europe. He arranged the vital phenomena, which are subordinate as well to physiological as to physical laws, in three orders, known as the Dynamical, Chemical, and Mechanical agents. The union and harmony of these three, combined, constitute a perfect organism.
Under the Dynamical he places the manifestations of the moral and intellectual powers; under the Chemical, generation, nutrition, reproduction, sanguinification, secretion, etc; under the Mechanical, breathing, circulation, walking, etc. He carries out this analogy of these three fundamental agents of the vital powers in various directions, as, for example, telluric influences, such as light, heat, electricity, magnetism, etc., are embraced in the Dynamical; nutriment, medicine, poisons, etc., in the Chemical; and shock, pressure, etc., in the Mechanical. The organism itself is divided into the brain, heart, and lungs; arms and legs corresponding to the same three agents. The animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms permit of a similar analogy. Hitherto it has been principally by medicines, acting generally on the Chemical agent alone, that we have tried to preserve health and
cure disease; the Dynamical and Mechanical agents have been either entirely neglected or unscientifically considered. In any discordant action of the organism, in other words, in indisposition and disease, which of the three agents must be principally acted upon, must be considered. As the chemical agent is as inseparable from the other two as these are from it, hence it must be impossible to effect a cure in all diseases solely by pure medicines which act principally on the chemical agent. Wherefore medical men frequently prescribe either exercise influencing the mechanical, or amusement, etc., acting by means of the dynamic agent. "It is as wrong," and we are now quoting from Dr. Roth, "to recommend a healthy person only to eat and drink, and not to move or amuse himself, as it is in diseases to act exclusively on one factor of the vital power." The great Sydenham, when dying, consoled those who complained of the loss of the great physician by saying—"I leave behind me three great and most important means, viz.,—air, water, and exercise, which will compensate for the loss of my person."
Ling's idea of the harmonious development of the organs of the body, being the essential base of the education of the young and of the people, is a Greek idea which is found in all the writings of the philosophers. Barclay of Edinburgh in 1808, as we have shown, professed the same idea in the treatise on the muscular motions of the body. St. Paul's words in his Epistles to the Corinthians (I, XII, 24) and to the Ephesians (IV, 16), considered solely from the physiological point of view, are still to-day the most perfect synthesis of the science. M. Dally thinks it would be doing a real wrong to Ling's reputation to have him posed as the inventor of it.
[paragraph continues] His system resembles exactly that of the Kung-fu of the Tauists, and to M. Dally it appears less complex than that of the Tauists. The Chinese system, continues our author, is sanctioned by 5000 years of continued experience. For it is from Central Asia, and from the seat of the origin of mankind, that the Tauists have imported this doctrine into the Orient, and since this epoch have not ceased to make application of it. But it is also from Central Asia, and from the same source as that whence the Tauists have drawn them, that the ancestors of the Greeks imported into the Occident the same doctrine. What then, asks M. Dally, is the merit of Ling? As his body of doctrine does not differ from that of the Tauists, it must be admitted also that at the same time Ling had in his hands the Notice of Amiot or some other original Chinese treatise, produced it may be by other missionaries or by some persons attached to Embassies from Europe in China. (Lawrence Lange, by-the-bye, was a Swede, and the first Russian Consul at Peking in the second decade of the 18th century). The doctrine of Ling in its entirety, theoretical and practical, is only a sort of counter-drawn daguerreotype of the Kung-fu of the Tauists. It is the royal vase of Dresden, the splendid Chinese vase with its Chinese figures overlaid with European paint. This is, according to our historical studies, says Dally, the real merit of Ling. After all, whether the work of Ling is only an importation of the doctrine conserved in China in all its primitive originality and in its essential therapeutic character, or a simple renovation of Greek art more especially applied to the education of man, or a harmonious development of form and force applied to aesthetics and the military art, in a word, whatever be the sources whence Ling may have drawn
the elements and the combinations of his system and its applications, it is none the less true that he is one of the men who have much aided to bring back gymnastics among us as a science and an art to the purer traditions of high antiquity.
My attention was first called to the Notice of P. Amiot, now nearly thirty years ago, by the following communication from a friend in Edinburgh:—"The Chinese have a mode of treating many diseases by various ways of breathing while the patients are placed in previously determined positions, which vary according to the nature of the disease. The treatment is called Cong-fu, and was practised by the followers of the Bonzes, Tao-sse, who prepared the patients by religious ceremonies for the treatment. The French Missionaries of Peking have published in their Mémoires concernant les Chinois, Paris, 1779, a chapter on this treatment under the name of Notice du Cong fu des Bonzes Tao-sse. Will you kindly furnish answers to the following?
1.—Detailed information on the positions and breathing movements.
2.—Whether the followers of the Bonzes, Tao-sse, still exist and practise the treatment by breathing movements.
3.—The titles of Chinese works on this subject. Some works with wood engravings have been published on the subject.
4.—Any other information regarding this mode of treatment."
This letter was perhaps dictated by Dr. Roth, with whom I have since kept up a friendly and constant correspondence, and supplied him with the various Chinese works containing illustrations on the subject.
[paragraph continues] The result of my attention having been called to this treatment is the following article on Kung-fu, which was submitted to Dr. Roth, and by him recommended for publication. I was unwilling at the time to present to the medical profession or to the general public a subject so meagerly handled, and during all these years have waited for the convenient time to devote to it more study and research, with the view of supplying at least sufficient details to render any one, ignorant of Chinese and medicine, able to grasp the subject and determine its usefulness or otherwise as a prophylactic and curative agent. Unfortunately the press of work, necessitated by the care of a large hospital and other duties, has prevented me from pursuing further this study. The subject was brought by me before the Peking Oriental Society a few years ago, and it is now published in their Journal.
Dr. Roth has been the most prominent exponent and successful practitioner of the system in Great Britain. As an Hungarian exile after the Russian invasion which crushed the Hungarian cause in 1849, he settled in London after studying Chinese in Paris for some time, and chose this speciality in which he rose to eminence. He published numerous works on the subject which are well known, the chief of which are—The Cure of Chronic Diseases by Movements, Handbook of the Movement Cure, On Paralysis in Infancy, The Prevention of Special Deformities, The Treatment of Writer's Cramp, etc., etc. He presented the present writer with copies of all his published works. His Hand-book is characteristically "dedicated to all Medical Practitioners who are disposed to examine before they condemn." His work on Infantile Paralysis is
dedicated to my friend and namesake Dr. R. E. Dudgeon, who was the first to befriend the exile on landing on our shores, and who was the first to give proof of this confidence by placing some patients under his care. I visited Dr. Roth at his residence, 48 Wimpole St., London, on more than one occasion, where he showed me his institution for carrying out this treatment by movement. He had a similar institution at Brighton.
Amiot says Kung-fu consists in two things,—the posture of the body, and the manner of respiration. There are three principal postures,—standing, sitting, lying. The priests of Tao enter into the greatest detail of all the attitudes, in which they vary and blend the different postures. As these, however, have more connexion with their doctrines than the medical part of Kung-fu, it will be enough to indicate the general principles. The different modes, in the three principal positions, of stretching, folding, raising, lowering, bending, extending, abducting, adducting the arms and legs, form a variety of numerous attitudes. The head, the eyes, and the tongue, have each their movements and positions. The tongue is charged to make in the mouth such operations as balancing, pulsating, rubbing, shooting, etc., in order to excite salivation. The eyes close, open, turn, fix, and wink. The Tauists pretend, when they have gazed for a long time, first on one side then on the other, in regarding the root of the nose, that the torrent of thought is suspended, that a profound calm envelopes the soul, and a preparation for a doing-nothing inertia which is the beginning of the communication with spirits.
Regarding respiration, there are three ways,—one by the mouth, one by the nose, and inspiration by the one and expiration by the other. In the three modes of
respiration, sometimes it is the inspiration that is, as Amiot puts it, precipitée, filée, pleine or éteinte; sometimes it is the expiration, sometimes also both. The other principal differences which lie at the base of Kung-fu in respiration, as noted by Amiot, are inspiration and expiration by sifflement, haleinée, sauts, repetition, attraction, and deglutition.
It has now been said in what Kung-fu consists. It lies with art to choose and combine them, to change and repeat them according to the malady which it is sought to cure. The morning is the best time for it. After the sleep of the night, the blood is in a state of greater repose, the humours are more tranquil, and the organs more supple, especially if one has been careful to sup lightly. Fat persons, or those charged with humours, gain it always by eating nothing at night; and this preparation is absolutely necessary for certain maladies.
In Amiot's Notice, twenty figures are given illustrative of the text. In each of the postures, the principal thing is to respire in a particular manner a certain number of times, and to proportion the length of the Kung-fu to the malady. The body is either half nude or dressed, and the position is either standing or sitting. There are series of each. In respiration, the mouth must be half full of water or saliva. Various potions, decoctions, and drugs, are ordered to be taken before or after Kung-fu; they seem to have been added in the course of time, to facilitate the effects.
Amiot dispensed with entering into greater details, as Kung-fu was only a bagatelle, or .at least may be so merely; yet, as he might fail to make his meaning clear, and as otherwise, as he says, it is always good to speak to the eyes, he had figures copied to give an idea of the
subject. In a few words, he indicates the different maladies which they are said to cure, in order that the European physician may be in a position to pronounce on this singular practice. Of the twenty figures drawn, although seventeen are given for the sitting posture, it would be necessary, he says, to add many more to give all the attitudes and positions which are blended with the posture; "but in truth we have not had the courage to copy out a larger number," or, as Huc says in speaking of current facts in Chinese medicine, he prefers to abstain because, says he, "Le vrai peut quelquefois n’être pas vraisemblable." Amiot says—"The account which we have under our eyes is in a manner so obscure and in terms so bizarre that we have not ventured to risk a translation of it." If some alleviation to the ills of humanity is the result of it, he will believe himself well recompensed for the courage he has had in risking the Notice.
The physical and physiological principles of the art are the following, and I am indebted to M. Dally for this resumé.
2.—That the air, which without cessation enters the blood and the lymph through the lungs, being as the balance which tempers and restores their fluidity, can neither be re-established nor subsist of itself.
The consequences of these two principles are:—
2.—As the activity and elasticity of the air increases the fluidity of the liquids, and facilitating by that means their movement, all that tends to increase or diminish the force and volume of them in those of the human body, ought to accelerate or retard their circulation.
These principles and consequences being supposed, the defenders of Kung-fu enter into very great details, to approximate it to the sympathetic correspondence of the different parts of the body, the action and reaction of the great organs of the circulation, of the secretion of the lymph, of the digestion of the aliments, etc. So much for the principles. What of the theory?
There are the two essential principles of Kung-fu,—the posture of the body, and the mode in which respiration is quickened, retarded, and modified.
It follows from this that the different postures of Kung-fu, well directed, ought to operate in a salutary disengagement in all the maladies which spring from an embarrassed, retarded, or even interrupted circulation. Now, how many complaints are there that are not thus caused? One can even demand if, except fractures, wounds, etc., which derange the bodily organisation, there are any which do not so originate?
2.—It is certain that the heart is the prime mover of the circulation, and the force which it has to produce and conserve it is one of the grand marvels of the world. It is further certain that there is a sensible and continual correspondence between the beatings of the heart, which fills and empties itself of blood, and the movements of dilatation and contraction of the lungs, which empty and fill themselves with air by inspiration and expiration. This
The above is chiefly a translation from Amiot's article. M. Dally subjoins some observations. He supposes the Tauists to consider the body as a vertical line, and the members which are attached to it as articulated springs of the line, able to take in turn all the different positions. Upon this vertical line they have made four general divisions,—the head, the arms, the trunk, and the legs. Each of these divisions has general movements proper to it, and the articulated parts of each of these divisions have also their particular movements. He takes, for example, the head, of which they have considered not only the general movements, inclined in front and to the back, to the right and to the left, but also the particular movements of torsion of the neck to the right and left, those of the eyes, of the nose, of the mouth, of the tongue, and of the jaws. They have obtained new movements in combining the general movements among themselves, the particular movements among themselves, and the particular movements with the general movements. Is it wished to get an idea of the number of attitudes, orders, series, or formulae, of which this system is composed? It is sufficient to represent only what in mathematics one calls permutations, arrangements, and combinations; and the figures become infinite. This infinite multiple of formulae reproduce themselves again by the addition of the different modes of respiration, and by other conditions, such as the quickness, the resistance, the body being naked or dressed, burdened with a weight upon the head, on the shoulders, or in the hand, according to the malady; besides the body lying, sitting, standing, stretched or relaxed, immovable or movable, walking, running, dancing, leaping, in an active or passive state, or one part active and another passive;
all the conditions which influence specifically the physiological effect of the same movement, or of a similar series of movements.
After mentioning the above six observations, M. Dally gives an example which he says one can verify upon one's self. Stretch forth the arms forcibly, while friction is made in a concentric curve over the abdominal region. What do you feel? An increase of heat in the intestines, at the same time also a diminution of the heat in the anterior side of the abdomen. Therefore, there is an augmentation of the circulation in the arteries of the intestines, and a diminution of the blood in the abdominal veins. Would you like that the friction cause an effect altogether the contrary? Lower the arms, and hold them hanging. In this position, the same friction produces a diminution of the blood in the intestinal veins, and an augmentation of the circulation in the arteries and in the anterior abdominal walls. Then, in the one case and in the other, there has been, at will, an exchange of arteriosity and absorptivity between the walls of the abdomen and the intestines. Then again, in the one case and in the other, the conditions of vitality which preside over the functions of all the organs of the abdominal region are powerfully active, and one conceives that it is possible to produce the same effects on the entire economy, in assisting by general friction the tension or distension of the whole muscular system, the tension or distension which the reserve of the breath or the simple ordinary respiration can again notably modify. Thus, of the different attitudes, they can produce physiological phenomena exactly alike or variously modified; and what is of great importance in the
application to the treatment of disease is this, that we Can isolate a portion of the body, by acting on some other parts.
Such is the system of Kung-fu, and P. Amiot, says Dally, one of the most profound mathematicians of his time, has perfectly understood the grandeur of this system when he says that all the known postures and attitudes do not form a moiety of those which the Tauists have imagined.
These are M. Dally's observations on the system. He then adds these on the method. We know the elementary movements of Kung-fu and their various combinations to be infinite. By the examples which we have given of the physiological effects of friction, combined with tension or relaxation of the abdominal muscles, one can judge with what precision and exactitude these effects can be produced, in order to combat the diseases against which they are indicated, such as constipation, diarrhœa, or any other enteric trouble. In order to better appreciate the power of Kung-fu, it would be necessary to make a special study of the thousand different modes of respiration; for this is the essential point, and, according to the observation of Amiot, the most difficult of this method. Yet, says M. Dally, the difficulty can be overcome by special physiological and anatomical study, and by the Stern experience obtained by the effects. One can be assisted in this matter by the traditions of the employment of this exercise among the peoples of antiquity.
After citing instances, he sums up thus:—Upon this point, as upon all others, one comes back to the wisdom of high antiquity, where movement is still timid and partial, but which tends constantly to complete
and generalize itself. Amiot's figures (4, 6, 12, and 20) recall to M. Dally the formulae similar to those which he has previously given, in affections of the abdominal region. He quotes figure 9 as a formula against vertigo and dazzling. It indicates a movement of double pressure of the head, combined without doubt with a movement of vibration and a certain respiration. He himself applied this remedy with success against vertigo and inveterate pains of the head. The physiological effect of this formula is innervation, molecular division, and increase of activity of the absorbent vessels. Applied to the head, it ought necessarily to bring back there the freedom of the functions. An analogous practice is found among the Greek physicians and in Ling's method. M. Dally has also verified attitude 15 against gravel, nephritic pains, and lumbago. He obtained instantaneous relief. As it is here only a question of a certain pressure upon the kidneys, with tension of the anterior muscles of the body, one is able to take the different attitudes which pre-dispose the muscles in the same manner, and to make them exercise this pressure by another person. This gymnastic remedy, M. Dally says, is an hereditary usage in Hungary. Amiot was afraid to risk a translation, which M. Dally deeply regrets; and he hopes, in the interests of science, that some able and curious expert is to be met with who will undertake to reconstitute this method, with the elements of which he has annotated the system. M. Dally here, in a foot note, refers to his visit in 1854 to Dr. Roth in London, who was the learned and zealous director of an establishment there. He spoke of the discovery he had made of the Notice du Cong-fu, in the Mémoires sur les Chinois, praying him to examine this doctrine which had
the greatest affinity with that of Ling. He hoped much from this step. M. Dally thought that efforts made in the libraries of Europe, and in the yearly papers sent by the missionaries in China, might probably find out the works which Amiot had consulted. The works with figures, consulted by Amiot, and many others, are now before the present writer.
In the meantime, continues our author, we remark in the Notice that the conditions of time and diet were accessory elements in the application of Kung-fu. We notice also in it that the simultaneous administration of movements, along with certain medicaments, was a practice foreign to the primitive and rational doctrine of this institution, as well as the superstitious practices with which it is to-day surrounded. Amiot does not say whether the system of Kung-fu is applicable to the treatment of deformities, luxations, and other surgical cases. In support of the treatment of surgical cases by this method, he (M. Dally) quotes from Lay's The Chinese as They Are and Dr. Williams’ Middle Kingdom, and says he could multiply facts of this kind, which clearly establishes that the science of physiological movement furnishes the Chinese with effectual means in the treatment of maladies of all sorts. According to. Du Halde, the residence of the Chief of the Tauists, called the Celestial Doctor (T‘ien Sze), is in the department of Kan-chou Fu, in the province of Kansuh, a mountainous country which furnishes an extraordinary abundance of medicinal plants. There is the central establishment for the teaching of the doctrine. They possess secondary establishments, one of the most considerable being that in Kiangsi, where a crowd of sick come together from all parts, in search of a remedy for their ills.
M. Dally next gives us some observations on the principles and the theory. According to Amiot, the Tauists consider the human body as a purely hydraulic mechanism, and he explains their physical principles and their physiological theory according to this sole fundamental idea. In this case, there will be between the doctrine of the Tauists and those of the Iatro-mechanists such a similitude of affinity that one can believe that they pertain to the same school. Yet Amiot makes it understood that Kung-fu relies still upon other principles. The primitive priests considered the body not only as a physical and mechanical apparatus, but also as a chemical one. They recognized even that the physical and chemical laws of the body are subject to the influence of a superior principle, which rules and harmonizes them in the unity of the living being. This Chinese conception recalls exactly the theory of Ling—of mechanical, chemical, and dynamic agents, which balance themselves and hold themselves in equilibrium upon a central point which is the life and whence proceed the three principal agents. Dr. Bayes of Brighton, in his memoir entitled On the Triple Aspect of Chronic Disease, London, 1854, takes also for the base of his observations the theory of the Chinese balance of the three vital forces, which he borrowed probably from the doctrine of Ling. M. Dally has already spoken of them; it is necessary, be says, to revert to them again.
The animal forces, locomotive or muscular, Yang, and the vegetative forces, secretory or chemical, Yin, are harmonised and held in equilibrium by the physical forces, T‘ai-chi; and from this state of equilibrium results life and health. These three forces have contrary tendencies; the Yang tends to produce and perpetuate itself incessantly, the Yin tends to descend to the terrestrial region, and the
[paragraph continues] T’ai-chi remounts to its origin, the Tao, the reason of all the visible manifestation. The Yang and the Yin are so united among themselves that they are in a state of reciprocal dependence, and they possess only a certain power of reaction proportioned the one to the other, a power dispensed by the T’ai-chi. It is in the maintenance of this proportionality, of this species of static, physical, chemical, and intellectual equilibrium, that the will, the moral power of man, and the acts by which this will manifests itself, ought to tend incessantly. Now, Kung-fu has been instituted for this object. It is charged with the maintenance or re-establishment of all parts of the body and its faculties in their condition of unity and primitive harmony among them and with the soul, in order that the soul may have at its disposition a powerful and faithful servant for the execution of its will. In other words, and from the Notice of Amiot, Kung-fu is "a real exercise of religion, which, in curing the body of its infirmities, frees the soul from the servitude of the senses," and gives to it the power to accomplish its duties upon the earth and of raising itself freely to the perfection and perpetuity of its spiritual nature in the Tao, the reason of the grand creative power. Thus Kung-fu, in its primitive institution, appears as a souvenir of the Tree of Life, under which man of the first days came, after his labours, to shelter his forces and his health and conserve his soul, still pure, a docile instrument of his will. Such are the principles upon which reposes the theory of Kung-fu of the Chinese, like that of their chemical and pharmaceutical medicine, and also that of their religious, social, and philosophic doctrines; for the Chinese, whatever be their studies of man or the institutions which concern him, carry always their considerations into all the
elements of his nature and his constitution. However we may think that the progress of the civilization of the West has not yet arrived at this degree of practical reason; we are certainly astonished to see that, from the first ages of humanity, the priests of Tao were in possession of this grand thought of the unity of the human nature, and that they had made the application of it to all things, even to hygiene and to therapeutics, by movement organised in its relations with the physical, chemical, and psychical laws of the human being.
Indeed, this will be a curious history to write, says Dally, that of these old priests of Tao,—these remains still living of the first Brahmans of India, of the Magi of Chaldea, of the priests of Egypt, of the Druids of Gaul, their contemporaries, diverse sects,—sprung more than 3000 years before our era, from the alteration of the primitive tradition of mankind. Depositories of the tradition, these founders of nations carried the doctrine of Kung-fu from the common cradle into all the countries where they established themselves. Perpetuated whole and complete among the Chinese, we shall find it more or less mutilated and altered among other peoples.
Lao-tse was the founder of the religion of Tao, or rather the restorer of it, as he himself says. He appeared in the 6th century B.C.; and, like Confucius, his rival, the political reformer of China, at the same epoch as Buddha, Zoroaster, Socrates, and Plato, curious synchronisms which prove the providential solidarity of all the fractions of humanity. M. Dally, believing that he hears the distant echo of the religious principle of the Kung-fu in Plato whom he quotes, he concludes this chapter with the words of St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Thessalonians (v. 23), where M. Dally recognises the pure
tradition of the religious and scientific principle which presides in the doctrine of the Kung-fu:—"And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved entire, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
I am indebted for much of what has now been presented, in illustration of this system, to Père Amiot, and particularly to M. Dally, who has published a large work on the subject, called Cinésiologie ou Science du Movement, Paris, 1857, in which he reviews Amiot's Notice. He sums up the subject in these terms.
This art is a very ancient practice of medicine, founded on principles originally pure and free of all the superstition with which it is to-day surrounded. It goes back to a period when the Tauist priests formed an official sacerdotal caste, in the time of Hwang-ti (2698 B.C.).
The art consists in three essential parts:—
2.—The method has its own scientific language.
3.—It has really operated in the cure of disease, and in the alleviation of many infirmities.
The Chinese, to whatever order they belong, have recourse with eagerness to this mode of therapeutics, when all other means of cure have been tried in vain. Thus, Kung-fu has really all the characters of an ancient scientific method.
So much for the principles and theory of Kung-fu u given by Amiot, and so ably enforced and explained by Dally. The latter entertains higher ideas of the value of Kung-fu than, in my opinion, is warranted. Amiot gives some of the salient points of position and breathing movements for the cure of certain maladies, but has not criticised or pointed out the unscientific ideas of the Chinese, not only regarding their cosmogony or philosophy of creation, but the physiology and anatomy of the human body which in their system are closely correlated, including the number, position, and functions of the viscera, the circulation of the blood, the true cause of the pulse, etc., and which are diametrically opposed to our modern Western medical science. A couple of illustrations, which will be found in the sequel, will explain the Chinese ideas of the human body. Although their theories, however, may be and are wrong, there may be and doubtless is advantage derived from Kung-fu in the prevention and cure of disease, and the strengthening of the body, just as in their therapeutics, although entirely empirical, they are often successful in the treatment of disease.
We reserve for the conclusion of this Paper our own remarks and investigations into these principles and theories, and now hasten to place before the reader some of the various methods, active and passive, prophylactic and curative of disease, and for strengthening the body. There are numerous works on the subject, copiously illustrated by more or less rude wood-cuts showing the various positions,—sitting, standing, and lying. To facilitate the full understanding of much that lies at the basis of all Chinese philosophy, and of course also of their medical practice and theories, and is taken for granted in Kung-fu, would require our entering into the general
subject at some length. At present it must suffice, aided by brief notes where the references would otherwise be unintelligible, to give as briefly as possible the rationale of the art from the Chinese standpoint. This remarkable people have always highly esteemed the study of physic, because of its utility in the preservation of life and the cure of disease, but chiefly from the close connexion which they believe exists between the body and its various. members and the heavenly bodies. The reader will, therefore, not be astonished to find in Kung-fu, as in their medicine generally, much that is puerile and sublimely ridiculous, with here and there grains of wise observation and practical remark. Their reverence for antiquity, and their clinging to their elaborate and beautiful theories which their ignorance led them to make, and their conservatism leads them to keep, has been the chief cause of retarding progress in medicine and the cognate sciences. Had they shown as much talent and industry in studying man as he is, as they have exhibited in the industrial arts, etc., the Chinese would undoubtedly have been the first physicians in the world. With the highest heathen civilization, they stand lowest in point of practical medicine.