five elements

five elements

Postby ruben » Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:36 pm

Hello everybody.
I´ve been wondering for a long time how does Five Elements work in the South Hemisphere.
I mean, in acording to The Five Elements Theory, each element represents a direction. Thus, fire is south and forward and water is retreat and north. Metal is West and wood is East. For North Hemisphere´s people, the sun is to the south, represents the heat and the south, cold lands. So, as looking to south, the Sun comes from East (left) and sets on West (write). Am I rigth?
Well, for people living in South America, Australia or Africa, this is not exactly the same. The Sun moves from East to West, but in the North, so dawn is on my wright and sunset is on my left. So, what about Five Elements Theory? Does elements change? I have read some books (not many) about Feng Shui and a few authors speak about this difference.
What do you think or know?
Thank you very much.

Rubén
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Re: five elements

Postby Roberta » Sun Feb 27, 2011 7:44 pm

Hi Rubén,
into the Taijiquan treatise by Wang Zongyue, the last lines say:

進 退 顧 盼 定。卽 金 木 水 火 土 也。

as translated by Louis Swain pg 206 in "Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan", the five steps 五步 are related to the five phases 五行:
advance, retreat, look left, gaze right, accordingly, are metal, wood, water, fire and earth.

I don't think that the position of the cardinal points facing south changes in southern hemisphere, they change if you face the equator.
Roberta Lazzeri
Firenze, Italy
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Re: five elements

Postby ruben » Sun Feb 27, 2011 11:35 pm

Thank you Roberta.
I think you are right. But the idea is still the same, isn´t it? In South America, when you look Equator (hot lands), you are looking towards North. In spite of that, in Europe or North America, you have to look towards South.
I don´t know if it is nonesense or simply, almost all Taijiquan Teachers live in North Hemisphere and haven´t pay attention to this.
Take care,

Rubén
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Re: five elements

Postby Audi » Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:53 am

Hi Everyone,

I do not know the answer to the interesting questions posed on this thread, but thought I would share what little I know and speculate about.

the five steps 五步 are related to the five phases 五行:
advance, retreat, look left, gaze right, accordingly, are metal, wood, water, fire and earth


I think that the Tai Chi classics differ according to how the five elements are allocated to the five steps. As opposed to the above view, Chapter 1 of the Forty Chapters says:

The Five Phases correspond to advance (fire), retreat (water), gaze-left (wood), look-right (metal), and central equilibrium, or earth. Advance and retreat are the steps that correspond to water and fire; gaze-left and look-right correspond to metal and wood; and earth at the center is the axis around which everything turns.


(Lost T'ai-chi Classics from the Late Ch'ing Dynasty by Douglas Wile, pp 65-66.) Yang Jwing-Ming has the corresponding text in his book, Tai Chi Secrets of the Yang Style, on page 37.

I do not know which version the Yangs uphold or whether they uphold both or neither. In the absence of authoritative information, I have preferred the latter version, since I have heard justifications for it. Fire can only advance when it burns. Water always retreats to the lowest place. A farmer holds the wooden part of a hoe to the left and the metal head to the right. Ancient warriors held wooden shields in the left hand and bronze swords in the right. They were wary (顧) of the blows on the left and looked forward (盼) to striking home with the weapon on the right. The earth is under everything.

As for the correspondences in the Tai Chi Treatise, I have a vague and uncertain memory of some explanation that derived from Chinese medicine. I would appreciate it if someone could confirm this derivation or present whatever justification there would be for that arrangement.

I think that the ancient Chinese were interested in correspondences to the five element only insofar as they affected China and its immediate surroundings. To my knowledge, although the Chinese did sail below they equator, I am unaware of them sailing so far south as to reach southern temperate regions. In other words, I am not aware that they would ever have had to confront a situation where the cold regions were clearly to the south and the hot regions clearly to the north. It would be interesting to know what views the Chinese community in southern Australia has.

There would be an even more extreme problem at either of the poles. At the South Pole, all directions are north. At the North Pole, all directions are south. In fact, at any place removed from the equator, north and south lie along straight lines, but east and west lie along curves. The traditional Chinese view of a flat, square earth with four equal directions does not correspond to our modern understanding of a spherical earth.

I only know a little about traditional and modern feng shui, but to the extent that these systems did try to situate humans appropriately in their environment and orient them to such things as sunlight and the position of the sun, it would seem to make sense to reverse the traditional view of fire and water in the southern hemisphere or at least on any land mass primarily in the south.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: five elements

Postby Roberta » Mon Feb 28, 2011 12:34 pm

Hi everyone!
Yes, Audi, you are right, the chapter 3 of Forty Taijiquan Treatises matches steps and phases in that way. Since I can only read books, but I cannot say which one is the true matching or if there is a true version, I think we as Association have to establish something equal, at least in our website. For the time being I'm going to delete the matching in my website, then I hope we'll have the time to speak to master Yang about this question perhaps in Santo Domingo. We are going to have a Teacher's Academy and we need to be precise and accurate.
Roberta Lazzeri
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Re: five elements

Postby ruben » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:42 pm

Audi, I think you caught my idea, but you have a much better way to express yourself.

I agree with Roberta too, If there are so many interpretations, the Association must have one. So let the Directors agree and see the results.

Take care,

Rubén
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Re: five elements

Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Feb 28, 2011 6:07 pm

Greetings,

Here's a link to an old thread where we touched on some of this issue:

http://www.yangfamilytaichi.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=638

I recall it being a fun and productive discussion.

Take care,
Louis
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Re: five elements

Postby ruben » Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:35 pm

Hi Louis, sorry for the delay. My second son has born a few days ago so I don´t have much time!
I will read it soon.
By the way, great memory you have!
Regards,

Rubén
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Re: five elements

Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:29 pm

Congratulations, Rubén!

--Louis
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Re: five elements

Postby Audi » Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:07 am

Greetings everyone,

For what its worth, I had a chance to launch a somewhat brusque question at Master Yang across a lunch table about the correct correspondence between the five phases/elements and the five steps. He responded that we should use advance (fire), retreat (water), gaze-left (wood), look-right (metal), and central equilibrium (earth). I did not have a chance for a long discussion, but he did mention that in some matters the classics do not always agree.

I think Master Yang also mentioned that some differences arise from whether the discussion is about prenatal or postnatal matters, but I don't think he was talking specifically about the five phases/elements and five steps. From what I recall, there are different orders given to the eight trigrams, and these do indeed stem from this difference.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: five elements

Postby ruben » Tue Mar 22, 2011 1:37 am

Thank you, Audi for your time and for remembering this topic in such situation as having lunch with Master Yang.
Kind regards,

Rubén
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Re: five elements

Postby philipsteele » Sat Oct 22, 2011 7:16 am

just try to search on the web...you can read more and more information's and theories about those five elements... :idea:
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