The 5 Elements

[wip] In UCB Program internal practice, the 5 Elements NeiGong begins with Pearls and ends as students transition from Bones to Emptiness. Perception of these internal relationships leads to understanding how deep stabilizing powers are refined and expressed. These stabilizing powers are first contacted safely in a health context. There is a great deal of internal strength required.

After some time, students can begin applying this increased stabilizing capacity in a limited martial context as refined force or 'jin'. The point of contact is used as a passive sensor and uses 'ting jin' or listening energy to present the controlling element in response to incoming force. The Yi or mind-intent changes first and must be sharp and quick without rushing. Success is marked by very little apparent effort needed to support the point of contact relative to the incoming force. Strong focus is required. This is a flavor of 'hua jin' or neutralizing force, which I consider to be an intermediate level skill. This is also the beginning of 'Offense and defense are as one', although at this stage, there is little offense. Apparent 'effortless offense' relies on another capacity altogether. The Yi must be very clear and very light. If you strive to overcome the force, you will fail, as striving clouds the mind and instantly your foundation -  your stabilizing power - is gone.

The internal capacities required are profound, but, arising from the stabilizer system, are largely invisible. These deep and subtle cues manifest as a specific kind of 'stretch against the bones', and awareness of where these stubtle differences occur and in what order must be very clear. Muscular strength is fine and necessary, but application of strength comes after these fast 'invisible' changes. There is no 'strength' applied to engender these sensations, they are always present and unchanging. If you apply strength, this becomes a kind of striving and results in failure. Success is counterintuitive and fits with the esoteric language of the Taoist Classics. I consider this phenomena to be a concrete exploration of the yi-qi-li process of change - emphasis almost exclusively on the change from yi to qi.

Keep in mind that the 5 Elements of Application must be trained in order to learn how to 'dissolve' incoming force. This takes years of specific development. This progression is different than simple refinement of beginner level internal changes. The 5 Elements forms a new foundation. It might help to see 5 Elements training to be an essential foundational platform and a transitional means to an end, not an end by itself. In short, 5 Elements Neigong and 5 Elements Applications are tools for building a specialized awareness needed for apprehending Emptiness.

All of the phenomena described in the diagrams below arise from this 'stretch against bone' sensation and, in my mind, provides proof that the training is authentic. Authentic, but not esoteric. This is an important difference. In my experience teaching, concepts like 'esoteric' make it impossible for students to allow the training to penetrate their everyday lives, and NeiJia methods fail. Decades of hard work invested, only to be sitting on the outside looking in. I aim in my teaching to demystify and make clear a workable and repeatable path to genuine understanding.

The Generating Sequence (also known as Sheng cycle, generating cycle, creative cycle, nourishing cycle) Each Element generates another and each Element is generated by one.

"Wood generates Fire, Fire generates Earth, Earth generates Metal, Metal generates Water and Water generates Wood."

The Mother and Son relationship applies to the generating sequence. 

"Fire is the child of Wood and the mother of Earth."

The Controlling Sequence (also known as Ko cycle, controlling cycle, restraining cycle) Each Element controls another Element and is controlled by one.

"Fire controls Metal, Earth controls Water, Metal controls Wood, Water controls Fire, Wood controls Earth."

Put another way:

"Fire controls Metal but is controlled by Water."

The Overacting Sequence (also known as overacting cycle) When the balance maintained in the generating sequence is disrupted this causes an Element to become excessive and "overcontrol" another Element.

The Insulting Sequence (also known as rebellious cycle, insulting cycle) This sequence operates in reverse to the controlling sequence, in that when the balance is broken between two elements the Element usually being controlled will Insult the controlling Element.

"Fire insults Water, Water insults Earth, Earth insults Wood, Wood insults Metal, Metal insults Fire."

  Wood Fire Earth Metal Water
Season Spring Summer Late Summer Autumn Winter
Direction East South Centre West North
Colour Green Red Yellow White Black
Taste Sour Bitter Sweet Pungent Salty
Yin Organ Liver Heart Spleen Lungs Kidney
Yang Organ Gall Bladder Small Intestine Stomach Colon Urinary Bladder
Sense Organ Eyes Tongue Mouth Nose Ears
Tissues Sinews Vessels Muscles Skin Bones
Sound Shuu Haa Whoo Tsss Fuu
Finger Index Middle Thumb Ring Pinky

From various sources, mostly Wikipedia.