Kung-Fu, or Tauist Medical Gymnastics


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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 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. 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. 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 , died 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.


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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. 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 His system is now largely extended through the various countries of Europe.

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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. 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.

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. 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.

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 , as we have shown, professed the same idea in the treatise on the muscular motions of the body. 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.


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  • Dally thinks it would be doing a real wrong to Ling's reputation to have him posed as the inventor of it. Dally it appears less complex than that of the Tauists. The Chinese system, continues our author, is sanctioned by 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.

    Kung-Fu, or Tauist Medical Gymnastics Index

    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.

    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.

    Crazy Kungfu gymnasts

    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. Will you kindly furnish answers to the following? Some works with wood engravings have been published on the subject. 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. 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. 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 , he settled in London after studying Chinese in Paris for some time, and chose this speciality in which he rose to eminence.

    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.

    by John Dudgeon

    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.


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    • 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. 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.

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      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.

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      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. 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.

      The physical and physiological principles of the art are the following, and I am indebted to M. 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. The horizontal situation, being that which diminishes the greatest obstacle of the weight, is that also which is most favourable.

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