concept of void

mrhnau

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I've often heard of the five elements being taught in martial arts. Fire, Wind, Water, Earth and Void. Does your art teach these elements? If so, how does one convey/describe the concept of Void? Does the concept vary from art to art? I've only had real exposure to one art, so I'm curious to see what other arts/artists might say.

I've also heard of Void being refered to as Metal or even Wood. Is this a traditional desciption, or done by a few yahoos? What nomenclature does your school use?

I've also seldom heard of the elements being used in Western martial arts. Why the departure from Eastern traditions? Some Western arts had their origins in the East (BJJ for one). Are there Western arts that use the traditional elements at all? In name at least. Is there an analogy for some Western arts?
 

Cirdan

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Never heard of "elements" as such in the arts, but Earth, Fire, Wood, Water and Metal are the ones in Chinese astrology.
 

Dark

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Earth, wind, fire, water and void are also discribed as metal representing wind and wood (life) representing the void. The concept is taken from the I-Ching and taoist alchemey. The search for immortality so to speak. In comparision it's simlar to the wiccan concept and even the earilier christan philosophy, all three using the symbol of the five point star. And yes the early christians used a five point star as a symbol of christ, until the official symbol became the cross sometime during the inquisition period against the pagans in Europe.

The discription of the elements as wind and void are the Japanese take on this philosophy. Basicly the viod is the nothingness in which all the other elements spring into being and when they are no longer needed they return to the viod from which they began. Void represents the blending of the other elements, thoughts, and ideas and it can taken to mean life and death or time or even a manifesttion of God the Tao or however you refer to your higher power.
 

Xue Sheng

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I never heard the word 'void' in any of the CMA training I received about the 5 elements, Tai Chi, Xingyi, Bagua. I have heard Metal, Water, Fire, Wood, and Earth. But this is not to say it is incorrect, just not what I have been trained.

There is a lot of this in Xingyi 5 element boxing. It is associated with different fists

Pi Chuan/Splitting Fist or Metal,
Tsuan Chuan/Drilling Fist or Water,
Bong Chuan/Crushing Fist or Wood,
Po Chuan/Exploding Fist or Fire,
Heng Chuan/Crossing Fist or Earth.

And based on the element, one can overcome the other.
 

Dark

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Xue Sheng said:
I never heard the word 'void' in any of the CMA training I received about the 5 elements, Tai Chi, Xingyi, Bagua. I have heard Metal, Water, Fire, Wood, and Earth. But this is not to say it is incorrect, just not what I have been trained.

I thought I mentioned this but the viod and wind stuff are Japanese takes on Chinese elemental principles. I know certain styles of jujitsu, and shorin ryu kenpo teach these same prinicples and that they related to the 5 animals of kung-fu in regauds to those priniciples...
 

Xue Sheng

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Dark said:
I thought I mentioned this but the viod and wind stuff are Japanese takes on Chinese elemental principles. I know certain styles of jujitsu, and shorin ryu kenpo teach these same prinicples and that they related to the 5 animals of kung-fu in regauds to those priniciples...

Yes you did, I just missed to the first time around, sorry about that.

Question: You just said "they related to the 5 animals of kung-fu" did you mean 5-elements?

And am I then correct in saying that the Japanese do not use Wood as an element?

And the concept of void is also found in the I-Ching, but it is not originally associated with alchemy or immortality. It is associated with the usefulness of a thing coming from its emptiness, emptiness being void. The usefulness of a wheel comes from its hub, etc. I do not have the direct quote in front of me, I will post it later.
 

Xue Sheng

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Damn!! it is just not my day.

The concept I am talking about comes from the Tao Te Ching not the I-ching

The Nature of Usefulness ...
Thirty spokes will converge
In the hub of a wheel;
But the use of the cart
Will depend on the part
Of the hub that is void.
With a wall all around
A clay bowl is molded;
But the use of the bowl
Will depend on the part
Of the bowl that is void.

Cut out windows and doors
In the house as you build;
But the use of the house
Will depend on the space
In the walls that is void.

So advantage is had
From whatever is there;
But usefulness rises
From whatever is not.
 

Dark

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The five elements from hsing-I quan teaches five attitude for fighting, those same five attitudes are characterized by the 5 animals, they are carbon copies mind you but the ideology is the same. Japanese atrology uses wood to represent the viodm, and metal to represent the wind. From my limited understanding they esentually interchangible.
 

vincehardy3

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The internal boxing system called Xingyiquan utilizes the five elements, and they are physically manifested in Xingyis fist/stepping techniques (footwork/body actions). The definition of Void means to be empty, and the equivalent in Xingyi is Wuji (emptiness). It literally means to be devoid of intentit is the starting point of movement within Xingyi.

The concept of the Void can also have varied meanings within other systems of training. In my training within Yiliquan it carries the meaning of being empty of technique. It is a higher martial concept. The best example that I can give is from a qigong aspect. Opponent A attacks defender B with a punch; defender Bs retaliation doesnt come from outward physical techniques, but from the internal; defender B absorbs the blow and yields/redirects the intent behind the blow. This sounds hokey, but the opponents energy is redirected back to them with a change in the intent; and it is very painful for them. This has elements of Taijis yielding concepts.

I cant wait to hear the feedback on this one.


Vince

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The only thing that I can say is that it does work, and it hurtsI was on the receiving end.
 

thesensei

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My instructor taught me these concepts, but more as fighting classifications than as philosophy. I don't use them specifically in my teaching much, although I occasionally allude to them. The basic idea:

Fire - When your attacker moves in, you move in with him. Basically, the clash!

Water - When the attacker moves towards the defender, the defender moves back. When the attacker retreats, the defender moves forward. A back and forth motion.

Wind - Makes much use of angles. When the attacker moves forward, instead of clashing, or moving away, the defender uses the angles to slip by, and counter from an obscure zone.

Earth - Typically used by larger, stronger people. This is the person who stands in one place, allowing his attacker to circle around him. When the attacker moves in, the defender quickly counters.

Void - This is the goal. The void is the theoretical combination of all the other elements, by watching your opponent to see his strengths and weaknesses, as well as his fighting style, and capitalizing on his weaknesses by employing the best element for the situation.

In other words, I define the void as the complete fighter, who can adapt his style to fit any situation.

That's the idea. Certainly not traditional, but I think it has merit as a system of classification. Most people tend to emphasize one of those elements in their personal style, but it's a very proficient artist who can combine and blend them as necessary.

Salute
 

Jimi

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Earth, Wind & Fire have not done a concert in quite some time. Lol! Sorry, I could not help myself. I respect many of the influences that touch on animals and elements. Most arts may have some take on these. PEACE
 
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mrhnau

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Jimi said:
Earth, Wind & Fire have not done a concert in quite some time.
maybe they got "rained" out. hehe
 

trueaspirer

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Hmm... we learnt a little bit about these things in ma class from my korean master, but I don't remembre learning about anything called "void". Metal rings a bell, a little, anyway, but we don't really apply those kinds of things to our actual techniques, its mainly for analogies and stuff like that on the side.
 

Jimi

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mrhnau said:
maybe they got "rained" out. hehe
That's a great one, but I did see Kool and The Gang in Baltimore a few years ago. I believe that the void is an empty or without thought concept. Much like a quote from Bruce Lee, I am Paraphrasing, "abiding by the no-mindedness of great origin". Many like to refer to the idea of allowing you body to be guided without thought, Again another quote from Bruce (Which he may have borrowed from elsewhere)" The true warriors greatest battle is one that rages from within, the struggle to master the ego, to fight not for gain or glory, but to ballance the scales of justice. Only when the mind is free from the concept of self can the hand strike swift and true". Thanks for reminding me of some good old school music as well as an almost forgotten concept I love. See there is that no-mindedness thing again. PEACE
 

donna

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In our style we are taught about the void in relation to "A Book of Five Rings" written by Miyamoto Musashi.
In particular where he talks about timing.
quote..
"From The Ground Book
Timing in strategy
There is timing in everything. Timing in strategy cannot be mastered without a great deal of practice.
Timing is important in dancing and pipe or string music, for they are in rhythm only if timing is good. Timing and rhythm are also involved in the military arts, shooting bows and guns, and riding horses. In all skills and abilities there is timing.
There is also timing in the Void.
There is timing in the whole life of the warrior, in his thriving and declining, in his harmony and discord. Similarly, there is timing in the Way of the merchant, in the rise and fall of capital. All things entail rising and falling timing. You must be able to discern this. In strategy there are various timing considerations. From the outset you must know the applicable timing and the inapplicable timing, and from among the large and small things and the fast and slow timings find the relevant timing, first seeing the distance timing and the background timing. This is the main thing in strategy. It is especially important to know the background timing, otherwise your strategy will become uncertain.
You win in battles with the timing in the Void born of the timing of cunning by knowing the enemies timing, and this using a timing which the enemy does not expect"
 

bshovan

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Another resource on the " void " can be found by researching Edgar Cayce. Google void and Edgar Cayce and much can be found about this subject. As martial Artists we are also educators and I've always been fascinated with Edgar Cayce's books since my Mother had all of his books and I read many of them. There are much insights into areas I feel will be of interest to some.
Hope this helps.

Bill Shovan
 

still learning

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Hello, The void is the endless space of learning,training,enlightment,endless....the learning of martial arts...is endless. Combinations....endless....

and yes for most of us the last one is "metal" , of the 5 elements...

Void is just that........endless....


To A-void any more confussions....each Instructor/Sensi/ can create,say what ever they want to their students....There is not LAWS for VOIDS.....

Hope to a-void anymore problems...........Aloha

PS: my problems are a void!
 

Xue Sheng

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Sorry to back track. But I couldnt remember this in my previous post. In Xingyi the 5 elements are Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, Earth.

Metal produces water
Water produces Wood
Wood produces Fire
Fire produces Earth
Earth produces Metal

Metal defeats Wood
Wood defeats Earth
Earth defeats Water
Water defeats Fire
Fire defeats Metal

Now apply this to the fists and attacks.
For example, if attacked by Wood, Respond with Metal, etc.
 

redfang

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In Bruce Lee's "The Tao of Jeet Kun Do" it says,

"Voidness is that which stands right in the middle between this and that. The void is all-inclusive, having no opposite - there is nothing which it excludes or opposes. It is living void, because all forms come out of it and whoever realizes the void is filled with life and power and the love of all beings."

This sounds to me like a reference to (take your pick depending on your outlook) the tao, the buddha, ki, the godhead, the razor edge of present, the creative principle, the totality of all of the individual elements, etc.
 
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