Yin & Yang Applied for Health, Training & Self Defense

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For Health…

Understanding the duality of yin and yang is essential to the Chinese concept of “balance.” Just as the balance of yin and yang in the body will result in good health, in Chinese medicine the correct analysis of an imbalance of yin and yang is the first step toward the diagnosis of a disease.

Through the use of amma (massage) or acupuncture, “points” are selected according to the many degrees of imbalances. Through the use of herbs, extreme yang herbs are “hot”; moderately yang herbs are “warm”; extreme yin herbs are “cold”; moderately yin herbs are “cool”; balanced herbs are “neutral.” The Classic of Internal Medicine states; “If the condition is hot, cool it down; if the condition is cold, warm it up.”

Taoists have been known to live in accordance with yin and yang through their daily habits. If one feels hot and/or feverish (yang), then consuming more fruits and fluids (yin) would have a cooling effect and help to create a balance.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a very common Excess Yang condition caused by chronic stress. A simple and very effective “yin” treatment without the need for drugs or doctors would be daily soft-style Qi Gong with deep breathing exercises (no holding the breath!) and calming meditation (just sitting quietly can work wonders!).

Taking drugs only provides temporary relief of the symptoms without addressing the root cause of the problem. The toxic side effects of these medications actually further impairs the body’s ability to restore balance resulting in a vicious cycle of drug dependency. This approach causes more problems than it cures and is directly against the natural principles of health. 

For Training & Self Defense…

When we apply the principle of yin & yang in our approach to training there is attention paid to both the external (body) and the internal (mind).

The external training includes exercises for strength, endurance, flexibility, speed, power, and coordination. This aspect is covered through the practice of the physical part of training. This is the area that most people focus on when they look to “get in shape” by taking martial arts classes.  This yang aspect of training spends energy.

Internal training is unfortunately where most people neglect their practice. However, it is at least equal to if not more important than the physical side. This yin aspect is the key to reaching higher levels of focus, sensitivity and awareness. Here one can develop true strength by using the whole body while executing a technique. This can only be achieved through inner calmness, deep relaxation (suppleness), and the development of reflexive movements. Look to breathing, meditation and Qi Gong to develop the yin side.

For self defense, we apply the yin / yang principle with, “as the opponent moves, follow.” Other examples can include: using one hand to pull in while the other hand extends out (possibly to strike); moving away from an attack to one side while simultaneously moving closer with the other side; faking left to go right; attacking low to open high; beware right while looking left; etc. Can you think of more?

How about avoiding a confrontation altogether and meeting aggression with a passive approach? Or staying calm in an argument? Becoming angry will add fuel to the fire and escalate the problem. It doesn’t matter if you think you are right, if you can let go of your ego and learn to remain calm and listen instead of forcing in your opinion, you will likely end up with a clearer understanding and a calmer situation. This is the use of wisdom in self defense. In a fight that can be avoided, especially one that is fueled by ego, even if you win, you lose.  

“Those who seek harmony know how to find it”  


Originally published Aug & Sept, 1999 under the title “Applied Yin & Yang




Shifu Ahles
Shifu Raymond Ahles, the owner and Chief Instructor of the Blue Dragon School, is a certified instructor of Ba Gua Zhang Kung Fu & Chi Kung and a 7th Generation Lineage Disciple in the Ch’iang Shan Pa Kua Chang Association. In addition to his 30 years plus teaching experience in the martial arts, Shifu Ahles also holds a B.S. degree in Exercise Physiology, he’s a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has an extensive background in the healing arts of Oriental Medicine including certifications in Advanced Amma Therapy, Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture. He is a licensed Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist in NJ.





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