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In traditional Chinese philosophy, natural phenomena can be classified into the Wu Xing (Chinese: 五行; pinyin: wǔxíng), or the Five Elements, also translated as five phases, five movements or five steps.
The elements are:
The system of five elements was used for describing interactions and relationships between phenomena. It was employed in many fields of early Chinese thought, including seemingly disparate fields such as geomancy or Feng shui, astrology, traditional Chinese medicine, music, military strategy and martial arts. The original foundation is based on the concept of the Five Cardinal Points.
Traditional Taijiquan schools relate them to footwork and refer to them as five "steps". The system is still used as a reference in some forms of complementary and alternative medicine and martial arts.
Additional recommended knowledge
The doctrine of five phases describes two Cycles of Balance, a generating or creation (生, shēng) cycle and an overcoming or destruction (克, kè) cycle of interactions between the phases.
There are also two Cycles of Imbalance, an overacting cycle (cheng) and an insulting cycle (wu).
Cosmology and feng shui
According to Chinese thought the structure of the cosmos mirror the five elements, and each has a complex series of associations with different aspects of nature, as can be seen in the following table. In the ancient Chinese form of geomancy known as Feng Shui practitioners all based their art and system on the five elements (Wu Xing). All of these elements are represented within the Bagua. Associated with these elements are colors, seasons and shapes; all of which are interacting with each other. 
The elements have also been correlated to the eight trigrams of the I Ching:
According to Chinese medical theory, each organ is associated with one of the Five Phases. It is believed to be more efficacious to treat an organ during a particular time period appropriate to it. The citation order of the Five Phases, i.e., the order in which they are cited in the Bo Hu Tong and other Han dynasty texts, is Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth. The organs are most effectively treated, according to theory, in the following four-hour periods throughout the day, beginning with the 3 a.m. to 7 a. m. period: Metal organs (see the list below), Earth organs, Fire1 organs, Water organs, Fire2 (the "non-empirical" Pericardium and Triple Burner organs), and Wood organs, which is the reverse of the citation order (plus an extra use of Fire and the non-empirical organs to take care of the sixth four-hour period of the day). These two orders are further related to the sequence of the planets going outward from the sun (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, or Water, Metal, Fire, Wood, and Earth) by a star diagram similar to the one shown above. 
Chinese astrology is based upon the interaction of the five elements with the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac, to produce the well-known 60 year cylce of signs.
For example, assume someone is born in the year 1953, the year of the Snake. Because her birth year ends with 3, her element is Water; therefore, she was born in the year of the Water Snake.
The Yuèlìng chapter (月令篇) of the Lǐjì (禮記) and the Huáinánzǐ (淮南子) make the following correlations:
Xingyiquan uses the five elements to metaphorically represent five different states of combat.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Wu_Xing". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|