Comparison of Zen Shiatsu and Five Element Theory
The central concept of Oriental Medicine is all physical disease is the result of disruption/obstruction in the flow of Qi (intrinsic energy).
Zen Shiatsu operates on the theory/concept of Kyo and Jitsu within the meridian system of the body. The terms Kyo and Jitsu are used to describe the quality of the Qi in the meridians and acupoints. Kyo means empty, depleted, or hypo and can be associated with the Chinese concept of Yin whereas Jitsu means full, in excess, or hyper and can be associated with Yang.
As with the Yin and Yang theory, Kyo and Jitsu are relative descriptions of Qi and one cannot exist without the other. Kyo being the underlying cause of the illness and tends to be covert, while Jitsu is manifest as the effect and is generally overt.
When a diagnosis is carried out using Zen techniques (ie. Asking, listening, hearing and observing) on the Hara or the Yu points the object is to find the dynamic between the meridians and this is generally manifest as being between the most Kyo and most Jitsu meridians. Once the diagnosis is complete the treatment is decided on, normally the Jitsu meridian is sedated and the Kyo meridian tonified. The exception to this is when the patient is chronically Kyo in which case sedation is not carried out.
This method of working can also be carried out within a single meridian when, if the overall diagnosis of that meridian is Jitsu, any Kyo points can be tonified and filled by transferring the Qi from the Jitsu to the Kyo. It a may also be found that there are Jitsu points within a predominantly Kyo meridian and, once again, the Qi can be transferred and balanced within that particular meridian.
Zen Shiatsu also has meridians which are supplementary to the TCM ones and Masunaga’s Shiatsu recognises twelve meridians in the arms and twelve in the legs.
Five Element Theory within Shiatsu
Five Element Theory also works with the principal of empty (Yin) and full (Yang) points but expands the concept/theory of Yin and Yang so that there are defined qualities of Qi for each Element and the need to relate one quality with another (Yin needs Yang and vice versa) is gone.
The Five Elements (Qualities) are descriptive of the quality of Qi as it changes from Yin to Yang and then back. It follows the cycle of Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood……… then back to Fire. Each meridian is associated with one of these Elements and as such it is placed in the cycle. For example, the Metal Element is made up of the Lung and Large Intestine meridians. This is further broken down within the Element and the meridian pair is split into Yin and Yang. In the case of the Metal Element, Lung meridian is Yin while Large Intestine is Yang.
The Five Element system is made up of the creative, or Shen, cycle which works on a mother to son basis following the previously described cycle. When using the Five Element Theory for treatment, three meridians are worked on (Triad). There is also a control, or Ko, cycle in which one of the Elements has a direct controlling influence over the other: Fire – ko – Metal, Earth – ko – Water, Metal – ko – Wood, Water – ko – Fire, Wood – ko – Earth.
On the Shen cycle, Yang feeds Yang and Yin feeds Yin. On the Ko cycle Yang controls Yin and Yin controls Yang.
Once a diagnosis has been completed the associations between the symptoms/observations and the diagnosis are noted. A composite diagnosis is then carried out, the meridians that are to be worked are decided, a plan of treatment is decided and, finally, the treatment is carried out. On the face of it, The Five Element system appears to be much more complex but it is really straight forward. It also strengthens the treatment by having a third meridian assist in the rebalancing of the other two.
- If you took the example of someone who was found to be LU Jitsu and KD Kyo, using Zen Theory you would simply sedate LU and tonify KD. However, using Five Element Theory you could sedate LU, tonify KD and tonify SI, or TH, using the Ko cycle to control LU.
- Another example could be of a client who showed KD Jitsu and LU Kyo (the opposite of the previous example). Using Zen Theory it would be a case of sedating KD and tonifying LU. If Five Element Theory was used you could sedate KD, tonify LU and tonify ST, utilising the Ko cycle to control KD.If, for example, the client was chronically Kyo and alternative treatment plan (using the Five Element Theory) would be to leave KD, tonify ST to control KD, tonify LU and, lastly, tonify SP to bolster LU through the Shen cycle.
There is compatibility between the two systems that can be seen when using the Five Element treatment method. If you find Jitsu within a Kyo meridian you can simply use Zen Theory to move Qi from one part of the meridian to another.