This section is from the book "The Beverages of the Chinese; Kung-fu or Tauist Medical Gymnastics; the Population of China; A Modern Chinese Anatomist and A Chapter in Chinese Surgery.", by John Dudgeon. Also available from Amazon: Kung Fu, or Taoist Medical Gymnastics.
It follows from this that the different postures of Kung-fu, well directed, ought to operate in a salutary disengagement in all the maladies which spring from an embarrassed, retarded, or even interrupted circulation. Now, how many complaints are there that are not thus caused? One can even demand if, except fractures, wounds, etc., which derange the bodily organisation, there are any which do not so originate? 2. - It is certain that the heart is the prime mover of the circulation, and the force which it has to produce and conserve it is one of the grand marvels of the world. It is further certain that there is a sensible and continual correspondence between the beatings of the heart, which fills and empties itself of blood, and the movements of dilatation and contraction of the lungs, which empty and fill themselves with air by inspiration and expiration. This correspondence is so evident that the beating of the heart increases and diminishes immediately, in proportion to the acceleration or retardment of the respiration. Now, if we inspire more air than we expire of it, or vice versa, its volume ought to diminish or augment the total mass of blood and lymph, and ought to invigorate more or less the blood which is in the lungs. If one hurries or retards the respiration, one ought to hurry or weaken the beatings of the heart. The bearing of this on Kung-fu is self-evident, and need not further be illustrated. It is evident that, in accelerating or retarding the respiration, we accelerate or retard the circulation, and by a necessary consequence that of the lymph; and that, in the case of inspiring more air than we expire, we diminish or augment the volume of the air which is therein contained. Now, all this mechanism being assisted by the posture of the body, by the combined and assorted position of the members, it is evident that it ought to produce a sensible and immediate effect upon the circulation of the blood and lymph, - an effect physical, necessary, and intimate, linked to the mechanism of the body, an effect so much the more certain as the repose of the night has rendered the organs more supple, as the diet of the evening has diminished the plenitude of the arteries, of the veins, and of the canals of the absorbents and lacteals. The object of the Notice in the Memoires, Amiot says, is not to teach Kung-fu, but to enable European physicians to examine its value without prejudice.
The above is chiefly a translation from Amiot's article. M. Dally subjoins some observations. He supposes the Tauists to consider the body as a vertical line, and the members which are attached to it as articulated springs of the line, able to take in turn all the different positions. Upon this vertical line they have made four general divisions, - the head, the arms, the trunk, and the legs. Each of these divisions has general movements proper to it, and the articulated parts of each of these divisions have also their particular movements. He takes, for example, the head, of which they have considered not only the general movements, inclined in front and to the back, to the right and to the left, but also the particular movements of torsion of the neck to the right and left, those of the eyes, of the nose, of the mouth, of the tongue, and of the jaws. They have obtained new movements in combining the general movements among themselves, the particular movements among themselves, and the particular movements with the general movements. Is it wished to get an idea of the number of attitudes, orders, series, or formulae, of which this system is composed? It is sufficient to represent only what in mathematics one calls permutations, arrangements, and combinations; and the figures become infinite. This infinite multiple of formulae reproduce themselves again by the addition of the different modes of respiration, and by other conditions, such as the quickness, the resistance, the body being naked or dressed, burdened with a weight upon the head, on the shoulders, or in the hand, according to the malady; besides the body lying, sitting, standing, stretched or relaxed, immovable or movable, walking, running, dancing, leaping, in an active or passive state, or one part active and another passive;
all the conditions which influence specifically the physiological effect of the same movement, or of a similar series of movements.
After mentioning the above six observations,. M. Dally gives an example which he says one can verify upon one's self. Stretch forth the arms forcibly, while friction is made in a concentric curve over the abdominal region. What do you feel? An increase of heat in the intestines, at the same time also a diminution of the heat in the anterior side of the abdomen. Therefore, there is an augmentation of the circulation in the arteries of the intestines, and a diminution of the blood in the abdominal veins. Would you like that the friction cause an effect altogether the contrary? Lower the arms, and hold them hanging. In this position, the same friction produces a diminution of the blood in the intestinal veins, and an augmentation of the circulation in the arteries and in the anterior abdominal walls. Then, in the one case and in the other, there has been, at will, an exchange of arteriosity and absorptivity between the walls of the abdomen and the intestines. Then again, in the one case and in the other, the conditions of vitality which preside over the functions of all the organs of the abdominal region are powerfully active, and one conceives that it is possible-to produce the same effects on the entire economy, in assisting by general friction the tension or distension of the whole muscular system, the tension or distension which the reserve of the breath or the simple ordinary respiration can again notably modify. Thus, of the different attitudes, they can produce physiological phenomena exactly alike or variously modified; and what is of great importance in the application to the treatment of disease is this, that we can isolate a portion of the body, by acting on some other parts.