Building upon my previous work, I am considering the theory that the various Karate-Do Styles originally possessed 'different' and ‘diverse’ terms for their techniques - as each evolved from its foundational gongfu Style. For instance, traditional Chinese gongfu does not possess the unity or conformity that defines modern (Okinawan) Karate-Do - an attribute which gives Karate-Do an inherent robustness and strength – achieved through the process of removing of diversity. On the other hand, even within Chinese gongfu Forms contained within the same Style - exactly the same movement often possesses a completely different name!
This is often due to a) metaphysical interpretations (linked to TCM) and b) to material practicality. A lower block may be performed with an open hand or closed fist - use the edge, palm or back of the open hand - or the 'Hammer Fist' of closed hand. The contact surface might be the boney areas of the wrist, or the bones of the fore-arm - similar to the 'Iron Arm' training performed in deep Horse Stance with fore-arms and wrists robustly striking one another (this is a Hakka speciality, and we do this from childhood - generating tremendous power when an adult)! I remember performing this type of conditioning within the Goju Ryu Karate-Do Style - only in a higher (Sanchin) Stance. Experts tend to adjust their technique to become like 'water' - which envelops and controls any 'stone-like' techniques!
The metaphysical reasons are far too in-depth to cover in a single article – but what follows is a basic summary. The 'jing' [精] (retained sexual energy) and 'qi' [氣] (breath, food, drink and moral thought) are circulated up the 'Governing Vessel' (督脈 - Du Mai) and down the 'Conception Vessel' (任脉 - Ren Mai) in a continuous microcosmic cycle (小周天 - Xiao Zhou Tian). What the Japanese people renamed the 'Hara' (はら) - or '払 (fan3) in the Chinese language (this ideogram has no immediate metaphysical meaning within the modern Chinese language) - is I believe a reworking of the well-known lower ‘丹田’ (Dan Tian) situated 1.5-3 inches below the navel. The three 'Dan Tian' locations (分 - Fen) are found in TCM as follows:
1) Upper Dan Tian (上丹田 - Shang Dan Tian) - situated in the centre of the forehead (the so-called 'Third-Eye' or 'Yin Tang' [印堂] point [穴 - Xue]) situated on the ‘Governing Vessel’. This is where '神' (Shen) - or 'empty' and 'all-embracing' consciousness is first formed prior to 'expanding' through the body (uniting the three 'Dan Tian') and penetrating the physical environment.
2) Middle Dan Tian (中丹田 - Zhong Dan Tian) - situated around the Solar Plexus (the 'Tan Zhong' [膻中] point) on the ‘Conception Vessel’.
3) Lower Dan Tian (下丹田 - Xia Dan Tian) - situated 15 - 3 inches below the navel - depending upon medical source (the 'Guan Yuan' [关元] point) on the ‘Conception Vessel’.
These three pressure-points all exist upon a unified line of inner energy flow that demarks the ‘Governing Vessel’ and the 'Conception Vessel' situated on the front of body – extending deep into the tissue of the body reaching to the back of the spinal bone. This three-dimensional TCM can be observed at work with the 'Upper Dan Tian' (Governing Vessel) - which is comprised of a three-way link between the exact inner-centre of the brain-mass (泥丸宫 - Ni Wan Gong) and the exact centre-point situated at the top of the skull-bone - the so-called 'Bai Hui (百会) point.
All genuine (traditional) Chinese gongfu is comprised of TCM thinking, methodology and spirituality. Killing, maiming (hurting the opponent's mind and body - either temporarily or permanently) or stopping the opponent without hurting their mind or body - are the physical objectives. As for the spiritual side (which I think is also embedded in the 'Gedan Bara-I' - 'Gedan Hara-I') - this is a complex issue. Gee reminded me that one form of the lower block we practice in our Hakka Family Style is performed on each side of the body - and does not cross the front of the torso at all (and therefore does not traverse the Lower Dan Tian point – or ‘Hara’ in the Japanese language).
The 'Governing Vessel' and ‘Conception Vessel’ ‘connect’ between the roof of the mouth (just behind the front upper-teeth) and is connected to the 'Conception Vessel' via the top of the tongue. Whereas the Upper Dan Tian appears within, upon and around the ‘Governing Vessel’ - the Middle and Lower Dan Tian appear within, upon and around the 'Conception Vessel'. However, the following analysis is a correct correlation of Karate-Do ‘Blocks’ and ‘Dan Tian’ pressure-points:
Jo-Dan (Upper Level) Uke (Block) = Upper Dan Tian
Chu-Dan (Middle Level) Uke (Block) = Middle Dan Tian
Ge-Dan (Lower Level) Hara-I (Block) = Lower Dan Tian
This suggests that the Upper Block (when performed to the immediate front of the body) travels through the Upper Dan Tian. The Middle Block (when performed to the immediate front of the body) travels through the Middle Dan Tian, and the Lower Block (when performed to the immediate front of the body) travels through the Lower Dan Tian.
I have accessed a Japanese language page regarding the 'Dan Tian' and this confirms the link between the Lower Dan Tian and the 'Hara'. The Chinese name for the Lower Dan Tian is '关元' (Guan Yuan) which is rendered into the Japanese language as '関元' (Seki Gen). This is also referred to as 'はら' (Hara) supposedly due to the influence of Zen Buddhist practice - but as a Chinese Ch'an Buddhist myself, I have no idea why this should historically be the case. However, by building upon my earlier work regarding ‘Ge-Dan Bara-I’ (下段払い)’ - if we follow this line of reasoning, the original (or 'early') Karate-Do Blocks could have been called something like this:
Jo-Dan Gindo-I (上段 銀堂 い) = Upper Level 'Gindo' (Upper Dan Tian) Forceful Execute!
Chu-Dan Nichu-I (中段 丹中 い) = Middle Level 'Nichu' (Middle Dan Tian) Forceful Execute!
Ge-Dan Bara-I’ (下段払い) which should read ‘Ge-Dan Hara-I’ = Lower Block 'Hara' (Lower Dan Tian) Forceful Execute!
To arrive at the above speculation - I have 'reversed engineered' the structure of the Lower Block (conventionally and incorrectly rendered into English as ‘Ge-Dan Bara-I’ - [下段払い] - when it should read ‘Ge-Dan Hara-I') into the Middle and Upper versions. I have used Japanese language transliterations of the original TCM designations regarding the Dan Tian points even though I do not know the 'slang' terms for these Japanese words. I say this as I am told that 'Hara' is a slang term for the Chinese TCM language term '关元' (Guan Yuan) [which refers to the Lower Dan Tian point] - which translates as to 'Seal the Source' or 'Stop the Leakage to Strengthen the Foundation'. Traditionally, the Japanese people developed the ritual of 'cutting-open' (Hara-Kiri) this anatomical area as a means of 'releasing' what they thought to be their 'life spirit'. I know of no Chinese cultural equivalent to this practice. The 'Blocking' techniques of Karate-Do, however, serve the exact 'opposite' of this destructive practice – and this is achieved by the Karate-Do Blocks 'protecting' these three energy centres - which are considered vital for the evolution of life!
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.