Traditional Yǎngshēng method (cultivating health) “gripping firmly”, 握固 Wò gù. Article presented by the temple of Wǔhàn City 武汉 Chǎngchūn guān 长春观

This technique of “gripping firmly” the hands, belongs to the traditional methods of cultivating one’s health in China.  The book 《老子》Lǎozi states:  “weak bones, soft tendons and grip firmly”.  Afterward, during the Jìn Dynasty (265-420), the famous daoist priest Gé hóng葛洪 (283-363) wrote his work, the《抱朴子》Bào pǔ zi:

 “握固守一” Wò gù shǒu yī “keeping a firm grip”. The great imperial doctor of the Suí Dynasty (581-617) Cháo yuán fāng巢元方 in his book 《诸病源候论•中恶病诸候》zhū bìngyuán hòu lùn•zhōng èr bìng zhūhóu: theory on the condition of all ailments, in the chapter dealing with demonic illnesses, also talks about this manner of hand placing.

The specific method to practice “gripping firmly” is to “place the thumb against the palm of the hand and pressing the remaining four fingers over it firmly”.  In our days, after having studied different methods, we can offer a more precise instruction on the position of the thumb.  The tip of the thumb presses slightly the base of the ring finger, immediately the remaining four finger close over the thumb.  Press gently, as if wanting to contain a precious item within.

Why does the tip of the thumb have to be placed on the base of the fourth finger?  The ancient thought that the base of the ring finger corresponded to an orifice through which the hún of the liver could communicate.  Because the liver commands the tendons, it allows us to grip, hold.  This is why, when one practices this method every day, the benign effects that come from the liver can be reverted.

Position in which to practice:wogu2










This practice allows for the strengthening of the vital essence of the kidney and also stimulates the kidney water, a method that helps in the nutrition of the kidney yīn and reduces the hyperactivity of the kidney yáng.  Therefore it aids in the treatment of chronic pharyingitis, rhinitis, and problems associated with excess heat in the interior due to continual irascibility.

It can also make for a softer blood and energy.  Thus, better nutrients ascend to the face and the hair.  It is stated in traditional Chinese medicine “the hair is related with the blood from the liver,” “the kidney flourishes in the hair” (the ancient Chinese observed that hair is healthy and pigmented during youth, when blood and energy are exuberant.  Colour and strength of the hair are lost in old age, when the kidney loses its vital essence.”  This is why in the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine黄帝内经Huángdì nèijīng one can read that the conditions of the hairs, their growth, their fall, are associated with the strength and vitality of the kidney.  Also, the hair is intimately related with blood, this is why it is said that “the hair on the head is the blood in excess”.

How to choose a best time to practice?

It is important to have a moment of tranquility, the time to be able to pactice in calm.  To be able to obtain a good effect, it is important to “grip firmly” both hands at least ten times (grip, keep the hold for approximately a minute in this position and then release).  This exercise can be practiced while watching television, sitting in the car, walking, when at a meeting, or at any time that one’s hands are idle.  This is excellent for treating the “虚火” xūhuǒ syndrome:  insufficiency of fire.  In traditional medicine it is stated: “瘦人多虚火” shòu rén duō xūhuǒ: man slims down in excess because there exists a large insufficiency of fire.  The insufficiency of fire is due to a weakening of the true yīn, thus provoking feverishness, reddening of the face, heat in the five hearts (palms of the hands, palms of the feet, centre of the chest), precordial pain, insomnia, nocturnal sweating, sparse and reddish urination, dry mouth and throat, red tongue.  Normally this syndrome can be observed when there has been damage to the yīn, in advanced stages of feverish illnesses, or in processes where insufficiency of  yīn has presented.

This is why the practice of “gripping firmly” 握固 wò gù strengthens the absorption water and the kidney’s physiology. It can help in the enrichment of the yīn (to humidify blood) and to diminish the effects of fire.

Therefore, people that find it hard to control their emotional states such as wrath that leads to ulcers in the mouth, chronic throat aches, and chronic rhinitis; can enjoy a great recovery in practising this brief exercise.