ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (THE END OF VOL. 1): Liùzì jué 六字訣 “instructions on the six sounds”

Liùzì jué  六字訣  “instructions on the six sounds”

Catherine Despeux, the entry’s author tells us exactly what sounds they are. “This breathing technique, also known as “method of the six breaths” (liùqì fă 六氣法), consists of inhaling through the nose and exhaling in six ways through the mouth. The corresponding sounds are designated by six characters (hence the name of the method, literally meaning “instructions on the six characters”). They are xū 噓, hē 呵 (or xu 呴, nowadays also pronounced gou), hū 呼, si 呬 (nowadays also pronounced xì), chuī 吹, and xī 嘻”.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Some advices on medical application of ‘six sounds theory’ we can extract from the same article: “The six breath are related to the five viscera (wŭzàng 五臟) and to a sixth organ which, according to different sources, is either the “triple burner” (sānjiāo 三焦) or the gallbladder. Essentially they have a therapeutic or prophylactic action upon the viscera and their corresponding symptoms according  to the principles of Chinese medicine. Chuī 吹 heals ailments resulting from cold and wind, hū 呼 ailments resulting from the heat, xī 嘻 ailments resulting from the wind and heat, hē 呵 relaxes the qi, xū 噓 clears away stagnation, and si (xì) 呬 dispels heat”. — C.D.

How often people should practice six sounds exercise? My first guess is you can practice it anytime you think you need it and how often you want it, but it does not look professional. So, different sources can give us different numbers, 81 times after midnight, 72 times at cockcrow, 64 times at dawn, etc. And sometimes people used to consider the gymnastic movements and body directions too.

The information about six sounds was very interesting in medical aspect in this entry but there is a couple of things nice to add. I mean martial arts and erotical guides.

Martial Art (One Example)


My favorite example is a short episode from the movie The Sword Identity (2011) with a master Yu Chenhui in the lost field. It takes 51 second, or exactly 38 second when master does absolutely stunning martial training form. We can hear 18 sounds, the first five will be repeated to the end in different order. As far as I can write it down right, they are Hu, Uh, Xu, He, and Ha-ah. Every two-seconds sounds help master to train self right. Probably, there are six sounds instead of five but they are not the same we have seen in medical usage above. However, using sounds in martial art forms is an important fact to me and I would like to see more information in the encyclopedia.

Sex Guides in Ancient China


Once again, only one example from my favorite text Tiān Xià Zhì Dào Tán (天下至道談)


Wŭ yīn: yī yuē hóu xī.  Èr yuē chuăn xī, sān yuē lèi ài, sì yuē huō.  Wŭ yuē niè.  Shĕn chá wŭ yīn, yĭ zhī qí xīn.  “The five sounds: the first is ‘sighing’.  The second is ‘short breathing’.  The third is ‘implicating sadness’.  The fourth is ‘panting’.  The fifth is ‘nibbling’. Pay attention to the five sounds to know her affections.” So sounds rule everywhere:)))

The word 訣  (jué) from the title has a meaning ‘secret’ also. How about 6 (or 5) secret sounds in martial art or in love making? Frankly, I wanted to join martial art example and traditional medicine and erotic guide long ago. Probably, it is on a whim mostly.