This type of physical activity has a long documented history in both India and China. Artwork, medical manuals, folklore, treatises, scriptures and reports on the subject go back over 2, years. Likewise, military physical conditioning techniques, and training with military weapons bow, sword , staff , saber , knife, spear, etc. Over many centuries in China, traditional medical remedies e. In addition, trade and cultural exchanges between India and China transferred Buddhist theory and practices, Tantra, Yoga , Dao-yin, medicinal herbs, medical techniques, and martial arts training techniques between these civilizations.
Taoism emphasizes the underlying unity of the individual and the cosmos, living in harmony with the true Way or Dao Tao , giving up petty viewpoints, simplicity, solitary retreats, avoiding violent interference with others, a simple natural diet, natural and compassionate living, sharing with others, seeking insight into "emptiness", seeking a higher understanding or enlightenment, living a healthy lifestyle, storing and circulating energy Qi, Chi, Prana , practicing meditation, studying and working diligently, and seeking mystical insights.
Seeking ways to enjoy a long, healthy, energetic, ethical and enchanted life are, of course, of widespread and perennial interest. It is likely that ancient dances, medical theory, military drills and exercises, shamanistic rituals, and Buddhist and Taoist practices were all sources for the specific and formal movement routines of Dao-yin or Chi Kung Qigong. Dao Yin guiding, breathing and stretching , "guiding and stretching" or "pulling and guiding" exercises; or, Daoqi Yinti guide the qi and stretch the body ; or, Yang Sheng Fa Longevity Practices, Nourishing Life ; or Neidan Inner Alchemy.
Literature that talks about such health and fitness exercise postures or routines, with some movements quite similar to movements in the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung, goes back nearly 2, years.
Let us now review some of that historical development, in chronological order. When King Ma died they placed many documents in his tomb. In , archeologists in China excavated the tomb of King Ma. The majority of the exercises look so similar to the postures of modern qigong that it is possible to deduce how they were performed.
He created a series of exercises called the " Animal Frolics. By moving about briskly, digestion is improved, the blood vessels are opened, and illnesses are prevented. It is like a used doorstep which never rots. Now I have created the art called the Frolics of the Five Animals: It eliminates sickness, benefits the legs, and is also a form of Tao Yin. If you feel out of sorts, just practice one of my Frolics.
A gentle sweat will exude, the complexion will become rosy; the body will feel light and you will want to eat. A Training Manual for T'ai Chi, p. Professor Wang Jiafu has traced the history of Dao-yin fitness exercises, and states "Books and diagrams about daoyin appeared in growing numbers in the Western Jin Dynasty AD. By the time of the Sui and Tang dynasties AD daoyin had branched out into other forms of fitness exercises, such as the popular baduanjin.
One can also see some movements and postures in the Five Animal Frolics that are comparable to the Eight Treasures. It is recorded that these exercises appeared at the end of the Northern Song Dynasty The northern school, also know as the martial school, features strength and the horse stance; the southern school, also known as the civil school, is characterized by suppleness and an upright stance, and so these were also call the Eight-section Brocade Standing Exercises. In the 13th and 14th centuries the Taoist compilation "Ten Books on the Cultivation of Perfection Xiuzhen Shishu " included essays and illustrations about the seated version of the Eight Section Brocade Li Jingwei , , p.
Li Jingwei , , p. Since, , many books in English, instructional videos, and Internet webpages in many languages have also taught this form. Learning the Eight Section Brocade I have been taught this exercise set by seven different taijiquan or qigong instructors. Some instructors have done the eight movements very slowly, very deliberately, only two times, and with a minimum of muscular effort.
Some teachers did the movements at a moderate pace, each movement was done 8 to 16 times, and the degree of exertion was moderate to demanding. Some encouraged low horse stances, others used higher shoulder width stances. Some were precise about repetitions, others not. I enjoy doing the movements of the Eight Section Brocade at a moderate pace, doing up to 8 repetitions of each movement, and using the breathing patterns and the order of the movements as presented below.
I use the set for warming up my body before Taijiquan practice or walking. I tend to do the set in a relaxed and easy manner, and primarily for loosening and stretching. Considerable attention is given to concentrating, focusing the mind, intention and gazing when doing the eight exercises. Imagine willing a movement and executing the movement precisely. Imagine wielding a surgeon's knife and cutting flesh exactly were you want to cut.
Imagine gently and carefully moving an infant. Imagine driving a motorcycle in bad road conditions as if your life depended on every movement you make. Use whatever imagery or mind-set you need to concentrate on the exercise movements.
Pay full attention to the movements while moving, knowing exactly where and how to move, and where and when to stop on a dime. Learn how to move, store, and utilize Qi Life Energy most effectively by the power of will, disciplined action, logical processes, intentionality, accomplishing objectives, concentration, visualization, mental focus, etc.
Prior to the midth Century, "Qigong" exercise regimens were called by other names even back years ago, e. The cultivation of the "Dan Tien" or "Field of Elixir", like the cultivation of any garden or field, requires work Kung over an extended period of time before the crop grows to harvest size. Tomatoes take days to grow and to produce and ripen their lovely and tasty fruits.
To set up the Foundation requires a hundred days. They argue that the eight movement set is a Shaolin Buddhist martial arts warm up and stretching exercise set. Just move precisely, don't think a lot.
Most people will enjoy and benefit greatly from doing the Eight Section Brocade in a relaxed Sung manner. The use of intense muscular contractions, excessive stretching, or aggressive movements are counterproductive. Allow yourself to feel your body and take pleasure from it during the movements. Be present in the here and now. Listen to your body. Relax and enjoy yourself. Unburden your body-mind of anxieties and tensions and fully relax.
Stay grounded and centered. I have provided below a detailed bibliography including references to books, magazine articles, DVDs, links, resources, authorities, etc. Millions of people practice Ba Duan Jin Qigong regularly and could teach you to do the form. I have also tried to provide you with some instructions for learning the form, as well as related background information.
For each movement I give the variations of the movement, alternative names, health benefits, and general comments. I used my earnings to attend workshops, purchase books and DVDs, take classes, and earn certifications as a yoga, taiji, and fitness instructor. I used variations of movements from the Eight Section Brocade regularly in my hatha yoga and for stretching in fitness classes.
Thanks to everyone who has sent me email with positive comments and good suggestions for this webpage.