"Other theories suggest that the Eight Brocades are a collection of various Taoist breath exercises with influences coming from the Buddhist patriarch Bodhidharma's works, the I chin ching and Hsi sui ching (Muscles Changing Classic and Marrow Cleansing Classic); or, that the Sung dynasty military leader General Yueh Fei invented the exercises. These two highly improbably founders serve more to validate the practice of the Eight Brocades within the Buddhist and martial arts schools.
The development of the Eight Brocades is rather clouded. All the various schools have claimed it as their own invention, and have inserted their own ideas. It has even been presented as twelve exercises, or the Twelve Brocades (shih erh tuan chin). The exercises also appear in a more dissected manner with many additions, under the heading Internal Kung for the Four Seasons (nei kung szu ling), as twenty four exercises for specific periods of the year. In martial arts, the Eight Brocades have become a system of not only standing postures but also sword and staff forms. They are now being presented as a form of qigong, a term that did not appear until 1910 in a book entitled Shaolin Tsung fa (Shaolin Orthodox Methods). The author used the term generically to cover a wide range of ideas, including respiratory and meditative exercises directed at mobilizing the breath. Qigong is not in any sense a traditional Taoist term, but has since been adapted to many Taoist works.
Since no clear evidence exists as to when the Eight Brocades were first developed, the answer as to their origin really depends on which school or thought of Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, medicine, or martial art you wish to believe. Each school seems to have its own unique evidence and prejudice."
- Stuart Alve Olson, Qigong Teachings of a Taoist Immortal, p. 26
My detailed webpage on the Eight Section Brocade Qigong will give you many additional leads to the history and practice of this popular qigong form.