Monday, February 22, 2016

Eight Treasures Chi Kung Exercise Set

I frequently teach the Chinese Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung exercise and fitness routine in my Taijiquan class and my Yoga class.  Naturally, I include many comments about Shaolin and Daoist fitness and healthy living concepts.

This Eight Treasures exercise and fitness routine has a varied and long history with ancient roots back to the Animal Frolics Dao-yin exercises of 300 CE.  Some of the Eight Treasures exercises involve toughening, courage, and fighting and were used in military exercise and conditioning drills.  Many versions of the Ba Duan Jin include 12 exercises or more.   

One recent book that provides good documentation on the history of Chinese exercise practices (Chi Kung, Qigong, Neigong), including five illustrated versions of the Eight Section Brocade, is:  

An Illustrated Handbook of Chinese Qigong Forms from the Ancient Texts  Complied by Li Jingwei and Zhu Jianping.  London, Singing Dragon, 2014.  No index or bibliography, 325 pages.  ISBN: 9781848191976.  Many excellent line drawings are included to illustrate the postures.  VSCL. 

Back in 2002, I created the webpage titled:  The Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung.

The Ba Duan Jin Qigong form includes eight basic exercises to help you keep limber, become stronger, improve your balance, and increase your stamina.  There are opportunities for squatting movements and postures to strengthen the legs.  
  The entire Eight Beautiful Tapestries Chi Kung form is normally done while standing, although there are some versions done in a seated posture for meditative purposes or for frail persons. 

There are numerous versions of this popular Chi Kung form.  There are many good books, instructional DVDs, and UTube videos to choose from on this topic.  My webpage includes a long bibliography on the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung with citations for resources, links, videos, books, and instructional DVDs on the subject.  
  I make a number of comments about each of the eight movements, including comments about the movement variations, physical training targets, muscles worked, attitude, internal alchemy (Neidan), benefits, options, comparisons with yoga asanas, and breathing patterns.  

I offer my own version with fairly detailed comments on each of the eight movements.  Here is my one page class handout for the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung class.  

"The name “Ba Duan Jin” has been found as early as the Northern Song Dynasty. According to Hong Mai's (洪邁) Yi Jian Zhi (夷堅志, Song Dynasty), Zhenghe Seventh Year, Emperor's Chief Secretary, Li Shi-Ju, lived a simple life.  He spent a large portion of his time in his mediation room practicing Daoist Monk’s exercises expanding like a bear and stretching like a bird. In the early hours, he is often found breathing and massaging, practicing the so-called Eight-Section Brocade (Ba Duan Jin). This passage reveals that Ba Duan Jin has been developed and practiced since the Song Dynasty as a general health-keeping regime.
Both sitting and standing forms have been found in the history of Ba Duan Jin (
八段錦),. Standing forms were developed into two schools (northern and southern styles) in the Qing Dynasty. The Northern School, said to have been passed down by Yue Fei (岳飛), has tougher forms, and the Southern School, claimed the lineage from Liang Shi-Chang (梁世昌), focuses on softer trainings. Quite a few verses has been passed down during the period from Song Dynasty to Qing Dynasty, but all verses for the standing forms have evolved from the passages recorded in "The Chapter of Wonders, Pivot of Dao" (道樞·眾妙篇, Dao Shu, Zong Miao Pian, Song Dynasty) and verses of the sitting style from the forms recorded in "TheTen Books of Daoist Practices" (修真十書 Xiu Zhen Shi Shu, Ming Dynasty ).  or "The Methods of Curing"(活人心法, Huo Ren Xin Fa, Ming Dynasty). Sets Ba Duan Jin forms are not always limited to the number of eight. The number of forms in a set range from a single form to tens or as many as a hundred; nevertheless, they are all exercise regimes designed for health-keeping, preventive, and therapeutic purposes, and, liberally saying, all exercise regimes designed for such purposes are part of the Ba Duan Jin system."
-   Lee Chang-Chih, 
 A Brief Introduction to Ba Daun Jin.  "Reinterpreting Ba Duan Jing From the Theories of the Eight Extra Meridians" 2005 

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