Qigong » Ba Duan Jin (八段锦)

Health Qigong - Ba Duan Jin

Bā Duàn Jǐn (八段锦) or Eight Section Brocades is popular with the masses as its movements are simple and easy to learn.

Brocade is a class of richly decorative shuttle-woven fabrics, often made in colored silks and with gold threads. Dating back to the Middle Ages, brocade fabric was one of the few luxury fabrics worn by nobility.

The characteristics of movements of Ba Duan Jin (also known as Taoist Yoga) are gentle, slow, smooth, unfolding and elegant. This form of Qigong is said to be introduced by legendary Chinese folk hero General Yue Fei (岳 飞  c.1177 - Song Dynasty era) and describe it as being created as an exercise for his soldiers. Ba Duan Jin seem like an abridged versions of original Yi Jin Jing form. The purpose of these exercises is to stretch the tendons, loosen the joints, and tone the muscles, to promote circulation of blood, and to regulate all the vital functions of the body.

  1. Two Hands Hold up the Heavens (Shuang Shou Tuo Tian) - This move is said to stimulate the "Triple Warmer" meridian (Sanjiao). It consists of an upward movement of the hands, which are loosely joined and travel up the centre of the body. Drawing bow and let the arrow fly - as if to shoot a vulture.
  2. Drawing the Bow to Shoot the Eagle - While in a lower horse stance, the practitioner imitates the action of drawing a bow to either side. It is said to exercise the waist area, focusing on the kidneys and spleen.
  3. Separate Heaven and Earth - This resembles a version of the first piece with the hands pressing in opposite directions, one up and one down. A smooth motion in which the hands switch positions is the main action, and it is said to especially stimulate the stomach.
  4. Wise Owl Gazes Backwards or Look Back - This is a stretch of the neck to the left and the right in an alternating fashion, it remedy the 5 symptoms and 7 disorders by looking backward..
  5. Big bear Sway the Head and Shake the Tail - This is said to regulate the function of the heart and lungs. Its primary aim is to remove excess heat (or fire) (xin huo) from the heart. Xin huo is also associated with heart fire in traditional Chinese medicine. In performing this piece, the practitioner squats in a low horse stance, places the hands on thighs with the elbows facing out and twists to glance backwards on each side.
  6. Touching toes then bending backwards - Strengthen the Kidneys and Waist which involves a stretch upwards followed by a forward bend and a holding of the toes.
  7. Clench the Fists and Glare Fiercely - This is largely a punching movement either to the sides or forward while in horse stance. This, which is the most external of the pieces, is aimed at increasing general vitality and muscular strength.
  8. Shaking the Body and Bouncing on the Toes - This is a push upward from the toes with a small rocking motion on landing. The gentle shaking vibrations of this piece is said to "smooth out" the qi after practice of the preceding seven pieces to jolt the back 7 times and hundred illnesses will disappear.

Do up to 6 repetitions of each of the 8 movements. Ending practice with standing meditation.

In the first and second movements of Ba Duan Jin, the most important feature is to promote circulation (raising, sinking, entering and exiting) of qi in order to balance yin and yang in the body.

The third, fourth, fifth, and sixth steps of Ba Duan Jin are primarily used to regulate the body and qi.  The movements will help treat internal and external damage to the body including regulating inner health by balancing the Chinese medicine theory of “cold and heat”, which is the extremity of yin (cold) versus the extremity of yang (hot.) 

Notes: The Triple Warmer Meridian originates from the tip of the ring finger, by the outside corner of the nail, passes between the knuckles of the fourth and fifth fingers, on to the wrist. From here it moves up between the two bones of the forearm, through the elbow and up the back of the arm to the shoulder. It moves forward into the chest to connect with the pericardium, the upper burner, the abdomen and the middle and lower burners. Re-emerging from the chest at the collarbone, the meridian ascends the side of the neck and around the back of the ear.

Updated On: 18.09.29