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Baduanjin Qigong (八段錦) is one of the most common forms of Chinese qigong used as an exercise. Variously translated as Eight Pieces of Brocade, Eight Sections of Brocade, Eight Silk Movements, or Eight Silk Weaves, the name of the form usually refers to how the eight separate movements of the form characterize and impart a silk quality (like a piece of brocade) to the body and its energy. Baduanjin is primarily designated as a form of medical qigong designed to improve health. This is in contrast to the religious or martial forms of qigong. However, this classification does not exclude the use of the form by martial artists as an additional exercise, and this practice is frequent.
01 Heaven Support (Shuang Shou Tuo Tian)
This movement is said to stimulate the “Triple Burner”, aka the “Triple Hot Water Bottle” or “Triple Heater” (Sanjiao). It consists of an upward movement of the hands, which are loosely connected and move up the center of the body.
02 Eagle Shooting
While in the lower position of the horse, the practitioner simulates the action of pulling the bow in both directions. It is said to train the waist area by focusing on the kidneys and spleen.
03 Raising One Hand
This is similar to the version of the first part, when the hands are pressed in opposite directions, one up, the other down. The smooth movement, in which the hands change position, is the main action, and it is said that it especially stimulates the stomach.
04 Looking Back to See the Moon
This is stretching the neck left and right alternately.
05 Shake Your Head Wag Your Tail
It is said to regulate the heart and lungs. Its main purpose is to remove excess heat (or fire) (xin ho) from the heart. Xin ho is also associated with heart fire in traditional Chinese medicine. When performing this exercise, the practitioner squats in a low horse position, places his hands on his hips with his elbows facing out, and turns to look back from each side.
06 Leg hold
This involves stretching up, followed by leaning forward and holding your toes.
07 Fist bump with fiery eyes
This resembles the second figure and is largely a striking movement either to the sides or forward while in the horse’s stance. This, the outermost of the parts, is aimed at increasing the overall vitality and muscle strength.
08 Back shaking
It is a push upward from the toes with a small rocking motion on landing. The gentle vibrations of shaking this part are said to “smooth out” the qi after practicing the previous seven parts, or, in some systems, it more specifically follows the Shaking of the Head and the Shaking of the Tail.
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