The Ba Duan Jin form of Chi Kung is also known as the Eight Strands of the Brocade. The eight forms are as follows and are practised in order.
- Supporting the Sky with Both Hands
- Drawing the Bow to the Left and Right
- Holding up a Single Hand
- Looking back like a Cow Gazing at the Moon
- Lowering the Head and Hips
- Touching the Knees with Both Hands
- Clenching the Fist
- Shaking the Body
The steps below describe each of the movements and are taken from the UK Tai Chi Chuan guidelines. There is some variation in the Looking Back, Touching the Knees and Shaking the Body though these are close to the original Ba Duan Jin movements which appear in the video above and many other training videos on the internet.
Supporting the Sky with Both Hands
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and arms hanging loosely on your side (Wu Chi position).
- Breathe in, lift your arms up, as they come above the head turn the palms out so the fingers are facing inwards, with the back of the hands just above the crown of your head.
- As you breathe out, straighten the arms, pushing up with the hands as if pushing against a ceiling, at the same time press your feet firmly to the ground.
- Breathe in and lower the arms by bending the elbows and bringing the back of your hands just above the crown.
- Repeat the whole cycle for a minute.
This regulates the internal organs. It also relieves fatigue and increases inhalation. as well as invigorating the muscles and bones of your back and waist, it has also been found to help correct poor posture of the back and shoulders.
This exercise combined with “Drawing the Bow to the Left and Right” and “Shaking the Body” is beneficial to women who suffer from PMS including painful periods. The flow of Chi is enhanced allowing adjustment of hormonal and internal physical changes.
Drawing the Bow to the Left and Right
- From the Wu Chi position bend the elbows and lift the arms up so the palms face your chest.
- Turn the left palm out to the left with fingers pointing up.
- Imagine the left arm is pushing against a wooden part of an archer’s bow whilst the right finger are curled around the bows string.
- As you breath out pull the imaginary string to the right and push out with the left palm to the left.
- Breathe in and bring the palm back in front of the chest and then repeat the exercise to the right.
- Repeat this cycle for a minute
This exercise is most beneficial to the thoraic cavity – the chest. It improves the circulation in the area. Additionally it also enhances the flow of Chi in the small intestine.
Holding up a Single Hand
- From the Wu Chi position breathe in and raise your hands to chest level, palms facing you.
- Turn your left palm down with the fingers pointing backwards.
- Breathe out and push up with the right palm and down with the left straightening the elbows.
- Bring the arms back in front of you with the palms facing the chest and this time push up with the left and down with the right.
- Repeat the cycle for a minute.
This exercise increases the flow of chi on both sides of your body. It benefits your liver, gall bladder, spleen and stomach. The movements of this exercise prevent diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.
Looking back like a Cow Gazing at the Moon
- Lift the arms from the Wu Chi position to chest level, palms facing you.
- As you breathe out turn the upper body to the left simultaneously turn the palms outwards as if pushing against a big balloon.
- When you have turned as far left as you can making sure the hands are still opposite the chest, hold the position for a second.
- Breathe out & lower the hands back to the Wu Chi position.
- Breathe in & bring the hands up and repeat the twist to the right.
- Repeat the whole cycle for a minute.
This is regarded as one of the most powerful of the Ba Duan Jin exercises as it has a very strong effect on the central nervous system and the circulation of blood and Chi to the head. It inspires the power of the kidneys, strengthens the activity of the eyeballs, neck and shoulder muscles. It also helps relieve high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries.
Lowering the Head and Hips
- From the Wu Chi position raise your right hand up in an arc above your head with the palm facing down.
- Breathe in and bend over to your left, letting your left arm hang hang loose to your left.
- Transfer all your body weight to the right leg, start breathing out and reach over the left to the furthers point that feels comfortable to you.
- Breathe in and straighten up with your right still in arch above your head.
- Breathe out as you lower your right arm.
- Breathe in and raise your left arm in an arch over your head and repeat the stretch.
- Repeat the whole cycle for a minute
This exercise reduces tension in the sympathetic nervous system and effectively relaxes the whole body, enabling Chi to flow with ease. It also prevents fever.
Touching the Knees with Both Hands
- From the Wu Chi position breathe in and raise both arms to the sides, palms facing up to shoulder level, then up above your head.
- As you start to breathe out turn the palms face down and bring the arms down, outstretched in front of you at shoulder level.
- As the arms circle downwards in front of you, bend the knees as if going into a squat.
- At half squat position, hold for a second. At this point each hand should be outside each knee.
- Start to breathe in and straighten up slowly, continuing to circle with your hand behind you, bringing them up over head and finishing with them outstretched in front of you at shoulder level.
- At this point you should be standing up.
- Continue the cycle for one minute.
This exercise stretches the spine and benefits the muscles of the lower back and legs. It is also beneficial to the internal organs of the lower abdomen. It strengthen the Kidneys, Adrenal Glands, the Arteries and veins.
Clenching the Fist
- From the Wu Chi position, slightly bend the knees and form a fist with each hand, folding your thumbs inside your fists.
- The elbows should be bent such that the fist are facing up and resting on each side of your waist.
- Breathe out slowly as you extend your left arm in front of you at shoulder level, turning the fist over to finish face down.
- Start to breathe in and as you pull your right elbow back, extend the right arm as you did with the left.
- Continue to alternately breathe and extend the arms in this way for a minute.
Clenching the fist allows the flow of Chi through the entire body, right from the feet and to the hands and eyes. It stimulates the cerebral cortex and heightens the circulation of blood and oxygen in the cardiovascular system.
Shaking the Body
- From the Wu Chi position, slightly bend the knees, breathe in and place the backs of your hands on your lower back, closing your bowels.
- Shake your whole body by bouncing up and down gently, breathing out on each bounce.
- Repeat the cycle for a minute
This exercise allows the internal organs to massage each other. It is very good for the spine, the nervous system and sense of balance.