Ba Duan Jin or Eight Piece Brocade #2
by Jim Dees

This shall be the second and final installment on the eight piece brocade. In the preceding article I explained the first four exercises. Here I would like to conclude with the remaining four. Once again, I would like to remind the reader that the key to benefiting from these simple , yet profound, exercises is to seek the feeling of the individual movement. Do not just try to copy the external movement.

Exercise number five is Rotate the body. Begin with a fairly wide stance and place your hands on the hips. Bend forward at the waist and rotate counterclockwise emphasizing the movement of the hips. Inhale as the head goes back and exhale as it is brought forward. You will make four rotations counterclockwise and then switch directions. It really does not matter which direction you start rotating as long as you switch after four. You will do a total of eight repetitions. The key feeling is a massaging of the lower spine as your head bend forward and the sternum as the head bend back. This exercise is said to help relieve stress.

Exercise number six is called Bending the body. Begin by standing with your feet together and raise your hands above your head. Bend over at the waist and try to touch the ground. Hold the position for a couple of seconds and then raise up again so that your hands are over your head. Repeat this eight times. Of course, do not bounce and do not force yourself to touch the ground if you are unable. With time you will improve. Your breathing should be normal. Personally, I find it best to exhale as I bend down. This exercise helps open the lower back and massages the kidney. You should feel the lower back open during this exercise.

Exercise number seven is called Holding the fist. Begin in a horse stance and keep the hip back and spine straight. Chamber both fists with tension. With your right fist execute a slow straight punch with maximum tension to work the muscle as you inhale. Draw back the fist slowly as you exhale. Repeat this with the opposite fist. Do four repetitions with each fist. This exercise helps tone muscles. You should feel as though you are pushing against a tremendous force as you are punching. You should also feel as though a great force is opposing you as the punch returns to chamber.

The eighth and final exercise is called Standing on the toes. Begin with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Breathe normally. Raise up on your toes and drop all of the weight back into the heel. You should feel very relaxed and allow gravity to take control of your falling body. This exercise helps drop the chi. Do only seven repetitions of this exercise.

Do this set of eight exercises daily and your health will benefit and your body will be more flexible and loose. At least that has been my experience. I try to do this set at least once a day and sometimes twice. This set of exercise has become fairly well known and has a been practiced in the Shaolin temple for many years. I do not believe that this set would have endured unless there was some merit to it. I encourage everyone to try the exercises and see what you think. When I began doing them I was very stiff. As a result of these exercises, and a couple more, the flexibility of my body has improved a great deal. Like the art of Hsing-i chuan, this appears very simple on the surface, but there is deep meaning and benefit here for those who invest the time and energy to practice.

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