The sections of Ba Duan Jin (8 pieces of brocade)
Baduanjin as a whole is broken down in to eight separate exercises, each
focusing on a different physical area and qi meridian. The Baduanjin traditionally
contains both a standing and seated set of eight postures each. In the
modern era, the standing version is by far the most widely practiced.
The particular order in which the eight pieces are executed sometimes
varies, with the following order being the most common.
Perform each section 8 times slowly, inhaling on the stretch and exhaling on the release.
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 center of the body.
Separate Heaven and Earth
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.
Wise Owl Gazes Backwards or Look Back
This is a stretch of the neck to the left
and the right in an alternating fashion
Drawing the Bow to Shoot the Hawk (or Vulture)
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.
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.
Two Hands Hold the Feet to Strengthen the Kidneys and Waist
This involves a stretch upwards followed by
a forward bend and a holding of the toes.
Clench the Fists and Glare Fiercely (or Angrily)
This resembles the second piece, and 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.
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.