“Learning” refers to the process of learning knowledge and skills, and “practice” refers to the process of increasing proficiency. In other words, applying learning to practice or integrating practice with learning is the essence for improvement, with each other perfect complement and reciprocal, which needs unremitting efforts. During the learning and practice of the Health Qigong Ba Duan Jin, it is involving with principles and methods of practicing as well as the fundamental characteristics, movement essentials and the requirements for practicing. This article intends to focus on several issues that is needed to pay attention to during learning and practicing the Health Qigong Ba Duan Jin.
Learning and practicing the Health Qigong Ba Duan Jin should take the “appearance training” as the key points
The standing postural Ba Duan Jin belongs to one of the ancient Chinese Daoyin. During its process of evolution, regardless of which period and what kind of genre, it has never separated from the exercise feature that focus on physical training. By means of limbs movement, it achieves the purpose of keeping fit through strengthening tendons and bone, enhancing the body immunity and organs, clearing the meridians and adjusting the blood circulation and breathing.
There are three stages in practicing the Health Qigong Ba Duan Jin. The first stage is the learning and mastering movement period. At first, it is required to practice from the basic body posture, basic hand posture and basic steps. During the learning and practicing, it is necessary to grasp the typical actions and movements for repeated practice. As the old saying goes, “regardless of similarity or not, you should achieve at least 30 percent of resemblance.” That is to say, regardless of the technical level, the depth of skills, the specific hands posture and footsteps, as long as you start practicing, you should exert every effort to make it standardized, which is very important for beginners. During learning and practicing the Health Qigong Ba Duan Jin, it is necessary to master three primary elements including point, line and posture. In terms of point, it refers to the starting and ending point of actions. In terms of line, it refers to the operative approach of the movements. In terms of posture, it refers to both the dynamic and static state. Whether for any requirement, it is significant to standardize your actions and movements. Generally speaking, it is required upper body straight, lower extremity stable, footsteps & hand postures clear, precise and in place. In other words, it is advised that as the old saying goes, “at first standardized and then to be diverse and flexible.” The second stage is to master actions and movements in proficiency period. During this stage, it is necessary to pay attention to the conversion of the body gravity, master a good balance and deal with the convergence between actions. In addition, it is required to rely on spinal column to lead to the movements of limbs in order to make the soft, gentle, flexible, coherent, and round movements. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to practice repeatedly, correctly and improve movements constantly so that each action can be accurate in place and with ease. The third stage is the consolidation and improvement of movements period. It is required that based on the previous practice to strive to the integration of dynamic and static, masculine and feminine, rigid and flexible. Furthermore, it is necessary to relax both internal mentality and external body, with serene mind and concentrating on practicing. Apart from that, it is significant to pay attention to the combination of tense with relax, firm with gentle, moderately elastic, and use mind concentration rather than physical strength. At the same time, it is advised to experience the connotations between “three adjustments” in order to achieve the flexible and freely movements, appropriate breathing and gradually transferred into the unity of “three adjustments.”
During learning and practicing the Health Qigong Ba Duan Jin, it is required to attach great importance letting the spinal column leading the movement of limbs
The spine has the functions of supporting the body and protecting the internal organs, and at the same time, it is also the hub of human motion, taking charge of the physical movements. According to the clinical statistics, the spine-related diseases have become the greatest potential risk for human health at the 21st century. Therefore, the spine is called the body’s “second lifeline.” The Health Qigong Ba Duan Jin takes full account the influences that the spine exerts in the human health during its working out specific movements, thus it emphasizes the training for the spine. Each action’s starting posture all stem from the Jiaji of the spine (empty place between two scapular ridges) and its exercise rules are all involved with the spine as the axis to extend to the whole body. In addition, the Du meridian has close relation with the spine and connects with the whole body meridians, while the Yu acupoints of the bladder of the both sides of spine directly connect with the internal organs, therefore, it is conspicuous to see the vital significance for training spine. To some extent, in the practice of Ba Duan Jin, those who master the rules of spine exercise grasp the essence of Ba Duan Jin of Health Qigong.
In order to facilitate practitioners to master the pivotal role of the spine, the specific illustrations are as follows. In the “preparatory posture”, it is required that both the preparatory posture as well as all the rising and fall movements should be in vertical spine, with the entire spine spiraling up and down throughout on the pull-out length. In the “Routine 1 Holding the Hands High with Palms Up to Regulate the Internal Organs”, it is required that both palms hold the spine and pull upward and downward, using vital energy to reach to the Lao Gong acupoints until the Jiaji. In the “Routine 2 Posing as an Archer Shooting Both Left-and-Right-Handed, it is required that two wrists cross- put on the chest and relax the Jiaji, with the strength of left-and-right shooting posture reaching Jiaji. In the “Routine 3 Holding One Arm Aloft to Regulate the Functions of the Spleen and Stomach, it is required that both palms pull in composite direction and make the spine stretch, using vital energy to reach to the Lao Gong acupoints and the Jiaji in center. In the “Routine 4 Looking Backwards to Prevent Sickness and Strain”, it is required that two palms press downward and hold the spine upright, stretching the shoulders to look back and using vital energy to reach to Jiaji. In the “Routine 5 Swinging the Head and Lowering the Body to Relieve Stress”, it is required that using forward stance to hold the spine, stretch the spinal column by side, and around the body to rotate the Weique. In the “Routine 6 Moving the Hands down the Back and Legs and Touching the Feet to Strengthen the Kidneys”, it is required to stretch and relax the spine. In the “Routine 7 Thrusting the Fists and Making the Eyes Glare to Enhance Strength ”,it is required to using forward stances and crouching to hold the spine, with left-and-right fists twisting. In the “Routine 8 Raising and Lowering the Heels to Cure Diseases”, it is required that stretch the heels and slightly vibrate the lower spine. In the closing posture, it is required to relax the spine and make closure of the whole exercise. With the vital energy, it means using the idea rather than strength, otherwise, it is easy to lead to stiff and blood stasis. Therefore, the vital energy should be interpreted as the integration for verve, breathing and spirit.
The practice of preparatory posture cannot be ignored in practicing of the Health Qigong Ba Duan Jin
It is universally known for the preparatory posture of the Ba Duan Jin, which is called “Tai Chi Pile” in Tai Chi Boxing and is called “San Yuan posture” or “Holding Ball posture” in Health Qigong. Extremely rich in connotations, it is the primary preference when practicing, so that it is called “primary pile in practicing Health Qigong.” There are three connotations for the preparatory posture. The first one is as the basic body posture. The second one is as the basic movement. The third one is as the basic skills. With regard to the basic body posture, it refers to the static state of the body. This is the most representative posture, which requires straight spine, low shoulders and elbows, pulling back the abdomen and with comfortable ease mien. With regard to the basic movements, it refers to the most fundamental movements and with rules to follow. The preparatory posture appears repeatedly in the connecting of actions, playing an importantly coherent role. Therefore, if practicing this preparatory posture well, it is conductive to improve the overall exercise. With regard to the basic skills, it refers to the prerequisite quality and capacity for practicing Health Qigong. All the above-mentioned issues can be resolved and reflected by the standing pile exercise of the preparatory posture, which contributes considerably to the overall and comprehensive improvement of the practicing Health Qigong.
The above-mentioned “three basics” established the status of preparatory posture in the practicing of Ba Duan Jin. This shows that preparatory posture not only serves to prepare for practicing but also has the highly close relation with the whole set of exercise. Therefore, it is necessary to attach great importance and strengthen the efforts for practicing preparatory posture. There are three steps needed to pay attention during practicing preparatory posture.
The first step is “When Heaven is about to place a great responsibility on a great man, it always first frustrates his spirit and will, exhausts his muscles and bones, exposes him to starvation and poverty.” Therefore, it is necessary to overcome the muscle soreness, joint numbness as a result of standing pile and dismantle the exercise tension. This stage is called “change energy” in the Qigong terms. Normally it takes about three weeks. The first week is relatively tortured and the second week you will feel gradually relaxed, and the third week you will feel that there is strength in arm and the degree of comfort is improved.
The second step is based on the previous practice, it is naturally to pursue the relax and serene state of both spirit and body. With regard to relax and serene, the relax is the prerequisite, which is required to relax steadily from head to toe, from internal to external and spread from peripheral areas to pores. With regard to the serene state, it refers to remove the personal considerations and absent-mindedness. As the old saying goes, “it is important to pull back the absent-mindedness and curb the wanderings.” It is necessary to achieve the state of calm tranquility and concentrating on practicing. There are different effects of the relax and serene state, which cannot be attained in the short term and need to practice more than several years. Even some people practicing for a long time still fail to resolve the problems. It can be seen that if you do not seriously practice and exert assiduous efforts, you cannot grasp the essence of the Health Qigong.
The third step is with the deepened stage of relax and serene state, breathing begins to slow and the vital energy starts to rise and gradually enter into the period o f convalesce. Under this occasion, it is necessary to maintain the ease and natural state rather than pursue deliberately and mechanically. After the long-time practice, you will feel energetic and robust. It should be noted that it is negative to close your eyes during practicing With regard to the exercise intensity, it is advised to be moderated and suitable. If there happens to palpitation, shortness of breath, dizziness, uncomfortable, tremble and other abnormal phenomenon, it is significant to immediately stop practice and carry out adjustment to avoid deleterious effects.
Chinese Health Qigong Association jsqg.sport.org.cn
Ba Duan Jin
Foreign Language Press