The Health Qi Gong Ba Duan Jin is popular in the mass for its being easiness to learn and obvious health care effect. In order to further standardize it and better cater to the requirements of routine demonstration, I sum up the following items including its whole style, main points of each movement, common mistakes and corrections based on my own experience of teaching and directing for a long time for the reference of the practicers.
The whole style of the Health Qi Gong Ba Duan Jin
About the movements
The Health Qi Gong Ba Duan Jin is one kind of Daoyin skills characterized as the movements of the limbs of which can strengthen the tendons and bones, regulate the visceral organs, dredge the meridians and modulate the circulation of Qi and blood and achieve the goal of health-keeping. Its main feature is upright posture and round movements. It seems that all the movements are level in the horizon direction and line-like in the perpendicular direction with the gentle and slow rhythm. But it combines the square with the round as well as the relaxation and agility just like in each routine. For example, in the routine of posing as an archer shooting both left-and-right-handed, raise the hands in front of the chest with left hand out and both palms facing inward and separately stretch out the hand just like shooting the archer and then downcast half-moon by the side. In this routine, the movement starts from the horizontal level position and runs half round. It can embody the strength of the stretch in the course of archer-shooting and beauty of relaxation and gentleness in the course of retraction. The above-mentioned characteristics is naturally accessible at the stage of proficiency of which includes relaxation and quietness, differentiation of excess and deficiency, hardness and softness. The beginners should grasp the main points of each routine and seek for the correct of the movements at first and then for its fluency.
About the breath
Reverse abdominal breath is used in the Health Qi Gong Ba Duan Jin combined with anus-lifting breath. The practicer can do as the following: lift the anus and adduct the abdomen and raise the diaphragmatic muscle in the course of inhalation and vice versa in exhalation abiding by the rule of inhalation in the course of lifting, opening and storing as well as exhalation in the course of lowering, closing and dispensing which combined with the movements. In the alternative turn of relaxation and agility, motion and quietness breath-holding way is applied for the main movements in each routine. For example, in the routine of holding the hands high with palms up to regulate the internal organs, to inhale while lifting the hands and keep breath-holding while keeping the posture of stretch and exhale while lowering the arms. The beginner should use the natural breath and needn’t keep the breath deep, regular, prolong and the combination of the breath and the movements on purpose to avoid the occurrence of dizziness, nausea, palpitation and short breath etc. Let the nature do its course and do whatever you are able to do in the combination of the movements with the breath and get the state of self-regulation step by step.
About the mind
The mind action is to contemplate the process of the movement rather than to think about one single thing. It is different at the different stage. The mind acts on the main points and style of the routine with the correct and exact movements at the beginning. It should act on the characteristics and combination of the routine with the breath in the advanced stage with gradual improvement of movement quality with the relaxation of the muscles. While in the last stage, the mind should act on the harmonious state with the breath. The practicer should rid of all kinds of nervous state at that time under the condition of relaxation, quietness and happiness with the natural and skilled routines.
The main points, common mistakes and corrections of the routines
The key points: put the arms perpendicular by the sides with palms backward and turn palms forward by the sides of the angle of 450 and hold the hands in a semicircle in front of the abdomen with upright backbone and neck, relaxed chest and waist and contracted abdomen and hip as sitting in the high stool.
Common mistakes: to shrug shoulders lifting the arms by the sides; lift the elbow while holding the hands in a semicircle with the thumbs bending upwards and the other four fingers obliquely directing at the ground and with the waist falling down, legs kneeling and splayfoot.
Corrections: to pull down the shoulders and elbows while lifting the arms by the side and relax the wrist and the fingers while holding the hands in a semicircle with the fingertips face-to-face and the thumbs level. The ready position plays an important role in adjourning the different sections and recurrently occurs in the break of the routines. It can be taken as the basic training way in the exercise. Better exercise of it can improve the demonstration level and health effect.
Routine 1 holding the hands high with palms up to regulate the internal organs
Key points: to lift the hands and turn the palms upward in the chest; expand the chest and the body; raise the head and look at the hands with slightly pulling back the chin and craning up the head with a pause, drag perpendicularly the backbone with the strength applied to the palms, relax the waist and lower the buttocks while setting down the palms, hold the shoulders and elbows down, relax the wrists and fingers and keep the upper body straight and centered.
Common mistakes: Head not held enough when lifting the hands. The movement stops midway when keeping the palms stretch. The shoulders and arms are rigid when lowering the palms.
Corrections: Raise the head and look at the hands while lifting the hands and spreading the chest and upper body with raising the chin to support the action firstly and then pulling it to aid the elevation of the hands and keeping the posture of stretch for two seconds. Strength should be focused at the lower part of the palms. Hold the shoulders and elbows down at first while putting down the palms and thereafter let the arms naturally down with the body upright and wrists and fingers relaxed.
Routine 2 posing as an archer shooting both left-and-right-handed
Key points: Hold the shoulders and elbows down while raising the hands in front of the chest with the palms below the shoulders. Strength starts from the backbone while shooting archer. Expand the chest and stretch the shoulders with the wrists and fingers upright. Turn the head enough and pull one hand with the thumb and the other four fingers close each other and bending them tightly with the arm level with the chest. Push the other hand with the wrist and fingers upright and palm hollow. Keep above-mentioned position for two seconds just like an archer shooting the eagles.
Common mistakes: hunch the shoulders and fall down the waist with the biased body weight; kneel while standing with the horse stance and the foot scrapes the ground and shakes while pulling back it with clumsy gait.
Corrections: Let the neck and the upper body upright and the shoulders down and raise the head enough while shooting the arrow with the gait transformation clear. Kneel joint is not beyond the toe-tips and stand apart leveling while pulling and pushing the hands. The height of the horse stance can be adjusted according to different condition and enforcement should be avoided to deform the movements. The strength of the limbs should be developed step by step in the course of the exercise.
Routine 3 Holding one arm aloft to regulate the functions of the spleen and stomach
Key points: The strength should be applied at the base of the palm while lifting and pressing one arm together with expanding the chest and body, loosening and stretching the waist.
Common mistakes: Fingers pointing in the wrong direction while lifting and pressing the arms; elbows not bent enough; dragging strength not enough for two arms; and the upper body not straight enough.
Corrections: Make the hands level and the tip of fingers straight while lifting and pressing them; and the elbows slightly bent and stretched in opposite directions.
Routine 4 Looking backwards to prevent sickness and strain
Key points: Keep the head and the back erect and turn the arms outward enough and expand the shoulders and the chest, turn the head but not the body.
Common mistakes: The upper body over-stretch backward while turning outward the arms and not enough turning of the head and arms.
Corrections: Pull in the chin while turning outward the arms; keep the upper body straight while turning backward; Look at the angle of 45 of obliquely post-downward direction while turning the head; The ulnaris side of the arm turn outward to the greatest extent and keep the position for two seconds.
Routine 5 Swinging the head and lowering the body to relieve the stress
Key points: Tuck in the buttocks and hips and keep the upper body straight when assuming the horse stance; When swinging the upper body, the neck and buttocks should be stretched away from each other slowly and gently and in a round and flowing manner.
Common mistakes: Neck stiff and buttocks not turned enough when swinging the upper body; Upper body tilted too much leading it to sway from side to side.
Corrections: Relax the muscles of the neck to the utmost while turning the head with the speed of the head slower than the buttocks; Pull in the chest and look upward while turning backward the head; Pull in the abdomen while turning forward the buttocks and fall down the waist and then keep the body straight while turning backward. It is difficult to turn the buttocks while standing the horse stance. The practicer can do the movements step by step at first and do it together at last.
Routine 6 Moving the hands down the backs and legs and touching the feet to strengthen the kidneys
Key points: Turn the wrists to the utmost while moving the hands under the armpits; Relax the backbone gradually and lower the shoulder enough while bending over and rubbing the feet; The hands forwardly protrude and stretch the backbone to pull up the upper body while standing up.
Common mistakes: Bending the knees and lowering the head while lowering the hands. Raising the upper body before lifting the arms.
Corrections: Straight the knees and raise the head while lowering the hands and the extent is adjustable by oneself; Lift the arms first and raise the upper body with the arms near the ears.
Routine 7 Thrusting the fists and making the eyes glare to enhance the strength
Key points: Keep the body straight while squatting down in the horse stance and adjust the height of it by oneself; Make the eyes glare at the clenched fist when it is thrust out; Try to grasp the floor with the toes, twist the waist enough and apply strength along the shoulder to the fist and clench fingers forcefully.
Common mistakes: The upper body tilts forward and the shoulder and elbow are raised when thrusting the fist out; when withdrawing the fist, too little power is applied to clench the fingers and twist the wrist.
Corrections: Thrust the fist from near the ribs; Make the head erect and the upper body straight; relax the shoulders and make the elbow slightly bent to send force to the front of the fist. When withdrawing the fist, first spread the fingers, twist the wrist fully and then clench the fingers with force.
Routine 8 Raising and lowering the heels to cure diseases
Key points: When raising the heels, try to grasp the floor with the toes and apply maximum strength to the raising. Keep the thighs together. Keep the neck craned to push up with the head. Be careful to maintain the balance while pushing. Clench the teeth when tapping the heels on the floor and keep the shoulders and arms down and the whole body relaxed.
Common mistakes: Raising the shoulders and failing to maintain the balance while raising the heels. Feet tapping are too fast with too much strength while falling down.
Corrections: Try to grasp the floor with the toes, keeping the thighs together. Pull in the buttocks and contract the abdomen with the shoulders down and the head erect. Slowly lower the feet halfway at first and slightly tap the floor while tapping the floor with the heels.
Key points: Adopt a calm approach with the whole body relaxed and the breath natural. Air and energy should be dispatched to the Dantian point.
Common mistakes: Close the routine in a rush or take a walk after completion. Not spend enough time regulating the mind and thoughts.
Corrections: Keep body in a calm and composed state. Before starting the routine, it is useful to do such cooling-down exercises as rubbing the palms and backs of the hands, massaging the face and relaxing the limbs.
How to do better in the exercise of the Health Qi Gong Ba Duan Jin Chinese Health Qigong Association jsqg.sport.org.cn