The first movement of the Eight Brocades is “Hold up the sky with two hands to manage the Triple Burner,” with arms moving up and down. The second movement, “Draw the bow left and right like shooting a buzzard,” is arms extended to the left and right. Left and right are known as “the routes of Yin and Yang.” The ancient Chinese usually mark east on the left and west on the right while facing south. Thus, from the Earth, during daytime (Yang), the sun appears to be moving from east to west, to the right. Since the sun cycles back every day, logically, during nighttime (Yin), the sun moves from west to east, to the left. However, if the ancient Chinese limit their perspective to a two-dimensional surface or Earth-centred view of the universe, then the wisdom of Yin and Yang would not have had the vitality to last for thousands of years. In fact, Yin Yang is about the changes in space as time moves on.
As time passes, day gives way to night. As time passes, seasons change, and phenomena in nature change. At the same time, the rhythmic cycle remains during times of constant change. It can be a daily day and night cycle, a yearly season’s cycle, or a 12-year cycle of Jupiter’s revolution. Therefore, a Chinese proverb says, “Nature moves in cycles” (Tian Dao Xun Huan). Following the principles of nature, we move in a circular and coherent manner when we practice the Eight Brocades. Also, before practice, we hold the space in front of our bodies with palms facing up and the arms rounded like a circle. Furthermore, while drawing the bow left and right, one arm extends to the side, but the arm is not straight like a line. Instead, the extended arm has a little curve with elbow soft. In addition to rounding the arm, the legs stand in Horse stance (Mabu) like an arched bridge, supporting us as we move from side to side with stability.
While practicing the Eight Brocades with circular and coherent movement, keep the Tao (Dao) in mind! The Book of Changes says, “One Yin and one Yang are called Tao.” While nature moves in circles, Yin transforms into Yang, and Yang transforms into Yin. This indicates that a favourable circumstance (Yang) can become an unfavourable circumstance (Yin) as time passes, or vice versa. One who understands the Tao (Dao) in space, a four-dimensional space that includes time, will act in moderation—not with conceit or arrogance when things go well and not with anger or depression when things go wrong. Because as time flows silently, things will change. Cultivate an even mind with “Draw the bow left and right like shooting a buzzard”!
Everyone can practice the Eight Brocades. What is required is dedicated time and regular practice. Like shooting a flying buzzard, strong arms and steady legs are not enough; the only way to successfully shoot the fast-moving target in the sky is to spend time practicing and constantly strive for holistic health. A fun fact is that in ancient China, Qi was also a time measurement unit, and one Qi was 15 days. The Eight Brocades Health Qigong assists us in understanding Qi, the energy and time in space, and allowing Qi to flow smoothly in our bodies and around us for well-being.
Create a space of rejuvenation with “Hold up the sky with two hands to manage the Triple Burner” and spend time piercing through the space with “Draw the bow left and right like shooting a buzzard”! The time will come for us to see the results of our practice.
- “Left and right are the routes of Yin and Yang.” Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Medicine: Plain Conversation [黃帝內經:素問], chapter 5, The manifestation of Yin and Yang [陰陽應象大論].
- “Five days is called one Hou, three Hou is called one Qi, six Qi is called one Shi, four Shi is called Sui.”「五日謂之候，三候謂之氣，六氣謂之時，四時謂之歲」Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Medicine: Plain Conversation [黃帝內經:素問], chapter 9, The Cycles of Nature and the Manifestations of the Viscera [六節髒象論].
- Health Qigong Management Centre of General Administration of Sport of China, Health Qigong – Ba Duan Jin (Beijing: People’s Sports Publishing House, 2005).
- VCD, Health Qigong – Ba Duan Jin (Beijing: Beijing Sport University Audio & Video Press).
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