The Eight Brocades Qigong
This guide and all other associated materials were prepared for use by members of the
Walking Tiger Tai Chi Club. It should be understand that the Walking Tiger Tai Chi
Club, all affiliates and members bear no legal responsibility for any injury incurred by
anyone using this material.
This sequence of Qigong exercise is one of the oldest known sets, dating back at least
800 years. Recent research suggests they date even further back, as far back as 290
They are widely practiced throughout the world and are among the first choices of
many renowned Qigong teachers and authors, including Ken Cohen, Suzanne
Friedman, Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming and Yves Requena.
In addition to increasing and balancing the flow of Chi throughout the body, these
eight exercises strengthen the body; the muscles, tendons and bones in a quite
If you do the eight brocades correctly, and often (daily is recommended) your
structural strength will be greatly enhanced.
One unique aspect of these exercises is that they include a “static stretch”. That is to
say, at the fullest extension point of each exercise, one stretches and hold the position
for a second or two. This is NEVER done with full strength, but as one would when
stretching. The “static stretch’ is held only for a moment, and one never uses more
than 70% of strength.
Most important of all, posture, breathing and relaxation notwithstanding, is the use of
visualization. Try to see and feel the healing and energizing white light rise up your
body, into your hands, and then back down to the feet.
The Mountain Posture:
Always begin and perform the exercises from the
Mountain Posture. Also called the Wuji stance or
“standing like a tree”.
Relax the whole upper body. Round the back, let the
chest “sink” in slightly. Relax the small of the back
and bring the hips forward a bit to open up the hip
joints. The legs remain slightly bent but loose and springy. You want this same
relaxed and rounded springiness in the spine and arms. Relax the face and neck and
raise the head very slightly, as if suspended from above by a single hair.
Just standing in this relaxed and meditation posture a few minutes a day is very
effective Qigong. It is the most practiced and most revered of all Qigong exercises.
Mental Focus: Each time the body sinks slightly, exhale and visualize that you are
gently gathering energy from the ground, in the form of a soft ball of white light. As
you move upward or outward, gently inhale that energy upward to the top of your
head and to the hands. Look purposefully at your palm or the back of your hand
(sometimes both hands) as you move through the exercises.
Ideally, each exercise should be done at least 9 times. But work up to this gradually.
1. Holding up The Sky
Holding up the Sky nurtures and strengthens the Triple
Warmer meridian and the “three treasures”, the three
main energy storage points of the body; located just
below the navel, at heart level and a few inches behind
Begin by exhaling and sinking slightly, allowing spring
(like energy the energy of a slightly compressed steel
spring) to gather in the legs as well as in the hands.
As you rise, bring the hands upward, palms up at heart level, as if holding a tray.
As you rise, concentrate and try to feel the wave of energy rising up your body.
When the fingers are almost touching you have risen
fully, forming a small pyramid shape with the hands.
Look at the hands, visualizing the two ball of white
energy, one in each hand, merging. As you press upward
gently as if reaching up to touch the clouds. Mentally
visualize that you can reach far out into the cosmos.
Turn the hands palm down ward and slowly relax
downward to the sides, visualizing the flow of energy
flowing down the front of the body, down to the tailbone and back into the ground.
2. Shooting the Bow
With a feeling of gathering energy, sink slightly and relax
the back completely. Touch the backs of the fists together
in front of the face.
As if holding a softball-sized ball of light in the hand,
turn the waist and push the opened hand straight outward.
The arm is parallel to the ground and slightly bent.
Concurrently, pull back slightly (just a couple of inches)
with the fist, as if preparing to shoot a bow and arrow.
Visualize and feel the energy rise upward and into the
open palm. Keep the index finger almost straight, as if
pointing. Stretch out only for a moment, using no more
than 70% of strength.
Repeat on the opposite side. This exercise is very
beneficial for all the glands and organs behind the
stomach, but is especially beneficial for the lungs.
3. The Bear Turning
An excellent exercise for strengthening the whole body,
this movement also energizes the spine, the brain and
Elbows point outward as you press downward with the
palms. Keep the feet flat and knees pointing forward,
turning the trunk gently as you rotate from side to side.
Your weight will naturally sink slightly each time you
return to the center position. Exhale as you center; inhale
as you turn outward. as you turn outward.
Sway gently but continuously through the exercise. Keep
mental awareness of energy in the hands.
Pick an object or a spot on the wall to focus on for a
moment during the static stretch. As you’re turning bring
your attention to the region around the hearth (the
peritoneum) and as you rotate back to the center, bring
your attention to the Dan Tien (lower abdomen).
4. Crane Spreads Wings
Also known as “Opening Heaven’s Gate”, this exercise
positions the muscles and the ribs to massage the organs,
especially the spleen and the stomach.
Start with the left hand up, whilst facing the slightly to
Gently reach upward and hold the posture a couple of
seconds, then reverse, this time looking to the left.
One must try to feel that they are pushing with both hands
against a heavy viscous fluid, like oil.
5. The Bear Wags His Tail
Following the same rules as before, rest the hands on the
hips and very slowly relax the upper body downward.
Sway side to side gently but continuously through the
exercise. Keep mental awareness of energy in the hands
and the lower abdomen. Exhale as you center.
This exercise is designed to “calm the heart fire”, that is;
nourish the heart whilst also freeing any trapped
Inhaling as you turn to the side, sway gently and shift
most of your weight onto the foot on the same side.
As you rise up to nearly full height lift the head and look
slightly upward and to the side, as if you’re trying to
touch a nearly wall with your chin.. Repeat from side to
Again, pick an object or spot on the wall and look intently
for a moment.
6. Massaging Six Glands
This is very similar to a seated Yoga exercise with the
same name. The exercise massages both the Yin and
Yang meridians, stimulating six of the major glands and
all of the immune centers in the ankles, knees, hips and
Place hands back to back and relax downward, exhaling.
Inhale and you rise, softly sliding the palms up the inside
of the legs from the inner ankle upward toward the hip
Be very mindful of energy in the hands, abdomen and
As the palms “round the corner” at the hips, also be risen
to full height and look directly overhead (to nourish the
thyroid, pituitary and pineal glands). Lean back slowly
and gently “pinch” the back slightly, bring the shoulder
blades closer together for a moment. Make sure the
insides of the arms are pressed against the armpits, so the
armpits are “rubbed” by the arms as you lean back and
As you begin to bend back downward, press in firmly
(not to the point of discomfort) with the palms directly centered on the buttocks..
Exhale as you again sink downward, pressing firmly
against the sides and the backs of the legs. Make certain
to apply moderate pressure to the calves with the fingers,
as if you’re skimming water of your legs and calves.
This last part is important for riding the body of stagnant
energy and for nourishing the heart meridian.
7. Punching With Eyes Narrowed
This is done with a little bit of attitude-but not too much.
Alternately and smoothly, punch forward, palm down,
whilst withdrawing the other hand, palm up, to hip level.
Keep the fists loose, as if holding a small egg in each hand.
This is very beneficial to the liver, glands and reproductive
energy. Perform this movement with the feeling that you are bringing all the power
and vibrant energy outward and into the arms. Tighten the writs slightly at the
moment of full extension of each punch.
8. Bending to Nurture the Kidneys and Stimulate the Immune
This last exercise follows all the rules we have already
Begin by very slowly and gently bending down to touch
the toes. Don’t worry if you can’t reach you toes, the
relaxed but springy motion of this exercise is what is
Inhaling as you rise up to full height, lean back slightly
and look overhead.
As you reach this position, rise up on the balls of your
feet about 2 inches, hold a second, then drop the weight
back down and repeat.
The eight exercises here are a superb set of overall strengthening and health
enhancement exercises which have been practiced in China for centuries. If you
progress gradually, do them daily and follow the instructions carefully, you will
almost certainly see surprisingly good benefits within a few weeks.
Always return to the Mountain posture and rest
there, breathing slowly but deeply.
Try to hold this position for at least two minutes and
concentrate on the earth connection.
Chi Kung, the Chinese Art of Mastering Energy; Yves Requena
Ba Duan Jin, Eight Section Qigong Exercises; Chinese Health Qigong Association
The Way of Qigong; Kenneth S. Cohen
Eight Simple Exercises for Health by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming
“The Eight Brocades Qigong” by Suzanne Friedman. Available at Amazon.com.