The Eight Pieces of Brocade is a medical qigong form used by individual’s for health enhancement. The exercise dates to the Song Dynasty (circa 1150 AD) and is also know as the Eight-Section Brocade, Eight Silken Movements, and Ba Duan Jin in pinyin Chinese.
1) Two Hands Hold up the Heavens (Shuang Shou Tuo Tian)
This move is said to stimulate the internal organs. It consists of an upward movement of the hands, which are loosely joined and travel up the center of the body.
2) Drawing the Bow
While in a lower horse stance, imitate the action of drawing a bow to either side. It is said to exercise the waist area, focusing on the kidneys and spleen.
3) Separate Heaven and Earth
This 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 spleen and stomach.
4) Wise Owl Gazes Looks Back
This is a stretch of the neck to the left and the right in an alternating fashion.
5) Swing 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.
6) 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.
7) 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.
8a) Raising and Lowering the Heels
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.
8b) Celestial Drum
I like to incorporate this piece from the seated version of Ba Duan Jin.