The 8 pieces of Brocade developed as Yangsheng practices, as part of the traditional way to “care for life”. Today, Ba Duan Jin – understood as exercises working with Qi to further one’s health – also form part of “health qigong”.
Due to this common root, all types of Ba Duan Jin are practiced as rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Their thought system is based in the traditional Chinese perception of the human body, heart and mind as a whole. The exercises system of the 8 Brocades thus works with the concepts of meridians, life energy (Qi) and discusses (positive) flow against (negative) blockages. As a movement-related health care system, the 8 Brocades are at the same time related to and totally different from the Western approach towards health gymnastics, which tends to focus on external aspects of movement. See also our article Ba Duan Jin – Types and Styles
The 8 Brocades complement the aspect of physical exercises by working on the cultivation of internal energy. To further the often mystified “Qi flow” in this context basically means to focus the body work on activating bodily functions like deep respiration or training and supporting the heart to enhance the blood flow. As a meditative routine – meditative used here in a sense of a quiet, deeply rooted practice – the 8 Brocades also offer a way of spiritual cultivation. Aiming at the naturalness of movement and resolving blockages by sustainable changes in body structure and posture also means to work on the use of intention in movements. Not to force things, not to willfully subdue the body to aspirations of heart and mind while at the same time expanding one’s comfort zone, lies at the bottom of the practice of the 8 Brocades.