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A gentle sweat will exude, the complexion will become rosy; the body will feel light and you will want to eat." - From: Drawing Silk: A Training Manual for T'ai Chi, p. One tradition is that the Buddhist teacher, Bodhidharma (448-527 CE), a famous Grand Master of Chan (Zen), introduced a set of 18 exercises to the Buddhist monks at the Shaolin Temple.
These are known as the "Eighteen Hands of the Lohan." This Shaolin Lohan Qigong (i.e., the art of the breath of the enlightened ones) "is an internal set of exercises for cultivating the "three treasures" of qi (vital energy), jing (essence), and shen (spirit)," according to Howard Choy.
One can also see some movements and postures in the Five Animal Frolics that are comparable to the Eight Treasures.
Longevity and fitness instructors, and some doctors, throughout China prescribed specific exercises to help prevent or heal injuries, improve health, or cure various illnesses, along with the other curative methods of traditional Chinese medicine.
The Kung Fu master, Sifu Wong Kiew-Kit, referring to the Shaolin Wahnam style, says "the first eight Lohan Hands are the same as the eight exercises in a famous set of chi kung exercises called the Eight Pieces of Brocade." There are numerous versions, seated and standing, of Bodhiidharma's exercise sets - including the related "Tendon-Changing and Marrow-Washing" (Yi Jin Jing) qigong set with exercises identical to Brocade versions (Li Jingwei, 2014, p. Some versions of the 18 Lohan (Luohan) Hands have up to four levels, and scores of movement forms for qigong and martial purposes.
When King Ma died they placed many documents in his tomb.Under each pose, on the Dao-yin diagram (Tu), was a caption with the name of an animal exercise or the name of the disease that the posture might help cure. Making beneficial exercises interesting and enjoyable has always been a challenge to creative people.A number of the postures depicted in the Dao-yin Tu closely resemble some postures in the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung (The Wonders of Qigong, 1985, pp. Hua T'o (110-207 CE) is one of the most famous physicians of the Han Dynasty.Many of these health exercise practices continue to this day, and the Eight Treasures are often considered a Wai Dan medical qigong exercise set.The Chinese Health Qigong Association says that "as a traditional Chinese health and fitness Qigong exercise routine, Ba Duan Jin, or Eight Section Exercises, dates back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279)." The scholars Ji Jingwei and Zhu Jianping say, in their book An Illustrated Handbook of Chinese Qigong Forms from the Ancient Texts (2014, p.82), that "The Eight Section Brocade is a set of dynamic exercises for health preservation composed of eight parts.
Literature that talks about such health and fitness exercise postures or routines, with some movements quite similar to movements in the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung, goes back nearly 2,500 years.