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"Breathing in and out in various manners, spitting out the old and taking in the new, walking like a bear and stretching their neck like a bird to achieve longevity - this is what such practitioners of Daoyin, cultivators of the body and all those searching for long life like Ancestor Peng, enjoy." - Chuang Tzu, Chapter 15, circa 300 BCE (Actually, Chuang Tzu seems to be mocking these exercises as unnecessary.) There was a wealthy King Ma who lived sometime around 160 BCE during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 24 CE).When King Ma died they placed many documents in his tomb.In 1973, archeologists in China excavated the tomb of King Ma.In King Ma's tomb at Mawangdui, on the outskirts of the city of Changsha in Hunan Province, they discovered medical manuals, compilations, and a silk scroll on which were drawn 44 humans in various poses or postures.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.Let us now review some of that historical development, in chronological order.The qigong and Chinese scholar, Stuart Alve Olson, says the seated Eight Section Brocade form was created by T'ao Hung-ching, a Taoist adept living in the fifth century CE, and further developed by the Taoist sage Chen Tuan (Chen Hsi-yi, Hsi-yi) living in the tenth century CE.During the period of 800 - 1200 CE, variations of these exercises were done in Wudang Mountain Daoist Temples for health and meditation purposes, and some were used as warm up exercises by monks training at the Shaolin Temple in hard style martial arts.
Now I have created the art called the Frolics of the Five Animals: the Tiger, the Deer, the Bear, the Monkey, and the Crane.Taoism emphasizes the underlying unity of the individual and the cosmos, living in harmony with the true Way or Dao (Tao), giving up petty viewpoints, simplicity, solitary retreats, avoiding violent interference with others, a simple natural diet, natural and compassionate living, sharing with others, seeking insight into "emptiness", seeking a higher understanding or enlightenment, living a healthy lifestyle, storing and circulating energy (Qi, Chi, Prana), practicing meditation, studying and working diligently, and seeking mystical insights.These methods and practices were explored and adapted in China for thousands of years to help to maintain good health, to prevent and cure diseases, to restore vitality, to calm the mind, and to enhance the spirit of the patient or practitioner.Over many centuries in China, traditional medical remedies (e.g., herbs, massage, diet, heat, acupuncture, exercise routines, etc.) were combined with esoteric and magical Daoist (Taoist) and local shamanistic healing practices.In addition, trade and cultural exchanges between India and China transferred Buddhist theory and practices, Tantra, Yoga, Dao-yin, medicinal herbs, medical techniques, and martial arts training techniques between these civilizations.