The Eight Pieces of Brocade – The value of the opening movement
The study and training of any Qigong set usually starts with mimicking the movements. The details are generally added in by degree as one’s awareness and skill grows. The Eight Pieces of Brocade are known as Waigong or external work . The fact of the matter is all sets are external work until you graduate to a higher level. We use posture testing to help identify all the mechanical failings within the movements. As we begin to understand the structural defects we can begin removing those same defects from our own postures and movements. The Reality is that most practitioners cannot do eight repetitions without offering up a defect or more. If you cannot move without creating a defect when you are not even under attack then I suggest you do these exercises so that you may begin to understand how your body works as well as how it does not work. When you start to really investigate these exercises you will notice that they prepare the body to store more energy as well as creating various little mechanisms. I highly recommend that you posture test every single movement. Overtime you’ll start to realize that there are a series of mechanisms at work and you will learn to connect these and use them in concert. When one learns to move from center to center they learn to move with power. Power can be generated in various methods. One method is to harmonize a forward movement with a backward sinking/movement. Another would be to sink internally in harmony with the raising of the hands. These same movements can also be supported with other Jin . The following example has me moving into the opening position that is ritualistically performed at the beginning of every exercise. Aaron pulls against my arms as I endeavor to raise them up. If I pull back against Aaron’s pulling action I simply empower his pull and help him pull myself out of center. You cannot resist force on the same line in which is expressing. You can however set up a binary linear force moving away from the point of contact in opposite directions and connecting perpendicular to the original force. This is demonstrated by me first “propping”. The idea is a thrust my hands downward towards the earth as if I want to lift myself up with the strength of my hands. This action causes the Crown point of my head to rise in opposition. This opens the spine on the vertical line and creates a tension on the spine much like tuning a guitar string. This action serves to neutralize Aaron’s force enough so that I may complete the action. This is very useful in joint locking. I find it very useful to be able to move where I want to move when I want to move even if I am being held. Exploring the centers of this old set trains both the mind and body until correct movement becomes habitual.