Today we will concentrate on the second exercise in the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung set.Pull the Bow is the most complex of the 8 brocades. It is a Qigong course all in itself, with many useful lessons in posture, movement, breath, focus, and Qi flow. There are many bow and arrow exercises found in Qigong. My imagined provenance of this exercise is that ancient folks observed in bowmen a certain quality of vigor and vitality. Bow-pulling exercises arose to recreate such health for others.
Many Chinese healers believe that this exercise helps regulate and improve the kidney meridians.
Exercise 2 - Drawing the Bow and Letting the Arrow Fly
Research by Michael P. Garofalo
Movement Name: Drawing the Bow and Letting the Arrow Fly, Drawing the Bow, Pulling the Bow and Releasing the Arrow, Shooting the Serpent, Pull-Aim-Release
Point both feet forward and keep them flat on the floor.
The feet should be wider than shoulder width apart.
Bend the knees.
Keep your back straight and head up.
Gently raise your hands to your chest.
Cross your hands, right hand in front of left hand, hands relaxed and open, with your palms facing inward.
Extend your left arm out level with your chest. Hold your fingers slightly bent as if your fingers and hand are curled around a bow, holding he bow in your left hand.
At the same time your left arm is extending outward, you lift your right arm up to chest height, your right arm bends at the elbow, your index and middle finger bend, and then your right arm moves out to the right keeping your elbow bent. Imagine that you are holding the string of a bow, fingers on the string and above and below the arrow, and then pulling on the bow string with your right arm.
Look to the left.
Aim the bow and arrow, and then release the fingers of the right hand to let the arrow fly.
As you release the arrow, begin to slowly breathe out.
The movement of the two arms should mimic the drawing of a bow string and arrow, aiming the arrow, and releasing the arrow. Coordinate the movement of the arms to match this image. Feel the tension in the bow and string as your draw them apart to fire the arrow. Aim the arrow at a target. Watch the arrow fly to its target. Concentrate on the target.
Breathe in while drawing the bow, and breathe out when releasing the arrow and repositioning the hands for the next shot.
You have now completed the left side part of the Drawing the Bow Movement #2.
Return arms downward in an arc and then back up the center of your body.
Cross your arms in front of your chest, right hand in front of the left hand.
Your head should be facing forward.
Root into the earth below, sink, feel the earth power.
Extend your right arm out level with your chest. Hold your fingers slightly bent as if your fingers and hand are curled around a bow, holding he bow in your right hand.
At the same time your right arm is moving outward, you lift your left arm up to chest height, your left arm bends at the elbow, your index and middle finger bend, and then your left arm moves out to the left keeping your elbow bent. Imagine that you are holding the string of a bow, left fingers on the string and around the arrow, and then pulling on the bow string with your left arm.
Look to the right.
As you draw the bow and string apart breathe in deeply.
Aim the bow and arrow, and release the fingers of the left hand to let the arrow fly.
As you release the arrow, begin to slowly breathe out.
Wu Ji signals the end of one movement and the beginning of the next movement.
Wu Ji is called "Mountain Pose" Tadasana in Hatha Yoga.
Bring your feet closer together or have heels touching.
Keep the knees slightly bent.
Enjoy some cleansing breaths. Opening/Closing.
Stand up straight and tall. Lift the head. Tuck the chin inward a little.
Loosen Up, Soften, Merge and Relax.
Feel yourself sinking and rooting into the Earth.
Free up the mind, reduce thinking, forget, become outside more.
b) The drawing of the bow can be done very slowly or deliberately, or faster and with more force. Always pause, concentrate, and aim before firing. Follow the arrow through the sky as it flies out from the bow. Some circle the arms upward after each shot of the arrow.
e) The number of arrows fired can vary: 2, 3, 5, 8, 16, 24, 36, etc.
f) The arm movements of this exercise may be done while seated or while walking. Refer to my notes in the Thirteen Treasures Walking Qigong.
Squatting down works the following muscle groups: quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, long outside muscle, calves. Squatting down and coming back up will improve some balancing skills and increase cardiovascular intensity.
Shoulders, biceps and forearms are conditioned and strengthened.
Many Chinese healers believe that this exercise helps regulate and improve the Kidney meridians.
Balance and brain functions are improved by coordinated movements.
Stretching helps contribute to the relaxation of stiff and tense muscles.
Standing up straight in a horse stance helps realign the back muscles and the spine.
A clear and peaceful mind reduces negative stress on the body.
Squatting down exercises the leg muscles including the thighs (quadriceps), hamstrings (biceps femoris), buttocks (glutes), calves (gastrocnemius), iliopsoas, and increases demands on the cardio-vascular system.
Increased heart rate and breathing rate provide some cardiovascular benefit.
Useful imagery can have positive effects on mental functioning and performance.
Using both sides of the body (mirroring in a movement form) can have positive effects on the structural alignment of the body and enhance coordination.
Slow, deep and regular breathing positively effects mood, energy levels, and alertness; as well as improving the mechanical functioning of the lungs.
Exercises the eye muscles.
Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung(See below for reference sources.)
Drawing a Bow to Each Side Resembles Shooting an Eagle. (Lam Kam Chuen, R2)
Open the Bow like Shooting a Hawk, Two Arms Strong and Firm to Strengthen Kidneys and Waist. (Yang Jwing-ming, R3)
The Shaolin Archer. (Geoff and Phyllis Pike, R4)
Drawing the Bow to the Left and Right as though Shooting a Bird. (PRC Publication, R5)
Open the Bow as Thought Shooting the Buzzard. (Kenneth Cohen, R6)
Drawing the Bow and Letting the Arrow Fly. (Michael Garofalo, R7)
Drawing the Bow with Each Hand. (Stanley Wilson, R8)
Drawing the Bow to the Left and the Right as Though Shooting at a Hawk. (Daniel reid, R9)
Drawing the Bow to Shoot Vultures (Jiao Guorui, R10) Shooting Arrows. (Wong Kiew Kit, R11)
Drawing the Bow with Both Hands to Aim at a Distant Target (Maoshing Ni, R12)
Posing as an Archer Shooting Both Left and Right Handed (Chinese Health Qigong Association, R13)
Bow and Arrow, Kai Gong Shi (Shifu Yan Lei, R14)
Observations, Notes, Quotations, Reflections, Questions and Answers
I believe you can make very good progress on your own. This form is not very complex in terms of length, sequence or postures. In addition to the instructions found on this webpage, there are many fine books with detailed descriptions and illustrations and there are a few instructional DVSs or videotapes on this subject produced by recognized experts with decades of experience in Qigong or Taijiquan internal arts. Workshops on the Eight Treasures are widely available. Group practice of this form brings a unique positive and healthy synergy, new insights, the opportunity for useful corrections to your movements from a qualified instructor, and the beauty of the coordinated movement of a group. Take advantage of some group practice if you can. Always be open to ideas on the topic and be ready and willing to learn from others. Cheng Man-ch'ing speaks about how a few persons used only books to learn T'ai Chi Ch'uan (a very difficult task), and his remarks could equally or more so apply to learning less complex Qigong forms on your own from books, videotapes or DVDs; he says,
- Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing, Advanced T'ai Chi Form Instructions, Wile 1985 p.9.
- Master Wu Yu-hsiang (1812 - 1880), Translation by Waysun Liao
List of Movements in the Eight Section Brocade in English. 1 page, PDF file. By Mike Garofalo.