Script for Ba Duan Jin

My practice group uses music with instructions to do the Eight Brocades. Pan Huai found the script and gave me both Pinyin and a translation (which I have amended slightly to follow English usage in martial arts as I know it). Here’s how it goes:

健身气功八段锦
jiàn shēn qì gōng bā duàn jǐn
Health Qi Gong Eight Section Brocade

预备式
yù bèi shì
Preparing form

Yu bei shi is an instruction for every form, so it’s a good bit of vocabulary to know. When you hear it, step left.

左脚开步;与肩同宽;屈膝下蹲;掌抱腹前
zuǒ jiǎo kāi bù ;yǔ jiān tóng kuān ;qū xī xià dūn ;zhǎng bào fù qián
Step left to shoulder width, bend the knees and sink down; hold the hand in front of the belly, palms facing in

Some of these words are already familiar: Zuo is left, Jiao is leg, Kai is open, bu is stance. Qu is bend, xi is knees. Zhang is palm. Bao is embrace.

中正安舒;呼吸自然;心神宁静;意守丹田
zhōng zhèng ān shū ;hū xī zì rán ;xīn shén níng jìng ;yì shǒu dān tián
Body centered and straight, relax; breathe naturally, calm your mind and facial expression, focus your mind on the Dan Tian

Hu xi is breathe; hu is exhale and xi is inhale.

两手托天理三焦
liǎng shǒu tuō tiān lǐ sān jiāo
Two Hands Reach up to the Heavens to regulate San Jiao

The first exercise i the set. San Jiao is the “triple burner” — a concept in Chinese medicine that refers to the generation of heat within the body. The instruction for this first movement is simple: lift the arms with fingers interlaced, then lower them to the sides. We do the movement six times, but the script ends on the last “Lift up,” after which the arms are lowered to the starting position for the next exercise (which is crossed hands).

上托、下落
shàng tuō 、xià luò
Lift up, Lower [the arms] down (6 repetitions)

左右开弓似射雕
zuǒ yòu kāi gōng sì shè diāo
Draw the Bow to Shoot the Eagle

Script for the second exercise. Gong is bow. Bing bu is feet together. We do this one three times on each side. Again, the last bing bu is omitted and instead you take the position for the next exercise  (feet together, sink down, right hand palm-down, left ready to lift).

撘腕、开弓、并步
dā wàn 、kāi gōng 、bìng bù
Cross the wrist, draw the bow, feet together (3 repetitions on each side)

调理脾胃须单举
diào lǐ pí wèi xū dān jǔ
Raise hand on each side to adjust the Spleen & Stomach

Instruction for the third exercise. Shang is upwards, xia is downwards. These words occur in a lot of instructions and forms; good to know. Again, 6 reps–three on each side–and the last xia luo is omitted. Move to position for the next exercise, which would be with both hands down, level with the ground, palms down.

上举、下落
shàng jǔ 、xià luò
Lift up, lower [the hand] down (3 repetitions on each side)

五劳七伤往后瞧
wǔ láo qī shāng wǎng hòu qiáo
Look back to [relieve? prevent?] Five Fatigues and Seven Illnesses

The name of this fourth exercise has been translated so many ways. As best I understand it, the looking backward, then turning forward, has an added connotation of forgetting, releasing, leaving behind. Shang means wound or injury, but here, may also refer to seven emotions: happy, angry, sad, worried, startled (nervous?), frightened, laughing. So maybe the idea is to look back, then leave it all behind. Put it all behind you? As a way of achieving peace and balance. I like this idea.

起身、后瞧、转正
qǐ shēn 、hòu qiáo 、zhuǎn zhèng
Stand up, turn head back, turn to front (3 repetitions on each side)

Zhuan (turn) is a good word to know, as is shen (body). Zhuan shen (turn body) is an instruction that occurs frequently in Tai Chi. We’re told to stand up because in the starting position the knees are bent; they should be bent upon returning to front. The last zhuan zheng is omitted and the starting position for the next movement is both palms facing in.

摇头摆尾去心火
yáo tóu bǎi wěi qù xīn huǒ
Sway the Head and Shake the Tail to get rid of the Xin-Huo

I’m a little mystified by Xin-Huo. Xin is heart and Huo is fire; Xin-Huo is heart-fire. But I wonder: is that heartburn???

上托、下按
shàng tuō 、xià àn
Lift up, press down

This last is the instruction for getting into position (stepping out to ma bu).

右倾、左旋、摇头、摆尾;左倾、右旋、摇头、摆尾
yòu qīng 、zuǒ xuán 、yáo tóu 、bǎi wěi ;zuǒ qīng 、yòu xuán 、yáo tóu 、bǎi wěi
Lean right, swing left, sway the head, shake the tail; Lean left, swing right, sway the head, shake the tail (3 repetitions)

I have to say I am not so sure what “shake the tail” means. The movement is more like roll the head and swing the tail (which you could use for the English instead). The following is the one-time instruction for lifting the arms and moving the feet back together:

上举
shàng jǔ
Lift up [the arms]

两手攀足固肾腰
Liǎng shǒu pān zú gù shèn yāo
Two Hands Hold the Feet to Strengthen the Kidneys and Waist

上举、下按、反穿、摩运、攀足
shàng jǔ 、xià àn 、fǎn chuān 、mó yùn 、pān zú
Lift up, press down, move the hands to the back, message legs (6 repetitions)

Add one last Shang Ju (Lift up) to straighten, then sink into the starting position for the next exercise (fists chambered at the waist).

攒拳怒目增气力
zǎn quán nù mù zēng qì lì
Clench the Fists and Glare Fiercely (or Angrily) to Improve Strength and Qi

Starting instruction:

抱拳
bào quán
Clench the fists

攒拳怒目、抓握、回收; 攒拳怒目、抓握、回收;
zǎn quán nù mù 、zhuā wò 、huí shōu ; zǎn quán nù mù 、zhuā wò 、huí shōu ;
Clench the Fists and Glare Fiercely, grab and clench the fist, pull the fist back (3 times left and right)

Omit the last hui shou to move into position (neutral standing position) for the last exercise. In the script for the one above, in English it would make more sense to say “punch with the [left or right] fist” rather than just clench.

背后七颠百病消
bèi hòu qī diān bǎi bìng xiāo
Bouncing (7 Times) on the Feet, Toes, Heel to Help Prevent Disease

提踵、颠足
tí zhǒng 、diān zú
Lift up heels, bounce on the feet (7 repetitions)

The script omits the last dian zu. Remain in that neutral standing position for:

收式
shōu shì
Close form

两手合于腹前
liǎng shǒu hé yú fù qián
Place your hands on the Dan Tian

体态安详;周身放松;呼吸均匀;气沉丹田
tǐ tài ān xiáng ;zhōu shēn fàng sōng ;hū xī jun1 yún ;qì chén dān tián
Relax the body, breathe evenly, Qi goes back to Dan Tian

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