Exhalation and Inhalation in the Athletic Routines

Exhalation and Inhalation in the Athletic Routines of “Tiger Play” of Wu Qin Xi

by Fang Wenze; Huainan, Anhui Province

The athletic routines of Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi are based on the exercises of Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi and the Three-Regulation principles of Health Qigong. Movements of appropriate difficulty levels are added to each exercise so that it is more competitive and entertaining. They have further expanded the population of Health Qigong exercisers, enhanced the social influence of Health Qigong, presented and promoted the long-standing traditional culture of the Chinese Nation, and provided a new fragrant and vigorous body-building element for the national wide fitness and participation campaign.

The athletic routines of Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi are divided into Tiger, Deer, Bear, Ape, and Bird Plays, each containing two movements. The routines begin and end with respectively preparative respiration regulation and Qi-returning movements. They reflect the characteristics of a unity and integration of form, Qi, and thought of athletic routines. The difficulty design of movements is organically combined with according to figure aesthetics, modern Kinesiology, and athletic characteristics and further reflects the characteristics of our times, the scientific body-building ideas, and the ultimate goal of sports to transcend both the ego and opponents. Athletic routines of Wu Qin Xi are based on the Zang & Fu and Channel Theories of traditional Chinese medicine and combined with the nature and characteristics of the five animals. Both the ranges and appearances of the movements are vivid embodiments of the fierceness and bravery of the tiger, serenity and leisure of the deer, composure and steadiness of the bear, agility and cleverness of the ape, and the lightness and nimbleness of the bird, so that the entire set of routines presents a unity of both form and spirit, the combination of exercise and health preservation, the connection between thought and Qi, and the integration of both the interior and the exterior.

In the ancient theory of Qigong, the body and spirit are named as “form” and “spirit”, while “Qi” is a link that connects both “form” and “spirit”. These three elements together form an organic entity. As the saying goes: Form is the container of life; Qi is the filling material of life; and spirit is the controller of life. Qi is exactly what we know as exhalation and inhalation. In the practice of the athletic routines of Health Qigong, the exerciser needs to consciously regulate the rhythm, frequency, and depth of respiration in order to meet the requirements and achieve the practicing goals of even, fine, gentle, deep, and long breaths. Good respiration is based on the correct form, relaxed body, and serene mind. Through long-term exercise and by following the natural, step-by-step principles of respiration regulation, we will naturally and gradually achieve the unity of form, Qi, and spirit. It is strictly forbidden to seek it on purpose and mechanically apply the methods. As the saying goes: Rome was not built in a day.

In the presentation of the athletic routines of Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi, there are high requirements on the flexibility, static balance, dynamic balance, overall coordinating ability, mental regulating ability, and the ability to express the “plays” of the athlete. In order to fully display the above-mentioned abilities, the athlete has to master the frequency and depth of respiration with a serene mind and relaxed body in order to maintain a natural, peaceful, and relaxed facial expression and smooth respiration thought the presentation, achieve a perfect combination of respiration and verve, and accomplish the goals of exercising the body, cultivating the character, and improving physical and mental health.

There are two difficult movements in the athletic routines of “Tiger Play” of Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi: Lifting the ankles and pouncing down with crossed legs. First we will explain the ankle-lifting movement: Gently inhale a breath while lifting both fists. When reaching the front of the shoulder, turn both fists into palms and raise them to the top of the head. At the same time lift the heels and move the eyesight with the hands. Keep eyes on both palms. At this point, the anus shall be lifted in order to balance the ankle-lifting movement and keep the both in a straight line as much as possible. Otherwise it will be difficult to maintain the balance. Then bend the fingers to form fists, and pull them down while taking a deep exhalation. When they reach the front of the shoulders, open the ten fingers and push them down to the front of the abdomen. At the same time slowly land the heels. During the up-down changes of the gravity center of the body in the ankle-lifting and ankle-landing movements, during the fist-to-palm and palm-to-fist raising and pushing movements of the hands, and with the coordinated even, gentle, slow, deep, and long respiration, the Qi activity in the Three Warmers will be dredged, the body will be fully stretched, and the five viscera will be massaged so that the exerciser feels as if the body is elongated. The vertebral column will be straightened, the coccygeal end will be upright, and the balance of the body will be improved. In this way, “correct form leads to unobstructed Qi, and obstructed Qi leads to continuous spirit”.

While pouncing down with crossed legs, the exerciser will raise the hollow fists along the flanks of the body and take a slow breath at the same time. When they reach the front of the shoulders, draw both hands upward and forward and form tiger claws. Lean forward the upper body and then bend knees to crouch. Pull back the abdomen and withdraw the chest. Draw an arc with both hands towards the sides of both knees and slow breathe in at the same time. straighten the knees and put forward the hips. Lean backward the upper body. Hold two hollow fists and raise them along the body flanks to the sides of the chest. Move the gravity center and lift the legs. Raise both hands further up and keep leaning backward the upper body. Change two hollow fists into tiger claws and pounce backward, upward, forward, and then downward until they reach both sides of the knees. Take a deep breath and at the same time lift one leg and bend the knee of the other to place the ankle of the lifted leg onto the knee of the supporting leg. Direct the eyes at the bottom of the front. Together with the quick and deep breaths, this routine bends the body forward and backward to fold and unfold the vertebral column in wriggling movements. Qi is sent out from Dantian and drives the strength to reach the finger tips. This will display the fierceness, bravery, and confidence of the tiger, regulate Yin and Yang, dredge the channels, and activate blood and Qi, rendering the body and spirit in a delightful state with play out of exercise and exercise out of play. In essence, this delight comes from the even, deep, and long respiration, from the beneficial physical and mental ease and relaxation, from an “achieving everything by achieving nothing” state of life, and from the “pleasing one, pleasing all” simplicity.

The athletic routines of Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi is exactly meant to display the ease and simplicity, so that people could imagine a picture of leisurely, serene, remote, and refreshing countryside with integrated humanity and nature, which soothes the tired body and mind in the complicated, pressure-filled, and delusional clamor.

[About the author] Fang Wenze, male, 19 years of age; started to learn traditional martial arts at the age of 8; currently a 12-grader with No.6 Middle School of Huainan; has a deep love for Health Qigong, traditional martial arts, basketball, music, and literature. Entrusted by Health Qigong Administration Office of Anhui Bureau of Sports to in the National Coach and Referee Training Classes for Athletic Routines of Health Qigong in April 2008; Served as coaches of training classes for four athletic Health Qigong routines held in May 2008 and March 2009 in Anhui Province. Participated in the 2nd and 3rd National Health Qigong Games respectively held in September 2008 and June 2009, and came out 1st in the Men’s Individuals of Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi in both events. Participated in the 2nd Sports Meeting of Anhui Province in November 2008 and came out 1st in the Men’s Individual of Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi; Participated in the 7th Hong Kong International Festival of Martial Arts together with Health Qigong Delegation of Anhui Bureau of Sports in March 2009 and came out 1st in the Men’s Individual of Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi; Participated in the 1st Haozhou China Health Qigong Fair in September 2009 and came out 1st in the Men’s Individual of Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi.