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eight treasures history

The eight treasures or eight brocades are very old - estimates of just how old range from 800 BC and a few thousand years. As you can imagine, the exact origins of the exercises are not clear and if you go looking you will find many stories about how they came to be. Here are just a few.

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picture of an eight brocades exercise One suggestion is that the 12th century warrior Marshal Yueh Fei developed them to keep his soldiers fit and supple. Another credits them to Chong Li-quan, one of the Eight Immortals in Chinese folklore. Others credit the exercises to his teacher who was forced to draw them on the walls of a cave because his student was too busy to turn up to the lessons.

Each of the 8 movements in the eight brocades are related to a qi meridian and its associated internal organs such as the liver, stomach, spleen and heart.

In traditional Chinese medicine the Qi energy sweeps around the body the way the hour hand on a clock sweeps around the dial, in keeping with this theory the exercises in eight brocades should be practiced in sequence to get the maximum benefit for the immune system.

cartoon of eight brocades stretch

You can use the eight brocades as exercises in their own right or you can use them to warm up and cool down from other tai chi exercises or any other form of physical exercise.