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In 1973, archeologists in China excavated the tomb of King Ma.
In King Ma's tomb at Mawangdui, on the outskirts of the city of Changsha in Hunan Province, they discovered medical manuals, compilations, and a silk scroll on which were drawn 44 humans in various poses or postures.
In the early Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) an anonymous person began to edit the materials describing the Eight-section Brocade, which later developed into two schools―the northern school and the southern school.Many of these health exercise practices continue to this day, and the Eight Treasures are often considered a Wai Dan medical qigong exercise set.The Chinese Health Qigong Association says that "as a traditional Chinese health and fitness Qigong exercise routine, Ba Duan Jin, or Eight Section Exercises, dates back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279)." The scholars Ji Jingwei and Zhu Jianping say, in their book An Illustrated Handbook of Chinese Qigong Forms from the Ancient Texts (2014, p.82), that "The Eight Section Brocade is a set of dynamic exercises for health preservation composed of eight parts.A gentle sweat will exude, the complexion will become rosy; the body will feel light and you will want to eat." - From: Drawing Silk: A Training Manual for T'ai Chi, p. One tradition is that the Buddhist teacher, Bodhidharma (448-527 CE), a famous Grand Master of Chan (Zen), introduced a set of 18 exercises to the Buddhist monks at the Shaolin Temple.These are known as the "Eighteen Hands of the Lohan." This Shaolin Lohan Qigong (i.e., the art of the breath of the enlightened ones) "is an internal set of exercises for cultivating the "three treasures" of qi (vital energy), jing (essence), and shen (spirit)," according to Howard Choy.Taoism emphasizes the underlying unity of the individual and the cosmos, living in harmony with the true Way or Dao (Tao), giving up petty viewpoints, simplicity, solitary retreats, avoiding violent interference with others, a simple natural diet, natural and compassionate living, sharing with others, seeking insight into "emptiness", seeking a higher understanding or enlightenment, living a healthy lifestyle, storing and circulating energy (Qi, Chi, Prana), practicing meditation, studying and working diligently, and seeking mystical insights.These methods and practices were explored and adapted in China for thousands of years to help to maintain good health, to prevent and cure diseases, to restore vitality, to calm the mind, and to enhance the spirit of the patient or practitioner.He created a series of exercises called the "Animal Frolics." There are many versions of the animal frolics exercises today, and some of these exercises are similar to those found in the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung.In The History of the Later Han, Hua T'o wrote: "Man's body must have exercise, but it should never be done to the point of exhaustion.It is likely that ancient dances, medical theory, military drills and exercises, shamanistic rituals, and Buddhist and Taoist practices were all sources for the specific and formal movement routines of Dao-yin or Chi Kung (Qigong).The ancient terms for these types of Qigong or Chi Kung (energy/Qi/breath training) fitness exercises include: Dao Yin (guiding, breathing and stretching), "guiding and stretching" or "pulling and guiding" exercises; or, Daoqi Yinti (guide the qi and stretch the body); or, Yang Sheng Fa (Longevity Practices, Nourishing Life); or Neidan (Inner Alchemy).