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Eight Sections of Silk

Taught by: Joe Hing Kwok Chu

Recorded by: Vera Eby

Retyped and reformatted by: Arnie Miller

(Note:The original hard copy from Vera was scanned in and became distorted. Thanks to Arnie for reformatting it. Some of the awkward explanation is added by the teacher who is not a native English speaker. Vera Eby is an English teacher in San Francisco. Arnie Miller is an engineer, a corporate data base supervisor.)


These are mainly stretching exercises coming from the Shaolin Monastery which is well known for its martial arts. They are the preliminary exercises of the martial arts, including eye exercises, massaging points, stretching, and punching. Traditionally these are not classified as neigong exercise. (Neigong was the term before the term qigong became popular).

The name "eight sections of silk," also translated as "eight pieces of brocade,"  is a misnomer. The correct name is "pull and break tendons." Eight Sections of Silk has nothing to do with the number "eight." In Chinese, the names sound almost the same.

The former is written as:

                (eight sections of silk)

The latter is written as:

                (pull and break tendons)

Today the name "eight sections of silk" is commonly used. Most books describe the exercise as consisting of eight postures (movements). The first author made the first mistake. Almost all of the subsequent books followed the same mistakes. Today,  you can buy books or charts , written by wise men of the Orient, on "twelve sections of silk,"  "fourteen sections of silk," etc, much more impressive than just "eight sections." Traditionally Chinese authors prided themselves in doing "research" in ancient texts. If there were mistakes in the ancient texts, the mistakes might perpetuate. Some "scholars" even did questionable research by fabricating ancient texts.

Many books on "eight sections of silk" describe  the exercises as consisting of what they called  the scholars' eight sections and martial artists' eight sections. The former exercises are performed sitting on the floor and the latter exercises are performed standing up. Actually the "pull and break tendons" exercises are performed in standing positions and in sitting positions and also in lying down positions.

In the class we focus on the more important exercises.

The supplement commonly used in Guolin Qigong is the simplified version of "Pull and Break Tendons" as described in most writings.

The Exercises

Click here to see some of the warm up picture.


The Outlines

(1) Roll the Eyes 36 times

(2) Tap the Teeth 36 times

(3) Roll the Tongue 36 times

(4) Self-Applied Acupressure :Head ,Chest and Arms ,Butt and Legs

(5) Movements

(6) Stretches


 Detail Descriptions

*       Rolling the eyes

     With the eyes closed, roll the eyes 36 times to the left and 36 times to the right.

         Tapping the teeth

           With the mouth closed, tap the teeth together lightly 36 times.

      *    Tapping the bones behind the ears

           Tap the bones lightly 36 times with your index fingers.

Self-Applied Acupressure

*       Massaging the body

          Massage the temples.

          Massage the jaw muscles.

          Massage the neck muscles, both sides.

          Massage behind the neck, both sides.

          Massage the points at the beginning of each eyebrow.

          Massage each arm, starting on the inside of the arm:

                    the shoulder

                    the upper arm

                    the lower arm

                    the hand

          Pass one palm over the other, slowly, a few times.

          Massage the outside of each arm, moving up:

                              the hand

                              the lower arm

                              the upper arm

                              the shoulder

W Washing the legs 


Massage the lower back in the area right above the buttocks; 

find the sore spot on both sides; press & rub.

Massage each side of the hips, where the trunk of the body joins the legs.

Massage each leg/foot:

the middle of the thigh

the knee

the lower calf

the side of the ankle, four fingers above the bone


Click on the thumb nail picture for a larger and detailed picture for the acupoints.









To Maintain Spleen  Channel and Stomach Channel Raise One Arm

                              Stationary   (click here to see movie here)

                              Turning the Body   (click here to see movie here)

Two Hands Supporting the Sky to Maintain Triple Fire Channel (click here to see movie here)

Spreading The Bow Left and Right as if Shooting the Eagle


                               With moving stances

Peacock Spreading its Screen

The Giant Eagle Spreading its Wings

Seven Rocks and Eight Rolls to Get Rid of Hundreds of Illnesses

Moving the Head and Swaying the Tail to Get Rid of Fire in Heart Channel

Look to the Side and Back To Get Rid of Chronic Problems

Two Hands Holding the Feet To Strengthen the Waist and Kidney Channel

Twist out the Punches with Angry Look




 First warm up the body by loosening from toes to the neck.

1. With hands resting on the waist, men step forward with the left, women step forward with the right. Place more weight on the front and less weight at the back. Rotate the foot at the back in circle to left and right directions while the balls of the foot contacting the ground. Do about 16 circles on each foot.

2. With hands resting on the waist, spread the feet to the left and right about shoulder's width. Rotate the hip in both directions about 16 times.

3. Place the feet together and hands on top of the knees with fingers pointing inward. Rotate the knees about 16 times in both directions to loosen the back.

4. Spread the feet to one leg's length and place the hands on top of the legs a little behind the knees with fingers pointing inward. Look back to the left and to the right and stretch the shoulders one at a time while pressing the shoulder downward and look back.

5. Straight the legs while still holding the legs to rest the body weight partly on the arms and look back to the left and to the right to loosen the back.

6. Stand straight up and stretch the left hand down while stretch the neck up and to the right. Repeat on the other side. Do this a few times.

7. Stretch both hands down and stretch the head up. Do this a few times.

The following #8 stretches were recorded by Peter Croke.

8. Place one  hand on opposite  shoulder.  Place  other hand under the  elbow of the hand on the shoulder.   Pull the elbow  across the chest to  stretch the triceps of the arm with the hand on the  shoulder.  Repeat on  the other side.
   Place the palm of one hand between shoulder blades  with the elbow  facing up.  Place the other hand on the elbow of the  same hand.  Grab  the elbow from the back making sure the forearm is  behind the head.  Stretch by pulling on the elbow to stretch the  triceps.  Stretch by  pulling towards the rear of the head.  Reverse the  arms.
  Place one arm behind the back at the waist,  parallel to the floor and  with the palm out and at the mid back level.  Grab  the wrist (from the  inside) with the other hand.  Pull gently on wrist  to stretch the arm behind the body.   Then switch arms. 
  Interlace the fingers and stretch the hands over  the head.  The elbows  are gently straight and the palms are facing upward.   Sway the arms and  hands from side to side while breathing in and out.  Feel the stretch.
  Feet are placed in the bow and arrow stance*.   Hands are placed on both  hips. Stretch by bringing shoulders back and puffing  out the chest.  The  face looks forward and the tongue is stuck out for a  good stretch. * Bow and arrow stance: spread feet one legs length apart.   Turn one foot so  it is facing sideways.  Bend the same knee until you  cannot see your  foot.  Rotate the torso so the upper body is facing  the same direction.  The other leg is straight on an angle.  The foot of  this leg does not  move and remains facing the same direction.
  (standing or lying down)  Standing: Pull one heel  up to buttocks.  Hold  the leg to buttocks with the other hand holding that  leg by the ankle.  Balance on the other leg.  Lying:  While on your  side keep the top leg  gently straight.  Pull the bottom heel, with your  upper  hand, up to the buttocks. To pull the heel to grab the ankle.   Stretch. Repeat on the other side. 
 Lie down on the floor. Lie on your back.  Extend the arms to the sides, so  the elbows are gently straight.  The arms are at a 90 degree angle  to the body  Bend the knees so the feet are flat on the floor.  Take  one heel and bring it over the other knee and pull the knee toward the  floor.  While doing
 this rotate the upper torso in the opposite  direction.  Stretch and repeat on the other side.
  Lie on your back.  Extend the arms to the sides, so  the elbows are gently straight.  The arms are at a 90 degree angle  to the body  Bend the knees so the feet are flat on the floor.  Take  one heel and bring it
 to the other knee.  Place it foot against the inside  of the other knee and push  the knee toward the floor.  While doing  this rotate the upper torso in the opposite direction.  Stretch and repeat  on the other side.
 Lie on your stomach.  Rise up so your upper torso is  resting on your palms with the arms straight.  Knees are bent so  they are supporting the legs and touching the floor.   The body is on an  angle.  Turn the face upward and stretch the body. 
 Stay on the floor and get in a sitting position.   keep one leg straight and bend the other leg at the knee.  Place the foot  of the bent leg flat on the floor.  Place it on the outside of the  other leg (at the
 knee level).  Bend the arm of the straight leg and  place the elbow against the outside of the opposite knee.  Push the  knee toward the floor.  Turn the head and upper torso in the  opposite direction.
 Stretch and repeat on the opposite side.

     *     Stretching Seated on the floor

1.      Spread the legs & lean forward.

2.      Bend one knee & move the leg so the foot is positioned at the crotch; lean towards the straight leg; put your hands behind your back, twist, and turn, looking out to stretch the shoulder. At the same time, with the elbow on the inside of the knee, grip the ankle with your hand.

3.      Bend the left leg with the foot positioned at the crotch; bend the right leg with the foot facing out. Lean to the right & massage the right hip joint. Reverse and do the other leg.

4.      In a sitting position with your feet together and touching at the bottom, roll forward & back, gripping the ankles or feet.

5.      Lie on the floor with the arms extended and palms out. Bending the knee & keeping the foot flat on the floor, raise the right leg. Cross the left leg over the right with the ankle on the right thigh, just above the knee. Stretch the neck and look back. Reverse & do the other leg.

6.      With the arms extended and the knees up, turn toward the right and look to the left; then turn toward the left & look to the right.

7.      With the right knee up, grasp it with the left hand and pull it to the left & then back to the right. Then reverse and bring up the left knee, pulling it with your right hand.

8.     Bring both knees up toward the chest; first, grip the left with your hand, pulling down and toward you; then do the same with the right.

9.      Cross the right knee over the left. Then do the opposite.

10.    Raise the legs up high and do the windmill (walking on a cloud).

11.    With knees bent and feet flat on the ground, raise the buttocks slowly, straightening the spine, one vertebra at a  time. Now gradually lower the buttocks & flatten the back, one vertebra at a time.

12.      Lower the legs, so they are extended straight out. Exhale deeply. Begin to loosen the body, starting with the toes and loosening the parts of the body in the following sequence:

  1. the toes

  2. the ankles

  3. the knees

  4. the legs

  5. the hips

  6. the perineum

  7. the dan tian

  8. the belly button area

  9. the upper belly

  10. the chest

  11. the shoulders

  12. the elbows

  13. the wrists

  14. the hands

  15. the neck

  16. the head

  17. the face

  18. the throat

  19. eventually the whole body


Closing:  With eyes remaining closed, roll them in big circles. Then open the eyes, looking far in the distance, then closer and closer, and finally blinking, looking around you.


Click here to see a research report on the beneficial effect of Eight Sections of Silk.

Click here to see the class syllabus.

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Last update: June 29, 2011; 6:19 p.m. LAH