The location, names, and extent of the body’s eight Qi reservoirs are provided along with details of their interrelationship. Below is an overview of how Qi flows through them and their balancing and regulating functions as it pertains to internal energies. The ‘Ba Duan Jin’ (eight pieces of brocade) is then introduced as a means by which these functions can be enhanced and the overall health of the body improved.
These so-called ‘Remarkable’ Vessel reservoirs are so named because their locations are ‘superphysical’ or even ‘mysterious’, meaning neither anatomical investigation nor scanning with a scanner will reveal them. The human body has eight main Qi reservoirs that correspond to the following physical locations.
i. The Du Mei or Governing Vessel (begins at the tip of the coccyx, along the back of the spine, above the head, and ends just below the nose);
ii. The Ren Mei or Conception Vessel (extends from the perineum up through the chest and thorax to the lips);
iii. The Chong Mei or Pusher Vessel (from deep within the body flows up along the front of the spine);
IV. The Dai Mei or Belt or Faja Vaso (this circles around the waist);
v. The Yang Chiao Mei or Yang Heel Vessel;
vi.The Yin Chiao Mei or Yin Heel Vessel;
vii. The Yang Wei Mei or Yang Regulating Vessel;
viii. The Yin Wei Mei or Yin Regulating Vessel.
The first four Vessels are located in the torso and the second four in the legs (each leg contains all four). Number IV. the Dai Mei is the only one that flows horizontally (all others flow vertically) and serves to receive Qi from the upper vessels and distribute Qi to the lower ones. The upper and lower body meridians are also paired as follows: ii. and I saw; i and v.; iii. and viii.; and IV. and viii.; each container also corresponds to one of the eight trigrams of Pa Kua (Eight Sector Diagram) ‘Later Heaven Array’.
These reservoirs store Qi that can flow to parts of the body where there is a shortage of Qi and more is required and receive excess Qi and store it from parts of the body where there is excess Qi. This continuous cycle helps maintain the balance of Yin and Yang in the body, regulates the distribution of Qi throughout the body, and maintains homeostasis, or a constant state of balance, essential for good health.
The Ba Duan Jin (eight pieces of brocade) consists of eight sections that exercise each vessel, the corresponding acupuncture meridian and the related internal organ in turn in a structured and balanced sequence known and popular in China for thousands of years. A Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) silk chart discovered in the tomb excavation at Mawangdui, Changsha province in 1972 contained similar exercises. However, the most famous exponent of Ba Duan Jin is probably General Yueh Fe of the Sung dynasty (1127-1279 AD), also hailed as the founder of the Xin Yi and Eagle Claw Kung Fu styles. Yueh Fei taught his soldiers Ba Duan Jin to help them repel the Jurchen nomads who were trying to invade China at the time.
Ba Duan Jin helps provide the arm strength that Eagle Claw, a Northern Shaolin long-range style of Kung Fu, requires, particularly for the hook spear (Yueh Fei’s favorite weapon). Ba Duan Jin is also practiced by many exponents of Changquan ‘Longfist’ Kung Fu, but the benefits of regular practice will become apparent whatever your sport or even if you train solely for health and fitness purposes.