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Eight Trigram Palm ( Bagua Zhang)and the Way of Health Preservation

The Impact of Eight Trigram Palm on the Musculoskeletal System

Eight Trigram Palm emphasizes the principles of “rolling, drilling, expanding, and wrapping” in its practice. This pertains to the changes in force and posture of the upper limbs during exercises. “Rolling” refers to circular revolving arm movements, “drilling” involves both rotating and advancing spiral arm actions, “expanding” requires outward stretching, and “wrapping” involves inward coiling. All four types of movements require the contraction of the upper limb muscles to generate power. During practice, it is necessary to combine rolling and drilling, generating both inward contracting force and outward expanding force. “Qi Zheng Xiang Sheng” refers to the idea that contradictions give rise to forces. All the power in Eight Trigram Palm emerges from the interaction of the four forces—rolling, drilling, expanding, and wrapping—created through the contradictions of qi (energy) dynamics. This training method demands frequent changes in the extension and contraction of the arms during movement or martial techniques, emphasizing wrapping power, twisting power, expanding power, and various other forces. Such rolling, drilling, expanding, and wrapping motions and the specific characteristics of Eight Trigram Palm training place high demands on the flexibility and coordination of the wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints, as well as strong contraction of the muscles in the arms. Through repetitive practice, this approach effectively trains the extension and contraction abilities of the upper limb joints, providing comprehensive exercise for bones, muscle groups, and ligaments.

Eight Trigram Palm’s Impact on the Respiratory System

Eight Trigram Palm exercises have a positive influence on improving and enhancing the function of the respiratory system. In practice, Eight Trigram Palm emphasizes the concept of “the abdomen as the root of qi, and qi akin to the movement of clouds, qi circulating through a hundred pores.” This means that the abdomen is an essential area for storing qi (energy), and during training, the breath must sink deep into the abdomen, making it full and undulating—a concept known as “qi sinks to the dantian” and “qi should be full and undulating.” The phrase “qi akin to the movement of clouds, qi circulating through a hundred pores” indicates that deep breathing in Eight Trigram Palm must be slow and steady, resembling the slow movement of clouds in the sky, without sudden inhalation or exhalation. Only in this way can the inhaled oxygen be delivered to all the necessary places. Through prolonged practice of Eight Trigram Palm, the qi is drawn into the dantian and reaches the extremities, harmonizing the internal and external breathing, forming the unified primordial qi.

In the human body’s movement, the respiratory system, especially the lungs and trachea, is the first to directly benefit. The unique training methods and requirements of “solid abdomen and unobstructed chest, qi akin to the movement of clouds, and qi circulating through a hundred pores” in Eight Trigram Palm are highly beneficial for the reflexive dilation of capillaries, rhythmic changes in chest pressure, and deep and prolonged breathing. This ensures sufficient blood supply to the respiratory organs, thereby improving their health. Moreover, Eight Trigram Palm primarily utilizes abdominal breathing, which consciously increases the depth of breathing and strengthens the up-and-down movements of the diaphragm, effectively developing the respiratory muscles, increasing lung capacity, and enhancing the ventilation and gas exchange functions of the lungs.

The Impact of Eight Trigram Palm on the Nervous System and Meridians of the Human Body

All human activities rely on the regulation of excitement and inhibition of nerve cells in the cerebral cortex, and the variations, coordination, and balance of movements are all commanded by the central nervous system. Imbalances in certain functions of the central nervous system can lead to nervous weakness, resulting in symptoms such as insomnia and digestive disorders. Eight Trigram Palm, with its distinctive style in the Chinese martial arts community, stands out with its unique techniques, light and agile movements, and agile footwork, akin to walking through mud. It exhibits continuous connections between movements, combining walking, staying, and turning palms in an endless cycle, forming circles within circles. The waist acts as an axis, and there are twists and turns while walking and rotating, causing the palms to change with the body’s movements, resembling a wandering dragon and a crouching tiger. Practicing Eight Trigram Palm requires intense focus and unity of form and spirit, demanding simultaneous engagement of the eyes, hands, feet, and body, creating a unified energy throughout the body and coordinating the limbs. Under these specific movement conditions, the motor cortex of the brain remains regularly stimulated, providing excellent training and regulation for the central nervous system and brain functions. This focused mental activity also induces protective inhibition in other parts of the cerebral cortex, serving as a positive rest for individuals engaged in mental work.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, the human body has a complex system of meridians, including the twelve regular meridians and eight extraordinary vessels. The circulation of qi, blood, and bodily fluids mainly relies on the meridians. Regular practice of Eight Trigram Palm can effectively exercise the Ren meridian, Du meridian, Belt meridian, and Chong meridian, thus exerting a positive influence on promoting meridian flow. For example, the “Xing Zhuang” (Walking Stance) exercise in Eight Trigram Palm is conducted under the guidance of traditional Chinese meridian theories, with the goal of activating lower limb meridians.

The Impact of Eight Trigram Palm on Internal Organs and the Endocrine System

The fundamental training requirements of Eight Trigram Palm are expressed as “dragon-like and monkey-like, tiger-like sitting and eagle-like flipping,” “twisting, rotating, walking, and kicking to stimulate the gallbladder.” “Dragon-like and monkey-like, tiger-like sitting and eagle-like flipping” demand the practitioner to move like a wandering dragon, with the eyes following the hands and maintaining a composed and powerful sitting posture resembling a crouching tiger. The transitions involve agile waist-turning movements, demonstrating flexibility and ease. “Twisting, rotating, walking, and kicking to stimulate the gallbladder” require the practitioner to twist their head, hands, elbows, and body towards the center, coiling into a unified rotational force. When walking and turning, the leading foot moves lightly, and the trailing foot exhibits a bouncing force. During forward movement, the foot should rub against the inner side of the foot’s medial malleolus. These movement characteristics engage various muscle groups and muscle fibers throughout the body, opening up capillaries and accelerating the flow of veins and lymphatic fluid, thereby reducing the burden on the heart. Additionally, the frequent use of abdominal breathing in Eight Trigram Palm, combined with the improved regulation of the nervous system on internal organs, allows the contraction and relaxation of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles to act as a “self-massage” for the liver and gastrointestinal tract. This enhances the movement of the stomach, intestines, liver, and kidneys, improves the liver’s blood circulation, promotes gastrointestinal peristalsis, stimulates the secretion of digestive fluids and adrenaline, enhances nutrient absorption, and improves digestion and metabolism. As a result, regular practice of Eight Trigram Palm can increase appetite, alleviate constipation, and reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.

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