Origin of the Exercise
Mace is a type of sticks. It is one of the earliest tools used by the human kind. In the traditional Chinese health-preserving culture, the mace have long been an apparatus for physical exercise. The earliest literature records of maces are the Daoyin Diagrams unearthed from Tomb #3 of Mawangdui, an ancient tomb of the Han Dynasty in 1973 in Changsha. Two of the diagrams are pictures of different postures with long maces. These are the earliest existing records of maces as apparatus for limb Daoyin for health-preserving exercise. According to the book Mawangdui Daoyin written by Researcher Zhou Shirong with Provincial Institute of Archaeology of Hunan, the mace picture in the Daoyin Diagrams can be described as: "Bend the turn the body. Hold the mace with both hands. Lift the left hand and lower the right hand. The text note says this is to connect Yin and Yang with the mace.” This means the method of guiding Qi with the mace to exercise the body has been realized and applied by ancient people. From the most primitive disease-preventing and health-preserving “dance” in ancient times to the development of Daoyin, Fangsheng, massage, and Qi guidance, we can see many examples of maces being used to guide the limbs, indicating that this apparatus-based Daoyin method had been prevailing in history.
With regard to historical literature, Volume V Zhong Xia Ji (Gu Yue) of Lv Shi Chun Qiu says: “in the early ages of Taotangshi, Yin often stagnated and accumulated, clogging up the water channels and diverting water from their original channels. The Qi was depressed and blocked and the tendons and bones were contracted. Therefore people danced to unblock the channels.” Volume VI Wai Pian (Ke Yi) of Zhuang Zi, a book written in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods also says: “by regulating respiration, practicing Tuna, and imitating the postures of animals, we can prolong life……” Here Daoyin and Qi guidance are combined. Di Si Yi Fang Yi Lun of Huang Di Nei Jing: Su Wen says: “The central part of the country has a flat terrain and wet conditions, which give rise to a great variety of creatures and things. People who live there are therefore diverse and less laborious. Therefore their prevailing diseases are mostly motor impairments, dizziness, colds, and fever, which should better be treated with Daoyin and somatic twisting.” This shows the combination of Daoyin and massage (Anqiao means massage). Much historical data and the application of the mace in Daoyin Diagrams have revealed the inevitable relations and development relations between the health-promoting mechanism and various exercising methods of ancient Qigong, which are important theoretical basis for us to revive, inherit, and compile Health Qigong exercises. Exercises from Daoyin Diagrams to “Tai Ji Bang” (also known as “Tai Ji Chi”) created by Zhao Zhongdao of the modern times have all shown the long and lasting history of maces as a type of apparatus for health-preserving exercise.
On the basis of our inheritance of the mace-holding movements of Daoyin Diagrams, we have based our compilation on the mechanisms recorded in historical data about Daoyin, Tunan, and Qi-guiding movements and learned from the successful experience in the traditional exercises such as Tai Ji Bang to compile this Health Qigong • Tai Ji Yang Sheng Zhang exercise.
(Research Team for Creation and Compilation of Health Qigong•Tai Ji Yang Sheng Zhang)