Wu Qin Xi and life nurturing with instruments
Wu Qin Xi was created by a famous doctor named Hua Tuo in Han Dynasty. It is an exercise that imitates the movements and expressions of five kinds of animals, including tiger, deer, bear, monkey and bird. The exercise imitating animals appeared early before the Han Dynasty, such as the record in Zhuang Zi that "doing ‘bear hanging’ and ‘bird stretching’ movements so as to live a long life ”. Hua Tuo's merit lies in that he made a systematic summary of the previous exercises and combined them into one routine, then spread it by firsthand dictation and impartation. But the specific methods of Wu Qin Xi spread without text words at first. As it came to the Northern and Southern Dynasties, the Yang Xing Yan Ming Lu (Extracts on Nourishing Spiritual Nature and Prolonging Bodily Life) written by Tao Hongjing described it in words that “As you do monkey exercise, you can hang your body by hands, stretch and bend you body 7 times, then hook an object by feet to let your body hang upside down, move your body side to side 7 times, and then stand with your hands joining to press your head 7 times”; and similar records can also be found in Yun Ji Qi Qian. Later people illustrated its specific form of exercise according to these descriptions(Figure 5). Relevant literatures on Wu Qin Xi are recorded in such books as Chi Feng Sui edited by Zhou Lvjing in Ming Dynasty and Wan Shou Xian Shu complemented by Cao Ruoshui, and the text sayings are basically identical with slight difference. This exercise is somewhat similar to the current pull-up, which can not only play a role in overcoming your own weight, and improving the flexibility of shoulders, but also play a good effect in strengthing body. This was a kind of image description of bionic fitness at that time; although it was still a kind of original pictographic thinking, it already reflected the concept of using instruments for fitness and life nurturing in Han Dynasty. In additions, the same way for fitness and life nurturing in using instruments is also recorded in the Wu Qin Qigong, which is spread among folks in Sichuan Province, China. This method needs to tap exerciser’s body by sand bag or wood stick in or after the practice of all kinds of movements. For example, it needs a practice of flipping sand bag before Tiger Exercise, and it still needs “to practice pressing the chest by a wood stick, which can improve the resistance of chest about the outside stimuli” after the practice of Crane Exercise.
（By Wang Lin）