Although it was as recent as 1979 that the first Shibashi set was brought together it is plain to see that there are a multitude of variations being broadcast. This has led to tuition of vastly differing quality. The majority of the exercises being taught are slow, gentle, aerobics that are, while still beneficial, not Qigong. There are lots of external movements but very little internal.
According to Lin Housheng – the founder of the Taiji Shibashi Qigong – “The formulation of the 18 Movements of Taiji Qigong was based on some movements of the Taiji Quan coupled with the Qigong breathing.” This is true of some of the postures but not all.
Lin Housheng borrowed certain posture from Taiji and simplified them to create a new Qigong set. What he did not do was to create a set of original exercises as each of them was either taken from Taiji or from existing sets.
A few examples
- The Shibashi begins with the commencement from the Yang Family Taiji form.
- Circle the Hands to part the Clouds is the same as the second part of “The Change of Sinews” from the Ten Fundamental Treasures.
- Punching with Outstretched Arms is known as “Fist Play with Eyes Glaring” in the second set of the Silk Exercises.
- Pushing to the Diagonals is a simplification of “Step Back to Repulse the Monkey”.
- Turning to Gaze at the Moon has numerous variations in other Qigong sets (My Qigong Master told me that the original name for this posture is “The Doe-eyed Cow Turns to Look at the Moon” and explained the full meaning of the name and how it leads to a better understanding of the exercise).
- Playing with Waves is a simplification of “Push” in the Yang Family Taiji form.
One thing that Lin Housheng did do was to name the set after Taiji. This is because it is founded on Taiji principals (not all Qigong exercises are) and those principals allow for the more powerful healing aspects to become manifest.
There has been a bit of controversy going on for quite some time now as to whether Lin Housheng worked alone on the original Shibashi set. Earlier claims that Taiji Grandmaster He Weiqi was a co-founder have been disputed by Lin Housheng’s daughter…………. “He Weiqi added nothing to Shibashi number 1, and only minor things when she was my father’s assistant promoting Shibashi set 2, in Malaysia in 1988.”
My own opinion on this is that He Weiqi a profound influence on the original Shibashi set. As far as I am aware, Lin Housheng had no Taiji training and the later sets and later video of him performing the original set show a marked deviation from Taiji principals with the exercises having become more physical and dance-like. I learned the original set, in the mid 1980’s, the emphasis was on the Taiji principals, on the fundamental requirement that Wuji stance had to be mastered. Having learned from another source, I showed the set to my Qigong Master who immediately started telling me of the origins (or at least some of the much older Qigong sets that used the same exercises) of each posture. What he also pointed out was that my Wuji stance needed more practice 🙂
The Shibashi is an extremely safe set of Qigong that can be practiced by everyone. These exercises are for health and well-being.
Even when practicing the postures as a slow aerobic exercise is beneficial and will produce positive results from the relaxation, gentle stretching and muscle toning.
- The slow, rhythmic, movements help to clear the lymphatic system.
- The relaxation of the musculature allows the blood vessels to dilate, increasing circulation and lowering blood pressure.
- The breathing methods help reduce the respiration rate.
- Low impact exercise can increase bone density.
- Stress levels are lowered.
- A sense of well-being is attained.
However, the real benefits only occur when these external, physical, movements create internal energetic movement. This is when it becomes Qigong. This is when awareness is raised, when the body and mind are quiet, when the Qi is felt as it flows throughout your entire being. Harmony of movement and breath leads to quieting and raised awareness of Mind (Shen). Then the Yi (cognitive mind, or brain) can guide the Qi.