Wu Qin Xi: Five-Animal Qigong Exercises by the Chinese Health Qigong Association
Singing Dragon, London and Philadelphia, 2008
ISBN: 978 1 84310 007 8
The Chinese Health Qigong Association is an organization which promotes and researches
health qigong and is a group member of the All-China Sports Federation. CHQA promotes
four particular classical qigong practices, of which this is one, both in China and
abroad. The Health Qigong Federation UK is the organisation recognised by CHQA in
UK. CHQA sends teams of health qigong masters to various countries to teach people.
They also set standards for these forms.
Wu qin xi is a classical qigong that was designed by Hua Tuo (110-207A.D.), known
as the Father of Chinese Medicine. The exercises are also known as Five Animal Frolics
or Five Animal Play. The five exercises correspond to the five yin and five yang
internal organs in Chinese Medicine. This is the earliest set of qigong exercises
mentioned in a written work.
Hua Tuo watched the movements of animals in creating these exercises to promote health
and longevity. Two of his disciples lived to the ages of 90 and 100.
The five animals are tiger, deer, bear, monkey and bird. In this particular version
of five animal qigong, there are two exercises for each animal.
Of the four practices promoted by CHQA, I think that this is the most demanding.
Some of the postures require balancing on one leg and the movements are more complex.
It would definitely be impossible to learn correctly without a DVD to follow. I would
recommend starting qigong practice by learningh ba duan jin or liu zi jue before
moving on to yi jin jing and wu qin xi.
In the book, after introducing the history of wu qin xi, some of the characteristics
of the animal movements are explained and some practice tips are given. Then, the
book goes through a step-by-step description of each of the ten practices (two for
each animal). After each practice, the key points are highlighted, common mistakes
are given, how to correct them and the benefits of the practice is explained.
One slight drawback to the book is that being produced by a Chinese team and is written
like a textbook. Personally, I like to read books which give the personal background
and experiences of the author and that are written in a more chatty style.
The DVD is very professionally and beautifully done and is one of the best that I
have seen. The practitioners demonstrating the forms are clearly very experienced
and are excellent models to follow.
On the DVD, after an introduction, the forms are demonstrated step by step. Then
the exercises are demonstrated step by step, including corrections for some common
mistakes. My recommendation would be to watch and learn each form from the DVD and
to just use the book for reference once you’ve learned the forms.
This book and DVD are a reliable and thorough guide to the practice of wu qin xi.
CHQA have done a great job researching and updating this ancient practice. Since
the book includes a DVD, this is a great bargain.
Wu qin xi is definitely a great exercise for general health. If you aren’t already
familiar with the principles and methods of qigong, I would strongly recommend that
you also get a good general book on qigong and I have no hesitation in recommending
Ken Cohen’s “The Way of Qigong”.