Questions about the Taiji Shibashi

Over the decades I have had the opportunity to answer many questions about the Qigong that I teach, including questions about the Taiji Shibashi Qigong that have been asked by my students. I’m sure that there are plenty of other questions out there and that some practitioners may already be asking some of the same questions so I thought that it would be a good idea to add them to the Pro Holistic blog. If you have a question, or can add to an answer, please use the comments box.

Questions about the Taiji Shibashi Qigong

Question from Steven

Questions about the Taiji Shibashi

Pushing to the Diagonals
Hello Des.
I hope you are well.
In the Shibashi set, is there any scope for ‘bouncing’, as you’ve taught us in your excellent 5 elements course?
I have seen a few Asian practitioners bouncing rather nicely in both Wuji and Horse Riding stances, and I’m wondering if it’s a cultural difference or, I guess more importantly, if I do it myself, will it disrupt my listening. I rather enjoy it.
Thank you.

Answer from Des
There are many Qigong that use the “bouncing” as a physical means of opening the hip Kua but that “bouncing” needs to be through the relaxed opening and not physically pushing.
Like you, I have seen this practice being used within the Shibashi but it is not the way that I was taught. The emphasis (Kua) is of folding, during the sinking, and opening to start the movement to the other side. By practicing this way there is a deeper appreciation/understanding of the link between the Kua and the Qi sinking through KD1.

I hope that this helps


Question from Vivi

I saw the video of LIn Hou Sheng doing the shibashi, and on the painting the rainbow, he said that bend left is inhalation, bend right exhalation. Your is different, and I assume that as the creator of shibashi, Lin Hou sheng cannot go wrong. what is your comment?

Answer from Des
Please watch the entire lesson and you will see that your question has already been answered. Also, these Qigong were all adapted from, or taken almost directly from Taiji. They were around for hundreds of years before Lin Hou Sheng brought them together as a set.


Question from Robert

Painting Rainbows
hi des another question from thailand  isee that in painting rainbows and pushing to the diagonalrs you do 3 too each side then in the second series you do 6 to each side is there a reason for this please,


Answer from Des

Hello Robert,

The simple answer is fatigue. As this is a beginners’ course I knew that newcomers to Qigong may not have the physical stamina to hold their hands in the air (Painting Rainbows) for four, or eight, repetitions to each side. Likewise with Pushing to the Diagonals as beginners tend to find holding that stance is physically stressful. By, initially, reducing the number of repetitions it promotes “listening” at an early stage. If your muscles are screaming you will never hear the whisper of Qi. By the time we get to the lecture “Twisting the Waist….” I expect that the stamina levels have increased enough to hold the posture for six reps.

The Follow Me lectures are there for students who no longer need to listen to my verbal instructions and, again, I expect that their stamina will have increased enough for six reps.

Regarding the number of repetitions (I’m sure that I cover this in the Summary)………… During your personal practice, if you are counting the number of repetitions you are not fully focused on the Qigong. You are more focused on counting. In my live classes I usually (depending on the length of the class) do six, or eight reps and I’m keeping count and pace so that the students can focus on the Qi.

Kind regards,


Question from Steven

Waving Hands Like Clouds
Hello from Thailand Des.

Throughout Waving Hands Like Clouds, I feel a slight weight transfer across the ‘bubbling springs’ (with no lifting of heel or toe at all). Is this okay, or should both sides remain rooted throughout?

Thank you.🙏🏽

Answer from Des
Hello Steven,

It is a common misconception that rooting the weight through KD1 and sinking the Qi through KD 1 are the same thing. By moving the body/weight from side to side there will be a resultant change in physical pressure at KD1.

If you are “sinking” from side to side these subtle changes in pressure are more noticeable and so is the Qi connection. If you push from side to side you will find that the weight is directed away from KD1 and the Qi connection is interrupted.

Rooting = physical
Sinking = Internal

It appears that you are getting things correct and that your body/mind has quietened enough for you to pick up the start of these subtleties.


Reply from Steven
Thanks for your timely response. It’s encouraging to hear that I might be heading in the right direction. I do seem to be settling into ‘listening mode’ (a wonderfully homeostatic state) quite quickly too lately. Long may it continue! Again, thanks!🙏🏽


Question from Robert

Punching With Outstretched Arms
Hi Des, about punching with fist, why is it on the inbreath please as most other hands moving forward is done on the outbreath?

Answer from Des
When learning Qigong we use the breath to help us guide the Qi (at an advanced level this is no longer necessary). Some Qigong exercises have very similar, or exactly the same, physical movement but are completely different Internally.
“Punching With Outstretched Arms” (from the Shibashi) and the forward punch in “Holding the Fists Tightly and Staring with Glaring Eyes” (from the Ten Fundamental Treasures) is almost identical physically but the breathing is different. The former uses inhalation while punching, the latter uses exhalation. This helps create a different movement/focus in the Qi.
With “Punching With Outstretched Arms” there are a lot of different facets but I will focus on the one aspect here that answers your question. We start by positioning the hands at the Mu points. As we punch we use the inhalation to draw Qi to the Mu points. The exhalation and replacing the hand at the Mu point consolidates that.
There are many other Qigong where variation to breathing pattern exist. I have witnessed a few debates (sometimes heated) where one practitioner tells another that they are “doing the Qigong incorrectly” because their breathing is back to front. None of these debates would occur if one simple question was asked……….. “What Qigong are you doing?”

I hope this is of help.


Question from Steven

Doe-Eyed Cows
Hi Des,
Thank you for this course. I can’t think of a nicer project to lead us into 2021. I really love the ancient alternative name that you point out for ‘Turning to Gaze at the Moon’. I was wondering if you can recall any other historical names for any of the movements? I can’t seem to get enough of these names and, rightly or wrongly, they often bring about visualisations when I practice.  The more metaphorical names I discover, the more I can enjoy this aspect of practice, often inviting and enhancing a very nice state of homeostasis.
Once again, thank you for sharing so much knowledge with this wonderful set. S.H.

Answer from Des
There are numerous variations in the names given to some of the exercises that I teach. It is not always easy to know which of the names, given to a particular exercise, is the older/oldest but the original names almost always give guidance on how the exercise should look. That is to say how the physical movements look.

Here are a couple of examples: –
From the Embroidered Brocade we have the exercise called “The Billowing Sail” that is also known as “Catching a Ball” and both describe the physical part well.

I believe that “The Billowing Sail is probably the newer name as, when you look at the size of China, not everyone will have seen a ship in sail. However, using the name “Catching a Ball” can be problematic because people make the mistake of linking the name with the Internal movement and imagine/create a ball of Qi. This detracts from the exercises as it fails to produce the intended Internal action.

From the Shibashi we have “Holding a Ball in Front of the Shoulders” that has been renamed (in some schools) “Offering up a Peach”. The original name sets out the instructions of the arm position with the emphasis on holding a ball. This also helps with the shape of the palm, etc.

“Offering up a Peach” goes some way towards this but, in practice, what I have observed is that there is also a stretching out of the arm to make this “offer”.

It is not always easy to get an accurate translation of the early texts on these exercises (where the texts exist) and a large amount of what is being churned out in Qigong books is a regurgitation of previous, poorly translated, information.

Reply from Steven
Thanks very much Des. This course is adding a phenomenal amount of depth, understanding & enjoyment to my existing practice.


Question from Steven

Am I losing any benefits by remaining in Wuji, or even sitting?
Here & elsewhere in the set, is it an acceptable modification to remain in Wuji Des?
Does horse-riding stance provide additional benefits?

Answer from Des
Using Horse Riding stance can help with the opening of the Kua and will also help you to gain a better understanding of rooting and sinking. That said, you can do these exercises in Wuji………… and they can also be practiced in a seated position.
The instruction for Horse Riding stance is clear in that it is not about bending your legs to get as low as you can. It is about relaxing into the stance and that means that it will be higher when that relaxation is not as pronounced.

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