Shi Ba Shi consists of eighteen very simple moves which are repeated several times. Because of the continuous movements, it forms a transition from qigong routines, which have 5, 8 or 9 moves, into the endurance required for a full taiji set, of maybe over 100.
The 18 movement Taiji Qigong was created relatively recently in Shanghai by Qigong Master and healer Lin Hou Sheng. It is now officially included in the curriculum of Traditional Chinese Medicine universities in China.
Lin Housheng graduated from Shanghai Physical Education University in 1964, going on to do research until the institute was closed during the Cultural Revolution, when he became a P.E. teacher. Qigong was forbidden, but Lin Hou Sheng continued to practise and refine his skills. When the cultural revolution came to an end, he wanted to share the benefits he had learned and to convince people of the reality of qi, he became the central subject of the experiments of nuclear scientist, Gu Hansen. On March 10, 1978 Lin Housheng projected external qi from his hands which she measured with modern scientific devices. Low frequency, infrared ray modulations, and electromagnetic waves were detected. Qi was now scientifically shown to exist [at least the Qi that Lin was sending].
Lin went on to anaesthetise patients for surgery, using qigong and eventually, he was given permission by Government to promote qigong. He constructed a total of six different sets of eighteen movements each, giving a grand total of 108 exercise forms. Set 1 came out in 1979. Set 2 was available in 1988. Set 3 is only just becoming known in this country.
It contains the basic elements of changing weight co-ordination of hand and leg movements together with taiji breathing.
Another benefit is that it doesn’t require the same amount of space to run through as a full routine. Everything remains within the space required to take one step forward (and back) and stretch out your arms to the sides.
The moves can be repeated any number of times and although it helps to remember them in a certain order, it doesn’t really matter if you practise them out of order.
The simplicity makes them attainable for beginners, though remembering them will take longer than a single day workshop!