Here is a written description of how to perform the Dong Family warmups and qigong set. Italicized comments are from Cory Williams.
I call this “The Basic Set” and it is the first thing I show all of my students.
Hat tip to Chip Ellis for transcribing all of this.
Dong Family Practice Aids
Warm Up and Qigong
From Dong Zeng Chen’s Practice
By Chip Ellis
Below is a description of the warm up and qigong routines that are part of the Dong family practice as portrayed in the March 19-21, 2004 seminar in Monterey, California.
First salute, step up and position yourself in Wuji stance.
Most movements take place while you are standing in an upright position with your feet about shoulder width apart. Body is relaxed, and movement is fluid.
1. Arm Swing – (Master Dong told me this is called “Awakening the Qi”) – Raise both hands overhead, shoulder width apart. Using your body motion, swing your hands down while bending your legs so that your body assumes a squatting position. Using your body, swing your arms up over your head again and repeat.
2. Left / Right Arm Swing – (We always called this movement the “Chinese Drum”) – While in a standing position with feet about shoulder width apart, use your body / waist to swing your arms from left to right at about waist level. Use a relaxed motion. Your arms should move with a whip like action.
3. Left / Right Arm Swing with Shoulder Touch – Continuing the arm swing above, increase the force of the body movement and direct your hand to the opposite shoulder. In other words, swing and tap your shoulder area.
4. Head Rotation – Stand upright and swing your head through a circle – down in front, toward the right shoulder, up and backward, and toward the left shoulder. Repeat several times, then reverse the direction so that you start by going toward the left shoulder.
5. Shoulder Rotation – Stand upright and rotate both shoulders up, forward, down, and back. Repeat a few times then reverse. Note that when you move your shoulders back you should be “pinching” your shoulder blades (slightly) together.
6. Waist Rotation – Standing upright, place your hands on each side of the small of your back. Move your hips to the right, back, left, and forward. Repeat a few times. (15 to 20 reps) While you move your hips, keep your head stationary above your feet. Reverse by moving your hips to the left, back, right and forward.
7. Knee Rotation – Assume a squatting position. Place your hands on your knees, then rotate your knees so that they move in toward the center, back, outward, and forward. Repeat a few times. Then reverse the direction so that your knees start by moving outward instead of inward.
This completes the physical warm up movements. Next is the warm up qigong. Move smoothly from the knee rotation to the first qigong movement by moving your hands slowly up from your knees and into the first movement.
With all these movements you are moving your energy throughout your body. The movement goes in concert with your physical movements – hands up / chi up, hands down / chi down, etc. The energy movement is too complicated to describe here – work with someone who knows the exercises. (Read “Tuning the Breath”, Qigong Attitude” and the qigong lessons on this site.) The description below is just a memory aid. The names or the moves are from Dong Zeng Chen by way of Janet Bond.
1. Up / Down – Qi Shi Tiao Xi – (Master Dong told me this is called “Floating Hands”) – This exercise involves moving the hands and arms up and down in an ever larger range of movement.
a. Starting from the knee rotation exercise, move your hands up your thighs while you straighten your legs, so that your legs are straight and your hands are at chest level.
b. Bend your legs and move your hands down toward the ground and slightly behind your legs. Keep your hands at about shoulder width.
c. Move up again, this time with hands at about eye level. Down
again. Then up above your head. Then down. Then up so that you stretch your arms up and your heals lift off the ground. The feeling is like someone is pulling you up by the wrists.
2. Open / Close – Ying Yang Jiao Ti – (Master Dong told me this is called “Exchanging Yin and Yang Energy”) - Separate your feet to slightly wider than your shoulders and point your toes inward slightly.
a. Bend forward with straight legs and bent arms. The motion is like
what you would use to grab up a big armful of hay off the floor.
b. After your hands grab the “hay” and come together, bend your legs and move your hands up the center line of your body. Palms are facing upward, one over the other.
c. Raise your hands over your head, palms moving so they face
downward at that point. Stretch upward.
d. Then separate your hands and bend your fingers so that they point toward the center of the top of your head. As you bring your hands down feel like you are compressing the energy between your finger tips and your head. Move your fingers so they almost touch your head.
e. Then open your arms and lean backward, head facing upward.
The movement is like a flower opening.
f. Then straighten your back and move back to an upright position
while extending your hands out toward each side at shoulder level,
fingers point up, energy in your palms. That completes one cycle.
To repeat, bend your arms, bend your waist, and pick up some
3. Small Circle of Energy – Xiao Zhou Tian – (“Small Circle”) – This is simple circular movement oriented toward the front.
a. Start in a standing position with feet about shoulder width apart.
Hands are one over the other at chest level, almost touching, with
palms facing in toward your body.
b. By bending at the waist, move your hands down your front
center-line, then down the inside of your legs.
c. When you get to your feet move your hands out to the sides in a
d. Continue the circular movement as you straighten your body and bring your hands up and around like you are gathering in energy all around you.
e. Hands go up over your head and then back to the starting position.
4. Big Circle of Energy – Da Shou Tian – (“Large Circle”) – Start the same as the small circle of energy above.
a. When your hands get to foot level squat as low as you can and
move your hands parallel to the floor, a few inches above the floor,
and toward the front.
b. Then move your hands in a circular fashion toward the outside and behind your heels.
c. Then up the backs of your legs, while your body is bent over, with the backs of your hands almost touching your body.
d. Move your hands up the back of your legs, over your hips, then
toward the front by your belly.
e. Then continue to move the backs of your hands up and around
your shoulders and behind your neck until they meet behind your
f. Moving upward your palms change position so that they touch, like you are praying, above and behind your head.
g. Then continue in the “praying” position and bring your hands
forward over your head and down your face to the starting position.
5. Mix of Internal and External Energy – Hun Yuan He Yi – (Master Dong told me this one is called “Gathering Outside Qi”) – This one is like doing giant circles with both hands from right to left and from top to bottom.
a. Start in an upright position with feet at about shoulder width.
b. Bend forward with hands about shoulder width apart so they are
close to the ground.
c. Using your waist movement, move both hands to the right in a
circle, then up, then left and down to complete the circle. Repeats
a few times. Then reverse direction and go from bottom, to left, to
top, to right. Once you loosen up you can use your waist movement to swing your arms around.
6. Opening and Gathering of Chi – Yi Qi Kai He – (Master Dong called this one “Open and Close”) Start in a standing position with feet about shoulder width apart.
a. Open your arms wide, with bended arms.
b. Then bend down from the waist and bring your arms together as
you gather in your chi.
c. Then bring your hands up the center-line of your body to your chest.
Repeat the cycle a few times.
7. Looking Left and Gazing Right – Zuo Gu You Pan – (“Look Left, Look Right” as “Look Left and Gaze Right” is a different move from the second section of the long form) – This move is like
“brush left knee” and “ brush right knee”. (Alternatively it can be preformed , as if it is “brush knee and rollback”)
a. From the upright standing position, turn your right foot outward to an angle of about 67 degrees. (That’s about half way between 45 degrees and 90 degrees.)
b. Step forward with your left foot, with a slight toe in, similar to the standard foot position in the Yang style slow set or Dong style long form. The movement is similar to brush knee:
c. Move your right arm rearward in a circle while your left arm remains toward the front.
d. In a circular movement bring your right hand near your right ear.
e. Then twist your waist toward the left as your right hand moves out forward. The feeling is like someone is pulling your hand toward the front. It’s not a push, although it looks like one. Feel the
connection between your palm and the little triangle space at the
base of your spine. Stretch. Your eyes first follow your right hand.
f. Once your are fully extended, then rotate your waist further to the left, drawing your left hand back in a big circle. Watch your left
g. Then in a circular motion bring your left hand to your left ear. Your right hand is toward the front and turns palm up.
h. Then move your left hand forward and your right hand toward the rear, in opposite motion.
i. With right palm up continue to move your right arm rearward in a circle and repeat the movement. To change to the other side move like you would while you are doing the Taijiquan set to transition from brush left knee to brush right knee. Then repeat the qigong movement on the other side – mirror image.
Finally this brilliant, life changing set of movements has been put into words and posted on the internet. In Taiji on Maui’s classes we call this the “Basic Set” and it is the core group of movements to be learned by all students and the main practice for beginners. For years I wanted to write this down and now, come to find out, it has been done wonderfully for us. For more information on everything about “Dong Taiji” go to Chip Ellis’ excellent web site
For more information on various qigong forms that are a part of Taiji on Maui’s curriculum click here: Qigong Sets