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Let us now review some of that historical development, in chronological order.
"Breathing in and out in various manners, spitting out the old and taking in the new, walking like a bear and stretching their neck like a bird to achieve longevity - this is what such practitioners of Daoyin, cultivators of the body and all those searching for long life like Ancestor Peng, enjoy." - Chuang Tzu, Chapter 15, circa 300 BCE (Actually, Chuang Tzu seems to be mocking these exercises as unnecessary.) There was a wealthy King Ma who lived sometime around 160 BCE during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 24 CE).
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The use of calisthenics, stretching, and breathing exercises to maintain good health, fight disease, and enhance the quality of life is of great antiquity.
By the time of the Sui and Tang dynasties (581-907 AD) daoyin had branched out into other forms of fitness exercises, such as the popular baduanjin." (Wonders of Qigong, p.13).
The Qigong and American Indian master, Kenneth Cohen, notes that the eight-century Daoist treatise Xiu Zhen Shi Shu ("The Ten Treatises on Restoring the Original Vitality"), attributes the development of the Eight Section Brocade to one of the legendary Eight Immortals of Chinese folklore, Chong Li-quan.
The qigong and Chinese scholar, Stuart Alve Olson, says the seated Eight Section Brocade form was created by T'ao Hung-ching, a Taoist adept living in the fifth century CE, and further developed by the Taoist sage Chen Tuan (Chen Hsi-yi, Hsi-yi) living in the tenth century CE.
The ancient terms for these types of Qigong or Chi Kung (energy/Qi/breath training) fitness exercises include: Dao Yin (guiding, breathing and stretching), "guiding and stretching" or "pulling and guiding" exercises; or, Daoqi Yinti (guide the qi and stretch the body); or, Yang Sheng Fa (Longevity Practices, Nourishing Life); or Neidan (Inner Alchemy).
Literature that talks about such health and fitness exercise postures or routines, with some movements quite similar to movements in the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung, goes back nearly 2,500 years.