Animal Frolics

Five Animal Frolics (Wu Qin Xi) Qigong
Eight Animal Frolics Chi Kung
An Ancient Chinese E
xercise Regimen for Nourishing Life (Yangsheng Fa)
For Fitness, Fun, Increased Vitality, Good Health and Longevity
Qigong (Chi Kung) Internal Energy Cultivation Method, Chinese Yoga, Chinese Stretching and Healing Exercises (Daoyin)

Tiger     Monkey     Deer     Crane     Dragon

Links      Bibliography     Quotations      Introduction     History     Correspondences     Comments

Cloud Hands Blog     Valley Spirit Qigong     The Good Life


Research by 
Michael P. Garofalo

© Valley Spirit Qigong, Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Center, Red Bluff, California, 2003-2017

Green Way Research, Cloud Hands Home, City of Vancouver, State of Washington, Northwest USA, 2017-






 Frolics of the Five Animals






Introduction and History



Hua Tuo (110 - 207 A.D.) - Chinese Medical Doctor

Hua Tuo  (110-207 CE)
Famous Chinese Physician and Proponent of the Five Animal Frolics


There is ample evidence, and common sense would suggest, that a variety of exercise routines, massage techniques, and health preserving methods (Daoyin) were used by people in ancient China to produce enjoyment, alleviate pain, prevent or ameliorate diseases, increase vitality, improve well-being, and contribute to longevity.  Daoist philosophy has always encouraged and explored practices that contributed to bodily well-being and longevity, as well as combining these practices with methods for achieving mystical insight, bliss, and spiritual immortality. 

"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, circa 300 BCE. (1)


There was a feudal lord, the Marquis of Dai (King Ma), who lived around 160 BCE during the Western Han Dynasty.  When the Marquis of Dai, his wife, and his son died, there were many objects placed in their family tomb as part of funeral rites and customs.  In 1973, archeologists in China excavated the family tomb of the Dai family on the outskirts of the city of Changsha in Hunan Province.  In the son's tomb they discovered a lacquered box containing medical manuals, documents, and a silk scroll on which were drawn 44 humans in various poses or postures.  Under each pose was a caption with the name of an animal or the name of a disease that the posture might help prevent or cure.  The chart or diagram (Tu) on this scroll shows Daoyin (Guiding/Leading Energy and Stretching/Pulling Out) exercises or poses.  A number of the postures shown on this Daoyin Tu closely resemble some in the Eight Section Brocade and in the Five Animal Frolics (i.e., the bear, monkey, and bird).  (2)


Improved artistic rendition of the Daoyin Tu, circa 160 BCE.


Another medical manuscript with Daoyin methods, the Yinshu (Stretch Book), dated at 186 BCE, related to the Daoyin Tu, describes 100 exercises, and gives advice on seasonal health regimens, hygiene, diet, disease prevention, sleep, and sexual behavior. (2)   We have ample evidence that Chinese physicians, and the aristocratic and wealthy classes of ancient Chinese society, had access to therapeutic and holistic exercise and massage methods (Daoyin) well before the advent of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 CE).


All of the books, articles, DVDs, and webpages about the Five Animal Frolics (Wu Qin Xi) say that the various Frolics exercises were organized into an effective combined set and promoted by the famous Chinese physician Hua Tuo.  Hua Tuo (Hua To, Yuan Hua) lived from 110-207 CE. 

"Hua Tuo was born around 110 CE, in Qiao of Peiguo (today called Haoxian or Bo) county, in what is now Anhui Province, one of the four major herb distribution centers of modern China. He lived for about 100 years, having died around 207 CE.  He was an older contemporary of China's famous herbalist Zhang Zhongjing, who died around 220 CE.  In the Chronicles of the Later Han Dynasty, it is said that: "Knowing well the way to keep one in good health, Hua Tuo still appeared in the prime of his life when he was almost 100, and so was regarded as immortal." (3) 

"Hua Tuo also named Yuan Hua of Hao county in Anwei province, was the first famous Chinese surgeon.  He is the first in the world to developed the use of anesthesia, and furthered the limited Chinese knowledge of anatomy.  When using acupuncture and herbs, he preferred simple methods, using a small number of acupuncture points and formulas comprised of only a few herbs. He practiced Chi-kung and created the "Frolics of the Five Animals." (4)   

"Hua Tuo (141-208 CE.) was a contemporary of Zhang Zhongjing.  He traveled from town to town treating patients and learning from other doctor's practices.  He is famous for his skill as a surgeon and his use of anesthesia.  The anesthesia was given as a powder called mafeisan that was dissolved in a fermented drink before performing surgery.  It has been suggested the powder may have been hemp since its uses were unknown at that time.  Besides performing surgeries, Hua Tuo also recommended the use of physical exercises for his patients.  He devised movements that were similar to the movements of five different animals.  These were the tiger, deer, bear, monkey and bird.  One of Hua Tuo's disciples called Fan An was a great acupuncturist.  He devised methods to extend its use to the back and thorax." (5)

Unfortunately, few, if any, of Hua Tuo's written works have survived from the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 CE).  There are no surviving documents from Hua Tuo that tell us how to do the Animal Frolics exercises, or even their names.  One manuscript, The Classic of the Central Viscera, questionably attributed to Hua Tau, is considered one of the 10 most important pre-modern works on Chinese medicine.  Hua Tuo is often called the "Father of Chinese Medicine."  His name and image are still used on medical products like acupuncture needles to this day. (6) 

"There are many stories, passed down from generation to generation, as to how Hua Tuo cured difficult diseases.  He became known as the "Magical Doctor".  His principle of resisting the onset of disease by working and doing exercises was also a major contribution to traditional Chinese medicine."  (7)

Hua Tuo's life ended at age 97 in an unfortunate manner.  He had been called and ordered to serve as a personal physician to Zao Cao, a ruthless general ruling the state of Wei.  Zao Cao had severe headaches which Dr. Hua Tuo could not cure.  General Zao Cao, for some unknown reason, became angry with Dr. Hua Tuo, and had him imprisoned and executed. (8, 6) 

One of Hua Tuo's outstanding disciples, Wu Pu, lived for over 100 years, and practiced the Frolics daily.  Wu Pu wrote a book called The Five Animal Classic, from which only a few fragments have survived.  Wu Pu reported that Hua Tuo once said,

"Man's body must have exercise, but it should never be done to the point of exhaustion.  By moving about briskly, digestion is improved, the blood vessels are opened, and illnesses are prevented.  It is like a used doorstep which never rots.  As far as Tao Yin (bending and stretching exercises) is  concerned, we have the bear's neck, the crane's twist, and swaying the waist and moving the joints to promote long life.  Now I have created the art called the Frolics of the Five Animals: the Tiger, the Deer, the Bear, the Monkey, and the Crane. It eliminates sickness, benefits the legs, and is also a form of Tao Yin.  If you feel out of sorts, just practice one of my Frolics.  A gentle sweat will exude, the complexion will become rosy; the body will feel light and you will want to eat." (9,6)

Master Sun Simiao (581-682 CE) is often associated with the text titled "Yangxing yanming lu" (On Nourishing Inner Nature and Extending Life) which provides a description of a squatting version of the Five Animal Frolics.  (12)

A manuscript titled Yun Ji Qi Qian showing the Animal Frolics forms comes from the Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE).  (10)

A 10th century heirloom brocade from Zhejiang Province depicts the Animal Frolics. 

The "Jade Emperor's Mind-Seal Classic," added to the Taoist Canon around 1200 CE, is often quoted by Daoists:      

"The sages awaken through self-cultivation;
Deep, profound, their practices require great effort.
Breathing nourishes youthfulness.
The Shen depends on life form;
The Ching depends on sufficient Qi.
If these are neither depleted nor injured
The result will be youthfulness and longevity.
When the distant winds blend together,
In one hundred days of spiritual work
And morning recitation to the Shang Ti,
Then in one year you will soar as an immortal.
" (11)

The Animal Frolics are pictured and described in a Taoist encyclopedia, the Yi Men Guang Du, compiled by Taoist Zhou Lujing, from the late 1600's.  (10) 

The Chifeng Sui (Marrow of the Red Phoenix), a collection of longevity methods by Zhou Lujing, is dated to 1578 and includes a description of an Animal Frolics set similar to what is practiced today.  Also, from the 1620's are illustrated versions of the Five Animal Frolics in the "Illustrated Explanation of the Five Animals' Dance Practice," and in the "Elixir Book on Long Life and good Fortune."  (12)

A successful doctor of Chinese Medicine and a qigong master, Hu Yao-zhen (1879-1973) , wrote a book titled "Wu Qin Xi" (Five Animal Frolics) in the 1940's that has been very influential. (6)  One of the first published accounts of the Five Animal Frolics, in English, was by Jiao Guorui in the book Qigong Essentials for Health Promotion., 1988, in which he translated writings by Dr. Hu Yao-zhen.

Madame Guo Lin (1906-1984), a noted Beijing actress and artist, popularized her version of the Animal Frolics and a specific walking qigong style as a cure for cancer.

Both Master Kenneth S. Cohen and Master Paul B. Gallagher published books that discussed the Five Animal Frolics, and produced media which provided instruction in the Five Animal Frolics in the 1990's in America.  (13)   


References and Notes

 Chuang-tzu, Chapter 15, circa 300 BCE.

2.  "Chinese Healing Exercises: The Tradition of Daoyin," by Livia Kohn, 2008.  Professor Kohn provides a detailed analysis of the Daoyin Tu on pp. 29-41.  She also includes a detailed analysis and commentary on the Yinshu (Stretch Book), dated at 186 BC, on pp. 41-61. 

3.  "Hua Tuo" by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon.  This is a very informative article on Hua Tuo. 

4.  Chinese Medicine History 

5.  Traditional Chinese Medicine History - Han Dynasty  By Shen-Nong TCM. 

6.  "Way of Qigong," by Kenneth Cohen, 1997, pp.199-211. 

7.  Formation of the Chinese Civilization

8.  "Hua Tuo" by Subhuti Dharmananda. 

9.  "Drawing Silk," by Paul B. Gallagher, 1988, 2007.  Hua Tuo, History of the Later Han, Translated by Paul B. Gallagher, p. 6-9. 

10.  Ancient Way to Keep Fit, by Zong Wu and Li Mao, 1992, pp. 68-80. 

11.  "The Jade Emperor's Mind Seal Classic.  The Taoist Guide to Health, Longevity, and Immortality."  Translated with commentary by Stuart Alve Olson, 2003.  Text of this classic work. 

12.  "Chinese Healing Exercises: The Tradition of Daoyin," by Livia Kohn, 2008, pp. 162-169. 

13.  I have provided a more detailed bibliography for the Five Animal Frolics on this webpage.  In addition, there is a general bibliography and web links on the Valley Spirit Qigong webpage. 


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Return to Main Index





Bibliography, Links and Resources
The Five Animal Frolics (Wu Qin Xi)



Alphabetical Index to the Cloud Hands Website  

Anatomy of Hatha Yoga: A Manual for Students, Teachers and Practitioners.  By H. David Coulter.  Foreword by Timothy McCall.  Honesdale, Pennsylvania, Body and Breath, 2001.  Index, bibliography, appendices, 623 pages.  ISBN: 0970700601.  MGC.  2002 winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award for Health, Wellness and Nutrition.  

Ancient Qigong (Nei Gong): Five Animal Frolics.  Instructional DVD, 2 DVDs. 

Ancient Way to Keep Fit
.   Compiled by Zong Wu and Li Mao.  Translated by Song Luzeng, Liu Beijian, and Liu Zhenkai.  Paintings by Zhang Ke Ren.  Foreword by Kumar Frantzis.  Bolinas, California, Shelter Publications, 1992.  211 pages, glossary.  ISBN: 0679417893.  Outstanding illustrations by Zhang Ke Ren.  The Five Animal Frolics are beautifully illustrated on pages 68-80.  

Animal Frolics Qigong: Bibliography, Resources, Lessons, Links, History.  By Michael P. Garofalo, M.S.  Five Animal Frolics: Wu Qing Xi

Animal Speak: The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small.  By Ted Andrews.  Llewellyn, 1993.  383 pages.  ISBN: 0875420281.  "Shows readers how to identify his or her animal totem and learn how to invoke its energy and use it for personal growth and inner discovery." 

Animal Spirits and Nature Spirits

Animal Spirits: The Shared World - Sacrifice, Ritual, and Myth; Animal Souls and Symbols.  By Nicholas J. Saunders.  Index, 182 pages.  ISBN: 0316903051.

Animal Wise: The Spirit Language and Signs of Nature.  By Ted Andrews.  Dragonhawk Pub., 1999.  400 pages.  ISBN: 1888767340.

An Overview of Chinese Medicine
.  By Paul Zabwodski.  

Answers to the Health Qigong Wu Qin Xi   Chinese Health Qigong Association, 2009. 

The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu: The Secrets of Kung Fu for Self-Defense, Health and Enlightenment.  By Wong, Kiew Kit.  Charles E. Tuttle, 2002.  215 pages.  ISBN: 0804834393.  Chapter 9, pp. 102-118, Shaolin Five Animals: Training of Mind, Energy, Essence, Speed and Elegance.  Sifu Wong created a 36 Movement Five Animal Frolics form for this book.  The five Shaolin animals are the dragon, snake, tiger, leopard, and crane.  VSCL. 

Awareness Through Movement; Health Exercises for Personal Growth.  Easy to Do Health Exercises to Improve Your Posture, Vision, Imagination and Personal Awareness.   By Moshe Feldenkrais.  San Francisco, Harper Collins, 1972, 1977.  173 pages. ISBN: 0062503227.  

Ba Gua Zhang (Pa Kua Chang) has Eight Animals and a Bagua Qigong. 

The Bear Frolic: Bibliography, Research, Notes, Lessons   

Beginning Qigong: Chinese Secrets for Health and Longevity.  By Stephen Comee.   Tokyo, Tuttle Publishing, 1993.  120 pages.  ISBN:0804817219.  VSCL.   

Breathing Techniques in Qigong and Taijiquan 

Buddhist Qigong, Luohan Chi Kung, Eighteen Buddha Hands Qigong  

Cane, Short Staff, Jo, Walking Stick 

Chen Style Taijiquan  

Chinese Health Qigong Association 

Chinesisches Qigong für die Gesundheit - Wu Qin Xi (German Edition with 1 DVD)

Chi Kung, Qigong: Bibliography, Links, Quotations, Lessons, Instructions, Notes 

Chi Kung: Five Animal, Five Elements.  By Dr. Xue Zhi Wang, O.M.D., C.A.  Instructional VHS.  4115 University Way N.E. #111, Seattle, WA 98105.  Phone (206) 547-2435. 

Chi Kung Fundamentals 1: Five Animals Video.   By Michael Winn.  Instructional videotape, 90 minutes.  Instructional audiotape.  Telephone: 888-999-0555.  

Chi Kung Quotations, Poems, Sayings  

Chinese Healing Arts: Internal Kung Fu.  Edited by William R. Berk.  Burbank, CA, Unique Publications.  209 pages.  ISBN: 0865680833.  VSCL.  Includes numerous translations of classic works. 

Chinese Healing Exercises: The Tradition of Daoyin.  By Livia Kohn.  University of Hawaii Press, 2008.  268 pages.  ISBN:
0824832698.  History of Daoist health practices. 

Chinese Health Qigong: Five Animal Frolics for Beginners  Instructional DVD by Master Jesse Tsao.  Tai Chi Healthways, San Diego, 62 minutes.  Created by Professor Yu Dinghai for the Chinese Health Qigong Association. 

Chinese Medicine History   

Chinese Medicine History - Hua To (Hua Tuo)  


Cloud Hands Blog


Cloud Hands Blog: Qigong, Taijiquan, Walking, Yoga and Gardening   By Mike Garofalo. 

Cloud Hands Website: Taijiquan and Qigong   By Mike Garofalo. 

Comparative History of Chinese and Western Medicine.  By Ray C. J. Chiu, M.D..

The Complete Book of Chinese Health and Healing.  By Daniel Reid.  Random House, 1994.  484 pages.  ISBN: 0877739293.  

The Crane Frolic:  Bibliography, Resources, Lessons, Notes

Dancing With Goddesses: Archetypes, Poetry and Empowerment.  By Annis Pratt. Bloomington, Indiana, Indiana University Press, 1994.  Index, bibliography, notes, 408 pages.  ISBN: 0253208653.  Chapter 11 is titled "Bear!", pp. 340-368.  

Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching) by Lao Tzu: Selected Translations, Bibliography, Commentary.  Compiled by Mike Garofalo. 

Daoist Philosophy, World View, Beliefs, Scriptures

Daoyin Quotations, Poems, Sayings 

Daoyin Yangsheng Gong:  Bibliography, Links, Resources, History, Lessons, Guides, Quotes

The Deer Frolic:  Bibliography, Lessons, Links, Resources, Notes, Lore

Dragon Door Publications.  St. Paul, Minnesota.   1-800-899-5111.   

The Dragon Frolic: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Lessons, Notes, Lore

Dragon Qigong, Dragon Yoga: Bibliography, Links, Instructions, Notes

Drawing Silk: Masters' Secrets for Successful Tai Chi Practice.  By Paul B. Gallagher.  Fairview, North Carolina, Total Tai Chi, 2007.  245 pages.  ISBN:  9781419663127.  VSCL.    The Five Animal Frolics are discussed on pages 5-10.  A important source of information about the Frolics for Mr. Gallagher was the Qigong Master Kenneth S. Cohen.  Master Gallagher has provided us with a translation from some of Dr. Hu Yao-zhen's Wu Qin Xi, "The Five Animal Frolic Classic." Master Gallagher also offers an instructional DVD on the Five Animal Frolics. 

Ecstatic Body Postures: An Alternate Reality Workbook.  By Belinda Gore.  Foreword by Felicitas Goodman.  Santa Fe,  New Mexico, Bear and Company, 1995.  Endnotes, 284 pages.  MGC.  ISBN: 1879181223. The Bear Spirit Posture is described and illustrated, pp. 49-54.  

The Ecstatic Experience: Healing Postures for Spirit Journeys.  By Belinda Gore.  Bear and Company, 2009.  160 pages.  Includes 60 minute CD of trance rhythms.  .  ISBN: 1591430968.  VSCL. 

Ecstatic Trance: New Ritual Body Postures.   By Felicitas D. Goodman and Nana Nauwald.  Binkey Kok, 2003.  Workbook edition, 184 pages.  ISBN: 9074597637.   VSCL. 

The Effect of Precaution against Sub-health of the Health Qigong Wu Qin Xi.  Chinese Health Qigong Association.  2008. 

Eight Dragons Qigong, Dragon Yoga: Bibliography, Links, Instructions, Notes

Eight Section Brocade Qigong   By Michael P. Garofalo, M.S.  History and purpose of this popular chi kung practice.  Descriptions for each of the eight movements, health benefits, comments, variations, extensive links and bibliography, resources, quotations, animated .gif photographs of the movements, and charts.  This file is updated on a regular basis as I add new material, links, notes, and resources.  A.K.A:  Baduanjin, Pa Tuan Jin, Eight Silken Treasures, Ba Duan Jin, Pal Dan Gum, Ba Duan Gin,  Pa Tin Kam, Otto Pezzi di Tesoro, Acht Delen Brokaat, Les Huit Exercices del la Soie, Eight Silken Treasures, Brocade Qigong, Wudang Brocade Qigong, Silk Treasures Qigong, First Eight Buddha Lohan Hands.  The seventh movement of the Eight Section Brocade is called: The Big Bear Turns from Side to Side.  

The Eight Treasures: Energy Enhancement Exercise.  By Maoshing Ni, Ph.D..  With a preface and commentaries by Hua-Ching Ni.  Santa Monica, California, Seven Star Publications, 1996.  Index, glossary, 196 pages.  ISBN: 0937064742.  VSCL. 

Eighteen Buddha Hands Qigong, Luohan Qigong

Eighteen Hands Lohan Qigong (King Mui Version)  Description and photographs. 

The Essence of Tai Chi Chi Kung: Health and Martial Arts.  By Yang Jwing-Ming, Ph.D.. Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, YMAA Publication Center, 1990.  Glossary, appendices, index, 148 pages.  ISBN: 0940871106.  VSCL.   

The Essential Book of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  By Liu Yanch 

Five Animal Frolic, Part I.  Instructional VHS/DVD, 120 minutes, by Shifu Jiang Jian-ye.  "Traditional Han Dynasty, Five Animal Frolic, Part I." 

Five Animal Frolic, Part II.  Instructional VHS/DVD, 120 minutes, by Shifu Jiang Jian-ye.  "Traditional Han Dynasty, Five Animal Frolic, Part II." 

Five Animal Frolic Handout.  A set of attributions and associations for each Frolic.  From Three Treasures Tai Chi. 

Five Animal Frolics

Five Animal Frolics.  Instructional DVD.  From Authentic Eastern Health, Pennsylvania. 

Five Animal Frolics.  UTube Video, 2:02 Min for each Frolic.  Performed by Anson Rathbone. 

5 Animal Frolics.  An instructional DVD by Kenneth Cohen.  © 1990.  Website:   Lecture and demonstration of each Frolic set. 

Five Animal Frolics.  Instructional videotape by Michael Gilman.  60 minutes VHS or DVD.  Five Animal Frolics  "An ancient form of Chi Kung, probably having strong influence on the development of Tai Chi Chuan. These easy to do, fun to practice movements are very complete for physical conditioning and internal health and well being. Especially valuable for the internal organs. Michael takes you through and explains these Five Animals in a simple easy to learn way. 60 minutes, produced for television." 

Five Animal Frolics.  Instructional DVD by Paul Gallagher.  95 minutes VHS.  "Five Animal Frolics #1: China's Earliest set of Internal Exercises, based on the Life-Enhancing Movements of the Crane, Bear, Monkey, Deer, and Tiger.  A complete invigorating fitness system for both body and mind which generates energy and mental poise without ever causing strain on the heart or joints. Many qualities of T'ai Chi, but much easier to learn for young or old. This Video of the Frolics contains complete, step-by step descriptions and explicit instructions for each movement. Excellent audio and video quality, close-ups and multiple angles enable you to see and refine every detail of your movement. Run-time is approximately 95 minutes; cost is $49."  

Five Animal Frolics: A Form Workbook.  A Complete Qigong Program for High Energy, Vitality and Well Being.  By John Du Cane.  St. Paul, Minnesota, Dragon Door Publications, 2002.  Second Edition, 2002.  121 pages.  Spiral bound notebook.  100 photographs.  No ISBN.   Scribd Download PDF Format of document.  VSCL.    

Five Animal Frolics: Google Search

The Five Animal Frolics: A Practical and Workable Qigong Method.  By John Du Cane.  

Five Animal Frolics Qigong.  Authentic Eastern Health.  Instructional DVD, 60 Minutes.  Master Ping Zhao. 

Five Animal Frolics Qigong: Bibliography, Resources, Lessons, Links, History.  By Michael P. Garofalo, M.S.  Five Animal Frolics: Wu Qing Xi

Five Animal Frolics Qigong.  By Michael Winn.  Includes instruction on Inner Smile and Six Healing Sounds.  Audio CDs, DVDs, books.  VSCL. 

Five Animal Frolics Qi Gong: Crane and Bear Exercises  By Franklin Fick., 2005.  120 pages.  ISBN: 1411627768.  Online Text  VSCL. 

Five Animal Frolics Qigong for High Energy, Vitality and Well Being  By John DuCane.  Dragon Door Publications, 2002.  121 pages.  ISBN: 0938045679. 

Five Animal Frolics Qigong  "The oldest written exercise program for preventive medicine." 

Five Animal Frolics Workshop by Robert Bates 

Five Animal Play  Shen-Nong. 

Five Animal Play.   Dr. Alex Feng, Oakland, California.  

Five Animal Qigong.  By Jusuf Hariman. 

Five Animals Play  Distributed by Plum Publications.  Instructional DVD, 60 minutes, #18062.  "It is well known that "animal play" came into existence with the creation of the famous doctor, Hua Tou. Hau's assistant, Peng, lived to be over 90 and all information was supposedly passed from him. It was about two centuries later that the Shaolin temple developed it Five Animals. The doctor's original intent was strictly for health and encompasses imitating the movements of the Monkey, Tiger, Deer, Bear and Bird. Only wood block prints still remain of the original postures so there are many derivative versions. This is one and not bad at that. The Five Animals doesn't exactly exist as a Chi Kung but it might be considered a Dao Yun series. A very enjoyable exercise system."

Five Animal Sports Qigong.  Instructional DVD, 180 minutes, by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming and Kathy Yang.  YMAA Publication Center, 2008.  ASIN: B0018OZFOS.  VSCL. 

The Five Animals.  From "Kung-Fu, or Tauist Medical Gymnastics," by John Dudgeon, 1895. 

Five Animals and Five Elements DVD.  By Wing Lam. 

The Five Animals do the Six Healing Sounds.  By Michael Winn.  Healing Tao Home Study Video, 2004.  Qigong Fundamentals 1.  1 DVD.  Instruction in the Inner Smile, Ocean Breathing, 6 Healing Sounds, and Five Animals.  Also Qigong Fundamentals 1 includes lectures by Michael Winn on six audio CDs.  VSCL.

Five Animals Kung Fu Fundamental Training   By Travis Alschbach.  From Inside Kung Fu Magazine.  

Five Animals Kung Fu.   Shaolin Kung Fu, from Jueyuan, a martial artist, circa 13th century.  From Inside Kung Fu Magazine.  

Goden Elixir: Taoism

The Great Bear Star Steps   By Sat Chuen Hon.   

Green Paths in the Valley Blog

Green Way Research.    Red Bluff, California.

Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard.  By Oberon Zell-Ravenheart.  Ranklin Lakes, NJ, New Page Books, 2004.  Index, 370 pages.  ISBN: 1564147118.  A detailed and practical instructional manual on the way to become a wizard.  Intended for a young reader but useful to anyone.  An excellent reference tool. 

The Healing Promise of Qi: Creating Extraordinary Wellness Through Qigong and Tai Chi.  By Roger Jahnke, O.M.D..  Chicago, Contemporary Books, 2002.   Index, notes, extensive recommended reading list, 316 pages.  ISBN: 0809295288.  VSCL. 

The Health Benefits of Qigong Exercises.   By John Du Cane.  

Hua To (Hua Tuo) - Biographical Information   

"Hua Tuo's Five Animal Frolics," Zhou Lishang.  T'ai Chi: The International Magazine of T'ai Chi Ch'uan: Vol. 29, No. 4, August, 2005, pp. 42-49.  Translation by Yan Shufan.  Part 1.  A detailed article on how to do the Frolics.  This version of the Frolics set was developed by the Shanghai University of Sports and approved by the State Physical Culture and Sports Bureau. The articles includes set by set photos, instructions, and some very interesting illustrations from the Ma Wang Dui Tomb No. 3 findings.    

"Hua Tuo's Five Animal Frolics," by Zhou Lishang.   T'ai Chi: The International Magazine of T'ai Chi Ch'uan: Vol. 29, No. 5, October, 2005, pp. 42-49.  Translation by Yan Shufan.  Part 2.  

Kid's Yoga and Tai Chi

"On Hua Tuo's Position in the History of Chinese Medicine."  By K. W. Fan.  The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, Vol. 32, No. 2., 2003.    

Huo To T'ai Chi Ch'uan: The Kung Fu of Six Combinations and Eight Methods (LiuHe BaFa).  By Khan Conor Foxx.  Publication date and source unknown.   

Hua Tuo Wu Qin Xi.  By Huang, Qide.  Published in 1983.  67 pages. 

Integral Life Practices: A 21st Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening.  By Ken Wibur, Terry Patten, Adam Leonard, and Marco Morelli.  Integral Books, 2008.  Index, 416 pages.  ISBN: 1590304675.  VSCL. 

The Jade Emperor's Mind Seal Classic.  The Taoist Guide to Health, Longevity, and Immortality.  Translated with commentary by Stuart Alve Olson.  Rochester, Vermont, 2003.  Index, bibliography, 216 pages.  ISBN: 0892811358.  Inculdes translations of "The Immortals" by Ko Hung, and "The Three Treasures of Immortality" by T'ien Hsin Chien.  This work was added to the Taoist Canon between 912 and 1116 CE.  VSCL. 

Lifestyle Advice for Wise Persons

Luohan Qigong, Eight Buddha Hands Chi Kung

The Magician's Companion.   A Practical and Encyclopedic Guide to Magical and Religious Symbolism.  By Bill Witcomb.  St. Paul, Minnesota, Llewellyn Pubs., 1993.   Appendices, resources, 577 pages.  ISBN:  0875428681.   VSCL. 

The Magic of Shapeshifting.  By Rosalyn Greene.  Red Wheel Weiser, 2000.  258 pages.  ISBN:  1578631718.  According to Ms. Greene the most common animals people shift into are the wolf, fox, cat and bear.  

Magic Pearl Qigong: A Tai Chi Medicine Ball Exercise Routine and Meditation Technique.  Developed by Mike Garofalo. 

Magic Pearl Qigong

Massage - Self-Massage, Patting

Meditation and Qigong    


Medifast Weight Control

Medifast Coupons

Medifast Meal Replacements

The Monkey Frolic: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Lessons, Notes, Lore 

Moving Qi Gong: Frolics of the Five Animals.  Instructional DVD. 

Moving with the Tao, Medical Qigong  Instructional DVD. 

Nature Spirits: How to Create Relationships the Nature Spirits of Animals

One Old Druid's Final Journey: Notebooks of the Librarian of Gushen Grove

Origins and Development of Qigong  

Plexus: History and Myth   Interesting collection of facts and observations about Mt. Hua in China.  A tomb dedicated to Hua To is found on Mt. Hua.  

Power Qigong: The Bear and Tiger Frolics  By John Du Cane.  St. Paul, Minnesota, Dragon Door Publications, 2000.   Instructional DVD, 48 minutes.  Anti-Aging Series.  ISBN: 0938045210.  Website:  VSCL.    

Power Animal Frolics:  Tai Chi, Yoga, and Qigong for Children.   Starring Bliss Beary Bear.  Instructional DVD, 82 Minutes. 

Power of the Animals: Learning five animal kung-fu will increase your strength, endurance and martial arts effectiveness.  By Qinn Early. 

Qigong: Bibliography, Links, Quotations, Lessons, Instructions, Notes 

Qigong: Small Circulation.  By Yang Jwing-Ming.  YMAA Publication Center, 2006.  360 pages.  ISBN:  1594390673.  VSCL.  Essential reading! 

Qigong Empowerment: A Guide to Medical, Taoist, Buddhist, and Wushu Energy Cultivation.   By Liang, Shou-Yu and Wu, Wen-Ching.  Edited by Denise Breiter-Wu.  Rhode Island, Way of the Dragon Publishing, 1997.  Index, glossary, 348 pages.  ISBN: 1889659029.   VSCL. 

Qigong Essentials: Five Animal Frolics.  Instructional DVD, 70 minutes, by Master Jesse Tsao.  Tai Chi Healthways, San Diego.  "Five Animal Frolics is an ancient Chinese Qigong practice. Hua-tuo, the most famous Chinese doctor in ancient China, designed Five Animals Frolic based on Chuang-tzu's Taoist practice and traditional Chinese medical philosophy. He observed animals in nature and mimicked their daily activities to create movements for people cultivating life energy. Each animal form has a special effect on a human being's inner organ health: tiger form for liver energy flow; deer form for kidney; bear form for spleen and stomach; ape form for the heart; bird form for lungs. Five Animal Frolics can fully stimulate and awaken qi, the vital energy inside of our body, contained within the meridian channels and cavities. Through the stimulation and accumulation of qi, a person can clear out stress and sickness and may not only acquire a new sense of physical and mental energy, but create the conditions for longevity as well. Throughout 1700 years, routines have been passed down from different people, resulting in various versions of Five Animal Frolics. This video shows the most popular forms in China today, and provides the basic "how-to" aspects of the routine. Master Tsao demonstrates the complete form in both front and back view, along with detailed instruction in posture-by-posture lessons. It is a good reference for home study, or a resource for instructor's teaching preparation.  Suggest 30 class hours."  Sample UTube Video of this DVD.  VSCL. 

Qigong Essentials for Health Promotion.  By Jiao Guorui.  Translated by Jiao Tielan.  Beijing, China Reconstructs Press, 1988.  ISBN: 750720100.  ASIN: B000B6TA54.  The Animal Frolics are discussed and explained on 190-236.  The text includes illustrations (line drawings).  VSCL. 

Qigong Five Animals.  UTube Videos: Part 1, 7:02 Min.  Part 2, 7:04 Min.  Part 3, 7:03 Min.  Part 4,

Qigong Healing: The Way of Qigong.   By Kenneth S. Cohen.  

Qigong Meditation: Embroyonic Breathing.   By Yang, Jwing-Ming.  Boston, Mass., YMAA Publications, 2003.  Index, glossary, 389 pages.  ISBN: 1886969736.  VSCL. 

Qigong Quotations, Poems, Sayings  

Ripening Peaches:  Daoist Studies and Practices.  Taoist scriptures, bibliography, Quanzhen Daoism, Neidan, gardening, tea, history, qigong/daoyin, readings, etc. 

The Root of Chinese Chi Kung: The Secrets of Chi Kung Training.  By Yang Jwing-Ming, PhD., 1946-.  YMAA Chi Kung Series #1.   Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, Yang's Martial Arts Association, 1989.  Glossary, 272 pages.   ISBN: 0940871076.  VSCL.       

Ruler, Stick, Chih, Bang - Tai Chi Ruler

Scholar Warrior: An Introduction to the Tao in Everyday Life.   By Deng Ming-Dao.  Harper San Francisco, 1990.   Index, bibliography, 351 pages.  ISBN: 0062502328.  VSCL.    

Secrets to Living Younger Longer: The Self-Healing Path of Qigong Standing Meditation and Tai Chi.  By Michael Mayer, Ph.D..  Orinda, California, Body Mind Healing Publications, 2004.  Index, bibliography, 281 pages.  ISBN: 0970431066.  This book has a companion instructional video/DVD called "Body Mind Healing Qigong." Website:  Body Mind Healing.  VSCL.   

Serenity Qigong: An Instructional Guide to the Crane Frolic
.  By John Du Cane.  An instructional videotape, 41 minutes.     

Shamanic Experience: A Practical Guide to Contemporary Shamanism.  By Kenneth Meadows.  Shaftesbury, Dorset, England, Element Books, 1991.  Glossary, bibliography, resources, index 196 pages.  ISBN: 1852302267.  VSCL.    

Shapeshifters and Shapeshifting 

Shaolin Buddhist Qigong, Luohan Qigong, Eighteen Lohan Chi Kung

Shaolin Five Animals Kung Fu.  By Doc Fai-Wong.  Unique Publications, 1987.  128 pages.  ISBN: 0865680809. 

Shaolin Kung Fu makes use of Five Animals: Snake, Leopard, Tiger, Crane and Dragon.

The Shaolin Workout: 28 Days to Transforming Your Body and Soul the Warrior's Way.  By Sifu Shi Yan Ming. Rodale Press, 2006. Index, 293 pages. ISBN: 1594864004.  VSCL. 



Snake, Monkey, Mantis, Master Shifu Panda, Tiger, and Crane
Kung Fu Panda Motion Picture



Shapeshifting in Celtic Myth.   By Kenneth R. White.  

Shapeshifting: Shamanic Techniques for Global and Personal Information.  By John M. Perkins.  Inner Traditions Intl. Ltd., 1997.  184 pages.  ISBN: 0892816635.   VSCL. 

Simple Fitness Exercises : Traditional Chinese Movements for Health & Rejuvenation.  By Jiawen Miao.   Llewellyn Publications, 2000.   Index, 111 pages.  ISBN: 1567184952.  Both a basic form (The Gentleman's ESB, pp. 31-54) and a more advanced form (The Warrior's ESB, pp. 55-76) taught in this book using descriptions and photographs.  VSCL.   

Simplified Yang Tai Chi Chuan, Standard 24 Form

Simplified Chen Tai Chi Chuan, 18 Movement Form, by Grand Master Chen Zhenglei

Six Taoist Healing Sounds   Research by Mike Garofalo. 

The Spirit of the Five Animals: Shaolin Martial Arts.  By Tak Wah Eng.  Bo Law Kung Fu Federation, 2005.  171 pages.  Simple descriptions, with black and white photographs, for each animal form:  Dragon, Tiger, Leopard, Crane and Snake.  VSCL. 

The Spiritual Legacy of the Shaolin Temple:  Buddhism, Daoism, and the Energetic Arts.  By Andy James.   Foreword by Dr. Jerry Alan Johnson.  Summerville, MA,  Wisdom Publications, 2004.  179 pages.  I SBN: 0861713524.   VSCL.    

Spontaneous Five Animal Play Qigong (Zifa Wuqinxi Donggong).  Compiled and readjusted by Liang Shifeng who is a major Qigong master from a southern province of China, called Guangdong in the early 1980s. 

Staff Weapons: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Lessons

Sun Lu Tang's Internal Martial Arts: Baguazhang, Xingyiquan, Taijiquan, and Qigong.  Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Resources, Instructions.   

Shen-nong Limited: History of Chinese Medicine 

The Spirit of the Five Animals.  By Tak Wah Eng.  Bo Law Kung Fu Federation, 2005.  171 pages.  ISBN: 097552013X.  VSCL. 

Subject Index to the Cloud Hands Taijiquan and Qigong Website 

Sun Style Taijiquan 

Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) and Qigong 

The Taoist Body.  By Kristofer Schipper.  Translated by Karen C. Duval.  Foreword by Norman Girardot.  Berkeley, California, University of California Press, 1993.  Originally published in French in 1982 as Le Corps Taoiste.  Notes, bibliography, index, xx, 273 pages.  ISBN: 0520082249.  VSCL. 

Taoist Classics.  The Collected Translations of Thomas Cleary.  Boston, Shambhala Press.  Four Volumes:  Volume One, 296 pages, 2003.   Volume Two, 640 pages, 1999.   Volume Three, 304 pages, 2001.   Volume Four, 464 pages, 2003.  

Taoist Philosophy, World View, Beliefs, Scriptures

The Tao of Health, Sex and Longevity: A Modern Practical Guide to the Ancient Way.  By Daniel P. Reid.   New York, a Fireside Book, Simon and Schuster, 1989.  Index, 405 pages.  ISBN: 067164811X.   VSCL.      

The Tao of Meditation: Way to Enlightenment.   By Jou, Tsung Hwa.  Scottsdale, Arizona, Tai Chi Foundation, 1983, 2000.  176 pages.  ISBN: 0804814651.  VSCL. 

Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing) by Lao Tzu: Selected Translations, Bibliography, Commentary.  Compilation by Mike Garofalo. 

Temple Chi Kung    

The Tiger Frolic:  Bibliography, Links, Resources, Lessons, Notes

Tiger Frolic, Five Animal Frolics, Demonstration by Master Howard Choy, UTube Video, 4:33 Minutes. 

Tiger Gong and Bear Gong   By Jane Golden.  

Totems: The Transformative Power of Your Personal Animal Totem.  By Brad Steiger.  Harper San Francisco, 1997.  224 pages.  ISBN: 0062514253.  




Video Demonstrations Online

Animal Frolics Qigong, IIQTC.  Demonstration by Jessica Kolbe.  Vimeo, 56 minutes.  

Five Animal Frolics.  Demonstration by Master Jesse Tsao.  UTube, 6:46 minutes. 

Five Animals Qigong.  Demonstration by Master Xiao.  UTube, 9:46 minutes. 

Tiger Frolic.  UTube Video, 1:34 minutes.  Performed by Anson Rathbone, 2007.  As taught by Deguang at NESA's Medical Qigong Class. 

Tiger Frolic, Five Animal Frolics, Demonstration by Master Howard Choy, UTube Video, 4:33 Minutes. 

Tiger Frolics   UTube, 7:26 minutes. 

WuDang Five Animals Qigong.  UTube, 6:30 minutes. 




Vital Breath of the Dao: Chinese Shamanic Tiger Qigong (Laohu Qigong).  By Master Zhongxian Wu.  Little Canada, Minnesota, Dragon Door Publications, 2006.  246 pages.  ISBN: Unknown.  There is also a DVD to accompany this book with a running time of 65 minutes called "Chinese Shamanic Tiger Qigong." For more information call 1-800-899-5111. 

Vitality Qigong: An Instructional Guide to the Monkey and Deer Frolics.  By John Du Cane.  Instructional videotape, 43 minutes.  

Valley Spirit Qigong, Red Bluff, California 

VSCL = Valley Spirit Center Library, Red Bluff, California  

Warriors of Stillness: Meditative Traditions in the Chinese Martial Arts.  Volume 1. The Teachings of Grandmaster Cai Song Fang.  Qigong Qi of the Center, Essence of Taijiquan.   By Jan Diepersloot.  Walnut Creek, California, Center for Healing and the Arts.  Glossary, 226 pages.  ISBN:  0964997606.  A study of Wu Ji meditation, 13 postures, and push hands.  VSCL.   

The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing
.  By Kenneth S. Cohen.  Foreword by Larry Dossey.  New York Ballantine Books, 1997.  Index, notes, appendices, 427 pages.  ISBN: 0345421094.  MGC.  One of my favorite books: comprehensive, informative, practical, and scientific.  A very informative introduction to the Five Animal Frolics, and detailed descriptions of the Crane and Bear forms, with illustrations, can be found on pages 199-209.   

The Way of Qigong.  By Ken Cohen.  5 audiocassettes, 6 hours.  Boulder, Colorado, Sounds True, 1993.  ISBN: 1564552578.  VSCL.     

Ways of Walking: Quotations, Bibliography, Resources, Links 

The Web That Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine.  By Ted J. Kaptchuk, O.M.D..  Chicago, McGraw Hill Contemporary Books, 2nd Edition, 2000.  Index, bibliography, appendices, notes, 500 pages.  Forward by Margaret Caudill, M.D., and by Andrew Weil, M.D.  ISBN: 0809228408.  An excellent introduction to traditional Chinese medicine and modern research on the topic.  VSCL. 

What is Qigong.   By Kenneth S. Cohen.  

Where the Spirits Ride the Wind: Trance Journeys and Other Ecstatic Experiences.  By Felicitas D. Goodman, Ph.D..  Illustrated by Gerhard Binder.  Bloomington, Indiana, Indiana University Press, 1990.  Index, bibliography, 242 pages.  ISBN: 0253327644.  A cross cultural study of the effects of body postures on altered states of consciousness.  Extensive notes on the widespread instances of Bear postures, rituals and totems.  

Wild Goose Qigong: Links, Bibliography, Quotes, Notes 

The Wonders of Qigong.  A Chinese Exercise for Fitness, Health and Longevity.  Compiled by the China Sports Magazine, Beijing, China.  Published by Wayfarer Publications, Los Angeles, CA, 1985.  111 pages.  275 line drawings.  ISBN: 0935099077.  VSCL. 

Wudang Five Animal Form.  Instructional DVD.  Featuring Master Zhong Xue Chao..  Introductory video, 5:32 minutes.  Instruction over-dub voice in English.  This DVD include 5 forms of Tortoise, Crane, Snake, Tiger, and Dragon.  All 5 animal's complete demonstration, introduction and teaching. List of movements. 

Wudang Five Animal Regimen    UTube Video, 5:53 minutes. 

Wu Qin Xi Qigong.  UTube Video, 6:30 Min. 

Wu Qin Xi.  By Hu, Yao-zhen (1879-1973).  Hong Kong, Xin Wen Shu Dian, n.d..  

Wu Qin Xi.  Chinese Health Qigong Assocation. 

Wu Qin Xi (Five Animal Frolics): Chinese Health Qigong.  Compiled by the Chinese Health Qigong Association.  Beijing, Chine, Foreign Languages Press, 2007.  102 pages, includes an instructional DVD.  ISBN: 9787119047799.  VSCL.  "In 2001 the Chinese government showed great interest in regulating the Qigong movement. The State Sport General Administration of China founded the Chinese Health Qigong Association, as a mass-organization to popularize, spread and research Health Qigong in cooperation with the Peking Sport University. In 2003 the organization presented the newly developed four Health Qigong Exercises on the base of excellent traditional Qigong, including:  Yì Jīn Jīng (tendon-changing classic),  Wu Qin Xi (frolics of five animals 五禽戲),  Liu Zi Jue (the art of expiration in producing six different sounds), Ba Duan Jin (eight excellent movements), to fit the people's needs of promoting their health and body, and to develop traditional Chinese national culture further. The Chinese Health Qigong Association is a member of the All-China Sports Federation.  During the process of developing the exercises, strictly scientific research methods have been followed. Primary experiments took place under supervision of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Modern Medicine, Psychology, Athletic Science and other related subjects. The Four Health Qigong Exercises can be seen as the essences from the related Qigong in various schools, inherited and developed traditional Chinese national culture.  The new Health Qigong represented by the Chinese Health QiGong Association is breaking with the old tradition of family-styles and close teacher-student relation. It is hoped that the new standardisation is supporting the international spread of Qigong in the western hemisphere.  Starting in September 2004 the "Health Qigong Magazine" became the association magazine of the CHQA. It is the only national health qigong publication in China; edtited through China Sports Press.  After the successful 1st International Health Qigong Demonstration and Exchange in 2005 the CHQA organized in August 2007 the 2nd International Health Qigong Demonstration and Exchange in Peking including an international competition and the first Duan examination on Health Qigong. At the same time, the 2007 International Symposium on Health Qigong Science was organized where important scientific studies were made public."

Wu Qin Xi, Five Animal Frolics Qigong: Bibliography, Resources, Lessons, Links, History.  By Michael P. Garofalo, M.S. 

Xing Yi Quan (Hsing I Chuan) makes use of Twelve Animals. 

Yang Style Taijiquan

Yangsheng Gong, Daoyin, Qigong:  Bibliography, Links, Resources, History, Lessons, Guides, Quotes 

Yin Jin Jing (Muscle and Tendon Transformation Classic) Qigong

Yuli Qigong.  By Jeff Smoley.  Wujigong, Zhan Zhuang, 5 Animal Frolics, Jade Power Qigong, and Eight Section Brocade.  Jeff borrowed my disclaimer

Zhan Zhuang, Standing Meditation - Standing Like a Tree - Meditation and Qigong












Return to the Main Index




Quotations - General

Animal Frolics Exercises, Animal Frolics Qigong, Chinese Yoga Animal Frolics 



"Man's body must have exercise, but it should never be done to the point of exhaustion.  By moving about briskly, digestion is improved, the blood vessels are opened, and illnesses are prevented.  It is like a used doorstep which never rots.  As far as Tao Yin (bending and stretching exercises) is  concerned, we have the bear's neck, the crane's twist, and swaying the waist and moving the joints to promote long life.  Now I have created the art called the Frolics of the Five Animals: the Tiger, the Deer, the Bear, the Monkey, and the Crane.   It eliminates sickness, benefits the legs, and is also a form of Tao Yin.  If you feel out of sorts, just practice one of my Frolics.  A gentle sweat will exude, the complexion will become rosy; the body will feel light and you will want to eat."
-   Hua To, History of the Later Han, Translated by Paul B. Gallagher,
    Drawing Silk: A Training Manual for T'ai Chi, 1988, p. 6.



"An ancient text, The Spring and Autumn Annals, states that in mythic times a great flood covered much of China.  Stagnant waters produced widespread disease. The legendary shaman-emperor Yu cleared the land and diverted the waters into rivers by dancing a bear dance and invoking the mystical power of the Big Dipper Constellation.  As the waters subsided, people reasoned that movement and exercise can similarly cause the internal rivers to flow more smoothly, clearing the meridians of obstructions to health.  Qigong-like exercises are found on ancient rock art panels throughout China.  Chinese shamans used these exercises and meditations to commune with nature and natural forces and to increase their powers of healing and divination.
-   Kenneth S. Cohen, What is Qigong



"Daoyin 導引 (a.k.a. Tao Yin), which literally means “guiding and stretching,” is a traditional Chinese form of “calisthenics” (Grk.: “beautiful strength”; physical exercise) or “gymnastics” (Grk.: “to train”). Traditionally and historically speaking, Daoyin practices are stretching exercises, usually combined with breath-work. Some Daoyin practices involve specific breathing (huxi 呼吸) patterns. The earliest forms of Daoyin were developed during the Early Han dynasty (206 BCE-8 CE), in the context of health and longevity as well as therapeutic movements. Daoyin practice is also sometimes referred to as Yangsheng 養生, which literally means “nourishing life.”
-   Daoyin



"Learn one of the oldest, yet perennially popular forms of exercise in the world.  In the 2nd century A.D., the great Taoist physician Hua To created a physical, energetic and mental exercise system based on the movements and spirit of five animals: the crane, bear, deer, monkey, and tiger.  Develops strength, balance, focus, flexibility, courage, and calmness.  Used successfully by thousands of people to regain health and fitness and treat chronic diseases."
Healing Tao Institute   



Crane - to develop balance, lightness and agility.  The Crain cools and relaxes your whole body, balances the heart-energy, gently stretches your ligaments and releases your spine.
Bear - to develop rooted power.  The Bear creates greater leg strength, fortifies the bones and develops energy in the kidneys, your fundamental source of vitality. 
Monkey - to develop suppleness and agility.  Become quick witted, alert and nimble.
Deer - to develop grace and relaxation.  The Deer gives a long stretch to the legs and spine, creating open, expansive movement with very flexible sinew and bones.
Tiger - to develop muscular strength.  The Tiger strengthens the waist, sinews and kidneys and builds internal power. 
-   Five Animal Frolics



"For optimal health, we need body and spirit, exercise and meditation, awareness of the inner world and the outer.  In other words, health requires balance and moderation.  The goal of qigong may be summarized as xing ming shuang xiu, "spirit and body equally refined and cultivated."  Cultivate your whole being, as you would cultivate a garden - with attention, care, and even love."
-  Ken Cohen, Essential Qigong, 2005, p. 2



"Firstly, we analyze its function in the aspect of psychological regulation as it is required that the practitioner should do it before and during each routines in the exercise of the Health Qigong Wu Qin Xi. The practitioner should mind on the Dantian and rid of the distracted thoughts with quiet mind and spirit before the exercise, get into the imitation of its physical activities of each animal in the exercise. When practicing the tiger exercise, try to imagine yourself as a fierce tiger in the mountains who is looking down upon other beasts and stretching its own pawns and about to pounce on its prey; in the deer exercise, imagine that you are prudent and mild, jogging on a green field; in the exercise of the bear, you are a clumsy bear, composed and steady, freely roaming the forests; in the monkey exercise, you become a happy and agile monkey; in the bird exercise, you are a free bird with quiet mind and flying in the sky. Therefore you can continuously regulate the mind state in the exercise and it is helpful to the relaxation of the mind. The regular exercise of this skill can transform and regulate the mind of the practitioner to relieve the spiritual nervousness, improve the emotional stability, reduce the mental stress and keep the healthy mind."
-   The Effect of Precaution against Sub-health of the Health Qigong Wu Qin Xi.  Chinese Health Qigong Association.  2008. 



"Many schools of Wu Qin Xi have sprung up in modern times, with different modifications of the exercises. Some schools even name themselves after Hua Tuo. Nevertheless, they all adhere to the fundamental principles of imitating the movements of the five wild creatures and combining physical with mental exercises. And they all have the common aim of strengthening muscles and bones, promoting the circulation of Qi and blood, preventing and curing diseases, maintaining good health and prolonging the life span.  The practice of Wu Qin Xi can be divided into two types: One emphasizes the physical exercise of the trunk and limbs to strengthen the bodily constitution. This is called "external exercise." The other emphasizes mental exercises which are supposed to imitate the spiritual activities and expressions of animals, to stimulate mental activity; this is called "internal exercise." The former division can be further divided into two groups. Vigorous practice mainly for self-defense is called "Five-Animal Boxing," which can also be used for treating illness by means of pounding or massage. When performed gently and gracefully, with the aim of strengthening the body constitution and improving the spiritual mood, it is called "Five-Animal Dance.""
Origins and Development of Qigong 



"The patriarch of Chinese medicine, Hua Tuo (second century A.D.) was one of the great early qigong masters.  His "Five Animal Frolics" imitate the movements of the Crane, Bear, Monkey, Deer, and Tiger and are still practiced today. Hua Tuo said that just as a door hinge will not rust if it is used, so the body will attain health by gently moving and exercising all of the limbs."
-   Kenneth S. Cohen, What is Qigong  



"The "Five Animal-Frolics" mimics the fierceness of tiger, peacefulness of deer, calmness of bear, agility of ape, and lightness of bird to train the body and mind. It can improve body strength, move blood and Qi, and relax tendons and meridians so people will not get aged quickly. It can also be used to cure chronicle diseases. Practitioner can practice all five frolics or pick only one or two to practice based on his personal physical conditions. During practice, it requires the practitioner to coordinate his thoughts, breathing, and movements. If you can practice it persistently, you will enjoy light spirit, enhanced appetite, improved agility, and firm steps. This has the functions of nurturing spirit, regulating the flow of Qi and blood, helping Jang and Fu, opening meridians, activating sinews and bones, and benefiting joints. The "Five Animal-Frolics" is also effective in preventing and curing lung diseases, asthma, high blood pressure, heart-crown disease, weak nerve system, and indigestion, etc. In addition, frequent practice of the "Five Animal-Frolics" can correct abnormal footings and walking postures, prevent wilting of muscles, and improve body balance. It is also beneficial to other symptoms. Practitioner should practice for 15 minutes twice daily, one in the morning and one in the evening. Also, the practitioner should select a field with fresh air and luxuriant vegetation."
-   Five Animal Frolics



"Born from the marriage of shamanic dance and the Chinese medical study of energy systems, The Animal Frolics offer a complete self-care toolkit of accessible techniques to transform your health and well being."
-  John Du Cane, Power Qigong: The Bear and Tiger Frolics



"The earliest Daoist reference to Daoyin practice appears in chapter fifteen of the Zhuangzi 莊子 (Book of Master Zhuang), which is part of the so-called Outer Chapters (8-22) and is roughly contemporaneous with the Daoyin tu and Yinshu. “To practice chui 吹, xu 呴, hu 呼 and xi 吸 breathing, to expel the old (tugu 吐古) and ingest the new (naxin 納新), and to engage in bear-hangings (xiongjing 熊經) and bird-stretchings (niaoshen 鳥申), with longevity one’s only concern—such are the practices of Daoyin adepts, people who nourish their bodies and hope to live as long as Pengzu” (cf. Daode jing ch. 29). In this section of the Zhuangzi, Daoyin practitioners are grouped in a hierarchical ordering of five lower forms of practice. Such adepts are contrasted with the Daoist sage (shengren 聖人), who does not practice Daoyin but rather aims at mystical unification with the Dao through quietistic meditation. Nonetheless, the above passage from the Zhuangzi as well as the Daoyin tu and Yinshu are among the earliest predecessors for the later practices known as the Method of the Six Breaths (liuqi fa 六氣法), a.k.a. Six Healing Sounds, and the Five Animal Frolics (wuqin xi 五禽戲)."



"In the Welsh story of Taliesin, who as Gwion Bach, transforms himself into various animal shapes to escape the wrath of the goddess Ceridwen.  Gwion transforms himself into a hare, a fish, a bird and finally a grain of wheat.  Ceridwen in an attempt to catch him also transforms herself. She becomes a greyhound, an otter, a falcon and a hen.  It is as a hen that she finally catches Gwion, who is at this stage a grain of wheat, she swallows Gwion and by so doing becomes pregnant and eventually gives birth to Taliesin."
-   Kenneth R. White, Shapeshifting in Celtic Myth



"Daoyin is an ancient Chinese body-mind exercise originally aimed at health care as well as physical and spiritual purification. The ascetics of past time believed it could be used to obtain the "eternal youth" (changsheng bulao).  Many different interpretations were given to the word daoyin during the ages. The following two are the most reliable: daoqi yinti - guide the qi and stretch the body; and daoqi yinliao - guide the qi to obtain a healing effect.  Both interpretations describe important aspects of the exercise and are not contradictory to each other. The first describes briefly the technique while the second refers to one goal of the exercise; actually with daoyin we guide the qi and move our body in order to obtain a beneficial effect to our health.  China has an ancient and deep tradition of body-mind care. According to historical documents already during the feudal age (770-221 BC) the so-called "life-nourishing ways" (yangsheng zhi dao) gained great importance. They were methods aimed at enhancing a long, healthy and good life, by means of dietetic regime, herbal preparations, gymnastic exercises and spiritual cultivation (such as study, poetry, meditation, etc.).  Many famous thinkers of this time argued heatedly on these issues, proposing their own "ways" and discussing those of their colleagues.  Among the various "life-nourishing ways", the physical exercise was almost universally regarded as necessary and very effective. As "physical exercise" we have to think here something much deeper and articulated than what we mean today. It was an exercise involving body and mind in a great potentially unlimited effort of self-purification. The ascetics of that time practiced and taught these techniques in order to reach long life and immortality."



"Shape-Changing in practice essentially breaks down into two main areas that for the purposes of discussion I've decided to call "Out of body" shifting and "Altered State" shifting.  The two are related: altered state shapeshifting in particular using some of the methods of consciousness altering employed in out-of-body voyages but they are sufficiently different to enable them to be considered separately." 
-   Redvane Fox 



"Sometime between the Eastern Zhou (ca 776-256 BCE) and the Qin (ca 221-206 BCE) Dynasties, they developed the Two Animal Forms (Liangqinxi), which imitate the actions of a bear climbing a tree and hanging from its branches and a crane stretching out its wings in flight.  In the former Han Dynasty (ca 206 BCE - 8 CE) a third form, the monkey, was added.  Then, over a century later, in the Later Han Dynasty (ca 25-220 CE) after the Three Animal Forms (Sanqinxi) had been strongly influenced by Taoist exercises for longevity, two more forms, based on the movements of the deer and the tiger, were added by learned doctors of medicine who developed them to help give their aristocratic patients healthier and longer lives, thus creating the Five Animal Forms (Wuqinxi).  Since then, the Five Animal Forms have give rise to a number of forms of Qigong exercises, most notably the Eight Pieces of Silk (Baduanjin) , the Everyday Stretching Qigong (Yijinjing) exercises, and the internal Qi regimens of the various Shaolin and Tai Chi schools, which can all trace their ancestry back to the original Two Animal Forms and Taoist breathing exercises."
-   Stephen Comee, Beginning Qigong: Chinese Secrets for Health and Longevity, p. 59. 



"The Five Animal Sports Qigong (五禽戲, Wu Qin Xi).  The Five Animal Sports is a well known medical Qigong set created by the famous Chinese medical doctor Hua Tuo (華陀 ) during the East Han and Three Kingdom period (東漢﹐ 三國)(25-420 A.D.). This set of medical Qigong imitates the natural movements of five animals. These animals are the Tiger, Deer, Bear, Ape, and Bird. For nearly two thousand years, this set has proven very effective for maintaining health, and for healing various illnesses."
-   Yang Jwing-Ming's Martial Arts Academy


Bear     Tiger     Monkey     Deer     Crane     Dragon     Animal Frolics     Qigong 


"Dear Michael,
  I have liked your website for sometime and have referred to it.  As for the 5 Animal Frolics, frolic, this also has some misleads.  Hua-To's tomb is on Mt. Hua.  As for Dr. Hua's  teaching, no one knows [again totem-symbol making, great doctor and great mountain].  The original exercise was simple walking, not much more; the more recent PRC pubs tend to go into 5 variations upon each of the 5 animals 5x5.  Han Xingyuan, one of my teachers, believed that there was a relation between the Hua To exercises and the Xing Yi animals - of which there where originally only 3 forms, not 5.   The 5 animals are actually 5 actions, virtually the same as those inherent in Hsing Yi: expand, rise, cross, compress, sink.  Your attempt to cross-culture, cross-time compare Hua To's animals to animals to American Indian animals ... this is a common error of knowledge.  Pyramids exist in many locations, but this does not mean they where built for the same reasons or even similar.  Interesting otherwise."
-  K. Conor Foxx, 10/27/07



"The Bird Frolic develops balance, lightness, and agility. It cools and relaxes the whole body, balances the heart-energy, gently stretches the ligaments, and releases the spine.  The Bear Frolic to develops deep-rooted power. It creates greater leg strength, fortifies the bones, and develops energy in the kidneys, which is the body's fundamental source of vitality.  The Monkey Frolic develops suppleness and agility. It helps a person become quick witted, alert, and nimble.  The Deer Frolic develops grace and relaxation. It gives a long stretch to the legs and spine, creating an open, expansive movement with very flexible muscles and bones.  The Tiger Frolic develops muscular strength. It strengthens the waist, muscles, and kidneys and builds internal power."
Five Animal Frolics



"In the Han Dynasty, Hua Tuo (A.D.110-207), was an outstanding medical Doctor and became known as the “Father of Traditional Chinese Medicine”.  He researched the physical activities of animals specifically the characteristics of the Tiger, Deer, Bear, Monkey and Bird.  He also combined the theory of the energy flow and distribution of the meridian lines with the physiological functions and pathological changes of the human body, and its relationship between the movements of these five animals and the five major organs of human beings.  Using this information, he invented this set of exercises, which he proudly called “My Doctor”.   The Five Animals Frolics were first documented in a chapter of the “Three Kingdoms Period – Biography of Hua Tuo”, by Chen Shou, during the Western Jin Dynasty (A.D.265-316).  Hua Tuo was one of the first people, in the world, to use movements as a healing art. The ancient health art of Five Animals Frolics Qi Gong has continued to be practiced and benefited people’s health for over 1800 years.  Practitioners use this physical and mental exercise to increase their Qi accumulation, protect and strengthen their internal health and prevent or cure diseases."
-   Frank Allen 



"Legend has it that when Bodhidharma arrived at Shaolin [circa 525 CE], the monks practicing there were frail and sickly and fell asleep when they tried to meditate.  He believed that strong bodies and good health would aid their spiritual practices and supposedly taught them three qigong exercises that are still practiced: The Muscle and Tendon Changing Classic (yi jin jing), Bone-Marrow Washing (xi sui jing), and the Eighteen Lohan Qigong (shi ba lo han gong).  There is some disagreement as to whether these exercise were from Indian yogic or Chinese qigong traditions and whether they originated in Bodhidharma's time or later. 
    The movements of the original Eighteen Lohan Qigong (a lohan, or arhat, is one who has reached the stage of nirvana) became the basis of martial training and in time developed into a more complex system of 72 movements.  By the time of the Mongol Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), these has expanded to 170.  These movements were expressed in the Five Styles, which drew upon the fighting styles, characteristics, and spirits of different animals.  The dragon, tiger, leopard, snake and crane (or cock) styles represented the training of spirit, bones, strength, qi, and sinews respectively.  It was said that to truly master this "mimic boxing" (imitating various animals), the human ego had to be set aside, which is also one characterization of the goal of Chan Buddhism."
-  Andy James, The Spiritual Legacy of Shaolin Temple, p. 31



"Tao Yin is Dao Yin (Tao Yin) are a series of breathing exercises practiced by Taoists to cultivate Qi (Ch'i) or internal energy of the body based upon the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  The practice of Dao Yin was an ancient precursor of Qigong, and was practiced in Chinese Taoist monasteries for health and spiritual cultivation.  I has been documented since 500 BC. Dao Yin is also said to be (along with Shaolin Ch'uan) a primary formative ingredient in the well-known soft style Chinese martial art of T'ai Chi Ch'uan."
-   Wikipedia  



"In addition to cosmological attunement, Daoist Daoyin frequently utilizes the orb-meridian system, the understanding of which parallels classical Chinese medicine. They are documented in texts such as the Neiwai gong tushuo 内外功圖説 (Illustrated Instructions on Internal and External Exercises) and Chifeng sui 赤鳳髓  (Marrow of the Crimson Phoenix). Note that most of these practices employ seated postures and are intended as supplements to meditation.  In contemporary Daoism, Daoyin practice is most clearly expressed in Daoist self-massage techniques, which include tapping the teeth, beating the Celestial Drum, and so forth. Most contemporary Daoyin sets are either of fairly recent provenance and/or reconstructions of earlier practices.  One important consideration in the study and practice of Daoist Daoyin and Yangsheng is the way in which such practice is understood from a Daoist perspective and within a Daoist context."
-   Daoyin



" The formation of Wu Qin Xi is first mentioned in the Biography of Hua Tuo in History of the Three Kingdoms, written by Chen Shou of the Western Jin Dynasty (265-316). In this book, the author writes, "Hua Tuo developed a set of exercises called Wu Qin Xi, namely, first tiger, second deer, third bear, fourth monkey and fifth bird, as physical and breathing exercises to cure diseases and strengthen the feet for walking." In the Southern and Northern Dynasties period (420-589), Fan Ye, the author of the Chronicle of the Later Han Dynasty, made a similar statement. Unfortunately, no illustrations or diagrams showing how to practice the original exercises as devised by Hua Tuo can be found in the ancient literature. However, Tao Hongjing of the Southern and Northern Dynasties, in his On Caring for the Health of the Mind and Prolonging the Life Span, describes the exercises invented by Hua Tuo, and as he lived only about 300 years after the latter it is assumed that Tao's account is accurate. But as Tao Hongjing's explanations are not accompanied by illustrations; the exercises are difficult to practice. This deficiency is made up for somewhat in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) works, such as the Marrow of the Red Phoenix by Zhou Lujing,  and in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) works of the Miraculous  Book of Longevity by Cao Wuji and Diagrammatic Illustrations for Practice of the Five-Animal Dance by Xi Xifan, where the practical movements of the exercises are described in detail, with diagrams and drawings. These movements are much modified from those in Tao Hongjing's work in that besides the physical movements, the mental attitudes, concentration, etc., are also described. In addition, physical exercises are integrated with the adjustment of the circulation of Qi and blood. These ancient books provide a key basis for more modern studies of the exercise."
Origins and Development of Qigong 



Cloud Hands Blog



"Animal Qigong is the oldest form of Qigong in history. Apart from the primitive dragon and bull dance some 4000 years ago, Bear moving" and "Bird stretching" are clearly documented as regular exercises for some Chinese people living 2300 years ago. Many forms of Qigong are named after animals, such as the flying crane, the swimming dragon, the snake and the turtle Qigong.  The Five Animal Qigong was created 1500 years ago by Hua Tuo, an extraordinary healer. Over its history, it has evolved into different styles. Through imitating the movements, sounds and breathing of the tiger, deer, bear, monkey and bird, the Five Animal Qigong brings us back to our free human nature. It is enjoyable to practice and effective in revitalising our energy and rejuvenating our body. Symbolically, the animals are related to the five element colours, seasons, internal organs, sensory organs and emotions.  The Hua style of Five Animals is practiced through simple forms of movements, meditation and spontaneous play of the animals.  It is an important part of the Hua Gong system focusing on physical fitness and vitality.  Internally it opens the Qi meridians and cavities and cultivates the Jing Qi Shen (body essence, vital energy and spirit). Externally it improves our bones, joints, tendons, muscles, hair and skin."
-   Grandmaster: Five Animals 




"In addition to the key points of Qigong exercise, the Frolics of the Five Animals require attention to the following points:
1.  Integration of Form and Mind
2.  Flexible and Circular Movement 
3.  Slow and Fast Movement 
4.  Heaviness, Stability and Subtlety 
5.  Softness and Toughness  
6.  Order of the Frolics 
7.  Coordination of Movements with Respiration 
8.  Three-way Stability 
9.  Preparation  
10.  Conscientiousness 
11.  Perseverance in Practice  
-   Jiao Guorui, Qigong Essentials for Health Promotion, 1988, pp. 193-195 



"Chan (Zen) Buddhism was introduced to China around A.D. 550. During the North-South dynasty, a monk named Bodhidharma traveled from India to Songshan Mountain in the Henan province, the site of the Shaolin Temple. There he meditated for nine years. At the age of 76, he began teaching healing arts to the monks of the temple. Since the monks spent much of their time in meditation, they were in poor physical condition. Bodhidharma gave them a set of exercises that would develop the physical strength necessary to maintain the monastery and protect them in the event of an attack. He gave them three exercises: lohan shi ba (18 hands of arhats); yi ji jing (book of changing tendons); and xi shui jing (book of washing bone morrow). At the end of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), Zhue Yuen, Li Sou and Bai Yu Feng developed the five animal form, which helped to complete the new shaolin system and had a major impact on the state of shaolin kung-fu.  The shaolin five animals consist of dragon, tiger, snake, crane and leopard. Each animal has characteristics that provide the practitioner with an array of offensive and defensive techniques. Only through a mastery of each of these animals can one hope to become a complete kung-fu stylist."
Five Animal Kung Fu



"In dwelling he has no shape, and in abiding he has no place. In movement he has no form, and in quiescence he has no body. He is there but looks as if he were gone, he is alive but looks as if he were dead. He comes in and out of the spaceless and has gods and demons at his orders; he sinks into the unfathomable and enters into the spaceless. He exchanges his form with what is different from him. End and beginning for him are like a ring, and nobody knows his patterns. This is how his essence and spirit can lead him to ascend to the Dao. This is where the True Man roams.
    As for inspiring and expiring while emitting the sounds chui and xu, exhaling the old and inhaling the new [breath], hanging like a bear and stretching like a bird, bathing like a duck and leaping like a gibbon, glaring like an owl and staring like a tiger--these are for the people who "nourish their form," and he does not confuse his mind with them.
-   Huainan zi, chapter 7. Translation published in Fabrizio Pregadio, "The Notion of 'Form' and the Ways of Liberation in Daoism," Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie 14 (2004): 119-20.



"Five Animal Frolics is an ancient system of qigong created by the famous Chinese physician Hua Tuo (110–207 c.e.). Hua Tuo is commonly considered the “Father of Chinese Medicine,” and was the first physician in history to employ anesthesiology with surgery.  These Five Animal Frolics are based upon the natural movements of the Tiger, Bear, Monkey, Deer, and Crane. When performing the exercises, mimic and imagine the attitude and bearing of each animal.
The Tiger (Hu, ) is fierce and untamed, employing quick striking power.
The Bear (Xiong, ) is steady and lumbering, exhibiting great strength.
The Monkey (Hou, ) is agile and quick with its jumping and circling of the legs.
The Deer (Lu, 鹿) is graceful and attentive with its leaps and rising extensions.
The Crane (He, ) is light and exacting with its standing on one leg and circling arm movements."
Sanctuary of the Dao





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Frolics of the Five Animals


































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Five Animal Frolics Table of Correspondences





Animal Element  Season
Deer Wood Spring
Yin: Liver
Yang: Gallbladder
Joints, Tendons
Vision, Eyes
Benevolence/Kindness  Ren
Anger, Shouting 
Patience & Subtlety
Rising, Expanding, Lifting

Sound:  Hsü


Crane Fire Summer
Yin: Heart
Yang: Small Intestine
Blood Vessels
Touch, Hands 
Order  Li
Joy, Laughing
Herbivorous Primarily
Omnivorous Sometimes
Radiate, Disperse, Scatter, Rise

Sound:  He
Monkey Earth Harvest
Yin: Spleen
Yang: Stomach
Taste, Mouth 
Trust  Xin
Pensiveness, Worry, Reflection
Empathy, Sympathy

Sound:  Hoo

Tiger Metal Autumn
Yin: Lungs
Yang: Large Intestine
Nasal Mucus
Whole Body
Smell, Nose 
Integrity Yi
Anxiety/Sorrow, Letting Go

Sound:  Si

Bear Water Winter
Yin: Kidneys
Yang: Bladder
Lower Back
Hearing , Ears
Wisdom  Zhi
Inner Focus
Sensitive Smelling
Gathering, Absorbing
Wavelike, Dropping

Sound:  Chui


The assignment of alchemical and magickal correspondences to the Animals vary amongst practitioners of the Five Animal Frolics, qigong theorists, and Taoist Alchemists.  The following authors have provided tables of correspondences:  Mantak Chia, Kenneth Cohen, Franklin Fick, Mike Garofalo, Alan Graham, Livia Kohn, Joseph Morales, Ken Morgan, Nancy Seeber, Yang Jwing-Ming, and Oberon Zell-Ravenheart

Readers should keep in mind that knowledge of these alchemical and magickal correspondences is of some usefulness to most practitioners.  The true Adepts and playful Wizards will need to pay very close attention to correspondences.  These associations have a long history in China and their meanings are part of the mental aspects of the Five Animals Frolics Daoyin practice.  Daily practice of the Frolics, most often outdoors, is essential to embody these cosmic principles.     

All of the Five Animals are Wild Animals.  They are not normally considered "domesticated" animals (e.g., dogs, goats, cattle, pigs, chickens, cats, horses).  Because of their intelligence and skills, monkeys have been tamed and trained by humans.  Because of their size and wild nature, tigers and bears are especially dangerous around humans.  

A wise person will always try to understand the cosmic forces that influence and/or rule our lives: the air we breathe, the sun that warms the earth, the water that sustains all living beings, the plants and animals of our world, the human technology that makes our lifestyles possible, the ideas and values that constitute our spirit.  These forces are symbolized by Air (breath, energy), Fire (sun, hearth), Water (rain, snow, lakes, sea, ponds, wells), Wood (plants, trees, fruit, grains, food), Animals (Deer, Crane, Monkey, Tiger, Bear, etc., domesticated animals, food, humans), Metal (technology, science, agriculture, earthly resources), Humanity (persons, family, village, state, society, culture), Spirit (mind, wisdom, Shen, Dao), and the Unbounded (imagination, fantasy, mystical creatures, spirits, divine, Wu, Heaven).     

In China, the Five Elements (Phases, Processes, Cycles) are: Earth, Fire, Water, Wood, and Metal.  In the West, the Five Elements (Materials, Substances, Components) are Earth, Fire, Water, Air, and Spirit (Aether).   

I have reflected on the Trigrams of the I Ching and how Baguazhang Qigong Animals correspondences might be aligned.  Even in this area, the assignment of correspondences vary considerably amongst theoreticians and practitioners. 


Notice how the assignment of the Five Animals to the Five Elements varies depending upon the authority consulted:

Animal 1 Kohn 2
Chinese Health Qigong
Deer Liver
Crane Heart
Monkey Spleen
Tiger Lungs
Bear Kidneys


1.  Kohn, Livia.  "Chinese Healing Exercises: The Tradition of Daoyin."  University of Hawaii Press, 2008.  268 pages.  ISBN: 0824832698.  p. 164. 

2.  Yang, Jwing Ming and Kathy K. Yang.  "Five Animal Sports Qigong."  Instructional DVD, 2008. 

3.   Michael Garofalo.  Five Animal Frolics, 2009.   Handouts:  All Five, Deer, Crane, Monkey, Tiger, Bear, Dragon. 

4.  Sandy Seeber and Alan Graham.  Five Animal Frolic Handout

5.  Ken Morgan.  Medical Qigong Education Center, UK.  Five Animal Frolics.   

6.  Ken Cohen.  "Way of Qigong."  pp. 201-209 and his instructional DVD. 

7.  Chinese Health Qigong Association.  The Effect of Precaution against Sub-health of the Health Qigong Wu Qin Xi.   2008. 

Grandmaster Yang Jwing-Ming and the Chinese Health Qigong Association both use a different assignment of the Five Animals to the Five Elements.  Here is a schematic for their assignment of correspondences: 






General Remarks, Comments and Suggestions
Regarding the Practice of the Five Animal Frolics
By Mike Garofalo


There are over 20 different modern versions of the "Animal Frolics."  Nowadays, most sets of the exercises are done in a standing position.  Many sets have two or three exercises for each animal, and you do the exercises for all five animals in each exercise session.  Alchemical associations are important to some practitioners, and totally ignored by others.   

All the Animal Frolics teachers do speak of the same general mind-body principles to follow while doing the Animal Frolics Daoyin (Qigong) exercises: calmness, slowness, relaxed (sung), balanced, deliberate, taking on and expressing the characteristics and nature of the specific animals, inner awareness, deep breathing, concentrated mind, not forcing (wu wei), playfulness, lightness, awareness of energy movement in the body-mind, serenity, delight ...

My Own Practices

In my private home practice, most of the time, I like to do just one Animal at a time.  I do favor some spontaneity, freedom, and flexibility in choosing what Animal Frolic(s) to practice each day, and what movements from that Frolic that I choose to practice.  Consequently, my private home practice is varied.  Depending upon my interests, time available, mood, and what healing modality I feel is most needed by me, I feel free to play around with combinations and repetitions.  We human beings, unlike our wild animal neighbors, are more varied and creative in our activities and responses to our environment.  In some sense, we are "wilder" (i.e., more unpredictable, spontaneous, uncontrolled, liberated, unnatural, chaotic) than all other non-human animals, wild or domesticated. 

When I teach the Animal Frolics, I teach one animal at at time, appropriate to the season, and just teach that one animal frolic set with explanations and commentary relevant to the specific wild animal, healing benefits, history, Five Elements, healing sound, seasonal aspects, natural history, etc.    

I began my study and practice of Taijiquan and Qigong in 1986, and Yoga in 2001.  Over the years, I learned the Animal Frolics from numerous instructional media (DVD or VHS), books, from instructors, at workshops, and from personal practice.  I have been teaching Taijiquan and Qigong since 2000, and yoga since 2004, in Red Bluff, California.  This webpage on the Five Animal Frolics has been online since 2003.  In 2008, I attended a two-day Five Animal Frolics workshop taught by Kenneth Cohen in Sacramento, California. 

Please read my own Disclaimer regarding the alleged benefits of qigong or taijiquan or yoga or walking or gardening.  I'm not trying to sell anything in particular on these webpages, and have tried to be as inclusive and open-minded as possible in my references to books, articles, instructional media, and webpages about the Five Animal Frolics.  You are welcome to be as skeptical, questioning, and critical of the research I am sharing with my many readers around the world.  I welcome your suggestions, additions, comments, corrections, and ideas; and please send them to me via my email.  Hopefully, we will all learn something, enjoy ourselves, improve our own health, and go on to help others improve their health and well-being.   


I believe that the Five Animal Frolics are relatively easy to perform.  On the whole, they are quite safe to practice.  They are suitable for persons of all ages to practice, and can be easily modified for special circumstances and limitations.  They require a low level of cardio-vascular conditioning for performance.  I believe that you will benefit in mind, body, and spirit from the regular practice of the Five Animal Frolics. 

I have read authors, and listened to teachers, who say that you must learn the Five Animal Frolics or another qigong form from a qualified teacher in person to person lessons.  These teachers and experts then go on to tell you a story or two about persons who tried to learn the Frolics on their own and became insane, injured, very sick, or possessed by demons
(Jinn).  Then they relate anecdotes about persons who took direct instruction from a master teacher (usually themselves for a fee, or their teacher for a fee) and were cured of serious diseases, regained their health, and reenergized themselves.  I think it is important to learn from qualified instructors.  However, many master teachers have produced good books and instructional DVDs on the subject of the Five Animal Frolics that you can easily learn from in an efficient and effective manner.  You are far more likely to go insane, or get injured, or get very sick when you do nothing but sit on your butt all the time.  If you wanted become a successful Power Lifter (i.e., maximum weight squat, dead lift, and bench press) I would strongly recommend direct person to person instruction and spotting from a qualified trainer, considering the dangers of Power Lifting.  Learning the Animal Frolics, on the other hand, is relatively easy, quite safe, and lots of fun; and, a good instructional DVD is quite sufficient, and less expensive, when other alternatives are not available.

Always beware of glowing testimonials and uplifting anecdotes about the benefits and/or curative powers of any exercise regimen.  Identifying casual relationships is a difficult scientific task.  Try the exercise and see how it works for you.  Do you enjoy the exercise and perform the exercise regularly?  What is your state of mind, your energy level, your level of happiness?  Are you stronger, more active, and more flexible?  Are your minor aches and pains diminishing?  How do your checkups with your physician go?  This exercise activity is about YOU and not about what happened to John Q. Public from Kokomo, Indiana or Hong Kong, China.  Persons with a serious disease will have a very difficult time in weighing treatment and exercise options and sometimes throw caution and skepticism to the wind, relying more on hope than on more scientific and evidentiary approaches. 

Again, please read my own Disclaimer regarding the alleged benefits of qigong or taijiquan or yoga or walking or gardening. 











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