Shaolin Temple Chi Kung
18 Buddha Hands Qigong, Shaolin Temple Chi Kung, Eighteen Hands of the Luohan

 十八 罗汉 气功   Shi Ba Lohan Gong,  Eighteen Luohan Chi Kung, Eighteen Hands of the Luohan, Lohan Chi Kung

Introduction     Bibliography     Links     Quotes     Notes     Lessons     Videos

Chinese Health Exercises (Daoyin, Qigong, Chi Kung), Inner Energy-Spirit Arts

Yi Jin Jing Chi Kung (Muscle and Tendon Changing Qigong)

Ba Duan Jin Chi Kung (Eight Section Brocade Qigong)

Animal Frolics Qigong     Zhang Zhuang Standing Meditation     Luohan Qigong

Cloud Hands Blog     Valley Spirit Qigong

Research by 
Michael Garofalo

© Valley Spirit Qigong, Green Way Research, Red Bluff, California, 2011-2012
By Michael P. Garofalo, All Rights Reserved.



Qigong:  The Valley Spirit Way





Introduction to Shaolin Temple Luohan Qigong

Note:  This webpage is under development and will be completed by the Summer of 2012. 


The essential insights and tenets of the Buddhist religion were formulated and taught by Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, in India.  The Buddha lived from 563-483 BCE.  By 200 BCE, there were many written scriptures for the Buddhist religion in both the Pali and Sanskrit languages, e.g., The Dhammapada Sutta.   

Buddhist missionaries traveled from India to China as early as 220 BCE.  The City of Luoyang in Henan Province in China is especially known for early Buddhist translators, teachers and temples.  The first Buddhist Temple in China, the White Horse Temple in Luoyang, is recorded as being built in 68 CE.  By 150 CE, many Buddhist scriptures had been translated into Chinese.

By 500 CE, the Chan (Zen) School of Buddhism, also became influential.  It used direct experience, seated meditation, challenging koan practice, One Vehicle philosophy, austerities, and used the Lakāvatāra Sūtra and the Diamond Sūtra as its principle texts.  One Chan Buddhist master, Bodhiharma (Da Mo), circa 525 CE, is the source of many legends related to his spiritual and physical conditioning involvement with the monks at the Shaolin Temple in Henan Province.  The Shaolin Temple has traditionally been associated with vigorous physical training, qigong, meditation, Chan philosophy, and martial arts (Kung Fu).   

Before the 20th Century, the practices and methods of Qigong (Energy Work, Jing/Qi/Shen kungfu, internal mind-body exercises), also written in English as "Chi Kung," was known by many other names.  It was called Daoyin 導引 (Tao Yin), which means “guiding and stretching.  It was called Yangsheng Zhi Dao, 養生, or Daoyin Yangsheng Gong, which mean "life nourishing ways."  All of these methods were basically Chinese calisthenics, breathing practices, and visualization methods intended to improve fitness, restore good health, improve one's chances for longevity, regulate internal energies, integrate with Nature, increase vitality, clear the mind, and contribute to moral uprightness. 

The native religion of China, Daoism, and the native social philosophy of China, Confucianism, antedate the arrival of Buddhism by over 300 years.  These three viewpoints have often conflicted with one another, with Buddhism often characterized as a "foreign" influence, and at other times the three schools have blended together as in Complete Reality Daoism.  The Daoist scholar, Livia Kohn, has researched the history of Taoist and Chinese medical practices using exercise methods as a cornerstone.  There is documentation back to 200 BCE regarding these practices, although specific movement descriptions are often lacking.  Clearly these Daoist Daoyin practices and secular medical exercise methods for health and longevity influenced and were influenced by the qigong and martial arts practices of Buddhists at places like the Shaolin Temple.  Numerous other authors, listed above, have explained the intertwining and cross fertilization of the related qigong practices of the Buddhists, Daoists, and traditional Chinese medicine doctors: Liang Shou-Yu, Yang Jwing-Ming, Andy James, and Kenneth Cohen. 

In the Buddhist religion, there are a group of enlightened holy men who act as guardians and protectors of the Buddhist faithful.  They are called Arhats (Sanskrit) or Luohan (Chinese).  Stories about these liberated and wise holy men had been told since the days of the Buddha.  Statues and paintings of these holy ones and spiritual protectors (the Bodhisattvas), are often found in Buddhist temples and in home Buddhist altars.  A famous set of paintings by the Buddhist monk Guan Xiu, in 891 CE, based on his dreams, and supported by imaginative writings regarding eighteen of the Luohans, became quite popular with Chinese Buddhist believers.     

Luohan Qigong is the "Art of Breath of the Enlightened Ones."  Luohan Qigong, or Lohan Chi Kung, is an system of exercises and breath control for improving your fitness, vitality, energy levels, concentration, poise, and well being.  Combined with seated or standing meditation, Luohan Qigong can also contribute to steady spiritual progress.  Numerous legends attribute the development of the Luohan Qigong methods, and the Muscle Tendon Changing Qigong methods, to the Buddhist leader Bodhidharma (Da Mo, Ta-Mo, Daruma), circa 525 CE, a early advocate of Chan (Zen) Buddhism.  There is little nor no written documentation of Luohan Qigong methods prior to 1880 CE. 

The most thorough written description I have read regarding the relationship of Zen (Chan) Buddhist practices and the Eighteen Hands of the Luohan is found in the Reverend Venerable John Bright-Fey's book The Whole Heart of Zen: The Complete Teachings from the Oral Tradition of Ta-Mo, pp. 173-293.  The critical importance of learning this mindbody practice with a qualified teacher, the benefits of a Master and "Cultivator" relationship, and direct Mind to Mind transmission of insight are thoroughly expounded by Reverend Bright-Fey.  I think this book is essential reading for Eighteen Luohan Hands students. 

A number of reputable martial arts historians (Tang San Sheng, Matsuda Takatomo, and Kang He Wu) have questioned the role of Da Mo in the development of Shaolin martial arts, and have dismissed the stories about Da Mo as the fancies of true believers.  Similar criticisms have been made of the claims of Yang Style Taijiquan followers that the reclusive Daoist Master Chang San-Feng was the founder of Taijiquan, and claims by Wudang Mountain Daoists about Master Chang.  For me, the practice of the contemplative arts is more like a Great Mind-Body-Spirit Tree with many roots and branches (philosophy, religion, medicine, art, poetry, etc.) with thousands of leaves (teachers and practitioners) striving to survive and evolving season after season for thousands of years.  I just keep on practicing and playing, and I don't let the fact that what we might think about ancient history is often largely a function of our selective imaginations, deep desires, ignorance, playing with archetypes, unquestionably following a tradition, and keeping our teachers happy.  It is really more about You and Now, rather than Them and Then.  Or, following Chuang Tzu's awakening thoughts, Da-Mo or Chang San-Feng might just be a dream of mine, or I might just be a dream of the Immortals Da-Mo or Chang San-Feng.  Sometimes, thinking outside the box reveals a lot about ourselves.  Open your mind and smile. 

One of the first books on the subject of Luohan Gong was written by the Master Fan Xu Dong (1841-1925).  He was a Kung Fu Master who had studied for awhile at the Shaolin Temple.  His descriptions and illustrations of the Luohan Gong then practiced at the Shaolin Temple were influential in the Shaolin Kung Fu community. 

I have noted elsewhere the similarity of the Eight Section Brocade Qigong to the first eight movements of the 18 movement Luohan Qigong form.  However, the Luohan Gong flows from one movement sequence form/posture/exercise to the next form without repeating a form. 

My research into the texts, instructional DVDs, and webpages on the Luohan Qigong have revealed to me that the exercise movements and sequences vary considerably from teacher to teacher of "Luohan Qigong."  New learners should not be discouraged to find that the Luohan Qigong movements learned from one teacher are not the same as those taught by another good teacher.  The way I look at the matter is that there are hundreds of Luohans working in support of the Buddha and we should celebrate the diversity and good efforts by these holy men and women to help people stay healthy and vital, follow the Way, and do good in the world.  Eighteen Buddha Hands are good, and Eighteen Hundred Buddha Hands are even better. 







Luohan Qigong
18 Buddha Hands Qigong, Shaolin Buddhist Chi Kung, Eighteen Hands of the Luohan
Bibliography, Links, Resources


Above the Fog   Taoist and Zen poetry by Mike Garofalo.

Alphabetical Index to the Cloud Hands Website

Arhat (Chinese: Luohan) - Wikipedia    

The Arhats (Lohans) from the Chinese Theravada Perspective 

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. 
0804834393.  VSCL. 

Authentic Shaolin Martial Arts 

Authentic Teachings of Shaolin Qigong.  By Sifu Dan Freeman.  Create Space, 2008.  78 pages. 

Awaken the Dragon: Chi Cultivation Techniques.  by Dr. Michael Steward Sr.  Trafford Publishing, 2006.  378 pages.  ISBN: 1412019338. 

The Bodhisattva Warriors.  The Origin, Inner Philosophy, History and Symbolism of the Buddhist Martial Art within India and China.  By Shifu Nagaboshi Tomio (Terence Dukes).  Boston, MA, Weiser Books, 1994.  Index, bibliography, extensive notes, 527 pages.  ISBN: 0877287856.  VSCL.   

Breathing Techniques: Qigong, Yoga, Taijiquan 

Chen Style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan 

Chi Kung: Health and Martial Arts.  By Yang, Jwing-Ming.  Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, Yang's Martial Arts Association, 1987.  Glossary and terms.  120 pages.  ISBN: 0940871009.  VSCL. 

Chi Kung (Qigong):  Resources, Lessons, Links, Bibliographies, Guides

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

Chinese Self-Massage and Acupressure

Cloud Hands Blog  By Mike Garofalo. 

Cloud Hands Website:  Tai Chi Ch'uan and Chi Kung 

The Complete Book of Zen.  By Wong Kiew Kit.  Boston, Tuttle Publishing, 2002.  Index, 324 pages.  ISBN: 0804834415. VSCL.   

Damo: Conspiracy of Ignorance   By Chris Toepker. 

Dharma, Qigong and Martial Arts 

Eight Section Brocade Qigong   By Michael P. Garofalo.  Provides information about the history and purpose of this popular Chi Kung practice.  Detailed descriptions are provided for each of the eight movements; including information on movement variations, health benefits, qigong meaning, and cautions.  The document includes the most extensive bibliography, link guide, and comments on Ba Duan Jin Qigong resources available anywhere.  This document is updated as new information is discovered.  This qigong set is the most popular set practiced around the world, and is also known as: 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, Brocade soft qigong (Rou Gong), Eight Treasures inner qigong (Nei Gong), Silk Treasures Qigong, and the first eight Buddha Lohan Hands.  

Eighteen Arhats (Luohans) of Chinese Buddhist Tradition.  This Wikipedia webpage includes a valuable chart of all 18 of the Chinese Buddhist Luohans, with information about their origin. 

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: Bibliography, History, Lessons

18 Buddha Hands Qigong.  Instructional DVD by Larry Johnson.  Produced by White Elephant Monastery, 2005.  55 Minutes. 

18 Buddha Hands Qigong: A Medical I Ching Exploration.  By Larry Johnson, O.M.D., L. Ac..  Creston, Colorado, White Elephant Monastery.  Index, 291 pages.  ISBN: 0924071990.  This book provides a very detailed examination of the I Ching hexagrams in relation to each of the Lohan Qigong forms.  There is a brief description of each form with photographic illustrations.   VSCL. 

18 Lohan Chi Kung.  Instructional DVD by Master Su Yu Chang, 1998.  "Exercises derive from the Shaolin Temple and are related to the Shaolin style Kung Fu and Northern Preying Mastis Kung Fu system.  This Chi Kung is designed to improve the martial arts proficiency which makes it adaptable for persons wishing to increase their prowness in any sport where coordination, strength, balance, and power are important.  Master Su Yu Chang has been in the martial arts for more than 50 years and has been a doctor of Chinese medicine and acupuncture for over 40 years." - DVD cover.  Plum Publications.  "This Ch'i Kung is designed to improve martial arts proficiency through techniques associated with Bone Marrow Cleansing and Tendon Changing Exercises.  In ancient times these techniques were thought to hold the secrets to longevity and possibly immortality. While we can't promise either, we believe that the practice of these exercises should lead to improved strength, balance and power in both martial arts and in any activity where these qualities are important.  Learn to absorb and employ the energy around you.  Learn to improve your ability to relax in stressful situations.  Increase your physical stamina.  Maintain your health and experience a richer and more vibrant quality of life.  These tapes are from lectures and demonstrations by Master Su and his assistant. They are lively, interesting and informative. Plum recommends them for anyone interested in Ch'i Kung specifically from the martial arts standpoint.  Master Su YuChang has been a martial arts practitioner for over 50 years and a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine for over 40 years. He is a former disciple of Grandmaster Liu YunChiao, a world-famous expert in Chinese martial arts. Master Su is also a fine instructor and expert in such styles as Preying Mantis and Ba Ji in his own right. He travels the world teaching principles of Chinese physical culture. Overdubbed in English. A clear and nicely made tape by a top notch expert. His insights into the logic of Ch'i Kung are quite interesting and worth the price of the package."   From a seminar presented in Los Angeles in 1998.  VSCL. 

18 Lohan Kung: Skill of the Realized Ones





Ethical Precepts and Philosophical Tenets of Zen Buddhism  

Five Animal Frolics Qigong

Google Searches:   Lohan Chi Kung, Lohan Qigong, Luohan Chi Kung, Luohan Qigong. 

Greenway Research   Red Bluff, California 

Healing Sounds:  Six Daoist Healing Sounds

Instant Health: The Shaolin Workout for Longevity.  By Shifu Yan Lei.  Yan Lei Press, U.K., 2009.  227 pages.  ISBN: 0956310109.  The author also offers instructional DVDs; The Shaolin Warrior, the Way of Qi Gong.  An oversize book with color photos by Manuel Vason.  Includes theory, stances, stretches, routines, and a Shaolin version of the Ba Duan Jin.  VSCL. 

Law Hon Gong: The Monk's Strength.  By Master John Funk.  Detailed comments on Shaolin breathing techniques used during Luohon Qigong practice. 

Lifestyle Advice for Wise Persons

List of Movements in the Eighteen Luohan Qigong

The Lohan's Place in Buddhism  

The Lohan Qigong System.  Nice explanation of the four levels of Lohan Qigong: "There are four internal forms that were never passed down outside the immediate family circle of the descendants of the Chan Heung.  These are the "Buddhidarma Lohan 18 Hands" ("Lohan Kung" for short), the "Siu Lohan", the "Da Lohan" and the "Wu Chi". Together these four form a complete system of internal Kung Fu to cover the whole range of Choy Lee Fut Qigong skills. We have grouped these four forms under the generic name of "Lohan Qigong", literally "the art of the breath of the enlightened ones".  In its original form Lohan Qigong is an internal set of exercises for cultivating the "three treasures" of Qi (vital energy), Jing (essence), and Shen (spirit). Done regularly it activates the flow of the intrinsic life energy along the meridians, strengthens the internal organs, increases longevity through maintenance of health and vigor of body and mind, exercises the joints and muscles, promotes relaxation and stress management, prevents occupational physical stress diseases, promotes postural awareness and correct posture, and provides the essence and base for many internal and external martial arts."

The Luohan Patting System of Yin Style Ba Gua.  By Xie Peiqi.  Book and instructional DVD. 

Luohan Qigong Portal.  Sifu Gaspar Garcia, M.D..  A world famous qigong and martial arts master.  Dr. Garcia does workshops all around the world.  Dr. Garcia states, "The Luohan system of Qigong (Chi-Kung) is a budhist/medical school of Qigong comprised of four forms or sets of exercises. Although the four forms of the system use relaxation, and the control of the breath and mind to direct the flow of vial energy through the meridians, each one of them has very specific characteristics. These forms are: "Buddihidarma luohan 18 hands" (abbreviated "luohan kung"), "siu luohan", "da luohan" and "wu chi".  Together, these forms make up a whole internal Kung-Fu system covering all the range of choy lee fut qigong abilities. We have given these four forms the generic name of "Luohan Qigong", which literally means "The art of respiration of the enlightened ones".  In its Original form, Luohan Qigong is an internal set of exercises to cultivate the three treasures of the Chi (vital energy), Jing (essence) and Shen (spirit).   If practiced regularly, it activates intrinsic vital energy along the meridians, it also strengthens internal organs, increases ones life expectancy, by keeping good health as well as mind and body vigor, trains joints and muscles, encourages relaxation and stress control, prevents occupational illnesses due to physical stress, promotes posture awareness and a correct posture, and it is the basis and essence of many internal and external martial arts."   {I have seen some instructional videos on UTube by Sifu Garcia, all in Spanish, and I am impressed.  However, I have not found any instructional DVDs, in English or in Spanish, by Sifu Garcia for sale as of 1/2011.  I would prefer instruction in English.  If anyone has such instructional DVDs of Sifu Garcia's system for sale, with instruction in English, please send me an email.  Thank you!!}

Luohan Qigong: Seattle’s Embrace the Moon   They adhere to the Luohan Qigong system expounded by Sifu Gaspar Garcia, M.D. 

Luohan Gong : Shaolin Internal Training Set  "
These five books were later hand copied in Hong Kong by Shifu Huang Han Xun. The original illustrations and calligraphy on Luohan Gong by Shifu Fan Xu Dong was reproduced in Shifu Huang's book in which he added photographs to depict the movements."  "The history of the creation of this book goes back to Master Fan Xu Dong (1841 – 1936).  At the turn the 19-th and 20-th century Fan Xu Dong several times visited Shaolin Temple where he studied heritage of the monastery. That’s what Master Jon Funk writes about it: “Fan made several trips to the Shaolin temple and spent time there researching with the monks. From these trips to the Shaolin temple, as well as his other work with the Seven Star Praying Mantis system, he wrote five volumes titled "The Shaolin Authentic". These handwritten manuals contained concepts on fighting skills, medical information and historical aspects of kung fu.  Contained in one of these five volumes is the eighteen exercises of the Luohan Gong complete with replicas of the original drawings of the Shaolin monks demonstrating the postures of each exercise.” These five books were later hand copied in Hong Kong by shifu Huang Han Xun. The original illustrations and calligraphy on Luohan Gong by Shifu Fan Xu Dong was reproduced in Shifu Huang's book in which he added photographs to depict the movements."

Luohan Quan   Taiping Institute 

Luohan Quan - Wikipedia 

Luohan Quan: The 18 Routines of the Enlightened Ones.  By Salvatore Canzonieri.  Kung Fu Qigong Wushu Magazine, June/July 1997, Article #29. 

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

Magic Pearl Qigong

Master Chan Yong Fa, Luohan Gong, Choy Lee Fut Kung Fu 

Michael P. Garofalo, M.S., Red Bluff, California.  Taijiquan, Qigong, and Yoga Instructor. 


Origins of Lohan Qigong: The History of the Eighteen Hands of the Louhon.  By Tiffany Jones. 

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

Qigong: The Secret of Youth: Da Mo's Muscle/Tendon Changing and Marrow Brain Washing Classics.   By Yang, Jwing-Ming, Ph.D., 1946-.  An Advanced Qigong Regimen for the Serious Practitioner.  Boston, Massachusetts, YMAA Publication Center, 2000.  Index, appendices, charts, 312 pages.  ISBN: 1886969841.  VSCL. 

Qigong:  Resources, Lessons, Links, Bibliographies, Guides 

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

Ripening Peaches:  Daoist Studies and Practices 

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.       

Shaolin and Taijiquan (Medicine) Ball Qigong and Strengthening Exercises 

Shaolin Chi Kung: 18 Exercises to Live a Longer, Happier and Healthier Life.  By Marcus Santer.  He offeres a downloadable book. 

Shaolin Eighteen Lohan Hands.  By Sifu Wong Kiew Kit.  He provides a black and photo photo set for each movement.   Mirror in .pdf format.

Shaolin Lohan Qigong  

Shaolin Qi Gong: Energy in Motion.  By Shi Xinggui.  In collaboration with Eleonore Yogl.  Translated by Ariel Godwin.  Rochester, Vermont, Destiny Books, 2007.  153 pages.  Includes a 53 minute instructional DVD.  ISBN: 9781594772641.  Shi Xinggui began his studies of Buddhism, qigong and martial arts as a monk at the Shaolin Buddhist Temple at the age of 8.  He now teaches in Goldegg, Suatria.  This text emphasizes soft, inner, and healing Qi Gong.  VSCL. 

Shaolin Qigong: Luohan 13 Forms.  Instructional DVD by Master Jesse Tsao.  Produced by Tai Chi Healthways, 2007.  "
Shaolin Luohan 13 Forms is a special training method for inner strength compared with the popular Shaolin external martial arts.  Each of the thirteen forms can be practiced individually.  Combined with deep breathing, it is a good exercise for stress reduction and anxiety release.  It will also improve balance, coordination, and flexibility, and harmonizes your inner energy flow.  Detailed instructions are given in English with front and back views."  Clear explanations with good quality audio recording.  Master Tsao wears a white silk uniform and demonstrates forms against a dark green shrubbery background.  Also includes back view demonstrations while standing on a sandy beach.  Finally, a complete demonstration of the entire routine, back view, beach scene, 4 repetitions of each form (posture/movement) that takes 11:28 minutes.   This is a martial arts Qigong form for intermediate level students. 

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. 

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.    

Standing (Zhang Zhuang) Mediation 

Strength Training for Seniors  

Sun Style of Taijiquan

Taijiquan - Cloud Hands Website 

Temple Qigong   

Valley Spirit Qigong   Guides, Lessons, History, Bibliography, Links.  By Mike Garofalo, Red Bluff, California.





Videos, UTube: Eighteen Luohan Qigong

Howard Choy, Louhan Qigong, 18 Paumes de Buddha.  UTube, 2:31 minutes.  Sifu Choy also uses sounds as part of the routine. 

Las 18 Manos de Luohan, by Sifu Javier Marcos.  UTube, 10:54 minutes. 

Luohan Qigong.  Demonstration and lecture by Master Chen Yong Fa.  UTube, 5:36 minutes.  In Chinese. 

Luohan Gong, Dr. Gaspar Garcia: Las Manos de los 18 Luohans.  UTube, 3:53 minutes.  In Spanish. 

Master Chen Yong Fa teaching DVD series Lohan Qigong Chi kung 十八羅漢功.  UTube, 2;32 minutes. 

Qi Gong, 18 Manos de Lohan.  Demonstrated by Dao Feng.  UTube,

Shaolin Qigong: Louhan 13 Forms Qigong.  By Master Jess Tsao.  UTube, 5:44 minutes.  In English. 





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. 

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.  One of my favorite books: comprehensive, informative, practical, and scientific.  VSCL. 

The Ways of Walking: Quotes, Bibliography, Links, Resources  

The Whole Heart of Tao: The Complete Teachings from the Oral Tradition of Lao-Tzu.  By John Bright-Fey.  Crane Hill Publishers, 2006.  376 pages.  ISBN: 1575872471.  The Reverend Venerable John Bright-Fey, Sifu Fey, is the 12th generation lineage holder of the Blue Dragon Order of Esoteric Zen Buddhism, a distinct line of knowledge descended directly from Shaolin Temple. VSCL. 

The Whole Heart of Zen: The Complete Teachings from the Oral Tradition of Ta-Mo.  By John Bright-Fey.  Crane Hill Publishers, 2006.  296 pages.  ISBN: 1575872331.  The Reverend Venerable John Bright-Fey, Sifu Fey, is the 12th generation lineage holder of the Blue Dragon Order of Esoteric Zen Buddhism, a distinct line of knowledge descended directly from Shaolin Temple.  This book includes a good discussion of the Zen Buddhist philosophy underlying the "Hands of the Saints," and a brief description of each movement and associations, and the scripture "Sermon on Mind to Mind Transmission" plus commentary from pages 171-290.  Review of Book by Ned Mudd.  VSCL.  The Reverend John Bright-Fey teaches at the New Forest Center for Contemplative Living in Birmingham, Alabama.  List of movements in John Bright-Fey's version of the 18 Lohan Hands. 

Wudang (Taoist) Qigong 

Yang Style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan

Yi Jin Jing Qigong (Muscle/Tendon Changing Qigong): Bibliography, Links, Resources, Lessons.   By Mike Garofalo. 

Zen Poetry

Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma.  Translated with an introduction by Red Pine.  Port Townsend, Washington, Empty Bowl Press, 1987. 

The Zen Site  

Zhang Zhuang Standing Mediation



Return to the Index for this Webpage


                                  Nine of the Eighteen Luohan






Luohan Qigong
18 Buddha Hands Qigong, Shaolin Buddhist Chi Kung, Eighteen Hands of the Luohan   
Quotations, Sayings, Information, Lore




"Eighteen Luohan Qigong is a 1,500 year-old set attributed to Bodhidharma, a bodhisattva (luohan) of the 6th century, 28th patriarch of Buddhism in India and founder of the Chan (Zen) “meditative” school in China.  He is said to have taught the Luohan exercises to the monks of the Shaolin Temple to improve their health, enhance their strength and flexibility, and fortify their internal energy with the goal of deepening meditation.  According to tradition, this set forms the basis of Shaolin gongfu.  The exercises are dynamic yet calming and invigorating in the Daoist tradition of “dao yin,” with a subtle undertone of yoga asana, revealing their historic roots."
Magic Tortoise Taiji School   



"In the Shaolin tradition, a distinction is made between inner, soft Qi gong and outer, hard Qi Gong.  Inner Qi Gong serves for healing body, soul and spirit and keeping them healthy.  By regulating breathing and blood flow, it strengthens the internal organs, frees them from old energies and blockages, and helps them refill themselves with fresh energy.   Outer Qi Gong is practiced in combination with the martial arts, making one impervious to external influences such as blows and punches (so-called iron-shirt Qi Gong).  It can only be taught be specially trained instructors, otherwise serious bodily injury can result."
Shi Xinggui, Shaolin monk 



"The Hands of the Saint are eighteen movement activities carefully designed to bring increasing levels of coherence to the bodymind of the Zen Cultivator.  As this coherence is achieved, the movements themselves trigger intuitive insight into the nature of consciousness and the self.  Each of the eighteen exercises is a condensed experience of the many layers of Zen allowing the Cultivator to fully embody the entire philosophy.  As a whole, the activities are:

In addition, Tao-Mo's eighteen exercises represent a collection of inner and outer spiritual skills possessed by a Bodhisattva warrior."
-   John Bright-Fey, The Whole Heart of Zen: The Complete Teachings from the Oral Tradition of Ta-Mo, p. 182.   



"Luohan (罗汉) is a term originating from Buddhism and is called Arhat (अर्हत) or Arahant in sanksrit and pali respectively.  It is used in Chinese Buddhism to describe a practitioner which had a higher level of attainment or pre-enlightenment but has not become a Boddhisattva, or a Buddha. The Luohan are also considered semi-saint like and are often as disciples of Guatama Buddha who were instructed to await the coming of the Matreiya (future Buddha).  Depending on the sutra (Buddhist Scripture) there are between 4-16 Luohan in early Indian and Tibetan texts. After the Ming Dynasty, 18 Luohans were part of Chinese Buddhism.    The first reference of the 16 Luohan dates back to 891 AD, when a monk Guan Xiu painted portraits of the Luohan.  During that time Buddhists had undergone a period of persecution from the Emperor Tang Wuzong and a group of faithful had taken the Luohan as guardians at the time. One of the oldest known statues of such depiction are from Yixian county, Hebei Province.  The Luohan in their original depictions prior to entering the Chinese Buddhism, did not have the emotional and differentiating characteristics that would be endowed upon in the future. In fact many held the Luohan with great reverence and even the Emperor Qianlong from the Qing Dynasty visited the Guan Xiu paintings (stored at the Shengyin Temple, Hangzhou) and was said to admire them greatly.  He even wrote a set of eulogy for each of the Luohan which influenced the depiction until this day."
Luohan Quan - Taiping Institute



"Tang San Sheng's findings (1930) are further supported by the work of Matsuda Takatomo in his book "An Illustrated History of Chinese Martial Arts," published in 1979. Matsuda revisits original sources as well as work done by Tang Hao and Xu Ze Dong. He reports that the Classics were supposedly published in 628 and yet according to all findings, the oldest available copy was published in 1827, leaving a gap of approximately 1,200 years. During this millennium and more, many books were published concerning Shaolin martial arts. For example, "An Overview of Shaolin Pole Techniques," the "Fist Classic," and "Collections of the Spirit Hall." Oddly, none of these works mention Damo and stranger still Matsuda reports that the words "Marrow," "Washing," or "Classic," are not to be found among their pages at all. Even books that cover Buddhist history and lineage report only that "Damo lived in Shaolin and sat in Chan meditation all day and all night," without any mention of a "Marrow Washing Classic." Mr. Matsuda notes that during the Ming and Qing dynasties, it was very common for writers to attribute their works to long-dead, well-respected authors so that the piece would gain authenticity. He therefore contends that late Ming or early Qing dynasty martial artists borrowed Damo's name in order to increase their own popular support and power.  Finally, "A Practical Guide to Chinese Martial Arts," written by Kang He Wu in 1991 reviews the history of discovery, including Tang Hao's work. In addition, he quotes monks interviewed in 1927 that report an oral tradition that the fist techniques that now comprise Shaolin kung fu were brought into the temple during the Song and Yuan dynasties. Before that, Shaolin techniques were reported limited to staff fighting. In any case, Mr. Kang also concludes that Damo is not the founder of Shaolin martial arts."
-  Chris Toepker, Damo: Conspiracy of Ignorance



"Ever since the practice of Energy Yoga (Buddhist Qigong) and the doctrine of the Chan (Zen) tradition of Buddhist Dharma were introduced into China by the Great Indian Master Bodhidharma (Damo) to the monks of the Shaolin Monastery to strengthen their body, mind and spirit in the pursuit of Buddhist studies, the fusion of Buddhist Meditation, Qigong (Tsa Lung) and Martial Arts have evolved into a unique branch of Dharma practice that focuses upon the attainment of a state of Unified Oneness of the Single-Pointed Equipoise of Chan Meditation with that of the Physical Discipline of Energy Yoga and Martial Arts - a process which is characterized by the heightening of insightful awareness of the true state of reality and the realization of one's original nature.   The ultimate goal of the practitioner of Buddhist Dharma is to generate the Awakening Mind of Compassion and Mindfulness with which the greatest benefit for the greatest number of sentient beings can be realized. This journey of awakening begins with the embracing of discipline over the body, speech and mind which leads to the stability of these three doors of expression. Without the stability of body, speech and mind it is not possible to bring harmony to oneself.  Without harmony in oneself it is impossible to bring peace to the world."
Pathgate Institute of Buddhist Studies



    "The history of the Eighteen Hands of Lohan, according to The Center of Shaolin Studies, traces back to the illustrious founder of Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism, Bodhidharma or Da Mo (448-527 CE). Legend has it that in the 6th century, the Indian monk Da Mo settled at the Shaolin Temple in Henan province and devised exercises to increase the health and well-being of the resident monks. He is purported to have written two books, one of which still survives today, entitled Yi Gin Ching (Book of Muscle Development).   Lohan Qigong has its roots in the moment when Buddhism and Yoga of India converged with the ancient teachings of China.  Bodhidharma's legendary ability to create exercises and health inducing visualisations has far reaching effects to the present day in the form known as the 18 Hands of Lohan.
    Dr. Yang Jwing Ming, in his book Chi Kung, writes that the Shaolin monks ‘have trained using the Da Mo Wai Dan exercises’ for more than 1400 years. The founder of Choy Lee Fut, Chan (or Chen) Heung studied with a Shaolin monk in the early 1800s (Choy Fook).  In 1836, Chan Heung established the kung fu school of Choy Lee Fut.  Along with Chinese martial arts from both the Northern and Southern Shaolin Temples, Choy Lee Fut embraces and teaches Lohan Qigong, as passed down through the generations by Damo. 
    The Centre of Shaolin Studies describes the Lohan Form (the Art of Breath of the Enlightened Ones) as ‘an internal exercise that uses movement and breath control to manipulate the flow of Chi along the body's meridians. It is both a physical and mental exercise. Inwardly, it is taught to cultivate the "three treasures" of qi (vital energy), jing (essence), and shen (spirit).’ It also trains the physical body to be healthy, strong and flexible.  Darryl Choy, of the Choy Lee Fut Association of Sydney Australia writes that there are 'four Lohan Qigong sets forming a comprehensive system of progressively more advanced techniques' that lead to mastery of one's energy or chi/qi. 
    Michael Garofalo, an independent online researcher, writes ‘Kung Fu master, Sifu Wong Kiew-Kit, referring to the Shaolin Wahnam style, says "the first eight Lohan Hands are the same as the eight exercises in a famous set of chi kung exercises called the Eight Pieces of Brocade."  He adds ‘there are numerous versions, seated and standing, of Bodhiidharma's exercise sets’ and some of them include four levels of attainment.  There is a distinct similarity between the form of Lohan Qigong and some of the variations of the Eight Pieces of Brocade. However, the Lohan Form is a continuous flow of movements that can take a beginner seven or eight minutes to complete, whereas the Eight Pieces of Brocade are literally eight separate exercises that one must repeat a set number of times.  Rather than take away from the authenticity of the Lohan Form, the similarities reinforce the beneficial and therapeutic nature of the exercises themselves as their popularity with teachers and students through the ages attests."
Tiffany Jones  The Origins of Luohan Qigong



"A Shaolin monk took eight groups of the most powerful movements from these two forms [Yi Jin Jin and Xi Su Jing].  This form is called Ba (eight) Duan (best) Jin (movements) or The Eight Treasures.  This is the form that is taught in this book.   When my Master transmitted it to me he told me it was one of the most powerful Qigong forms for health.  Since coming to the West, I have seen many different interpretations of the Eight Treasures.  This version is the Buddhist form that I was taught at the Shaolin Temple, which I have authenticated against the ancient Shaolin books."
-   Shifu Yan Lei, Instant Health: The Shaolin Workout for Longevity, p. 41. 



"Some Chinese accounts describe Bodhidharma as being disturbed by the poor physical shape of the Shaolin monks, after which he instructed them in techniques to maintain their physical condition as well as teaching meditation. He is said to have taught a series of external exercises called the Eighteen Arhat Hands (Shi-ba Lohan Shou), and an internal practice called the Sinew Metamorphosis Classic.[51] In addition, after his departure from the temple, two manuscripts by Bodhidharma were said to be discovered inside the temple: the Yi Jin Jing or "Muscle/Tendon Change Classic" and the Xi Sui Jing. Copies and translations of the Yi Jin Jing survive to the modern day, though many modern historians believe it to be of much more recent origin.[49] The Xi Sui Jing has been lost.[22]

While Bodhidharma was born into the warrior caste in India and thus certainly studied and must have been proficient in self-defense, it is unlikely that he contributed to the development of self-defense technique specifically within China. However, the legend of his education of the monks at Shaolin in techniques for physical conditioning would imply (if true) a substantial contribution to Shaolin knowledge that contributed later to their renown for fighting skill. However, both the attribution of Shaolin boxing to Bodhidharma and the authenticity of the Yi Jin Jing itself have been discredited by some historians including Tang Hao, Xu Zhen and Matsuda Ryuchi. This argument is summarized by modern historian Lin Boyuan in his Zhongguo wushu shi as follows:

As for the "Yi Jin Jing" (Muscle Change Classic), a spurious text attributed to Bodhidharma and included in the legend of his transmitting martial arts at the temple, it was written in the Ming dynasty, in 1624, by the Daoist priest Zining of Mt. Tiantai, and falsely attributed to Bodhidharma. Forged prefaces, attributed to the Tang general Li Jing and the Southern Song general Niu Gao were written. They say that, after Bodhidharma faced the wall for nine years at Shaolin temple, he left behind an iron chest; when the monks opened this chest they found the two books "Xi Sui Jing" (Marrow Washing Classic) and "Yi Jin Jing" within. The first book was taken by his disciple Huike, and disappeared; as for the second, "the monks selfishly coveted it, practicing the skills therein, falling into heterodox ways, and losing the correct purpose of cultivating the Real. The Shaolin monks have made some fame for themselves through their fighting skill; this is all due to having obtained this manuscript." Based on this, Bodhidharma was claimed to be the ancestor of Shaolin martial arts. This manuscript is full of errors, absurdities and fantastic claims; it cannot be taken as a legitimate source.[49]

The oldest available copy was published in 1827[52] and the composition of the text itself has been dated to 1624.[49] Even then, the association of Bodhidharma with martial arts only becomes widespread as a result of the 1904–1907 serialization of the novel The Travels of Lao Ts'an in Illustrated Fiction Magazine."
- Bodhidharma - Wikipedia  



"According to oral tradition, Ta-Mo’s arrival into China’s rich culture introduced him to various forms of qigong, Taoist philosophy, and numerous healing arts. As a member of India’s ksatreya (warrior) class, Ta-Mo was already adept at various fighting skills (natas) that doubled as spiritual cultivation technologies. Upon his discovery that the monks at Shaolin were overly focused on quietude, to the point of being physically out of shape, Ta-Mo melded indigenous qigong with his knowledge of a nata known as “ashtada-savit-jaya” in order to reshape the energetics of his student’s body/minds. Thus was born Ta-Mo’s Eighteen Hands.
    Sifu Bright-Fey says, “on the occasion of the very first introduction of the Eighteen Hands to the members of the Shaolin Temple, more than half of the monks in attendance achieved sudden awakening.” The good news is that “The Whole Heart of Zen” expounds not only the direct pointing of Ta-Mo’s teachings (via a series of cantos), but the Eighteen Hands (qigong), as well. Of course, reading about transformative movement is one thing, tasting it is another.
    As Ta-Mo would likely bark: “No reliance on words or letters!”      
-  Sifu John Bright-Fey, The Whole Heart of Zen             



"With the example of the Lohans being saintly figures who were also martial artists, the Shaolin monks named their unique brand of soft/hard boxing "Lohan Ch'uan." Originally, the style was composed of one set of loose techniques, the "18 Routines of the Lohan" (routines meaning "patterns"). During the next few hundred years, at least 18 forms were developed for this style. By the end of the Ming Dynasty, a long Lohan Ch'uan (Quan) form developed that had 18 "lu", or roads, with three sections each, making 54 sections in total. These are the names of the original 18 Lohan (in Pinyin with a loose literal translation of their names):

1. Xiang Long (Descending Dragon)
2. Yi Duo (Move Much)
3. Da Mo (Reach Touch -- also Mandarin name of Ch'an sect founder Bodhidharma)
4. Mou Lian (Eye Link)
5. Fu Hu (Ambush/Tame Tiger)
6. Nan Kan (Difficult Endure)
7. Dao Wu (Way Understand)
8. Zhi Gong (Good Public Works)
9. Bu Dai (Cloth Sack -- also name of Shaolin founder)
10. Li Feng (Power Wind)
11. Kai Xin (Joyous/Open Heart)
12. Bu Qiu (Not Demanding)
13. You Po (Excellent Old Woman)
14. Liang Wu (Rafter Fighting -- also Liang's Way of Fighting)
15. Fei Ren (Flying Vibration -- weapon)
16. Jin Shi (Enter Lion)
17. Jin Deng (Enter Lamp)
18. Chang Mei (Long Eyebrow)."
-   Lohan Ch'uan: The Eighteen Routines of the Enlightened Ones, by Sal Canzonieri



"The Shaolin Eighteen Lohan Hands are fundamental chi kung exercises that can bring tremendous benefits if they are practiced as chi kung. Over the years, I have successfully used selections from the Eighteen Lohan Hands to help many people overcome illness, including so-called incurable diseases.  But if they are practiced as physical exercise, which is often the case nowadays, naturally the practitioner will only get the benefits of physical exercise. The crucial difference between chi kung exercise and physical exercise lies not in the outward form (which can be the same for both types of exercise), but in the internal dimensions of energy and mind. If one does not know what these internal dimensions are, it is unlikely that he (or she) has practiced chi kung, although he may have performed the outward form for years.  At the Shaolin Monastery, these Eighteen Lohan Hands evolved into a kungfu set called “Eighteen Lohan Fist”, which forms the prototype of Shaolin Kungfu today. Nevertheless, the Eighteen Lohan Hands continued to be practiced as chi kung exercise.  Because of its long history, there are many versions of the Eighteen Lohan Hands being taught today."
-   Shaolin Eighteen Lohan Hands, by Sifu Wong Kiew Kit



"The Luohan Gong is a profound, ancient, and rich historical system of health and spiritual cultivation. The system dates to approximately 527 AD, when Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen (Ch'ang) Buddhism, created the foundation form, The Hands of 18 Luohan, as a way of strengthening his disciples (the monks who later became the monks of the Shaolin Temple) for the physical and spiritual rigors of seated meditation. The system evolved over time to include three other layers, the Siu Luohan, (pron. sue low-han) or “small’ Luohan), the Tai Luohan (pron. die low-han, - or “big” Luohan) and the Wuji (pron. woo-jee – “Great Void”). Each of these practices combine knowledge from Indian and Chinese sources, observations of nature and animal behavior, as well as Bodhidharma's intuition and insight, yet have very different characteristics and functions. Whereas they all use the body, breath and mind to move energy (qi), The 18 Luohan focuses on using the body, the Siu Luohan emphasizes the breath as the fundamental mechanism to move energy, and the Tai Luohan utilizes the mind. The Wuji is an advance martial arts form combining all the aforementioned skills with struggling techniques. Each of these practices cultivates the three treasures: Jing (power) Qi (energy) and Shen (spirit) and results in tremendous improvement in overall health and well-being."
What is the Luohan Qigong?



"The “18 Subduings” essentially consist of 18 classical sets of mudra (ritual symbolic gestures or Hand Moves of the Arahants) each of which were combined with respiratory patterns, steps, muscle tension and relaxation, and specific meditation themes. The “18 Suduings” were said to contain three levels of understanding and meaning (Sanskrit: Trisatyabhumi), each relating to the mind, body and speech analysis. Once transplanted in the Chinese Buddhist traditions the three levels became known as “San Chin or San Chan” (Three Battles or Three Graspings).
    The “Three Battles or Three Graspings” indicated the battle of mind, body and speech undertaken by the trainee esoteric monks. The predominant way of placing the body to represent the “Three Battles” is now known as the “San Chin Posture or ritual gesture”. This posture is also known as “San Ti” by Ba Gua Zhang (Eight Trigram Boxing) and Xing Yi Chuan (Mind-Form Boxing) practitioners. San Chin is distinct from many other forms of body posture used for defensive purposes. When wearing the monk’s robe, it is the only posture in which the position of the legs is completely invisible to an observer. It is the only posture taken from the outer shape of the Vajra (Thunderbolt) and physically embodies the triangulation of physical and mental harmony and balance. When in this posture, the body is segmented into five elemental levels, each being composed of three equal degrees of torsion. Symbolically, these form three complete “jewel” shapes representing the Buddha (One Who is Awake), Dharma (The “Law” or totality of the principles realized by Buddhas and taught to mankind), and Sangha (“Congregation” or group of followers). The balancing of the tripartite torsion, both in the outer muscles and the inner organs maintains a composite pattern of physical power maintained by the body. Although totally stilled, the posture is capable of initiating instant response to external conditions. It is only posture from which a monk can immediately sit or stand from the cross-legged meditation position.
    Many contemporary Chinese and Korean temples contain Arahant Halls where lifelike statues of the original 18 Arahants stands each representing one the original ritual gestures. They may be hundreds of years old and represent many different races and cultures. Supposedly, these 18 Ritual Gestures forms the cornerstone of the Chinese martial disciplines and their derivatives. The modern Shaolin Tradition claims that their “Luo Han Shi Ba Shou (Luo Han 18 Hands)” is the first Hsing (form) of the Shaolin tradition. There is also the Korean “Ship Pal Gi (18 Weapons or 18 Hands) probably taken from the original Chinese name for the “Subduings”, Shi Pa Luo Han Shou. In my opinion, neither of these versions bears any resemblance in practice or representation to the original 18 Ritual Gestures depicted by the 18 Arahants. The 18 Subduings was taught as a Nata (an ancient Buddhist term describing the earliest form of the art of ritual movement practiced for spiritual purposes, and used by Vajramutiki practitioners in India). The ritual movement made up of Mudras (a ritual gesture or pose assumed by a part or all of the body in order to invite, evoke, express, sanctify, or convey a principle or power of the forces involved in Enlightenment. Mudra may be performed singly or in sequences). This was the early beginnings of what we now know as Hsing (Chinese), Kata (Japanese), and Hyung (Korean). Mudras, Nata, and Pratimas forms the corner stone and building blocks for what we now know today as Martial Arts (Mu Sool). These are in fact sequences of preset, patterned movements originally drawn from ancient Indian (Hindu) warrior skills involving particular attitudes and orientation of mind, breath and body based on Buddhist principles. It is used as a means of neutralizing attacks without harm to those involved, and as a “self-unraveling” moving meditation capable of being explicated at many different levels of understanding."
The 18 Luo Han Monks 


"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 dynastuy (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





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                    An Arhat (Luohan)






Luohan Qigong
18 Buddha Hands Qigong, Shaolin Buddhist Chi Kung, Eighteen Hands of the Luohan
Routines, Forms, Exercises  


List of Movements of the 18 Luohan Qigong: 


Source One:   Shaolin Eighteen Lohan Hands by Sifu Wong Kiew Kit

1.    Lifting the Sky  
2.    Shooting Arrows 
3.    Plucking Stars 
4.    Turning Head 
5.    Thrust Punch  
6.    Merry-Go-Round 
7.    Carrying the Moon  
8.    Nourishing the Kidneys  
9.    Three Levels to Ground 
10.  Dancing Crane  
11.  Carrying Mountains  
12.  Drawing Knife 
13.  Presenting Claws  
14.  Pushing Mountains  
15.  Separating Water  
16.  Big Windmill  
17.  Deep Knee Bending
18.  Rotating Knees   


Source Two: 18 Buddha Hands Qigong: A Medical I Ching Exploration by Larry Johnson, O.M.D., L. Ac. 

1.  Immortal Salutes with Folded Hands  
2.  Warrior King Lifts the Cauldron  
3.  Thrust Flowers to Left and Right  
4.  Old Tree Sturdy Roots  
5.  Night Demon Searching the Sea  
6.  Flash Parry Open Window  
7.  Wait'o Presents Stick 
8.  Old Monk Meditates  
9.  Iron Cow Ploughs Earth  
10.  Green Dragon Wags Its Tail  
11.  Vault a Horse Left and Right  
12.  Swallow Flings Water   
13.  Tiger Near Body  
14.  Confine Circular Force  
15.  Father and Son Salute  
16.  Fluttering Carp  
17.  Jung Li Presents Cape  
18.  Hang Bottle with Golden Hood    


Source Three:  18 Lohan Chi Kung by Master Su Yu Chang, D. TMC, Acp., 1998. 

1.  The Immortal Salutes 
2.  The Titan Lifts the Giant Cauldron 
3.  Nailing Flowers Left and Right  
4.  Roots of the Ancient Tree Curl Up 
5.  The Demon Searches the Sea  
6.  To Open the Windows and Let the 
7.  The Guardian Saint Offers His Weapon 
8.  The Old Monk Meditates 
9.  Iron Cow Plows the Soil 
10.  The Green Dragon Undulates His Tail  
11.  Maneuvering the Horse Left and Right 
12.  The Swallow Skims the Water  
13.  The Fierce Tiger Leaps Over the Cliff
14.  The Lohan Stretches His Back 
15.  The Titan Offers a Drink  
16.  The Carp Jumps Over the Water
17.  To Lift the Robe to Climb the Horse
18.  The Bottle Hangs from the Golden Hook 


Source Four:  The Whole Heart of Zen: The Complete Teachings from the Oral Tradition of Ta-Mo.  Reverend Venerable John Bright-Fey

The Eighteen Hands of Ta-Mo, Hands of the Saints, Eighteen Victorious Subduings, Eighteen Hands of the Saint 
From: The Esoteric Zen Way and Priests of Hidden Zen 

1.  Standing Upright and Sinking, Void Stance, Buddha's Posture  (p.219)  
2.  Pushing Palm, Fearlessness of Thought  (p.220) 
3.  Pushing Sky and Mountains  (p.220) 
4.  Uprooting Mountains  (p.221)  
5.  Dragon Twists His Waist, Turning the Great Wheel, Dragon's Gesture   (p.224) 
6.  Dragon Kicks the Earth, Toe Kicking   (p.228)  
7.  Dragon Soaring Towards the Heavens, High Kicking   (p.228) 
8.  Dragon Hooks His Leg   (p.232) 
9.  Dragon Sweeps the Earth   (p.232)  
10.  Young Tiger Flexes Claws, Golden Leopard Reveals Claws   (p.238)  
11.  Pushing Mountain Tops, Pressing Mountain Tops   (p.241)  
12.  Tiger Straightens Its Waist   (p.247)  
13.  Wild Goose Beats Wings   (p.248) 
14.  Bend the Bow and Embrace the Tiger   (p.252) 
15.  Reaching Forward to Grab the Tiger, Tiger Playing with a Ball   (p.260)  
16.  The Dragon Thrashes Its Tail   (p.270) 
17.  The Dragon Strikes Out   (p.270)  
18.  Tathagata Turns Around and Views the Universe, Pivot the Mind and Push Forward, Thus-Gone and Thus-Perfected Buddha   (p.274)   


Source Five:  Shaolin Qigong: Luohan 13 Forms.  Instruction by Master Jesse Tsao. 

1.  Luohan Chops Wood 
2.  Luohan Drapes on Coat 
3.  Luohan Lies on Pillow  
4.  Pushing Mountain 
5.  Wind Blows the Lotus Leaves 
6.  Raise the Flog Pole 
7.  Striking Fists 
8.  Tiger Holding Head 
9.  Striking Palm 
10.  Luohan Luo 
11.  Snake Tongue 
12.  Place Incense 
13.  Luohan Lan    



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             An Arhat (Luohan)






Luohan Qigong
18 Buddha Hands Qigong, Shaolin Buddhist Chi Kung, Eighteen Hands of the Luohan

Lessons, Instructions


Note:  This webpage is under development and the Luohan Qigong Lessons will be completed by the Summer of 2012. 


Some General Suggestions, Observations, and Notes on Luohon Qigong practice: 


1.  Teachers. 

Some people will be fortunate enough to learn Luohan Qigong from a knowledgeable instructor or a real master of the art.  Personal instruction is always the first and best choice for learning a Qigong mind-body art.  Those training in Shaolin Kung Fu systems will have a better chance in learning a Luohan Qigong system. 

Many qigong and internal martial arts enthusiasts will not be able to learn Luohan Qigong directly from a teacher because of where they live, their financial limitations, and their work and family responsibilities.  Therefore, they will need to seek out and utilize other learning opportunities. 

I am already quite familiar with the Eight Section Brocade Qigong and its many variations.  I first learned this popular qigong form in 1986, and have practiced it for many years.  A few qigong instructors have noted some similarities with the Eight Section Brocade Qigong movements and some of the first eight movements of the Luohan Qigong.  However, the Lohan Qigong version I have studied closely, that by Master Su Yu Chang, is a vigorous martial arts and fitness conditioning Qigong style and not similar to the popular and gentle Eight Section Brocade Qigong forms that I have used or seen practiced.      

Since I live in a rural area of Northern California, and no Luohan Qigong or Kung Fu instructors teach in my area, and since my financial resources are quite limited due to retirement, I began my study and practice of Luohan Qigong in February of 2011 by first using the instructional DVD produced by Master Su Yu Chang:

18 Lohan Chi Kung.  Instructional DVD by Master Su Yu Chang.  This is a video recording of a seminar conducted by Master Su Yu Chang in Los Angeles in 1998.  "Exercises derive from the Shaolin Temple and are related to the Shaolin style Kung Fu and Northern Preying Mastis Kung Fu system."  The video is focused and in color.  Fortunately, the producers did a good English language voice over recording by a English speaking woman.  The movements are explained clearly and thoroughly, with front and side demonstrations of each movement.   


2.  Self-Massage. 

Most versions of Luohan Qi Gong and Shaolin calisthenics include various self-massage techniques involving rubbing or patting specific areas of the body.  Learning about Chinese massage techniques, self-massage techniques, and acupressure techniques would be a useful adjunct to the Luohan Qigong exercises. 


3.  Quiet Meditation. 

Taoist and Buddhist Qigong systems strongly recommend periods of quiet meditation.  Often the meditation is done while sitting quietly.  Silent sitting is highly recommended, and is a essential practice in Zen Buddhism.  Some Qigong teachers recommend standing meditation or Zhang Zhuang.  You can practice sitting with others, but everyone will remain silent.  Silent sitting is often done after the Luohan Qigong exercise set is completed.  Also check out my notes on Daoist Zuowang Meditation


4.  Breathing. 

Luohan Qigong is sometimes referred to as the "Art of Breath of the Enlightened Ones."  

The Reverend John Bright-Fey talks about Shaolin Zen Masters teaching "eighteen breathing patterns" in the Eighteen Hands of the Saint system. 

For beginners, I would recommend using using natural, diaphragmatic breathing.  Gently breathe in through the nose.  Slowly take in as much air as you can as the belly relaxes, the diaphragm lowers and relaxes, and the chest lifts, opens, and expands.  Pause at the end of the inhale.  Then gently and slowly exhale as your belly is gently drawn inward, the diaphragm rises, and the chest lowers and relaxes.  Exhale through the nose or though lightly parted lips.  Exhale completely.   Pause at the end of the exhale.  Maintain a steady and even breathing rate, exhaling and inhaling at the same pace.  This is sometimes called "belly breathing."  Let the steady even breathing calm and settle the mind.  Don't force things - try to be natural.  Many teachers recommend that the tip of the tongue gently rest on the roof of the mouth where the hard and soft palate meet.  

Each exercise in the set will also have specific breathing requirements to coordinate with the movement patterns. 

Attention to our breathing is like an anchor we can use to secure us in the present moment, bring us back to the here and now, and enable us to be fully present.   Numerous Buddhist scriptures and commentaries provide extensive discussion about the use of correct breathing practices to clear the mind, facilitate concentration, and help the believers attain liberation.  The Vipassana style of Buddhist meditation makes breathing a cornerstone of mindfulness practices leading to insight.   

The Chinese word "Qi" or "Chi" also means air, breath, breathing, gas, energy, life force.  The Sanskrit word "Prana" in classic yoga also means breath, breathing, energy, life force.  

For more information on breathing during the practice of Luohan Qigong (Law Hon Gong) read the comments by Jon Funk "Law Hon Gong: The Monk's Strength." 

A good general introduction to Yoga breathing methods can be found in:  The Yoga of Breath: A Step-by-Step Guide to Pranayama.  By Richard Rosen.  Foreword by Rodney Yee.  Illustrations by Kim Fraley.  Boston, Shambhala, 2002.  Index, notes, 304 pages.  ISBN: 1570628890.  Both Raja and Hatha Yoga make use of varied methods of breathing (Pranayama - Regulation of the Breath) to enable us to rise to higher stages of consciousness.  The great Shaolin Zen Master, Da-Mo, grew up and was educated in India, and was familiar with Yoga practices; and, like the Buddha, was also a member of the warrior caste, and educated accordingly.   

Check out my notes on breathing on my webpage titled:  Breathing Practices: Yoga, Qigong, and Tai Chi Chuan.  


5.  Visualizations. 


6.  Verbalizations, Mantras. 


7.   Zen (Chan) Buddhist Philosophy  

    The best book I have read that discusses Zen Buddhist philosophy and practices relative to the 18 Buddha Hands Qigong is The Whole Heart of Zen: The Complete Teachings from the Oral Tradition of Ta-Mo, by the Reverend Venerable John Bright-Fey, 2006, pp. 171-294. 



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© Michael P. Garofalo, Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Qigong, Red Bluff, California
© Green Way Research, Red Bluff, California, 2011

The information on this webpage was first published on the Internet on January 6, 2011

The webpage was last updated or changed on March 27, 2012


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