The Five Animals Play is a very famous set of Qigong exercises. The inventor, Hua Tuo, was a very famous doctor and Qigong Master. Hua Tuo is honored as a sage of Chinese medicine. He successfully performed brain surgery when bleeding was the main and often the only medical treatment in Europe.
There are two schools of thought regarding the techniques of The Five Animals Play. According to one school, which was orthodox until the appearance of the second school quite recently, Hua Tuo observed the movements of the bird, deer, monkey, tiger and bear, and used these movements as techniques for his Game of the Five Animals.
Chinese doctors discovered that these five animals, which were different from the five animals in Shaolin Kungfu, were related to various organs, as follows. The bird is related to the heart, the deer to the liver, the monkey to the spleen, the tiger to the lungs, and the bear to the kidneys.
Recent archaeological discoveries in China took a different approach to The Five Animals Play. The findings suggested that the different animal forms did not refer to the exercises Hua Tuo taught patients or students, but to the Qi flow movements as a result of performing the exercises. Hua Tuo could teach the same exercise to a group of patients, but depending on the components of his body due to his illness, the resulting Qi flow movements were different.
There were innumerable different movements, but all of them could be generalized into five representative types, symbolized by the bird, the deer, the monkey, the tiger, and the bear. This is the approach we use at our school.
Next, I will show you the Five Animals Play as taught in our school Shaolin Wahnam Institute.
The energy of the heart, or its counterpart, the small intestine and its meridians, that is, the heart meridian and the small intestine meridian, as well as the pericardium, the triple heater meridian, the pericardium meridian and the triple meridian heater, results in Qi flow movements that resemble a bird.
The energy of the liver and its counterpart, the gallbladder and its meridians result in Qi flow movements that resemble a deer.
The energy of the spleen and its counterpart, the stomach, and its meridians result in Qi flow movements that resemble a monkey.
The energy of the lungs and its counterpart, the colon and its meridians, results in Qi flow movements that resemble a tiger.
The energy of the kidneys and its counterpart, the urinary bladder and its meridians result in Qi flow movements that resemble a bear.
The Five Animals Play was the fundamental art of what is now called Self-Manifested Qi movement. In other words, from what Qigong books and classics tell us, there were no external Qi flow movements manifested by Qigong techniques before the Five Animals Play was invented. But since its invention and later practice, practitioners manifested Qi flow movements externally.
Over the centuries, these external Qi flow movements became more and more vigorous, and today this type of Qigong practice has evolved into a genre known as Self-Manifested Qi movement.
When The Five Animals Play was popularly played in the past, it was best known for maintaining health and curing disease. Hua Tuo students who practiced the five animal game were recorded to have strong teeth and keen eyesight even at 90!
I believe we have taken the The Five Animals Platy or its modern equivalent, the Self-Manifested Q movement, to a new higher level. Maintaining its excellent health promoting quality, we have used it to overcome so-called incurable diseases, a great benefit, I think, not available in the past, or at least not prominent as we do now.
I have taught the The Five Animals Play to children with different conditions, mostly emotional, due to having been victims of abuse of all kinds and the results have been satisfactory in helping to heal both physical and emotional wounds.
In my opinion it is a great way to introduce children to genuine Shaolin Arts, for general health and wellness.