Patting is a straightforward form of Chinese Massage Therapy for keep-fit enthusiasts falling into the category of External (Wei Dan) Qigong. Its effects can be somewhat more profound than simple skin rubbing approaches in the treatment of underlying conditions. Patting helps to strengthen the bones and tendons, encourages the development of muscle-tissue, lubricates joints, enhances the circulation of the blood and improves the metabolic functions. Patting, when applied to the torso, can improve the functions of the internal organs.
The exercises involve oneself only and the participatory activity thus generated leads to patting being considered superior to and more effective than ‘passive massage’ (i.e. massage which is performed upon you by third parties). After such exercises the body feels ‘lighter’ and more comfortable and the consciousness feels clearer. For more advanced or ‘serious’ patting enthusiasts a number of simple technical aids exist including sand and rice-bags.
Sample Patting Exercises
These can be performed with the palm, bottom of the fist or the simple equipment mentioned above. The exercises can be performed both walking and standing by assuming the following body positions.
1. Patting the Head
Drop your shoulders and elbows and smile. With your left palm pat the left-top of your head from front to rear 50 times then repeat the exercise 50 times with your right palm on the right-top similarly. Next do the same to the right and left sides of your head, keeping your mind calm and your breathing natural throughout.
Regular practice prevents and treats dizziness, headaches and deficiencies in blood supply to this area.
2. Patting the Arms
Using the same starting instructions pat each of the four sides of the left arm with the right palm from top-to-bottom 25 times in sequences of 5×5 to make 100 ‘pats’ in all before repeating the same sequence with the left palm on the right arm.
Regular practice prevents and treats poor muscle-growth of the upper arm, cyanosis of the lower arm and partial paralysis of the arm.
3. Patting the Legs
Standing erect, raise the left leg until it is at right angles to the right leg, using a chair, rail, fence, table or other convenient object for this purpose. Pat the leg on all four sides from thigh to foot in similar 5×5 sequences as outlined in 2 (above) then repeat the exercise with the other leg. When patting in sequences go from light to heavy within each round.
Regular practice prevents and treats numbness and lack of feeling in the lower limbs, maldevelopment of the leg muscles (and their paralysis and partial paralysis) and can help remedy certain walking difficulties (1).
(1) See ‘Keep Fit the Chinese Way’ by Hu Bin, Foreign Languages Press Beijing, for more detailed instructions.
Peter Allsop M.Ed., Shaolin Kung Fu and Qigong Teacher in Sheffield U.K. is a Senior Student of Grandmaster Yap Leong and Area Coach for his HYL (Health, Youth and Longevity) Energiser Qigong Programme. Iron Shirt and Longevity Training, 5 Elements Qigong are amongst the many Chinese Health and Fitness strategies that really work.