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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Twelve Stances of Yi-Jin-Jing (The Tendon-Altering Sutra) Part 1

Yi-Jin-Jing (Tendon-Altering Sutra), or 易筋经 in Chinese, is a famous Kung Fu from the Shaolin Temple School of Martial Arts. It is probably one of the most famous ancient Kung Fu manuscripts thanks to Mr. Jin Yong (Louis Cha), who used the  Kung Fu manuscript in the story plots in two of his well-received Wuxia (Martial Heroes) novels: Smiling Proud Wanderer, and Demi-Gods and Semi Devils. It is considered one of the two top Kung Fu skills of Shaolin alongside the Xi-Sui-Jing (Marrow-Cleansing Sutra).

Both the Tendon-Altering Sutra and the Marrow-Cleansing Sutra were said to be granted to the Shaolin Temple by Bodhidharma (达摩), the monk from ancient India and the founder of the Zen school of Buddhism in China. The two manuscripts supposedly contained breathing and meditation techniques that can turn a normal person into a top-notch Grandmaster of martial arts.

Of course Mr. Jin Yong had greatly exaggerated the power of the Tendon-Altering Sutra in his storytelling, but the manuscript was not a mere fabrication of the author and really existed. You can actually download the manuscript from the Internet. Following the exercises described in the manuscript can certainly improve one's well-being. The only problem is that the manuscript is in Chinese. So a fan of my SPW translation asked me if I could translate the manuscript into English. I thought it would be fun for all my readers to get a real sense of what the Tendon-Altering Sutra is all about, so here you go!

Note that there are many different variations  of the Tendon-Altering Sutra, each slightly different from one another. I just picked one of them to translate, and the videos might show slightly different movements. I picked this set of video because the guy in the video actually explains everything in English. Besides, he is just a funny guy! Enjoy!

The Twelve-Stances of Yi-Jin-Jing (aka Tendon-Altering Sutra)


预备式身体正直站立,脚尖外撇,两脚与肩同宽。 周身放松,澄心敛神。 两臂自然下垂,紧贴两大腿外侧,下颔微收,两眼半睁半闭。 做三次深呼吸。

Preparation Stance

Stand upright, slightly point toes outward, and keep feet shoulder width. Relax your entire body, clear your heart, and keep your mind focused. Let arms hang naturally and keep them close to the outside of your thighs. Tighten your chin slightly. Keep your eyes half closed half open. Take three deep breaths.

身体正直,两脚跟靠拢,两脚尖外撇,成小八字形。 两臂向前缓缓举起,手心相对,与肩同宽。 举至肩平屈肘成90度角,立掌,同时吸气。 而后缓慢合掌于胸前,同时呼气臆想四肢之气调入胸中,定式后静停一分钟。

1st Stance: Skanda[1] Presenting the Vajra Pestle

Stand in an upright position, keep two heels close, and slightly point toes outward like the Chinese character eight. Keep arms shoulder width, slowly raise arms forward, palms facing each other. Raise arms until they are at shoulder height, fold forearms inward so each elbow is at a 90-degree angle. Bent palms backwards while breathing in. Then slowly put palms together in a prayer position in front of your chest. Breathe out at the same time and imagine that you are directing inner energy flows from your limbs into your chest. Hold the position for one minute.


接上式,身体不动,两臂缓缓下落,并逐渐分手。 两手落到丹田时稍停片刻,再下落时分向两侧,经大腿外侧向上成俯掌侧平举,两脚跟提起。 手臂下落时要意沉丹田,平举时气随手行入掌心。 呼吸自然,心平气和。 定式后静停一分钟。

2nd Stance: Shoulders Carrying the Demon-Subduing Vajra Pestle
Continue from the last stance, slowly lower two arms without moving the body and gradually move arms outward. Stop briefly when your two hands reach the Dan-Tian (lower abdomen) region. Then lower your hands while moving them outward and let your hands move past the outer side of your thighs before bringing your arms upwards on the sides with palms facing down. Raise your arms until they are even with shoulder height. Raise your heels to stand on your toes. When lowering your arms, you must submerge you mind into the Dan-Tian region. When raising your arms on the side, direct the energy flow from each arm into the center of your palm. Breathe naturally and maintain a peaceful and calm mind. Hold the position for one minute.

[1] Skanda is a Bodhisattva in Buddhism scriptures.

The video below shows you how the above-translated stances are executed, demonstrated by Mr. Bruce Wen, a Shaolin monk (I couldn't verify that). It's one of the many videos on the Internet demonstrating the stances of the Tendon-Altering Sutra. It's actually slightly different from the version I translated, but this is the only one with detailed explanations in English.

Watch out for the remaining stances translated in my future blog posts.

The Twelve Stances of Yi-Jin-Jing (The Tendon-Altering Sutra) Part 2

Video of the Day:

I Googled Mr. Bruce Wen and found this very interesting video below, in which he demonstrated how to get rid of your useless yellow page phone book and spare metal bars. (Disclaim: Don't try this at home or anywhere else!) Enjoy!