Five-Animal Play

The Bear of the Five-Animal Play

Question 10

What are the additional benefits for students who have already the skills, for example, to generate an energy flow, to go into self-manifested-chi-movements, to activate a cosmic shower or any other advanced skill, by learning the Five Animals Play?

Could you please explain the processes or rather reasons which lead to these additional benefits?

Sifu Roland Mastel


One obvious benefit is to know another famous art invented by a famous master.

Five-Animal Play is a very famous set of chi kung exercise. The inventor, Hua Tuo, was a very famous physician and chi kung master. Even if there were no other benefits, knowing a famous art invented by a famous master is sufficient reason to learn it.

At the very least, when someone asks, “Have you heard of Five-Animal Play?” we can answer, “Yes, not only I have heard about this very famous chi kung, but have learnt it.”

When someone asks, “Have you heard of Hua Tuo?” we can answer, “Yes, not only I have heard about this great master, known as the Sage of Chinese Medicine, I also have practiced the set of chi kung exercises invented by him to promote health and longevity, known as Five-animal Play.”

But there are other benefits, more practical than merely having practiced a famous art invented by a famous master.

Five-Animal Play was the seminal art for what is now called self-manifested chi movement. In other words, from what chi kung books and classics tell us, there were no external chi flow movements manifested from chi kung techniques before Five-Animal Play was invented. But since its invention and subsequent practice, practitioners manifested chi flow movements externally. Over centuries these outward chi flow movements became more and more vigorously, and today this type of chi kung practice has become a genre known as self-manifested chi movement.

It is worthwhile to note that while chi flow manifested externally is common in our school, it is rare in all other schools except those schools that specially practice a genre of chi kung called self-manifested chi movement. These schools that specially practice self-manifested chi movement are uncommon. We do not specially call our type of chi kung, self-manifested chi movement or Five-Animal Play. We call our chi kung Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung, and self-manifested chi movement and Five-animal Play are two types of our extensive repertoire.

It is a great benefit to know both the starting point and the concluding point (at the present moment) of this great genre of chi kung. By comparing the start and the completion, or tracing its development, we can get benefits that we may not be aware of at the moment, but will prove to be very useful when the relevant situations arise.

When Five-Animal Play was popularly practiced in the past, it was more known for maintaining health and for curing diseases. Hua Tuo’s students who practiced Five-Animal Play were recorded to have strong teeth and sharp eyesight even at 90!

We have, I believe, brought Five-Animal Play, or its modern equivalent, self-manifested chi flow, to a new higher level. While maintaining its excellent health promoting quality, we have used it to overcome so-called incurable diseases, a great benefit, I believe, not available in the past, or at least not highlighted as we do now.

Practicing Five-Animal Play will enable us understand the reasons, and to experience the processes of this remarkable development. Practicing Five-Animal Play will lead to chi flow that is manifested as external movements. Depending on conditions of various internal organs and meridian systems, these external chi flow movements are manifested differently, and can be classified into five major types.

Movements resembling those of a bird are related to the heart, of a deer are related to the liver, of a monkey are related to the spleen, of a tiger are related to the lungs, and of a bear are related to the kidneys. When many people perform Five-Animal Play at the same time, like during the coming Barcelona course, we can assess how valid is this philosophy.

If there are variations of differences, we can also find out from direct experience, what are the reasons. In this way, we can enrich both our understanding and practice of not only Five-Animal Play in particular but also chi kung as the whole. This is an invaluable benefit we can derive from taking part in the Five-Animal Play course in Barcelona. We become history in the making – for our own benefit as well as the benefit of posterity.

From the thematic dimension of chi flow, i.e. different types of chi flow due to different organ or meridian systems, we progress to the holistic dimension, i.e. chi flow for holistic health instead of specific organs or meridians. In other words, we progress from being concerned that chi flow movements resemble those of a bird or a bear, thus indicating or overcoming problems at the heart or the kidneys, to generating a holistic chi flow for health, vitality and longevity. We do not need to know what diseases our students or patients suffer from. As long as they have a good chi flow consistently, they will overcome their diseases, whatever they may be. If they are already healthy, they will have vitality and longevity.

Those who already have the skills to generate an energy flow or to go into self-manifested chi movement, have the benefits at the concluding end of this chi kung development. Those who learn the Five-Animal Play will have additional benefits of understanding and experiencing the source or beginning.

There is a debate still going on regarding whether Five-Animal Play refers to exercises imitating movements of five animals, or chi flow movements manifested from chi kung exercises. In other words, do the five animals refer to the cause or the effect of the art.

In the coming Five-Animal Play course in Barcelona, I shall employ both approaches. I shall teach exercises imitating movements of the five animals, and see what type of chi flow movements will be manifested and how these movements relate to the health conditions of the participants. Those attending the course will have additional benefits of understanding more deeply and from direct experience the reasons and processes involved in overcoming illness and promoting health, vitality and longevity. The coming Five-Animal Play course in Barcelona will be both educational and enjoyable.

Five-Animal Play and Other Chi Kung in Barcelona 8-11 May 2014

Questions on Five-Animal Play – Overview

The questions and answers are reproduced from the thread Hua Tuo’s Five-Animal Play - 10 Questions to Grandmaster in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.

Five-Animal Play

Chi flow, which is characteristic of Five-Animal Play, is the essence of chi kung