A Method in Trainin the Five Relaxing Exercises

by Dean Cudmore

Grandmaster Huang's 5 relaxing exercises are an education in themselves. Although we introduce them all in the first year, they are generally only comprehended externally, while the internal processes are experienced later.


Five Year Program
The series of 5 exercises can be considered as a course, with the significance changing appropriate to the years of practice. Generally the time spent on the  whole routine totals half an hour, ten minutes on the exercised being emphasised and five minutes on each of the remainder.


During the first year, the large external movements, and the combination of turning simultaneous to a complete weight transfer  (as practised repeatedly in the 1st exercise), greatly encourages the necessary "letting go" of tense muscle groups, and increases the "turn-out" (opening) of the hip joints and mobility in the shoulders. 


In the first year the 2nd exercise is practised with the focus on physically releasing and rebounding from the ground up, continuously lowering or raising the body height, unaffected by the actions of the arms. In year two you can begin to incorporate the mental sinking and  the associated melting sensation from the crown down. The 2nd exercise without the complication of shifting or turning, later provides an ideal opportunity to train the leading with the mind.


Up until year three, the 3rd exercise would mainly be worked to maximize the "turn-in" (closing) of the hip joint as necessary for postures such as roll-back and wave-hands like clouds. By that time it would become possible to incorporate sinking into a smaller movements without the reliance of weight shifting to recognise substantiality change (remembering that with number 2 you pivot about the central axis with the centre of gravity remaining in the middle). Theories such as cross alignment could then be relateded to here. 


Whereas in the first few years the sequence of number 4 exercise might have been repeated twice to practise the drawing back of the arms, in year four this should double. More focus can then be placed on the upper body opening and closing from the centre, following the release or rebounding from the base. 


By year five the vertical circle would have some relevance, and a compression would have developed naturally, ready to be issued. The legs should also have conditioned sufficiently to cope with ten to fifteen complete forwards and backwards movements and as many front foot "heal and toes". (At this stage the number 4 can be reverted to being repeated just twice). 


Come year six we begin to include all the elements into all the exercises beginning with exercise number 1, the spiralling commences the second cycle...


Teaching Rate
The relaxing exercises are introduced from the very first class, one per week (in conjunction with one Form posture), and are gone through in sequence at the beginning of each class.This establishes a good "wind-down" from the students' daily lives with the repetitive nature and rhythm of the exercises greatly assisting in the calming down of the mind. If students arrive late to a class we prefer them to go through each exercise, even if briefly, before joining the group.