Opening & Closing in Cloud Hands

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    Hi all,

    Am exploring the second variation of opening & closing in Cloud Hands as in intermediate program month 3 (video EATC_Qigong_03_11). I feel good doing the first version ( closing as both hands come to the middle and then opening as one hand up and one hand down, and as is explained in the video this version feels fairly straightforward ( at least as can be for this stuff :)

    In the second variation I find I have clearest connection always opening on the arm that is pushing down and closing with the arm that is up, I seem to be able to get some sense of stretch between the two, and a sense of dual control, opening and closing at the same time doing it that way. My question is simply whether I should stick with that, or should one alternate, sometimes opening with the upper hand and closing with the lower ??

    Both make sense to me, leading with the lower hand, opening, feels stronger and the most logical, but also being able to reverse it (like changing directions in circling hands) makes sense too. Is there any particular guidance on this?

    Hope the question makes sense





    Hi Nick,

    “In the second variation I find I have clearest connection always opening on the arm that is pushing down and closing with the arm that is up…”

    At 1:46 of that video Bruce points to the closing arm. I could be wrong, but it is the opposite of what you describe. My guess is you feel this more clearly because you feel the stronger contraction of muscle that is required to lift the arm up and you’re mistaking it for closing. Opening and closing is not the relaxing and contracting of skeletal muscles.

    Good luck puzzling through this.




    Hi Nick,
    You seem to have followed the instruction wrongly.
    The first version is when both hands come to gather, everything closes i.e. both hands go into closing mood. When the hands separate (goes up and down) it becomes open and so the down hand is also in open mood.

    The second version is when both hands carry out opposite action, and the hand that goes up is opening while the hand going down is closing. The up hand don’t do closing because that is not natural.Going up is expanding and to close the hand joints here don’t make sense.Watch the video carefully. Even in language, we say opening up and closing down.
    You ask whether the up hand can be open, well, I think it should be open.

    Bruce commented in another video that yoga tends to make unnatural body posture to work the prana (chi) whereas qigong seek natural body movement and posture. They are not only natural, they are beautiful like dance and children can do them more naturally then adult. Qigong doesn’t act against what the body does not normally do. It follows what the body is designed for.

    Sometimes it can be confusing. Enjoy yourself.



    Hi James & Daniel,

    Thanks for clarifications and inputs


    I went back to Month 1, session 12 and the instruction is clearer for me there re Cloud Hands, that in the second option the downward hand is closing and the upward opening…so am going to play with that.

    On the muscular stuff,… It could well be part of the sensation, but have been feeling good and fairly clear with progress so far sensing opening closing from shoulder blades, elbows and hands etc- – My sense of closing when going up was more of a pull inwards down the arm back towards the shoulder unit.

    By stronger , I think I mean that the downward movement felt like it was driving the upper rather than the other way round (sort of taken from the D&T info in the same video..which explains my original question and the directional ambiguity…see below)


    The 1st Month 1 video (session 12) on opening & closing for Dragon and Tiger/ / Cloud Hands may explain some of the blending that occurred in my practice. In the first half just before the Cloud Hands he is dealing with D&T- Bruce very clearly says “as you are closing to pull energy up and you are pushing to send it back down to your fingertips …..On the way up you are pulling chi up and closing your joints and on the way down you are pushing chi down and opening your joints”…….

    so I I’m not 100% convinced that the directions are quite as definitive as you suggest….check out that video and see what you think.

    As with all of these things it is clarity probably comes when I’m ready :)

    Either way my main focus is on embedding the beginner option method as a way to explore opening and closing- which I don’t think I’m confused about: “close to middle open to the side”….just exploring the second option for play.

    I appreciate the help….the discussion helps progress

    Any further thoughts from anyone welcome.





    Hi Nick,
    You are right about the D/T but remember that the hand is doing lifting and pushing as in qigong exercise. Opening and closing will then become different if the person is intending to bend and stretch the hand.

    My impression in cloud hand is that it is a bend and stretch dynamic. The hand stretch out and project out energy. It is about the left side of the body open or closes against the right side. This is a martial art movement.
    Maybe your interpretation of Bruce video is correct, he is quite brief in this part of the video. Hope we have something later that make it clearer.
    Maybe treating it as a pushing and lifting energy for cloud hand is perfectly good as a qi exercise.



    Bruce tells the story of Chen Man-ching’s dream of doing Tai Chi with no arms.

    I find Bruce’s treatment of opening and closing the shoulder blades
    Just forget the arms and hands.

    Last night at an Inn in Walla Walla, Washington I did Tai Chi in the swimming pool.
    Arms and hands really just float.
    Exhaling lets all body parts sink.

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