Baoding Balls in the Movies

Sometimes our visitors have told us they saw baoding balls in a movie or show. It’s interesting to see famous actors using baoding balls. Here are some of the movies that baoding balls have been spotted in. If you have seen baoding balls in other movies or shows, let us know!

Tron: Legacy (2010)

Jeff Bridges as Clu using Clu balls to control gravity. This is a cool baoding ball design with the lighted stripe around the center.

Boyz n the Hood (1991)

Laurence Fishburne using some large baoding balls while having a father and son chat.

The Caine Mutiny (1954)

Humphrey Bogart using small pocket sized baoding balls throughout this classic movie as Capt. Queeg. This is a famous courtroom scene.

Using Baoding Balls With Your Feet

Did you know that baoding balls could be used with the feet? You can use them in a similar way as foot massage balls. When you’re working at your desk and your hands are busy, your feet can be busy also! Here are some ideas you can try out when your hands are busy.

Foot Reflexology Chart

Foot Reflexology – The feet, just like with hand reflexology, have certain areas that are linked with your organs. While you are sitting at your desk, place the balls on a carpet floor. If your floor is hard, place a towel, blanket, or a mat under the balls so they don’t roll away too easily. Then with the baoding ball under your foot, use your foot the roll the ball back and fourth. Then roll the balls in a circular motion. You can also place 2 balls next to each other and try to control both at the same time roll them forward and backward. Repeat the exercises with your other foot or at the same time in a rhythmic motion. This will stimulate those acupressure points in your feet.

Foot Massage – For sore feet or restless legs, you can do the same rolling exercises described in foot reflexology, but take it one step further. In this step you place the baoding ball against the bottom or side of your foot and use your other foot to press and roll the ball against it. Massage

Dexterity Training – You can practice different exercises and patterns maneuvering the balls with your feet. Try different combinations of movements going clockwise, counterclockwise, two feet at the same time, using the toes, using the heel, and switching back and fourth. Then you can try using the balls with your feet at the same time as your hands for an even greater challenge.

Baoding balls are mainly used for the hands, but sometimes its good to switch things up and doing some exercises or massage with the feet is something you can try. You might find that it helps!

Grip Training with Baoding Balls

There’s no better validation that baoding balls are a great tool for building grip strength than from a world record setting grip strength strongman named John Brookfield. Some records he hold are bending 520 penny nails in 1.5 hours and ripping 100 deck of cards in 2 minutes 15 seconds. And by the way, Mr. Brookfield wrote the book on hand and grip strength in his books “Mastery of Hand Strength” and “The Grip Master’s Manual“.  

There are several common names for baoding balls and in Grip Master’s Manual, he calls them dexterity balls. If you found this article looking to improve your grip strength but are not familiar with dexterity balls, they are two or more metal balls you rotate in your hands to build strength and dexterity. To the beginner the easiest method would be to rotate two hollow balls in a clockwise direction with your right hand and a counter-clockwise direction with your left hand. Other than the normal ball rotation exercises, some of the techniques he suggests aims to make rotating the balls harder. First you can try rotating the balls with your palm in a vertical direction. And if you can do that, rotate the balls with your palm facing down. As you can imagine, you will have to be gripping and rotating the balls at the same time so they don’t fall which takes great endurance and control. Once that is mastered, you do things to make the exercise even harder by moving up to heavier balls, adding more balls, and rotating the balls without touching.

From his book, he writes: 

The method that I have developed with these balls will make your hands much stronger even if you’re not doing any other grip training at all. When I have been practicing the following system that I invented, every aspect of my hand strength has gone up, even though I have not been doing any other hand exercises at that time.”

Although his system is just his own routine of training with the balls, the underlying foundation is the same of baoding ball exercises used for centuries. One of the reviewers of this book personally experienced the grip strength phenomenon after getting sick. He was a rock climbing enthusiast and could not go to the climbing gym or workout. However, he had read John’s book and was able to work his hands with the dexterity balls while recovering for 2 weeks.  After he recovered, he was surprised the rock walls he struggled with before became much easier and he was moving on to the hard walls he could never attempt before. His grip strength which was weak and failing on easy walls after a small amount of climbs was now holding strong.

Baoding balls are not the only gadget out there for building grip strength, but they would make a good addition to your collection of things to develop grip strength. The 1.5″ solid stainless steel baoding balls would make a good starting point as those ball are versatile in doing various exercises and are small enough to do the exercises with the palm vertical and facing down. The weight of solid steel is also beneficial.


Using Baoding Balls to Enhance Tai Chi

If you are a student of Tai Chi you will be aware of the many ways in which the hands, wrists and fingers are employed when practicing the movements and forms. There is always a reason why a particular hand movement is included in a routine and this is usually for the health benefits that such movements bestow upon the practitioner. For example, the locked wrist and tight fingers of the “bird’s beak” which occurs in so many forms, and is an important part of the “Single Whip” movement, is believed to be very beneficial in the prevention of arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.  Flexibility is at the core of the practice of Tai Chi, and this extends to every single muscle, joint, ligament, and tendon. Tai Chi’s approach to health works on the premise that your hands and feet are as important as your spine and hips when it comes to maintaining good health. This balanced principle is identical to the way baoding balls work so if you are having good results with baoding balls or Tai Chi, it should make sense to explore the other.

A good reference to have is a hand reflexology chart. By strengthening the wrists with the use of the balls you are also working the lumbar region of the spine. Increasing the flexibility of the fingers with baoding balls will benefit your sinuses, eyes and ears, and the increased stimulation of the meridians in the hand will have a therapeutic effect on the digestive tract, liver and lungs. As you can see by being able to target the areas of the hand, you can amplify and enhance the effectiveness of the Tai Chi forms you use for those same areas.

Baoding balls can be integrated into your Tai Chi routines quite easily. No matter which form you are learning you can adapt the hand movements so that the balls stay in the palms of your hands. Whenever there are “open palm” movements within a routine, you can use the baoding balls to aid you in maintaining the correct hand position. After you are able to hold the balls while doing the Tai Chi, start to rotate the balls at the same time. It takes practice as not all forms will be conductive to rotating balls.

Most Tai Chi Forms were developed to act beneficially on particular aspects of our health, such as Dr Paul Lam’s Arthritis and Diabetes Forms. Older forms draw their inspiration from the animal kingdom and mimic animal movements in some way to bring the qualities of that animal into the human realm, so that we find the movements associated with birds such as the goose or the crane, focus very much upon the graceful movements of arms, wrists and fingers. Wild Goose is a particularly good example of this and if you have ever seen it performed by a group of people in perfect synchronicity you will agree that it is as beautiful as the best of ballet performances. Using baoding balls to increase both strength and flexibility in the fingers, palms, and wrists will add to the effectiveness of such movements in your own practice.

Qigong with Baoding Balls

Qigong forms and exercises are very much focused on the inner workings of the energy lines or meridians which run throughout the body. Regular practice of qigong brings many benefits, as students will already know. Qigong is gentle yet powerful and increases the body’s flexibility, stamina and resistance to disease. It helps to calm the mind and to relieve anxiety, tension and stress in a natural way. The goal is always to bring the body’s systems into harmony and balance because it is this balance that confers good health. If you are familiar with the concept of Yin and Yang you will already know that the two forces are always in a state of flux and that for every action there is an opposite reaction. Regular practice of qigong gives you the tools your body needs in order to restore balance between the two forces.

Baoding balls can be a useful addition to your qigong practice in many ways. The movement of the balls mimics the constant state of movement in the energy channels, or meridians, as Chi moves throughout the systems of the body. You may also be familiar with the expression “Sick Chi”, meaning any feelings of discomfort or negativity that you would like to let go. Stagnant Chi, according to the principles of traditional chinese medicine and qigong, will bring illness and disharmony, whereas healthy, life-giving Chi is fluid and in a state of perpetual movement. Holding the baoding balls during your preparation time at the beginning of a qigong session serves to remind you to focus on fluidity in all things. Manipulating them as you sit or stand quietly, breathing deeply and rhythmically in qigong style will help to amplify the beneficial effects of your breathing by stimulating the meridian points in the hand.

The lung and large intestine meridian runs from the thumb to the collar bone, meaning that the action of manipulating baoding balls both stimulates and supports these organs. The thumb is of course the most important of the digits in the human hand and receives a good workout when you manipulate baoding balls. Stagnant Chi can be shifted by moving the affected area of the body, and in the same way, the action of the baoding balls on the fingers, wrists, and palms of the hand helps to open up the meridians, clear the energy channels and release any blockages.

Qigong is also referred to as “moving meditation”. Conventional meditation requires the body to be still so that the mind can follow and find its own stillness. In contrast, qigong meditation involves the conscious and deliberate movement and placing of parts of the body. Meditation with baoding balls incorporates smooth and rhythmic movement. When qigong meditation is combined, the baoding balls helps to amplify the beneficial effects of the qigong movements.

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