ZHAN ZHUANG: FOR COMBAT AND HEALTH
On Deadly Duels Media we have spoken of this ancient meditative exercise (Zhan Zhuang or post standing), and on this post, we will go in depth on discussing the essential points, so that people may practice this on their own. You may not have the esoteric knowledge to completely know how it works (referring to Traditional Chinese Medicine and the underlying Daoist philosophy) but you will know enough to begin practicing.
Its history is thousands of years old and has been used for health and integrated into Traditional Chinese Martial Arts with different versions arising, nonetheless regardless of form, the principles of Zhan Zhuang is the same regardless.
- The top of the tongue is placed up, touching the top of the mouth behind the top teeth.
- Imagine the top of the head is suspended as if it’s held by a string. Simultaneously keep the nape of your neck straight and the chin is neither too tucked in nor sticking out. It’s in between the two extremes.
- The next is to “sink the chest”-this means relaxing or dropping the centre point area between your chest or the sternum area. You drop or relax it down by a few millimetres and this will then slightly raise and round the upper back.
- The coccyx should be tucked in as if you about to sit and therefore your buttocks should not be sticking out.
- Relax the hips and waist and let go of any tension in the muscles by relaxing the tendons, sinews or ligaments. Relax or soften all the joints.
- The feet are placed a shoulder width apart, meaning within the length of the shoulders and not wider than the shoulders.
- The feet are straight and slightly facing inwards, allowing the knees that need to be bent to slightly face each other allowing the hips and waist to relax.
- The weight distribution is equal on both feet and is distributed equally from the heel to the ball of each foot.
- Place your hands to the side with the middle fingers touching the centre of the thigh and the elbows are slightly bent relaxing the shoulders and wrists for no tensions to be held. This posture is known as Wuji (no extremity).
- First revise your body structure and then your mind, so with stress and everyday life, your thoughts will be scattered, and you will be thinking of many things. Acknowledge your thoughts and whatever may arise during the exercise and let them go, your worries etc and this may contribute to you feeling tension. Therefore, refer back to adjusting your body structure.
- So, you regulate your body and then your mind.
- Next is regulating your breath, for this exercise you breath below the lower abdomen, what this means is your intent (mind regulation) should be below you belly button. And when you inhale gently allow this to expand. And when you exhale allow the area that has expanded to gently contract. Should it expand slightly it fine, do not force it. With time it gets bigger (the expansion). Keep your intent in that area and then further below into the ground as you breath.
- The next posture is known as “Chen Bao” or hugging the tree, you raise your hands from the Wuji posture, and as if you are hugging somebody.
- All the joints of your hands are softened and facing each other, the inside of your hands face the centre of your sternum. Your elbows are rounded and facing down, to relax the shoulders. You maintain the same shape whether in the Chen Bao or Wuji posture (a rounded shape).
- With the eyes you can close it or keep them open, lowering the eyes to gaze at
- Relax your thumbs and do not have sticking out. The reason is to open an acupoint known as “He Gu” tiger’s mouth, it is located between the thumb and the forefinger. Some lineages have the thumbs up.
When you feel empty, calm and focused from the Wuji posture you may go into the Chen Bao posture. Also known as “Hun Yuan” smooth and rounded. Through out this exercise you weirdly feel tension build up, especially in the hugging of the tree posture. In the beginning try and hold the posture (Chen Bao) for at least a minute. And gradually build it up, if the tension is unbearable then go back to the Wuji posture.
This exercise is underestimated for its efficacy and benefits and even those who know it, become lazy from its daily practice. This standing meditation allows you to combine the main joints of the feet, knees and hips-waist area with the hands, elbows and shoulders. Feet pair with the hands, elbows with the knees and the hips-waist with the shoulders. The three main joints of below direct or command the above three. And martially this results in better coordination of movement, improving in efficacy and effectiveness and much more.
For health, one gradually feels more relaxed and literally grounded. Improving blood flow and this is allowing for the letting go of tension. If you are a fighter this exercise will improve your performance over time, if you are an everyday person its benefits will improve your daily life.
However, like any exercise it may harm you if not done properly and if you suffer from high blood pressure, do not sit too low.
Written by Narcisse Sadi, Tudi (student) of Dr Jeff Lan, certified (by the International Health Qigong Federation) 1stDuan Health Qi Gong and certified (by Dr Jeff Lan) 1st Duan Yang Style (Cheng Man Ching lineage) Tai Chi Chuan Instructor.