Behind The Zhan Zhuang Training

Neigong Discussion

Zhan Zhuang training (Standing Exercise) is a significant component of the internal martial arts. The objective of Zhan Zhuang training is to improve the condition of the physiological organs. As a result of the Solo Drill one will develop stronger bones, better coordination in the contraction and extension of all muscle groups so that all movements will be powerful, improved oxygen utilization so that one will not get tired, and improved nervous system function so that all movements come from one center and all martial responses become natural reflexes.

In Zhan Zhuang training, a correct position is when the weight is equally balanced on two feet to form a comfortable and relaxing position, an opportunity for the intent to appear and work. Zhan Zhuang works by applying the concept of intent over physical force to improve all the physiological organs and their functions. Today, there are many publications confirming that one's mental condition is directly affected by the physical body. In Zhan Zhuang training, we use the mind to train the body.

Although one is standing in a physically still position, the intent is working very hard inside the body to harmonize all physiological organs with this particular position so that all parts of the body are contributing to maintain this static position. There are three steps of Zhan Zhuang training associated with martial art's high demand: recognization, harmony, and application.

In this step, the intent is focused on positioning the body correctly to maximize the training of physical and mental conditions. Most people, standing still for only one minute will begin to experience difficulty, such as physical discomfort, mental doubts and shortness of breathe. When confronted with these situations, a practitioner should begin to develop different forms of intent to reduce physical pain, gain confidence and enjoyment. One common method of focusing and eliminating difficulties is to imagine standing in front of a tranquil environment. When one can stand in a position for 15 minutes without any problem, one can go onto the next step.

2. Harmony
In this step, the intent is focused on the body's togetherness by utilizing the 'method of opposition'. In any martial strike, a powerful strike is always associated with the whole body. The better the unification, the more power there is the strike and less possibility of physical injury to the practitioner. In this step of Zhan Zhuang a practitioner imagines every part of his body's muscles relaxing and stretching so that they end up with forces pulling from top and bottom, left and right, front and back, in all directions. When one can stand in a position for 10 minutes without tiring, one can go onto the next step.

3. Application
In this step, the intent is focused on the goal of martial application. One of the characteristics of martial arts is that they are dynamic. Therefore, martial arts techniques are always associated with physical movement in order to be effective. A practitioner should imagine an opponent is attacking from a certain direction and that one must mobilize the whole body from inside and outside, top and bottom, left and right, front and back to neutralize the threat. Since it is difficult to coordinate physical movement and intent's creativity, it is better control if one begins with a slower movement and simpler concept of intent.

Later on, when one is practicing Zhan Zhuang with a stronger intent and quicker physical motions, one will witness more power developed by discharging through physical movement. There are not many martial art styles that apply this bare handed Fa Jing method to developed power. One reason is that if the movement is not executed properly, one will end up with physical injury. Therefore, this method is not recommended for beginners, it is recommended for more experienced practitioners. A better method the beginner is to use a staff or spear.

The result of this Zhan Zhuang training is great. However, one should not fool himself. There is no shortcut, begin with one step as a time. One must master the first step before engaging in the second and third steps. A tall building begins with a strong foundation.

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