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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Changing One's Strength with Zhan Zhuang

The Right Path of Yiquan
By Wang Xiangzhai

To achieve wonders in the martial arts, one must have the changing of one's strength with zhanzhuang as the foundation and starting point. This means changing weak into strong and clumsy into nimble. Like a student of Zen, who starts with religious discipline, becomes skillful in quietude, has an insight, finds evidence of the fountainhead of one's spirit, comprehends the void and then finally reaches the highest achievement; only then can one learn the Tao. What Zen is, the martial arts are as well. When one starts to study, the methods of zhanzhuang are rather numerous, for example, xianglongzhuang ('subduing the dragon' zhuang), fuhuzhuang ('taming the tiger' zhuang), ziwuzhuang ('midnight-noon' zhuang), sancaizhuang ('Heaven, Earth, and Man' zhuang), etc. Now, get rid of the numerous and move towards simplicity, take the strong points of each zhuang (pile) and combine them into one, namely hunyuanzhuang. It is good for developing strength, convenient for actual fighting, contains the essence of striking and defending, and is connected to the study of qi. After training for ten days the student will get results naturally. Written words cannot express its marvel. What must be avoided the most during the study of zhangzhuang is the use of force with the body and mind. Using force makes the qi sluggish; when the qi is sluggish, then the mind stops; when the mind stops, then the spirit breaks; and this breaking of the spirit leads to foolishness. What one should avoid as well, is raising the head or bowing forward, bending the elbows and legs too much, or keeping them too straight; they should always seem bent but not bent, seem straight but not straight, and the muscles and joints should be stretched. The head should be upright, the sacrum and the spine should be straight, the qi should sink, and the mind should be calm. The tips of the fingers and toes slightly used force, the teeth seem closed yet not closed, the tongue is seemingly rolled up yet not rolled up, all over the body the pores seem relaxed by not relaxed, and thus the internal power is issued outward and the weak points are changed into great power. It is not difficult to grasp its essentials.