In light of Ralph’s “One Hundred Days“, I decided the timing was right to jump in myself and train consistently for 100 days. I am actually planning to attend an upcoming workshop by Fong Ha, a practitioner of Yang Taijiquan and Yiquan. It just so happens the workshop is roughly 100 days away! What a coincidence.
Last night’s zhan zhuang began with a rough start. I was a bit tense after a long day. I started off with a basic wuji stance with hands at my sides. I kept the stance pretty high without a desire to go low. Right off the bat, I could feel the tension in my hips and thighs. My mind was wandering, and images of The Peaceful Warrior flooded my mind where Nick Nolte asks the young athletic if he can ‘stand like this’ and proceeds to do what I think is a zhan zhuang embracing the balloon posture. I pushed the thoughts out and focused on the inner smile.
Practicing the inner smile allowed me to really sense the tension in my body. The tension in my lower back was brought to the front of my attention. To address this, instead of tucking the pelvis, I worked on lengthening. I picked up this exercise a while back. Basically, instead of forcefully tucking one’s pelvis under, I imagine a pulling down force that causes my lower back to straighten. While they may sound the same, the latter has worked out very well for me.
As I was lengthening, my hips were slightly flexing causing me to sink a bit lower in my stance (maybe 5 degrees or so). The more I did this, the more I began to feel as if I was sitting on a chair! It literally felt as if an invisible chair was behind me supporting my body. The tension in my thighs and hips dissolved.
Next, I incorporated the imagery of head erect, but instead of hanging from above, I imagined something pulling me from above. While keeping both forces (down through tailbone, up through head) I began to feel as if I was floating, yet firmly rooted. The more I pulled up on my head, the more the tension along the inner side of my arms went away. It was wildly strange, yet very exciting at the same time because I felt as if I tapped into something and I did not want to stop.
The coolest thing about the whole ordeal was it literally felt as if I was maintaining the universal post or standing stake zhan zhuang posture WITHOUT EFFORT. I was not trying (physically nor mentally), I was just there, just in it, just being. This sorta felt like my previous zhan zhuang adjustments, however this time, I was not leaning forward, I did not feel like I was going to fall backwards, and the whole ‘pulling from above’ added a new dimension to the stance and training that I have never experienced before.
After zhan zhuang I went into the Yang Long form and instantly I noticed a difference. I felt very grounded and rooted in my movements. I was not doing the minor adjustments to my stances, I was not checking my transitions, all of it just flowed and moved very smoothly. The brush knees were executed without hesitation and adjustment during each transition. Overall, the form felt much, much better.