Stand like Sitting on a Chair

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.


About wujimon

taiji, meditation and health
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12 Responses to Stand like Sitting on a Chair

  1. Rick Matz says:

    Best of luck to you on your training. Some of us just finished up the 2008 Lenten Challenge (and some are still going, too!); but it isn’t 100 days. Please publish the status of your training from time to time.

  2. silkreeling says:

    long time no post.

    I share your excitement for discovering this. Pulling this bow does open up possibilities for me. Trying to maintain this bow each time i practice is the challenge for me at the moment.

    keep at it!

  3. wujimon says:

    Hey Silk: I agree, maintaining this bow throughout form practice is VERY difficult and not to be taken lightly. But now that I have had this experience in standing, I know what to look for in movement.

  4. neijia says:

    Awesome. I don’t think my zhan zhuang ever really feels totally effortless like that. There is usually some nagging physical issue or some lack of mental focus for me…

    The workshop sounds great. Hope to read some of your thoughts on it afterwards.

  5. wujimon says:

    @Neijia: Note, I have only gotten this feeling a handful of times during my training, so it’s not often. I will definitely posts my thoughts after the workshop.

  6. silkreeling says:

    All the bows are important but this one especially will show you the door. IF done correctly, quietude will be more approachable, steppings and stance will be stable yet lively and light. Pulled together with the leg bows could be the solution to your knee problems when doing the chen forms.

    zhan zhuang is just wonderful!

  7. Ralph says:

    Good luck with the 100 days. I feel proud to be of inspiration. 🙂

    BTW I have to do 1 hour minimum of zhan zhuang on alternate days. The other days I do 1 hour of qi gong. The other 30 mins each day is for learning/practicing footwork; total 1.5 hours each day. Sorry, I can’t give more detail than that.

    Anyway good luck again, I’m on day 16 today.


  8. wujimon says:

    @Silk: Your description regarding ‘stable yet lively and light’ stepping and stance work exactly describes my own experience after the zhan zhuang session!

    @Ralph: Dude.. that’s quite a bit of neigong work. While I work on neigong first, I don’t do 1 hour right now.. Back in the day, I used to do around 40 mins but found it hard to go beyond that timeframe. Very few schools I have trained with have emphasized the importance of neigong to incorporate into their classtime.

  9. Shang Lee says:

    wow! congratulations! it’s the ever elusive feeling that i’ve been trying to search. most of the time the strain of the legs are just too much, and then my teacher will just tell me to “relax”… hahahah!

  10. wujimon says:

    Good luck, Shang! The thing that really did it for me was the whole lengthening of the lower back vs tucking. Additionally, I raised my stance so it’s not low, that prolly helps too 🙂

  11. Pingback: Brush Knee and Back Bow « wujimon

  12. Pingback: Cultivate the Posture « wujimon

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