Saturday, October 31, 2009

A System of Martial Arts Training and Objectives for Wujifa

In the martial arts system of Wujifa there is a certain progression or evolution in the process of training. In the system of Wujifa, there are certain stages or steps that should be aimed for as one trains. When someone first starts training, working at understanding very basic “methods” or “forms” of method is key. These “methods”, like a finger pointing at the moon, are not about the “methods” or “finger”, but are more about the direction one will be heading in. Methods are much like a medicine and can assist or hinder one’s progress depending on the usage of various methods and when they are used.

People in Stance

In the beginning, we start with 1234, 1234 (Zhan Zhuang Alignment). 1234, 1234 work with the structural aspect of the first Wujifa triangle. As  understanding the concepts of balance and relax are slightly more subjective concepts for the beginner, structure serves as a good starting point. As one gets a good feel for the method of 1234, 1234 we bring in the concepts of being balanced and relaxed within this structural foundation of the Wujifa martial arts and qigong training systems.

As one progresses and develops a deeper kinesthetic awareness for structure, balance and relax of the first Wujifa triangle1triangle the weight will start to sink and the new practitioner will find and become aware of the weight they have carried beginning to sink into the legs at a point in the center of the quadriceps. These are very good signs, and normally take anywhere from a few months to much longer depending on how seriously the practitioner trains. The aim is to stand for at least an hour one to two times a day. The Wujifa system is much like a doctoral program, and requires dedication by the practitioner to achieve these desired results.

At first, it is very common for people to find it very difficult to stand for even 10 minutes and that’s okay. Getting to the hour of stance, which is ultimately very important in the long run, can be accomplished by the method of slowly adding a few minutes every few days with the focus on the structural elements of 1234, 1234 and the more subjective meanings of balance and relax. When we say “subjective meanings”, we are talking about actual functional, physical results that are contributed to by the understanding of these kinesthetically experienced concepts.

The next step and objective in the martial arts training system of Wujifa is when the practitioner working with these concepts we’ve talked about begins to notice through sinking of the weight, the appearance of the fascial stretches. Commonly, these are noticed in the lower back. As talked about in other posts (The Concept of "Sit Down" in Wujifa Standing...), turning the femur heads out and relaxing the quadratus lumborum and other lower back muscles creates the space for this fascial system of the lower back to move into a more functional organization of one’s body . Training at this point creates the opportunity for the practitioner to begin to notice how the fascial system functions, and is noticed as what is commonly called in Wujifa “fascial stretch”.

At this point in Wujifa training, a practitioner is now getting a deeper understanding of the principles suggested in the first triangle of the Wujifa philosophy. Remember, the methods are not the truth. Understanding the principles and philosophies, through a kinesthetic awareness, are key to gaining this greater understanding of what balance, structure, and relax mean. As the student progresses and the body’s fascial systems open to a more functional organization, other fascial stretches are also noticed.

As one continues along this progression, the concept of connection starts to be explored. The practitioner’s goal at this point is to notice gaps between the fascial stretches by refining subtle adjustments within the philosophy of balance, structure and relax and the method of 1234, 1234 and adjusting accordingly to connect these fascial systems. This is the next step on the path of understanding internal strength, power, and movement.

Many times at this point, simple movements such as side to side (Keys for Developing the Inguinal Crease, aka Kua, with Wujifa Side to Side Practice ) have been introduced and contribute to the refinement of connection while moving and while standing. Also, it takes time for the body to adjust and strengthen these connections: it takes practice over time to develop these. For the serious practitioner, who puts in the time and effort, this can be accomplished in six months to a year from the previous step, and they begin to understand the meaning of the second triangle in the Wujifa system of connection, ease, and equilibrium.

At this point, the practitioner has come to have some skill and more advanced means of training are employed that continue to develop and refine these fascial system and connections. Working with gentle forms of resistance, light weights and partner practice have been introduced. At all times, the practitioner seeks opportunities for further refinement (gaps, breaks, and other areas) which they can gain insight from to help in their understanding of full-body movement and strength.

Now the practitioner is starting to gain some understanding of the third triangle of Wujifa which is Power, Poise, and Unity. Instead of practicing form, which can be limiting and slow the development in growth and understanding, the practitioner begins to analyze and 3 triangles 2 take more ownership, and seeks validation from someone who has skill in this area. Also the practitioner continues practicing and exploring the opportunities they are discovering within previous “basic” practices as well as developing unique methods for themselves by adding in free-form movements such as a slower form of solo combat dancing, increasing of weight bearing trainings while practicing for resistance, and issuing power by using heavy bags and sparring.

This system of objectives in Wujifa martial arts training above maps out the steps that the practitioner takes to gaining a more true understanding and skill of practice of what is called “Wujifa”. As one puts in the time and focuses not on problems, but what contributes to growth, while seeing the opportunities in the particular difficulties that might be perceived as holding them back, growth and progress within the system of Wujifa can be easily attained with dedication, attention, and focus.

For More Information on this subject these other articles may be very helpful to understand this topic in more detail:

Visit and Read: Zhan Zhuang Alignment

Visit and Read: Wujifa Triangles

Visit and Read: More on Zhan Zhuang and Movement


  1. Hi Rick,

    Great post. What is sad about it, is that too many folks will THINK they are already doing what you are saying. Years ago I thought I was, and your gifts to me have helped me get closer to the REAL DEAL. Thank you.

    You have a powerful gift that the internal martial arts world needs. So to does the chi kung world need it.

    It is my hope, that they come back for more, and take the time to meet you and train with you if possible.


    Mr Twenty Twenty

  2. Rick, thanks yet again for your post (you are on a roll with goldmine material!), I feel very lucky to have access to a teacher that can provide such a concise layout for internal strength development. There is a certain elegance to the Wujifa system in how the practitioner progresses and finds the opportunity in methods and practice and I thank you again for making this all available to everyone!

    Much appreciated...

  3. Another great post. You're doing a very good job explaining the methods of wujilianggong. If you were to write a training manual, you've already made a good start.

  4. I enjoyed the concise articulation of the levels one progresses through. I have not heard or read such a description of internal development associated with any other internal martial art or qi gong system.

    From my own experience, I was so invested in years of past training that I *thought* I already knew *this stuff*. I tried to match this to that and eventually realized, Big mistake!

    If you read this article and say, "I already do all this; stance, muscle-tendon changing, fascial connection, develop internal strength" you might be making the same mistake I made.

    One paradigm is not the same as another paradigm.

    You really find out where you are by touching hands. Come to a Wujifa class, enjoy some tea and commaraderie and connect.

    Mike from

  5. It's amazing to see the road so clearly laid out... some of it I've been down, and so much more yet to travel. I'm looking forward to traveling it with all of us at the School of Cultivation and Practice through our study of Wujifa.

  6. Thanks Rick ! I love all of the information that you have, I had a GREAT time studying with you :-) Thanks so much it helps me put some balance into my hectic life . . .

  7. i came across a link to your blog on rumsoakedfist. interesting...

  8. I like the outline of training progression
    It lets practictioners get a peek at road signs so they know what to expect
    and it shows how indepth and important everyday practice is

    . . . now if I could just get back to standing every day again

    looking forward to working with you in person next month