Sunday, November 15, 2009

Different ways to train Zhan Zhuang

There are many different ways for training Zhan Zhuang in different martial arts. Some focus more on imagination as a process for discovering the feeling, others more as a Zen meditation, and others still as an endurance or structural practice. There are many different flavors of Zhan Zhuang or standing meditation practices.

In Wujifa, (without going into the philosophy of the triangles) Zhan Zhuang is first practiced to discover structure, then connection. This is a very functional place to begin, as it calibrates the body and the mind to be able to work with more advanced practices.

In many martial arts, what is considered basic training in one art is considered to be the secrets in another. For example, one martial art may have the practitioner working with a weapon, because he’s not ready yet to engage in hand to hand combat. In another martial art, they might say the person’s not ready for a weapon until they can work empty-handed. In Wujifa, weapons are seen as an extension of the body, and/or tools for calibrating the structure.

Wujifa practice’s first focus is to get the body functional within a certain basic structure. When one first starts working with stance and structure, they may notice how the mind wanders, and the method of structure is a way of starting to engage intent of the alignment of the body. After one starts to make fascial connections and can maintain a good relaxed, balanced structure as an intention and as a physical practice, additional mental focuses can be engaged in a more practical way with the kinesthetic experience gained from practicing the structural intent.

The common mistake when people engage in various mental aspects is to only imagine leaving behind the function of structure. By focusing on the structure first, the imagined connections become less subjective in the sense that the physical responses of a connected aligned body will be verifiable. It is always important to verify the results one is getting lest one’s mind drift off into a fantasy world and that person becomes unable to produce any physical results or applications.

Another issue with many arts is only to work on the physical, and they forget to bring along the mind. We start by engaging the mind for the beginner in seeking the feeling. This feeling is the fundamental process of true Wujifa practice. Once one gets to this stage, noticing the intention and how this is engaged with the body takes one to the next level.

Also Read: A System of Martial Arts Training and Objectives for Wujifa


  1. Thanks as always Rick for posting your thoughts on the Wujifa's beneficial not only to your own students but any practitioner of the internal arts!

  2. Rick,

    I feel like emailing anyone and everyone who is interested in internal martial arts and linking them to this blog. In fact I'm going to go do that right now.

  3. There are many ways...

    Wonderful explanation of the purpose of Zhan Zhuang practice in the Wujifa system. I hope this post inspires other ZZ practitioners to think about the purpose of their ZZ training.

    There's much in having a clear purpose...

    Could you post an article explaining what you mean by "functional"? You say "a very functional place to begin" and "get the body functional". What does "functional" mean in the context of Wujifa Zhan Zhuang practice?

    Thanks for a great post!! I'm lovin' it!

    Mike from

  4. Great post as always, Rick! When you talk about weapon training in Wujifa, I assume rake training fits the same mold :-P Keep on giving us these great distillations of Wujifa wisdom!

  5. If one was to use a Rake in that alley an APC 45 would be most approptiate to clear out anyone with more bad intentions.

  6. Well Anonymous

    Good luck with that... There aren't many guns owned by private individuals in China. I don't know how you'd get one overvthere or how one would get a CCW there. It's much easier to own guns here in the USA I agree. In that village they were so friendly you would help them rake the leaves I'd bet.