Hi, Every Shifu, Can you tell me how to do the correct “Zhan Zhuang”, and how long should it take? Should I do it before practicing Tai Chi quan? What are you thinking while you are doing it? I can’t last it long, only a few minutes. Actually it’s kind of boring for me. How can I overcome it? Thanks!
Here are more good insights from Shifu.
Eric Borreson • Cathy, zhan zhuang is an important part of tai ji quan training. It teaches you about posture and about patience. You should do it every day before practicing. Your mind should focus on your body. Identify any areas of your body where you feel uncomfortable. This indicates poor posture. I recently wrote an article about zhan zhuang for my blog. You can read it at
Jeffrey Smoley • Eric, Good post, but there is a typo at: “After several weeks of this practice, extend the practice and hold your hands in front of your arms as if they are wrapped around a _trhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifee_.”. Five minutes is not enough, a Taijiquan student needs 20 minutes a day, prior to doing the form, as a start. Start with the basic Wuji position, then you can hold just about any part of the form for Zhan Zhuang. You can also vary the depth of the stance.
Chen ZhengLei told us that a basic Taijiquan practice is 5 minutes of Wuji, 20 minutes of Zhan Zhuang, 20 minutes of the form, 20 minutes of push hands, 20 minutes of Qigong/ChanSiGong and 5 minutes of Wuji.
Eric Borreson • Jeffrey, thank you for letting me know. I fixed it. Sometimes the editor does strange things.You are right about needing 20 minutes. However, I do recommend 5 minutes at first. A student like Cathy does not sound ready to stand for 20 minutes. Within a few weeks, she should be able to stand longer. I have had students quit when asked to do too much “boring” stuff. They need time to learn how to deal with that kind of situation in their practice.
Jeffrey Smoley • Hi Eric,
If a student between the age of 7 and 55 can’t stand for 20 minutes, in a Wuji or “natural” position, there is something wrong with them and they should see a medical professional. Yes, it is tougher to stand motionless for 20 minutes than it is to walk for 20 minutes, but 20 minutes is the amount time that heart attack patients are told to walk per day as part of their recovery.
Eric Borreson • Jeffrey, I agree with you. If the physical ability were the only issue, I would have people stand longer. However, for many beginners, it is a matter of will power. I would rather start people slow and keep them as students so they will get long term benefit. If I push too hard at the beginning, they may give up and quit. I’m not doing this to keep the class full. I am doing it so people can develop enough understanding to learn enough internal strength to stick with it. Thankfully, the traditional ways of teaching are gone. We can’t just say, “Do it, I am the teacher.” We have to carefully lead people along the path.
David Young • Yes I am in agreement here with Eric. Starting a student out for five minutes is the best way to go. Zhan Zhang is not an endurance test, it is about building what I and many others in Shaolin Wahnam call “Internal Force”, learning to relax in the stance or posture they are in, and being in a meditative state of mind, that which we call “Qigong state of mind”. As Eric pointed out the Traditional ways are gone.. and for good reason, because that way of teaching only throws people (Westerners) off motivationally from a practice in Tajiquan or Qigong. If your more advanced students can in fact stand for 20 minutes great! But don’t expect that a beginner is going to be completely healthy and strong when they walk into your door, in a magority of cases people wanting to learn Taijiquan want to improve their health, inner strength or healing whatever is ailing them, and to continue good health as a whole, IE Mind-Body-Spirit. 5 Minutes is enough, enough to build the student’s Chi up to standing longer, giving them the benefit of developing over all good health, energy, vitality, and clarity of mind with time, and there is nothing wrong with that approach.
Jeffrey Smoley • If someone wants to improve their health, teach them Qigong. Taijiquan is NOT a health improvement system, it is a MARTIAL ART. Every high level Taijiquan, Bagua Zhang and XingYiquan teacher I have ever met does Qigong as a separate practice, along with his/her martial art.
Masters Chen Quanzhong, Chen Zhenglei, Feng Zhiqiang (Chen Taijiquan), masters Duan Zhiliang, Zhou Peigen and Fu Feng (Bagua Zhang) all have stated that the internal arts have three main components: Forms, Push Hands/Sparring and Qigong.
Most people teaching “Tai Chi for Health” don’t or can’t do real Taijiquan. The traditional ways of teaching are used because they get real results. New Age teaching only promotes the new age teacher.
If you don’t have a solid root, don’t have Peng jin and can’t demonstrate large & small ChanSijin, you are not a real internal martial artist.