Archive for the ‘Zhan Zhuang’ Tag
Sifu Fong Ha comes from our lineage.... Starting his Taiji training from Master Dong's grandfather in 1953
Join Taiji on Maui and learn from Sifu Fong Ha at our exclusive Workshop this month.
On Sunday September 25th for four hours Master Ha will give detailed instruction in his methods of Qigong and Taiji principles. Starting at 10:00 AM until 12:00 and from 1:00 until 3:00 PM we will be training at a private residence in Maui Meadows. This class is for students of all levels. We are very fortunate to get a semi private workshop limited to about twenty students for the very affordable price of $25.00.
Fong Ha will be on Maui for a whole week starting on Thursday morning the 22nd at Kamaole beach # III at 6:00AM to 9:00 and 5:15 to 6:30PM.
He has always let folks come and hang out with him and get in some free practice at the beach. I believe we should give back to him by attending the workshop and getting the full class and paying him for his instruction; all proceeds will go directly to him.
Please join us at the workshop and also at Kamaole beach # 3 for the whole week (except Saturday and Sunday) for practice of what you learn at the workshop.
Fong is a very generous and fun man that is a living legend; do not miss this opportunity to train with a genuine Taiji icon. Master Ha started his training in 1953 with Master Dong’s Grand father the great Tung Ying Chieh, he is world renown, and we are blessed to have him for this special workshop.
To Sign up E-mail me @
Or Call 250-4663 or 344-2532
This is Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do Symbol "Using no way as way" & "Having no limitation as limitation". The arrows represent the endless interaction between yang and yin
The focus of the last qigong lesson was to introduce the properties of Yin and Yang in the human energy system as it pertains to Qigong practice. One of the first things qigong students learn is the difference between the way yin and yang manifest during practice. This basic understanding is the starting point to getting to know your energy. Eventually this awareness of yin and yang will be discerned in all of your energy systems.
There are many different “energy systems” in the human being and all of them have yin and yang elements. For example in basic qigong practice the most obvious energy system in the physical body are things like muscles and bones; pneumatic (breath) and hydraulic (blood and lymph) but there are others such as mental, emotional, spiritual, electrical (nervous), and chemical, like hormones and neurotransmitters.
The reality of life is there are no absolutes; energies are always in ebb and flow. In the last lesson I used a diagram showing the separation of yin and yang, this is only to get a basic understanding of the rise and fall of the energy; this symbol could be called Yin AND Yang. The Taiji symbol is sometimes called the Yin/Yang diagram. Do see the difference between the two? Yin and Yang or Yin/Yang, the difference is the first one defines yin and yang as distinctly different and separate things; the second one shows the harmony between the two.
In the title to my web site, I say “Balance and Harmony for a better life.” Balance and harmony is a common phrase; some people reverse the two words however saying “harmony and balance.” To my mind though, you need balance before you can have harmony. This is an important point for you to realize in your training as qigong and Taiji works on us to first balance our energy so that we can harmonize with reality. Again this is true whether we are talking about emotions or our bodies…. For example, if we have balanced emotions then we can harmonize with others.
Harmony is what we get when we have all our energy systems working together in a synergistic way. Synergy is a good word, it is when the sum is greater than the parts; you know, sort of like one plus one equals three. Now while some of our energies may be “Yang” there will be others that will be “Yin.” For example, my mind may be yin while my body is yang, while at the same time my legs may be yang while my arms may be yin and my emotions could be yin while my spirit is yang!
Yet it all works together in harmony. When the thinking mind is softened and yin, the spirit fills with energy and could be considered yang. When I am moving my body upward there is energy coming up from my legs which could be considered yang at that moment yet I keep my hands soft (with my mind) making them effectively yin. Yang leads and yin nurtures. For example my intention (yang) tells my body to relax (yin) the relaxed body attracts energy to flow into it, yang. Lets say for example, the energy (in the form of blood pressure) is down in the legs, (yang) then, when we relax the hands (yin) the energy will flow into them, and back and forth filling and emptying.
While doing qigong notice how you can control the flow of energy when doing the movements by sequentially relaxing and expanding. As you are alternately flexing and relaxing different groups of muscles, you can lead the qi through your body. Remember, the energy wants to flow into emptiness just as electricity seeks a ground or water (and air) flows from high pressure towards low pressure. In the great source book of Taoism, the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu tells us, “The sage leads by following, by putting himself beneath others they all flow towards him.” Can you see how the philosophy of Taoism teaches us how to be better people?
Learning to be both yin and yang at the same time (yin/yang) is like bringing together the two halves of who you are. We all have yin and yang elements in play in every part of who we are. Proper qigong and Taiji is all about learning to first balance our energies and then to harmonize all these different energies so that we can find the reality that we need not be so polarized in life as to lose sight of the “big picture”
Like two horses…. The mare and the stallion, named yin and yang…
The stallion leads the way with the nurturing mare just behind him, giving him encouragement and moral support. She wants him to lead, and he enjoys doing the hard work of blazing the trail and such. The clever mare knows how to get him to lead where she wants to go by using her soft nurturing way, and he is glad to go where she wants him to. The two move in harmony due to the balance of their complementary energies.
Go to Qigong on Maui web site
Yiquan friends doing some Yi Jin Jing Qigong
Come and play with our Yiquan club every Thursday morning. Since Sifu Fong Ha comes here every September, a group of six or seven dedicated practitioners has began meeting every Thursday to continue working on his (and others) teachings. Since then it has become a great free-form “Internal Arts Day”
This is not a “class” because it is at Kamaole III Beach Park and the county will not allow a formal class: so I call it a club, there is no charge we just play.
Yiquan means “Mind (intention) Boxing” and it is a simple way to train martial arts and meditation skills. One of the main practices is just standing. There is a huge variety of postures used in standing work, also known as “Zhan Zhuang” lit. “standing like a post”. In Yiquan, there are eight main postures, you just stand and hold a posture, it is very simple.
Every Thursday morning starting at 6:30 AM with zhan zhuang, Qigong and Taiji walking, sometimes we take a break about 7:50 or so, look for us at a table at that time, then at 8:15 AM, we continue with Taijiquan until we are done.
The pre-dawn standing part is simple; just stand (or sit) in Wuji and if you want to, hold some postures or do whatever you want to! Try doing some “spontaneous qigong” also known as “Zi Fa Gong” or do the Yiquan postures.
The qigong that we originally did here consists of two sets and some “Taiji walking”. The first set is called “Yi Jin Jing” this is the famous “muscle and tendon changing classic” invented by Bodhidharma in about 520 AD. The second set is another classic qigong set known as “The Eight Brocades” or “Ba Duan Jin“. Most likely though, whatever we we do here now is pretty random, so many things we could do, it is never the same qigong at this practice session. “Taiji walking” in the sand is a favorite!
The Taijiquan part usually consists of doing the Dong (Yang) Long Form, we often do all three sections of the form or whatever we decide!
Come and play but know this is not a class…. I don’t do any real “teaching” I want to have fun with my friends, build some push hands connections, and keep the spirit of all of our teachers training active at Kamaole III
6:30 AM to 7:50 AM
Wuji, Zhan Zhuang, Yiquan
Zi Fa Gong
Yi Jin Jing, Ba Duan Jin, or “Whatever Qigong”
7:50 to 8:15 AM Break…
See All Classes Here:
Sifu Fong Ha comes from our lineage.... Starting his Taiji training from Master Dong's grandfather in 1953
Starting September 28th through October 10th Master Fong Ha will be here giving a workshop at Kamaole #3 Beach Park in Kihei.
He will not be here on the weekend of Oct. 2nd & 3rd
There is no charge! Just show up and learn…
6:00 AM Standing and/or Sitting Meditation facing the Ocean, along the fence just above the beach about midway in KAM III (some folks have a hard time figuring out where they are)
7:00 AM Qigong & Taiji walking (easier for beginners)
8:00 AM to 9:00 AM Long Form Taiji
I recently discovered that he first learned Taiji from Tung Ying Jieh (Master Dong’s grand father) in 1953. I will be there on Thursdays Sept 30th and Oct. 7th and Monday Oct. 4th and some mornings before my classes start elsewhere.
There is a link to his website on the “Taiji Facts” sidebar.
This is a rare opportunity to train with a living legend; I hope to see you there.
|Fong Ha (510)524-4728 email:firstname.lastname@example.org
"Tiger" from Dragon & Tiger Yiquan
“I don’t have time for Taiji!”
So many times, I have heard this, usually from “non believers”, but occasionally I myself am guilty of such thoughts.
Well now…… If you have been training with me, you have been exposed to a variety of Qigong and Taiji sets. It is important to keep in mind that eventually, as you assimilate the principles into your life, everything will be Taiji. Yet in the beginning, we all need some ‘forms’ to direct us in the Way.
This page is just a list of some of the forms that I have shown to my classes and some for advanced students. With so many options, it is easy to just pick one or more depending on your goals or time frame. All of my beginner students have been doing the first four or five on this list, and I consider these a “core group” of practices. Over time, I will show everyone all of these sets.
Now, I wouldn’t want anyone to get bored, so add the others in occasionally as you want to. There is always time to get in a quick “Soaring Crane” or some Zhan Zhuang practice anywhere any time.
Some of the Qigong and Taiji sets for beginner and advanced students
1.) “Wuji” a standing qigong for overall health, perform for one minute to as long as you wish!
2.) Dong Family “Warm up Qigong” strengthens the posture and opens the joints. Takes about 7 to 8 minutes to perform.
3.) Wudang Daoist Abdominal Breathing Qigong, five simple exercises that form the foundational skills for all qigong, taiji and meditation practice.
4.) Dong Family “Basic Qigong Set” builds and distributes qi through the whole body. Takes about 7 to 8 minutes to perform.
5.) Taiji Walking
6.) “Dong (Yang) Style Taijiquan” The first section of the long form of Taiji (Tai Chi). A total body and mind Qigong and martial art form. Takes about 6 minutes to perform.
7.) The Dong Family “Hard Qigong” A zhan zhuang practice that builds structural integrity in your physique. These ten postures can be done in as little as 5 to 10 minutes or as long as you wish.
8.) “Dong (Yang) Style Taijiquan” The second section of the long form of Taiji. Takes about 12 minutes to perform.
9.) “Soaring Crane 1” is a medical qigong set to strengthen your overall health. Takes about 5 minutes to perform. See video here: Soaring Crane with Master Dong
10.) “Tiger Mountain” AKA “Taiji Gong” an assemblage of some postures from Yang style Taiji set. Takes 5 to 10 minutes to perform. See video here: Tiger Mountain
11.) “Zhan Zhuang” or “Standing like a post qigong” Strengthens your stances and internal energy; I suggest just picking any of the postures from the Taiji form and stand still as long as you can comfortably. Take at least 2 to 10 minutes or as long as you wits to perform. See photos of Yang’s Taiji postures here: Yang Cheng Fu
12.) Yiquan Zhan Zhuang. Eight basic standing postures and a few other simple postures designed to open the hips and strengthen the legs and back and build structural integration into your physique Takes from 5 to 40 minutes to perform.
13.) “Dong Sitting Qigong, Long Form” From Master Dong Zeng Chen. A total mind and body Qigong for meditation, thrusting vessel, small circle qi and upper body strengthening. Takes about 30 to 40+ minutes.
14.) “Dong Sitting Qigong” From Master Dong Hu Ling. A simple sitting routine for the upper body qi, the mind and the eyes.
15.) Five Elements Qigong, Wu Xing Qigong is a nine form set that is a medical qigong toning the internal organs and meridians. See video here: Ziranmen Five Elements Qigong.
16.) Muscle and Tendon Changing Classics, Yi Jin Jing is one of the oldest known set of gigong, originally authored by the famous Da Mo.
17.) The Eight Brocades, Ba Duan Jin is another old classic set.
18.) Zi Fa Gong, spontaneous Qigong comes when you have figured out some of these basic sets then you let your qi body lead you to move or not to move.
19.) Wudang Daoist (Hun Yuan) Primordial Qigong, a new set I have been showing and will be writing out soon…
20.) Wudang Five Animal Forms, another new set I will be showing in 2012
Over time I will expose everyone to parts or all of these forms, just keep coming to class and reading online and most importantly: PRACTICE
Do some Qigong everyday! Keep it simple but……Do it!
One of over 8000 thousand life-size Terracotta Warriors standing strong for over two thousand years
Zhan Zhuang “Standing like a post”
Standing builds structural integrity in your physique, calms the mind and emotions and it provides a foundation for internal qigong work known as “nei gong”.
As you are learning to connect with your internal energy, many new and intriguing adventures will open up to your awareness. In fact, awareness is the primary connection that you make as the path unfolds before you.
You can reach your health goals whatever they may be, whether they are physical health, as in posture, flexibility, balance or general strengthening or mental goals such as, improved memory, freedom from excessive thoughts or disordered thinking, or perhaps emotional goals like curing frustration, mania, anger, fear, grief, worry, depression or whatever else.
The one common denominator in almost all ailments is unbalanced energy within you. Even the most devastating illnesses often have their roots in basic problems with your personal energy and many are therefore preventable. Balancing our energies is the goal of all traditional Chinese medicine and Qigong is a basic part of TCM.
In the first two Qigong “lessons” here on this blog, I outlined the first skill you should master, Wuji. As the name implies Wuji is a starting point and it is where we begin all qigong exercises and the Taiji forms, yet there is a whole genre of “Wuji training” that can be explored.
Standing is sometimes called zhan zhuang, which means “standing like a post”, or referred to as standing meditation; it is in fact an excellent qigong exercise all by itself. There are no real ”forms“ per se, instead individual postures are sustained for a length of time as necessary.
The main goal here is to balance out our internal energy by standing still, however stilling your body often encourages thinking to arise; sometimes the thinking can become overwhelming. Redirect your thoughts into becoming aware of the 12 points outlined in the last lesson and only allow your thoughts to go through the “postural check list”.
Another technique to stop unnecessary thinking, is to simply count your breaths; paying attention to the air moving in and out as you do. When you find yourself caught up in a daydream, just start over with the alignment and then find your way back to your breathing; in this way you will learn to dissolve your mind and body together.
After we still our bodies, and refocus our thinking, errant energy tends to go into the emotions. This can be very annoying as thoughts and emotions are linked, often emotional thoughts like: “I feel dumb standing here”, “What are others thinking about me seeing me standing here?”, or “Am I wasting my time standing here?” Any excuse we can dream up to release us from learning about our true selves seems like a good enough reason to stop our training. Just go back through the same routine and you will find these emotions subside.
While standing in a posture, there are many other techniques that you may apply, such as various breathing practices and a whole host of higher-level skills known as “nei gong“. These skills will be explained in future articles about that topic but the first step into that whole universe of qigong arts starts with zhan zhuang.
To perform zhan zhuang all you need to do is stand, correctly of course, in any one of numerous postures. To avoid an emotional reason to give up, commit before hand to doing zhan zhuang for a certain length of time, say 10 or 15 minutes. You may stand in Wuji, or pick some postures from the Taiji form. In the beginning I recommend you attempt at least three minutes in each posture, that way you will not get bored so that during the 15 minutes you could manage five postures. Serious zhan zhuang practitioners may stand for up to an hour in one or two postures!
In coming lessons, I will show you some postures that can be used in addition to the ones you are learning as part of a Taiji class. Who knew that by just standing you could accomplish so much without knowing any forms?
Stand strong and you will develop good balance, strength, and energy.
More here: Qigong Lesson #4
Tung Hu Ling Photo from Chip Ellis web site
Taiji Gong… “Tiger Mountain”
This simple qigong can help form the foundation to high level Taiji skill.
Dong Hu Ling was my teacher’s father and the first Dong family member to carry on the family tradition started by his father, the famous Dong Ying Jie. Dong Hu Ling had two sons, Zeng Chen, and Kai Ying. Dong Hu Ling was a world-renowned Taiji master.
Master Dong’s first name, Hu translates to “Tiger” and his middle name, Ling translates to “Mountain”. This qigong exercise was conceived by Master Hu Ling and based on some common Taiji postures; designed to be done standing or sitting.
A student of Master Tung Kai Ying first taught this Qigong set to me. Sometimes referred to as “Taiji Gong”, most of us know it by Master Dong Hu Ling’s name, Tiger-Mountain.
Tiger Mountain is comprised of ten Taiji postures each repeated as you rotate your upper body from side to side while standing or sitting in one place and expanding and contracting as one would if actually performing the Taiji form. Alternate the hands and subtly sift your awareness to whichever hand is on the leading side.
Master created a little poem to remind practitioners of the postures and their sequence.
In the beginning
From the clouds
Heaven and Earth
Then the tiger
Brought the horse
To its knees
Between two peaks
And push, (and hold) to the end.
The corresponding Taiji postures are:
Fair Lady Works the Shuttles
White Crane Spreads its Wings
Parting the Wild Horses Mane
Brush Knee and Push
Twin Fists Strike the Ears
Hold the last push and then end as if doing the Taiji form.
This easy to remember, simple to practice, and enjoyable Qigong takes about only 5 to 15 minutes to do and can be done at any speed you wish. Initially, move slowly and smoothly (concentrating on perfecting you movements) while keeping your feet straight, but as you improve you can turn your feet slightly to get a bow stance and add some more speed and energy.
Advanced students can adapt this exercise into a high level skill. By learning to flow through the main Taiji stances as they turn from side to side. Turning from a bow stance and turn-into a side horse stance and then into a horse stance and then repeat as they turn out to the other side
Repeating: bow—side horse—horse—other side horse—other side bow
When transitioning through the different stances slightly turn the feet and sink down each time you move through the “horse stance” This method will totally rebuild your hip joint and help students “Open the Kwa”. Be sure to use proper Taoist breathing techniques, don’t force anything.
After you have mastered the timing and the flow and of course the softness, you can try it faster. Eventually adept students can learn to use to add in “Fa Jin” to their movements. If you can master turning through 5 different stances fluidly and then deliver quality Fa Jin strikes you you will have a tool to help you take your Taiji to the next level.
This simple, soft, easy, and basic qigong practice can also show you the way to high level form practice. Helping to build power and energy for your health and for powerful martial arts performance.
See the related video on the sidebar.
You need to know where you are in order to find your way.
Your place in the universe is often twisted away from the ideal; it may be physical, mental, emotional,and/or spiritually misaligned.
Let me first explain that in the “physical world” you can be physically, mentally, emotionally,and/or spiritually misaligned and you can also be misaligned in the “celestial world”. This is because all things have Yin and Yang elements to them. Our goal is harmonizing Yin/Yang, not just balancing Yin and Yang .
To keep things simple, my objective in this article is just to start with the body, the physical within the physical.
The most important overriding principles in Qigong and Taiji and Meditation for that matter revolve around alignment. As stated in the second paragraph of this page, alignment could mean spiritual, emotional. mental, or physical.
As we work ever inward to the higher levels of understanding we need to start somewhere. The starting point is the physical alignment of your body, starting with your feet. When we learn this basic skill called “Wuji Stance” we will have a working model of alignment that we can “clone” into our thinking to restructure our bodies, minds, emotions, and ultimately our spirits. Then we can keep feeding back that spiritual energy to continually strengthen our bodies, minds, emotions. The cycle continues until we have the “rarefied qi” of original Spirit known as “the gold pill” a spiritual embryo that grows within us until such time as it “becomes” us and we are reborn into Tao.
It is simple really. Just start under your feet. We want a totally natural alignment of our skeleton so we can relax all of our muscles. The following list is an example of what I tell my students. I probably say this list fifty times a week in my classes…..
1. Feet parallel and shoulder width apart
2. Knees slightly bent
3. Tailbone tucked in so your lumbar spine is vertical
4. Relax the hips and “sit” into your legs
5. Let the “golden thread from heaven” lift your head
6. Tuck in your chin so that your cervical spine is vertical
7. Relax your shoulders, let your arms dangle at your side
8. Contain your chest, don’t “puff out” your chest
9. Bring your breath to your dantien, just below the navel
10. Bring your mind down to your dantien
11. Put your tongue at your palate
12. Keep your eyes soft, don’t strain your eyes
In addition I tell students to: keep their hearts open, explaining that there is no need for any emotional energy, and to keep their mental energy redirected inward, reviewing the 12 points on the list. Then I repeat the list….
Now you can start right away by learning to Tune your Breath
more here: Qigong lesson #3
“The journey of a thousand miles, starts under your feet.”
For all people on the Way, there are many paths with side excursions and a few distractions and even some “deviations”.
Any well thought out journey starts somewhere; indeed today even scientists think they can explain the origin of the universe. As fantastic as “the big bang theory” is….would you believe that well over 2500 years ago the planet’s original “scientists” the Taoists, had a similar theory?
According to the Taoist cosmology, before anything “existed” there was something they called “Wuji”. This (literally) means “the Void” or “without form” or “the beginning.” From this “Void”,”Tao” emerged, Tao being translated as “the Way” or “path”. An interesting side note corresponds to religious texts….”God created the Heaven and Earth”. For the Taoists you might look at it this way…’From the void, Tao emerged and created the heavens and Earth’.
Is it not sort of enlightening that Taoist thought can merge science and religion and validate both simultaneously? I tread lightly here so as to not evoke sensibilities, but let’s assume that the science of things is always open to scrutiny, and admit that religious texts were written thousands of years ago and are famous for using metaphorical language. Anyway, I’m only attempting to give some perspective to Wuji.
If you are still following me (and wondering what this has to do with Qigong) consider this, finding a “place” without form gives us a connection to divine origins. Notice my choice of words, crafted somewhere between the scientific and religious terminology. It is here where we see one way that “all things are connected”.
Along the Way we often find that science and religion merge into philosophy. By extrapolation it is easy to see that our physical self’s are connected to an understanding of the merger of the two (science and religion) into a philosophy. In the Taoist arts this philosophy is applied to the physical realm so that practitioners can assimilate cosmic energy directly into themselves.
One can see that practicing Qigong is an endeavor using a philosophy combined with science and spirituality, to nurture the physical self that contains our “Self” self.
Now don’t ever get put off by the talk of spirituality or the word “cosmic” as Taoists define these words in a general sense, for instance, tonight I am “inspired” to write this page, and so these words are coming from my “spirit” and as I post this message it is sent (via satellite) into the cosmos.
This stuff is not rocket science, nor is it some intangible “cosmic” thing; the fact is, this concept is so simple it is woefully misunderstood. My approach to Qigong (energy cultivation) is equally pragmatic, I’m not asking anyone to make any leap of faith; only to see the truth. With this understanding, we can now “start” the journey, also know, that by reading this, you already have…..