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I've tried to describe zhan zhuang in simple terms on the one hand, but to include mention of the main aspects of the practice.
Moved from article
The following is probably better off at Yiquan than here, as it only describes how the techniques is used in that style. Most other Chinese styles use post standing, and use it in different ways for different purposes:
The Yiquan method falls into two categories: Yangshen zhuang, health postures; and Jiji zhuang, combat postures.
The health postures are so called, because the body is allowed to become very relaxed while maintaining the posture. This relatively relaxed state is beneficial to health due to the calming effect on the mind and due to other effects such as the lowering of blood pressure and of heart rate.
Small adjustments are made to the posture that one has adopted, in order to minimise any localised muscular tension. As one becomes more proficient at achieving the relaxed state, one may become aware of a floating sensation due to the lack of any localised tension. Although many practitioners focus on the Yangshen postures as health methods, these postures are nevertheless considered to be useful for combat training, since the lack of localised tension allows any part of the body to be able, instantly to move in any direction, rapidly, without having to make any intermediate adjustments.
The Jiji zhuang, or combat postures have a different purpose from the health postures. In these postures, the practitioner adopts a stance similar to a health posture, i.e. with no localised tension, but now the practitioner tries to move every part of his body towards a particular direction, as if pushing or pulling; and at the same time he tries to prevent that movement from happening. The essential similarity with the health postures is that there is still no localised tension, even though mechanical work is being done. Since no movement occurs, the forces remain in a state of static equilibrium.
This training can be varied in several ways, whereby the direction of attempted movement is changed rapidly to improve responsiveness, for example; or where the degree of effort in the attempted movement is increased, in order to build strength.
--Fire Star 16:27, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
I tried to edit the page, but somehow things got screwed up (01:28, 26 January 2006 Mcherrill)
- Mcherrill, please sign your contributions with ~~~~.
The paragraph about Neijia you added is more suitable for the article Neijia. --JohJak2 13:18, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
This Applies to All Chinese Martial Arts Pages
An often neglected aspect in the Wikipedia articles regarding things related to Chinese martial arts, is how demanding they are. I'm surprised to find there is no information on requirements such as the schools of olden times demanding a student work their way up to holding a stance for four hours. Four hours, that is, without resting; while I could be mistaken I believe master Yang Lu Chan, the founder of the Yang style of Tai Chi, required of all beginers to hold Zhan Zhuang for four hours. Zhan Zhuang is for the internal arts, what Ma Bu is for the exernal ones. For the Shaolin schools, and all related arts, Ma Bu is the very first stance learned, and for the internal schools, its Zhan Zhuang. It looks easy, but the exercise is brutal; just 20 minutes can be overwhelming, even if the shoulders are strong. Of course that's beside the point; I am just pointing out, that Wikipedia's Chinese martial arts articles should have stuff on the demands.
I have only been doing taijiquan for a year now, but isn't the man in white on the photograph (the only one in full view) doing it very essentially wrong, with his elbows down like that? Also, his knees appear to be locked. (And he's wearing sunglasses, for crying out loud! :) ) In other words, don't we need a better photograph, especially since a picture is said to say more than an thousand words? (And at the moment the article isn't even that long, so there you go. :) )
Besides the fact that the sources are based on a 2014 published book that is neither academic nor based on primary sources, we have a complete false history of the origins. This is very similar to the case when the claim is made that Tai Chi originates with Taoism, even though historians are very clear that it originates with Chen Wang Ting and is rooted in Shaolin which is only a few miles away from Chen village. Here again we have fancy Taoist claims, but the embracing posture which is claimed to be purely Taoist, actually originates from the famous Shaolin exercise of " Embracing the Urn". The problem with such unsupported claims are the fact that they contradict factual history supported by primary sources. For example, we have till this date not a single piece of evidence that Taoist exercises of any form were in any way concerned with topics other than health or spirituality prior to influence from Shaolin. As a matter of fact we have no evidence of any standing practice concerned with the development of martial power prior to Shaolin. Zhan Zhuang is actually completely rooted in Shaolin and the claim that internal styles are originally from Taoism fully contradicts the historical evidence, because the oldest documents that discuss internal boxing are from Shaolin and we see no such documents in Taoism until a millennia later. It is time that we do not rely on a categorization created on the turn of the early 19th century at the advent of Chinese nationalism.