In this issue we have an article on Zhan Zhuang, standing meditation, by Mark Cohen of Hawaii. He is a long time martial artist and his Tai Chi background includes Yang and Wu styles.He has been practicing Zhan Zhuang for many years and draws on that experience to explain how and why to practice.
We have had some articles on Tai Chi standing meditation in the past. In the early 1990s, I interviewed Fong Ha of Berkeley, CA.
He still teaches and holds seminars. He introduced me to Cai Songfang, who learned standing postures in the 1950s and later became proficient in push hands.A well-known proponent of Zhan Zhuang was Kuo Lien Ying, who taught in San Francisco. He was famous for his Universal Post standing posture, which he did in a park every morning for a hour.
Yang Cheng-fu's push hands did not get to a higher level until he began standing postures, according to various reports.
The movements of Tai Chi have their own challenges and simply standing presents other challenges. Mark Cohen does a good job of explaining how to do it and how to deal with some of the problems practitioners encounter.
With standing meditation one can start out with a few minutes and work up to longer periods, up to an hour. Or one can do it for a few minutes multiple times during the day. It is a challenging practice but very worthwhile.
Wang Fengming continues with his insightful description of push hands methods. The methods he presents are rarely described in print and can be translated into many training methods.
Zhan Zhuang is very helpful in the progression of push hands. It does increase internal strength and, if done correctly, can increase the relaxation of the arms, elbows, shoulders and back as well as internal organs.
Lisa B. O'Shea has been practicing qigong for many years and writes an article in this issue about Qigong and Cholesterol. Qigong can be effective for mind and body. It was growing in China until the Falun Gong sect began to use it for political purposes.
Vincent Chu of Brookline, MA, has been teaching Tai Chi in the Boston area with his father, Gin Soon Chu for many years.Vincent Chu discusses the relative importance of various forms versus studying the basic principles. He goes into detail about the forms and the principles.
Eo Omwake, a longtime practitioner, writes about the important experience of stillness and movement in Tai Chi.There are many takes on stillness and movement. In fact, it is an important component of Mark Cohen's article on Zhan Zhuang. Even in standing there is stillness in movement. Even in moving there is stillness and movement.When my teacher asked me to take over his studio because he was moving to another part of the city, I asked my Zen teacher to make a scroll for me to hang on the wall. The scroll read, “Stillness and Movement are One.”
So there are many insights to be gained from stillness, movement and oneness.
In the last issue of the magazine there was an interesting article by Yang Guo Jing of Sydney, Australia, on push hands.
His translator contacted me to say there was a mistranslation of an important word.
“When practicing forms and push hands, the body utilizes the feet as the primary root, then the balance is further supported by the waist and Dan Tian (丹田), and Yi (意mind, consciousness) are used to assert control and help regulate the body in order to achieve the “use of Yi instead of force.”(用意不用劲).”
The last Chinese character in the last phrase should have been Li, or external strength, 力.
The phrase is a famous one: Use Yi (intent), do not use Li, external strength.•