The term ‘zhan zhuang’ literally translates to ‘standing like a post’. It’s used to refer to a form of standing meditation, where you become mindful of your body, and especially of your posture and alignment. This develops a foundation, one that should be solid enough to permit efficient action.
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To quote a t’ai chi instructor, “If you cannot hold your root while standing still, how can you hold it when moving?” Zhan zhuang focuses on understanding your body and mind, to better control yourself, and therefore be capable of affecting someone else’s body and mind. It’s easy enough to see how to apply this to more physical martial arts. If you know your body, know where everything is, you can more easily translate the intention in your mind into action in the real world.
Zhan zhuang can help develop your posture, your physical structure, how you move, how you stand. Practicing the various forms and postures of zhan zhuang can help you understand what parts of your body are used with which movements, helping you with coordination and efficiency. Conditioning can’t be just about building strength, because all the strength in the world is wasted if it can’t be delivered properly.
Through knowing your body, you can ground yourself, and center yourself, and thus use your body to better effect. Through knowing yourself, you can overcome whatever challenge is posed in front of you.
Have you ever used zhan zhuang postures in your exercises? How have they worked out for you?