Friday, September 12, 2014

Wuji (無極) Positions & Zhan Zhuang (站桩) Applications for Classical Wu Style Taijiquan

The Wuji Form and application of Zhan Zhuang will now be presented. 

Authored by J.B. Milne and Stephen Hwa, Ph.D.
Authored and edited with audio and video presentation by J.E. Roach

Breathing will be done naturally. 

Here is the audio of this written explanation:

Here is the written explanation of Wuji

Zhan Zhuang for Taijiquan Practice. The Wuji Positions allows the practitioner to relax the mind, while, adjusting, aligning, and balancing the body to produce correct postures. Zhan Zhuang Training, on the other hand, strengthens the tendons and ligaments, aids in balancing, teaches the muscles to relax, and identifies weaknesses not noticed while practicing the Form. This is important in helping to identify the proper placement of the heel and weighting of the empty foot. 

The Square Form of Classical Taijiquan, brush knee movement (on both right and left sides) is being used to illustrate how Wuji and  Zhan Zhuang can be applied at those stopping points for each position. Applying these training methods in addition to form practice will help the student in developing strength and proper form. Wuji is defined as nothingness, the beginning before intention and movement. Wuji is discussed in many Taijiquan Books written by both practitioners and masters alike. These writers mainly address Wuji in the Preparation Posture and/or the Closing Posture of the Taiji Form. As such, most readers are left to believe Wuji is only accomplished at the beginning and ending of the Taiji Form. However, this is not so. Wuji is practiced during every posture, that is, every posture begins with Wuji, moves into Taiji, and returns to Wuji.

Zhan Zhuang (standing like a stake, standing like a tree) Training is a way to relax both the nervous and muscular systems simultaneously. This is accomplished by combining exertion and relaxation simultaneously. Breathing is done by inhaling and exhaling gently through the nose while keeping the mouth closed and relaxed. The chest, stomach, and hips are in a relaxed state. Zhan Zhuang helps with the identification of the energy flow in the different positions and trains to keep the localized nerve activity dormant (Forum 6); as well as, strengthening the yin side of the posture for strong rooting and building power (Forum 7). There is no set time limit in Zhan Zhuang Training; however, the seasoned practitioner has been known to hold the positions in excess of twenty minutes. Some have claimed to be able to hold the positions for hours. It is important to remember, that as the tension builds in different parts of the body, to tell yourself to relax. (RELAX, RELAX, RELAX) Start with short time frames and increase the holding time slowly.

Here is the movie:

Wuji movie  "Right side"

Wuji movie "Left side " 

Here is the audio mp3 of the instructions:

Here are the written instructions for "right side" Wuji:
(Instructions for "left side" Wuji are to be found in "Wuji instruction left side" above)

1) Beginning of Brush Knee Push Step
The right foot is flat on the ground supporting the body weight completely with the right knee bent slightly.
The left leg is straight without any pressure on the knee or left heel, left toes are extended as high as they will go, giving a slight stretch to the back of the leg.
The tailbone is tucked in and the head is stretched up by the neck muscles.
The shoulders are relaxed and the elbows are pointing down.
The palms are facing each other at shoulder width, with the right fingers pointing to the front and the left fingers pointing up.
Notice that a straight line could be drawn between the crown of the head, passing through the ear and knee to the right foot.

2) Transition one
In transition one, the only change to the beginning position is the left arm is held across the body with the palm facing down.

3) Transition two
In transition two, the only change to transition one is the left toes are touching the ground. All the weight is still maintained on the right foot.

4) End of Brush Knee Push Step
In the end posture of Brush Knee Push Step, both feet are flat on the ground with the left leg supporting the body.
The right leg is straight with a stretch between the Achilles Heel and the back of the neck.
The right palm has rotated to face front, thumb in line with the nose, and the left palm has moved across the left thigh.

Notice that a straight line could be drawn between the crown of the head, passing through the ear and knee to the left foot, as well as, between the right ear, right shoulder, and right knee to the right foot.