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Fourteen Characters on Stake Standing

十 四 字 站 樁


These fourteen Chinese characters are meant to serve as a mnemonic for remembering the essential points of Zhan Zhuang or “stake standing,” a practice common to the internal styles of Chinese martial arts.

The fourteen characters are arranged in four lines which are reproduced below. In the three of the lines, two possible English translations have been provided. Following this is a breakdown of the individual characters.

My thanks to Tim Regan, director of Waterwheel Tai Chi for introducing me to the 14 Character Zhan Zhuang and for providing me with his translation. Tim is a student of the late great B.P. Chan and can be contacted at

14 Characters Stake Standing:

Xu Ling Ding Jin

  1. Empty spirit supports (carries) strength,
  2. Empty awareness and alert intelligence ascend to the crown of the head with vitality,

Han Xiong Ba Bei

  1. Contain (hold in) the chest, draw up the back.
  2. Containing (like something held in one’s mouth) the chest and drawing up the back.

Wei Lu Ti
Lift the coccyx (tail gate),

Ding Tou Xuan

  1. Support the head as if hanging suspended.
  2. Supported from the crown, the head hangs suspended.

Breakdown of the Characters:

Xu Ling Ding Jin
虛 Empty; Void
靈 Spirit; Intelligence
頂 Carry on the head; Gore; Butt; Push from below
勁 Strength; Energy ; Effort

Han Xiong Ba Bei
含 Contain (Keep in mouth)
胸 Chest
拔 Raise; Pull; Draw Out
背 Back

Wei Lu Ti
Lifts the coccyx (tail gate),
尾 Tail
閭 Gate
提 Raise

Ding Tou Xuan
頂 Carry on the head; Gore; Butt; Push from below
頭 Head; of head
懸 Suspend; Hang

2 Responses to Fourteen Characters on Stake Standing

  1. Mr. Chan stressed that “Xu Ling Ting Jin” can also be translated as: “Let the back of your neck touch the collar of your shirt.”

    Also, that most or all the words are onomatopoetic. When you say “haum,” your chest automatically does the right thing.

    • Tom Bisio

      Thanks for your input. It is interesting because my Xing Yi school brother Song Zi Yong also advises that one should let the back of the neck touch the collar of the shirt. He feels that uplifting the head too much creates tension in the neck.

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