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Da Cheng Quan 1: Practical Content of Zhan Zhuang

This article is a translation from the French book, Dacheng quan, L’art ultime de combat by Guo Guizhi (Paris: Arkanorum, 2001) pp. 37-38. Guo studied Da Cheng Quan with Dr. Yu Yong Nian, Wang Xiang Zhai and Chang Ze Lang in 1957. In 1963 he began to train with Master Yao Zong Xun. Later he went on to teach and promote the art of Da Cheng Quan in Europe.

The five organs are the heart, liver, spleen, lungs and the intestines. One must ensure that the five elements are full and replete. The four extremities are the tongue, the hair, the teeth, and the nails of the fingers and toes. Their correspondences are as follows: the tongue is the extremity of the flesh; the hair of the blood; the teeth of the bones, and the nails of the sinews. One past practitioner said: “Obtain more Qi after having understood the five organs. Obtain more force after having understanding the four extremities.” Filling the five organs consists of developing the capacity of being empty above and full below; empty and full of vitality in the abdomen and chest. It is necessary to understand that “empty and full of vitality” aims to have a sensation of fullness generated by the spirit.

Working with the four extremities consists of developing the capacity to concentrate the energies to their corresponding extremity (as Master Wang said that each individual hair becomes excited. The four extremities are active or ready during combat, which is to say that these four elements: the tongue, the hair, the teeth, and the nails of the hands and feet are in a state of vigilance. This can increase the real strength (power). one must have a sense of tightening in the crotch, under the armpit and in the jaw (three locations). But this does not signify tension. It is like squeezing an iron bar between the legs without pulling, squeezing the area under the armpit, or tensing the clenching the jaw. The head pushes upward and the tongue pushes upward toward the palate (two locations). Through practice the skills of squeezing and pushing augment the two and three areas mentioned previously and all the joints of the body.

Three Sections and Nine Knots

The three sections are: between the head and the stomach (abdomen); the shoulder and hand; the hip and the foot. The nine knots are: head, chest, abdomen, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, and foot. Each is used in combat. Ancient writings on martial arts say: If one does not understand the upper segment there is no force; the energy of the body is empty if one does not understand the middle segment; there is no base if one does not understand the lower segment.

The Tooth Bites the Tendon and the Tongue Contains the Heavens

During Zhan Zhuang practice, open the mouth slightly and the teeth bite without closing as though biting a morsel of beef tendon. The tongue draws inward and presses against the upper palate, like a rainbow.

[1] In French Zhan Zhuang is usually referred to as “La Posture de L’Arbre” (the Tree Posture). For clarity I have changed this back to the Chinese – Zhan Zhuang.