It's true, often times they did. I believe (of course I could be mistaken) that as early as the Yuan Dynasty, codifying everything with overly complex mystical sounding terminology became a fad. It is especially this with many of the Taoist texts from that period pertaining to everything from microcosmic orbit, to martial arts writing.
Originally Posted by It is Fake
Often times, these guys tend to pass off something as simple as fa jing into some sort of mystic energy that has to be cultivated by years of meditation and sent through waves of energy, rather than a simple body dynamic.
When you sit down with many of these people or masters in person nothing is that complicated unless, it is a person that is a borderline charlatan
Kama Sutra blue belt.
Originally Posted by Emevas
Originally Posted by Rock Ape
I'm very much in agreement.
Don't get me started on Fa-jing, Tai Chi, Chi and wushu.
I think it's a fair guess that anyone who spent enough time with "IMA" has gripes with the fa-jing mystical crap, since a good 70% of the market is saturated with frauds.
Kama Sutra blue belt.
Originally Posted by Emevas
Originally Posted by Rock Ape
As someone who does a lot of zhan zhuang, and can give you my interpretation. There is a difference, first of all, between hard isometric training - such as Hung Gar single finger arm thrusts, and relaxed isometric tension as used in taiji and Yiquan - although all are obviously theoretical extensions of a wide community of ideas with many common origins.
Zhan Zhaung on its own doesn't do anything for your martial arts - that's the first thing to be clear on. The second thing is to recognise that the terms uses in ZZ tend to create an impression of something far more mystical than it really is.
There are no specific postures in ZZ, but there are some famous ones, like tree hugging. People who think certain postures have mystical significance - or that just holding or waving your arms in certain patterns will increase MA skill have missed the point. ZZ is simply an isometric training exercise designed toimprove the communication between your conscious decisions to move - say, throw a punch or step, your motor neurones, and your nerves.
The fundamental (modern) theory is that your body is covered with nerves, and just like every other aspect of training, you can improve the ability of the mind to 'pull the strings' - like puppet strings - and so control your body more effectively.
This training method isn't MA specific - it's used in a number of sports, such as shooting, archery and swiming.
It simply involves holding a position - say, tree hugging - and using visualisation to send a message to the nerves of parts of your body, telling them to initiate the first stage of pulling in. Mental imagery is used to make the feeling stronger, and to get the feeling all over the body. With time, it's perfectly possible to 'fire' nerves all over your body - the nerves to pull in, and to push put, and down, and up - because all it is is a signal from the nurones, and in time the neurones can be trained to send all the signals at once - it's not even that difficult. This in itself is empirically testable in that any able bodied person who could be bothered can also do it.
Once the feelings are strong - and that requires relaxation as well, whic is quite awkward to 'get', the feeling is extended in to slow movement - hence slow movement in taiji, for example. The movements at first are generally, generic at first - such as out, down, up, and then later specific to whatever sport or art you do, sometimes extending in to free movements. The idea is that this can be used to get more steadiness in shooting, say, as well as to train punches.
In a strange sort of way, it's very much like an 'aliveness' concept, but for the whole body, and part of the idea is that this makes it easier to learn new techniques and skills, because you have a greater ability to see, imagine, learn and copy - because you've improved the ability of your body to be controlled and act out what your mind wants it to do.
There are other elements to, such as extension in to fast movement. But what is often over looked is that this is simply one small training exercise - a little unusual, but many people have found value in it. But without being combined with extensive fight training, bag work, cardio, sparring, wrestling - just the same as any practical martial art skill, it's pretty meaningless in martial arts terms. It's simply there, in theory, to help create a better raw material base for your continuing training - but the continuing training has to be there as well.
If you say why not just do the training and no ZZ - well, I'm not telling anyone to do it, lol - I'm just explaining why I do it. I'm not a world class fight athlete by any means, but I'm in my 40s and still learning and training a lot, and I do feel that it has helped make me improve faster and had health benefits by making my body more 'alive'. After doing ZZ for some time, I found alot of other benefits in other sports, and even when I did some forms again after a long time, my physical ability to be artistic with my body had improved. But it is merely a supplementary training idea.
Last edited by Xia; 5/24/2010 6:28am at .
So training motor control through visualisation and gradually building to slow movements? Something like Alexander technique and Feldenkrais? That sounds interesting, and is helps me understand why IMA's might be performed the way they are, cheers!
You mention the use of this idea in modern sports, do you mean an application of Zhan Zuang, or a parrallel development in sports science/coaching that matches your understanding of Zhan Zuang? (isn't it great when you find the same idea as something you've been studying, but in an entirely different discipline). If you know of a reasonably basic article on the sport science side of it I'd be inerested in a link.
Where are you? my friend.. Hard to find someone familiar with these theory. What is your Yiquan style from?
Originally Posted by Xia
Originally Posted by Adam_F
I first heard about its use in other sports from my wushu coach, who taught at Beijing sports university, and he mentioned that it was used in other sports in China as quite a modern, sports science idea. Archery and swimming, I specificaly remember him mentioning. Then in an an interview by a student of Yao Zong Xun it was mentioned that he had been asked to teach visualisation and ZZ techniques to pistol shooters, archers and weightlifters - and was also pencilled in to teach boxers, but became quite ill, unfortunately, due to an unbelievably hard life under Communism.
I'm sure there are sports science papers, in Chinese, but I'm afraid my information comes from more anecdotal sources - although my coach is a very striaghtforwards man, very modern, and explained that zhan zhuang was being used at the sports university, and also for medical aspects - so there may well be a strong Alexander technique connection.
It's very often thought that slow motion practice is about learning techniques slowly - but that's a Western misconception, often carried over by low level practitioners who never trained very deeply in the art. The feeling of isometric resistance is called 'mojin' in Chinese, and requires relaxing whilst at the same time developing an actual feeling of resistance, like moving in water. Unfortuantely, people tend to miss the part of, say, Chen taiji training, where they are practicing wrestling, lifting weights, etc., and so get the wrong idea about the totality of the training programme.
If I come across any translated medical documents, I'll certainly post them up.
There are, of course, many other branches and interpretations of zhan zhuang - but I rather suspect it's just a matter of explanations becoming less and less superstitious or fancy over the years. Some people still like to talk about qi, etc., but those are only descriptions.
Here's an article which gives a more rounded explanation of modern theory regarding ZZ:
The great problem, of course, like so many things, is what we call in social science, pejoratively, 'grand theory' - meaning, it's easy to come up with grand theories but not so easy to make them match practical reality. Consequently, Yiquan especially, does have, unfortunately, a number of people who rely largely on grand theory, and a rather North Korean response to scrutiny - however, implicit in the original concept of Yiquan is serious training and research in to modern sports science / sports combat methods - meaning that things like MMA and BJJ, and also rejecting nationalism in martial arts thinking, are natural avenues in Yiquan, not enemies or pitfalls, like they are for some other martial arts.
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