WAY OF THE MASTERS
Can you show me the way to stand longer? Should I stand longer? How long should it be?
The way all masters have traveled is by sheer hard work. If you are not ready to put in hard work everyday for at least a few months, you can forget about developing internal force with the Horse-Riding Stance.
Of course you should stand longer, but the increase of time must be gradual. It is reputed that great Shaolin masters in the past like Hoong Hei Khoon and Thit Kiew Sam remained at their Horse-Riding Stance for hours everyday! Nevertheless, with reference to our present standard of kungfu, if you can remain at your stance for 15 minutes, you would have done well.
Here is some advice which may make your hard work more pleasant. Indeed, initially most people find practising the Horse-Riding Stance “torture”, but gradually, the few who persist and succeed in overcoming the initial pain, will find subtle joys in the stance training.
Most important of all you must relax — physically and mentally. Asking how to relax is like asking how to speak or how to eat. You just relax, like you just speak or eat. If you can relax you will have removed the most significant obstacle preventing you from lengthening the time of your stance training.
It is important to have your form correct, and remain at this correct form throughout the exercise. See that your body is upright, your mouth slightly open, and your fists held firmly at your waist. Your eyes may be open or gently closed. Breathe naturally and gently. Place your mind at your abdominal dan tian (energy field) and count your breathing.
Let us say in this first training session you can “sit” on your Horse-Riding Stance for 10 breaths. “Sit” for 10 breaths for the next two sessions. At the fourth session, i.e. after training for 3 sessions, increase 1 or 2 breaths. For the next 3 sessions “sit” on your stance for 11 or 12 breaths. Continue training in this manner, adding 1 or 2 breaths after 3 sessions. In this way, provided that your training is consistent and regular, you will be able to “sit” on your stance for about 15 minutes after a few months. You will also find that your breathing has become deeper and longer.
Zhan zhuang or stance training does not merely give your solid stances. More significantly it builds your internal force and gives you mental clarity and freshness. You should also complement your stance training with leg stretching exercises, so that your footwork is not only solid but also agile.
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