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Zhan Zhuang
The Art of Nourishing Life

It is through this form, which in ancient China was named symbiosis —a process by which the mind and body merge together with the Tao— , that an infinite field of possibilities opens to us, both in the treatment and prevention of diseases, and at the level of development of latent potential within us...

ZHAN ZHUANG, THE ART OF NOURISHING LIFE

YU YONGNIAN

Zhan Zhuang, The Art of Nourishing Life is the exploration of an ancestral practice: Zhan Zhuang, the practice of physical and meditative postures. Through this practice, a continual process of adjustment, learning, and purification takes place; it is a process by which the mind and body mutually integrate, triggering the unification of the self and its surroundings.

  • It is through this form, which in ancient China was named symbiosis —a process by which the mind and body merge together with the Tao— , that an infinite field of possibilities opens to us, both in the treatment and prevention of diseases, and at the level of development of latent potential within us.
  • In Zhan Zhuang, The Art of Nourishing Life, Dr. Yu Yongnian not only unveils the heritage of martial and purifying arts —previously available only in an unintelligible language— but also translates them into an accessible form that reveals the laws governing the body and the mind.
Zhan Zhuang: the Art of Nourishing Life, by Dr. Yu Yong Nian
Zhan Zhuang: the Art of Nourishing Life, by Dr. Yu Yong Nian

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

PROLOGUE

The end of an era of superstitions

The transformation of martial arts

Reinterpretation of art in Republican China: the period Guo Shu

Central National Academy of Arts of Nanjing

Wang Xiangzhai

The People’s Republic of China: The Wushu of sports and health

The Research Association of Chinese Kung Fu in Peking: Zhong Guo Quan Xue Xie Hui

Yu YongNian: The art of Intention

Interview with Dr. Yu YongNian

The Power of Peace

Chapter I: Introduction

1. Medical effects of The Posture of the Tree

2. Reactions after The Posture of the Tree

a. Sensations of pins and needles and aches

b. Feeling of painful swelling

c. Feeling of heat

d. Feeling of vibrations

e. Feeling of difference

f. Feeling of well-being and joy

3. Precautions to take during the training

Chapter II: Upright Position

1. Different positions in the Posture of a Tree

2. Main positions in Standing like a Tree — standing

Chapter III: How does one master the intensity of the Zhan Zhuang movement?

1. The choice between the practice of the hand or the foot

2. Classification of the different intensities of movement

a. Intensity Without Effect

b. Maintained Intensity

c. Reinforced Intensity

d. Excessive Intensity

e. Insufficient Intensity

3. Movement Intensity Factors

a. The Subjective Factor

b. The Objective Factor

c. The Duration Factor

d. The Recovery Period Factor

4. Calculation of the Intensity of Movement

a. Calculation of height in cm

b. Calculation in mm of the vertical projection from the body’s centre of gravity

c. Calculation of the spiritual activities in µm

5. The principle of adjustment and distribution on Yi (purpose) and Xing (posture)

a. Eliminating Yi and suppressing Xing

b. Eliminating Yi and exaggerating Xing

c. Reducing Yi and Xing at the same time

d. Reducing Yi and increasing Xing

e. Exaggerating Yi and suppressing Xing

f. Increasing Yi and Xing at the same time

6. Co-ordination or Xing (posture), I (Intention), Li (strength), Qi (energy) and Shen (vigour)

a. Having Xing without I is an “Empty Xing”

b. Having I without Xing does not increase strength

c. Having Yi without Li is an “Empty I”

d. Having strength without I is inefficient

e. Having strength without Qi is a banal strength

f. Having Qi without strength is not practical

g. Having I without Shen is not of the highest level

h. Having Shen — I — Li — Qi, always be prepared

7. Relationship between the degree of flexion and the intensity of movement

a. Relationship between the pivot point and the intensity of movement

b. Relationship between the surface of the foot and the intensity of movement

d. Relationship between the position of the knee joint and the intensity of movement

e. Relationship between the position of the hip joint and the intensity of movement

f. Relationship between the position of the ankle joint and the intensity of movement

g. Relationship between the position of the shoulder joint and the intensity of movement

h. Relationship between the position of the elbow joint and the intensity of movement

i. Relationship between the position of the wrist and the intensity of movement

Chapter IV: The Work of Intention in Zhan Zhuang

1. The Action of Relaxation

a. Relaxation of the mind

b. Relaxation of expression

c. Relaxation by breathing

d. Relaxation by small movement

e. Relaxation by actively changing position

f. Relaxation by passively changing position

2. The Action of Imagination

a. Looking into the distance

b. Listening from a distance

c. Holding an object

d. Walking on cotton

e. Holding a balloon in the arms

f. Moving forward in water

3. Flexible muscle movement

a. Introduction

b. Flexible leg movement

4. Action of connecting

a. Tip of the foot-heel-knee

b. Tip of the foot-knee-hip

c. Knee-stomach-hip — tip of foot-heel-knee-stomach-hip-buttocks

d. Elbow-shoulder-hand

e. Thumb-little finger-wrist

5. The action of pulling the tendon

a. Both feet / back

b. Both feet / neck

c. Both hands / neck

d. Both feet / back — both hands / back

Chapter V: The Theory of Zhan Zhuang

1. The relation Between Medicine and Physical Activities

2. Diagram explaining how Zhan Zhuang works and its evolution of work

3. Discussion on the definition of stability and movement in stability

a. Definition of movement and stability

b. Classification of movement

4. Application of flexible movement to “contraction and relaxation” exercises of the bottom of the foot

a. Passive movement

b. Active movement

c. Role of the sole of the foot

d. Action of the sole of the foot in static position

e. The movement of running

f. The movement of jumping

g. The movement of “Stretching / Tightening”

h. The movement of “Sliding / Stopping”

i. The movement of “Crushing / Rubbing”

j. The movement of “Pulling / Lifting”

Chapter VI: A Study on Qi (Energy)

1. What is Qi?

a. Qi is a magnetic wave

b. Qi is a low frequency infra-red wave

c. Qi’s field

2. Commentaries from abroad

a. Report from the Committee of Science of the United States

b. Discover report

3. Test of External Qi

a. Effects of external Qi

Chapter VII: A Study on the “Object”

1. What is the “Object”?

2. The object described by Laozi

3. Relations between Qi (Energy), Strength, Object and Tao

4. To forget while in a seated position and to create in Tao

5. The most important use of the “Object”

6. The “Object” of Yi Chuan

Chapter VIII: The Quest for the “Object” through the Posture of a Tree

1. Categorizing of the “Object”

2. Tao method

3. Method of medicine

4. Confucius method

5. Taoism and Buddhism Methods

6. Difference between Posture of a Tree and Qi Gong (Qi practice)

7. The Development of Posture of a Tree in Modern Times

Chapter IX: The “Object”, or the Second Voluntary Movement

1. Categories of Movement

-Standards of movement

-System of movement

-Process of movement

-Sole contraction

-Sole rapid contraction

– Simultaneous contraction

-Permanent contraction of the muscles at work + Rapid contraction of the muscles at rest (See drawing below)

-Permanent contraction of muscles at work + Slow contraction of muscles at rest (see drawing below)

-Permanent contraction of muscles at work + Permanent contraction of muscles at rest (see drawing below)

-Mechanism of the creation of movement

2. Primary Voluntary Movement

3. Secondary Voluntary Movement

4. Change in heartbeat in secondary voluntary movement

a. Change in heartbeat in secondary voluntary movement in a seated position

b. Change in heartbeat in secondary voluntary movement in a standing position

5. Series of training in Posture of a Tree

a. Demands of the primary voluntary movement in Posture of a Tree

b. Demands of the secondary voluntary movement in Posture of a Tree

6. Application of Posture of a Tree

a. Sports Domain

b. Medical and Health Domain

c. Training Domain

d. Reaction from actions requiring little effort

e. Strength Recovery

f. Increase in Productivity

7. Conclusion

a. Immobility is also a movement

b. New Category of voluntary movement

c. Mental activities

d. Exercise of thought

e. Small movement — high-level sport

f. Moving in immobility

g. Regulation of pulse and breathing

Professor Yu Yongnian was one of the earliest students of Grand Master Wang Xiangzhai.
After many years of study and practice under Master Wang, Professor Yu began introducing Zhan Zhuang for the treatment of chronic diseases at his hospital in Beijing. His initial success was such that a major medical conference was held at the Beijing Shoudong San Hospital three years later, in 1956, to introduce the zhan zhuang system to hospitals throughout China.
After the Cultural Revolution, Professor Yu published ground-breaking books on the Zhan Zhuang system. The first edition of Zhan Zhuang for Health came out in February 1982.
For over 70 decades, Professor Yu devoted himself to practicing and teaching this art. He was completely loyal to the tradition established by Grand Master Wang Xiangzhai. Professor Yu became the world’s leading authority on Zhan Zhuang, and was internationally appreciated. He travelled in Asia and Europe, teaching this art and guiding zhan zhuang practitioners from many countries.

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