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  • New to the Horse Stance


    Hello All,

    Firstly many thanks for giving an insight into your experiences, it is very helpful. As a newcomer I would just like to give you my understanding of what has been written here and in Sifu's Q&A series so that I can be corrected if necessary.

    One of the most important factors in performing the horse stance correctly is being relaxed. While correctness of form (by form I mean height, width, uprightness, direction of feet, weighting on feet) is also very important there are allowable variations in these parameters. Let us say for instance that you try to emulate Sifu's stance height or depth should I say for example but you find yourself tensing too much, it is more beneficial to take a higher stance and be relaxed and focused. You are still getting benefits yes? (assuming all other points of form are correct).

    In the same way Sifu has said you "know" when you have experienced chi will you just know you are doing the stance correctly?? Can this along with results over time (positive and lack of negative blockages) tell you if you are successful??

    Would I be correct in saying also that form becomes less important if you are training directly with a Master; you do not have to concern yourself with "am i doing this or that right" you are simply told what to do? That being the case training on your own becomes so much slower as you may have to backtrack and correct as blockages show up.

    Has anyone any advice about being upright in the stance or weighting on the feet?
    Or corrections/addition to the above.

    Many Thanks
    Paschal


  • #2

    Paschal,

    It's a good question. Looks like everyone else is too busy with his or her horse stance to answer. I'll give it a shot.

    "...it is more beneficial to take a higher stance and be relaxed and focused. You are still getting benefits yes?"

    As I said in another thread, there is definitely an "acceptable range" for the height of the horse stance. If you feel uncomfortable in a low stance, it is acceptable to raise is slightly. However, if your horse stance is so high that it is almost a goat stance, then this is wrong. This is neither here nor there. A horse stance is a low stance. Don't expect it to be as comfortable as a goat stance. In the beginning, it can be quite uncomfortable.

    Both the horse stance and the goat stance bring benefits, but they have a slightly different focus. The horse stance trains jing, whereas the goat stance focuses on qi. Since jing and qi are interchangeable, this is not a big deal, especially in the beginning. Genearlly speaking, the horse stance is the fundamental stance used for Zhan Zhuang (stance training) in Shaolinquan, whereas the goat (or 3-Circle) stance is the fundamental stance used for Zhan Zhuang in Taijiquan.

    Whatever stance you practice, remember that gradual progress is essential. A beginner may only last 1 minute in the horse stance. Give yourself time to adjust. Don't push too hard. Add a second or two every few days. Your first goal should be to sit comfortably for 5 minutes. If you practice daily, this may take you 3-6 months to achieve.

    "In the same way Sifu has said you "know" when you have experienced chi will you just know you are doing the stance correctly??"

    I've been practicing the horse stance and Golden Bridge for years (on my own and under Sifu's supervision) but I still don't know if it is "correct." I don't think there is a perfectly correct stance at this stage of the game. I make adjustments all the time, and with good reason: as my internal alignment changes, my external alignment must also change.

    Since things are constantly changing, I cannot say that I "just know" when I'm doing it right or wrong. Others may have different experiences. I'm sure that I do it wrong at times, tensing one part of my body or another, or losing my concentration. This is what makes Zhan Zhuang so difficult; it is simple, but not easy.

    "Would I be correct in saying also that form becomes less important if you are training directly with a Master"

    Are we talking internal or external form? Actually, I'm not sure that it matters. Both are important, and both are easier to do under the supervision of a master.

    "That being the case training on your own becomes so much slower as you may have to backtrack and correct as blockages show up. "

    We all have to backtrack at times. I practiced the horse stance completely wrong for 3 months before having it corrected by Sifu. I had to start over.

    However, those of us who have learned directly from Sifu Wong have a distinct advantage: we know how to generate an internal energy flow. By letting our qi flow where it wants, we can clear any minor blockages we might have created during Zhan Zhuang practice.

    People who don’t know how to generate an internal energy flow can hurt themselves practicing Zhan Zhuang. One of my seniors did this before meeting Sifu Wong. He practiced the 3-Circle Stance incorrectly out of a book. He practiced diligently—but incorrectly--every day for years. Because he didn’t use self-manifested qi flow to clear the blockages, he developed health problems as a result of his improper practice.

    If I remember correctly, you have taken a course with Sifu Wong. In this case, you have an advantage. You need not worry too much about such mistakes, though you should still try to practice correctly. Just remember to let your qi flow for 5-10 minutes after practicing the stance.

    "Has anyone any advice about being upright in the stance or weighting on the feet?"

    The posture should be upright and relaxed (easier said than done). Beginners tend to lose their upright posture after practicing for some time. The weighting is 50% on each foot spread evenly throughout the foot. Putting all of your weight either on the balls of your feet or on the heels would be incorrect.

    I hope that answers your questions. Now I have a few questions for you

    How long have you been practicing qigong? How long have you been practicing the horse stance? How do you feel after you practice? How old are you? Do you have any experience in the martial arts?

    All the best,

    A<




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    • #3

      "How long have you been practicing qigong? How long have you been practicing the horse stance? How do you feel after you practice? How old are you? Do you have any experience in the martial arts?"
      Anthony,

      Thank you for the reply, very interesting and helpful as always. You are very kind to take the time.
      My first experience with qigong was in dec 2001 in Malaysia.
      I went to an intensive course with Sharon O Boyle. It was because of the changes I had seen in her that convinced me to give it a try and what I read in the website. I thought I was crazy to just up and go without any personal experience but yet it seemed right and everything for the trip fell into place so easily. Sifus first words have proved true "You will look back on today as one of the best decisions you have ever made in your life".
      I started the horse stance over a month ago. I had no conscious intention of beginning it until one night I just stopped my Taijiquan practice and did the horse stance instead. I had been doing Taijiquan for about 6 months. So all I have been doing since then is Lifting the Sky followed by horse stance followed by Lifting the Sky and chi flow followed by leg stretches. I have zero martial arts experience.
      After practice I generally feel very peaceful, sometimes during the stance I feel tremedously peaceful. I have felt slight chest pain once or twice but by the time i finish my chi flow it is gone.


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      • #4

        Paschal,

        Thanks for your kind words.

        I have a few suggestions for your practice. Mind you, these are not my ideas or instructions; I am merely passing on things that I have learned from Sifu over the years.

        Starting with Lifting the Sky is a good idea. This is the way Sifu does it, and the way he teaches us to do it in his kungfu classes. This is how we "warm up." We get our chi flowing using this simple but powerful exercise. It is also a good idea to end your practice with Lifting the Sky. Sifu also teaches this to his kungfu students. Lifting the Sky is a great way to both begin and end your practice.

        So I would suggest that you begin with Lifting the Sky, then let your chi flow for a while. When you are ready, bring your chi back to dantian, then start your stance training. Complete the stance training by letting your chi flow.

        Here are Sifu’s own words on the subject:

        "When you find that you cannot continue holding your stance any longer, jump your feet together. Just before your jump, bend your body slightly forward and place your open palms near your knees. As you jump, breathe in gently through your nose into your chest, and simultaneously bring your open palms together facing upward at chest level. When you are standing upright with your feet together, turn your palms to face downward and lower them to your dantian level, simultaneously breathing out through your mouth, and letting your chi sink gently – this is very important, gently – down to your dantian. This is called “Chi Focusing at Dan Tian”. Then drop your arms leisurely at your sides. "

        Then: "remain standing upright in a totally relaxed manner with your arms hanging comfortably at your sides. Then think of nothing and do nothing for 5 to 10 minutes. This thinking of nothing and doing nothing is most important. If you are relaxed sufficiently, you will find yourself swaying gently due to your internal chi flow. This is called in Shaolin Kungfu in Chinese (Cantonese pronunciation) as 'Yew Foong Pai Lau' or 'Flowing Breeze and Swaying Willows', sometimes read in classics but seldom understood by the uninitiated."

        “Flowing Breeze and Swaying Willows is one of the secrets in Shaolin Kungfu. If you do not perform 'Flowing Breeze and Swaying Willow' after horse-riding stance...you would lose more than half the benefits. It is this 'Flowing Breeze and Swaying Willows' that you generate the internal force in the horse-riding training, without which it becomes merely physical exercise."

        In the beginning, you may find your chi flowing vigorously, but after practicing for some time, you may find that your chi wants to consolidate instead of flow. You may experience the state Sifu calls “flowingly still.” Let your chi do whatever it wants. If it wants to flow, let it flow. If it wants to consolidate, let it consolidate. If it wants to do both, let it do both.

        When you are finished, move on to leg stretching exercises. If you know these exercises, you might want to begin with "Three Levels to Earth" followed by "Dancing Crane." Otherwise, just do any stretching exercises you feel comfortable with. The main goal here is to loosen the leg muscles which tend to become tight after stance training.

        After stretching, complete your practice with Lifting the Sky.

        "You will look back on today as one of the best decisions you have ever made in your life".

        So true. So true.

        “I have zero martial arts experience.”

        This is no longer true. You have already taken the step from chikung to kungfu. Whether or not you realize it, you are now practicing the traditional method used for centuries to prepare students for learning high-level kungfu. The method is deceptively simple and often overlooked by modern students. If you can persist in training the horse stance for some time, you will find that you have given yourself a solid foundation upon which to build any martial art.

        I should point out that the path you have chosen to take is not easy. Developing a 5-minute horse stance is one of the most difficult--and the most rewarding--things you can do. It requires considerable patience, perseverance, and determination. Indeed, this method was used precisely to test (and develop) these qualities in students in the past. In the old days, when choosing deserving students was a serious matter, this method proved invaluable to masters.

        I wish you the best of luck with your path. If you should have any questions along the way, please don’t hesitate to ask.



        Anthony




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        • #5

          Anthony,

          Thanks, if i could achieve that goal of 5 minutes I would be very happy.

          Your advice is deeply appreciated.

          rgds
          Paschal


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