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Is it Dangerous to Practice Zhan Zhuang Without a Teacher?

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Hey everyone,

 

I'm newcomer to the forum and qigong. I started qigong just over a month ago and I've been experimenting with different styles. The form which I was originally drawn to was Zhan Zhuang, though I haven't actually practiced Zhan Zhuang yet as I'm a bit concerned about not doing the postures properly and potentially causing mental and physical problems. I've mainly been doing random routines which I've found online.

 

I have also been attending a qigong class for the past four weeks and I can particulary feel my qi during the class. Last week we did the classic stand like a tree pose for about 5 minutes and I felt the energy circulating through me like I haven't before. This has made me even more curious about Zhan Zhuang! The thing is, this class is not a Zhan Zhuang class specifically.

 

I bought the Way of Energy by Master Lam Kam Chuen a while back which I've glanced through. But my question is, is it dangerous to do Zhan Zhuang without a teacher? I've read some posts on here which suggest that a teacher is essential in Zhan Zhuang, and that it can be dangerous to practice without one. Others have said they got no benefit from Zhan Zhuang when practicing by themselves. On the other hand, some have said that if you follow the Way of Energy word by word with the suggested timescale, you have nothing to worry about.

 

I am concerned about the possible negative mental effects of doing Zhan Zhuang in the wrong way. Originally, I was curious about qigong because I wanted to balance and circulate my energy in a healthy way, open the meridians and feel more grounded. Will Zhan Zhuang be a good qigong method to achieve this? Also, would it be necessary to combine Zhan Zhuang with a moving form of qigong? Perhaps there is another form I could think about?

 

Thanks

 

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I don't think you can go far wrong with that book. It is a good choice for someone starting out. The key thing is to get into doing something consistently - every day! Pick one thing and practice it, don't chop and change because 'it's not working' or whatever. I recall reading someone online describe ZZ training as a 'Mad Scientists Lab' which I like but the key thing about a lab is it is for making observations. I would concentrate on observing yourself during ZZ rather than looking for or visualising something specific (structures, flows, processes). Set your base line before you try and change anything. 

 

Most of all, enjoy!

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10 minutes ago, RobB said:

I don't think you can go far wrong with that book. It is a good choice for someone starting out. The key thing is to get into doing something consistently - every day! Pick one thing and practice it, don't chop and change because 'it's not working' or whatever. I recall reading someone online describe ZZ training as a 'Mad Scientists Lab' which I like but the key thing about a lab is it is for making observations. I would concentrate on observing yourself during ZZ rather than looking for or visualising something specific (structures, flows, processes). Set your base line before you try and change anything. 

 

Most of all, enjoy!

Is Zhan Zhuang a form of qigong which is effective as a standalone practice?

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, Qigonging said:

Is Zhan Zhuang a form of qigong which is effective as a standalone practice?

 

[Edited because I didn't read your original post properly...]

 

For the goals you have set yourself in your original post, ZZ is a good place to start. It's worth asking yourself whether you have a solid sense of what those goals are or what you expect to achieve by attaining them. Lots of people have an idea of what it might be like to 'open the meridians' or 'feel more grounded' but they are just ideas, mental constructions. If this stuff interests you, get into it and do it. Stand, observe, rinse, repeat. In 100 days, review and, if necessary at that point, re-orient. 

Edited by RobB
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The thing with Qigong is that it’s a practice with a specific aim - the final outcome of Qigong is to ‘have skill with Qi’ - which sounds very broad - but it means having a kind of ability and dexterity with using Qi in your body.

 

Part of it is opening, channels, clearing out pathogens and blockages and building a body that is capable of conducting and building Qi. 

 

It’s like if you wanted to become a master swimmer - there are many things involved - treading water, breathing, different swimming strokes and of course building the physical body and capable of swimming with skill.

 

So Qi Gong is actually made up of lots of little skills and physical and mental conditions that when they are fully developed, then it can be said that you have skill with Qi (Qi Gong). Each skill or internal quality is trained and developed using different Qi Gong practices and principles. These are like your toolset for developing your skill.

 

Zhan Zhuang is one tool in this toolset. And although it’s a good one, and an important one, and one that you can use in different ways - it’s still just one tool. And it’s an intermediate one at that.

 

So although it’s not ‘dangerous’, it could be counter-productive for you. A swimming teacher will know where you’re headed - which skills you are good at, which skills need more work, and which skills you need to develop to move on to more refined skills.

 

Although it is possible to do all this without a teacher, you would still need a clear system of development - do this then that then this. You should not be the one deciding this for yourself. Just as someone who doesn’t know how to swim shouldn’t be designing her own training routine.

 

The question that normally comes next is what is a good system to follow.

 

The one I tend to recommend is Damo Mitchell’s system. He has some excellent books and even has some online training. http://lotusneigong.com/online-study/ But I would recommend that if you do get into the training, to go meet him or one of his teachers.

 

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I’m happy to give one free session to answer questions if you want someone to check your form and stances after you’ve done it for a few months. I come from a Yi Quan background and will officially become an instructor next year, and I notice a lot of people have a fundamental mistake when learning from books or YouTube.

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On 8/23/2019 at 5:41 AM, Qigonging said:

Hey everyone,

 

I'm newcomer to the forum and qigong. I started qigong just over a month ago and I've been experimenting with different styles. The form which I was originally drawn to was Zhan Zhuang, though I haven't actually practiced Zhan Zhuang yet as I'm a bit concerned about not doing the postures properly and potentially causing mental and physical problems. I've mainly been doing random routines which I've found online.

I think you are more likely to have problems practicing random routines found online than practicing basic Zhang Zhuang.

 

On 8/23/2019 at 5:41 AM, Qigonging said:

I have also been attending a qigong class for the past four weeks and I can particulary feel my qi during the class. Last week we did the classic stand like a tree pose for about 5 minutes and I felt the energy circulating through me like I haven't before. This has made me even more curious about Zhan Zhuang! The thing is, this class is not a Zhan Zhuang class specifically.

No problem as long as your qigong teacher can give you corrections, as needed, on your posture.

 

On 8/23/2019 at 5:41 AM, Qigonging said:

I bought the Way of Energy by Master Lam Kam Chuen a while back which I've glanced through. But my question is, is it dangerous to do Zhan Zhuang without a teacher? I've read some posts on here which suggest that a teacher is essential in Zhan Zhuang, and that it can be dangerous to practice without one. Others have said they got no benefit from Zhan Zhuang when practicing by themselves. On the other hand, some have said that if you follow the Way of Energy word by word with the suggested timescale, you have nothing to worry about.

In my experience, Zhan Zhuang is one of the safest, most productive, and most accessible practices one can do without expert guidance. The Way of Energy is an excellent resource. 

 

On 8/23/2019 at 5:41 AM, Qigonging said:

I am concerned about the possible negative mental effects of doing Zhan Zhuang in the wrong way. Originally, I was curious about qigong because I wanted to balance and circulate my energy in a healthy way, open the meridians and feel more grounded. Will Zhan Zhuang be a good qigong method to achieve this? Also, would it be necessary to combine Zhan Zhuang with a moving form of qigong? Perhaps there is another form I could think about?

Zhan Zhuang is a great, perhaps the best, place to start on your exploration of the mind/body/energy connection.

When I studies Chinese internal martial arts, qigong, and Daoist meditation, we were required to start with standing meditation.

 

My recommendation is to start with the basic posture, hands at the sides, natural standing, for a very long time before moving to more physically demanding postures. My only criticism of using Master Lam's book is that people tend to get bored of the easy stuff or feel that they "understand" it long before they get a taste of what it's all about, and move on to more advanced and demanding postures much too soon. For example, when I learned zhan zhuang, I was taught to stand in the basic posture until the other postures arose naturally, something that takes months or years... Consequently many self-taught students fail to benefit from the gradual development that occurs from taking it slow and allowing the mind and energy to settle deeply into the body's structure. Standing meditation, not to mention the most advanced sitting meditation, work by allowing the mind and body to rest very deeply. It's all about accessing very subtle levels of awareness and connection in oneself. At least that's my experience. Overall, I have found standing to be a very safe practice.

 

Good luck!

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Learning with a teacher is not without risk! Agree with others, that is a good book, last time I tried to source a copy they were a small fortune to buy. The 'Stand Still Be Fit' series to support that book can be found on youtube. Have fun with your training.

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Zhan Zhuang is a wonderful exercise, especially in the beginning.  This would be a wonderful way to begin a journey into qigong or martial arts.

I also began training ZZ with the Lam Kam Chuen book, The Way of Power.  The author lays out a great guide for training.  Zhan Zhuang is a corner stone of training in the big 3 internal systems. (baguazhang, xingyi, taiji)  I find that focusing on my breath worked as a great way to still my mind, both in the beginning and now.  Many will experience tremors and profuse sweating after one's first initial training session.  Both will subside with practice.  I don't see how Zhan Zhuang could be harmful providing one is using common sense sort of thinking.

 I would recommend 8 Pieces of Brocade (Ba Duan Jin) as a moving exercise.  This set of movements is quite basic and there is a lot of information easily found on the exercises.

Happy training!

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Posted (edited)

The basic stances of zhan zhuang are found in a large degree of  lineages, and I've found to be some of the safest practices you can do among almost any tradition, Taoist and beyond.

 

Stand still, be fit gives a great into, as well as the book Way of energy.

 

 

Edited by JohnC

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Posted (edited)

Zhan Zhuang can be harmful when done for a long time, such as an hour, as energy can get stuck and stagnant, and a moving form like Baduanjin at the very least or even a basic Taiji form, even a short form, is necessary. 

 

While people may may have many benefits from LKC, if you’re only looking for health, do the movement exercises in the book so that you have something to allow the energy to go there or learn a simple form.

 

In terms of martial purposes, Zhan Zhuang alone has nuances you won’t learn from the book and a good instructor at that point is necessary.

 

One great friend who learned a lot from the book supplemented his learning with a lot of research in other books and his own dedication for hours. Ask my dear friend @NATURE BEEING for his insight.

Edited by Earl Grey
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I think with enough guided sessions, you will get more and more familiar with correct posture and method. You will naturally feel more confident when doing it alone in due course (as lomg as your teacher revisits it!)

 

When I first learnt, I did it under regular supervision and even two weeks down the line, I would be corrected. But it wasn't much longer until I was able to remember all the details and practice independently.

 

All the best!

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Thank you very much for the replies everyone. They were more helpful than I expected! 

 

I actually started zz alone yesterday. I have been reading The Way of Energy and I am going to stick to the suggested routine and timescale in the book. 

 

 

 

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Many of Lam Kuen Cheun's disciples will offer skype lessons if you can't make it to London or any of their classes. I train with a disciple  of Lam's and can't recommend training with someone who has lived and breathed the practice highly enough. 

 

Drop me a PM if you want to know more. 

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I would recommend that at some point, you find someone who can do an in person evaluation of your standing posture, and make small corrections.  I have been standing for 43 years, most of it on my own, but I did have someone correct my posture at times almost daily for close to a year. The reason for having someone actually move your body for you in very small corrections is that it teaches you how to do those corrections during your standing by yourself.

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