Wuji and Zhan Zhuang

The purpose of this article is to distinguish the similarities and differences regarding the practice of two important training methods in tai chi:  Wuji and Zhan Zhuang.

What is Wuji?

Wuji (無極) literally means “extreme nothing”. It is an ancient philosophical concept referring to the state of the universe before it existed. And it  is the practice of “standing still quietly doing nothing.”

This method dates back to ancient times as a form of core training in martial arts. It was believed that “in order to understand movement, you must first understand stillness”, or put another way, “we practice stillness to understand how to move correctly”. 

This ancient standing practice combines the science of energy cultivation with the art of balance and ancient Chinese philosophy. It has a powerful effect on cultivating vibrant health and healing chronic pain and sickness. Migraine headaches, arthritic joints, debilitating neck and back pain, high blood pressure, insomnia, digestive and nervous disorders, and many more health issues all respond very positively to its regular practice.

What Wuji is not

It is not a breathing exercise, yet when one practices intently, their breathing will become more calm, relaxed, quiet, and efficient.

It is not a posture exercise, yet when one practices, their posture will naturally improve through the process of relaxation in line with gravity.

It is not a qi (vital energy) circulation exercise, yet when one practices, the blood and qi circulation will improve and become more efficient, again, through the improvement in posture and relaxation that naturally takes place during practice.

It is not a mental exercise, yet when absorbed in practice, the mind becomes quiet, still and calm.

It is a do nothing exercise. Just stand. That is all. Any benefits that result are purely from this. In other words, do not focus on these effects.

See the following 2 part articles:

Wuji: The Art of Stillness Part 1 and Wuji: The Art of Stillness Part 2

What is Zhan Zhuang?

Zhan Zhuang is a training method which involves holding specific postures and focusing one’s Yi (intention/will) to accomplish specific things.

For example, one common posture involves standing with feet parallel at shoulder width, and arms propped up in front of the chest as if holding a large ball or encircling a tree. While holding this posture, one imagines/visualizes specific movements, but without physically moving.

The first imagined/visualized movement is that of standing in the ocean waves, facing them directly. As a wave hits the front of your body, you imagine leaning forward into it with your whole body. As the wave recedes, you imagine leaning back into it with your whole body. The most important key here is that the whole body is moving as one piece.

There are many other imagined/visualized movements possible in this static posture, but that is beyond the scope of this article.

Although wuji and zhan zhuang are separate and distinct training methods, they certainly enhance each other, as they do all martial art training methods, regardless if they are considered internal or external systems.

I hope the reader will be inspired to add these practices to their current training program.  Stillness training is valuable in so many ways, and will surely enhance every physical training, whether martial arts or any fitness program!

Here is an interesting article on Zhan Zhuang to further your understanding of this valuable training method.

Click  here for one more article to tie together the above mentioned training methods.

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