Preparing posture: Relax completely in Wu Ji #1. Stand with feet shoulderwidth apart. Point the toes straight forward but also slightly inward. Your arms hanging naturally with palms touching the thighs. Keep the head and neck erect with eyes looking straight ahead. Just breathe naturally.
Squat down a little allowing the knees to come inwards toward one another. Then flex both knees outward like riding a horse. This adds torque to the tendon lines of the legs (This stance should also be used in your Yijin Ching practice). Meanwhile, slowly raise and stretch forth your upper arms slowly, and have the armpits “opened” (with enough space to hold an egg in it). Slowly raise forearms, which should be parallel to each other, to the ground-paralleling level with palms facing downward and fingers straightening naturally. Keep the backs of the hands and the forearms at the same height (See photo above & Fig.1and Fig. 2).
Stand with soles in full contact with ground surface and with toes gently grasping the ground. (Refer to Fig. 3) Point knees to insteps, but do not exceed the perpendicular of the toes. Shrink & gently contract anus, withdraw hip and draw in the abdomen a little. Relax the torso completely with shoulders and elbows, twisting free without stiffening. Keep lower limbs standing freely. Relax thighs and calves and erect your torso by raising your core upwards. Curve the chest a bit inward and, imagine as if you were uplifting your tailbone. Look straight ahead with regular Qigong breathing. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
1st hold up all fingers naturally. Do not put forth any strength nor stiffen. Hold up thumb naturally beside forefinger. Keep forefinger in line with the back of the hand. Lower the positions of forefinger, middle finger, ring finger and little finger naturally and sequentially, shaped like staircase. If you imagine that you are trying to hold a small bowl in each hand by palming it as gently as possible, you will have the correct hand position. If you fully open and stretch your hand and fingers out as far as possible and then just let the entire hand relax it will naturally achieve the correct hand position.
To correctly practice this method, begin by standing in the void (Wu Ji) for a few minutes to relax and calm the mind. Count backwards (10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1) a few times to help quiet the mind. Perform 3 repetitions of “propping up the sky” from the Eight Brocade. After the 3rd repetition relax your arms back into Wu Ji and then squat down a little deeper and move into the fundamental Arhat posture just illustrated and discussed above by slowly raising your forearms upwards and elbows slightly forward and out away from your body. The goal is to eventually hold this posture for 20-minutes and then continue with the “Finger bending exercises” before ending the practice. After finishing the finger prescribed finger bends, relax with your hands covering the dan tien (3 inches below your navel) to allow the energy to settle. Finish by walking around for several minutes to relax the legs and circulate the accumulated chi and blood flow.
In the early stages of Zhang Zhuang training, you may shake or vibrate uncontrollably, sweat intensely, feel itchy or tingly, various sensations of heat or cold, your feet may bother you, your muscles may feel sore, especially the thighs, calves and shoulders. You may experience numbness or some type of asymmetry in terms of physical balance or even asymmetry of the sensations described. For example, one side of your body could feel warm and the other side could feel cold. However, with continued practice, usually by the 6th week, this will become a very pleasant exercise that you will look forward to doing each day. Persevere it is well worth the effort. As your chi gets stronger, the exercise becomes pleasant and effortless. The author has personally stood in the fundamental Arhat for 3 hours straight in a state of pure bliss. Every internal style of martial arts that focuses on chi development and internal strength utilizes Zhang Zhuang as the primary chi building exercise. This is truly a remarkable method of Qigong training with a history going back 1000’s of years. With consistent practice, it should only take approximately 4-months on average to become fully proficient in this method.