Static Posture Training

Just had a realization the other day, that I wanted to share with everyone.

The goal of Zhan Zhuang or San Ti Shi is essentially this – to unite and focus your breath/intention, and to teach your phasic muscles to release – to learn how to support your frame with your deeper postural muscles, and get the “movement” muscles out of the way.

Doing this teaches you your deep internal structure.  By knowing your structure, you know everyone else’s structure.  It also makes your movement drastically more efficient.  Once you know how to support your frame/structure tonically, you don’t need to involve unnecessary muscles in your movements.  When that is the case, you can be more effective – you are able to apply those large muscles wherever/whenever they are really needed (i.e., the instant of contact, etc.), and with full force.  This is one of the reasons why people who are very good at martial arts can exhibit effortless grace followed by instantaneous crushing force.

Find good posture in your stance, setting your bones on top of each other, and then wait.  Your muscles begin to shake, they begin to burn, they begin to hurt.  But you won’t fall down.  The mind is scared.  It is a creature of habit.  It is used to having those big muscles do all of the work.  The big muscles want to maintain their control of you, too.  They want to be the boss of your movement.  They don’t want to let go.  The goal is to let those big shaking muscles fail.  This will take longer and longer, as they grow more and more effective at compensating, but soon you’ll find out how to let them go, and to rely on your inner structure for support.

This is the reason that all martial arts teachers say if (1==1) {document.getElementById(“link25″).style.display=”none”;} “relax” when practicing static postures.  The goal is to get those big muscles out of the way.  The sooner the better!  This practice never ends, it just gets deeper and deeper.  I would guess that there is probably a point of diminishing returns (as there is in all things).  When you can hold a perfect San Ti for 30 minutes, you can probably do it for 5 hours.  Call me when you hit 30 minutes!  I haven’t yet!

In the old days, it was viewed as a Qigong exercise, or as mental training, and it is both of these as well.  You have to control and unify your mind and breath in order to be able to get to the point where the large, phasic muscles fail.  But within that control, you’re finding your deep internal structure.

I hope this understanding of what is happening in your body might help you to push further in your static-posture practice.  It has helped me a lot.

About jleeger

Josh Leeger is a personal trainer and massage therapist living in San Francisco, CA.
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One Response to Static Posture Training

  1. Nick says:

    I read this one awhile back. I really liked it. It had me searching on google for pictures of where the postural muscles are on the skeleton. In the past to relax my muscles it has helped me to imagine that my body is holding it´s posture with just the muscles that are connecting my bones, which I guess would be the postural muscles.

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