Qigong can be defined as a set of meditative forms and exercises that help with relaxation and the discovery of internal energy.
In the early morning, before the hubbub of daily life, Chinese people of all ages begin the day by performing traditional exercises in the parks and woods wherever they live. You will see some doing rhythmic stretching movements – others are training in the martial arts. A common sight is Tai Chi Chuan, the exquisite slow exercise, one of the soft martial arts, that develops and relaxes the whole body. The first time that you see so many people, sojne in their eighties and others in their very early youth, all peacefully training together under the trees, is one of life’s unforgettable moments.
But as you look more closely you may come across an even more remarkable sight. Among all these moving forms, here and there you will see some figures that rivet your attention. They are like the trees themselves. They are fully alive, but they are utterly still. Although there is no obvious movement, they are deeply engaged in one of the most demanding and powerful forms of exercise ever developed. It is so utterly focused on deep, internal growth that it literally requires learning to stand like a tree. It is known in Chinese as Zhan Zhuang, “standing like a stake”, or “standing like a tree”. It is pronounced “Jan Jong”, or, in southern China, “Jam Jong”. This is the system to which you are about to be introduced in this book.
Like a tree with its deep roots, powerful trunk, and great spreading branches reaching into the sky, you will appear to remain unmoving. In reality you will be growing from within. Previously shrouded in secrecy, this health system is now attracting considerable international attention and scientific examination. The results are unmistakable: strengthened immunity; successful treatment of chronic illness; high levels of daily energy and the natural regeneration of the nervous system.
The Zhan Zhuang system of energy exercises takes most people completely by surprise, because although it is most definitely an energetic system of exercise, it involves virtually no movement! Unlike almost all other exercise methods, which consume energy, this actually generates energy. How is this possible? The answer lies in the nature of energy in the human body: how it is produced, and how it moves within the body.