Zhan Zhuang  -  No it isn't!

Irritating me today is this quote, taken from an email sent out by a self styled world famous Tai Chi authority:

 "part of a tradition of Chinese standing and moving mediation forms called Zhan Zhuang which is literally translated into English as "standing like a tree""

No, it isn't. This is the kind of hippy bullshit that is slowly turning Tai Chi into some kind of gloopy new age arm waving without function. 

The proper translation of "Zhan Zhuang" in the context of Tai Chi practice is "standing on a pole (or tree stump, hence the easy mistake).

It refers specifically to the following method of defence used by small chinese communities in the middle ages. Often a deep ditch was dug around the village: where water was readily available it was filled and became a moat. In many instances this was not the case, so instead of water, the ditch was filled with pointed upright stakes, poles and other nasties to impale would-be interlopers. However, to allow nighttime access to the resident tribal members some poles (tree stumps) were left flat topped and set in a particular pattern. This pattern, known only to the occupying tribe, was learned so that it could be walked in the dark, allowing residents in but keeping others out. The standing practice performed as preparation for learning the walking pattern was called, yes, you guessed it, Zhan Zhuang.

A bit more serious and meaningful than the rather vague and hippy "standing like a tree".

Just as real Tai Chi is a bit more serious and meaningful than the diluted tosh offered by many modern so-called teachers.