Zi Ran Men is based on ancient Taoist philosophy, Traditional Chinese Medical Theory and, most importantly, the philosophy of 'One and Zero'. It combines physical training, Qigong (also, Chi Kung), meditation and combat techniques. Through training, Zi Ran Men enhances the spirit of the mind, regulates the circulation of Qi (also, Chi) and develops physical sensitivity. When the body is in harmony, you will live a long and healthy life.
There is no beginning or end of stillness,
There is no beginning or end of change.
Actual attack is hidden within fake attack,
Movements are within stillness.'
Zi Ran Men training can be divided into three components : Physical Training, Combat Techniques and Conditioning. These three components combine for one purpose, which is to enhance the health of body and mind.
Qian Ba Zuan
'1008 Movement Qigong'. Developed to stretch the tendons, stimulate the flow of blood and Qi and lighten the body.
Ai Dang Bu
'Lower Hip Step', disperses heart fire, opens the body's meridians and brightens the vision.
Zi Ran Men Stretching
Shaolin Ba Shi
'Eight Movement' Qigong to develop internal power.
Zou Luo Kuang
'Circle Walking'. Develops strength, balance, speed and 'lightness skill'.
Initially, students learn particular forms and follow certain rules. Through practice, these movements progress from awkward to natural. When this level is reached, you can fight successfully. The methods of Zi Ran Men combat follow the rules of nature - apply the techniques without thought, movements come from nothing.
When still, the stance resembles an ancient Chinese General holding a decree tablet. This is known as 'Bao Bei Shou'. When moving, the feet remain in the shape of the letter 'T' and the hands hold the form of 'Ghost Hands'.
The hands have the feeling of grabbing like a steel hook. Punches are unseen by the opponent, thrown like a knife. Block like iron, stick to the enemy like glue. Thus, your opponent will be unable to avoid the attack.
Avoid the attack like being blown by a gust of wind. Retreat like drawing a sword from its scabbard. The body sinks like a crane, the palms strike like a biting snake. Movements are agile like a monkey, the head turns like a floating ghost.
The hands attack as softly as cotton and land with the force of steel. Hardness is within softness. Softness first, hardness follows.
Fighting the enemy
Avoid the attack. Retaliate when his force is spent, before he has time to regather.Move when the enemy moves, attack when he attacks. Exploit the situation, be light and nimble.Attack is within defence. Defence is within attack, both real and apparent.
Ziranmen training also contains a number of conditioning techniques in order to strengthen your muscles, bones and tendons, and make the body resiliant to attack. It should be stressed that this conditioning is not intended to cause any harm to your body. Hard force is never utilised during these exercises.
Mother and Son Ball
Here two iron balls are used, one 8kg and the other 10kg for conditioning the hands. You should train twice a day, gradually increasing you power, qi and repetitions. Do not use hard force. Here the practitioner would assume horse stance and practice lifting, catching, pushing, pointing, and drilling the balls with their fingers.
Tiger Mouth Stick
Using a piece of wood approximately 7 inches long and 3 to 4 inches wide with rounded ends, the practioner practices by grabbing with the stick both hands and twisting them against each other, in both directions.
Iron Hand Training
Fill a deep wok or pan with dried green beans, asssume horse stance and spear the hands into the beans up to the wrists. Repeat 36 times, twice a day, replacing the beans as they split. After a year, mix in 50% yellow beans and continue training. After another six months, add 50% sand, finally switching to 100% sand at the end of the second year. From here on, you can gradually mix iron pellets into the sand.
Brass Ring Training
Starting with two rings on each arm, the hands are held at the hips in an 'eagle claw' shape, palms up. The arms are alternately extended straight forward, with the palm facing away from you at the end of the outward movement. Add one ring per arm per month, up to a maximum of 32 rings. The rings themselves are 0.5kgs each and about 1.1 inches thick.
Eagle Claw Stance
Eagle claw standing meditation is practiced in order to train your qi. If you practice diligently, you should be able to reach your goal within 3 years. Everyday after stretching, stand with your arms outstretched at shoulder height, like a birds wings. Your eyes should be half closed and focused on the tip of your nose. Gently lock the teeth together, touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth and count your breaths. Gradually increase the duration of standing until you reach an hour. To finish, exhale and drop your arms to your sides. Slowly open your eyes.
The purpose of basket walking is to train your body in 'lightness skill'. This makes your body act and feel as if it is extremely light and agile. Using a bamboo basket weighing 4.5kg, you fill it with 100kg of peebles.Balance on the basket and start to walk around it, grabbing the rim with alternate hands as you step. Every 19 days, remove 1.5-2.5kg of pebbles until only 15kg of pebbles are left. At this stage, remove only one pebble per day until the basket is empty.