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Mei Hua Zhuang is an ancient school of Chinese boxing which existed as early as the Han dynasty (B.C.E. 206 - A.C.E. 221). Historical research shows that Mei Hua Zhuang had been secretly handed down from father to son for nearly two thousand years until the end of the Ming Dynasty. During the Ming dynasty Master Zhang Sansheng began to teach it publicly. For hundreds of years Mei Hua Zhuang has spread widely throughout the provinces of Hebei, Shandong and Henan. Cleary written historical records show the liniage of Mei Hua Zhuang from the early 1500's. Only a select few ( about two per century) become advanced enough in the Mei Hua Zhuang society to advance to that list. The practitioners of Mei Hua Zhuang were among those who initiated and acted as the main forces of the famous Yi He Quan movement (Boxer Rebellion, 1898-1901). The implication in the boxer rebellion and the prohibition under most of the Communist reign from 1949 to 1987 put Mei Hua Zhuang outside the official structures. Through this situation Mei Hua Zhuang avoided transformation and even distortion as other more public arts have. Mei Hua Zhuang consists of two parts: Wenchang (theoretic field) and Wuchang (martial field). The Wenchang is derived from ancient scriptures and documents which have been handed down from generation to generation. The theory put forth within these documents distill into one holistic theory the essence of Daoist, Buddhist, and Confucian doctrines as well as the principles of The Book of Changes. It consists of training the Shen (spirit), Qi, and cultivating the heart. Wuchang teaches Wugong (martial skill) and boxing theory. Mei Hua Zhuangš█ Wugong consists of : Jiazi, Ba Fang, Chengquan, Yingquan, Weapons and Qigong. The name Mei Hua Zhuang means "Plum Flower Stakes" as this style was originally practiced on the tops of over 100 stakes driven into the ground. Today, however, the style is practiced on the ground but maintains the same precise footwork as when practiced upon stakes. Students learning Mei Hua Zhuang begin first by learning the Jiazi or framework training set. This framework consists of static stances and moving steps. The static stances are composed of 5 stances Da, Shun, Rao, Xiao, Bai and are based on the theory of mutual supplement and mutual restraint theory of the five elements in traditional Chinese thought. Each stance is held motionless for 3-5 breaths and so develops the strength and qi of the whole body. The moving steps are designed to develop fast, rapid and light footwork enabling the practitioner to move in all directions effortlessly. The most characteristic feature of the jiazi, however, is that it blends stationary stances and moving steps- a static/dynamic alteration which can simultaneously exercise both the internal organs and the exterior body. Unlike other forms of exercize like Tai jii or qi gong the jiazi does not intentionally manipulate the qi, but the spontaneous circulation of qiin the body obtained is a concept wich permeates through meihuazhuang. Bafang is a secondary practice of foot work unique to mei hua zhuang which leads to the Chengquan. Chengquan is two person training in grabbing, locking, throwing, punching, tumbling, roling and wrestling. Weapons - Mei hua zhuang includes not only eighteen kinds of traditional weapons and their routines but also the practice of rare weapons. The four functions of Mei Hua Zhuang are, the training of the body and mind, the training in abilities of attack and defense, treating diseases and the development of wisdom. Training the bodyš█ external form nourishes the waidan, training th qi builds the qi of the internal organs. In this way, the external form, the internal qi and shen are well coordinated. The Mei Hua Zhuang school of boxing is closely associated with traditional Chinese culture. It has incorporated the essence of the doctrines of Buddhism, Confucianism and Daoism and takes the best of Ţ║he Book of Changes2. Its unique training methods combine the theories of yin yang alternation and wuxing, epitomizing ancient Chinese culture. An interesting things occurs in mei hua zhuang almost from the begining. After you have learned the framwork set (the jiazi) well, you are encouraged to move freely between the posts anyway you like. Then as you imporve your mind, body and spirit you are encouraged during practice particularly of weapons, to let go of all that you have learned and move naturally. As your mind wills your body moves. It is in this context that your martial skills really take off and reach a new leavel. Your mind is set free and your qi moves without effort.

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