The 7 'Base Metal' Stances are the foundation of the Daoist Physical Cultivation Syllabus. The overall purpose of the static posture work is to develop the structure by approaching the central axis. All of the cues are a thousand different ways to point at this one element. If one of the cue points is correct, then all of them are. Vice versa if one is off (even by 1mm), then all are off. The central axis is always approached rather than discovered.
As you approach it you will discover various lines of tension that need to be worked on during practice by way of softening and settling into them. Generally when one discovers such a line, the body's first reaction is to be agitated somehow - heat, vibrations, twitching, fibrillation and so forth are common. As you stay for time softening into these agitated lines (this could be within a single session or over months), they will begin to relax and settle. Once a particular line is settled, it is necessary to continue exploring deeper. See what other tensions exist and if they can be relaxed to reveal deeper un-worked lines of tension.
*** WARNING: When holding stances for extended periods of time and exploring unknown elements of the body there is always an inherent risk. In some stages of training certain sensations appear, some of which are legitimate warning signs not to continue and others which are mere phantoms. One must take a large measure of self-responsibility to explore such sensations and accept the associated risks and possibilities of injury when doing so. If you have even a mild doubt about your personal safety when exploring these exercises, I recommend that you stop immediately. /END WARNING ***
:: How to Practice
Below I will outline a guide that you can use to practice these stances. The guide will give you an idea of how a dedicated student might practice. Even if you cannot maintain such a practice, it is still of great value to explore one or more of the stances as often as you have time for. My Teacher Serge once gave some advice when asked how long to practice for:
"Practice as long as you can while still enjoying and living your life"
This practice will return as much as you give to it. Give it a little and it gives back a little (this is still nice!). Give it a lot and it will give back a lot. Try to do a few minutes each day if you can, it will help you build a nice habit of daily practice and will serve you better than doing single large doses once per week.
It is good to start with the Heaven and Earth posture for 30 days to get the feeling for the postural points without being in a difficult position. After this you can begin using the following protocol:
Week 1: Do one stance per day, holding for 3 to 10 minutes depending on your capacity. On the days that the stances are symmetrical, do the entire period without coming out. On the days where they are asymmetrical, set a bell to go off at the half way point so you can spend half the time on one side and the other half on the other. Do the transition without coming "out" of the stance as demonstrated in a few places in the videos.
Week 2 - 8: Repeat week 1 but this time doing each stance every day for a whole week straight rather than just one day before moving on to the next. EG: week 2 will be all horse stance, week 3 all bow stance, week 4 all drop stance and so on.
Coagulation: Now comes the actual training. Go back to the first stance and repeat the practice again, but this time switching every month instead of every week. You don't have to be too particular with it being exactly a month, just note whatever day you start the first month on (eg 3rd March) and then switch stances on the 3rd of each month. So in total you will do about 9 months practicing these stances *daily* (7 days + 7 weeks + 7 months).
Craig is a principal member of Physical Alchemy. He was subject to many of Dave’s early experiments, which broke him out of stasis and propelled him into becoming a dedicated student of the Da Xuan Daoist tradition. He teaches within Physical Alchemy and is also the instructor of the Da Xuan School in Sydney. Prior to this, he studied the traditional Chinese martial arts of Xin Yi Liu He Quan and Cha Quan under Dapeng Wang for a decade as well as many other modalities of movement, strength, flexibility and general physical development.
Many of the courses found on this page bear the Aware Relaxed Connected logo and website. This was Craig's former website, which was merged with Physical Alchemy when Craig and Dave joined forces. ARC no longer exists but all the important aspects can now be found here on the Physical Alchemy website and tutorial page.