The Spirit and Style of Meihuazhuang
The Structure of Meihuazhuang
The school is comprised of two complementary subcomponents: the Wuchang (martial aspect) and the Wenchang (civil or arts
aspect). The Wuchang is the foundation of the school and is concerned with the physical training regimes, cultivation of the body, qi and
shen. The Wenchang guides all activities of the school and is concerned with advanced training in qigong/neigong methods, theory, martial
strategy, geomancy and numerology.
Two subsets of Meihuazhuang are widely popular in North China. Large Frame (Dajia) and Small Frame (Xiaojia) meihuazhuang
are common in the homelands regions. The school is divided roughly into two subsections, the Dajia (Large Frame) and the Xiaojia (Small
Frame). The older Large Frame is practiced extensively in rural north China. The Small Frame is a newer branch of meihuazhuang, and is not
as widespread as the Large Frame.
The 8th generation master Zhang Congfu created the Small Frame Jiazi (the set we practice) from the original Large Frame
school. This was considered a great advancement in that it more efficiently combined the physical training methods from the martial field of
the school (wu chang) and the theoretical training methods from the theory field (wen chang).
The training methods of the two subsections differ considerably according to locality. Both sections however, utilize the
same theory texts/classic texts and share many principles. Both consider themselves as a part of the larger school and promote friendship and
frequent exchanges of martial knowledge at frequent exhibitions and demonstrations held during the Spring Festival and other times throughout
the year. Meihuazhuang practitioners from Shandong University have regularly attended the countryside exhibitions since the late 1980s.
Xiaojia meihuazhuang is a more recent variant. Regardless of which variant a practitioner follows or the regional
variations in practice methods which have evolved over the centuries, all are considered to be manifestations of one meihuazhuang school
united through the wenchang &8212; a common philosophical and theoretical body. Large Frame and Small Frame aspects of the style both
follow the same classic theory texts and follow the same martial lineage. Inner-door practitioners of Meihuazhuang have a generational
character which identifies them to other teachers or practitioners. According to the “Meihuazhuang is one family” tradition and
the peculiar social organization of the sect in the countryside, student of Meihuazhuang are regularly taught by other teachers.
In China, meihuazhuang is practiced by both young and old and is an excellent method to develop self-defense skills and
improve overall health. It tonifies the body, prevents illness, helps with recovery from illness and brings great strength and flexibility.
Most importantly, it teaches practitioners methods of mental and physical relaxation and frees the body and mind from restrictive rigidity
in both thought, body posture/positions and incorrect holding/movement patterns. When the body and mind are freed of restrictive thought
and movement patterns, the qi (the body's energy) can flow without impediment, the mind becomes sharp and flexible and enables unimpeded,
liberated movement characterized by relaxation and strength. Freedom from restrictive thought patterns, muscular tension and stress results
in greatly improved overall health and vitality. Throughout all stages of meihuazhuang training, this union and freedom of both the mind and
the body is a core concept which guides the training methods.
Meihuazhuang is based upon a basic training routine known as the Jiazi. Not overly complex, it combines five static
postures (zhuangbu) with moving footwork (xingbu). When watching the practice of meihuazhuang, one is struck by its straightforward simple
methods. Its practice routines are devoid of difficult, flowery embellishments and are characterized by simple, flowing movements.
Basic Philosophical Principles
Meihuazhuang is said to possess Four Abilities (Si da gongneng) which benefit its practitioners in the following ways:
- improved health
- self-defense skills
- the ability to cure illnesses
- improved mental ability
This style is of interest not only to martial arts practitioners but to those interested in alternatives to western
concepts of health. A person's health is perceived as interconnected with the environment. Individuals harmonize their mental and physical
health with nature through various Qigong healing exercises. The style's traditional philosophy and its application to personal health
through physical and intellectual exercises will be of interest to those involved in areas of religious and Asian studies, anthropology,
psychology, and sociology.
Notes on Meihuazhuang
Meihuazhuang emphasizes physical training for the development of martial skills, for maintaining health, for healing
others through qigong and for developing the intellect. Its training methods focus on liberating the body and mind from fixed patterns of
movement and thinking. Training of the qi and shen is of utmost importance and all training methods are based on this goal.
Meihuazhuang is considered both an internal and external style.
- Looking from an “internal” point of view, the style focuses heavily on the development of internal qi through its unique
exercises and meditation, and through relaxed, expanded movement for the development of power. The release of accumulated stress and
gradual physical training an environment of concentration makes meihuazhuang an excellent exercise for improving health. The expansion of
thought leads to greater creativity and freedom of expression in all mediums.
- From an “external” point of view, many of Meihuazhuang's training regimes can be extremely vigorous — an
outstanding method for developing overall fitness and aerobic capacity. Training routines integrate the entire body in a mindful
exercise — and thus are highly effective for the development of whole body body-structure alignment, balance coordination, and
Also in this section: