Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Opening your hips through walking chi-kung

Walking in slow and mindful way has always been a routine practice for various kinds of chi-kung or internal martial arts. In chi-kung lingo it is called "steps" (步) many of these steps are named after animals: e.g; bear steps and bird steps.  Master Wang XiangZhai's (王芗斋[意拳]) Friction or Sweeping steps (摩擦步) is excellent in opening one's hip joints. The question is: How to do it? And how to do it in such as way as to help opening one's hips?

Opening one's hips is truly a big deal for chi-kung and internal martial arts. The power of internal martial art invariably comes from an opened hip or pelvic joints, and opened in such a way that the ball-and-socket joints are correctly aligned (positioned) and with tendons strengthened (and lengthened).

The basic mechanism is simple: walk slowly! In walking slowing there will be two points of relative stationery. One is with body weight totally on one leg (the other leg has to be almost touching and ready to step forward, figure 2 below) and the other is just after stepping forward with body weight distributed on two legs (figure 3 below). The hands (stretched as in zhan zhuang) are meant for balancing in the whole process.

What is special about these steps? As the name says, the sole of one's forwardly moving leg must be like sweeping the floor (i.e. sole almost or slightly touch the floor). And what is special about this sweeping? In normal slow walking (or as in tai-chi forward steps), the forward step always lands on the heel first (before the whole foot touched the ground). It is natural to walk this way for ease of balance. In doing friction steps the practitioner is required to "sweep" the floor, i.e. in forward movement, it is the whole sole lands at the same time. In doing so, the mind will be forced to be "more mindful", and, more importantly, assuming that one does it in a relaxed and slow manner, the hip joints will be "prompted" to open outwards (left side to the left and right side to the right, in sync). And it is this little movement that acts as hip-opener.

If you feel slightly unnatural in doing the friction steps and you can feel your hip joints opening in opposite directions during landing of one's foot (whole sole), then you're probably doing it correctly, for the purpose of hip opening.

Note: the above analysis doesn't exhaust all the benefits of doing friction steps.

Friction steps: 摩擦步


  1. I've noticed in my own practice of neigung that the point seems to be "opening" rather than "stretching." It makes sense to me!

  2. Stretch a muscle but open a joint. Both are needed.


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