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Regular Stances and Foot Work of Health Qigong

Stances and Foot Work are a vital part of Health Qigong and the basis of all limb movements. It is crucial for a beginner to have a correct understanding and mastery of the stances and foot work.
 
I. Regular types and application of stances 
Stances of Health Qigong are formed by legs and feet, while maintaining the body balance. It has two basis elements: 1. the position and setup of legs; 2. the position of the body gravity center and the relationship between legs and feet.
1. Types of Stances 
The eight stances for popularized standing-style exercises of Health Qigong (except the sitting-style exercises of 12-Routine Exercises and Daoyin Yangsheng Gong 12 Methods) are Bing Stance、Ding Stance、Stand with Feet Paralleling Stance、Empty Stance, Bow Stance, Horse Stance, Resting Stance, and Balancing Stance. Each stance has its own specific movements; thus, there are a total of over 20 sub-stances.
2. Requirements and application of various stances 
Bing Stance. This stance has two forms. One is to keep the heels and toes of both feet completely together, relax both knees and stand upright, with gravity between feet. This is one of the most common types of stances, which is frequently used in the beginning form, the closing form and the transitioning form of various exercises. The other is to keep heels together while turning toes outward to form the Chinese character 八 (eight) . This form is only used once in Long Deng of Mawangdui Daoyin Shu. Since in the next Routine, Bird Stretching, heels need to be placed parallel to each other about shoulder's width, the angle of toes in Long Deng should be greater or equal to 90°.
Ding Stance. While practicing Shunxi Ding Stance, a kind of Ding Stance, keep feet parallel to each other, with a distance of 10-20cm. Bend legs and squat, lift one heel, with toe touching the floor, and then place the heel at the arch of the other foot, the whole sole of which touches the floor. For example, the first movement of Tiger Springing on Its Prey in Yi Jin Jing, the second and the fourth movement of Picking Fruit in Wu Qin Xi are all Shunxi Ding Stance, which means to bend knees in the same direction. The other is similar to Ding Bu Qie Mai, the first movement of Suspended Fish Routine in Daoyin Yangsheng Gong 12 Methods. In practicing this, keep feet parallel to each other and then lift up one heel without moving toes. The position of toes of feet and the distance between feet are both different from that of the former. Open Crotch Routine and Rub Spine Routine in Da Wu both begin with Shunxi Ding Stance, and then Kaixi Ding Stance, which means move knees outward to form an angle of 90°.
Stand with Feet Paralleling Stance. It has two forms. One is to move the left foot to the left about shoulder’s width. Keep feet parallel to each other. Bend knees slightly and stand in relaxing manner, with the gravity centre between feet. In the beginning routine of Yi Jin Jing, Liu Zi Jue, Ba Duan Jin, Mawangdui Daoyin Shu, and Taiji Yangsheng Zhang, the Stand with Feet Paralleling Stance all requires the shoulder's width between feet. The other is the Stand with Feet Paralleling Stance used in the beginning routine of Wu Qin Xi, the Raising Head Routine, and the Qian Yuan Qi yun Routine in Daoyin Yangsheng Gong 12 Methods, in which the distance between feet is slightly wider than the shoulder's width.
Empty Stance. It has two forms. One is Raising Toe Empty Stance. In practicing this, move forward one foot, with the heel touching the floor and the toes raised. Bend slightly the knee. Bend the other knee and squat while keeping the whole sole on the floor. Move the heel outward while keeping the hip above the heel. The gravity centre is at the back leg. The second movement of Tiger Seizing the Prey in Wu Qin Xi belongs to this stance. The other kind of Empty Stance is Squatting Stance, which differs from Raising Toe Empty Stance in that the whole sole of the front foot touches the floor while the front leg is not bent but straight. In both stances, the gravity centre is at the back leg. The fourth movement of Mawangdui Daoyin Shu and the second movement of Running like a Deer in Wu Qin Xi are both Squatting Stance.
Bow Stance. There are five types of Bow Stance.①In practicing this, separate the legs wide longitudinally while keeping distance horizontally. Bend the front leg, with the knee above the toes. Buckle the toes slightly and keep the back leg straight and push against the floor with the heel while buckling the toes slightly. The whole foot of the back leg is on the floor and the distribution ratio of gravity is 70:30. At this time, the angle of the feet is about 45°, which resembles the Chinese character “八" (Ba in pinyin) . Thus it is called Ba Shape Bow Stance. This is the most common type of Bow Stance. It can be found in the first movement in Pulling Nine Cows by Their Tails, the first movement in Open Crotch Routine in Da Wu, the fourth movement in Stretch Waist Routine, the second movement in Suspended Fish Routine in Daoyin Yangsheng Gong 12 Methods, the first movement in Boatman Row Oar Routine, the first movement in Tower Pull Rope Routine, and the second movement in Stabilizing Needle in Sea Routine in Taiji Yangsheng Zhang.②Chuang Shape Bow Stance. In practicing this, keep the front and back legs parallel to each other and the horizontal distance slightly wider than shoulder's width. This stance can be found in Bear Shake Routine in Wu Qin Xi.③Bow Stance with foot turned outward. It is a unique stance in Deer Colliding with Antlers Routine in Wu Qin Xi. In practicing this, turn the front leg outward at an angle of about 90° while landing the foot on the floor. Keep the back foot and heel firm on the floor. While bending the front leg, turn the knee outward at the same time until it is above the toes.④Bow Stance with horizontal feet. In practicing this, move a leg diagonally forward (about the width of two or three feet. Two-foot and three-foot in short.) Shift the body weight diagonally forward and turn the body at an angle of 90° in the same direction. At the same time, keep the front foot on the floor. Turn the back heel outward around the back foot. At the same time, keep the knee of the front leg above the toes. The front foot is placed horizontally. This stance can be found in Ji Chang Guan Shi Routine and Rhino Look at Moon Routine in Daoyin Yangsheng Gong 12 Methods.⑤Bow Stance with a leg touching the floor. It is a unique stance in Tiger Springing on Its Prey Routine in Yi Jin Jing. In practicing this, shift body weight forward when landing the foot on the floor. Move forward the knee of the front leg and raise the heel slightly. Bend the back leg slightly while keeping the knee close to the floor. Keep the toes on the floor and lift up the heel.
Horse Stance. In practicing this, stand with feet apart. The distance between feet is around the width of two or three feet. Bend the knees and squat. Keep the thighs parallel to the floor, with the gravity centre between feet. Routine of Posing as an Archer Shooting Both Left-and-Right-Handed, Routine of Swinging the Head and Lowering the Body to Relieve Stress, and Routine of Thrusting the Fists and Making the Eyes Glare to Enhance Strength in Ba Duan Jin are standard Big Horse Stance. By contrast, if the distance between feet is the width of about one and a half foot or slightly wider than the shoulder, it is Small Horse Stance. It can be found in Routine of Three Bodily Squatting Position in Yi Jin Jing and Raising Head Routine in Da Wu. Both Big Horse Stance and Small Horse Stance belong to Ortho-Horse Stance, which means that feet should be placed parallel to each other; the gravity centre should be between feet; while bending legs and squatting, the knee should be above toes; knees shouldn't be moved close to each other. By contrast, Diagonal Horse Stance means that the gravity centre is shifted to one side while keeping the feet on the floor. Ortho-Horse Stance and Diagonal Horse Stance can be found in Routine of Swinging the Head and Lowering the Body to Relieve Stress in Ba Duan Jin.
Resting Stance. In practicing this, cross and bend the legs and then squat. The stance with the back knee against Chengshan Point of the front leg is High Resting Stance; the stance with hips on the heel of the back foot is Low Resting Stance. Crossing Leg Stance is basically the same as Low Resting Stance. The difference is that in this stance, hips are between the feet. Both High Resting Stance and Low Resting Stance can be found in Dragon Twist Tail Routine in Taiji Yangsheng Zhang. Crossing Leg Stance can be found in Routine of Lotus Emerge from Water and Routine of Wild Goose Perch on Sands in Daoyin Yangsheng Gong 12 Methods.
Balancing Stance. Balancing stance consist of One-foot Balancing Stance and Two-foot Balancing Stance, in both of which the gravity centre of the body should be at the supporting leg or the front foot and keep balance at the same time. One-foot Balancing Stance has three forms: One is Balancing Stance with knees lifted up. In practicing this, Stand on one foot, keep the body upright and keep balance. Lift up the other foot before the body to the height of the thigh while keeping the lower leg straight down. Keep the toes pointing downward or raise them. This stance can be found in Flying like a Bird Routine in Wu Qin Xi and Shocking Body Routine in Da Wu. The second is Balancing Stance with legs lifted up. In practicing this, stand on one foot, keep the body upright and keep balance. Keep the other leg straight and raise it backward, while keeping the foot straight and toes pointing downward. This stance can be found in Bird Stretching Routine in Wu Qin Xi and Rooster Crowing Routine in Daoyin Yangsheng Gong 12 Methods. The third is Balancing Stance with one foot kicking forward and toes raised, which is a unique stance in Chi Shi in Mawangdui Daoyin Shu. In practicing this, bend one leg slightly, and stand firm. Kick the other leg slowly forward and straighten the foot. And then raise the toes. Two-foot Balancing Stance has two forms: One is Balancing Stance with feet separated and heels lifted up. In practicing this, separate feet at shoulder's width and stand firm. Move forward until gravity centre is between feet. And then lift up the heels, straighten the knees, and keep balance as the same time. Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle, the third Routine in Yi Jin Jing, Monkey Lifting in Wu Qin Xi, and the beginning form, Yin Bei and Long Deng are all Balancing Stance with feet parallel to each other and heels lifted up. The other is to keep balance while keeping feet together and lifting up heels. To practice this, stand with feet and toes together, move forward until gravity centre is between feet. And then lift up heels while keeping the balance. Routine 8 Raising and Lowering the Heels to Cure Diseases in Ba Duan Jin and Rooster Crowing and Flying Crane in Daoyin Yangsheng Gong 12 Methods are all Balancing Stance with feet together and heels lifted up.
 
II. Regular Foot Work in Health Qigong 
Foot Work in Health Qigong refers to forming the stance by shifting body weight and moving feet. Foot Work is realized by moving legs and feet and shifting body weight while paying attention to the relative position to each other.
1. Types of Foot Work 
There are three types of basic Foot Work in Health Qigong. The first is to form the stance by moving feet and shifting body weight. It has two forms: One is to move feet first and then shift body weight. According to the direction in which the foot is moved, it can be further divided into 30° Moving Forward and Backward Foot Work, 45° Moving Forward and Backward Foot Work, Moving Diagonally and Horizontally Foot Work, and Crossing Leg Foot Work. The other is to shift body weight first and then move feet.
The second is only to shift body weight without moving feet. It also has two sub-categories: to shift body weight diagonally and to shift body weight horizontally.
The third is to form the stance by moving the heel and the sole, without changing the position of the feet. Among the three types, the first one is the most commonly used Foot Work.
2. Requirements and application of various Foot Work 
To move feet first and then shift body weight: shift body weight to the supporting foot; after keeping balance, move another foot and then shift body weight. In practicing 30° Moving Forward Foot Work, the heel of the moved leg should be landed diagonally before toes of the supporting foot at the width of one foot. After the heel landed on the floor, shift body weight forward and land toes forward. In practicing 30° Moving Backward Foot Work, the toes of the moved foot should be landed diagonally behind the heel of the supporting foot at the width of one foot. After the toes landed on the floor, shift body weight backward and land the heel backward. 30° Moving Forward and Backward Foot Work can be found in Moving Forward Foot Work in Routine of Tiger Seizing the Prey in Wu Qin Xi, Moving Forward Foot Work in Stretch Waist Routine in Da Wu, Moving Backward Foot Work in Rub Rib Routine, Moving Forward Foot Work and Moving Backward Foot Work in Open Crotch Routine and Flying the Body Routine, as well as Moving Forward Foot Work and Moving Backward Foot Work in Routine of Slow Sailing of Light Boat in Taiji Yangsheng Zhang. In practicing 45° Moving Forward Foot Work, the heel of the moved leg should be landed diagonally before toes of the supporting foot at the width of half a foot. After the heel landed on the floor, shift body weight forward and land the toes forward at an angle of 45°. 45° Moving Forward Foot Work can be found in Moving Forward Foot Work in Routine of Yin Bei and Routine of Chi Shi in Mawangdui Daoyin Shu, Moving Forward Foot Work in Routine of Suspended Fish in Daoyin Yangsheng Gong 12 Methods, Moving Forward Foot Work in Routine of Boatman Row Oar in Taiji Yangsheng Zhang. In practicing 45° Moving Backward Foot Work, the toes of the moved leg should be landed diagonally behind the heel of the supporting foot at the width of one and a half foot or two feet. After the toes landed on the floor, shift body weight backward and land the heel back. For example, in practicing Routine of Pulling Nine Cows by Their Tails in Yi Jin Jing, begin with standing with feet apart at shoulder's width. Turn the right heel inward at an angle of 30—45°. Withdraw the left foot at an angle of 45° and shift body weight backward. Bow the right leg. In practicing Moving Diagonally and Horizontally Foot Work, lift up and land the feet softly and keep the feet parallel to each other. The distance between the feet while standing with feet apart is about the width of one foot, which can be found in Opening Foot Work of Routine of Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle in Yi Jin Jing, Opening Foot Work of Preparing Routine in Liu Zi Jue and Ba Duan Jin, and Opening Foot Work of the beginning routine in Mawangdui Daoyin Shu. The distance between the feet while standing with feet apart is about the width of one and a half foot, which can be found in Opening Foot Work of Preparing Routine in Wu Qin Xi, Raising Head Routine in Da Wu, and Qian Yuan Qi yun Routine in Daoyin Yangsheng Gong 12 Methods. The distance between the feet while squatting as Horse Stance is about the width of two or three feet, which can be found in three Horse Stances in Ba Duan Jin as well as Moving Diagonally and Horizonally Foot Work of Routine of An Old Horse Leaning Over The Trough, Routine of Ji Chang Guan Shi Routine, and Routine of Rhino Look at Moon Routine in Daoyin Yangsheng Gong 12 Methods. In practicing Crossing Leg Foot Work, land the toes of the moved foot half a foot or one foot behind the front heel, about one foot away from the outside of the foot. While squatting, the knee of the back leg should be above the outside of the front foot. This foot work can be found in Crossing Leg Stance in Routine of Lotus Emerge from Water and Routine of Wild Goose Perch on Sands in Daoyin Yangsheng Gong 12 Methods and Low Resting Stance in Routine of Dragon Twist Tail in Taiji Yangsheng Zhang.
To shift body weight first and then move feet. This foot work can be found in Routine of Tiger Springing on Its Prey in Yi Jin Jing and Routine of Bear Shake in Wu Qin Xi. In practicing Routine of Tiger Springing on Its Prey, shift body weight forward. And then move a foot forward at the width of about two or three feet. As the body weight has been shifted to the supporting foot, the heel of the moved foot will land on the floor and then the whole foot will touch the floor. Keep the balance and form a Bow Stance. There are three movements in the foot work of Routine of Bear Shake Routine. The first is to shift body weight to the supporting foot and at the same time lift up the hip and the other foot. The second is to shift body weight forward and at the same time lift up the hip and move the other foot forward. The third is to land the moved foot on the floor and form a Bow Stance. The key to shifting body weight first and then moving one foot is to pound the foot on the floor and support most of body weight with the foot. There is no transitional phase in which body weight is shifted after the foot is landed on the floor.
The Foot Work of shifting body weight to form a stance also has two forms: to shift body weight diagonally and to shift body weight horizontally. The former refers to the foot work in which body weight is shifted from one leg to the other leg, without moving the feet. This foot work can be found in the transformation from Bow Stance to Squatting Stance in Routine of Pulling Nine Cows by Their Tails in Yi Jin Jing. Keep the feet where they are. The stance is shifted from Bow Stance to Squatting Stance, and then from Squatting Stance to Bow Stance. In the process, body weight is shifted horizontally between the feet. To do this, the non-supporting leg should be bent while shifting body weight. And then bend and straighten the supporting leg. Otherwise, the shift of body weight will not be horizontal. For example, in practicing Routine of Swinging the Head and Lowering the Body to Relieve Stress in Ba Duan Jin, the interchange between Left Diagonal Horse Stance and Right Diagonal Horse Stance belongs to horizontal shift of body weight. Unlike longitudinal shift of body weight, it differs in the moving direction but shares the same requirements that legs must be bent first and then moved forward. Otherwise, the shift of body weight will not be horizontal or the thighs will be too close to each other. In the foot work of shifting body weight diagonally, there is a special foot work, that is, to shift body weight by interchanging the position of each foot. It can be found in Hopping and Interchanging Feet in Routine of Running like a Deer in Wu Qin Xi. Before interchanging the position of the feet, body weight is shifted to one foot. While interchanging the position of the feet, body weight is shifted to the other foot, thus becoming the supporting foot, and keep balance at the same time. To shift body weight horizontally is to shift body weight evenly between and around the feet. It can be found in Routine 3 Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle in Yi Jin Jing, Routine of Monkey Lifting in Wu Qin Xi, and Routine 8 Raising and Lowering the Heels to Cure Diseases in Ba Duan Jin.
The foot work of forming the stance by moving the heel and the sole. There are similarities and differences between this foot work and the foot work of shifting body weight to form a stance. In the latter foot work, only body weight is shifted while the feet are not moved. In the former foot work, although the position of the feet is not changed, the direction in which the toes point changes, thus forming a new stance or pointing to another direction. It has two forms: to form the stance by moving the heels and the soles of two feet and to form the stance by moving the heel and the sole of one foot. It can be found in Routine of Wangong in Mawangdui Daoyin Shu in which Stand with Feet Diagonally Paralleling Stance changes into Stand with Feet Longitudinally Paralleling Stance. The heel of one foot is on the floor while turning the toes outward at an angle of 90°. At the same time, the front part of the other foot is on the floor while turning the heel outward at an angle of 90°. In this foot work, although the position of the feet is not changed, the toes are turned outward at an angle of 90°, thus forming a new stance. Such is the footwork of forming the stance by moving the heels and the soles of two feet. This footwork can be found in Stretch Waist Routine and Rub Rib Routine in Da Wu. The footwork of forming the stance by moving the heel and the sole of one foot can be found in Ji Chang Guan Shi Routine and Rhino Look at Moon Routine in Daoyin Yangsheng Gong 12 Methods, in which Moving Diagonally Stance changes into Moving Horizontally Bow Stance. That is, while turning left, keep the position of the left foot unchanged and turn the left foot inward until it is placed horizontally. Turn the heel of the right foot around its front part at an angle of about 90°. It shares the same requirements but the opposite direction to turn right.