Sunday, September 20, 2015


The idea of Masterpoints comes from a time that predates most of the current incarnations of standing meditation. These powerful points were derived from Taoist philosophy and Chinese Medicine theory both of which are known to be several thousand years old. There is evidence in the form of ancient drawings and carvings of Zhan Zhuang postures on cave walls in China that have been dated at over 1000 years old. 

What are Masterpoints? It has been found through many generations of experience that certain locations on and within the body have a powerful influence on the human system. While many of these points effect internal organs and the like, others have the ability to control and release large swaths of muscle and sinew located around them or in their general proximity.

Many practitioners have contacted me recently wanting to know how to get their upper legs to fully relax during their Zhan Zhuang practice. Since this is something that most everyone deals with, especially in the first 1-3 years of training, I will discuss two Masterpoints, one to release the thighs in front and one to release the hamstrings in back.

The first point, Biguan, St-31 (See Diagram) is located at the intersection of two lines; a horizontal line at the level of the perineum and a vertical line moving downward from the superior iliac crest. In terms of Chinese Medicine theory we would say; directly below the anterior superior Iliac spine, level with the perineum or; inferior and medial to the great trochanter of the femur, between the sartorius and tensor fascialata muscles. Please note that although this location is found on the surface of the body, the actual point is approximately 1.5-3 inches below the surface, depending on one’s overall size. When properly activated, Biguan point will release the muscles on the front of the thigh all the way down to where they connect with the knee. These will include the ‘quads’ (the 3 vastus muscles and the rectus femoris) and the sartorius muscle. This point also influences the lower attachments of the psoas muscles as well. 

The second point we’ll examine is Yinmen, Bl-37. (See Diagram) This point is located on the back of the thigh halfway between the center of the fold of the buttocks (where the buttocks meet the back of the thigh) and the center of the crease of the knee. This point is also said to be located on a line roughly halfway between Chengfu point Bl-36 (in the middle of the transverse gluteal fold) and Weizhong, Bl-40/54 located at the midpoint of the transverse crease of the popliteal fossa between the tendons of the biceps femoris and semitendinosus muscles. Yinmen point is found at a depth of about 1-2.5 inches, again depending on the size of your legs. 

So now that we’ve located these two Masterpoints, the question then becomes; what do we do? At first it is often advantageous to use your finger or thumb to press deeply into the location, such that you feel a ‘sensation’ or even pain. When you get the right location and depth, a pain sensation or deep ache tell you that you’ve got the right spot, as well as help remind you of the precise location once you assume your Zhan Zhuang posture. Later, with enough practice, it will no longer be necessary to press but rather simply move your feeling-awareness to the point in question (at depth inside the body) and hold it there. Whichever method you choose, once you’ve firmly established the location, then begin to physically relax the Masterpoint itself and as you do, feel how this relaxation percolates out further and further until in front, you feel the whole thigh relax, while in back you would feel the hamstrings thoroughly let go. When done correctly these relaxations will also effect parts of the kua, knee, ankle and foot in front and the low back, buttocks, sacrum, knee, ankle and foot in back.

Try these two points a few times and see for yourself. Once learned, you will have developed a powerful new ‘shortcut’ into deeper relaxation within these particular regions as well as throughout the body in general. And since everything we gain in standing meditation, both for health and martial power comes through greater and greater relaxation, Masterpoints become an important and compelling component in our Zhan Zhuang relaxation toolbox. 

A detailed explanation of Zhan Zhuang Masterpoints can be found on the DVD, Inside Zhan Zhuang - Standing Meditation for Beginners and Seniors.