Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Relaxing the Pelvic Floor for Tai Chi and Zhan Zhuang

This article was originally posted on February 15, 2011. It was removed by me (the author) on March 26, 2013 because the content is now included in my new book, Secrets of the Pelvis for Martial Arts: A Practical Guide for Improving Your Wujifa,Taiji, Xingyi, Bagua and Everyday Life.

My apologies to those who have bookmarked this article for reference. It came down to a choice between keeping this article or publishing the book. If you are interested in the original article, you can search the Internet Archive.

If you don't have a Kindle or iPad, don't despair. You can find free Kindle reading apps for your PC, Mac, tablet and more at Amazon and read e-books on your computer.

For this new e-book, I began with combining two of my blog articles, this article and "Rounding the Crotch (圆裆) for Tai Chi and Zhan Zhuang." Both articles were greatly elaborated upon and expanded in this new book. The book also includes many more chapters and a ton more information that you won't find in this blog.

I hope you check out this book. You're sure to get a perspective on internal martial arts training that you won't get anywhere else!

The comments you see below are comments to the original article. While they don't make a lot of sense being now out of context, it's still nice to see that folks commented on this article.


  1. A very well written article! I hope people will take some note of the information you share here. As a school brother in the practice of Wujifa I like the practical and functional approached you use and share here again on this often glossed over subject. Wujifa practices such as zhan zhuang and side to side within the Wujifa system the understanding of the pelvis is really one if the keys to making real progress.

  2. Great article! The pelvic floor (PF) is something I've been looking at for some time now as an important part of my martial arts training. A well toned PF should not be like a hammock but more like a trampoline. On page 105 of Franklin's book, he gives you an idea on how to tone the PF - it is the basic squat. The way I do it is by standing with my feet hip width apart and parallel to each other, squat all the way done making sure my knees at any time do not go beyond the front of the foot. When you do this, the "sit" bones will go out further apart from each other and the coccyx moves further backwards away from the public bone. This widening and closing of the PF is what will make the PF more flexible and stronger. In some of the Qigong and Taiji Daoyin exercises I work on, there are a number of low squats done. There are other people pushing this concept of squatting for the PF ... like Katy Bowman http://www.katysays.com/2010/06/02/you-dont-know-squat/ According to her, Kegel exercises are limited and not as effective.

  3. Paulrodgers1975@aol.comApril 2, 2011 at 4:39 PM

    Can a tense pelvic floor effect male fertility?

  4. I don't know of a specific correspondence but as I said, I have no medical training.

    Some sources say stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, a toxic environment, etc. can be factors influencing hormone levels and fertility when there is no known medical cause. Insofar as the pelvic floor is musculature of the body, I believe it too can be affected by these factors...

  5. I've just started doing Zhan Zhuang practice. I notice that I find it difficult to keep the pelvic muscles relaxed. I just want to be certain. Is my goal to keep the pelvic muscles relaxed throughout the entire standing session just like all other muscles? Thanks and I enjoyed reading.


  6. Good article on an important area. Congratulations for attaining this knowledge.

    For me, the
    subject is learnt doing fa-chin or experiencing fa-chin i.e. comparing a tight vs relaxed pelvic floor (hui-yin) while doing/receiving fa chin. A tight floor will have little power and one can sense the power being muscular or emanating from the person (hand, shoulders, thighs, butt etc. tensed area or momentum/pushing). A relaxed hui-yin, with correct Tai Chi posture/movement, song kua gliding, no blocked channels, open mind etc. will, in the words of the person being 'fa-chinned', "be like being whacked by a car... doesn't know where the force is, ... just that it's explosive/powerful and then hit the board".

    BTW, where are you based? Maybe we can share notes.

  7. Is this as effective as Pilates for this problem as I have read that Pilates is a very good therapy for Pelvic Floor issues

    1. Linda,
      The problem I've identified here is that internal martial artists can overlook their pelvic floor and hence miss a key component in developing the internal martial art kinesthetic quality of whole-body connectedness. What I've suggested are potential methods to bring awareness and relaxation (if needed) to the pelvic floor. To the extent that enrolling in a Pilates class can help this... this is something I had not considered at this writing but I am looking into now.

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