An Interview with Stefano Agostini, master of martial arts, instructor, and researcher,
by Paola Vignozzi.
P.V. I have
known Martial Arts Master Stefano Agostini for many years, and apart from
the fact that he is familiar to the general public above all for his writings
and efforts at divulging the understanding of Yi Quan, I am aware that
his martial arts itinerary has been a rather lengthy one that is
in constant development.In
this interview we shall try to know more about him and about his life.Master
Agostini, could you tell us about your journey in the world of martial
arts and about how and when you began the practice of Yi Quan?
Sun Li is a teacher of excellent level who has done much for the diffusion
of Yi Quan and who for seven years generously taught me his method. In
fact I am the instructor, and representative of his association, in Europe.
P.V. I believe that recently you have studied and done research in China?
S.A. I went
to Peking and Macao. In Peking thanks to the introduction offered to me
by my friend Vittorio Botazzi of Turin, I was able to begin studying with
Yao Cheng Guang, the son of Yao Zong Xun and true heir of Bin Cuei one
of Wang Xiang Zhais most able pupils, and I went to visit, in his
academy to the north of Peking, Bin Cuei, an old friend of Lun Li, considered
one of the best teachers of Yi Quan.
P.V. Can you tell us briefly what Yi Quan is, and why so many teachers of other styles practice it?
S.A. In my
opinion, Yi Quan is the energetic motor of all other martial arts, indeed,
of life itself.
P.V. So we can say then that Yi Quan is a method of Qi Gong?
S.A. Not really. Qi Gong works with certain methods, on the energetic aspects of the individual, interpreted through the oriental tradition of Qi. Yi Quan is a very scientific method which does not adopt concepts of Qi, Ki or Prana, but seeks to recuperate the more instinctive and natural level of the nervous system and of the neuro-motorial apparatus by means of mental imagery only. And, let us remember, the nervous system governs all the functions of the individual. This is why it is sometimes said that with Yi Quan, the naturalness and instinctive capacity of animals can be recuperated, governed of course by voluntary mental activity. Furthermore, while Yi Quan does share with Qi Gong some excellent effects on well-being, it develops a martial dimension which is completely lacking in schools of Qi Gong.
P.V. Can you tell us about this martial dimension?
S.A. It can
be said for certain that Yi Quan is a martial system in the fullest sense
of the word. But as is the case in many internal styles, Tai Ji for example,
it can be practised also for therapeutic purposes, using only the fundamental
training. And I can assure you that the results are excellent, because
Yi Quan allows for the recuperation of the natural capacity for self-healing
in human beings.
P.V. But does Yi Quan take long to learn?
S.A. It is not that Yi Quan takes long to learn but that the transformations in the body take a long time to come about. Improving the musculature with weight lifting takes time, improving the individuals cardio circulatory capacity with running takes time, and so does transforming the nervous system and, I must add, the sensitivity. But the results are rather more fundamental and longer lasting, because it is not a matter of constructing something artificial, but to find once more and strengthen, an energetic heritage that is instinctive and natural.
P.V. What concrete possibilities of study does your association offer?
association which is called The International Yi Quan Research Association,
organizes lessons, seminars and instructors courses on a regular basis.
The instructors first level course, which unfolds in four appointments
in the course of one year has already conferred diplomas to more than
a hundred participants, including well known personalities from the world
of martial arts, such as Stefano Ricci, vice world champion of Thai Boxing,
Andrea Stoppa, Italian Judo champion and world Ju-Jitsu champion, and
Luigi Zanini, author of the book Kung Fu. It is a course for
both professionals and amateurs, to provide in a short time, a panorama
of the basis of Yi Quan.
P.V. It appears to be a promising teaching schedule.
S.A. Our association aims at being a reference point for whoever wishes to study Yi Quan and to propose the best that the best masters can offer.
P.V. Can you tell us of any significant event during your years of practice?
S.A. I can tell you something that happened to me on a recent trip to China which had a profound effect on me and the memory of which has not yet faded. I first met Master Yao Cheng Guang when I went to visit him at his home, a very small and very poor dwelling in a Huton of Peking. We chatted for a while and at a certain point I asked Master Yao how he would act using Yi Quan against a pugilistic adversary who had taken up a very closed compact position. The Master said: lets see! And told me to take up a guarded stance in front of him. In the tiny room there was a wall to the right and a little glass case to the left. Well, the master made a move, and in a flash I found myself face to face not with the master but with the glass case and only a very few inches from it. With really lightening speed he had spun me round and flung me so that my head almost touched the glass, but controlling me in such a way as to not harm me. I dont think I have ever met someone so fast.
P.V. And finally some advice for our readers.
arts can often after some years, bring us to a halt when the way forward
cannot be found. For the serious student, who sincerely analyses his training
and wishes to constantly progress, this can be a difficult phase to overcome,
full of problems and frustration. In these cases, my advice is not to
waste time with substitutes such as yoga, autogenous training, or use
excuses such as being no longer young in age, or lacking in athletic ability,
but to begin serious practice of Yi Quan. This can become the new driving
force for our activity, and even cause us to discover an energetic, technical
and spiritual dimension to martial arts that we had never hoped to find.
It happened to me, and I hope it can happen to you!