What is Yi Quan?

Yi Quan, created in the 1920ís by the master Wang Xiang Zhai, famous exponent of the Hsing Yi School, distances itself from this traditional classification, with the intention of being the absolute synthesis of the essential elements contained in both traditions.
Wang Xiang Zhai, a profoundly pragmatic and straightforward man, sought to make his pugilistic synthesis work along two main guiding lines: firstly by emphasizing and extolling the importance of mental training over a purely technical one, and secondly by eliminating all the useless frills and distortions created around the various styles, thus uncovering the essential nucleus of the Chinese martial arts.
The result was the creation of Yi Quan, which name means Mind (YI) Boxing (Quan).
This style has certain characteristics, which separate it drastically from all the other schools, at the same time aiming at being their quintessence.
The first and fundamental difference is that Yi Quan does not contain any set forms, Tao Lu, or sequences of punches and kicks.
For this reason it has at times been called the "school of spontaneity".
At the same time the training is extremely arduous and severe, based on a series of progressive stages of which the first and most difficult, is to hold static positions for long periods.
But more difficult than the physical is the mental training; every position, every exercise of Yi Quan must be accompanied by static or dynamic mental imagery, often for long stretches and with an intensity devoid of distraction.
The aim of this singular, quasi-mystical, form of creative meditation is the recovery of manís primordial fighting instinct: which wild animals have kept, and man has lost in the processes of growth and civilisation.
Thus the preparation in Yi Quan is more similar to that of a monk than a warrior, and yet its result is the development of a strange explosive force, a spontaneous and natural aggressiveness akin to that of wild animals.
This peculiar symbiosis between technical and mental training places Yi Quan outside the framework of traditional martial arts: it is a method in which technique, art, physiology contribute to a profound and total transformation of the practitioner.
This transformation produces a warrior, but also an artist and a sage.
Furthermore, as is characteristic of internal styles, which are based on relaxation, interior listening and the circulation of vital energy, Yi Quan represents an excellent method of therapy and self-healing.
In fact, the first result of training is the attainment and recovery of a state of well being based on an optimum circulation of energy.
In contrast to many methods of Qi Gong based on breathing or complicated visualizations, Yi Quan proposes a simple and natural progression for developing internal energy, which can take one from a hospital bed to the most vigorous combat performance.
Yi Quan then, so simple and absolute in its methods and aims, truly represents the essential nucleus of the martial arts, and as such can be studied as a main style, or as a reservoir and energetic basis to better every other style or fighting technique.
In fact, it is not a matter of adding technique to technique, but of developing that which renders effective any technique.
The elements that make up the essential technical programme are basically:

  1. Zhan Zhuang: static positions.
  2. ShilI: slow movements.
  3. Muocabu: shifting movements.
  4. Fali: explosive movements.
  5. Shi Sheng: vocal energy.
  6. Tui Shou: with two and four hands
  7. Excercices in Paris.

These exercises should form a well integrated whole and none can be disregarded.

The quality of the work must always be put before the quantity, but as in any type of internal discipline, it must be remembered that Yi Quan demands a great deal of invested time.

Indeed, the aim is to transform the very substance of the practitioner, and this has to be worked at constantly and at length.

On the other hand, the essence of the training consists of being able to bring certain principles to bear in everyday life, to the point of training permanently.

And if we look at things in this light, we can no longer think of training as taking up more or less time; training becomes a part of life itself.







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