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.
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.
result was the creation of Yi Quan, which name means Mind (YI) Boxing
style has certain characteristics, which separate it drastically from
all the other schools, at the same time aiming at being their quintessence.
first and fundamental difference is that Yi Quan does not contain any
set forms, Tao Lu, or sequences of punches and kicks.
this reason it has at times been called the "school of spontaneity".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
transformation produces a warrior, but also an artist and a sage.
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.
fact, the first result of training is the attainment and recovery of a
state of well being based on an optimum circulation of energy.
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.
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.
fact, it is not a matter of adding technique to technique, but of developing
that which renders effective any technique.
elements that make up the essential technical programme are basically:
- Zhan Zhuang:
- Shi Sheng:
- Tui Shou:
with two and four hands
should form a well integrated whole and none can be disregarded.
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.
the aim is to transform the very substance of the practitioner, and
this has to be worked at constantly and at length.
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
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.