Yiquan 意拳[1] has succeeded, on the foundation of traditional Kung Fu styles and western influences[2], in working out a grid of the most efficient techniques and at the same time, which is really remarkable, to consequently emphasize as main subject the effectiveness of the different forces.

Yiquan is about the quality of different forces. First, it is about consequently working on inner strength, to develop a whole-body-force out of it. This quality can also be integrated into any other teaching system[3].

An analogy: It is not of much use if I take a small battery, which besides is almost empty, as power supplier for performances. In Yiquan, whether for the health stimulating applications (Yangsheng) 养生 or the combat applications (Jiji) 技击, you first of all seek to fully charge the existing battery. In further steps one attempts at replacing the original battery by one or several larger batteries or adding more powerful ones. Zhanzhuang 站桩 is therefore the most important exercise group.

The key to the right quality lies not in the mere technical realization of an exercise, nor is it only a question of how many times you repeat it physically. Instead, it depends on the various visualization exercises that go along with the physical execution of the movements. With time, several visualized ideas can be conceived at the same time, overlapping each other. Hereafter the exercise groups of Yiquan, that have been decisively replenished and worked out by Yao Zongxun 姚宗勋.

Video of Yao Zongxun’s health dance (Jianwu) >

The seven exercise groups are not a model after which you are forced to train. It is rather a representation of an ideal condition that comes about, provided that one trains seriously enough[4] and that time is ready for the appropriate level.

1. Zhanzhuang 站桩 (standing like a pole). Different postures, mainly in standing position. They strengthen the supporting muscular system and therefore the body structure. This is followed by a subsequent work on inner strength.

2. Shili 试力 (force testing). The inner strength that has been acquired in the preceding exercise group is brought into limited mouvements that include hands, arms and the shifting of weight.

3. Mocabu 摩擦步 (friction step). Like 2., but with the addition of stepping techniques which are at first set, and later on free from set routines.

4. Shisheng 试声 (sound testing). Based on natural[5] breathing, a sound is being produced while contracting the body. Later on, the audible sound is omitted. Integrating this into the previous exercises already leads to the next exercise group.

5. Fali 发力 (release of force). All groups of exercises brought together. Although there are some particular exercises that promote the ability to release force, the aim is to be able to release it at will anytime and in any direction.

6. Tuishou 推手 (pushing, sensing hands). This partner exercise puts one’s level at a test in a limited way. Pression is given from both sides on the arms or the hands that are in contact, until one side is unable to withstand. Practice starts standing on the spot using one arm. Later on, both arms are used and finally, steps are added.

7. Sanshou 散手 (free hands, free fighting). The same like in the exercise group before, but adding striking and kicking. Preliminary stages are for example competitions with rules and protective equipment that restrict the possibilities (Qingda, Sanda, Leitai). In the end there are no rules. You cannot talk your way out of a stroke that hurts.

[1] Yiquan (Chinese, mind fist).

[2] Predominantly boxing. You can read about the origin of pugilistic in Europe in ‚cultura martialis’, issue 01, October 2004.

[3] For example another Kung Fu style.

[4] ‚Seriously enough’ refers to an appropriate training of quality done in moderation. If one trains a lot, but for instance only emphasizes one of the qualities of neili, then zhengtili, and of course all the other forces will never arise. If one trains with the appropriate quality, this should be done with moderation, which again will be vary from individual to individual. Too much and too little are equally not beneficial.

[5] ‚Natural’ refers to a physiologically correct breathing. This should be supervised during the first years of training or, if need be, developed.

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