Introduction to Yiquan


Yiquan is:

  • Method of seeking the basis of combat efficiency,
  • Opportunity of using the same exercises for improving health and well-being,
  • Fascinating hobby, method of self-improvement.

Yiquan training can be divided into two parts:

  • Basic training,
  • Training with partner.

In the basic training stress is put on improving perception of body,
movement, strength, energy. This is seen as a basis of the ability of efficient
use of body. Mind is focused in each exercise, which helps to achieve better
coordination between mind and body, enabling fuller exhibiting of natural
potential. Although the basic exercises of yiquan are so different from typical
forms of sports training, they can develop strength, stamina, speed, agility,
fast reaction etc. The way of using muscles is gradually changing toward more
efficient, when whole body is better unified.

  • Zhan zhuang - relatively static exercises, enabling (due to
    the simplicity of form) concentrating completely on the subtle co-ordination and
    improving perception of force which you are using,
  • Shi li - slow movement exercises, where situation is more
    complex, but movement is still slow, so you can observe all its important
  • Moca bu - steps practiced in the same way as shi li - it is
    shi li for legs.
  • Fa li - dynamic exercises - issuing force explosively -
    this is build on zhan zhuang and shi li practice. You are learning issuing force
    with any part of body (e.g. palms, forearms, elbows, shoulders, head, hips,
    knees, feet), in various directions, at any point of movement. It can be
    hitting, but also other movements, used for unbalancing opponent, pushing him
    away or throwing down.

At first you repeat simple single exercises, so you can concentrate on
their essence. Gradually the exercises become more complex. You also start
linking them, creating improvised forms. Then there is more and more
modifications. You stick to the principles learned through basic practice, but
paths of movement, speed, rhythm, ways of using power, are changing endlessly.
You develop ability of adapting to unpredictably changing situations. The basic
methods are also used as a system of practice for health and well-being.
Another part of curriculum is training with

abilities and skills which you want to develop, should be related to free
fighting. Pushing hands should serve this goal and not be just pushing hands for
sake of pushing hands. Tui shou helps to learn the principles which can be used
when there is contact of arms of both fighters. If you understand those
principles, then you can try using them also when contact is made with other
parts of body.

In pushing hands exercises contact lasts for some longer time, but in
practical use in free fighting the contact is very often not longer than a split
of second. In basic tui shou we do many kinds of circular movements, keeping
contact with partner's arms, so it is easier to learn the principles of adapting
to changing movements and ways of using power in various situations - with
different positions of arms, and different position in relation to opponent.
In pushing hands you learn principles of:

  • Unbalancing opponent,
  • Searching for holes in opponent's defense and creating them,
  • Controlling, neutralizing and counter-attacking.

The process of learning pushing hands can be divided into some

  • Basic single and double pushing hands circles, in fixed position and with
  • Various forms of using power in single and double pushing hands: short
    explosive movements intended to unbalance opponent, pushing, hitting with palm,
    fist, forearm, elbow, shoulder, head, knee etc.
  • Neutralizing and countering opponent's power,
  • Free (sparring) pushing hands in fixed position and with steps (more stress
    is put on practice with steps). The goal may be unbalancing opponent or both
    unbalancing and hitting.

Free fighting training
includes some introductory and supplementary exercises, which help to understand
some aspects of combat better, but most important are various kinds of sparring,
with more or less limitations, from light to full contact. According to needs
and practitioner's level, protective equipment is used.
the san shou practice is divided into stages:

  • Hitting only with palm/fist (including chopping movements), using footwork
    as main tool of defense,
  • As above plus using principles and skills developed through pushing hands
    training: redirecting opponent's attack, opening space for attack, breaking
    opponent's guard, affecting his balance, so it is easier to hit or throw him.
    This can be done by direct attacking opponent's arms or contact can appear in
    result of opponent's defense.
  • Low kicks are added,
  • Hitting with knees and elbows are added.

Some of basic principles we stress during fighting

  • Constant attacking with various methods and defending at the same time -
    "attack and defense are one,
  • Affecting opponent's balance by using both offensive and defensive actions,
  • Using opponent's force - neutralizing and redirecting it, using principle of
    tun tu - swallowing and spitting out [force],
  • Use of whole body movement and power,
  • Swift footwork, enabling efficient defense while attacking - using triangle
    and circular steps,
  • Low kicks used simultaneously with hands actions,
    Knocking opponent
    down, while yourself keeping stand up position. Dynamic balance instead of
    static root,
  • Using most simple methods and principles at beginning stage of training,
    then gradually developing more subtle skills.

Only thanks to the training with partner - the direct experience of
combat, you can fully understand the basic methods, verify the results of their
practice, and accordingly make the right corrections of basic practice, making
it more efficient, so it can really help you in improving combative skills.
Through longer training yiquan practitioner develops ability of
intuitive, spontaneous reaction also in situations different from typical
training patterns. In jianwu - improvised yiquan dance, the high level of skill,
experience and spontaneity of advanced practitioner is expressed.