Yiquan (pronounced yee chuan), also known as Dachengquan, was created by Wang Xiangzhai (1890 - 1963) after a lifetime of practice and research into martial arts. Wang Xiangzhai trained in Xingyiquan under a famous master Guo Yunshen. After Guo's death, Wang travelled extensively around China looking for top teachers. As a result of his research into the essence of martial arts, he became convinced that far too much time and effort was spent on learning pretty movements and empty forms. He based his teaching on Xingyiquan but kept simplifying and modifying it to put greater emphasis on mental training rather than outer form. He therefore decided to drop 'xing' (form) - from Xingyiquan and called his new system Yiquan - where Yi means Mind or Intent and quan means boxing.
Yiquan was very successful at that time but Wang Xiangzhai noticed that whilst his students were gaining considerable strength, their dexterity and co-ordination were not the best. He therefore entered a second period of intense research and modified his system accordingly.
In 1939, after moving to Beijing and perfecting his system, Wang Xiangzhai issued an open challenge to all other masters of martial arts to "come and exchange experiences and ideas". Many came to test their skills but none succeeded in defeating Wang Xiangzhai nor the four top students he designated to take challenges (Han Xingqiao, Hong Lianshun, Yao Zongxun and Zhou Ziyan).
At this time, because of the successes his system was enjoying, students and the public started to call his martial art Dachengquan - Great Achievement Boxing. Wang Xiangzhai adopted the use of this name for a time but eventually decided to revert to calling his art Yiquan again as it reflected more accurately the spirit of the system.
uring his lifetime, Wang Xiangzhai designated Yao Zongxun as his successor.
After Wang Xiangzhai's death, Prof. Yao Zongxun carried on his teacher's work. In 1984 he
created Beijing Yiquan Research Association, and became it's first president.
In the West, Yiquan became known through two books written by Wang Xuanjie - Dachengquan and Dacheng Kungfu. Wang Xuanjie was a student of two of Wang Xiangzhai's students (Yang Demao and Li Yongzong) - despite claims to the contrary in his books.
At present, Prof. Yao's sons, Yao Chengguang (president of Beijing Yiquan Research Association) and Yao Chengrong (vice-president of Beijing Yiquan Research Association) - 'The Twin Stars of Yiquan' - carry on the work of developing and promoting Yiquan. Due to their efforts, Yiquan is becoming more popular than ever and has spread worldwide.