Practice

The Theory page contains a brief outline of the steps taken whilst learning Yiquan. Using the same headings, we link each of the steps to specific exercises.

Note that the process is not linear. After a brief 'induction' period, most exercises are practised in parallel.

Zhan Zhuang Acquiring whole-body strength.
explanation: This is achieved by practising Zhan Zhuang (Standing Pole) exercises. These are standing postures with the body swaying essentially in a passive manner whilst maintaining a balanced position. The mind is used to create a very calm and tranquil feeling whilst directing attention to different parts of the body as is required.

Maintaining the whole-body connection and strength whilst moving.
explanation: This is achieved by practising Shi Li (Testing Strength) exercises. These are similar to Zhan Zhuang but the movements of the body are bigger and active, rather than passive. A feeling of moving against a certain resistance is created. Often the stance used is a 'combat stance' to practice connection to the ground while shifting weight.

Maintaining the whole-body connection and strength whilst stepping.
explanation: This is achieved by practising Mo Ca Bu (Friction Step) exercises. A feeling of dragging one's feet through mud is maintained whilst stepping. One can think of it as Shi Li for legs.

Descending Dragon Learning to propagate power around the whole body at will.
explanation: This is achieved by more practice of the previous exercises but also as a result of Hun Yuan Zhuang (Universal Stance) and similar exercises. These exercises are sometimes called Mo Li (Sensing Strength) exercises.

Releasing strength - basics.
explanation: This is achieved by practising Fa Li (Releasing Strength) exercises. These are similar to Shi Li but practised faster. To begin with, in a soft and relaxed manner, later on with an explosive force. The whole-body connection must be maintained throughout!

Releasing strength in any direction with any part of the body.
explanation: We practise directing the power to any part of our body - so we can use feet, knees, hips, back, elbows, shoulders, hands, head - in fact (nearly) any part of our body for attack or defence. Both Fa Li and Mo Li exercises are relevant here.

Manipulating an opponent.
explanation: This is achieved by practising Tui Shou (Pushing Hands) exercises. There are only two types of Pushing Hands - single and double, both in a fixed stance and with steps. All the previous skills can be tried and practised with a partner. We have to learn to maintain the whole-body connection whilst being pulled and pushed and also whilst pulling and pushing. In addition we learn control of the centre line, sensing and neutralising opponents' power.

Augmenting strength using breath control.
explanation: This is achieved by practising Shi Sheng (Testing Voice) exercises. Until now the breathing was performed in a soft and natural manner. To further aid the body integration and power production, muscles used in breathing (thoracic intercostal muscles, the diaphragm and the abdominal muscles) and muscles of the lower back are used in Fa Li (Releasing Strength) exercises. Voice is used as an external feedback to indicate how breath is used. Later on the techniques are performed in a voiceless manner.

Learning to fight.
explanation: This step is only applicable to those students who wish to learn fighting either for self-defence or in order to enter competitions. Fighting strategy, tactics, controlled and free sparring drills are taught and practised.

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©Karel Koskuba, 2001