Learning Yiquan is not just learning new patterns of movements but a completely different mode of movement. That is why a much greater emphasis is placed on the mental component of training. This is particularly important in the beginning, when we are trying to learn the new way of using our body. Practising without paying a close attention to the way we move could easily result in just reinforcing the old mode of movement.
In contrast to other Chinese martial arts, the concept of Qi is not used. In his early days, Wang Xiangzhai adhered to the traditional concepts and explanations but in his later years, he abandoned them as he considered them outdated and more confusing. Traditionally, Yi (mind) directs Qi (energy) which in turns directs body. In Yiquan, there is no intermediate link. Thus the body is directed only by the mind.
What follows is a brief outline of the process of learning Yiquan. The Practice page links the steps described below with specific exercises.
Acquiring whole-body strength.
explanation: This is the first requirement. At this stage we must learn two skills:
Maintaining the whole-body connection and strength whilst moving.
explanation: Keeping our body connected when we are still is not the same as keeping it connected when we move.
Maintaining the whole-body connection and strength whilst stepping.
explanation: We have to maintain our connection to the ground whilst stepping. Here we also practise maintaining the connection of the upper and lower body while stepping.
Learning to propagate power around the whole body at will.
explanation: This is where we learn how to move power around the body. The feeling created is that a pressure anywhere on our body is met by a spring-like force.
Releasing strength - basics.
explanation: So far, we have been 'playing' around with the power 'inside' our body. Here we learn how to use or 'release' the whole-body power in a practical manner.
Releasing strength in any direction with any part of the body.
explanation:Once we learn how to 'release' power, we practice different ways and means.
Manipulating an opponent.
explanation: Having learnt how to move in a solo manner, we have to learn how to use this new way of movement whilst dealing with someone else. We have to keep the whole-body connection whether we manipulate someone or are being manipulated. In addition we learn how to sense opponent's intention and learn useful techniques for later combat practice.
Augmenting strength using breath control.
explanation: Breathing musculature can be used to integrate the centre of the body in a more natural way.
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.