On the Value of Yi Quan 

By Han Jing Chen

As soon as it emerged Yi Quan rose to fame for its instant and huge explosion of energy in combat. This power is traditionally named as the “Whole Power” or the “Hunyuan Power” – the power of integrating all the elements.

The theories and effectiveness of Yi Quan soon interested the entire circle of martial arts, as a number of people began to study and explore the unique features of Yi Quan. This trend has continued and become even stronger today. There have been many works written about Yi Quan, however most are stuck in the superficial, the partial or even the working of the mind.

There have been no works so far that provide a complete and systematic explanation of Yi Quan. Not surprisingly, Master Wang Xiang Zhai, the founder of Yi Quan, said that “My way will not be truly understood until after 100 years.”

As a late comer, I dare not spare any efforts in learning the art. Despite my shallowness, I would like to present to you all that I have gained from practicing and exploring Yi Quan and what I consider to be the most valuable aspects of it. As the theoretical system of Yi Quan is intimately connected to traditional Chinese culture, I must define a few terms so that they can be better understood later.

1) Pure Nature: It means the objective world that is true with its own laws of evolution. It can otherwise be called Natural Ecology.

2) Habitual Nature: It means self-conscious speeches and behaviors that we human beings develop by regulating, continuously practicing and intensifying such speeches or behaviors using our subjective ideas. The Habitual Nature becomes even more natural over time, as to another who just comes out of the toilet, one may naturally ask ‘Did you eat?’

3) The Applied Nature of Perfect Combination between the Objective Conditions of a Subject and the Objective Needs of an Object:
As the name clearly states it becomes unnecessary for me to explain it any further.

1) Representative Wholeness:
It means the wholeness of the body that is visible as shown by body shapes.

2) Intentional Wholeness:
It means the wholeness of the body that human beings design, create and believe to be whole by using their subjective ideas.

3) Wholeness formed through Organic Integration, with Unison and Harmonization between the Internal Mechanism and the External Mechanism with Clear Purposes.
This is the highest and the best state of wholeness that the Chinese nation values.

It is the idealistic ultimate objective of perfection for human beings.
From Hunyuan things develop their varied natures. If it has to be described in scientific terms, Hunyuan includes any and all crystallizations of the human knowledge. It is also where the saying originates that “To discourse in a way that one deems appropriate” in Buddhism.
For the same sake, it occurs that a given thing has to be explained in overly complicated ways.

The Value of Yi Quan
Huanjin – Jin Transformation
The concept of Huanjin or Jin Transformation has been in the field of traditional martial arts for a long period of time. When and by whom first raised the term cannot be verified. So, the questions have to be left to historians. Hereby I will only talk about what the Jin Transformation really is.

The so-called Jin Transformation means to change the habitual usage of strength or moving mechanism that is formed in the physical labor of human beings (which is known as the “muddy Jin”) into the habitual usage of strength or moving mechanism that is needed by the martial art or any other special sport through special training methods and processes.

In Yi Quan the Jin Transformation is done through posts, which is an extremely important part of the practice. Yi Quan does not stay at such representations as the framework of Kung Fu, stamina or Kung Fu, but goes on to study extensively the essence in depth, intending to perfect both the internal and the external moving mechanisms. Thus, it adds new and more varied contents to the traditional concept of Jin Transformation.

So, on many occasions, I expressly tell everybody that the posts appeared a long time ago and were not unique to Yi Quan. However, it was Master Wang Xiang Zhai who rediscovered the posts and gave new, varied and particular contents. Moreover, it was also he who elevated the posts into the primary place and throughout the entire training process.

The Value of Posts
Body Frame Preparation:
The so-called “Body Frame Preparation” means to develop the optimal structure of the human body according to the modern knowledge system.

In the understanding of the body structure, Yi Quan was the first to establish the three-combination rules
The combination between the physical structure of organs and their physical functions;
The combination between the need to protect our life and the need to advance;
The combination of the structures formed from the above two combinations.

This optimal martial structure is consistent with the physiology of the human beings, which helps improve the health and treat illnesses, and meets the needs for one to protect himself and when necessary attack others. In the field of Yi Quan, this optimal structure is named as Hunyuan Posts that help people to find the Hunyuan Power.

In the testing practice of Yi Quan the elementary structure that one obtains is put into one’s own movements or when there is any resistance. After being tested constantly, it is corrected by feedbacks that one receives. As the saying goes, “Find it inside you and then go to rediscover it outside your body.” In this way, the structure is gradually improved to form a good moving mechanism. The process is called Shili – the testing of the power. The power originates from the standing post, is known to you when you test it, and becomes owned by you when you use it.

The Understanding of Strength
Yi Quan develops such views about strength as “You are wrong as soon as you try to use any strength” or “You are powerful when you feel comfortable with yourself,” which run counter to the preexisting ideas of practitioners. These views are unimaginable or unacceptable to common people, not to mention martial art practitioners. So, there are people who raise quite objective oppositions – “How can I beat without any strength” or “You do not have the power if you feel comfortable, and you have the power only when you feel uncomfortable.”

The non-use of strength view of Yi Quan has been put forward to oppose to the power that one produces by tensioning or loosening his muscles, to people who always play the tensioning or loosening game, and to the “muddy Jin” as mentioned above.

On the basis of the traditional view that “Those who have longer sinews are more powerful,” Yi Quan goes deeper and develops understandings or methods that are more effective in a shorter period of time. It expressly raised the pithy guiding principle that the “The power exists in the sinews and the spirit in the bones.” Compared with the power from the tensioning or loosening of the muscles, the power of Yi Quan is more penetrating, more destructive and more consistent with the moving needs of the human body. The saying that “You are powerful when you feel comfortable with yourself” means to establish a good and smooth moving mechanism that provides no obstructions to the whole and complete release of the power, so that the hitting force is effectively improved.

The Holistic View:
It is known by all that wholeness is of the utmost importance in Yi Quan. Common people usually tend to replace the Wholeness with the Power of Wholeness. They cannot be more mistaken.

The Power of Wholeness is nothing more than an external representation that Yi Quan appears to one in an instant. In fact, the Wholeness of Yi Quan means the holistic view – the overarching principle or measurement for one’s judgments and practicing – which is the essence of the Chinese national culture. It runs through one’s understanding and practicing processes, meaning to never let go any detail however minute it may be. It extends the connotation of Body Realization. It is the one and the only way to the upper level that “The spirit becomes more complete when the movement is more minute”, or “Respond to it at the time you feel it.”

The Connection Between Theory and Practice:
In studying the activities of ideas and the body, Yi Quan follows the traditional doctrine that “Knowledge and action are one.”

It raised a pragmatic rule – “Whether or not you get the feel about abstract theories in your body.” It opposes empty talks, or any fantastic exaggeration of the role of the mind, or any training methods that try to force any ideas on one’s body. As far as I can see it, one who practices such methods may feel quite good during exercise, but will loose all of them in a true fight. Moreover, the blind practice should be opposed to. The blindness means that if he fails to achieve the expected result, one often blames himself for not working hard enough, other than reconsidering if there is any problem in what he has practiced. There are also many other phenomenon that seem reasonable but are wrong, which I will not discuss at this time.

The Unity of Opposites:
In Yi Quan the traditional Yi Yang view is adopted in the study of the opposite elements, commonly known as contradictions in the martial movement. In the traditional culture, the relationships between the opposite elements are classified into: the unity of opposites; the mutual rooting and dependence; and the waxing/waning and conversion between yin and yang.

It inspires Yi Quan to start with the particularity and the generality of things, proceed to study the organic connections between opposite elements, and finally find solutions to solve the contradictions. It makes it a truly feasible process or a natural result for one to feel no resistance and beat the opponent in the combat, as is always dreamed about by martial art practitioners. In this way, one enters the supreme realm where he expresses himself fully and independently and fills his movements with rich contents.

As Master Wang Xiang Zhai said, “The basic and fixed rules are that the internal should flexible and agile, the external should be tall and straight, and you are powerful when you feel comfortable with yourself. The references should also be found in such pairs as the firm and the soft, the void and the solid, the active and the inactive, the tense and the loose.”

The Entry into the Realm of Necessity:
In the true Yi Quan combat it often ends with just one punch. This spectacular phenomenon is understood by many as “a strike with all one’s might” or “a desperate strike” or even “the mad dog’s move.” How ignorant they are!

The occurrence is because Yi Quan has moved from the realm of judgments and contingencies to the realm of perfection and necessity. As Master Wang Xiang Zhai said, “You feel like a great furnace that melts whatever that comes to you. You have the endless power of the universe. You feel like walking on the water and move like the mountain moving.” In this, he has passed the stage that “Bodhisattvas Fear Causes, Sentient Beings Fear Effects.”

Generally speaking, Yi Quan builds on the traditional Chinese culture and studies the martial practice. It inherits the traditional martial arts, as well as introduces new human knowledge. After being rediscovered, re-practiced and re-verified repeatedly in a complete and profound way, it has established its own principles and rules to guide one’s martial behaviors. It comes to be an independent system that covers brand-new theories and unique training programs centered on practice. Here ends this article, which I have written with whatever comes to my mind. I will go on to discuss further details in another article.

By Han Jing Chen in my apartment in Zhuhai, deep into the night of September 2, 1998

Reference: History of Yiquan and the han family Facebook

Han Xingqiao

Master Han xing Qiao was born in Shanghai, China in 1909.

Master Han Qiaos’ father,(Han you Sun), was a member of the imperial guards in the forbidden city. He was the personal bodyguard of Teng Hou Zhang. His Kung Fu background was diverse, but he was noted as a Ba Ji Quan stylist. The elder Han was also a doctor of medicine. Master Han You taught his son Xing Yi Quan, Ba Gua Quan, and Ba Ji Quan.

Master Han Qiao was an adept student of martial art and began a life in the martial arts with some of the best teachers in all of China. His instructors in Kung Fu included
Wang Lao De – Shuai Jiao
Yao Xin – shuai Jiao
Deng Yun Feng – Xing Yi Quan
Wang Zhang Heng – Xing Yi Quan
Liu Cai Chen – Xing Yi Chen / small frame Tai Chi Quan
Lin (Liu) Jing Qinq – Ba Gua Quan
Yiao Fu Chun – large frame Tai Chi Quan, Xing Yi Quan
Shang Yun Xing – Xing Yi Quan
Wu You Wei – founder of Liu He Ba Fa… (water boxing) who was also a student of Qieu Xian Tan in Shanghai
Qieu Xian Tan – Tui Na, one finger / chinese medicine … helped master Wang research many things and introduced Master Han to Wang
Wang Xiang Zai – founder of Yiquan, disciple of Guo You Sheng…Internal Kung Fu

Master Han Qiao was the disciple of Yiquan master Wang Xiang Zai at the Zenith of his life. In 1931 master Han was introduced to master Wang by master Hans teacher of internal medicine, Master Qieu Xian Tan in Shanghai.

Master Qieu Xian Tan in Shanghai. It was there and then that Master Wangs Yiquan was coalescing. Master Wang was exchanging many ideas with master Qieu, including the concept of zhong ,( pile standing, or keeping), one of the structural foundations of modern Yiquan. Master Qieu had an extensive library that held all of the classics, and in them Wang rersearched the ancient health dance, and the Yi ji Jing, (the shaolin book of tendon changing and bone marrow cleansing). All of these concepts where decoded by master Wangs real ability and feeling. In this sense they were not added on to his Yiquan, but instead instructed him in what Yiquan might be.

In 1931 Master Han instantly became an ardent student of Master Wangs , ( Master Wang adopted master Han as his real son and brought him into his home), for the next 15 years, until fate and politics took them to different parts of the country.

In 1938 Masters Wang and Han moved to beijing. In the northern Capital Master wang began teaching students at Beijing Si Cun Academy. Master Han assisted Master Wang and the art of Yiquan was spread and developed further. Both Masters never ceased to find something new in their understanding of what Yiquan is. The method and curriculum changed over time. One example is seen in Master Wang’s Fa Li practice. The 1930s is the only time we see Master Wang give instruction in Fa Li as a separate practice. By 1939 he stopped this distinction stating “All of the Zhong are Fa Li” . To Master Wang’s understanding this seemed clear. Some of the older students took this superficially and began a new invention of making Zhongs first imaginarily soft ,(Song), and then imaginarily hard,(Jing). The first principle of Yi Quan is natural of course. Neither soft nor hard actually exist in Nature. It is only once we make a statement of mind that these things come into comparative distinction. For Master Wang, Yi Quan became simple, and more so over time. In the later days of his life, he taught only the main three Zhong.

In 1973, Then premier Zhou Enlai personally appointed Master Han to introduce Yi quan theory into the state sports commission. The expression of Yiquan in modern sports was an honor. Master Hans ability to teach Yiquan principles translates to other aspects of life.

Later Master Han was appointed the president of Xinjiang Wushu Association.

Master Han can also be noted for his skill as a doctor, having been trained by numerous teachers, especially the instruction of Qieu Xian Tan. Master Qieu taught Master Han the Tui Na art of one finger treatment,(as well as chinese medicine). Master Han Qiao was an associate professor of Xinjiang traditional chinese medical collage and the traditional chinese medicine association, Chairman of the Xinjiang province division.

After retirement from medicine Master Han still focused on Yiquan development and research. He never stopped teaching Yi Quan. In 1985 with the support of the Hong Kong Yi Quan Association, Master Han opened the Zhuhai Yi Quan training center, in the city of Zhuhai. In 1990 Master Han was appointed Chairman of the Yi Quan Research Association.

Master Han Xing Qiao deeply felt that martial arts is within the Spirit of the Chinese Nation, culturally and philosophically , deep and profound. After more than Sixty years of practice and research, in 1993 Cosmos Books of Hong Kong published “YI Quan Xue”. This book includes Yi quan main theories and outlines the methods of practice, including the aspects of health preservation and real combat technique.

Master Han Qiao had five boys and one girl child who succeed him. All of the boys are doctors and a few are noted as Yi Quan instructors. One son, Han Chen Jen asked to rename Yi Quan as Han Shi Yiquan, (Han family Yi Quan). This permission was given upon Master Han Qiaos’ passing in october of 2004 at the age of 95. The reason the name was given is simple, this Yi Quan method is the understanding of the essence that Master Han Xing Qiao transmitted to Master Han Chen Jen. The name distinguishes the art from other schools of Yi Quan who may have a different concept of how the principles of Yi Quan translate into practice.

Reference: History of Yiquan and the han family Facebook

The Ancient Poem of Universal Post

The universal post is a mystical form of martial arts
We can never fully understand the way it is done
It seems like an embrace with a smiling face
You use your strength from within
You are relaxed and use no force
It is like clouds floating in the wind from all directions
You use forces from the universe to substantiate your strength
Your strength comes from your breathing
You do not hold fast, leaving a lot of room to move
You do not bend to great strength
So smoothly you move and so naturally
Your breathing and your limb movements should not be impeded
It is like moving in space
In and out of the highest peaks and clouds
Gliding through air and clouds
Floating along with the winds
Graceful yet composed
Always contain calmness and peace
Head upheld high with pride
You embrace the world below you
As clear and pure as an underground brook
Like lead turning into silver spinning the moon
Looking into an antique mirror to look deep into your soul
Your cup is filled to the brim
Absolutely free of restraint and free of self
You could fly as though you had wings
Head towards the limitless horizon
Like throwing a pebble into the water
The circles get larger and larger
With your hands you push open the limits of the universe
You embrace from within
Heaven and earth and the ten thousand things capture your thoughts
The eyes look outside with determination
Up and down your strength flows
You push and you embrace continuously
Your thought should be pure
This should clear your mind
This should curb all illness
You always return to the center
You can attack or defend at will
You must have a will of iron
The principle of this s to strengthen
To go for happiness and health
Your body will benefit from this
This has been handed down from the ancients
This form of exercise can help you without limits

Reference: The Tai Chi Boxing Chronicle by Kuo Lien-Ying p. 139

The Seven Basic Skills of Dachengquan

1. Jijizhuang (Combat skill pile-stance):
Feet assume a Dingbabu shaped step,
Arms form a circle like holding a child.
Stand upright, feeling light and nimble,
Mind is intense
but posture easy and comfortable.

2. Trial of Strength:
Strike out the hand is like a steel file,
Pull back, the hand is like an iron hook.
The intent aims at the surroundings of the body
Yet never goes away from it.

3. Mocabu (friction steps):
With the body erect and head upright,
He walks like a chicken but with the torso a bit inclined.
Advance or retreat at will as the hip and shoulder move,
Waves rise and fall as the leaps and the foot circles.

4. Fali (excerting force):
The whole body as soft as cotton,
The intend reaches finger tips.
Explosive force is discharged continuously,
Like a catapult shooting out pellets.

5. The trial of Breath:
Sound is produced from “Dantian” ( a spot 1,968 inches beneath the umbilicus.),
But comes out the mouth,
While the cheast is free and relaxed,
The sound is like that of a ringing bell is a quiet valley.

6. Tuishou (push-hands):
Single Hand
Attaching forearms they act as in trial of strength,
Touching, slicking, connecting, following,
all are guided by intention.
Rolling and turning the perform with “point of force” as the axis;
Jerking and discharging, an elastic force is produced and threatening.
Double Hand
With four arms closely attached,
The two turn and shift following steps.
Try to control the other side as if to bind him with a robe,
Be natural in all moves,
whether it be wrestling, shriving, striking or releasing.

7. Actual Manoeuvring:
When actual confrontation begins,
See that you have an easy posture.
With space appropriately set,
You hit out surely, accurately, relentlessly and severely.
Meeting attacks from all directions,
You must respond with alert and flexibility.
Advance, retreat or intercept,
All depends on circumstances and opportunity.
What’s the use of fixed postures and methods?
As under such circumstances everyone acts on his instinct.

by Wang Xuanjie
ISBN 9622381111

p.  46 – 54