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.

Definitions
Nature
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.

Wholeness
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.

Hunyuan-Integration:
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.

Testing:
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.”

Conclusion
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

Martial aspects of yiquan and its fighting application

Internal “Intention” for Health and Self-Defense

By Fukui Yang as told to Bob Feldman

A Short History of Yiquan and My Family’s Relationship to this Martial Art
Yiquan is a relatively new Chinese martial art created by the great master Wang Xiangzhai. Master Wang was the last and favorite student of the Xingyiquan master Guo Yunshen. After Guo died, Wang, although he was very young, was already a formidable fighter. He spent more than ten years traveling throughout China meeting other masters and improving his skill. Even as a teenager, Master Wang was already an excellent martial artist who rarely lost a challenge. After spending time at the Shaolin Temple as well as with numerous other masters, Wang incorporated many Buddhist and Daoist principles directly into his practice.

Master Wang originally came from Shen County, Hebei Province, and later moved to Tianjin City which was at that time a crossroads for many Chinese martial artists. In Tianjin there had developed a unique open exchange of ideas and techniques within the martial arts community in the early years of this century, common in the rest of China. My maternal great uncles Zhai Yuwen and Zhai Yongwen became students of Master Wang as their father, my great-great uncle, Zhai Xujin, was friendly with him. Master Zhai and Master Wang were from the same county in Hebei and had much in common. Our family’s traditional martial arts, however, were predominantly Xingyiquan and Baguazhang, as taught by Master Zhang Zhaodong, who had also introduced Master Wang to my family. My great uncles, however, always had a healthy respect for Yiquan and its fighting capabilities, although it was not their predominant system.

Another student of my great grand Uncle, Zhao Daoxin, also began to study with Master Wang and became one of his most accomplished disciples. He later followed Wang to Shanghai where he trained the resistance during the war years but, because of his association with the Guomingdang Nationalist party, was subsequently imprisoned by the Communists, only to be released after the Cultural Revolution. Master Zhao was quite well known in his own right throughout China. He was both educated and had won the 1936 All-China Full Contact Championship in Nanjing. This competition attracted representative competitors for many martial art styles all over China. It was a famous “Leitai” competition and was subsequently banned because of the numerous deaths that occurred during these fights.

After being released from prison and his reunion with my great uncles, Master Zhao agreed to teach Yiquan to both my older brother and myself. He also taught us the system that he created, Xinghuizhang, or “Spirit Meeting Palm” in which he combined Yiquan mind training with the spiralic postures of Taijiquan and Baguazhang, and the explosive movements of Xingyiquan, the “mother system” of Yiquan.

As a child I met Master Wang Xiangzhai on numerous occasions, as he spent his final years in Tianjin. I was finally given a chance to study Yiquan with his closest students in my late teens and early twenties, after I finished my university education at the Tianjin Sports Institute, and studied Yiquan for over 8 years in Tianjin with Master Zhao and several other first generation students of Master Wang.

What is Yiquan?
Yiquan can be translated as “intention” or “will” boxing. It is, according to some, the distillation of the “essence” of “Xingyiquan” and other Neijia, or internal martial arts. The core of Yiquan is standing meditation, practiced in a variety of postures, with the goal of merging one’s intention, and internal energy, with the physical power required for martial arts. If in one’s practice one only concentrates on intention, or “Yi,” but not upon energy, or “Qi,” the effects of practicing postures are weak and empty. If there is only energy practice, but no intention, one cannot apply or utilize this energy efficiently for fighting or for healing. Therefore, in order to succeed, one must practice both intention and energy in order to use Yiquan effectively as a martial art.

Master Wang had developed his unique philosophy after studying martial arts and Chinese medicine and was of opinion that one cannot see or feel energy, only the effects of it. If one attempts to focus upon feeling or moving the energy, it is very easy to have mental delusions and misinterpret somatic feelings as being the energy itself. This is perhaps the case historically with many uneducated martial artists who were not capable of explaining their own internal feelings.
In his later years, Wang Xiangzhi made an extensive study of traditional Chinese Medicine, as well as of anatomy and physiology. After the Second World War and the Communist Revolution, he began to work in a traditional hospital, and turned his attention to healing. Master Wang felt that one can feel the effects of Qi or energy, such as an increased vitality, or developing the ability to perform “fali,” that is, the emission of explosive force during fighting, or use the energy for healing. With further refinement as one’s practice advances, the energy increases within the internal organs and within the meridians. The blood circulation is also heightened, which enables us to react faster to challenging physical situations. This internal energy circulating within the organs and the meridians is called “Shen” or “Heart Spirit.”

While it is beyond the scope of this article to present an in-depth discussion of the concepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine and qigong practice, it should be noted that many current Yiquan students outside of China are taught solely to utilize standing meditation to increase their internal energy. By practicing the standing postures alone, they are not practicing the complete system of Yiquan, and it is difficult to use this energy for fighting.

While practicing the standing postures is excellent for health, it is unfortunate that some Yiquan teachers are either unfamiliar with the complete system of Yiquan or purposely withhold its martial aspects. Such teachers give their students the impression that their standing meditation will, in and of itself, enhance their fighting ability. Usually these students must study other martial arts in order to substitute for their inability to use Yiquan for fighting. While this is especially true for the majority of Western practitioners of Yiquan, in China it is still very possible to find qualified teachers and study the complete system, particularly in Beijing, Tianjin, and in Hebei Province. Personally, I am not familiar with the extent that authentic Yiquan as a fighting system is taught in other parts of China, such as Shanghai or Hong Kong, although Master Wang had some good students who moved there.

The Essential “Mind Set” Needed for Yiquan Fighting
In order to fight, one must use both intention and qi to utilize the power of the standing meditation postures, to conduct the “li” (force) outward. By engaging in standing mediation and in learning how to externalize the internal force, Wang Xiangzhai felt that Yiquan would stimulate both the circulation and the bone marrow to harden the bones and toughen the connective tissues, similar to the “Marrow Washing” which is a part of many Daoist and Buddhist practices. Yiquan does not stress the use of external techniques and applications in order to harden the body as do other systems, but rather it relies predominantly on internal meditation, push hands and fighting to harden the body and test one’s internal strength.

In order to stimulate the bone marrow and specially harden the bones, one should imagine that during both fighting and “Fali” practice, that is, the process of directing force externally outward, that the body is primarily made of bone. When one imagines this, the connective tissue, namely the muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia, will relax and not tighten. This is because tense muscles during a fight do not allow the force to be emitted efficiently. Therefore, standing meditation is utilized both to relax the mind and the soft tissues, as well as to create an environment for hardening the bone and centering our mental state.

Paradoxically, in Yiquan, one’s mental state must be both relaxed and focused simultaneously, Intention, or yi, cannot be only concentrated, as this too will lead to tightening of the soft tissues and inefficient force emission during fighting. Although to be both relaxed and focussed at the same time may seem to be paradoxical, in truth, it is not contradictory; both processes can occur simultaneously in a natural state of awareness. For example, one can be both relaxed and attentive when driving an automobile.

In addition, the postures will allow us to sink our energy and lower the center of gravity to the Dantien in order to develop a deeper root. This permits our emitted force to be conducted up from the ground through the legs, hips, waist, shoulders and upper extremities, as opposed to only from one part of the body. This greatly enhances the power and speed of “Fali.”
While the emitted force appears to be sudden and explosive to outsiders, internally one may first sense an internal drawing-in of the energy prior to its emission. This process is called “She Sen,” namely, the ability to gather energy and emit force. If one has a blockage or imbalance of the energy within the meridians or insufficient qi when one emits “Fali,” at best one’s force is minimal; at worst, this explosive stress, particularly if repeated over and over, can be stressful to the internal organs, and cause health problems later. The practice of repetitive Fali, without relaxation during standing meditation, is called “Qijieh.” Such improper repetitive Fali practice can also damage the bones, tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints.
In addition, Wang Xiangzhai felt that the movement of internal energy was intimately connected to the circulation of blood. When a practitioner “feels” or “senses” the energy circulating, the practitioner may be feeling the results of increased blood circulation; it is certainly not the actual increased circulation of energy, as energy is invisible and not something we can specifically feel, although the energy may be causing it. Wang Xiangzhai advised that during standing meditation, try to “imagine” the energy moving according to whatever internal imaging one is practicing; however, if one does feel “something,” forget about it, don’t dwell on it, let it pass.

When one has sufficient energy, one can focus the intent of the posture and emit force. This aspect of Yiquan practice is called “She Li,” during which the internal energy is accumulated for maintaining health and for fighting. While practicing She Li, one’s mind should attain a state that is relaxed and calm, confident and open during the daily practice of meditation. However, during a fight one must also bring out a “crazy” tenacious intention in order to win. This is similar to what we observe in animal fights. The difference, however, is that animals do not have higher thinking processes as do we humans, and, as humans, we must also confront our habits, fears, prohibitions and predilections during a fight. This “crazy intention” is called “She Shen.”

She Shen is often translated as the use of sound, such as in the Japanese “Kiai.” This is perhaps true in part, but it is not totally correct. She Shen rather refers to the mindset of crazy intention during which sounds may be emitted like those of an animal. The sound should be natural and spontaneous, and should, in fact be emitted from the Dantien. Regular standing meditation helps us not be become tense, not allowing our emotions to take over, thereby greatly increasing our fighting efficiency.

Real fights are usually intense and short in duration. There is little or no time to think of what techniques to utilize. Wang Xiangzhai felt that techniques in and of themselves are not useful in fighting. Rather, fighting applications should be spontaneous and natural and should appear when needed. The “techniques” of Yiquan are therefore infinite variations of natural movements found within the postures. Wang Xiangzhai often said, “The best technique is no technique.” Different postures allow us to open different types of energy. Realistically, however, we need only practice several postures to fight efficiently and naturally, if one has good yi and qi. This is because we are all different in our strengths and weaknesses.

Master Fukui Yang began his practice of internal martial arts at the age of 6 and his practice of external martial arts at the age of 8, under the guidance of his grandfather and great uncles. Master Yang and his brother began their study of Yiquan and the related martial arts of Xinguizhang and Loshuenquan under the tutelage of Masters Zhao Daoxin, Chu Jenhe and Master Zhang Entong, all first generation students of Master Wang Xiangzhai. Master Yang is the Director of Heath Mind Martial Arts (Xinyi Wushu Guan), in New York City.

Reference:
KUNGFU QIGONG – July/August 2001 MARTIAL ASPECTS OF YIQUAN AND ITS FIGHTING APPLICATION xinyiwuguan.com

Links:
Fukui Yang on youtube.com

Interview with Zhao Daoxin

Recorded by Huang Jitao Translated from chinese by Andrzej Kalisz

Zhao Enqing originally was disciple of Zhang Zhankui (Zhang Zhaodong). Later he learned from the founder of yiquan – Wang Xiangzhai and became one of his best students, receiving from Wang a honorary name Daoxin.

The original interview was made by Huang Jitao in 4 sessions over 4 days and is quite long. Here is only a translation of small part.

Huang:
So also traditional wushu is not efficient in fighting?

Zhao:
People from traditional styles say that the modern wushu from national institutes is just „flowery forms”. But it still doesn’t mean that themselves they possess „true gongfu”. The wushu from institutes neglects fighting side, while traditional wushu is talking about fighting. But it doesn’t mean that it really got it… Contemporary traditional wushu, just like the wushu from institutes is mainly about training forms. Moreover there is a lot of symbolic or ritual gestures, with no relation to fighting. Looking from point of view of training – they still use old methods of low efficiency. In theory they should help to develop practical skills, but in fact are more like kind of praying, method of developing patience, and just a lot of useless efort. I don’t know how many dozens of thousands of people practice traditional wushu in China. But I also don’t know about any of them, who could prove their abilities in fighting on international stage.

Huang:
But in times when foreign fighting experts and strong men kept coming to China, Chinese masters of that generation defeated them many times…

Zhao:
If there are so many examples of Chinese master defeating foreigners, why we can only hear about it from our side, and they don’t mention this? Maybe they don’t want to talk about being defeated. But on the other side how many Chinese were defeated, but we didn’t talk about it, because it would be humiliating. Anyway we don’t know what were the proportions between victories and defeats. And if Wu Song had fought not a tiger, but just a cat, there wouldn’t be reason to praise him for centuries. And what kind of opponents were those foreigners, who were defeated by our masters? My teacher (Zhang Zhankui) met Russian „strong man”, I met Danish „boxer”. Other friends had similiar situations. But our opponents were defeated after just one action, there was no real fight. But this was only because traditional Chinese wushu didn’t meet real tigers. In those times you could easily became famous because of „defeating” some foreigner, but it was only because they were not any real experts. 

More challenging was fighting with other Chinese at that time. No foreigners signed up for the leitai tournaments in Hangzhou or Shanghai. And the people from traditional styles, no matter if they were some monks or great masters famous in some place, they either became injured in fights or were not brave enough to fight. And the winners, although they signed up as representatives of some traditional systems, instead of forms and other methods of those systems, they were using completely different methods preparing for fighting. 

Huang:
Could you tell us your opinion and views about chinese martial arts?

Zhao:
There is not much time. So I will only outline some issues. This will not be very systematic disscussion. And because people all the time talk a lot about advantages, I will say rather about problems.

Huang:
First tell us, what you think about the internal and external division, and division based on territory. 

Zhao:
If we want Chinese martial arts develop, we must reject such divisions. It doesn’t mean that there is no meaning in them at all. But they only partially describe way of demonstration, and they don’t really say anything about way of fighting. Divisions in martial art should be based on effect in fighting, and not the way of practice, and they should not be effect of swindle. They should express human body and developing technique, and not sect-like customs nourished for hundreds and thousands years. The division for Shaolin, Wudang, Emei and Zhongnan arts is only expressing fact, that communication was difficult in old times. But it is past. And the internal-external division was made up by literatti fascinated by the style which they practiced, so they started calling it internal family art – skillfull writers created flowery descriptions. But in fact nobody would talk about himself being representative of external family art. In fact, in real fighting there are no styles.

Huang:
But the internal-external division is at least representing the real division for soft and hard.

Zhao:
This division is even more muddled. Some just use it to criticize other schools. But when they talk about their own school, they stress that „soft and hard supplement each other”, that „internal and external are trained together”. They maintain that it’s only them who keep right balance between soft and hard, while others tend to much toward softness or hardness.

Huang:
But the concepts of internal-external, soft-hard, at least led to developing sophisticated theories of internal training – concept „from yi to qi to jin”.

Zhao:
„Yi, qi, li”, „jing, qi, shen” – those concepts related to internal training are hard to express with normal language. We could say that it is about using self-suggestion to induce feeling of comfort and strength. There are new concepts, at least evenly useful, and even more efficient in practical use.

Huang:
What are the shortcomings of Chinese martial arts if we are talking about way of fighting?

Zhao: 
There is a lot of shortcomings and taboos. Apart from those which are common for all Chinese martial arts, there are other, specific for some school. For example everybody fears that his style will resemble some other, so they try hard to make it look different. If you tell some person doing baguazhang, that his movements resemble taijiquan, he will hardly accept such opinion. If you tell some xingyiquan practitioner that you notice some similarities to western boxing he will feel bad about it. But actually the differences between styles are more in ritual gestures than in the way of figthing. But those gestures are usefull only for demonstration or meeting, in fight they are useless and stupid.

There is also taboo of falling down. In challenges there was an unwritten rule, that touching ground with part of body different than feet meant defeat. So in the south they stress „ma”, and in the north „zhuang”. In many styles long, low postures and centered torso are stressed. But what is real value of those stable techniques? The principle „when leg is raised, half body is empty” results in loosing opportunity of efficient kicks and hitting with knee. And the force which can be generated from non-balance is not used conciously yet. Constant talking about „not loosing center” disturbs developing agile body work and fast footwork. What is rejected in Chinese martial arts, is exactly what is most valuable on the international martial arts stage. Traditional Chinese martial arts are old men arts. Old is seen as equal to saint, authority, deep knowledge. But for old man it’s hard to raise leg for kick, and each falling down can be dangerous. So this hidden weakness of old master, in teaching process becomes taboo of „not loosing balance”. But fighting is not limited to shuaijiao competitions. In many cases loosing balance or even falling down is not big price for getting opportunity of executing efficient action.

Huang:
Let’s now talk about training methods.

Zhao:
Our martial arts teachers like to seek for differences in techniques and to hide „secrets” in techniques. But in fact, where can be real differences, and where could be secrets is training methods. Combat efficiency is decided by way of training. And methods of traditional training have low efficiency. You need a lot of time, and even after long time you are not sure if you will be able to use your skills in fighting. Training is a complex science – on border of many disciplines. Just repeating some exercises for dozens of years is not enough. I will not talk much, I will only mention several discrepancies.

First there is discrepancy between training and use. No matter which style, the problem is lack of actual fighting training. In which traditional school most time is spend on fighting training? Traditional teachers make two funny mistakes. First – they say that fighting training can only be the last part of training process, that only when you have gongli, you can start testing it in fight. Second – they think that when you become proficient in tui shou and other exercises with partner which resemble fighting, it means that you developed fighting skill. Of course it is difficult to introduce hard fighting during training. Martial arts hobbysts don’t want to go to work next day with swollen face, and bruised legs. But if you want to achieve high level in martial art, you must make it. From the beginning you should train like you will fight.

Next is discrepancy between fatigue and intensity of training. Traditional teachers talk about practicing many hours a day. This is long time training but with low intensity. Muscles and nervous system are not activated in a way which is necessary for fighting. Those teacher hate using modern training equipment, and will not ask other person to train together. They prefer to hide in dark place, keep repeating some movements and pondering over theory.

Then there is also discrepancy between theory and practice, between technique and physical attributes, between what is practiced in public and behind closed door. These are only some examples.

Huang:
We were talking about Chinese martial arts in general. Would you care to talk about specific styles? 

Zhao:
Let’s start from xingyiquan and baguazhang…
…first xingyiquan. In 1920s and 1930s there were many representatives of xingyiquan among winners of leitai tournaments. But today „power” of xingyiquan decreased. The reason is that apart from problems common for all chinese martial arts, this one which stresses harmony-unity has many aspects where there is lack of such harmony.

For example there is lack of harmony between technique and force. In xingyiquan hitting technique is powered by pushing force. Fists or palms mainly push opponent, in small part causing damage. But it also doesn’t allow pushing opponent far away in pushing hands. Actually, it seems as if xingyiquan people have not decided whether their technique is for san shou or for tui shou.

And lack of harmony between form and intention. All are talking about form and intention both being important, but actually they go close toward one of the extremes… There is also lack of harmony between fighting methods and exercises. 

People like comparing xingyiquan to western boxing. But they also fear this comparing. They think that Chinese „thing” should be pure. So when there is even coincidencal similarity, they prefer to get rid of it. But I think, that as for training methods and competition, xingyiquan should learn from boxing.

Huang: 
Was creation of xingyibagua a result of trying to fill shortcomings of xingyiquan by using baguazhang?

Zhao:
Mutual supplementing started from friendly contacts between Dong Haichuang and Guo Yunshen and between their students. Then Zhan Zhankui linked them together into one system. But shortcomings of xingyi cannot be filled by using bagua. Bagua also has a lot of shortcomings, and they cannot be filled by using xingyi. Baguazhang has a thick outside layers through which it is difficult to see anything. If you look from outside, there is only impression of complexness and mystery. Big part of first layer are legends about Dong Haichuan and his students. Second layer is the unnecessary and forced use of the theory of eight trigrams. Baguazhang teachers always talked about „Book of changes”, but nobody could explain at least one necessary link between this martial art and that classic book. Third layer is not distinguishing between basic exercises and fighting. Even teachers think „how to use this change”, „how to move around opponent with tangnibu steps”, „how to move behind opponent and attack his back” – that’s just illusory thoughts. And beyond the third layer – practitioners expand their arms and move around, like people starting to learn skating, and sometimes they make some change into extremely twisted position. So this is mix of legends, old saint books and strange techniques.

Huang:
Taijiquan is attracting a lot of people, because of theory and health benefits. But many people doubt that such soft and slow method could work against explosive power…

Zhao:
Layman has not developed prejudice, so his first impression can be quite right. Taijiquan has its own form of comparing skill – tui shou. Why not be happy with just this? Not every martial art must be good for real figthing. I remember as in period of Republic of China taijiquan experts explained that the reason for no taijiquan people being able to prove their fighting skill at leitai tournaments is because taijiquan is too profund and it’s difficult to master it. Was this some kind of excuse or sincere statement? Taijiquan theory looks great and could be a model for other classical theories of martial art. The main idea is relation between yin and yang. You want to be hard? So start from being as soft as possible, because ultimate softness changes into hardness. You want to be fast? Then start from slowness. This philosophy, that after achieving extreme some attribute changes into its opposite is attracting many people. But did anyone test it? No, if you see what those taijiquan masters, who can demonstrate issuing power are practicing in secret, you will understand what I’m talking about.

Huang:
So you say that those young people who want to develop fighting skills are in some part misled by taijiquan concepts. If so, then maybe Shaolin is more sincere? They stress hard, fast, fierce, using both hands and legs. People think that Shaolin monks are the last kings of real fighting.

Zhao:
Ming dynasty generals went to Shaolin temple, having such opinion, and they became disappointed. Today many young people leave school and go to Shaolin. With the same effect – their faith in Shaolin becomes ashes. They come with thought of developing incredible fighting skill, not available for normal people. But in fact they just learn some acrobatics tricks. Training methods which they learn are outdated and not useful for developing real fighting skills. Breaking stones, standing upside-down on fingers, taking hits, when you make such demonstrations, with addition of some tricks typical for illusionists – public will be delighted. Ma Liang’s new wushu (Ma Liang published book „New Chinese wushu” in 1918) and modern wushu, despised even by representatives of traditional systems, are based on Shaolin. And I remember as in 1920s and 1930s those „last kings of real fighting” kept loosing at leitai tournaments and were going away like rats, one after another.

Huang:
And what you think about southern systems.

Zhao:
When we look at southern styles, we can see that they have their own, quite different character. But I cannot say much, as I didn’t study them. But from what I saw at the tournaments at end of 1920s „southern wind is not making you freeze”.

Huang:
Finally, please tell us about the martial art created by yourself.

Zhao:
My „thing” comes from mistakes and losts. When I was young I liked to fight with famous experts. I had no respect for them, and when I defeated them, I didn’t care about some good things they had anyway. It not only disturbed exchange of knowledge, but also hurt feelings. And because disputing and maintaining different views from the main stream of Chinese martial arts, I kept some distance from the martial arts circles. Until now people call me excentric and stubborn.

At beginning I created xinhuizhang, in order to explain traditional methods of using force, but actually this is just a form, and cannot efficiently improve practitioner’s combat abilities. Only now I’m working on summarizing all those training methods and fighting methods which I benefited from, with thought of supplementing xinhuizhang. But the way of competitive fighting on international scene is constantly changing. So my „things” are constantly being outmached by others. If will not work on improving it, there will be no progress. Lately I’m worried about xinhuizhang explosive issuing power with legs, so far I have not resolved this problem. And I hope that younger will criticize me.

Reference:
Interview with zhao daoxin yiquan-academy.eu

The Bridge Power Training Deeper Strength

The Bridge

If you look carefully at the point where the pillars of a bridge bear the structure’s enormous weight, you will often find a small cylinder. This astonishing feature is known as a “bridge bearing.” The purpose of the bearing is to take the weight while giving the entire structure maximum flexibility.

Bridge bearings transfer loads and movements from the deck of the bridge down to the substructure and foundations. They make it possible for the structure to withstand the vibrations of traffic and the expansion and contraction caused by temperature variations. It is also thanks to these bearings that bridges are able to withstand severe winds, tremors and earthquakes.

The bearings are designed to redirect the forces that move over, through and around the structure. Engineers study the “downward forces” that pass through the center of the bearing, the “transverse forces” that move horizontally through the bridge or alongside it, the “uplift forces” that enter the structure from the earth and “rotational forces” that can twist in any direction.

Our feet have a natural bridge-like structure, arching between the ball and heel. They, too, have the capacity to absorb and redirect forces moving in all directions. Training to use the “red triangle” (pages 84–85) takes advantage of this natural structure and greatly increases your ability to react to and redirect forces all around you.

Power Training

To begin this stage of your training, stand in Wu Chi for five minutes with your weight spread evenly over your feet. Then, shift your weight slightly forwards. Let your heels come up just enough to slide a sheet of paper under them. Focus your weight: it should rest on the red triangle shown on page 84. Include this new development in your daily training, so that you are able to remain balanced and stable without any weight on your heels. Progress to the point where you can maintain all the Zhan Zhuang postures, including those on one leg, using only the “red triangles” of your feet.

As you stand in this advanced position, you will naturally engage your large calf muscles. The next stage of this practice is to focus your attention on those muscles, particularly the large gastrocnemius muscle in the bulge of your calf. Try to identify it so you are able to contract it for several seconds without engaging the muscle of your ankle, thigh or buttock and while keeping your body completely relaxed.

Once you have trained your nerves to contract and relax the muscles in both calves, include this in your daily training. Contract and relax the muscles in your left calf up to 30 times, then do the same for your right calf. Then try contracting and relaxing both calves together. Avoid tensing any other muscles: focus your training on the nerves that control the muscles of your calves.

This training develops your internal sensitivity, exercises your nerves and sharpens the ability of your central nervous system to control subtle movements within your body. There is a similar practice for your hands. When you stand in the Zhan Zhuang posture, Holding the Ball (page 13), tighten your left hand into a fist. Squeeze it tightly for about five seconds. Then release the fist and open your hand fully. Stretch your fingers as wide apart as possible. Hold for about five seconds. Then repeat up to 30 times. Do the same with your other hand. When you practice closing and opening each hand, pay particular attention to your upper arms, shoulders and chest: these should remain completely relaxed. If you notice muscles in your upper body tensing, direct your attention to them and relax them.

These two mind-training exercises can become part of your daily practice. Gradually increase the length of time you spend standing with your weight on the “red triangles” of your feet. The the untrained observer, your feet appear flat on the ground, but, as in this photograph of the young Professor Yu, you develop the pump that will transform your practice.

Deeper Strength

A deep connection with the heart is essential for your health and your martial arts power. You develop this connection through your Zhan Zhuang training and the advanced work on the “red triangle” of your foot (pages 84–89). To go further, you need to use the power of your imagination to draw more deeply on the energy of the earth. Clearly visualize the basic triangle from the tip of your head to the base of your feet. Imagine that your feet go straight down into the earth. As your practice deepens, you will feel a second, inverted triangle extending downwards and holding you to the earth.

You can use this deep strength in the martial arts to take the incoming force of an attack into your body and direct it down through your rear leg. If you are learning for the first time, hold a Zhan Zhuang posture to one side and ask a friend to lean on your arms. Keep them in place without tension, directing the pressure down through your back foot.

Through your Zhan Zhuang training, the energetic structure of your body becomes increasingly stronger. Keeping this clearly in mind is vital to the power of Da Cheng Chuan. It is the secret of relaxed strength of advanced practitioners, such as the two masters in this photograph: facing Master Lam is Master Guo Gui Zhi, three times national martial arts champion of China.

When the arms are held in the fundamental Zhan Zhuang position, Holding the Ball (page 13), three principal triangles are involved. Two are formed by the shoulder, elbow and wrist of each arm. The third runs from shoulder to shoulder and connects to the first thoracic vertebra of the spine. These three triangles, combining structural and energetic geometry, remain intact under all pressures, but move flexibly without tension.

Reference:
The Way of Power: Reaching Full Strength in Body and Mind
by Lam Kam Chuen
ISBN 9781856751988

p. 86 – 91