The Way of the Harmony of the Body and the mind.
It is surely the best translation than you can give at the Yi Quan term, osmosis between YI, the creative thought, the mind, the will, the higher intention, and QUAN, that is often vulgarly translated by the fist, the boxing, and which means at the origin " to spontaneously apply what the heart decides ".
Revealed since 1925, YI QUAN joins the sources of the Chinese Martial Arts, going back to the 12th century. Among the experts of the Chinese Martial Arts it is also known under the name of DA CHENG QUAN.

When one speaks about Kung Fu, one always thinks of the school of Shaolin, the school of Wu Dang, the external styles (Wai chia), the internal styles (Nei chia). Yi Quan is neither the ones nor the others, but at the same time internal and external. It does not have codified forms (Tao-Lu, Quan, Kata), nor preestablished rules.
Amongst all the Chinese Martial Arts, it is the only one being in this case.

Master Yao Zong Xun during an exercise


1) Each movement is guided by a corresponding thought (mental image). Thanks to that, you manage to decrease more and more the variation existing between the moment of the conception of a movement and that of its realization : the practice of Tui Shou (" pushing hands ") hugely contributes to it.
Thus, you concretely operate the connection sought so much by the practitioners of martial arts, the union between the body and the mind.

2) Master Wang Xian Zhaï, founder of Yi Quan, did not only observe the gesture in each movement, but considered the body as a whole. As soon as a part of the body moves, all the remainder of the body accompanies the movement.
The effectiveness in the martial arts is to manage to control explosive and short movements. That is acquired by the control of the action... from the inaction.
It is necessary for that to include/understand and know what the immobility is.

3) Absence of codified forms (Tao-Lu or kata).
The practice of the Tao Lu, in the long run, is harmful for the brain and its emanation, the thought. Too much rigid because of mechanized automatisms, it does not direct the movements correctly. The Tao Lu run up against the muscles, the tendons, the articulations, which do not cease producing forced and against-nature movements. In addition, as you can never envisage the reactions of an adversary, their application in free combat remain illusory.



The base of the practice of Yi-Quan is Zhan Zhuang Gong. They are postures animated by the training of Yi (thought, mind, intention). The thought sharpens different parts of the brain and develops the sensory fields of the human being. The fascicles of muscle fibres obey the commands given by the central nervous system. The articulations act like levers. The living force which exists at a latent state in everyone emerges. All the body moves at the same time. The mind and the thought control the Qi, which controls the force which can be exteriorized by the seven points : head, hand, elbow, shoulder, thigh, knee, foot.
The movements of attack or defense become the natural expression of the remainder of the practice.
Dodgings, parades, attacks and displacements are also very significant. During the practice of Zhan Zhuang Gong, the practitioner must generate a force towards the six basic directions : in top, bottom, ahead, behind, in opening, closing as well as the two complementary directions, in spiral. You call this type of training the rooting. In case of a dispute, no matter who is able to draw, strike or push with the arm. On the other hand, to make the same thing by using the force of the whole body is the fruit of the work of those which practise the martial arts.
But without specific work of rooting, that is impossible...



In the Karate or the Chinese martial arts of the external type, the movement is dynamic. TAI JI QUAN is a moving meditation. YI QUAN preaches the control of the movements of the immobility. Before expressing the dynamism, for better understanding the action from the inaction, it is necessary to control the movements of the immobility. YI QUAN leads to occupy the center in order to better act on the periphery. Some examples can help us to understand. A spinning top which turns quickly seems motionless, same for a wheel. A plane which goes quickly appears motionless. Several decades were necessary to recognize that the slow movements of TAI JI can improve the performances of the dynamic movements. The years which come will confirm what a long time was occulted : the movements of the immobility are the eternal movements.

In YI QUAN, relaxation and calm direct the movement, thus breathing becomes regular, deep, and there are time to correct possible errors in the movement.
You become aware of each part of your body and you allow the internal breath (Qi) to circulate better with your blood, until the extremities of your limbs.

Many exercises are based on the work of the mental images. For example : you visualize your own body like if, plunged in water or molasses, you could move with flexibility, agility, relaxation. This total movement makes it possible for the individual to create the feeling of resistance to surrounding space. And it is what also makes it possible to eject easily, without apparent muscular contraction, an adversary. Of course, there is not only that mental work, we are very clear about it. There is a very precise, very assiduous physical work on the articulations, the tendons and the muscles. This work develops resistance, balance and effectiveness of the whole body, while respecting it. It is this specific approach of the training which makes it possible to practise Yi Quan and to progress until a very advanced age.

The remainder of the practice is composed of exercises of attack and defense, of techniques of fists and feet, projections, grabbing, and fighting on the ground.

The training with the boxing bag, the free combat, the practice with a partner, in particular TUI SHOU - " pushing hands " - are the different aspects of the work of Yi Quan. Tui Shou is a unique energy work with two practitioners. You are exerted there to use the force of the opponent, to distinguish " the vacuum from the full ", to develop the sense of the touch and to improve it with the limbs of the body.

Henceforth, to integrate the principles of YI QUAN to enrich and supplement the practice of each one appears a positive step.

Ilias Calimintzos carrying out a circular kick



You can compare this progression with a staircase.

Re-establishment, improvement and maintenance of health by exercises which, in addition, are recognized of public utility in China. It is the QI GONG aspect of the YI QUAN, which is named YANG SHENG (to nourish the body), and consists in the training of ZHAN ZHUANG GONG or " Training by the upright positions ".

Development of the concentration and muscular capacities, tendineous and osseous reinforcement.

Practice of the martial aspect.



Practice of Yi Quan :



From the physical and psychological applications of Yi Quan, you can lead to the disease prevention and the safeguarding of health, on the art of the combat, or many applications which concern the daily life.
The most significant in the practice of the martial arts is what the practice itself can bring to each individual.
The finality of Yi-Quan does not consist in destroying a potential adversary but in creating, like any artist.
And we, what do we create? We create the " Living Force " or what Master Yao Zong Xun called primitive chaos...

Many high level sportsmen studied the principles of Yi Quan and applied them to their discipline. The examples are already numerous : Alain Prost (Formula 1), Bertrand Sébileau (Winner of the Bol d'Or 1998), Michel Prufer (champion of the launched kilometer at the Winter Olympic Games of Albertville) and France's team of athletics 4 X 100 meters (Marie Rose, Sangouma, Morinière, Trouaballe). But the applicability of Yi Quan exceeds the framework of the sport. Artists (musicians, actors, etc...) use for example the principles of Yi Quan in their work, in particular for his qualities of concentration, relaxation and placement of the body in space.



Personal health, and by extension, his longevity, fully will benefit from the practice of Yi Quan.
Why ? Precisely thanks to the muscular relaxation obtained by the work of Yi Quan, which balances the cerebral cortex. By balancing the cerebral cortex, it is possible to enter a durable state of plenitude, which will make it possible to attenuate largely or to eliminate the worry and the stress. Our neurons work for us! The health aspect, as you can see, is determining. While being able to fill the twelve ordinary meridian lines and by facilitating the way of the breath in the eight other extraordinary meridian lines, you allow the body to be maintained in form and good health. The combat and the sparring require a particular drive : various techniques of fists, of legs, sweepings, locks and a whole work in upright position or on the ground.
From there, each one is able to choose : either he only works the health aspect, in order to nourish and to improve the quality of his vital energy (by the exercises of Yang Sheng and Zhan Zhuang Gong created for this purpose by the founder Master Wang Xian Zhaï and practised in various medical institutes in China), or he also trains for the combat. It is necessary that this step is clear, passes above all by construction of the individual to go, but only in the cases of extreme gravity, towards the destruction.