starr tai chi & kung fu
Yiliquan Kung Fu & Tai Chi
The martial art of Yiliquan (pronounced “yee-lee-chwon”, literally: “One Principle Fist”) is an internal martial arts system, which teaches its students to respond instantaneously to any kind of attack and to turn the opponent’s aggression back against him. This is accomplished by combining certain laws of physics, kinesiology, and the metaphysical principles found in Chinese qigong. Yiliquan practitioners train to blend with the aggressor’s force while evading the actual physical attack and change the “point of focus” of the enemy’s assault.
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In a nutshell, Yiliquan is comprised of equal parts of Xingyi, Taiji, Bagua, and Baixingquan. The system is learned through progressive levels of training. Novices begin by learning techniques, stances, and footwork common to most internal arts. They also train with the body mechanics, which Yili emphasizes. The novice learns the very basics of stance and movement, as well as foundation techniques for striking and grappling. All the techniques and training methods used during the novice’s education are generic and are tooled to take a person with no prior martial training to a point at which they can begin serious study and application of fighting techniques.
Upon graduation from “basic training,” students move through phases that will train them in the basic forms and principles of Baixingquan and the three classical internal systems. Yili begins its program with Baixingquan because it is believed that one must first strengthen and discipline the “outside” before moving on to develop the “inside.” Baixing provides the structure, form, and basic methods of striking and movement.
A small number of forms are learned, appropriate for the level of training. Training focuses on developing realistic responses to attacks making use of the Shaolinquan forms of Baixing. Forms are studied assiduously and students learn how to break them down so as to extract valuable information from them. In fact, there are different “levels” of interpretation for the various forms and these are learned gradually as the student advances through the various levels of training. This makes even the most basic forms repositories of vast amounts of information. The seeds of trust in forms are planted at this level, and are nurtured by constant drilling on not only the performance of empty handed and weapons sets, but in the practical breakdown of forms techniques.
Many arts place most of their emphasis on striking techniques. Yili contains a wide array of grappling techniques. Thirty-six throws and eighteen joint locks/twists, along with a large array of variations on the basic forms of the techniques, compliment Yili’s arsenal of punching, striking, and kicking techniques.
Yili’s unique qigong (learning to strengthen and manipulate the “internal strength” or “vital force”) training program allows its pupils to develop skill relatively quickly. Students must learn not only how to strike with internal power, but how to heal with it as well (which takes much longer) through the study of traditional Chinese medical therapies.
The heart of Yili lies in the practice of its “Eight Shapes.” Yili teaches that there are eight ways in which one may respond to attack. These “shapes” (also known as “strategies”) are trained constantly through two-man exercises and the “Eight Shape Forms.” These short forms are named after the eight diagrams of the Yijing (aka. “I Ching”, the ancient Book of Changes): Heaven, Earth, Water, Fire, Metal, Wood, Mountain (also known as “Still”), and Wind.
The various techniques and postures of the classical internal systems are applied through these special strategies and allow the Yili practitioner to easily evade and attack while simultaneously placing himself in a position from which he can control the aggressor and bring him down.
After completing the basic training of Baixing, Xing Yi, Taiji, and Bagua, and after learning the principles underlying Yiliquan, the Yili Senior moves on to a period of synthesis. He takes his previous learning and thoroughly examines it in depth. Topics of study include, but are not limited to anatomy, physiology, physics, kinesiology, angle of attack, appropriate methods of breathing during forms and fighting, finding hidden techniques in forms, defenses against a variety of weapon attacks, traditional Chinese medicine, etc.
A Yili senior’s understanding of the concepts and methods of Yili is deepened through this extensive curriculum. A number of essays are required on varying topics, assigned by the supervising instructor, covering theory, history, medicine, philosophy, and technique. The ideal of the fourfold boxer (that of training as Warrior, Scholar, Healer, and Sage) is realized during this time.
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