You are on page 1of 6

7/15/2016

YiquanPoweroftheMindII

YiquanPoweroftheMind
byKarelKoskuba

In the June 2001 issue of this magazine I described the first step of Yiquan training Zhan Zhuang (Pole
Standing).ThepurposeofZhanZhuangexercisesistodevelopwholebodyconnectionandeventuallywhole
bodystrength.InthisarticleIwouldliketodescribethenexttwosteps,Shili(testingofstrength)andMocabu
(frictionstep).ThepurposeofShiliexercisesistotryout,totest,thiswholebodystrengthduringmovement.
Mocabutrainingisdesignedtohelpustolearnhowtokeepthiswholebodyconnectionwhenwearestepping.
Eventually Shili and Mocabu are combined into one exercise Shili with steps. These two stages in Yiquan
trainingarecloselyrelatedandsoitmakessensetodescribethemtogether.
WhatisYiquan
Yiquan(pronouncedyeechuan)isbothanexcellentmartialartandaveryeffectivesystemofhealthcultivation.
Itisdesignedinsuchawaythatyoucanprogressinclearlydefinedsteps.Firstyoulearnhowtounifyyourbody
toacquirewholebodystrength.Youcombinethiswholebodystrengthwithskillsforhandlingopponents,which
developsInternalPower.Thiscanthenbeappliedtofightingapplications.
There are stages in Yiquan training that parallel Taijiquan and other Internal Martial Arts, but since Yiquan is
simpler,thesestagesareperhapsmoreclearlydefined.Thefirstrequirementistointegratethewholebodyto
achievewholebodystrength(thiswasthesubjectofthepreviousarticlementionedabove).Nextthestudenthas
tolearnhowtomovewiththiskindofstrengthinafixedstanceandwithsteps(thisisthesubjectofthisarticle).
Aftermovingsolo,thestudentlearnshowtouseitininteractionwithanopponentPushingHands.Thenext
stepistolearnhowtoissuepowerinasingleinstantexplosivepowertraining.Asasupplementarytrainingto
theissuingofstrength,breathcontrolislearned.Lastly,forthoseinterestedinfighting,therearecombattraining
drillsandsparring.
Thecompletetrainingconsistsofsevensteps:
ZhanZhuang(PoleStanding)
standingexercises,designedtorelaxandintegrate
thewholebody,usedforbuildingwholebody
strength(thisincludesMoliSensingofStrength)
Shili(TestingofStrength)
simpleexercisesforlearninghowtokeepthe
wholebodyconnectionandwholebodystrength
whilstmoving(thisstageisequivalenttopractising
formsinotherInternalMartialArts)
Mocabu(FrictionStep)
learninghowtokeepthewholebodyconnection
andwholebodystrengthwhilststepping
Fali(ReleaseofPower)
learninghowto'release'power(fajintraining).
Howtoreleaseinanydirectionandwithanypartof
thebody
TuiShou(PushingHands)

ShiSheng(TestingofVoice)
http://www.yiquan.org.uk/artpom2.html

thisstageissimilartoTaijiquan'sPushingHands.
Alsocanbeviewedasthepreviousthreestageswith
apartner
learningtoaugmentpowerandintegratethecentre
ofthebodyinamorenaturalwayusingbreathing
1/6

7/15/2016

YiquanPoweroftheMindII

JiJiFa(CombatPractice)

fixedandfreesparringdrillsandsparring.

Atallstagesoftraining,studentsmusttrytofollowthemostimportantprincipleUsemind,notstrength(yong
yibuyongli).Physicaleffortisusedonlyduringexplosivepowertraining.

UsingtheMind
The actual training is done with the help of mental images to coax the body to start working using the right
principles.
Therearetwokindsofmentalimagesthatareused.Thefirsttypeisusedtocreateatranquilstateinourmind
that,inturn,willpromoterelaxationofourbody.Forexample,imagineyourselfstandinginabeautifulgarden
withprettyflowersandtreesallaroundyou,withbirdssinginginthetreesandwhitecloudsdriftingacrossablue
sky. Any other suitable image can be used. The second type is used to induce some kinaesthetic feeling to
promotetheemergenceofinternalconnectionsinthebodyandtoguideourbodyinmovement.Forexample,in
ZhanZhuangyoutrytocreateafeelingofhavingyourwholebodysupportedyourelbowsarerestingonsoft
pillows your head is suspended by a thread there are cotton pads between your fingers etc. In training
movement,youshouldtrytoinduceakinaestheticfeelingasifyouweremovingagainstsomeresistance.This
type of feeling should first be experienced in Zhan Zhuang, especially in the Moli (sensing strength) type of
exercises(describedintheoverviewofZhanZhuangbelow).TheHunYuanZhuangdescribedintheprevious
articlewasanexampleofthistype.
Ishouldmentionthatwhencreatingimagesorconcentratingonthebody,thereshouldbenomental'effort'.The
feeling created should be more like observing something rather than striving for something. Too much mental
effortisliketoomuchphysicaleffortitwouldmakeustense.
ABriefoverviewofZhanZhuang
ZhanZhuangexercisesaredividedintotwocategories:
healthpostures
combatpostures
The health postures represent the first training step. Their role is to relax the body and develop wholebody
connection.Thismeansthatamovementinanypartofthebodycanbefelttopropagatethroughthewholebody
inanaturalfashion.Mostoftheseposturesareheldwhilststandinginashoulderwidthstancewithanupright
spine(seeEmbracingPosturein'KaiHeShili'sectionbelow).Inadditiontostandingpostures,therearealso
sittingandlyingdownpostures.
Thecombatposturesareheldwithmost(andsometimesall)oftheweightononeleg.Thesearemoreadvanced
exercises used to develop wholebody power. At this stage, students learn and practise what is called Moli
(SensingofStrength)whichareverysmallmovementsguidedbythemind.The'sensing'isdonebyverysmall
andcareful'movements'ofthewholebody.Iputquotationmarksroundtheword'movements'becauseinreality
theremaynotbeanymovement!Butyetthebodyisnotcompletelystill.Whathappensisthatasweforman
intentiontomoveandaswegetreadytomove,therewillbesomemuscularactivityassociatedwithstabilising
our body in such a way so as to enable the movement to take place. Normally this muscular activity is not
noticed as it gets subsumed in the sensations of the actual move that normally takes place. With some short
trainingandwhilstpayingcarefulattention,wecansenseitasasubtlesensationdeeperinthebody.Whenwe
http://www.yiquan.org.uk/artpom2.html

2/6

7/15/2016

YiquanPoweroftheMindII

detectthis'inner'activityandjustbeforewewouldactuallymove,westopshortofanyvisiblemovements.We
cannotsaythatwearestillasthereissomeactivitytakingplacebutneitherwecansaythatwearemoving.I'll
callthistypeofactivity'almostmoving'.Whenwe'extend'thisalmostmovementintovisiblemovement,wehave
Shili.

Shili
Havingdevelopedthewholebodyconnectionwhenstanding,weneedtobeabletokeepthisconnectionwhen
moving.Thisisnotatrivialtask.AsImentionedinthepreviousarticle,thewholebodyconnectionisdeveloped
withthehelpofourstabilisermuscles.Butassoonaswemove,weusemobilisersandthewholebodyunityis
lost.TheShiliexercisesaresimpleexercisesdesignedtoteachushowtomaintainthewholebodyconnection
andwholebodystrengthwhilstmoving.Slow,relaxedandflowingmovementisused,quitesimilartothequality
of movement used in practising a Taijiquan form. Initially, the movements are performed in six directions
forwardandback,upanddown,leftandright.Lateronthesedirectionsarecombinedtoproducemovementsin
anydirection.
AsexamplesofShiliexercises,IwilldescribeKaiHeShiliOpenandCloseStrengthTesting,andZhengPi
ShiliVerticalCuttingStrengthTesting.
KaiHeShili
ThedirectionspractisedinthisexerciseareLeftandRight.
StartbystandinginEmbracingPosture,thatistosayashoulderwidthstancewithyourarmsinfrontofyouina
positionofembracingalargeball,handsataboutshoulderheightandshoulderwidthapart.Keepyoufingers
slightly bent and the palms slightly stretched. Imagine a number of elastic bands joining your arms together.
Slowlyopenyourarms,feelingtheresistanceoftheimaginedelasticbandsagainstyourmovement.Imaginethat
yourarmsareconnectedthroughthebodysothatwhenyouopenthearms,thechestopensatthesametime.
Donotbringyourshoulderbladestogetherduringtheopeningphasebutkeepthebackwide.Duringtheclosing
phaseofthisexercise,imaginethatinplaceoftheelasticbandsyouhavenowspringsthatkeepyourarmsapart.
Slowlybringyourarmstogether,feelingtheresistanceoftheimaginedsprings.Yourchestandbackshouldagain
beinvolvedintheclosingaction.Infactratherthanopeningandclosingyourarms,feelthatyouareopeningand
closingyourwholebodyofwhicharmsarejustthevisiblemanifestation.
Whencomfortablewiththisexercise,itshouldbedoneinthe'combat'stance.Thisissomewhatsimilartoa'cat'
stancefoundinothermartialarts:theweightismostlyonthebacklegwiththefrontfootaboutafootandahalf
infrontoftherearfootandthefrontheelraisedoffthefloor.Theweightisshiftedforwardduringtheclosing
phase until the weight distribution is 50:50 and shifted back during the opening phase. Even though the main
directionspractisedarestillLeftandRight,infactallsixdirectionsarenowpresent.Whenclosingthearms,they
alsogoforwardandslightlydown.Whenopening,thearmsgoalsobackandslightlyup.Theforwardandback
directionisjustanaturalconsequenceofopeningandclosingmovement.Theupanddownmovementisaresult
ofthewaytheweightistransferredforwardandback.Whentransferringweight,thefrontkneeiskeptstill.This
resultsinthebodyrisingwhengoingforwardandsinkingwhengoingbackward.Thearms,duringtheopening
and closing movements, are kept at the same level in relation to the ground. Thus they move up and down
relative to the body. Even though all the six directions are present, the feeling of moving against resistance is
appliedonlytothemovementintheleftrightdirection.
http://www.yiquan.org.uk/artpom2.html

3/6

7/15/2016

YiquanPoweroftheMindII

ZhengPiShili
ThemaindirectionspractisedinthisexerciseareUpandDown.
Startbystandingin'combatstance'(seepicture1)withabout70%ofyourweightonthebackfootandthefront
heel off the ground.Your arms shouldbe infront of yourbody, hands vertical andquite closetoeachother,
fingers pointing forward. Imagine a number of elastic bands joining your arms together. Slowly transfer your
weightforwardandturnyourbodytowardsyourfrontfootasyoulowerthefrontheeldownandlifttherearheel
up. At the same time lower your rear arm and lift the front arm, feeling the resistance of the imagined elastic
bandsagainstyourmovement(seepicture2).Imaginethatyourarmsareconnectedthroughthebodysothat
whenyouopenthearmsupanddown,thereisafeelingofverticalstretchingacrossyourbody.Donottiltyour
body forward, nor back. Slowly reverse the movements to get back to the starting position (picture 1) and
smoothlycarryonliftingthereararmandloweringthefrontarmwhilstturningthebodyawayfromthefrontfoot
(seepicture3).Againfeeltheresistanceoftheimaginedelasticbandsagainstyourmovement.Slowlyreturnto
thestartingpositionandrepeatthewholecycleseveraltimes.
WhenweperformtheShiliexercises,eventhoughwefeelthatweuseeffortagainsttheimaginedresistance,no
muscletensionshouldbeused.Thementalfocusonovercomingtheresistancewillslowlystarthavinganeffect
onthe'inner'musclesofthebodythatwecouldfeelinZhanZhuang.Itisbesttopractiseslowlyandcarefully
andthelengthofpracticeshouldbeinaccordancewithyourabilitytoconcentrateonthekinaestheticfeeling.
Thereisverylittlepointinjustslowlywavingyourarmswhilstyourmindisonotherthings.

Mocabu
Havinglearnedhowtomovewiththeupperbody,thenextstepistoextendthisskilltomovingwhilestepping.
Mocabu(frictionstep)exercisesaredesignedtodojustthat.Theseagainareverysimpleexerciseswithastrong
mentalcomponent.Thelegsshouldmovefromthecentreofthebody.Thisisachievedbypractisingstepping
whilst creating an image of pushing the legs and feet against some resistance, for example as if pushing legs
throughmud.Anotherusefulimageisthatofcarryingsomefairlyheavyobjectontopofthemovingfoot.
MocabuisreallyShiliforlegs.Itis,however,moredifficultthanShili:wearelessawareofourlegsandfeetthan
weareofourarmsandhands.Becausewearesousedtomovingourlegsautomatically,wehavetopayextra
attentionthatwedonotslipintothishabitduringpractice.Allthemovementsshouldbedoneveryslowlyand
deliberatelythisaddsanothercomplication,thatofkeepingbalanceononelegwhilsttheotherisperforming
exercises.
Circling
The first exercise is rolling an imaginary pencil forward and back along the floor. The moving foot should be
closetotheground,withoutactuallytouchingit.Youmayfindthatyoukeeploosingbalancequiteoftenatthe
beginning.Itisnotmuchofaproblemthesenseofbalancewillquicklyimprovewithregularpractice.Tohelp
yourselfkeepbalancebetter,youcanhaveyourarmsextendedtothesidesimaginingthatyourhandsareresting
onsomesupport(seepictures4and5).Aftersomepractice,whenthemovementgetscomfortable,trytofeel
the resistance of the (imagined) mud on your leg and the sensation of weight on your foot. The sensation of
movingagainstresistancewillprobablytakelongertoachieveinyourlegsthanittookinyourarms.Whenyou
canfeeltheresistance,startmovingthefootinacircleusingthesamequalityofmovement.
Stepping
http://www.yiquan.org.uk/artpom2.html

4/6

7/15/2016

YiquanPoweroftheMindII

Thenextexerciseisstepping,bothforwardandbackward.Asaboveforthecircling,thesteppingisdoneslowly
andcarefully.Aftersomepractice,thesteppingisgraduallyspeededupandeventuallycanbedonequitefast.
Startbystandingin'combatstance'withabout70%ofyourweightonthebackfootandthefrontheeloffthe
ground.Yourarmsextendedtothesidesasin'Circling'above.First,transferyourweightforwardtilltheweight
isevenlydistributedoneachleg.Duringthisphaseofstepping,thefrontkneeshouldnotmovethatmeansthat
yourbodywillgoup.Loweryourfrontheelandyourbodyandkeeptransferringtheweightforwardtillallthe
weightisonthefrontleg(thefrontkneenowmovesforward).Liftyourrearfootoffthegroundandmoveitinan
arcin,forwardandout(seepictures6,7and8).Thefronttoesareplacedonthegroundandabout30%ofthe
weightisshiftedontothefrontleg.Thisconstitutesonestep.
Whensteppingbackwards,transferalltheweightontothebacklegandliftthefronttoesofftheground(theheel
wasalreadyup).Thefootmovesinanarc:in,backandout(seepictures8,7and6).Placetherearfootonthe
ground,transfertoithalfofyourweightandliftyourfrontheel.Duringthisphaseyourrearlegshouldnotreally
bendandthusyourbodywillgoup.Keepingyourfrontkneestill,transferweightbacktillabout70%ofthe
weightisonthebackleg.Duringthisphaseyourbodywillgodown.Thisconstitutesonestep.
KeepingBalance
Thesupportingfootshouldbekeptflatthroughouttheexercises.Itisquitelikelythatatthebeginning,asyou
fighttokeepyourbalance,thefootwillwobbleandthussometimepartofyourfootwillloosecontactwiththe
ground.Withpractice,yourbalancewillgetbetterandyouwillbeabletokeepthefootflatallthetime.Also
makesurethatyourtoeslightlygriptheground.Theankleswillgetstrengthenedconsiderablyduringthepractice
andtheresultingstabilitywillbegreatlyappreciatedwhenpractisingkickslateron.
ThiskindofsteppingpracticeisquitesimilartothesteppingpracticeinBaguazhang.

Shiliwithsteps
Eventually both Shili and Mocabu exercises are combined and practised together. This practice is functionally
equivalenttoformpracticeinTaijiquan.Ofcourse,asfarasthemovementsareconcerned,theYiquanpractice
is far simpler. Because of its simplicity, it is easier to get the correct feeling. Whilst practising complex
movements,itisquiteeasytogetdistractedbythecomplexitiesofthemovesandoftenthefocusofpractice
becomes nice looking shape of the body and smoothly executed movements. That is why the movements in
Yiquan,andespeciallyatthisstagearekeptverysimple.Lateron,differentShiliexercisescanbecombinedto
createmorecomplexmovements.
WhenpractisingShiliwithsteps,atfirstthearmandlegmovementsarekeptseparatewhenstepping,thearms
do not move, when moving arms, the stance is fixed. Later the movements of arms and legs are done
simultaneously.

ShiliandMoli
During Shili (strength testing) practice, it is important to keep practising associated Zhan Zhuang exercises,
especiallytheMoli(strengthsensing)variety.ThetaskoftheMolistancesistopracticegraduallyextendingthe
inner activity of 'almostmovement' across the whole body. Eventually it should feel as if there is a flow of
movementinsidethebody.This'flow'isthenusedtoguidetheactualphysicalmovementintheShiliexercises.
http://www.yiquan.org.uk/artpom2.html

5/6

7/15/2016

YiquanPoweroftheMindII

The increased neuromuscular coordination gained during Shili practice will improve the quality of the Moli
practice.Inthisway,thesetwopracticesmutuallyreinforceeachother.Eventuallythedistinctionbetweenthem
willallbutdisappear.ThatiswhyZhanZhuangisconsideredastillvariationofShiliandShiliisconsidereda
movingvariationofZhanZhuang.

Conclusion
ShiliandMocabuarequitesimilarinconcept.Inbothcases,movementiscreatedagainstanimaginedresistance.
ThefeelingofresistancethatiscultivatedinMoliandShiliexerciseswill,withcontinuedpractice,getstrongerbut
withfurtherpracticeitwilleventuallygetlighteragainuntilitdisappearsaltogetherleavingthebodyverylight.
TheShiliandMocabuexercises,especiallyatthebeginning,areverysimpleandthusitisimportanttotakecare
nottogivetothetemptationofgoingfromoneexercisetothenextonetoosoon.Atthebeginningitisnoteasy
tojudgewhentoprogresstothenextexerciseandwhenjustkeeppractising.Later,itbecomesquiteobvious
when everything starts to fall apart, you'll know that you went too fast! Just go back, for a time, to the more
basicexercises.
ThisarticlefirstappearedintheUST'aiChimagazine,Vol26No.1.

KarelKoskuba,2002

http://www.yiquan.org.uk/artpom2.html

6/6