This is a proverbial saying that Fong Ha brings up at his workshops (in Austin anyway). It is simple and to the point. I’m not entirely sure where the quote is from. It may be from Wang Xiang Zhai, I don’t know. I like it because it captures the essence of years of training and wisdom in just a few lines, as do all great and enduring proverbs. The idea in Yiquan is that in stillness we can achieve the greatest cultivation, Da Cheng another name for Yiquan is Dachengquan, which translates to the way (quan) of great achievement, or perfection (dacheng).
There is a lot of confusion regarding the concept of Qi in Yiquan. Wang made many comments critical of the mystification of the martial arts using concepts like Qi. He also, however, made many comments using Qi. I have seen no quotes of Wang’s where he says Qi doesn’t exist or that it is a useless idea as many of his descendants seem to imply. Qi is simply the understanding of the fact that the world we live in is a connected whole. It is a continuous field of energy. This is what we know today in physics. Now, this theory has and continues to be used to promote all kinds of stupid ideas and delusions. You have to be able to sort out the good from the bad, which is what I believe Wang was telling us. Any theory that isn’t readily demonstrable and observable is weak. Chinese endeavors are guided by the notion of Dao, the Way. The Dao is the commonest of denominators. This means that the more powerful your theory, the more prevalent and obvious it is. We have the same idea in the west. A major part of our scientific method is that experiments should be repeatable and clearly demonstrate the accuracy of our theories. Yiquan follows the notion of Dao. Wang simply asked us not to focus on the rote memorization of forms and theories. He cited many exaggerations and misuses of traditional theories to warn us of what happens when we get lost in our ideas and forget about the immediate reality before us.
Stillness allows us to achieve great skill because it is in stillness that Qi gathers. In this sense we could look at Qi as potential energy. As we stand in postures only moving enough to keep upright, the system is very quiet. The activity of the mind and body are turned down to level that we can comprehend. We can observe the interaction of mind and body when we are still. The interaction of mind and body is the definition of Qi for a person. So we’re literally cultivating this energy in its potential form by standing still. Likewise, when our mind is still we aren’t adding any thoughts to the ones naturally bubbling up and our Spirit can be calm and grow stronger. When our system is idling it can repair itself – much like when we are sleeping.
Remember – Yiquan is the art of “doing nothing and achieving everything”