Yiquan, especially that of Fong Ha, is more than a martial art. The founder of Yiquan, Master Wang Xiang Zhai said: “what cannot lead to comfort, happiness, and gaining strength does not deserve to be called martial art.” This about sums it up. Most martial arts focus on learning techniques and ways of dealing with particular situations. There is nothing wrong with this other than the time you spend doing all of that would be much better spent cultivating your own innate power and ability.  Yiquan is the pursuit of not only great martial prowess, but also a good life. Don’t get me wrong. I know as well as anyone that most arts address this idea. The difference between Yiquan and other arts is that this is the main focus, rather than a side note.

Zhan zhuang (standing) is the main practice of Yiquan. It makes up about 80% of our training. The main benefit of standing practice is much like that of meditation – you get here and now. The way to incredible power is not hidden, nor is it anything mysterious or far away. We aren’t looking for the supernatural. We are trying to leave the subnatural behind. We do this when we cultivate stillness and equilibrium. Only the real remains when we are still. When we are standing still we are soaking ourselves back in. All the energy – mental and physical – that we devote to the memories of the past and the fantasies of the future comes flooding back to us in stillness. This can feel like something magical at first but soon you realize that it is just you. You remember your power and your self. This is the source of Yiquan’s power. It helps us be better people. Not better by some arbitrary standard – better by our own standards. No one can be you better than you so why let someone tell you how to be or how to move or how to think. Yiquan is a way of individual freedom. There is no room for fixed movements.

Most of the problems people have as individuals and as societies can be traced back to the inability of people to know themselves. People come up with laws and rules out of fear. We are afraid that we won’t be able to handle what comes up so we try to make rules to anticipate our reality. Laws and rules can serve the purpose of clarifying things as stop signs do for traffic. They can also come to be tools of oppression and interference like “hate laws.” The Dao De Jing tells us that foreknowledge is tinsel decorating the Dao and is the first sign of ignorance. In Yiquan we don’t rely on our ability to anticipate future realities. Rather, we cultivate our ability to sense and engage the world right here and now. To do this, we strip away rather than add. We strip away all the useless crap we’ve told ourselves over the years to reveal what is. Again this is a very Daoist principle. The Dao De Jing says the Dao is a process of stripping away day by day while learning is a process of accumulation day by day.

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