Yiquan Brief Description

Health - Simplicity - Inner Strength

The Training Program in Yiquan

The History of Yiquan

Method and Effect of Yiquan

Yiquan Brief Description

Yiquan is in equal measure for both health and martial arts very beneficial. Meditation (chan) martial arts and healthcare have merged together to form a multifunctional synthesis.
The most common literal translation for yiquan is “Mind Fist”. Yi stands for imagination, intention, consciousness and more, quan for boxing and martial art. The style of Yiquan is also known as Chan-Boxing and Dachengchuan.
The founder of the style Wang Xiangzhai (1885-1963) combined in his exercise system the essence and keynotes of the various Chinese inner martial arts.
The foundation of the system is Yiquan-yangsheng-qigong. This includes three exercise groups with the names zhanzhuang, shili and mocabu. The martial arts segment which builds on healthcare exercises is made up of the exercise groups fali, shisheng, tuishou and sanshou.

Health - Simplicity - Inner Strength


Yiquan excludes one-sided and unnatural training methods and enhances the development of mental and physical potential into old age. The increase of the body’s energy levels as well as the simultaneous strengthening of its regulations system is developed through the training process.


Yiquan is an open system, which anyone can practice at any time without special prerequisites. The training construction is uncomplicated and can be shaped to fit individual requirements. Results are visible in all areas after a short period of time; there is no need of mystification. The application is next to the naturalness a superior criterion.

Inner Strength

The Inner strength, chinese neili or neijin, follows from the unity of mind and body, which means out of the whole-body-senso-motoric respectively the neuro-muscular-coordination and a all rounded fitness. The exercises aim to increase the qi as well as develop inner strength. This is created from the balanced and dynamic interaction of the following elements:

  • yi
  • imagination, intention, concentration, visualisation...
  • qi
  • energy, entirety of all physical functions
  • li
  • strength, muscularity, physical strength
  • xing
  • form, posture.
  • shen
  • mind, mental power, personal mindset
  • xin
  • heart / soul, consciousness, emotional control

    The aim for everyday is to create the precondition to be capable of remaining balanced under stress and to protect one’s health. The yiquan purpose of martial arts is hunyuanli - “the complete strength”. This means to act with the entire body at any time in any direction with any intensity (strength, energy / tension).

    The Training Program in Yiquan

    The seven Yiquan exercise groups are divided into the sections Health and Martial Arts:

    Health - yangsheng (qigong) Martial Arts - jiji (wushu)
    1. yangshengzhuang (zhanzhuang)
    2. shili
    3. mocabu
    1. jijizhuang (zhanzhuang)
    2. fali
    3. shisheng
    4. tuishou
    5. sanshou

    The split into two sections is relative, since they overlap. The root of Yiquan (and most of the inner martial arts) is zhanzhuang.

    1. Zhanzhuang

    Zhanzhuang, also known as zhanzhuanggong, means literally: “Standing Pole Exercise”, “Standing Pile Exercise”. A common variant is „Standing like a Tree“. The main focus with this exercise is initially to center, align and relax in connection with various visualisations as well as the development of inner strength. An essential part of the exercise is the experience of the wide range of training results achieved through tiny changes of the various exercise positions. There are approximately 25 different stances in total, with which the requirements can be increased respectively adjusted bit by bit. The “Health Stances” are known as yangshengzhuang, the “martial art stances” jijizhuang.

    2. Shili

    Shili means: “Strength Testing Exercise”, “Strength Testing”, “Sensing Strength”. The inner strength which is developed through standing exercises is transferred and modified through slow and flowing movements which can be performed standing or moving. The conscious perception of the diverse qualities of “Stillness in Motion” and the relative contrast “Motion in Stillness” become an interesting theme of the training process.

    3. Mocabu

    Mocabu: literally „Friction Step“or training of shifting is partly known as bufa (chin. Stand/Shift Method). We use the term stepping practice. Thus improving coordination of movement in space, whereby the developmental process to „whole strength“ is completed by a further dimension.

    4. Fali

    Fali or baofali, literally: explosion of power, release of power. Fali-training is the process of setting inner strength explosively free.

    5. Shisheng

    Shisheng (chin. voice training, sound testing) are special sounds with which the power effect of fali can be additionally increased.

    6. Tuishou

    Tuishou, literally: “pushing hands”, “sensing hands”. These partner exercises test and improve stability, balance, reflexes, techniques, use of power etc. Flexibility, agility and compactness are comparably needed. Tuishou is also understood to be the bridge between the basic exercises and the more martial Yiquan.

    7. Sanshou

    Sanshou denotes the free fight training without weapons (sparring), however this method is not completely free of rules. Related terms are: jijifa (fight-exercise or method), shizuo (sparring), dancao (several fight techniques), sanda (full contact sport).

    The History of Yiquan

    The art of Yiquan was developed in the mid 1920s by Master Wang Xiangzhai (1886-1963). Wang Xiangzhai is said to have been a student of the famous Xingyiquan Master Guo Yunshen (1827-1902) from the Chinese region Hebei. Here he is supposed to have learnt zhanzhuang exercises, which later became the characteristic exercises of Yiquan. After the death of his master, Wang (then 22) made his way to Peking to find work. There he joined the army. His skill soon noticed by his superiors; he was promoted to martial-arts teacher. In the following decades he defeated several famous fighters and martial-art teachers without harming anyone. At the age of 33, Wang decided to travel through China and meet other martial-art teachers. In this time he engaged himself with Shaolin-Xinyiba, Crane Boxing, several Xingyiquan styles, Baguazhang and Taijiquan and completed the theory and practice of his own martial art.

    After observing his students, Wang realized that they were too fixated on outer forms and fixed routines and therefore only made slight progress. Thereupon he started to change his training-system. He put the main focus on zanzhuanggong (standing pole/pile exercise) and shili (strength testing exercise) with the goal to return to the original roots of the inner martial arts. Simultaneously Wang increasingly criticised the widespread teaching methods; during the 1930s he addressed this subject in his books as well. The xing (Chin. form) in the name Xingyiquan (Chin. form-mind-boxing) was left out. Yiquan remained, which Wang continued to develop until ca. 1940.

    Wang challenged all masters of other martial arts by advertisement during China’s military occupation by Japanese troups. He is said to have defeated all challengers. Several were to become his students; representative is the founder of the Japan ese Yiquan (Taikiken) Kenichi Sawai. Wang couldn’t accept the name Dachengquan (Chin. Great Accomplishment Boxing), used by some of his students for Yiquan, because he was of the opinion that a perfect system in martial arts was not possible. An expert in Chan (Chin. meditation, Chinese Buddhism) Wang was also known as a painter, poet and calligrapher. In his later years he devoted himself especially to the health aspect of Yiquan; this was acclaimed by the Chinese Government during the 1950s as one of the leading qigong schools. Today Chinese hospitals use Yiquan to assist the healing process of several diseases.

    Wang Xiangzhai

    Yao Zongxun

    Yao Chengrong

    Method and Effect of Yiquan

    As a reminder: Fixation on rigid forms, individuality or the fight is rejected; naturality and spontaneity on the other hand promoted. The natural tendency of the human organism to balance out the equilibrium (homeodynamic) and build up energy plays a prominent role. The aspects of stillness and motion, internal and external, strength and softness, tension and relaxation are relative; this means no absolute contradictions.

    Keyword Methods Effects


    Coordination of posture
    Stabilisation of centre of gravity

    correction of malposition
    improved statics (balance)
    and improved blood and lymph
    and tension


    Various forms of training the
    “postural muscles” with
    simultaneous relaxation of the
    “movement” muscles as well as
    differentiated combination of the
    various muscle parts in close
    connection with certain images.

    Zhengli (inner connections;
    contradictory force) means
    “whole body power“. The term is
    falso used in the model to develop
    “compactness”, “spring force” tanli and
    "whole body power”.
    Increase of energy (qi),
    especially the mitochondria
    of the postural muscles. Energy-
    circulation (e.g. blood, lymph)
    can be conciously steered in the
    physiological range.
    Improvement of the economy
    of the body.

    Further text about the method and effect will be translated soon!