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An Introduction to the YiQuan:  
A Pragmatic View into the Internal Martial Arts


Mo Jin, Gathering Strength

The next level of stance and visualization practice is called Gathering Strength or "mo jin."

Where previously the student used very basic stances and visualizations, during mo jin, a fighting stance is used and the imagery has to do with manipulating heavy objects at a distance. The purpose is to train the mind to project the intent away from the body.

Shi Li, Testing Strength

During the practice of both zhan zhuang and mo jin, the student remained motionless or very nearly still. Through the Shi Li exercises the student learns to move while keeping the characteristics learned during the practice of zhan zhuang and mo jin—the collective practice of whole-body movement using visualizations of "overcoming heavy springs" or "strong currents."

The student pushes forward and pulls back against them. The goal is to have coordinated movement with no breaks or gaps. At each instant, if stopped, the position would be balanced, centered, and relaxed.

"Producing a feeling with a fixed method
Giving up the method after getting the feeling
Letting the feeling follow into everything
Personal feeling leads to complete awareness"   —   Han Jing Yu

Nothing in YiQuan training is done without a reason. YiQuan is meant to be pursued on a "scientific basis." Practice, understand what you are practicing and why. Look at your results. If you aren't getting the results you should be getting, examine what you are doing, your expectations, why you are doing it, and make adjustments.

There is a unity in YiQuan training. Once your practice has matured, whenever you practice any part of YiQuan, you are practicing all of it. Like a hologram, each part of YiQuan carries the image of the whole.

During the practice of any YiQuan exercise, the four words that any serious YiQuan practitioner must remember are:  Song Huo Yuan Zhang. Song means Relaxation, Huo means Flexibility in movement, Yuan means Circle, and Zhang means Whole Body. This set of words encompasses the principles that define all of the exercises in YiQuan. Any move that is executed must have these four particulars to be correct.  Other YiQuan principles will be elaborated in future articles.

My previous YiQuan mentor used to tell me that " … Daoism is a pragmatic way of looking at the world, but YiQuan is a pragmatic way of training one's own being to be internal."

A rule of thumb is that 50% of your time should be spent on the basic standing practice, known as zhan zhuang, and the other 50% on everything else. When in doubt, err on the side of spending a little more time in zhan zhuang. Standing for relatively lengthy periods regularly is helpful. If you only have a little time, invest it in zhan zhuang for most of your training.

The use of visualizations is the signature of Yiquan training. With the visualizations, you can practice YiQuan virtually anytime, anywhere.

An example of eight different YiQuan Health-Enhancing postures performed by YiQuan master HanXingYuen.


The emphasis of real internal martial arts is the attributes of centering, relaxing, sinking, and complete body alignment. Details on those attributes will covered in future articles. After each YiQuan exercise, the practitioner becomes more relaxed.

The focus of YiQuan is about releasing tension through the practice of proper internal principles and visualization.  It is a good starting point for those who study other internal marital arts training.  Currently, much of the internal martial arts teaching does not focus on the practice of relaxation through "still" posturing.  YiQuan is a technical return to that necessity.

From the constant practice of "Never stop relaxing", my physical balance got better. My concentration was enhanced.  My health improved dramatically.  If there were other better reasons to practice YiQuan and other internal marital arts, I do not know.

My previous YiQuan mentor also used to remind me, "…Wherever you are at. … Whatever you do, … always relax. …"

In future articles, there will be more specifics on the theory and practice of YiQuan.

Rick Matz is a practitioner of YiQuan and other forms of internal martial arts systems, currently working on "An Introduction to YiQuan".


A popular source for YiQuan articles, history, links, etc.

The Way of Energy, Lam Kam Chuen

The Way of Power, Lam Kam Chuen

Other Favorite Internal Martial Arts Websites

English translation of XingYi and other internal martial arts system classics can be found at

Videos of YiQuan exercises can be found at ChinafromInside.com.

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