Combat efficiency of yiquan

Combat efficiency of Yiquan. Interview with master Chen Ming.

 

Recently there are many discussions on the topic whether traditional wushu is efficient in combat. Very often yiquan (also known as dachengquan) is used as and example of a traditional wushu system, which is useful in combat. But there are also many disputes about this. Is yiquan, which absorbes training methods of modern combat sports still a kind of traditional wushu? Is the yiquan school in Linqing teaching the authentic system? About those issues which appear very often during online discussions we talked with mister Chen Ming.

 

Chen Ming

Chen Ming


Teacher Chen Ming, please tell us about your history of training martial arts.

 

O.K. From 1989 to 1992 I studied at the Academy of Agricultural Technology in Beijing. At that time the head of our Department – Teng Xinguo introduced me to the elder daughter of Wang Xiangzhai – Wang Yuzhen. She lived in Dongguanying hutong. At her place I met her daughter, misses Hu, who told me, that although her mother doesn't practice martial art, her aunt Wang Yufang taught yiquan. Together with misses Hu I went to visit Wang Yufang. During this meeting I became charmed by yiquan and I decided to become Wang Yufang's disciple. At that time yiquan teachers didn't allow students to baishi by the ketow (kow tow). Just bowing body gesture replaced this, and I was accepted as a disciple.

 

During the 3 years stay in Beijing I made a big progress due to my generous teacher. After completing the study with her, through her recomendation, I was able to go through two months intensive full time training with Yao Chengguang. His teachings helped me greately to elevate my fighting skills

 

In 1994 I decided to focus on propagating yiquan. I went back to my home town Linqing and create Linqing Dachengquan association. I taught many students. Some who became quite famous are Chen Chaoqun, Chen Chaowu, Chen Chaoyun, Xu Chun, Li Gang. More than dozen of my students opened their own schools. Maybe four or five thousand people learned from me.

 

Chen Chaoqun

Chen Chaoqun

 

Thank you, Teacher Chen. So you've been training traditional wushu since 1989, and you witnessed the development of sanda competitions. As a professional in martial arts how do you see the traditional wushu and sanda?

 

Sanda appeared in 1980s. Many of its techniques come from traditional wushu. Actually Chinese wushu is just Chinese wushu. There shouldn't be any special talk about traditional wushu. But those institutions which modernized wushu, creating a sports discipline, to stress the difference, started calling the wushu which existed already traditional wushu, and the new one – sports wushu.

 

When we talk about traditional wushu, many people think about practicing forms – taolu, thinking that when you put movements together into a long set, only this is wushu. This is a misunderstanding. The real wushu was developed for fighting, single movements were repeated many times during training, so they could be used automatically, with power, becoming destructive. For example the hitting in yiquan is practiced this way. This is also typical for the modern sanda sports discipline. So we say that sanda developed from traditional wushu. The basis is the techniques of traditional wushu, but also boxing training methods became absorbed. Some limitations of allowed actions and the formula of fighting on a platform were adopted.

 

It should be clear that sanda is a kind of sport competition discipline. And the traditional wushu also has strong self defense aspect. In old times the traditional wushu served the goal of protecting your own body, protecting your family and house. Presently the traditional wushu is maintaining this character of an art of some combative value, but in the new era the aspect of health cultivation is more promoted, and self defense is treated as some suplement. In various times wushu has different functions, but anyway we should not neglect the aspect of combative efficiency.

 

Recently a lot of criticizm toward traditional wushu appeared on internet. Actually there is a lot of slandering in this. This is very inresponsible behaviour. As a representantive of traditional wushu I need to explain some things. The basis of the traditional wushu is actual fighting. But this used to be transmitted in various ways in various times, there were tendencies to stress some aspects more or less. But if the training methods are reasonable, training arranged in order, the aspect of combative efficiency might revive. Our Linqing school of yiquan, we achieved many successess in fighting tournaments in big part to sticking to tradition – our basis is yiquan together with training methods of modern combat sports.

 

Article Images: zhu2.jpg

Chen Chaowu

 

Please tell us Teacher, how did you come upon the idea of mixing traditional wushu with the training methods of modern combat sports?

 

Yiquan was created by master Wang Xiangzhai. His idea was to study the true meaning, the essence of martial art, absorbing the valuable things from various sources. After the fight with light weight boxing champion, Wang found that boxing was very practical, so he started some study of boxing technique. So it was already Wang Xianzhai, who started mixing yiquan with modern fighting sports. Second generation representative – Yao Zongxun inherited Wang's teachings, but he also was an innovator, like Wang. He continued the work of absorbing training methods of combat sports and generally sports into yiquan. He introduced to yiquan the physical attributes training, hitting boxing bag, fast reaction training. So mixing yiquan with modern combat sports is not something which appeared just recently, but something which was there from the very beginning of the development of this system. Especially in the time of Yao Zongxun, who dreamed about demonstrating yiquan's efficiency at the arena of modernt combat sports. But there possibilities were very limited at that time.

 

So it is not what we invented recently. What we do in Linqing is continuing the spirit of our predecessors. The basic is to maintain the character of yiquan. But at the same time we are keen on observing what is happening in combat sports, adopting the newest training methods. We will not forget our basic ideas, we will try to fullfill the dreams of our predecessors, trying to actually introduce yiquan to the modern fighting tournaments.

 

Chen Chaoyun

Chen Chaoyun

 

Teacher, maybe it is because you glorify those modern training methods, so many people say that the methods which you are using in your school have nothing to do with yiquan? How will you comment this?

 

This is bullshit! I started learning yiquan from Wang Yufang in 1989, so I've been training it for more than 30 years. My son Chen Chaowu, my nephews Chen Chaoqun and Chen Chaoyun, my students Xu Luzhe and others, all they have been learning yiquan from me from their childhood.

 

Moreover Chen Chaoqun for 4 years, from 2007 to 2011 trained full time with master Cui Ruibin. Chen Chaowu in 2008 and Chen Chaoyun in 2015 went through periods of full time trainings with master Yao Chengguang. We do yiquan in our family professionally, and we all have direct transmission from yiquan masters. How could anyone say that what we do has nothing to do with yiquan?

 

As I said, absorbing methods of modern fighting sports is something in yiquan which continues constantly, starting from the very beginning, from Wang Xiangzhai. In other words, this innovative attitude, mixing tradition with modern training is the actuall essence of yiquan. It is those who simply stick to the old fashions, while talking about authentic tradition, who have some serious problem.

 

Event though we have training methods different from what other yiquan people are doing, our coaches and students still everyday practice zhan zhuang, shi li, fali – all the basic methods of yiquan. Only after that they move to training with pads or sparring training typical for combat sports. Although we are innovators, we don't abandong the traditional yiquan training.

 

Yao Chengguang

He Rong, Chen Chaowu, Chen Ming, Yao Chengguang, Chen Chaoqun, Chen Chaoyun

 

Teacher, but there are people who keep saying, that your yiquan is not the authentic yiquan. What will you say?

 

A warrior is convincing people with real power. Wang Xiangzhai and Yao Zongxun excelled at actual fighting. People can say that our yiquan is not authentic, but it is us who keep winning tournaments. They call authentic what they practice themselves, but can they convince by demonstrating real power? If not, if they are not even able to defeat us, who according to them don't practice authentic yiquan, then what is the value of their yiquan being authentic?

 

Interview made by Yang Zhenjie.

 

Translated from Chinese by Andrzej Kalisz

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