Yiquan hitting bag training



In the early 1930s, the founder of Yiquan Wang Xiangzhai subjected some of his early students to special training to improve their fighting skills in his native Shenzhou. They practiced zhan zhuang, shi li, steps, tui shou, hitting a cowhide sack, hand-to-hand combat. There was a shortage of specialized training equipment at the time, so they used a cowhide sack wrapped around a tree or a pole. The students practiced hitting while moving around that tree or pole.


In 1937, Wang Xiangzhai moved to Beijing. Around this time they started using some boxing accessories in Yiquan training - gloves, pads, bags to practice punches. In 1937, Yao Zongxun began studying with Wang Xiangzhai. Soon he became the most outstanding of Wang's students. Especially after he defeated a certain Wu, who was a famous Xingyiquan expert, in a duel, Wang began to appreciate his young student. Often it was Yao who was appointed to replace the teacher when he was challenged to duels. In 1941, Wang presented Yao the honorary name Jixiang - Successor of Xiang (Ji - continue, Xiang was the first part of his own name), and gave him a fan with a hand-written poem in which he indicated Yao as his successor.


In the early 1940s, Yao Zongxun lived at number 14 in the Kuache hutong in western Beijing, inside the city walls. There he conducted combat training for many of students of Wang Xiangzhai from the middle and later periods. Tui shou, duan shou (aka san shou) and bag training were part of the daily routine, something to be emphasized. Of course, the basic methods were also practiced - zhan zhuang, shi li, fa li. Wang Xiangzhai and Yao Zongxun believed that combat training was about barehanded fighting. However, regular combat training in this way injured fingers, wrists, ligaments, and other parts of the body, making it difficult to continue training. It turned out that training on a punching bag allows you to strengthen your fingers and wrists, learn to absorb the force of impact, which appears when hitting the opponent's body, including its hard parts. So it turned out that reasonably conducted punching training is very necessary. Yao Zongxun was teaching at the no. 14 Kuache hutong, and Wang was coming regularly to supervise the classes.Within a few years, a group of outstanding Yiquan adepts developed there who were able to take up the challenges of hand-to-hand combat. Among

them there were Dou Shiming, Li Yongzong, Zhang Zhengzhong (also known as Zhang Zhong), Kong Qinhai, and Tong Guozao.


Yao Zongxun emphasized that if you train in combat, you must train punching on the bag. In addition to training basic methods such as zhan zhuang, shi li, steps, fa li, strokes, it is extremely important and necessary to practice tui shou, san shou, and hitting the bag. Yao Zongxun constantly kept explaining the principles of bag training.


First of all, hitting the bag training should not be just hitting bag, but you should imagine an aggressive opponent, as if the bag could attack you at any moment, and that it could dodge your punch at any moment. While exercising on the bag, you must keep maximum concentration all the time, as if a dangerous opponent threatened your life.


Regardless of whether you are striking with a fist, palm, elbow, head, shoulder, knee, hip or foot, a sudden emission of force should occur at the moment of contact, as if the force from the point of contact passes through the opponent's body, all the way through the back. You must have the intention that your hit penetrates the opponent's body, smashes it. You must fully engage mentally, as if, for example, the opponent was threatening you with a knife, so immediate destruction of the opponent would be the only chance to stay alive. Steps, body work, punches, everything must be quick and acurate, directions changeable, like in a violent fight to the death. The whole body must be coordinated and work as a whole. Spirit, will and strength must be unified. Emitting force like lightning, like thunder. In series, continuously, with the idea that your strength is knocking down and smashing big mountains. Changes between relaxation and tension must occur with maximum frequency.


In order to master the punching bag exercises, you first need to master the basics by practicing zhan zhuang, shi li, steps, various fa li methods. Then, in the first stage of bag training, you start training hitting without steps, then moving on to hitting with steps. First hitting slowly, then gradually increase the speed. First striking lightly, then gradually harder. Everything should progress gradually. In addition, in the initial stage of training on the bag, you need to focus on checking if your basics are proper, whether you can hit the bag in the same way as you do the basic fa li exercises. You have to constantly verify whether the practice agrees with the theory, whether the theory agrees with the practice.


Yiquan punch training seems easy, but actually it is very difficult to practice correctly. This applies not only to hitting training, but also to other combat training methods. The methods of training combat in Yiquan, including training hitting on a bag, cotton ball, on pads, as well as sparring training require, above all, good mastery of basic exercises, proficiency in footwork, body work and hitting methods.


Moreover, Yiquan hitting training is completely different from that used in boxing and modern combative sports. In Yiquan, we start with zhan zhuang, shi li, first mastering the so-called hunyuan strength, then we use the feeling of this stength in subsequent basic training methods - exercises of steps, emission of force, hitting, training with a stick, tui shou, san shou. Each move must be based on Yiquan principles, must contain Yiquan hunyuan strength.


A layman is unable to perceive and understand the strength that the Yiquan expert displays in tui shou or san shou, often seeing only the similarity of the basic position to boxing, which is a huge misunderstanding. Yiquan and boxing are completely different things. The base position of Yiquan is based on zhan zhuang, it is a position filled with so-called round force, containing the so-called horizontal spreading and vertical wrapping. You just need to close your fists and it changes into the base fighting position - it contains a lot of so-called opposing or arguing forces in all parts of the body. In Yiquan, appropriate mental activity must be used in both fa li training and punching bag training. With all body parts resiliently bound to each other, the arms should remain flexed, as if straight but not straight


All those training methods don’t exist in boxing. Also in boxing the basic position (guard) is more compact and the range of torso swinging movement is bigger. The claim that Yiquan uses boxing guard and boxing methods is completely wrong. This is result of a lack of knowledge about Yiquan, misunderstanding Yiquan. And to some extent it is also result of the ill will of some people deliberately presenting a false image of Yiquan.


Author: Yao Chengguang

Translated from chinese by Andrzej Kalisz

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