The Yiquan Academy, day 5

Half a day really; I turned up this morning to find the door locked and nobody home. Master Yao wasn’t answering his phone and basically my morning was wasted. Not a happy bunny.

I eventually made contact, and it turned out they were doing some filming for Chinese television. Master Yao apologised, but they have my phone number, so I hope that if they’re going to be busy again, they’ll let me know so that I don’t have to trek all the way across Beijing for no purpose!

Trying again at 4pm, I found one student practising. He was around last week, but only revealed today that he speaks English! He remembers Tabbycat, and it seems they’re still in contact. He has his own (Chinese-only) yiquan websites at:

Other students gradually emerged from the dorms, where they had been sleeping. A little later, somebody new arrived – from what I could understand, he’d seen an advertisment in a newspaper. He was put into practising the very basic standing position, and clearly found it hard going to keep his arms raised for more than a few minutes. At last, someone worse than me!

I spent the first hour or so revising the 浑元桩 Universal Combat Post, all three varieties, until the senior student (whose name is Li Xin) was satisfied. I find that my arms, shoulders and back don’t get very tired now during the standing postures; the stress is almost entirely on my ankles and feet – and, especially, on the arch of my right foot, for some reason. I suspect it’s because my right kua doesn’t open enough, and has gotten into the habit of collapsing inwards somewhat. It’s this kind of insight into body mechanics that I was hoping for from yiquan, and it’s certainly delivering.

After that, I progressed very quickly through various different punching sequences; we’ve suddenly switched from very static, or very slow-moving qiqong-like practises to something very similar to basic Western boxing techniques. I’m finding this very difficult. My weighting is all wrong, and my foot-positioning is totally awry. I’m going to have to call a halt to any further learning until I’ve got this down – it’s way too important to skip or rush. That reminds me of something H.said when she came here for a while – that she felt rushed, and pushed through the modules faster than she was comfortable with; she didn’t feel she had time to really absorb everything. I can see exactly what she meant; Master Yao and Li Xin do try to introduce several new moves in every lesson. I’m already onto module three from the complete list (this is the page I should have been looking at, btw, not the basic course – I just realised that today) and I’m only on day 5! However, whenever I’ve said I want to slow down and revise, which I’ve done a couple of times, they’ve been absolutely fine about it – so the responsibility here is on the student to take control of the learning pace.

While I think of it, I just want to clarify something about the pricing of the course, which perhaps didn’t come over clearly when I said something about it before. The price of the lessons themselves is extremely reasonable for Beijing – especially so because Master Yao charges by progress through the modules, not by the hour. It’s very, very fairly priced. The real big expense comes from the peripherals – the boks and DVDs, which I can’t really afford. However, if I was earning in a Western currency, rather than in RMB, the price of these would also be quite reasonable…

Ok, back to today. I now seem to be transitioning to the more combat-oriented side of Yiquan, which is great. It’s hard work, I have major obstacles to overcome in terms of understanding the body dynamics, but I will do it. My number 1 priority at the moment, though, is to understand why my foot is hurting so much; if I can’t do that, I’m not going to make much progress.

Today’s moves:


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