Bruce Frantzis I Chuan DVD – first impressions

There really aren’t that many resources available about Yiquan, at least for non-speakers of Mandarin. I’m basically trying to acquire everything there is, to assist me as I train solo and build on what I studied with Yao Chengrong Lao Shi. So, when I saw that Bruce Frantzis had issued a new DVD set covering Xingyi and Yiquan, my thought processes were along the lines of:

  • I can’t afford it right now
  • Yes, but it’s on offer for a short while
  • I can’t afford it
  • Yes, but it’s Bruce Frantzis, dude!
  • Bruce Frantzis doesn’t know yiquan. Bagua, taiji, and xingyi yes, but he’s never indicated before that he knows yiquan.
  • But you’re trying to learn xingyi anyway, so even if the yiquan material is duff, the xingyi material should be worth it.
  • I can’t afford it, though.
  • Oh, sod it.

So, I put my order in late on Sunday night. The package arrived early Tuesday morning. Good start…. I had some technical problems downloading the free qigong mp3 files, but the customer support team sorted that out promptly and efficiently.

Now, I’m busy, so I haven’t had time to watch the DVDs properly. Instead, I’ve had them playing in a small window floating in the corner of my screen while I get on with doing other things, so I didn’t give them my full attention. Thus, these are only my very general first impressions. So far, I’ve watched all of the yiquan DVDs, and the first xingyi DVD.

The yiquan DVDs were filmed live as BKF delivered a seminar. The camera shots are almost entirely of BKF sitting in a comfy chair. Occasionally, a student is brought in to demonstrate a stance. Each segment begins with a short sequence of BKF demonstrating one of eight zhan zhuang postures, while a voiceover explains the health benefits in terms of qi and the internal organs. A few martial applications are mentioned here and there.

Overall, this covers only 8 basic static zhan zhuang postures from the yiquan syllabus. There’s no discussion of testing force, and no stepping. If you are a complete beginner, wanting to learn zhan zhuang for health, you would be much better off buying Lam Kam Chuen’s books and DVD. If you know some yiquan, and want to explore the martial side of it in more depth, there is nothing here for you. I actually am pretty happy with it; my classes with Yao Lao Shi didn’t include any kind of qigong, and BKF’s background in this adds a lot of value for me. It’s nothing immediately useful, but there are lots of pointers for where further research could be done individually. I have to say, though, much of the delivery is pretty dry and there’s a lot of what seems like filler. I still rather get the impression that BKF has not done much training in yiquan but instead is bringing his background in the other arts and applying them to a crash course in the basic health postures of yiquan. As I said, though, these are my first and imperfect impressions. Verdict: not really what most people would be looking for, but very useful for me.

The bulk of the DVDs, though, are on xingyi. As I said, I’ve only watched the first one so far, but on this limited viewing BKF is much, much better. He’s clearly far more confident in his delivery, and demonstrates far more himself; there are also more shots of the students in the seminar and what they’re doing. I really get the impression that there’s great material to come in the rest of the DVDs. Verdict: wow, cool.


    1. Thanks, John – I didn’t know that. Even so, I’ll stick with what I said, ie this is only a provisional first review until I get time to watch the DVDs properly…


  1. Howdy,

    I’ve enjoyed your blog over the years, well done sir!
    I was at the I Chuan and Hsing-I classes that BKF has been doing over the last few years. We finished with Heng Chuan last spring in 2011. Was a fun series, probably the last time he will teach Hsing-I as meditation is where he seems to be moving these days.

    In terms of his background, he learned from three students of Wang Xiangzhai. The first was Kenichi Sawai in Japan, the second was Wang Shu Jin in Taiwan and the third was Han Xing Yuan in Hong Kong. He also learned from others, but those were his main teachers that he spent significant time with.

    You are right tho that he only does the standing for health and power training. The fighting stuff is all in Hsing-I. He’s a big fan of Hsing-I and in the long run he felt that it had more to offer than I Chuan overall.

    His Spiraling Energy Body Chi Gung set (one of his 5 chi gung sets) includes the bulk of the standing training in his system including the 200 standing postures he learned in the Taoist Priest training he did in Taiwan and Hong Kong. That’s the most intense of his chi gung sets and where the standing training gets absolutely wild and crazy. If you like standing I think you’d get a real kick out of this set. Never done anything like, VERY mentally and physically demanding. It’s all about empowering and filling the energy channels and moving your mind way beyond your body and other nutty stuff. Great fun but really tiring.

    Anyways, just a few thoughts on BKF’s work, hope you get something out of the DVDs!


    Jess O


    1. Thanks, Jess: much appreciated! If you’re who I think you are, I bought the first edition of your book, gave it to a friend, and then bought the second! I go back to it a lot.

      Thanks for the info regarding BKF and yiquan; that helps fill in some gaps.

      I keep wanting to write a review of that DVD set. The trouble is, although there’s loads of great info in there, trying to work through it all is like attending the seminars in real time without the benefit of talking to other trainees, or getting any instructor feedback. I don’t mind so much, because I got the early bird discount; I certainly wouldn’t be willing to pay the current price.

      The spiralling energy set sounds really interesting! I’m not likely to be able to try it out, though, given that it’s not available on DVD…


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