Updated: Nov 4, 2022
The Yi Chuan Method requires changing how you think about training. The process should go something like this:
Changing how you think about your training allows you to change how you train
Changing how you train allows you to achieve results
Getting results changes how you think about your training
Go to step 1
Practice needs only be repetitious in that you regularly practice. How you practice and how you think about your practice should change, sometimes gradually, sometimes suddenly. Hard work overtime and those ‘aaaha’ moments are best friends. One leads the the other and the other helps you make good use of the one.
Think about it this way. If the practice you are doing has not resulted in the skills you wish to achieve, maybe you are not practicing correctly? If you are practicing the same exercises, the same forms, repeated the same way, how are you going to get different results?
I encourage people to experiment with their practice, to use intent in different ways to coax out changes in the feeling state or sense of being that results from allowing the subconscious to drive the experience. We want the conceptual mind to be more of an observer and less of a doer. We want to let go of fix forms and fixed rules and allow our experience to mold our understanding, get the tail wagging the dog again.
When you start getting the right idea, then the training methods can really start to do the work on your tissues, you body can begin to change. Tendons will stretch, joint will open and energy will flow. These changes are observable within the feelin state, in other words, how the exercise feels literally changes as the tissues and energy flow through them changes.
This is why you can't really skip the line in this type if training, actually 'cultivation' may be a better word. We know that before a plant can fruit it needs to flower and before it flowers it needs to grow and before it grows it needs to sprout and before it sprouts it needs to germinate and before it can germinate it needs the right conditions. Yi Chuan is like this. Each successive achievement is built on the ones that came before, how can you have any pudding if you didn't eat your meat?
It can be kind of weird at first, realizing that there is a different way to use your body. It can also be clumsy and awkward like Frankenstein taking his first steps. Its simultaneously fresh and new while also like coming home. Like vapor it mysteriously appears only to vanish the moment you try and grasp it. With fits and starts it come on, like an old engine clawing its way to life among misfires and belching noxious fumes. Hot, cold, numb and sweaty it can be along with shakes, aches, tingles and a spasm or two.
Its been called tendon changing and marrow washing, taking yourself through a process of restoration, reintegration, and application. Its a very physical process that has energetic benefits and achievements along the way that, frankly, call into question some of the presumptions that build our consensus reality. Perhaps these things we call mind & body are not so separate after all.
Personally, the mind part has been the hardest. I have been stubbornly reluctant to admit when I don't understand something. I would continue to try and do things my way in the face of convincing evidence I could be wrong, the kind of evidence that flings you across the room and is hard to ignore. Once I learned how to put some of that stuff aside I began to start to hear my Teacher. Then taught could replace tense, pry replaced push and oh my gosh all the circles.
Once you home in on how to actually 'do' the exercises the physical changes come quickly. We want 'old tendon strength' where connective tissue like tendons, ligaments and fascia are thickened and strengthened by being pulled and stretched. We want 'iron shirt' where internal pressure protects this insides from damage. We want 'lightening hands' that harness internal inertia and elasticity as they flash toward their targets.
We want to pounce like a cat, reach like a monkey, seize like a raptor, snap like a mantis, writhe like a bundle of snakes and swim like a dragon. These phrases refer to a specific feeling state within the expression of strength. Its not just about looking like those creatures, its about identifying an aspect of Integrated Strength, an aspect that can be likened to the characteristic of the critter in question.