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Dis-covering Yi Chuan

Updated: Nov 4, 2022

Over many years I've tried to lay down a curriculum of sorts, do a bit of organization, add some levels.....crap like that. It has not worked out so well.

Don't get me wrong, I have finished a bunch of them. Some of them are rather good, a solid effort. The problem is things keep changing.

So often my yesterday's treasure is my today's trash. A change in perspective here and an inspiration there calls the whole lot into question. It seems there is always a better way to explain it, a different way to look at it. I'm not happy with what a wrote down a month ago, hell a week ago. My personal training is the same way, my kung fu sucked last _______.

The other thing that changes is you. People that connect with me come from all sorts of different backgrounds and at many different levels of training and skill. What each individual needs to focus on at any given time can be much different than another person with equal exposure to Yi Chuan or similar training.

Whether someone just has a few passing questions or has been training with me for years, what gets someone to click surprises me every time. I may deliver a well thought out explanation with props and examples and....nothing. Another time I might just make an off the cuff smart ass comment and bingo, the light flicks on.

I guess teaching this stuff is as much of a practice as practicing this stuff. Essentially what I do is diagnose, prescribe and follow-up, adjusting the prescription as needed in an effort to get the best outcome.

One way to look at it is there are no magic bullets, no instruction or advise that, once administered, universally cures those that receive it. Another way to look at it is there are magic bullets everywhere but its only the one that you specifically need that can hit its target. Trying to figure out what that piece of advise can be difficult, getting someone to actually change their practice can be maddingly frustrating.

What I am attempting to do with 'Discover Yi Chuan' is a non-linear. Typically you would start with module 1 and move on to module 2 once module 1 is complete. With this course you can jump in anywhere. Pick an exercise or concept and work it into your daily practice. Just having a daily practice may be the place to start if you have been idle for some time. One your training is 'in motion' we can discern the 'mis' and focus your efforts getting rid of that mis-take, mis-understanding and/or mis-ing information.

Training in Yi Chuan goes in a circle. Learning in Yi Chuan goes in steps. The steps elevate the circle in the same way a rising tide lifts all boats. Let's say, for example, you are training footwork. Something clicks an you realize you have been making an error by bracing (double weighting) in your stance. If you let it, this new insight will change everything, including your standing practice.

An insight gained during standing practice can dramatically change your bag work. Pole shaking can bring new insights into sensing strength, explosive strength training can reveal the preceding implosion and completely invert your thinking on how to generate pugilistic power. The list goes on and on.

Without the steps up in learning, Yi Chuan practice is boring and lame. You end up just going around and around without elevating your skill. The techniques of the Yi Chuan method are not designed to take something from outside and put it inside. They are designed to activate something that is already inside and help you figure out how to apply it to the purpose of self defense.

That is why this article is titled 'Dis-cover' Yi Chuan. The answers are not 'out there' on some mysterious Chinese mountain top nor in the secluded confines of a thousand year old temple. The answers lie within your experience, are built into your genetics and in essence a birthright to all humans. There is just so much horseshit covering them up.

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Steve Ehrenreich
Steve Ehrenreich
Nov 04, 2021

In a nutshell, testing strength is what we use to check/measure progress and determine where folk are on the development scale. Can you transmit force through your frame rather than 'bear'' it? Can you root from a gradually increasing push to the shoulder, the elbows, the wrists, the belly, etc. Can you uproot a push? Can you step with the proper polarity? Can you maintain the six surfaces.

Testing strength can take many, many forms and the feedback loop includes your own changes in feeling state, teacher feedback, partner feedback in addition to their reaction when the testing involves a partner.

Good question.


Re: analogy of 'progress in learning' to a rising tide lifting boats. As progress can literally take years, are there any objective/subjective ways by which an individual can measure progress (as with water levels?). External martial arts tend to have gradings/belts. With Yi Chuan however the greatest progress must be 'within' ?

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