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Unpacking 'No fixed forms and no fixed rules.'

Updated: Nov 4, 2022

If you have read up on Yi Chuan, you have probably run into the Yi Chuan principal of 'No fixed forms and no fixed rules'.

Since, by its own definition, this rule can't be fixed it deserves a little unpacking.

Read the way it is you would think Yi Chuan has no forms or rules. But it does! Many forms and exercises. Many rules, many of them openly contradictory. So what does this really mean?

I find it different to interpret 'No fixed forms and no fixed rules' in several overlapping ways:

Focus on 'fixed'. Rules are very useful things for learning when they serve to illuminate the reasons for their being. Rules interfere with learning when they fail to illuminate the reasons for their being but become the reasons unto themselves. Interfering rules are most often fixed and inflexible, their power manifesting from authority. Useful rules manifest their power from truth and change with the observer's ability to see the larger picture, feel the other bits of the elephant as they say.

Read it as 'freedom from'. One way of looking at it is freedom from fixed forms and rules, not that we don't have them, that we are not bound by them. In this view we see rules as the useful tools they are but only when useful at addressing the task on hand. Rules become useful for a time then expire as they are replaced with a more useful rule.

Read it as 'freedom to'. Try taking the statement as freedom to use rules all you want. Make them up, use them, throw them away and make up new ones. They are ours after all.

Read it as 'freedom from Yi Chuan'. In a way this may be the most significant way to look at it. The idea here is that the method does not own the results, that there are many methods and eventually no method.

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