Reading all about yiquan lately is really getting me interested in standing again. It also keeps me interested in mma and the question of how the “mixes” are really trying to evolve into a perfect fusion. On the face of it, that is a weird interest. Most people interested in standing seem interested in useless qi hugging, and most people interested in mma would never be interested in standing and anything that even mentions qi or ki. But yiquan, at least in the popular website descriptions, seems to make it all make sense, and seems to be seeking that “ultimate goal”. The ultimate goal, to use analogies usually used to describe USA culture, is not a “salad bowl” but a “melting pot”. Basically we all want to ultimately be able to fight like Fedor fights – having that incredible “natural” “flow” and relaxation as if his art were really one art (Sambo with some ground-n-pound?) and not a “mixed” ma, as well as all the other athletic attributes.

Standing:

Long ago, I attended some taijiquan workshops, at which the participants held each posture for 10-20 minutes. That was grueling back then and I couldn’t understand why we did it. I’m starting to get some small understanding now. It is a fundamental part of internal arts.

Science, evolution, “mixed” ma, and “living” arts:

However, yiquan seems unique in its dual emphasis on standing and looking at new ideas. A sort of back to the future JKD philosophy (started in the 20s and 30s by Wang Xiangzhai) of accept what is useful (standing, shili, plus newer methods), reject what is useless (dogma, strict adherence to a bunch of forms and techniques). This idea of “evolution” and “science” that the yiquan folks seem to espouse does not seem to exist in any other internal or other traditional arts. Now I don’t really think judo needs it, as it’s so complete in covering at least two ranges, albeit it is “external” and doesn’t break down certain attributes the way the CIMA do. Sambo does not need it, either, apparently, for the same reasons. Most other arts are however “incomplete” and are not trying to “evolve” so consciously. Some of them are so good at what they are, that what’s the need? Most arts are not really trying to be “living” arts. There is JKD which pretty much considered most arts “dead” and in a “classical mess”. JKD seems more like the grandfather of modern MMA. Then there is today’s MMA, which by definition is “mixed” rather than one art. MT + BJJ is probably the favorite mix. Boxing+wrestling a close second. However the MT/BJJ folks still don’t have that “flow” from range to range that is exemplified by Fedor. I think more fighters will come out of judo and other fighters will study some judo. Moreover, I think the camps’ training methods will continue to analyze ways to better get that overall flow and integration rather than practicing each element in isolation, striking 3 hours, grappling 3 hours, etc.

There is the argument Tim Cartmell and others make that all arts are “mixed” because the founder cross-trained and created an art based on his insights. Judo is arguably the most successful example. As much as I do love judo, yiquan is probably the most interesting one to me, because they seem to be looking to take what’s great in traditional internal arts and add a modern scientific training approach to find “efficiency”, not just a “mix” of elements or arts or attributes. They looked at boxing early on and don’t seem afraid to look at everything else happening now in mma. It sounds very JKD-ish but yet not. As if reducing things to the “essence”, and heavily based on “internal”. They seem to be coming out of left field, way out of the mainstream of both the internal and the mma crowds (and the “internal mma” crowd who favors bgz+xyq+tjq), yet could they possibly be arriving at the “utimate goal” with a better approach? Hmm…. very intriguing… my armchair mma analysis foresees the slight but growing renewed interest in judo in mma becoming huge (throws are not just another good way to dominate a clinch range for points, setting up ground positioning, messing up the opponent’s game and confidence, but also a great crowd pleaser) – how can it not be the next wave? Pick-ups with slams already had a sort of mini-wave. Could it be that yiquan will be next after that – in about 5-10 years? Its effects are difficult to “see” but if it offers any real training edge, it will get looked at eventually, especially if anyone out of this area shows some results in mma or even other combat sports. Plus, this Human Weapon phenomenon will probably fuel renewed interest in finding “useful” stuff in more traditional arts.

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