I think there are several reasons why I seem to be drawn to yiquan. For one thing, I’ve been around taijiquan all my life, sometimes learning a bit of it, sometimes not. Since I grew up around my dad and others practicing it, I doubt my fascination with it is the same sort of fascination in it that many people get when “discovering” it after some hard or external style. In some sense, it’s been just ordinary background noise like any other activity in any other family. It doesn’t have any kind of novelty factor. For me, yiquan might provide roughly the same kind of object of fascination that taijiquan provides for many people.

The second thing is that the fascination I have had is concerning what is the actual essence of taijiquan, the question that people come to after a lot of hand waving and mistakes, false starts, and so on, if ever. Most people won’t get past these “attachments” (in a Buddhist sense) to totally useless peripheral or auxiliary questions. I’m not saying I am or will, but I’ve probably seen and/or thought about some of these obstacles from much earlier on. Ironically because the yiquan training method seems similar to what has been almost totally forgotten or obliterated (willingly or unknowingly) from 99.9% of taijiquan training but that I’ve seen bits and pieces of (I think people are also addicted to the fun of “discovery” of the next seemingly hard to get puzzle piece – fun as it might be for an individual, things shouldn’t really be a scavenger hunt as a whole for the art to survive – kind of point 3), I think it starts to answer my question quite well. I’m not saying art A = art B or that art A is better than art B. I think a lot of people give up and move from taijiquan to xingyiquan or yiquan or baguazhang. I’m not really down on taijiquan, per se, but its usual training methods and the loneliness of finding a “true” path on this, the most confusing, yet seemingly the most well-traveled, well-lit road of the neijia roads. It’s a much bigger road, so it has many more weird forks, twists, and dead ends.

That leads me to the third thing that really fascinates me about yiquan. Instead of letting their art die out in abstruse, mysterious sayings, clinging to this kind of thing, or the past, health dance, and total bullshit, they seem to take great pains to try to explain things as clearly and concisely as possible. The exact opposite of the affliction of taijiquan and what people mainly interested in carrying on taijiquan should be doing when trying to explain it. Now I don’t really care if they talk about qi or the same stuff with other labels. It’s the underlying stuff I care about. The Dao that can be told is not the real Dao. Etc. Point is, they are really trying to pass on a martial art, yet can make the same sorts of health dance benefit claims as well. The other paragraph in Tabby Cat’s nice translation of that Yao interview:

  1. It’s worth considering deeply whether Taijiquan seeks to develop offensive skills by using the push hands as the foundation, or via actual sparring.

is a profound statement to consider when looking at the state of the art.

Finally, I think the psychology of “this is real” and it is not tainted also has a certain appeal. Nevertheless I think these thoughts and tips on yiquan easily found in quick searches (try looking for the same amount of concise, direct instructions on taijiquan – usually it’s sadly wrong crap – and you can be absorbed for 20 years of nothingness, even in a myth that you will somehow get “it” because “it” is going to take another 20 years) all actually apply incredibly well to taijiquan. A lot of essence and principles are overlapping. Some of the tactics and techniques seem different. There is a clear kinship. My fascination from one art bolsters my fascination in the other art (and vice versa).