Understanding Shi Li and Hun Yuan Li

Through the practice of Zhan Zhuang (pole standing) you will have a first idea of Hun Yuan Li (or Hunyuan li).

Hun Yuan Li or ¡°Omni-directional Combat Power¡± is in fact the capability to use balanced power through the six directions: Up, down, left, right and back, front.
This power is a fundamental key to access to the higher level of free fighting aptitude of any fighter.
Then next step is to exercise Shili which means to try and explore the strength. Li refers to the power of Quan Shu (Chinese Traditional Boxing). Shili is the source of Deli (get power). Through a period of exploration and cancellation of wrong way of practicing you can feel and take the genuine power of QuanShu. Therefore Master Yao addressed often that Pole Standing is the foundation, Shili the key step. It has the broadest scope and more difficulties. Shili functions as important part in the context of training system of YiQuan(Yi Chuan). There is a close relationship between application and Shili, so it should be more focused.
Why practicing Shili? Because pole standing is training and strengthening Hun Yuan Li on the condition of relative stillness. When you move Hun Yuan Li will disappear, vice versa. Master Yao Zhong Xun once said that without Hun Yuan Li as the foundation of Quan Shu, nobody can grasp the Kungfu of application. In combat it is impossible to attack in stillness. You ought to utilize all the Hun Yuan Li you got from pole standing in the fierce movements effectively. The transition of stillness to dynamic of Hun Yuan Li should be completed by Shili. Shili is the important process during the conversion period from pole standing to Fali (outburst of power). Without Shili the strength training of YiQuan(Yi Chuan) will be disjointed, like pulling grass in order to let it grow fast.
Therefore the purpose of Shili is that after the whole body moves slowly you can use your mind to lead strength and imagine something to explore, train and reinforce Hun Yuan Li, making your body feeling full and balanced power and utilizing freely. These will lay good foundation for your next step, quick and arbitrary Fali. Meanwhile Shili also tests your pole standing which will affect Shili directly. At this point Pole Standing and Shili affect and supplement each other. Shili is the extension of Pole Standing in space.

The core of Shili is that under lead and imagination of mind, combined with natural, soft, and relaxing body posture and conversion of tightness and relaxation of muscles you can get Hun Yuan Li and utilize freely during movements.
Notice the following items in order to reach the purpose:


1. Mind lead power and spiritual imagination
Master Wang Xiang Zhai said in one book that all the power is from spirit. So spirit is very important to Shili. When you are practicing, please pay attention to three aspects:

  1.1 Whole of imagination and mind inducing
Training and utilizing Hun Yuan Li is the core of Yi Quan(Yi Chuan) and Hun Yuan Li¡¯s most prominent character is the integrity namely being full and balanced power in body controlled by the level of coordination of nerve and muscle. If the two works well, the body will be a unity of power. The imagination and mind inducing can decide if nerve and muscle work together well. For example the posture of hanging hands Shili, you can imagine that you put your hands into maltose. At this time if you just think your hands are in maltose, it means that you don¡¯t pay attention to the whole of idea and get partial effect. So we should extend our idea to the complete body in maltose (even the universe is a big maltose). Because the maltose is very sticky, you cannot move with both arms. You can move a little just depending on the whole body¡¯s power. When you are often keeping yourself in this kind of thinking, you can spread the mind to all parts of the body and irritate all nerves and muscles of the body to work together and effectively.

  1.2 Authenticity of imagination and mind inducing
When we are imagining something to train all the nerves and muscles, the most important is to focus on its authenticity. Why? Is it same effect if you hit on the opponent¡¯s head slightly with smile or heavily with outrage? There are some people who cannot concentrate on mind and feel the strength carefully in exercises, their nerves and muscles can be irritated effectively? Can he defend himself in fierce combat? So the authenticity of imagination and mind inducing will decide your performance and morale in combat. Take the authenticity of imagination and mind inducing for example; firstly you should concentrate on mind highly, like leopard waiting in stillness before capturing animals. Then when you move, your action should be slow and slight. So you feel the tiny changes of the body, like swimming in the air. If you feel more it means that you are at all attention. The theory is same as drinking tea. If you drink slowly you can taste more.
Therefore you should care more authenticity than the whole of imagination and mind inducing. In this way it can not only irritate all the nerves and muscles but also do very well.

  1.3 Different exercise stage of Imagination and mind inducing
Everything is developed in different stages and each stage also has different characteristics which push things to develop forward.
So at the beginning of Shili exercise, you can imagine your whole body in the maltose and the stickiness is not too much. But with more awareness of it, you will feel more and more resistance force. Finally you can think the whole universe is a big maltose and you are moving slowly and difficultly in the air with rubbing between air and muscle.
Why talks about the stage? Because at the primary level you haven¡¯t the standard postures. If you imagine more you will make your nerve and muscle tense, which also affects the conversion of tightness and relaxation of muscles. So at first Shili should be practiced step by step.

2. Combined with Natural, soft and relaxing body postures.
Everyone practices Shili on the principle of relaxing and comfortable postures. If you want to reach this level, just keep your body and mind relaxing. And in order to get more power, you cannot be very tense because at the moment of outburst of power your muscle is very tight and hard. If your muscle is very tight at the beginning, how to make power burst out? At the same time it is not completely relaxing. Just relax your posture and tighten your mind. Some beginners always cannot practice Shili slowly because they cannot calm down.

3. Recognize and utilize ¡°the conversion of tightness and relaxation of muscle¡± properly.
3.1 Understand the differences of conversion of tightness and relaxation of muscle on the condition of Pole Standing and Shili. On the premise of attention of imagination and mind inducing you can continue getting power from the conversion which means changing of the feeling from still Pole Standing to dynamic Shili. Pole Standing and Shili are essentially all the conversion of tightness and relaxation of muscle, but the ways of feeling are different. Pole Standing is a very short conversion, Shili longer one because of body and limb movement and space extension.
Take pushing horizontally Shili for example; push both hands forward and slowly under the compulsion of mind with relaxing body. This is the combination of movements of nerve, muscle and body, so you are a little tight. When you push forward in a certain distance, just stop and relax. Don¡¯t draw back hastily after relaxation. You should feel if you are unified as a whole and pulled by outside force. When everything is ready, you can restore yourself to original posture.
 
   Notice the followings during the conversion of practicing Shili.

3.1.1 When you practice Shili at first, there is a must to follow the strict principle below:
(Relaxation) ¡ú (Tightness) ¡ú (Relaxation)
Beginning Posture Course of Movement Terminal Posture
(During the course of movements there should be no any halt.)

3.1.2 With the enhancement of your level, you can feel more power in practicing. Then you can break the principle of no any halt during the course of movements.
Also take pushing horizontally Shili for example, firstly push forward from relaxing body and stop suddenly and continue pushing. After repeating the same several postures, you can finish the complete postures.
(Relaxation) ¡ú (Conversion of Relaxation and Tightness) ¡ú Relaxation
Beginning Posture Course of Movements Terminal Posture

3.2 Understand the purpose and meaning of conversion of relaxation and tightness of Shili
The consistent conversion can make you more powerful with training of consciousness of contacting point. In Shili exercises by two persons (pushing hands) you will practice with uncertain and changing contacting points. During the changing period of contacting point, the deficiency in conversion will be expressed.

4. The conversion in Shili exercises is key part of training Zheng Li (the wholly unified power).

The power includes many kinds such as storing, springing, bombing, and braking and so on.
Yi Quan(Yi Chuan) Shili can be divided into 4 categories, total 12 kinds of Shili.

 4.1 Three Basic Shili: Pushing horizontally Shili, Hands                 sweeping Shili and Opening and closing Shili.
 4.2 Three Pushing hands Shili: Ball pressing Shili, Hook-like         hanging Shili and Hanging separately.
 4.3 Three Body posture Shili: Body whirling Shili, Body waving Shili     and Tortoise out of water Shili
 4.4 Three Attack Shili: Body side punching Shili, Punching forward     Shili and Punching circle wise.

After grasping the core of principle and theory of Yi Quan(Yi Chuan) Shi Li, how should we deepen our practice of Shi Li? We can follow the next three steps:

  1) Non-moving Shili
  2) Shili with movements
  3) High-level Shili with no fixed taolu


Once passing successfully these steps, you can find your martial aptitude in combat, increased accordingly as to confirm the effectiveness of exercises such Shili in free-fighting.

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