It would be quite a shame if the results of Yi Chuan practice were only useful for self defense. Fortunately they are not.
To make use of strength, flexibility, balance, awareness and other gains achieved through Yi Chuan practice you need to play with them in your other activities. Here are some examples of how Yi Chuan achievements have helped me improve other activities I enjoy:
Hiking – I have always enjoyed a good hike. After moving to California it got a bit more challenging, especially on the steep hills of San Francisco and long accents on Mt. Tam. Overtime I have been able to incorporate Yi Chuan footwork principals into my every day stride. What used to be tortuous (climbing tot he top of Russian hill) became almost effortless. Yi Chuan training helped me change the way I was using gravity and become much more efficient in transferring my weight. I also learned how to use my hiking time to directly practice Yi Chuan footwork, often practicing stepping patterns for miles at a time on the lonely back trail of China Camp State Park.
Surfing & SUP – After moving to California I learned to surf and later stand up paddleboard. While improved balance from Yi Chuan practice has certainly helped with both pursuits there have been some unexpected cross-benefits. By applying Yi Chuan’s method of ‘folding’ to connect two movements without breaking unity I was able to greatly improve my paddling speed and efficiency while surfing. Getting bigger waves, more of them and taking fewer close-outs on the head were the results. In SUP, I found that the method of applying leverage in push hands practice resulted in being able to put more power into each paddle stroke.
Snowboarding – Like with surfing & SUP moving to California allowed me to learn how to snowboard. Here it was sensing strength exercises where you are constantly amending your alignment with gravity that helped me hone and refine my turning skills. In a relatively short amount of time I went from scratching and skidding my way down the hills to carving and gliding, from out of control runs down blues and greens into the trees, gullies and black diamond chutes. Kicking out to the groomed to get to the lift I would literally practice swimming body excessive and feel the exact same thickness and sense of unity I feel in normal practice.
Hunting – The state of unity, awareness and presence cultivated in Yi Chuan is very naturally aligned with hunting. Walking slowly and silently, holding still for long periods of time and quieting the mind so as not to miss little bits of movement all directly apply. I further found that activating the frame helped me to maintain my core temperature allowing me to stay out in cold conditions longer, particularly when on the stand. And of course Yi Chuan requirements of linking and extending the intent result in more accuracy with bow or gun.
Therapy – While I have no formal training I often help my friends and family allieveiate pain and discomfort with massage and adjustment techniques I have picked up over the years. Yi Chuan practice has helped me improve these skills quite a bit. By uniting my frame and ‘listening’ to my patient I can find knots hidden in deep tissue and find just the right angle to adjust. Using my frame as a whole also gives more much greater leverage to apply and I can work on someone for quite a while without tiring.
I’m not the only one to experience the benefits of Yi Chuan practice in other activities. My friend Keith has experienced real improvement in meditation and even golf from applying Yi Chuan principals and achievements. My friend Jeffery often speaks of how his artwork has advanced, how he benefits from applying internal orbit while riding his motorcycle on busy bay area roads and how what he is learning has helped him really unlock the Fu style Bagua he learned years ago.