He Chi Chuan™

He Chi Chuan™ is a protocol. A step by step method for teaching and learning self-defense. It is an elegant synthesis of principles and techniques from various Asian martial arts with the end result being an effective approach to empty hand combat.

A He Chi Chuan™ practitioner is in effect a student of Tai Chi, Xing Yi, Qi Gong, meditation, medicine and a student of “one’s self”.


As stated above, He Chi Chuan™ is a methodical process or a pedagogical approach to teaching and learning self-defense.  It is not a new martial art or system. Instead it is a well thought out and structured Gong Fu curriculum created for Western students by Fernando Bernall, AP, DOM., from his thirty years of study and training in martial arts.

Guiding Principles

Relaxation is paramount if a martial arts student is to succeed in attaining higher levels of practice. It is a salient feature in He Chi Chuan™ practice. A tense body is inefficient during combat since muscular and mental tension impede proper execution of basic techniques and resolves into using brute muscular force.

It is, however, difficult to not become tense during actual confrontation and an uncontrolled response to the natural “fight or flight” mechanism the body invokes during danger can and often leads to a disastrous outcome. It is exactly this natural process of the sympathetic system that a He Chi Chuan™ student learns to monitor through the practice of several disciplines including Tai Chi, Push- hands, Xing Yi, Qi Gong and meditation.

The Core

The primary methods of training in He Chi Chuan™ is Tai Chi’s Push hands practice and zhan zhuang or Standing Post practice. This Google link has indexed several thousand pages relating to push hands. And this Google link also has a large collection of pages related to Standing practice.  The interested reader should view these pages for a further understanding of our approach within He Chi Chuan™ practice.

The Disciplines

In the practice of Push Hands and zhan zhuang, the student embraces the art of Tai Chi Chuan. When I speak of Tai Chi Chuan, I wish to differentiate it from the Tai Chi that is commonly taught in Wellness center, YMCA, yoga centers, new age churches and so on. The difference between the two is in the use of the term “Chuan” which from the Chinese language we translate into fist, boxing, pugilism. In other words, within He Chi Chuan™ context, Tai Chi Chuan is not some type of spiritual journey or some method to balance one’s chakras. It is an art of combat which, when properly practiced, yields health benefits and places the student in a path of self-cultivation but only as a side effects of mindful practice.

Tai Chi Chuan requires daily solo practice. Without a daily regime of practice and introspection the student will never reach any levels of proficiency. The body of a Tai Chi Chuan student undergoes structural and physiological transformations. The bones become denser, the fascia thicker, pliable and free of tension. These structural changes are necessary if one is to use the body as one unit during combat and eminent for the flow of Chi through the meridians and collaterals.

He Chi Chuan™ incorporates within it’s teaching protocol the 108 postures Yang style of Tai Chi Chuan as taught to me by Dr. Wu, Shi Cun, in Chicago.

Xing Yi

Xing Yi Quan, also spelled Hsing-I Chuan is a powerful, devastating Chinese martial art and a sister art to Tai Chi Chuan. It is incorporated into He Chi Chuan™ practice for its effective strikes and 12 animal forms.  Xing Yi is the oldest of the Chinese internal martial arts and has a long proven history in the battle field. As a method of self defense it is easier to learn than Tai Chi Chuan, although mastering the art takes a lifetime of concentrated practice.

From Xing Yi, He Chi Chuan™ students learn the Five Fists. These sets are practiced solo and with a partner. When the Five Fists of Xing Yi are employed within the framework of Tai Chi push hands, the student becomes much more effective in close range fighting. After all, actual hand to hand combat is always close range and the ability and skill to deliver powerful strikes within close proximity of the attacker is highly desired and few attain it due to poor training.

From Xing Yi, students are instructed on San Ti Shi. This component of practice is part of our Zhan Zhuang training or standing post practice.


I hope to have shared with you enough information about some of the aspects of He Chi Chuan™ and I wish to reiterate that He Chi Chuan™ is not a new martial arts at all. It is only my way of sharing three related disciplines from Chinese martial arts in a cohesive, structured and dynamic approach. The prospective student should also understand that this class requires participation in push-hands practice. If a student does not wish to be touched, then this class is not for you. Self-defense is a hands-on study and conceptualizing, visualizing and any other little mind game one wishes to play cannot substitute for actual input from a partner’s touch and an experienced instructor..


Fernando Bernall
Saint Augustine, FL