Chinese Martial Arts at Body-Mind Harmony
As with most styles of Chinese martial arts the origins of xingyiquan (aka hsing-i chuan, xing-i, or hsing yi) are shrouded in mystery. This ancient martial art has been said to elongate the life expectancy and purify the morality of its practitioners, as well as greatly improving their self-defense capabilities(1).
Most attribute at least some important role in xingyi's evolution to General Yue Fei , a legendary hero from the Sung Dynasty (circa 1103-1142 )(2). There are those who suggest that Yue Fei invented xingyi and taught it to his troops(3). Others say Yue Fei learned xingyi from a wandering daoist monk(4). Legend has it that Yue Fe's troops were very effective using his martial techniques, winning many battles before Yue Fei was betrayed by a traitor.
Some say Yu Fei’s martial arts came from the Shaolin tradition and thus credit Da Mo as the original xingyi ancestor(5). The Pachi Tanglang International school website of Master Su Yu-Chang suggests that Yu Fei combined the aspects of the Shaolin and Baji Chuan styles to create xingyi(6). But Yu Fei is also said to have been trained in taiji(7), as were many of the early masters of xingyi(8). Which raises a question as to whether it is properly considered a daoist internal art or is of Buddhist Shaolin descent. Many xingyi practitioners believe that xingyi originated at Wudong Mountain along with taiji(9). Yet others claim that xingyi is a Muslim art that originated in Henan province approximately 350 years ago(10).
While there is no way of knowing precisely its origins, most who have studied the history of xingyi attribute a significant role in its development to Chi Lung Feng (aka Chi Chi Kao, Ji-Jih Kee or Long-Feng)(11).Some say he was given Yu Fei's book about xingyi by a wandering daoist monk at the base of Chand Nan Mountain in Shensi Province(12). While others attribute the creation of xingyi to him. Whatever his role, Chi Lung Feng's disciples made xingyi quite popular in Shansi, Henan and Hubei provinces, and xingyi’s three major styles are named for these provinces. Just as there are different versions of xingyi's origins, there are many versions of the English translation of xingyi. Some say it is best described as "mind-body boxing." Others suggest "form and will boxing(13)." "Shape of mind fist" or "shape of intention" has also been suggested(14).
Whatever the translation it is a powerful, direct martial art that is quite beneficial to the diligent practitioner. The xingyi studied by students of the Wu-Tang Martial Arts Association of Ohio was taught to Master Yang by San Da-chi. The system is based upon 5 basic movements or "fists" and animal forms. The five basic movements are associated with the five element theory. Each posture has a corresponding yin organ and yang organ that it benefits. Practice includes a linking form for the 5 elemental movements as well as two person training drills. There are also a series of animal movements and a linking form for them. The animals include: alligator, dragon, monkey, tiger, snake, horse and others. Weapon training includes the double edge Sansei sword form.
Due to its predominantly linear pattern of movement, Xingyi appears simple and direct. But it is not easy to master. Practitioners must seek to coordinate the motion of their entire body, along with their mind, into one focused action. There is nothing flashy about the style and there are few kicks. Most important is the ability to generate power with the whole body and to focus it into an explosive discharge. Often referred to as a "soft" style or internal martial art, it does not appear as such at first glance. Lacking the soft flowing movements of taiji, and without the captivating twisting and circular motions of baqua its internal character is not readily evident. But the health benefits of xingyi are said to exceed even those of taiji when practiced diligently(15).
©January 31, 1998 by R. Bryan Nace, email@example.com
References for Xingyiquan
1. Chinese Kungfu, CD-ROM by Centrix.
3. Douglas H. Y. Hsieh, Hsing-I Chuan, Unitrade Co. Ltd.(2d printing 1991).
4. Mike Patterson, Hsing-I Chuan: A Means To An End; Hsing-I Martial Arts Institute, see website at www.hsing-i.com.
6.Website of Master Su Yu-Chang of the Pachi Tanglang International Martial Arts Association, Venezuelaen branch, see www.catalogoweb.com/pachi/hsingi_e.htm.
7. Hsieh, supra; and Liang Shou-Yu & Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming.
8. e.g. Tai Lung Pang, Li Lao Nan, Sun Fu Chuan, aka Sun Lu Tang, according to Douglas H. Y. Hsieh, Hsing-I Chuan, (2d printing 1991)Unitrade Co. Ltd.
9. Liang Shou-Yu & Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming, Hsing Yi Chuan - Theory & Applications (1990).
10. Sifu George Xu and Steve Doob, HsingI -- Six Harmonies and Six Body Arts, Kung Fu Magazine, pp. 20-23.
11. Hsieh, supra; Hallender, The Complete Guide To Kung Fu Fighting Styles (1985); William Breazeal; Liang Shou-Yu & Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming, supra.
12. Hsieh, supra; and see Liang Shou-Yu & Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming, supra, (studied with masters in the mountains of Szechuan and Sanxi provinces and obtained a secret book on xingyi written by Yu Fui).
13. Chinese Kungfu, CD-ROM by Centrix.
14. Liang Shou-Yu & Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming, Hsing Yi Chuan - Theory & Applications (1990); Hallender, The Complete Guide To Kung Fu Fighting Styles (1985).
15. Sifu George Xu and Steve Doob, HsingI -- Six Harmonies and Six Body Arts, Kung Fu Magazine, pp. 20-23.
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