Xing Yi Quan is one of the big three “internal” styles of Chinese Martial Arts. The other two are Ba Gua Zhang and Taiji Quan. Xing Yi Quan translates to Form and Mind/Intention Boxing. The main emphasis of every style of martial art is to integrate the mind and the body. Xing Yi Quan training is designed for just this purpose. The goal is to have the mind/intention shape the form or postures. The forms and progression of training in Xing Yi Qun are structured and progressive and make this art unique and powerful.
The movements of the forms are not flowery. The forms are usually just one movement that is repeated over and over across the floor, then a turning movement, and the form is repeated back across the floor. The stepping is either straight or in a zigzag pattern. The outward appearance of the forms can be deceiving to onlookers because outwardly the forms look elementary or basic. This is not the case. These simple looking movements are actually very complex and contain a depth that only long term practice can reveal. Because of the small number of movements in the forms the practitioner can concentrate on training body connection, training mind intent, and unifying the mind intent with the actions. The forms are mainly a way to train Fa Jing or release of power.
Three Stages of Practice
Xing Yi Quan practice places a lot of emphasis on developing structure. Once this structure is developed then the emphasis is on coordination of the body/ 6 harmonies. There are three stages of practice which correspond to the attainment of the practitioner (Ming Jing, Ann Jing, Hua Jing). These stages refer to obvious power, hidden power, and mysterious power. In the beginning the student must practice with hard power that is very obvious. This stage is referred to as the Ming Jing(obvious power) level and the power is rooted in the wrist. Over time the internal and external harmonies are developed and the power becomes rooted deeper in the body (meaning the body is more integrated and the movements less gross and more coordinated). This stage corresponds to Ann Jing (hidden power) and the power is rooted in the elbow. The last stage is Hua Jing (mysterious power). At this stage the power is rooted in the Yao (waist).
San Ti Shi
The first and most important training is San Ti Shi (Three Body Posture). This is a static posture that is held to develop structure, root, cultivate alignment, train the tendons, strengthen the legs, and as a Nei Gong(internal exercise). When standing in this stance there are 24 requirements that must be adhered to. These are handed down through verse and consist of eight sets of three requirements. It can be said that San Ti Shi is Xing Yi Quan.
The forms of Xing Yi Quan can be seen as moving San Ti Shi. All the requirements that must be conformed to while standing still must also be observed while moving through the forms this includes all the transitions between postures. The structure that is trained while holding San Ti Shi must be present at all times. This structure holds the potential for power release or Fa Jing at any moment.
The Five Element forms are the core forms. These forms train different ways to release power or Fa Jing. Each form corresponds to one of the Five Elements (Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth) and trains a different release of power. Pi Quan (Splitting) corresponds to metal. Zuan Quan (Drilling) corresponds with water. Beng Quan (Crushing) corresponds to wood. Pao Quan (Pounding) corresponds to fire. Heng Quan (Crossing) corresponds to earth.
As stated, practicing these elements develop different types of power. The elements are also interrelated and these relationships are also studied. The generating sequence: Metal produces Water. Water produces Wood. Wood produces Fire. Fire produces Earth. Earth produces Metal. The destruction or control cycle sequence: Metal destroys Wood. Water destroys Fire. Wood destroys Earth. Fire destroys Metal. Earth destroys Water.
Zuan Quan (Drilling Fist): Water Element – Like lightening
Beng Quan (Crushing Fist): Wood Element – Like an arrow
Pao Quan (Pounding Fist): Fire Element – Like firing a cannon
Heng Quan (Crossing Fist): Earth Element – Round like a marble
Xing Yi Quan 12 Animals
The 12 animal forms train different variations of the energies learned by practicing the five elements. These forms are also used to condition different pats of the body. The 12 animals are:
- Tai Bird
- Sparrow Hawk
When the student is learning the 12 Animal Froms there are also additional forms in the curriculum that combine the movements of the Five Elements and the Animals together. These linking forms are learned at different points in the training. These forms enhance the practitioner’s skill by introducing combinations of techniques that are more applicable in fighting situations. These forms include:
- Wu Xing Lian Wan Quan
- Ji Xing Si Ba
- Ba Shi Tui
- Zha Shi Tui
- Shi Er Hong Tui
Xing Yi 2 Person Practice
There are also several partner forms so that students can practice applications and learn how to use the movements in fighting situations. These drills also train reaction, timing, and distance.
Xing Yi weapons are not only for combat but the practice with weapons also works to further condition the body enhancing the open hand training and applications. Xing Yi Quan weapons include Sword, Broadsword, and Staff.