most famous general of China - Yue Fei
Yi Quan is the most ancient internal style: its founder, even though there is
no historical evidence, is said to be the General Yue Fei (1103 Ė 1141 A. D.),
a heroic soldier and incorruptible army leader who was sentenced to death by
the Emperor underhand convinced by a Minister, jealous of the generalís glory.
first historical evidences about this style go back to the end of Ming dynasty
(1644 A.D.), when a kungfu practitioner named Ji Ji Ke (also known as Ji Long
Feng), from Shan Xi Province, claimed to have found on the wall of a crumbling
temple on the Zhong Nan mountain a "text" containing martial
techniques deriving from the imitation of animals; Yue Fei was considered the
author of this text named "Yue Wu Mu boxing illustrated manual".
Ji Ji Ke studied the manual and practised
the exercises by developing the basis of a style which was later called Xing Yi
Quan (heart, mind and intention boxing).
Ji Ke transmitted the style to two students: Ma Xue Li and Cao Ji Wu; this last
had, among the others, a student called Dai Long Bang, a rich Shan Xi merchant.
day Dai Long Bang, riding through the town streets, met Li Luo Neng, an expert
of external styles, who was also riding. The road was narrow and only one horse
could pass through but the opposing parties didnít want to give way one for the
other: in those hard times they decided to solve the question with a fight in
which the self-confident Li was easily defeated by Daiís Xing Yi Quan. Since
then Li Luo Neng begged Dai to accept him as a student but Dai always refused;
Li eventually decided to give up his activities and began to sell vegetables by
living a poor life. Every day he used
Tai Gu town of Shan Xi Province, famous masters of Xing
Yi Quan, Guo Yun Shen, Che Yi Zhai
go to Daiís place and gave the Master his vegetables until
Daiís mother asked him why he was selling vegetables to people and giving it
for free to her son, who was famous for being a rich man.
Li explained that he hoped to study
with Dai and the woman, deeply affected, ordered her son to accept him as a
student: for ten years Li had been studying and practising Xing Yi Quan by
reaching a very high level and creating the new style of the He Bei region, which
is today the most practised.
Li became then famous for his
ability and transmitted his art to ten students, a great number according to
internal styles tradition.
Guo Yun Shen
Famous of the whole China with Beng
them there are the most famous fighters of the 19th Century: Che Yi
Zhai, Liu Chi Lan and Guo Yun Sheng, the famous teacher of Wang Xiang Zhai.
Each of them preferred a specific technique, which represented the only
teaching for the new students during the first years of practice: Liu Chi Lan,
for instance, made his son Liu Wen Hua practice only the axe punch (Pi Quan)
for nine years before teaching him all the other techniques of the style.Such a teaching method
helped on one hand to test the will and character of the students and, on the
other, to make them understand the profound principles of the art and train
mind and energy through static positions and, later, with one single technique.
Liu Wen Hua
Praticed 9 years only of Pi Quan, son
of Liu Qi Lan
Yang Lin Sheng with his Kung-Fu brothers and students
showing the Dragon of 12 Animals
Masters of Xin Yi Quan, now
called Xing Yi Quan (form and mind boxing), always showed amazing fighting
skills, and they often served Emperors as bodyguards or as merchantsí caravan
The long and tiring training of one
single technique was applied also in the 20th Century: Liu Wen Hua,
the son of Liu Chi Lan, is famous for defeating opponents with his right hand
by keeping his characteristic long pipe in his left. He had been practising Pi
Quan for nine years, four hours per day, and trained with the same method his
student Guo Pei Yun, teacher of Yang Lin Sheng.
Nowadays this style is based on the
ďFive ElementsĒ cosmological theory, expressed through the forces which
characterise the first five punches: Pi Quan - metal, Beng Quan -wood, Zuan
Quan - water, Pao Quan - fire and Heng Quan - earth. As a matter of facts, Wang
Xiang Zhai gave a more plausible and flexible interpretation explaining that
the Five Elements forces have to be contained in each punch, so that Pi Quan
will be as sharp as an axe, fluid as water, stable as earth and explosive as
Such a visualisation is the peculiarity of the style, which is based
on the realisation of an idea; the progressive loss of this principle
mistakenly led people to give too much attention to the mechanical execution of
techniques, to the prejudice of concentrated intention (Yi Nian); this
involution of the art induced Wang Xiang Zhai to found a style directly
connected with the origin of internal styles: to this purpose he eliminated
from the name the ideogram Xing (form or fixed technique) by creating Yi Quan.
After having learned the Five
Elements (Wu Xing), the students practice the 12 animals routines (Shi Er
Xing): once again one should pay attention to the spirit of the animal and
recover its refined instinct, while it often happens that techniques are completely
separated from intention.
Single Xing Yi Quan movements can be
finally gathered in short sequences, although the original style does not have
pre-established forms; at high levels one may study also weapons, which are,
according to Xie Tie Fuís definition, a great Xing Yi Master, "nothing
more than bodyís continuations".