Story / Photo

Xing Yi Quan

Yi Quan

Tai Ji Quan

Ba Gua Zhang

Shao Lin Quan


Story of
Xing Yi Quan

5 Elements

12 Animals


 The most famous general of China - Yue Fei

     Xing 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.
     The 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 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.
      One 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

At 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.

Master Guo Yun Shen
Famous of the whole China with Beng Quan

Among 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. 

Master Liu Wen Hua
Praticed 9 years only of Pi Quan, son of   Liu Qi Lan

Master 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 escorts.
     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 fire.
     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".

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