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Xingyi Quan


Xingyi Quan, is one of the most well known styles of traditional Chinese Wushu. Xingyi Quan, Bagua Zhang and Taiji Quan are generally categorized as Nei Jia Quan (Internal Styles).

Xingyi Quan evolved from Xinyi Liuhe Quan. After 1856, Li Luoneng from Hebei province became famous for  creating and spreading Xingyi Quan. The style’s principles are to extract meaning from the form, that is to not simply imitate the shape but to draw the intent from it.  With that, Xingyi Quan is a style that meaning, intent and movement have to be unified.

 The theory of Xingyi Quan is derived from traditional Chinese culture of Yin and Yang and the five elements,  to elaborate on the law of motion in the five element techniques, and uses the  twelve animal forms and characteristics which result in practical attack and defence techniques. Xingyi Quan uses Santishi post standing as its basic training, and the five elements fist techniques of Piquan (Splitting Fist), Zuanquan (Drilling Fist), Bengquan (Crushing Fist), Paoquan (Cannon Fist) and Hengquan (Crssing Fist) as the core techniques or mother fists.

The Twelve Animals include Dragon, Tiger, Monkey, Horse, Water Lizard, Rooster, Swallow, Sparrow Hawk,Tai Bird, Snake, Eagle and Bear. The Eight Skills include spreading, intercepting, wrapping, bridging, scooping, butting, passing and guiding. In order to enhance attack and defence,  improve skill and enrich technique, Xingyi Quan includes training with the four main weapons of Chinese Wushu, namely Dao (Broadsword), Jian (Straigtsword), Gun (Cudgel) and Qiang (Spear) as well as other rare weapons.

Traditionally, the well known Xingyi Quan routines includes Wuxing Lianhuan Quan, Advancing and Retreating Lianhuan Quan, Xingyi Bashi Quan, Za Shi Chui, Shi Er Hong Chui, An Shen Chui, Ba Zi Gong Lianhuan Quan, Xingyi Lian Quan, Xingyi Liu Shi Si Shi, Xingyi Zonghequan, Wu Xing Lianhuan Dao, Wuxing Lianhuan Jian, Wuxing Lianhuan Gun, Wuxing Zonghe Gun, Wuxing Lianhuan Qiang, Xingyi Da Qiang Ba Shi, Xingyi Shi San Qiang, Xingyi Liuhe Da Qiang etc. There are also rare weapons such as Lin Jiao Dao, Lu Jaio Jue, Metal Chopsticks etc.

Sparring Routines include; Jiao Shou Pao, Wuxing Pao, Wuhua Pao, An Shen Pao, San Shou Pao, Jiu Tao Lianhuan Pao, Shi Shou Pao, Sanhe Jian Duilian, Dui Pi Dao etc. Different Xingyi Quan lines include sets of neigong (Internal) training methods, which are very useful to improve one’s Xingyi Quan, and these are generally kept secret from the general public.

Xingyi Quan improves ones health and strengthens your body and its functions, develops self defence and combat ability, pays great attention to internal strength and spirit development, and improves ones personality overall. The techniques of Xingyi Quan are simple, and incorporate whole body power  which develops skill quickly, which is highly effective for self defence. These merits have made Xingyi Quan one of the most popular styles of Chinese Wushu today.

The core principles of Xingyi Quan are “The elbows do not leave the ribs ; The hands do not leave the centre;  the hands extend and retract tightly” ; “Drilling, Overturning , extending and retracting” ; “Twisting, turning, back and forth” ; “Rising drilling, sinking overturning” ; “Upper Body Characteristics of compact and tight movements”

“When advancing the front foot steps first, when retreating the rear foot steps first ; when advancing the back foot follows closely, when retreating the front foot must follow” ; “Stepping like a plough toiling the earth,placing the feet as if a rooted tree"”  ; “The footwork is fast and stable”

“The hand and foot arrive at the same time, rising and falling together, the trinities in harmony, internal and external six harmonies, display the characteristic of co-ordinated unity.”

“Rising like the wind, falling like an arrow, quickly knocking your opponent down but still feeling its slow,  moving boldly, attacking fiercly and selflessly”. Displayng direct and fast attack, courageous and skilled in battle, with unique attack and defence, always striving for success.”

Xingyi Quan features a grand and imposing attitude with full power, open and stable posture, with a clear and defined contrast in static and dynamic movements, with neat and co-ordinated hand and footwork, and form, power, breath, intent and spirit in unity.

In Xingyi Quan, there are three deep goals: train the essence to transform the energy; train the energy to transform the spirit; train the spirit to transform to emptiness.

Traditionally it is said that by practicing Xingyi Quan you can attain a healthy body, a strong body and develop a high level of internal strength. Xingyi Quan has an internal programme which is rich in content and its techniques are also complete with effective martial and practical value. This internal training, which is generally kept secret, gives its practitioners effective results from regular training.

All previous Xingyi Quan generations, through diligent training and studying, have written a lot about the true essence of the style. These include old boxing manuals, theses, and research  material, which have carried forward for us to use today as invaluable sources of information to learn from,  and to develop and improve Xingyi Quan into the future. The essence and legacy of traditional wushu is to continually refine and improve theory and skills, moving forward and developing the arts for future generations.

My Xingyi Quan teacher, Grandmaster Zhao Zhong was a well known practitioner in Hai Dian District (Beijing), he was my first teacher. Grandmaster Zhao Zhong’s teacher was Master Liu Huapu, who’s teacher was Shang Yunxiang. Shang Yunxiang’s teacher was Li Cunyi,  and his teacher was Liu Qilan. Liu Qilan was a student of Li Luoneng, who was the creator of Xingyi Quan. That makes me a 7th generation inheritor of the style.

Li Cunyi Shang Yunxiang

I am very fond of Xingyi Quan, which I have studied and researched extensively, concentrating very deeply to study and understand its theory.  Through many decades of researching numerous Xingyi Quan manuals, and by asking and learning from seniors and older generations, the style has permeated my entire existence. I want to give all my knowledge forward to others who are deeply interested in Xingyi Quan, to make the art shine into the future.

Di Guoyong (Beijing) February 2005

(Translated by Byron Jacobs, May 2010)

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