Introduction to Xing Yi
Xing Yi Quan is known as one of the excellent Chinese traditional internal styles, emphasizing not only on training the body but, crucially, also: the mind. Xingyi is a unity between the external forms and internal energy.
Xingyi Quan originated from the Xinyi Liuhe boxing style and formed a unique character of its own. It is believed to have been developed by Song Dynasty wushu hero and general, Yue Fei and gained wide spread popularity during the Qing Dynasty. Xingyi means to imitate the shape (Xing in Chinese) while fully understanding the meaning (Yi in Chinese). It pays much attention to the combination of both inner and outer exercise. Through incorporating the physical forms, the concentration of mind with the combination of the internal and external practice, Xingyi is a very effective combat technique.
Xingyi Quan uses the Yin and Yang and the five elements theory (Wuxing in Chinese) of Chinese traditional culture to describe the movements. The technique and theory can be summed up by the five elements) metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. The content and theory of the five elements, based on traditional Chinese philosophy, inspired the Xingyi Fist and weapon forms. The five elements correspond to the five forms of Xingyi Fist: Chopping Fist, Beng Fist, Zuan Fist, Pao fist, and Heng’s fist.
In addition, these are 12 shapes of technique: Dragon, Tiger, Monkey, Horse, Crocodile, Bear, Sparrowhawk, Swallow, Eagle, Snake, Cat, and Crane. The movements emphasize six combinations, which include three internal combinations and three external combinations. The “3 Internals” are the combination between “right effort” and consciousness (mind), between the consciousness and the “Internal Qi” and between the “Internal Qi” and Internal strength. The “3 Externals” are the combinations between the hands and the feet, between the elbows and knees and between the shoulders and arms. The main points are having the agile waist of a dragon, the strong shoulders of a bear, the nimble way of an eagle, and to make sound like thunder.
The practice of Xing Yi
The practice of Xingyi Quan is also helpful in building up the strength of the leg muscles, particularly the thigh muscles. It is also helpful in strengthening the tendons and ligaments of the knees and ankles. As Xingyi Quan focuses on the synchronization of the intention and body, and requires focus, one can certainly improve their focus as well as mental organization. In the standing posture and moving practices, deep dantian breathing is important to maintain which is helpful in lowering stress and bringing clarity of mind.
As in all systems of wushu practice, the fundamentals are most important. In Xingyi Quan, having correct posture is paramount. In practice one starts by first learning the correct posture which is maintained throughout all different aspects of the practice; as can be gleaned from the Three External Harmonies. When practicing Xingyi Quan, one must keep the neck and back straight while at the same time being sure not to tense the muscles and tendons; the hips must be relaxed and dropped while the tailbone is tucked in so that the entire spine is straight – from the base of the skull, to the tip of the tailbone. This practice allows for a natural realigning of the spine as the muscles and tendons in the back begin to relax. For this reason it also promotes a release of tension that may be built up in the neck, shoulders, hips, and waist.