Xing-Yi Quan: Body-Mind Boxing
Xing-yi Quan is another soft, or internal martial art, which is often mentioned in the same breath as Taijiquan, despite being different in many ways. Like Taijiquan the training emphasizes the development of qi, or energy, however, the movements of xing-yi quan are dynamic and powerful, and the fighting philosophy is not passive, like that of Taijiquan.
It is possibly the oldest martial art still in existence in china. Xing-yi quan was developed in imitation of the fighting techniques and spirit of twelve animals. There are different schools of xing-yi quan which promote different animal styles, but the standard form consists of the dragon, tiger, horse, money, chicken, harrier, Chinese ostrich, swallow, eagle, bear, water lizard and snake. Each animal must be understood in terms of its shape and intention or idea.
Before studying the animal forms, the student must start with the five punches that are building blocks of xing-yi quan. The five punches are Pi, Beng, Zuan, Pao, and Heng; each one must be studied in turn until perfect. In general, each punch is practiced while stepping up and down in a straight line and then put together into a linking set. Each punch represents one of the five elements of Chinese philosophy: Pi (metal), Beng (wood), Zuan (water), Pao (fire) and Heng (earth).
The punches reflect the cycle of conquest and creation implicit in the life of the five elements: fire conquers metal, metal conquers wood, wood conquers earth, earth conquers water and water conquers fire. Alternatively fire produces earth, earth produces metal, metal produces water, water produces wood and wood produces fire.
Xing-yi quan is performed in a relaxed state, emphasizing a calm but observant mind. The movements are quick, intelligent and direct, assisted to their target by a body that must unite all its movements into a threaded whole. Training in the art is punishing and consists of many postures that must be held for a long time in order to develop qi. Attacks are generally met with force rather than with evasive maneuvering like Bagua Zhang, teachers of xing-yi quan are hard to find and are often reticent about the art.
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