xing yi quan
Within Chinese Wushu there is a division between the internal and external styles and within the internal branch there are three main styles. Most people are familiar with Taiji Quan and many are also familiar with Bagua Zhang. But Xing Yi Quan is not as well known outside of Asia even though it predates the other two internal styles.
The meaning of the name
Xing Yi Quan is translated as "Form and Meaning Boxing". It has also gone by the names Xinyi Quan ("Free-Mind Boxing"), Xinyi Liuhe Quan ("Free-Mind Six-Combination Boxing") and Liuhe Quan ("Six-Combination Boxing"). There are two beliefs as to the meaning of the name Xing Yi ("Form and Meaning"). The first is that this style combines the mental and physical aspects of the form. The second is that the style is an interpretation of the meaning of different animal movements.
The original name of Xing Yi Quan was Xinyi Liuhe Quan ("Free-Mind Six-Combination Boxing"). It was called this because of the 6 harmonies that the practitioner needed to coordinate. Three internal harmonies consisted of the heart harmonizing with the intent, intent harmonizing with the Qi (internal energy) and the Qi harmonizing with the physical body. The three external harmonies consisted of the shoulders coordinating with the hips, the elbows coordinating with the knees and the hands coordinating with the feet. This emphasis on mind-body harmony is still prevelant in today's Xing Yi Quan.
The history of Xing Yi Quan
The exact details of Xing Yi Quan's origins are unknown. There are some who attribute Xing Yi Quan's creation to Yue Fei (1103 - 1141), a famous general of the Sung Dynasty. However, the first reliable historical records refers to a practitioner named Ji Jike (1602 - 1683), also known as Ji Longfeng, of Shanxi Province. During Ji Jike's travels to Henan Province he passed his art on to Zeng Jiwu. The style was subsequently passed on to Ma Xueli in Henan Province and Dai Longbang in Shanxi Province.
Today there are three main regional styles of Xing Yi Quan. Shanxi style is compact, delicate and forceful, the Henan style is powerful and vigorous and the Hebei style stresses balance, sturdiness and relaxed postures.
Characteristics of Xing Yi Quan
Within the forms of Xing Yi Quan the Shanxi and Hebei styles both use three postures of the body, five major movements (axing, bursting, penetrating, hurling and traversing) and imitations of 12 animals (dragon, tiger, monkey, horse, turtle, chicken, hawk, swallow, snake, owl, eagle and bear). The Henan style differs in that it imitates just 10 animals (dragon, tiger, chicken, eagle, snake, horse, cat, monkey, hawk and swallow).
However, even though there are elements of animal imitation in the form, don't expect the practitioner of Xing Yi Quan to jump around like a monkey and soar like a hawk. The forms themselves are very rooted and stable with quick bursts of energy following each other in a succession of strikes. It's a very direct, linear style with emphasis on application. This is why it is so appropriate for Yulaw's character -- a man with a singular purpose in life: to become The One.
Bagua Zhang, one of the three main internal styles of Chinese martial arts (Taiji Quan and Xing Yi Quan being the other two), has enjoyed much popularity in both China and the rest of the world. Similarly to Taiji Quan, there are many schools and styles of Bagua Zhang, but they all share a common thread and philosophy -- that of a circular balance.
The meaning of the name
Bagua Zhang literally translated means "8-trigram palm" or "8-diagram palm". The style is based partially on the eight combinations of three whole and broken lines used in Daoist (Taoist) I-Ching divination. Practioners utilize eight basic palm plays with an additional 64 palm tricks deriving from the basic eight.
The history of Bagua Zhang
There are different stories about the origins of Bagua Zhang ranging from anti-Qing Dynasty cliques to Daoist priests from Sichuan Province. Regardless of it's origins it seems that many different styles of Bagua Zhang have developed over the years.
The Dong Haichuang styles orinated with Dong Haichuan, a native of Hebei Province who played an important part in the dissemination of Bagua Zhang. Many of his students are well known practioners of Bagua Zhang including Yin Fu, Cheng Tinghua, Liu Gengchun and LI Cunyi. Some of the Bagua Zhang styles are named after these people such as Cheng-style, Liang-style and Sun-style.
Li Zhengqing (1830-1900), also known as the Yin Yang (Positive - Negative) Bagua Zhang Li, went to Henan Province from Hebei Province to learn Yin Yang Bagua Zhang in order to improve his existing Bagua Zhang technique. After returning home in 1870 he continued to teach this style to his villagers. In 1937 a follower of his, Ren Zhicheng, wrote a book entitled "Yin Yang Bagua Zhang" which is still studied today.
Another interesting style of Bagua Zhang comes from Tian Ruhong. Tian, who also practiced a form of Yin Yang Bagua Zhang was a native of Shandong Province but moved to Hebei province in the late Ming Dynasty. Once while on tour in Sichuan Province Tian saw some criminal activity and tried to exact justice. Two Daoist priests rescued him when he was having problems and from that point on he acknowledge them as his wushu tutors and followed them for the next 12 years. After the beginning of the Qing Dynasty Tian returned home but resented the autocracy of the local authorities and left again. He took a youngster named Tian Xuan with him and taught him his style of Yin Yang Bagua Zhang. Years later Tian Xuan returned to his home fillage in Shandong Province and taught the style to other Tian family members. Until recently the style was only taught in this village to these family members.
Characteristics of Bagua Zhang
Bagua Zhang is practiced by walking in circles with palms open. The movement is based on a circular, balanced theory. When the upper body protrudes, the lower body retreats; when the arms are sent out, the feet are drawn back. It's movements are almost snake-like has it weaves and twists in circular patterns around the opponent. It's balanced nature makes it a perfect complement to the character Gabe, who's life is in a comfortable balance.