There are dozens, possibly hundreds of different styles of Chinese Martial Arts, often referred to as Kung Fu. Kung Fu by the way translates as “time-energy” or “time-work”. Its meaning may not be obvious, but it actually implies skill developed over time with the expenditure of energy or hard work. Any skill can therefore be said to illustrate Kung Fu. So a Premiership footballer could be said to possess Kung Fu (at least some of them!) as could a champion chess player but in the west; Kung Fu tends to be applied only to martial arts.
XingYiQuan, often shortened to XingYi (you’ll also see it written as Hsing I) translates as form-will boxing, in its current form it can trace its origins back to the early 18 Century. However it emerged from a tradition that can be traced to the early 15th century. In many ways it is closely related to the use of the military spear.
As XingYi was a military art intended for battle field use it would make sense to train soldiers an empty hand skill that was complimentary to their spear training, as the spear was the main weapon of Chinese soldiers of that era.
It’s XingYi’s military origins that shapes its character, it’s main strategies tend to be direct and to the point, combining attacking and defensive movements into each technique. At more advanced levels it introduces more complexity and sophistication, but very effective fighting skills can be developed with the basic skills that training starts with.
XingYi initially emphasises two areas; will power and solid basic technique. Most important of these is will power, no amount of technical skill can ever overcome a weak will. Strength of mind is developed by hard physical training. When a person pushes themselves physically they learn a lot about their true character.
So if your looking for an authentic martial art with a proven history of battlefield effectiveness, not a sport or a modern recreation made up by someone, XingYi could be what you’re looking for.
XingYi’s basic training has three core aspects; Post Standing, Physical Conditioning and Five Fist drills.
Post Standing (Zhuan Gong), is based around the holding of various postures for increasing lengths of time. The postures are designed to strengthen the muscles and joints, the main aim of this is to help the body develop power in its striking techniques, it also has the benefit of reducing injuries. As your study develops the holding of the posture becomes a form of meditation and forms the bases of strengthening the will, as mentioned above.
Physical Conditioning, combines stretching and strengthening, this aspect is particularly important as our modern sedentary life can make our bodies weak and stiff. This training can be enhanced by practising Dao Yin (Yoga).
Five Fists, these are the key hand striking methods, the training drills develop good coordination, enabling you to generate power throughout your body. XingYi’s approach to strikes, goes back to its battlefield origins. Hitting out against an opponent, to some degree, always exposes you to a counter attack. So when you do hit you hit hard with everything you’ve got.
PiQuan - Splitting
ZuangQuan - Drilling