Xing Yi (or called Hsing I, Body-Mind Boxing) is an internal martial art very popular in China from the day it got created. It has an important place in the history of Chinese martial arts since its unique characteristics. Xing Yi as a well-developed system was created based on Xin-Yi(Heart-Mind Boxing) through fundamental evolution, such as Stance, basic movements and special quick-pace training method. These changes ensure that people will get maximum martial result in the comparatively short period of time of practice. This style emphasizes the unity of internal and external as one in order to make body generate power for combat; Xing means the body, the external aspect or animal movement parts, and Yi means Mind, the internal aspect or Five-Element part. In Chinese martial art community, Xing Yi has been a dominating style for more than one century. For example, at the national full contact competition which happened in the 1930s, most of the best fighters were from Xing Yi school, or Hebei school. This style does not have any fancy movements, instead of, Xing Yi focus on internal power training and real-situation application. For health purposes, Statistics show that Xing Yi practitioners tend to live longer than other styles' people, Although this style will not emphasizes the health benefits but people will live longer since the internal power make practitioner stronger and healthier. In China, there is a proverb that "Xing Yi does not play games."or "you can not go out the door with Tai Chi before doing it for 10 years but you can kill someone with Xing Yi in 3 years practice.
Xing Yi is generally considered as the oldest of the traditional Chinese internal style if we take the history of Xin yi, the previous style which Xing Yi came from as consideration. The basic theory between these two styles does not have dramatic difference but their practice or the interpretation of the old theory is different. Most people in China believe that the founder of Xin Yi was Ji Jike(or Ji Longfeng, a native of Shanxi province in north China in the late Ming Dynasty (1368--1644) and early Qing Dynasty (1644--1911)) instead of Yue Fei, the famous general of Southern Song Dynasty (960--1279).
The history with written proof which most people believe is: a businessman who lived in Hebei province traveled to Shanxi province after he heard that there was a best style of martial art named Xinyi in Qi town of Shanxi province,. Eventually he learned that style from Dai family(Dai Long bang and Dai Kui, the son of Dai Longbang) who was the only family kept that style among their family members at that time, but in the beginning Dai family refused to teach him since he was not the member of Dai family. This person was the founder of Xing Yi, the legendary master Li Luoneng. Li Luoneng's another name is Li Laoneng, he was born in 1803 and died in 1888. He was from Douwang Village in Hebei province, he loved martial art from a kid. He was very famous already before he learned Xin Yi. He learned Five Elements and 10 animal forms of Xin Yi in Shanxi. Then he created a style named Xing Yi after he mastered the previous style, which was Xin Yi. After he created Xing Yi, he was invited to Taigu, a city of Shanxi province to teach his new art. At that time, he had eight famous students from Hebei province and Shanxi province.At there, he added Tai and Tuo, these two animal forms plus the 10 animal forms he learned from Dai family became the Xing Yi style practice. He changed cat form into tiger form, he created five-element linking form and other routines, especially two person forms for quickly help students master this difficult style. After he passed away, his students kept developing the art which he initially created and promoted it around the north of China.
So that, we can say that Li Luoneng should be the founder of Xing Yi. Many people get confused in China about the progression of the development of this style, even worse, they confused the differences between Xing Yi and Xin Yi. This is why many people call Xin Yi as Shan Xi style Xing Yi. Actually it is totally wrong. Shanxi style Xing Yi was from Heibei style although Xing Yi was from Xin Yi, the style was created in Shanxi. So Xing Yi is Xing Yi, Xin Yi is not Xing Yi. There is no Hebei style Xin Yi although there is Shanxi style Xing Yi.
Now, let's talk about the Hebei style. There are different branches Hebei style as well. All of them share the same characteristics. Most of the time, people without deep training cannot tell the differences between these branches. Overall, there are Li Cunyi branch, Shang Yunxiang branch, Zhang Zhaodong branch, Sun Lutang Branch and Xue Dian branch. If we take Li Luoneng as the first generation of this style, then the third and forth generations really made this style well-developed. Since the first and the second generations did not make a lot of routines and weapon training methods. The later generations abounded this system based on Xing Yi original theory and principle.
When we talk about any style, there are many standard figures of each of them, Xing yi is not exceptional. In the last century, most of these Xing Yi masters learned or practiced in Tianjin, especially Li Cunyi, Zhang Zhaodong and Xue Dian branches since they were the Xing Yi figures back to that time in the Chinese martial art world. The official martial art institute of Tianjin only taught Xing Yi back to that time. Tianjin is the place where people still keep the original practice of this style. When Xing Yi moved to Beijing and other cities of China, Xing Yi have been modified in certain aspects such as for the purpose of demonstration or for health purpose mostly. Some even combine Xing Yi with other styles such as southern Chinese styles. In outside of the mainland of China, some Xing Yi even mixed with Karate, the style from Japan. In order to keep this art pure and the traditional way of practice, we will gradually publish the traditional Xing Yi training material and knowledge from now.
It is the time for people who love Xing Yi, one of the most effective style in combat and health to get the practice back to how the style was practiced in 100 years ago, in order to get the maximum benefits through serious training.
Xing Yi as a such famous style in China have distinctive and unique features, there features are related to the practice, understanding them will help Xing Yi practitioners to master this style.
(1), Focus on power training. In Chinese martial art community, some styles focus more on skills or tracks, some of them focus on power. Xing Yi is one of these styles which power is the most important part of training. The power we are talking here is called internal power, which is the result of whole body coordination includes physical body, mental concentration and breathing technique. Internal power will not exist without movements, so that Xing Yi's simple movement is the media of the power. Analyzing and experiencing how to align the body structure according to the principle of this style is the key of practice. In order to get this standard, we have to follow the traditional way of training, we have to understand the practical experience by fore-generation's masters, we have to test the principle through application. Anyone who wants to master this style should not neglect any points of these principles. The most important difference between internal style and external style is the internal power, so when you get the power then people will say that you have mastered this style.
The advantage of mastering internal power is that in the real combat, the opponent can change their fighting strategy, so that it is very hard to prepare with tracks or prepared movements or skills. But with internal power, people will be able to apply the power according to the opponent's fighting strategy, it means that techniques, movements and skills will come out automatically with the internal power. This is the most important benefit of focusing on internal power training.
Traditionally speaking, Xing Yi master will be honored after they defeated the opponent with power instead of with tracks or skills. Like legendary master Li Cunyi, he wrote in his book that he would never use tracks to win when fighting happened. He would use internal power to defeat his opponents with honor. Follow masters' sample, we should focus on power training when we practice this unique style.
(2), Unify the offense and defense as one. Since Xing Yi training focus on internal power development, it ensures the possibility of the unity of the defense and offense. The classics of Xing Yi say that " the offense is defense, and the defense is the offense as well." As we mentioned at point (1), one of the advantages of internal power is that it can adjust according to the opponent's movements, the extension of defense becomes offense through sending the power toward the center line of the opponent or through unbalance the opponent's center of force. This is the high level principle but practitioners can master it with serious training.
Another way to realize this feature is that Xing Yi practice will focus on different segments of limes and body, it is the famous "three-segment principle" of Xing Yi. Most part of the human body can be divided as three connected parts, they are rooted, middle and ending part. So Xing Yi will focus on attacking the root part or a root segment instead of attacking ending part. Normally Xing Yi people will defense themselves with a middle part and attack the opponent with his middle or ending part. This kind of fighting strategy highly effective in real combat. It is from the principle of unifying the offense and defense as one.
(3), Feet and hands work spontaneously. Xing Yi emphasizes the coordination of feet and hands. Xing Yi has the explosive force by well-designed body movements. When Xing Yi people move forward, mostly the force should be pushed by the back leg. So there is a proverb in Xing Yi "techniques and skills are from the back leg." this kind of forwarding pushing movement can move the whole body with power very efficiently in terms of reaching the opponent in combat. When the leg pushes the body move, at the same time, the real weapon, which are the hands will reach the opponent. So the speed of the fist is resulted in the combination of the leg work and the arm work. Not only the speed, but also the pushing movement will ensure the whole body force unify together to attack one target, this is why Xing Yi attack is very deadly. The unique foot work of Xing Yi makes this style different from other styles by the quick powerful movements. Another Xing Yi classic says " When you defeat the opponent, the body should move first, hands and feet should arrive at the same time."
In Xing Yi history, a famous master named Guo Yunshen, he was one of the eight disciples of Li Luoneng who was the founder of Xing Yi, was good at quick stepping with a powerful punch. People called him "defeat everyone with half step punch". Actually Guo Yunshen was not the only one who were famous of quick stepping into Xing Yi history, the reason is that the unique stepping practice makes it happen.
(4), Movements look simple but each movement has very strict standards. Xing Yi movements look very simple, so many people think this style is very easy to study. But there is a difference between studying a style and master a style. Even worse, some people believe that Xing Yi system does not have strict principle or standard, so people can modify it according to personal understanding and interpretation. Academically speaking, it is totally wrong. Practically speaking, it is a very dangerous opinion. People should not imagine there is no rule of Xing Yi because they have never studied it. In this style, any small mistakes will lead to wrong practice. The result will be useless movement or powerless movements. It is very dangerous in real combat if practitioners believe that anyone can modify the practice. In Xing Yi history, there has been nobody who has modified the basic principle of Xing Yi practice, since the basic rules of Xing Yi are still there, they are standard of this system. In order to be good in Xing Yi practice, we suggest that everyone should study these old documents.
Our personal and individual wisdom is so tiny compare with this knowledge which has been accumulated through generations of masters back to the real-fighting time. In the west, there is a language barrier but we will make it is possible for people who want to study these Xing Yi old documents to understand these treasures.
Xing Yi will not concentrate on fancy movements, instead, this style emphasizes on simple movements which have been tested in the real combat situation. If some movements are fancy but lack of power, it will be not Xing Yi at all, or at the most, people can call it as a Xing Yi exercise but not a martial art.
Therefore, following and respecting the traditional practice without personal modification will be another key feature of Xing Yi, and it is a key to master this style as well.
Any Chinese martial art has both of martial and health benefits, as an internal martial art style, Xing Yi has health benefits besides the martial art aspect. Most people already know the martial prospective of Xing Yi, so it is necessary for us to talk about the health aspect here.
(1), Xing Yi has special deep breathing practice. Classic asks Xing Yi practitioners develop a kind of a special combination of deep breathing with audible sound effort. The traditional name of this result is "Hu Bao Lei Sheng", means "tiger, leopard and thunder sound". It requires that it should be audible sound when practitioners do Fajin exercise, or force releasing exercise. It is one of the most important breathing technique. It has unarguable martial result in combat but also, can greatly improve practitioners; health condition. Physically speaking, this practice can increase the capacity of respiration, increase the oxygen level in the human body through deep breathing.
(2), Xing Yi has Cardio exercise benefit as well. When people practice Xing Yi, the movements are intense, it requires a lot of physical movement of the whole body. Modern medical research has shown that the strong Cardio function is one of the important essential factors of healthy living.
(3), The movement of Xing Yi is very natural, for example, arms are not extended totally straight, most of the Xing Yi kicks are not higher than the hip level, classic documents even ask that kicks are generally lower than the knees. So the natural movements will decrease the possibility and chances of being injured to practitioners. So being physically healthy has been part of the principle of this style even though the low kicks and natural movements have martial art factors mainly. Many people who do martial art have certain kind of injuries during years of practice, but when you practice Xing Yi, this risk can be lowered in order to protect anyone who does Xing yi being injured.
(4), Strong mental attention and concentration. Xing Yi, literally translation means Form(or Body) Mind Boxing. So the mental involvement during practice is important. Xing Yi classics asks people to concentrate on every single movement, no any single movements should be done without concentration. This combination of physical movement and mental concentration will unify our body and mind together, which is the fundamental principle of Daoism practice. It will make our martial art more effective in combat and make our body more healthy in long term practice.
Overall, Xing Yi has very valuable health benefits besides martial factors. People can keep good shape not only the physical body but also the mental state, remain flexibility of the body and improve battle ability through practicing this style.
The Xing Yi school has a stick rule of lineage, this principle of lineage was from the founder of Xing Yi.
Xing Yi is a large training system, in order to master this style, practitioners should follow the traditional way of training, which is designed systematically for the progression.
Hebei style Xing Yi has different branches, since there are small differences among them. We will teach based on Li Cunyi's branch, since it is the standard style of Xing Yi, then we will teach Zhang Zhaodong's branch since at this stage, Xingyi-Bagua system, which was created by Zhang Zhaodong, will be introduced. Then, we will introduce Xuedian's branch, it is a very rare system which includes not only Xingyi(people call it Dragon style Xing Yi) but also the Xiang Xing Shu(Animal Style), this style was only taught to a very small group people in Tianjin. Even now, there are not many people master this system. Fortunately Master Yang studied it, he will teach some students who are qualified to practice this rare style.
Basically, we will teach not only the movements but also the details application and theory behind every movement, only in this way, parishioners will be able to get the knowledge of Xing Yi
, One Person form:
· Five Element Fists--the most important exercises of the whole system, without mastering these five movements, practitioners should not do any other forms, it is the key of the Xing Yi system, I cannot emphasize the importance of this opinion more.
o Metal, Pi in Chinese;
o Water, Zuan in Chinese;
o Wood, Beng in Chinese;
o Fire, Pao in Chinese;
o Earth, Heng in Chinese.
· Twelve Animal Forms--another important part of the Xing Yi system, these animal forms should be practiced after mastering the basic practice of Five Element Fists. Animal forms focus on special skills of each animal, it is the technique or skill part of Xing Yi. They are: dragon, tiger, monkey, horse, rooster, snake, swallow, Tai bird(a kind of little eagle with small tail) , Tuo(different branches have different definition, basic, they are water lizard, alligator or small creator live on water), hawk, eagle and beer.
· Five Element Linking Form--it is the first routine in Xing Yi;
· Twelve Fist Linking Form--some turnning exercise is practiced in this routine;
· Eight-Posture Form--focus on more of animal forms related to birds;
· Mix Form--the longest routine in Xing Yi;
· Eight-word Form--very important practice, a complementary set of five elements and twelve animal forms, this practice makes up Xing Yi's force and application;
· Other Forms.
(2), Weapon's Forms:
· Xing Yi spear--the practice mostly focuses on improving the force of the back and hips, Xing Yi posture is basically from spear movement, so it is very important weapon in this style;
· Xing Yi saber--the famous master Li Cunyi made this weapon famous in Xing Yi, help people to have chopping force;
· Xing Yi sword--double-hands swords which is useful in combat;
· Xing Yi staff--practice the high back and arms, good for force training;
· Other weapons--some unique weapons such as judge pen, 13 spears ( the difficult form for whole body force training)...
(3), Two Person Forms:
Xing Yi uses this part exercise to help practitioners master combat technique quickly, in order to enhance reflex, power and speed.
· Si Feng Si Bi(Four sealing and Four Closing),
· Wu Hau Pao(Five Flower Fist),
· An Shen Pao(Protect Body Fist),
· Other Forms.
You could watch some sample video and photo on the Gallery section through the main menu.
For the Online Courses please refer to the related section on this site.
Watch a demonstration of Xing Yi Five Element Form by Master Hai Yang