Xingyi Quan, as a derivative of Xinyi Quan (Dai Family) and Xinyi Liuhe Quan, represents the Form/Shape and Intention Boxing. The essence of Xingyi Quan is based on five phases/elements and twelve animals however it is the intention of these which is paramount.
Created by Li Luoneng in the 1800's Xingyiquan became well known and practiced throughout Shanxi and Hebei province. Li Luoneng was a native of Shen county, Hebei and had studied local styles there (e.g. Bafanquan) prior to finding his teacher in Shanxi, he later taught students in Shanxi and at his home where he travelled to for the remainder of his life in Hebei.
Origins of Xingyi Quan
Li Luoneng (李洛能 1807-1888) was born in Shenzhou City, Hebei Province. Li passed away in 1890 at the age of 81 years old. He had studied Bafanquan and Tongbeiquan since young and was highly skilled. Li Luoneng resided to Taigu County of Shanxi Province for business purposes at the age of 37 in 1845 and he began to learned Dai family version of Xinyiquan during the same year. Li established himself as a great martial artist in Shanxi, which also earned him the nickname of Divine-Fist-Li (神拳李), within 10 years of after he started in Xinyi.
Li Luoneng began his teaching of his version of Xinyiquan as Xingyiquan at Taigu County in the 1856 until 1871. Che Yizhai (车毅斋, 1833 – 1915), Song Shirong (宋世荣, 1849 – 1927), Song Shide (宋世德, 1857 – 1921), Li Guangheng (李廣亨, 1859 – 1934) are some of his students during this period. This earlier version of Li's Xingyiquan is classified as Shanxi Xingyiquan in modern days Xingyiquan circle.
Li Luoneng, at 63 years old, returned to his hometown, Shenzhou City, in 1871. Li continued to spread the art of Xingyiquan at his hometown in his later years. Guo Yunshen (郭云深, 1820 – 1901), Li Qilan (刘奇兰, 1819 – 1889), Liu Xiaolan (刘晓兰, 1819－1909), He Yunheng (贺运恒) are the students of this period. The Xingyiquan of this period is usually referred as Hebei Xingyiquan.
Dissemination of Xingyi Quan
2. Liu Qilan (刘奇兰, 1819 – 1889) was one of the top students of Li Luoneng (李洛能). Liu together with Guo Yunshen (郭云深, 1820 – 1901), Song Shirong (宋世荣, 1849 – 1927) and Che Yizhai (车毅斋, 1833 – 1915) are known as the top four disciples of Li Luoneng. Liu Qilan was born in a scholarly family at Shen County, Hebei Province. Liu Qilan had studied martial arts since his youth, specifically Jingangquan and later learned Xingyiquan from Li Luoneng when Li was invited to teach in Liu family. Liu Qilan was not only skilled with combative techniques but also, with his scholar background, well known with his Xingyiquan theories and concepts; martial artists who have visited Liu were convinced with Liu's martial abilities and theories. Liu Qilan was known for his shenfa (body method), was praised as ‘Long Xing Sou Gu’ (dragon shape searching for bones). The bulk of what is representative of Hebei Xingyi boxing today was developed by Liu Qilan and spread through his descendants. Liu Qilan is known as the principal contributor of Xingyiquan as Liu lineage is the most influential and most widely spread among all other Xingyiquan lineages. Li Cunyi (李存义, 1847 – 1921), Zhang Zhankui (张占魁, 1865 – 1938), Geng Jishan (耿继善), Zhou Mingtai (周明泰), Wang Fuyuan (王福元) and Liu Dianchen (刘殿琛 (刘文华), second son of Liu Qilan) were some of Liu's most well known successors.
2. Che Yizhai (车毅斋1833-1914), also known as Che Yonghong was from Taigu, Shanxi Province. He was from a poor family and started martial arts training in 1848 with Wu Hongpu and Wang Changdong. In 1856, he became a
student of Li Luoneng and became exceptionally skillful. After Li Luoneng returned to his old hometown in Hebei, Che remained as his most well known disciple in Shanxi and had extended his studies whilst researching the methods of Xingyiquan to systematically refine its contents. Although well known for his skills, even receiving a ceremonial title by the Qing government, Che Yizhai was very selective in passing on his skills accepting less than 20 disciples in his life.
Many of the Hebei practitioners would travel to Shanxi and receive his advice and guidance to their Xingyiquan practice including Li Cunyi, Guo Yunshen, Li Taihe (Li Luoneng's son), Liu Wenhua (Liu Qilan's son) and Sun Lutang amongst the most well known.
The two man sets of Xingyiquan are mostly attributable to Che Yizhai's efforts along with his disciples Li Fuzhen (1855-1930) and Bu Xuekuan (1876-1971). Che was known as a formidable expert having gained much experience during his Security Logistics escort work (Taigu was well known for this during the time) with the Qiao family.
3. Li Cunyi (李存义, 1847 – 1927) was born in Shen County of Hebei Province in 1847. Li studied Xingyiquan under Liu Qilan (刘奇兰, 1819 – 1889) at 20 years old , he later became friends with Cheng Tinghua (程庭华, 1848 –
1900) and also studied Baguazhang under Cheng’s teacher, Dong Haichuan (董海川, 1797 – 1882). In actual fact, it was Cheng who passed most of the Baguazhang skills to Li. Between 1894 -1900, Li held many positions such as instructor for the Qing army, Liu Kunyi (刘坤一, 1830-1902) in 1890, squad leader for security groups in Zhejiang and Jiangxi, as well as opening his own Wantong Biaoju (Logistics Security Escort Service). Li Cunyi joined “Righteous Harmony Society” at the age of 50 in 1900. Li used to held a saber against the army of the Eight-Nation Alliance during Boxer Rebellion, and the nickname of “Single Saber” Li has became famous. To retreat whilst fighting Li Cunyi was a big mistake; as soon as you tried to retreat he would be upon you and knock you down.
After the Boxer rebellion period, Li Cunyi hid from authorities at his Martial Uncle's homes in Taigu, Shanxi, with Che Yizhai who taught him all of his Xingyiquan and also with his other Uncle Song Shirong which he learnt further internal cultivation techniques. This placed Li Cunyi in a unique position to encompass the complete body of Xingyiquan integrating those of both Shanxi and Hebei practices.
Li Cunyi had co-founded “Chinese Warrior Association” at Tianjin City in 1911 which spread the skill of Xingyiquan, this caused Tianjin to become one of the headquarter of Hebei Xingyiquan. Li Cunyi later tough his arts at Shanghai Jingwu Tiyuhui (Chin Woo Athletic Association) under the invitation of the association. Li Cunyi retireds to his hometown and taught the skills of Xingyiquan in his later years. Li passed away at the age of 74 in 1921. Li Cunyi’s had a great many students but those most well known include Shang Yunxiang (尚云祥, 1846 -1937), Li Xingjie (李星阶, 1879 – 1948), Fu Jianqiu (傅剑秋, 1885 – 1956) and Chu Guiting (褚桂亭,1892-1977).
3. Bu Xuekuan ( 布学宽 1876-1971) was born in Qi county, Shanxi Province and later moved to Taihu county. Although he came from a family of farmers, they managed to send him to school
and Bu was later apprenticed to a to a win jar seller and later in a grain store. He started martial arts in 1891 and later followed Che Yizhai in 1900 to study Xingyiquan. Due to his precise techniques and postures, He became one Che's key disciples and led many contributions to Xingyiquan throughout his long and influential lifetime.
Bu Xuekuan is credited with many developments of Xingyiquan including further combat sets, Health preservation methods and new techniques. In his early days he had many students having taught since 1913, he also helped expand Xingyi's influence by working as the director of physical education for Taihu in 1917 and later as the martial arts instructor at a college in 1930. He was also later a commissioner in local government and as chairman of the Wushu association. Whilst in his later years many Xingyiquan experts sought his advice and further teachings given his vast knowledge and experiences.
Some of the most well known students included Sun Deyi, Yan Yewu and Zhang Yongyi, whilst some of his students also took Xingyiquan to Central and South America, such as Wu Chaoxiang (Brasil) and Li Ying'ang (Guatemala). Later during the socio-political changes, Bu Xuekuan became involved government organizations and held numerous posts across martial arts institutes and associations both locally and nationally. Bu Xuekuan was one of the most revered Xingyiquan masters of his generation, he lived to a ripe age of 96.
4. Shang Yunxiang (尚云祥,1864-1937) was born in Leiling, Shandong Province in 1864. When he was young studied Gongli Quan with Ma Dayi, then he followed Li Cunyi becoming one of his best students. Shang also
received instructions from Guo Yunshen and Cheng Tinghua. It is said that in the beginning Li Cunyi did not favor Shang Yunxiang as he was short and thin but was persuaded by his colleague, Zhou Mingtai (also disciple of Liu Qilan) to accept Shang. As a result the little that Shang was taught he practiced diligently and developed great power through his Beng Quan (His fame earned him the nickname "Buddha with Iron Feet"). Once when there was a conflict Li Cunyi observed the great diligence Shang shown and decided to teach him whole heartedly.
His martial uncle, the original half step Beng quan expert Guo Yunshen also took interest and taught Shang Yunxiang as well. Shang worked as a Security Logistics Bureau chief and also martial arts teacher throughout his life. Shang was a very practical teacher and demanding high standards from his students which resulted in many injuries during hands on combat exchanges. It is important with Shang's method to emphasize the actual combat within training, whilst relatively short he was a powerful, outspoken, quick termpered man and would get into fights often as a result.
Shang was a great expert and through his experiences deeply understood the essence of Xingyiquan. He researched just like his teacher Li Cunyi other variations of Xingyiquan and as a result his students would learn differently depending on the period of his life, so the latter generation of students practice the new style often call their practice, Shang Style Xingyiquan.
4. Chu Guiting (褚桂亭,1892-1977) was born in Renqiu County of Hebei Province in 1890. Chu in his youth (7-8 years old) commenced the study of martial arts with local masters Jiang Yuhe (Xingyiquan), Yu Bingzhong (Drunken
Eight Immortals Boxing) and Chen Delu (Baguazhang). In 1912 he became the disciple of Li Cunyi and became an expert of Xingyiquan. Chu dedicated his life to martial arts and studied Yang Style Taijiquan with Yang Chengfu and Yang Shaohou, Bagua with Liang Zhenpu, Wudang Sword with Li Jinglin and also studied/exchanged from other experts such as Sun Lutang, Shang Yunxiang, Zhang Zhankui, Huang Bonian and so on. When in his twenties he traveled around the country (Beijing, Tianjin, Liaoning, Wuhan, Nanchang & Changsha) and sought out teachers to enhance his martial arts.
In 1928, the national full combat competition was held in Nanjing, China. Hundreds of experts from across the country competed and after several days the fighting competitions were stopped because too many competitors became seriously injured including two deaths. Upon stopping the remaining 12 martial artists were regarded as champions and Chu Guiting was one of them recognized as such.
In the 1950's, Chu Guiting lived in Shanghai and taught at local parks, government companies and agencies across the city. He befriended many martial artists including Wang Ziping, Lu Zhenduo, Cai Longyun, Fu Zhongwen and Zhang Yu, he was highly respected throughout the martial community. Chu was known to accept many students even from other styles and has been a big influence on the spread of the internal styles in Shanghai. Chu Guiting is said to have taught thousands of students throughout his lifetime.
Xingyiquan has had a glorious history since its inception by Li Luoneng. Like generations before,Taiping Xingyiquan integrates different Xingyiquan lineages (Shanxi/Hebei), however is predominantly based on the Chu Guiting and Shang Yunxiang teachings of Li Cunyi's Hebei Xingyiquan.
The basic practices require of sight, hands, waist, stance/step, hip, elbows, knees and shoulders to be coordinated, flexible and strengthened.
Liuhe Qiankun Zhuang (Six Harmonies Universal Post Standing)
The foundation of Xingyiquan includes the practice of standing for it is in this stage that concepts of alignment and repair to enable circulation can be encountered. Further to alignment or structure the practice also enhances the preparation for Intention and the improvement of breathing and associated energic balance.
Bufa (Foundation Stepping)
In Taiping Xingyiquan one of the most emphasized foundation practice is stepping. Although Xingyiquan to the novice is conceptually just linear, there is a great importance in how the lines are best applied. For this reason stepping is the utmost foundation. Many of these stepping methods are seldom seen today but for the Traditional practice expecially in combat these are crucial thus very important for Taiping Xingyiquan. These are typically practiced on their own and then together with the Yingzhuo (鹰捉) before they are developed further through the five phases fists.
Ying Zhuo (鹰捉 Eagle Siezing)
The practice of Yingzhuo (Eagle Siezing), often called Mu Quan (Mother Fist) is essential. There are precise requirements which are then followed by a number of variations. Yingzhuo emphasizes the important points of rise and fall (Qi Luo), drill and overturn (Zuan Fan), contract and expand (Shu Zhan) as well encompassing the essence of the three fists: wrapping, drilling and cutting (Guo, Zuan, Jian). It is often thought that the variations and practical combat applications are infinite and thus a great deal of practices are possible.
Wuxing Quan (Five Phases Boxing)
The five phases fists include Chopping (Pi 劈), Crushing (Beng 崩), Zhuan (Drilling 钻), Pao (Explode 炮) and Heng (横) which are all conducted with the fist and are correlated to the five phases theory of traditional chinese Daoist cosmology. These being Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth. These are the most important foundation in Xingyiquan, whilst each of the methods apply a number of vectors and thus power generation, they also contain the basis of contraction and expansion, means to the three powers (Ming, An, Hua), the various footwork and the manifestations of the basic methods. Practice is with the various stepping variations including advancing or retreating and also shake body, turning body and guiding hand.
Shierxing Quan (Twelve Shapes Boxing)
The 12 animals are the heart of Xingyiquan, where the five phases are said to be the intention foundation (Yi), the 12 animals represent the structure or shape (Xing). There are twelve animals represented such as Dragon, Tiger, Monkey, Horse, Chicken, Yao Sparowhawk, Swallow, Snake, Alligator, Ostrich, Eagle & Bear.
Zonghe Quan (Combined Sets)
To exemplify the abilty to combine and evolve the principles. There are combinations of the foundation five elements and twelve animals, as well as techniques introduced by teachers including from outside styles (e.g. Chuojiao, Bajiquan). Bashi Quan combines four elements and four animals into a short compact set. Si Ba Chui is a classical set. Yuanyang Jiao (also known as 18 kicks of Xingyiquan) is a set introduced by Li Fuzhen who created after learning from Chuojiao expert Wei Changyi.. There are variants to these core as well (e.g. Jingang Bashi). The three strike sets (Zhashi, Shier Hong & Shier Lian Chui) are practical combination methods that emphasize combat applicability. Zhashichui (mixed strikes) is said to have been developed by Che Yizhai on the basis of the Dai Family Zhashi (which itself was based on Tanglang Quan), with many methods within.
Bazi Gong (Eight Character Skills)
The Bazi Gong are an advanced part of the Xingyiquan curriculum. It is often said the Five phases develop power, the twelve shapes develop skills whilst the eight characters develop fighting abilities. The Bazi techniques are direct and applicable. The Eight Characters Skills, through the ages, have been regarded as treasures by martial artists. Ordinarily, it is not trained in public and it is not lightly taught to people.
In the practice each character (Zi) - Zhan (展 Chopping), Jie (截 Intercepting), Guo (裹 Wrapping)、, Kua (跨 Carrying), Tiao (挑 Lifting), Ding (顶 Erecting), Yun (云 Cloud)、and Ling (领 Leading) are practiced individually these are known collectively as Bazigong (Eight Character Skills) and then there is a combination set (Eight Character Linked Set).
Sanpan Shou (Three level fists)
These represent higher level of practice integrating all the prior skills including the five phases, twelve animals, eight characters with the power generation (Ming, An, Hua) at its core. These emphasise three phases from powerfully coordinated skill in the Ying Ba Shou (Hard Eight Hands), to gentler interchange skills in Ruan Ba Shou (Soft Eight Hands) until the integrated phase in Hua Ba Shou (Transformational Eight Hands, sometimes called Yinyang Shou).
Combat 2 man sets
In Xingyiquan there are basics for each weapon following the five fists, then Wuxing Lianhuan (five phases linked sets, 五行连环棍,刀,剑,枪) sets for each of the four main weapons as a foundation, followed by Liuhe (six harmonies, 六合棍,刀,剑,枪) sets at intermediate levels. However, the specialist methods are a few with the emphasis on the Liuhe (Six Harmonies) great spear as the most important .