The Shanxi Xingyi Quan Style is composed of the twelve animals and the five forces (elements) as the heart and soul of the practice. The five forces (forms) contain nuances not found in the other branches of Hsing I Chuan and are named as the following:
· Pi Chuan (Splitting) – Corresponding to the Metal Element (Lung and Lg. Intestine).
· Tsuan Chuan (Drilling) – Corresponding to the Water Element (Kidney and U. Bladder).
· Peng Chuan (Penetrating) – Corresponding to the Wood Element (Liver and Gall Bladder).
· Pao Chuan (Pounding) – Corresponding to the Fire Element (Heart and Sm. Intestine)(Also secondary fire correspondance to Pericardium and Triple Warmer).
· Heng Chuan (Crossing) – Corresponding to the Earth Element (Spleen and Stomach).
It should be noted that Shanxi Xingyi Quan Five Forms have both a martial side (the five forces trainings to develop applied kinetic potential) and a philisophical/medicinal side hence the correspondance to the five elements of traditional Chinese medicine. This line between the two has become somewhat blurred in recent years. Accordingly, most modern practitioners will call the five forms by their elemental names as opposed to their actual names of Splitting, Drilling, Penetrating/Crushing, Pounding and Crossing.
The twelve animals of ShanXi Hsing-I are more complex than those found in other branches and they are named (and most often translated) as follows:
· Ma Hsing (Horse Form)
· Yao Hsing (Hawk Form)
· Ing Shyung Hsing (Eagle/Bear Form)
· Dou Gi Hsing (Cockerel Form)
· Sir Hsing (Snake Form)
· Tuo Hsing (Tortise, Alligator or Water Stridder Form)
· Gi Hsing (Chicken Form)
· Tai Hsing (Phoenix or Ostrich Form)
· Yen Hsing (Swallow Form)
· Hou Hsing (Monkey Form)
· Fhu Hsing (Tiger Form)
· Lung Hsing (Dragon Form)
The practitioner must learn all twelve animals to complete the body training of Shanxi Xingyi Quan. Then each practitioner will tend to choose four or five of the animals combined with the knowledge gleaned from the practice of the five forces to composite his/her personal fighting style. Only those that teach the art need be proficient at all twelve.
Shanxi Xingyi Quan also contains some combinative forms that mix and match the twelve animals with the five forces to further challenge the advancing skills of the practitioner, such as Shr Er Hong Chwei (Twelve Red Hammers).
A healthy spirit can be seen reflecting brightly through the eyes of the person who possesses it. Dull, glazed eyes denote a spirit weakened through abuse of the body and an undisciplined mind. Only through training both the body and mind can a person achieve a state of balance that is conducive to creating a brightly glowing spirit, strengthened through the harmony of the mind and body.
The most important thing to remember for the practice of Shanxi Xingyi Quan is “a serene heart Hsin and a sharp, concentrated mind Yi,” which allows the nerve centers to attune, improving the ability to efficiently coordinate the functions of the various organ systems of the body.
Relaxation (Sung) of the whole body, mind and spirit, deep and natural breathing, powerful spiral-like actions centering on the waist Dan Tien, and a training method designed to convey one’s inner energy Chi to the tips of the limbs by use of intention Yi. All these aspects, when combined properly, result in harmony of the inside and outside body, unimpeded Jingluo, blood and lymphatic circulation, and improved functions of the skeletal, muscle and digestive systems.
As a result, proper Shanxi Xingyi Quan practice creates a firing pulse of the chi through the associated structures relating to each posture, and is quite suitable for both martial training and general physical fitness. It is a very direct experience with one’s internal energy.
Shanxi Xingyi Quan utilizes a full range of body motion incorporating strikes from the “Seven Stars”; Hands, Feet, Elbows, Knees, Shoulders, Hips and Head. Also employed are close range Grappling, Throwing, Trapping and Locking techniques, creating a highly adapt able, powerful, and overwhelming style of self defence. Shanxi Xingyi Quan is tactically superior to most sytems of combat given its succinct & economical nature.
In the practice of the Shanxi Xingyi Quan Style, the practitioner will first be instructed in the basics. The methods of aligning the body, stances, stepping and the five forces, will all be introduced and discussed in terms of mechanical performance. Then the basic forms of the five elements will be introduced posture by posture until completed. Generally, about midway through the process of learning the five elements, push-hands and two-person five element practice will also be introduced with an emphasis on blending with the opponent’s energy without attempting to forcefully interupt. Standing Meditation (Zhan Zhuang) will also be a preferred staple during this time.
Later, as the student becomes still more proficient, the twelve animal forms, weapons and additional two-person work will be introduced. Free-fighting would be the last endeavor that the developing practitioner will engage in, after the proper body parameters have been ingrained and understood to a reasonable level of competency.
There is a great deal of emphasis placed upon two person exercises and practical training in Shanxi Xingyi Quan. Some of the more classical exercises are the San Shou Pao (Free Hand Pounding), Shrang Ren Wu Hsing (Two person Five Elements), and En Hsin Pao (Pounding Ways of Protection). In some schools there will be organized two person Chin Na (seizing skills) and two person Weaponry practices as well.
The energy of Shanxi Xingyi Quan has been described as that of a piece of Rattan. It will not flex very far before snapping back at you. Energetically, the art has a Yang exterior and a Yin interior. The practitioner seeks to create his own openings in attack and defense. It is extremely efficient in its expression of power.