Xing Yi is one of the three internal martial arts from China. The other two Chinese internal martial arts are Tai Chi and Bagua. Xing Yi has ancient roots, and its true origin may go back as far as the 13th century. Its predecessor was a martial art created within the ethnic Muslim community of China.
As an unarmed fighting style, Xing Yi is derived from spear fighting, and focusses largely on linear footwork and powerful straight line attacks, which do include some measure of spiralling motion. In some applications, this spiralling action is so subtle that it is hard to see, but can definitely be felt.
As an internal art, Xing YI focusses on increasing and harnessing the “Chi” and releasing this Chi in explosive penetrating strikes which combine attack and defense in one motion, incorporating the momentum of the whole body into an overwhelming force.
In terms of power generation, Xing Yi Quan relies heavily on the use of the mind and intent (yi)instead of muscular energy, which is emphasized in external martial arts.
The mind is used to direct the qi, or energy, of the body to the desired area. The mind’s intent is used to focus the qi and direct it with precision. This is why Xing Yi Quan is often referred to as “mind-intent boxing” or “psychological boxing”. The use of the mind and intent is what sets Xing Yi Quan apart from other martial arts.
Training Methods of Xing Yi
There are two unique training methods used. The first is called the Standing Stake, where the practitioner holds a motionless standing posture for long periods of time . This is intended to increase the flow and accumulation of Chi.
The second training method is using the spear as a way of developing explosive power in hand strikes. The Chinese spear is a very long flexible staff with a metal point and also colorful tassels at the tip which are used to distract the opponent. In Xing Yi, a small bell is often attached to the tip of the weapon as another training aid. The training exercise is to hold the spear with both extended arms, and, using only waist power, make the spear vibrate violently.
While this exercise can be extremely arduous and tiring, the Xing YI expert who has developed internal energy can do the exercise for quite a long time without becoming tired.
After a lot of practice, in fist fighting, if the opponent is able to block one of the Xing Yi fighter’s strikes, the Xing Yi fighter will then immediately grab the opponent’s blocking arm in the same way he would grab a spear and use the arm to throw the opponent violently away. In fact, the Xing Yi expert can disrupt the opponent’s balance the moment his arm touches the opponent’s arm.
In addition to the Standing Stake, and training with the spear, Xing Yi practitioners practice the so-called ” 5 elements”, methods of striking, all of which are incorporated into a linear footwork pattern that is designed to focus the entire momentum of the body, along with intense mental concentration, into each strike.
The Five Elements of Xing Yi
The five elements of Xing Yi Quan are earth, water, fire, wind,and void. Each element has a different set of techniques and principles that are used in order to defeat an opponent.
Earth is the most basic element and represents stability. Techniques focus on rooting oneself to the ground in order to be immovable.
Water is the second element and is associated with flexibility. The water element uses an opponent‘s momentum against them in order to take them down.
Fire is the third element and is associated with aggression. Fire techniques are focused on quick, decisive strikes in order to overwhelm an opponent.
Wind is the fourth element and is associated with speed. Wind techniques are focused on being faster than an opponent and attacking before they can defend themselves.
Void is the fifth and final element and is associated with calmness. Void techniques focus on being aware of one‘s surroundings and being able to react to an opponent‘s movements.
Grappling Techniques And Throws of Xing YI
Xing Yi also has a repertoire of grappling techniques and throws, as seen in the second video, above. Notice how this master enters while checking both of the opponent’s arms, and then executes throws at lightning speed. If these throws were executed on someone who has not learned how to land when thrown to the ground, he would almost certainly be knocked out.
Xing Yi can be combined with Wing Chun in order to increase power as well as the variety of attacks. Although Xing YI strikes are almost all linear, they are delivered at different angles than the strikes in Wing Chun.
The third video, above, shows a portion of a sparring session between Wing Chun practitioners Jerry Yeung, and Philip Ng against some Xing Yi senior students. Both Jerry and Philip by the way, are now legitimate Wing Chun instructors in the Wong Shun Leung lineage.