The Ima Concept

Hsing I

Xingyiquan (Xíng yì quán; Wade-Giles: Hsing I Ch'üan) is one of the major "internal" (Wudang) Chinese martial arts (an even broader term encompassing the internal arts is nèijiā). The word translates approximately to "Form/Intention Boxing", or "Shape/Will Boxing", and is characterized by aggressive, seemingly linear movements and explosive power. There is no single organizational body governing the teaching of the art, and several variant styles exist.

A practitioner of xingyiquan uses coordinated movements to generate bursts of power intended to overwhelm the opponent, simultaneously attacking and defending. Forms vary from school to school, but include barehanded sequences and versions of the same sequences with a variety of weapons. These sequences are based upon the movements and fighting behavior of a variety of animals. The training methods allow the student to progress through increasing difficulty in form sequences, timing and fighting strategy.

Xingyiquan features aggressive shocking attacks and direct footwork. The linear nature of xingyiquan hints at both the military origins and the influence of spear technique alluded to in its mythology. Despite its hard, angular appearance, cultivating "soft" internal strength or qi is essential to achieving power in Xingyiquan.

The goal of the xingyiquan exponent is to reach the opponent quickly and drive powerfully through them in a single burst — the analogy with spear fighting is useful here. This is achieved by coordinating one's body as a single unit and the intense focusing of one's qi.

Efficiency and economy of movement are the qualities of a xingyiquan stylist and its direct fighting philosophy advocates simultaneous attack and defence. There are few kicks except for extremely low foot kicks (which avoids the hazards of balance involved with higher kicks) and some mid-level kicks, and techniques are prized for their deadliness rather than aesthetic value. Xingyiquan favours a high stance called Sāntǐshì (三體式 / 三体式), literally "three bodies power," referring to how the stance holds the head, torso and feet along the same vertical plane. A common saying of xingyiquan is that "the hands do not leave the heart and the elbows do not leave the ribs."

The use of the Santishi as the main stance and training method originated from Li Luoneng's branch of xingyi. Early branches such as Dai family style do not use Santi as the primary stance nor as a training method

The Five Elements of Xingyiquan

Splitting   Metal Like an axe chopping up and over.
Drilling Zuān Water Drilling forward horizontally like a geyser.
Crushing Bēng Wood Arrows constantly exploding forward.
Pounding Pào Fire Exploding outward like a cannon while blocking.
Crossing Héng Earth Crossing across the line of attack while turning over.

The ten common animals

Bear Xióng In Xingyi, "the Bear and Eagle combine," meaning that the Bear and Eagle techniques are often used in conjunction with each other. There is a bird called the "Bear Eagle," which covers the characteristics of both forms.
Eagle Yīng
Snake Shé Includes both Constrictor and Viper styles.
Tiger Features lunging with open-handed clawing attacks mimicking the pounce of a tiger
Dragon Lóng The only "mythical" animal taught. In some lineages it is practiced separately from tiger because they are said to clash.
Chicken   Mimics the pecking movement of a chicken. This form also mimics the quick and aggressive combat style of the rooster.
Horse   Combination of Metal and a hand movement that mimics the action of a rearing a horse. Performed with tension, however.
Swallow Yàn Follows the swift and random movements of the swallow by rotating position and circling the enemy with strong but quick foot movement. May refer to the Purple Swamphen (Rallidae)Coot.
Goshawk Yào This can mean 'Sparrowhawk,' though the more common word for "Sparrowhawk" used to be Zhān (鸇), which has fallen from use over the years. The Chinese word for "Goshawk" covers both the Goshawk and the Sparrowhawk. Note - in some lineages this animal is translated to mean the Grouse or small pheasant.
Monkey Hóu Performed with light, empty movement, simple striking combined with parrying and deception of distance.

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