Harness your willpower

The simple, yet powerful xingyi is one of the oldest Chinese martial arts. Throughout its almost thousand-year history xingyi has been the close combat form of martial arts favored by many famous martial artists thanks to the easily learned techniques and the practical, entirely combat-oriented exercises that combine willpower and movement of the body.

Xingyiquan (Chinese: 形意拳, Pīnyīn: Xíng Yì Quán), or shorter xingyi, is one of the Chinese internal martial arts and is also oldest of the three. It’s known for its very direct, simple, explosive and aggressive techniques.

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Xingyiquan is often translated as “The fist of form and intention”. This name refers to the simple, but quick to be made use of in practical situations, exercises that are typical of the martial art, and which enhance the body-mind connection. There aren’t many different exercises, but they are honed in great detail, concentrating on both the technical work as well as the essential concentration of the mind.

Xingyi is usually divided into three main schools of thought: the Shanxi, Hebei and Henan schools. The xingyi taught at Baji Ry is part of the Hebei school, which is the most widely spread school of thought. The Hebei school is typified by laying emphasis from the beginning on towards the physical exercises as well as the concentration exercises, whereas for example the Shanxi school starts with learning the correct way of peaceful relaxation before the more practical exercises.

Solidity as the source of powerful

The most typical and most famous exercise in xingyi is san ti, the static, so-called “standing exercise”. In san ti a low position is maintained with one palm directed to the front and the other one downwards. Maintaining the position for long periods of time starts by strengthening the trainee’s musculature and later teaches cooperation to the muscles in order to maintain the position. It develops solidity in the trainee, which the ancient Chinese martial artists called “the art of rooting”. Taking strong root is indeed the basis of the unyielding strength of xingyi.

Advancing relentlessly

As the trainee is adopting as strong “art of rooting”, the practice of xingyi starts to bring this solidity movement by movement to support the techniques. This begins with going through a collection of simple and aggressive combat movements, the system of “Five elements”. Despite the simple repetition each detail of the method is gone through in great detail and with patience until everything is one solid and relentless movement. The movements mimic different combinations of takedowns, attacks and defenses, each emphasizing relentlessness and efficiency.

The history of xingyi

According to legend, xingyiquan was developed by the general Yue Fei (1103-1142) during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Yue is widely known as a patriot and folk hero who taught the martial art he developed to his officers.

The developer of modern xingyi is historically held to be Li Luoneng (1807-1888) who developed xingyiquan from the Dai family’s Xin Yi Liu He Quan style.

Xingyi includes solidly aggressive attacks and direct footwork. The exercises and movements are mostly linear, due to the military origin of the martial art and ancient spear tactics.

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