Xingyi chuan
When: Tuesday 7-9 pm
Where: Marino Community Hall, 44 Newland Ave., Marino, 5049
Most Suitable for: Mature, patient people, but my own son started at ten and is still studying.
Health Benefits: Internal and external health, deep breathing, concentration and leg strength.
Cost: On application

  • One of the earliest forms of Chinese combat (armed and unarmed)
  • Five fists and twelve animal forms
  • Weapons forms
  • Excellent for self defence and health and fitness
  • Builds enormous leg power
 Lineage:
Li Tsun Yi       (1850-1925 approx)
Chu Gui Ting      (1892-1977)
Wang Zhong Dao   (1920 - 2002)/Chen Jian Yun
Bill Fettes
Warwick Noble
 
Xingyi chuan is probably the most overtly combative of the internal arts.  Consisting of five basic fist and hand strikes and twelve animal forms which help to strengthen the body (internally and externally), increase cardio vascular fitness and defend against opponents.  Xingyi uses the hands to deflect and avoid attacks and the power of the whole body to deliver attacks.  Each of the xingyi techniques is reputed to massage one of the internal organs of the body during training: this is something to which I cannot personally attest, but practising xingyi on a regular basis has helped me to prevent colds and flu on a long term basis.   A good training regime builds enormous power in leg and arm muscles.  Traditionally xingyi was taught slowly - my own teacher spent 3 months on each technique and one of his fellow students practised only the stances for several months.  Westerners generally don't have the patience for this sort of commitment, so the art is not widely popular.  I have found that the training can be adjusted, it just takes longer to master, if the basics are not strong. 
 
Properly taught xingyi also includes a study of weapons and, at the very least, a practitioner should study the Jian (narrow sword), Dao (broad sword) and Qiang (spear). These mirror the hand forms and enhance understanding of technique, timing and distancing.  Many people would have you believe that that is all weapons practice contributes, but more than 30 years of weapons training has shown me that if you can handle a weapon you will be able to find one in the most unexpected of places.
 
As well as the five fist techniques of pi chuan, beng chuan, tsuan chuan, pao chuan and heng chuan, the twelve animals taught here are horse, crocodile (alligator), tai (a large mythical bird), snake, tiger, monkey, chicken, hawk, swallow, dragon and eagle/bear.  These add variety to the training and also to the possible defences against attack.  Whilst not as involved as Shaolin animal forms, they do teach a basic, recognizable imitation of the animals concerned.  If you are lucky enough to find a reputable teacher he (or she) will likely nominate an animal for you to specialize in, not just because you may be good at it, but you show some traits of that particular animal.  
 
I first began studying xingyi in 1985 in Tokyo with Matsuda Ryuuichi, the coach of the famous Waseda wushu team.  Matsuda sensei was also a well published author on Chinese fighting arts and junior student of well known master, Adam Hsu.  I then learnt from Master Wang Zhong Dao in Shanghai, who was a student of Chu Gui Ting who followed the Li Tsun Yi lineage.  After the death of Master Wang, Master Chen Jian Yun of Shanghai agreed to help me refine my study of this art.  Since commencing xingyi practice, I have practiced 6 days a week rain, hail or shine.  By Japanese grading standards that would make me the equivalent of a 7th Dan!  Fortunately the Chinese are a little less inclined to formalise rankings and say that "black belt is good for holding up pants.  If you aren't healthy and can't defend yourself against any fighter, a belt of any colour is of no use"  -  Master He Bing Chuan, Shanghai, circa 1987.
 
At Budokai, we have  Warwick Noble, who started in 2000, assisting with instruction.