Construction / Deconstruction

About four years ago I had a motorbike accident that left me with a herniated disc of the lower back. I struggled on and eventually with the help of my teacher and class mates in Beijing seemed to have it under control, but it would always reappear and be debilitating each time getting worse and restricting my training. It was mainly sciatica and discomfort. I decided that after this last bout of discomfort, I needed to look at my training and what I could do realistically. Too much movement was out, no matter how gentle! So I started to think about the Xing Yi I had learned. Not just the movement, but the standing that was obviously part of the system, but maybe had got lost and we were left with just San Ti Shi  as the main standing exercise. Looking at Yiquan Wang Xianghai and how he got his initial introduction to standing practice from his teacher Guo Yun Shen and as this is the same teacher in my Sun Style lineage to Sun Lu Tang then Lei Shi Mo to Lei Shi Tai to myself, I felt worth some investigating and also experimenting.

I have been undertaking this standing practice gleaned from my research and it is definitely helping. I do about 40 minutes a day at the moment building slowly to an hour and I’m able to do more movement, but feel this is all I need.

Xing Yi is a remarkable art, truly flexible and adaptive to the needs of the practitioner.
I am not advocating this as a system for people to learn, it has been purely for me to improve my own health and well being,. Though I am sure it would help others in a similar situation.

What should I do?

Zhu and chenWhen you don’t have as much time as you would like what is the best exercise to do?
I am relating this to Martial arts and not specific to all but certainly to the arts I am proficient in.

Sun Style Martial Arts

The Taiji form takes between 7-12 minutes to perform it can take longer of course so this is a good thing to practise as it has everything inside, my teacher related to me though that when you only have time to do one thing it should be Pi Quan, as it is everywhere in the Sun Style.

Krabi Krabong

The mother skills are the most important things here and if not a lot of time the martial dances are essential to hone your technique.

Eskrima

familiarity with weapons is essential but that can be achieved by doing Ammara, with any weapon not just sticks.

Muay Boraan

The essential things are the basic footwork and doing combinations, making the transitions smoothly, making sure you have good co ordination between hands and feet, shadow boxing essential here.

Hunyuan Chen Shi Xin Yi Taiji

Without a doubt the 24 step form contains all you need to improve with daily practise, this can do done in anything from 7-20 minutes depending on your time available, also the 12 step qigong is another thing you could supplement or just do stand alone if time limited.

Obviously there are a lot of exercises that will give you reward for the effort to do them, Master Feng Zhiqiang advocated standing in Wuji for 45 minutes a day, as well as doing form and qigong but in this modern world we don’t always have the luxury of training 7-8 hrs a day, we can practise before work or after, get up early, practise during lunch there are so many ways to get your training but you must enjoy it, the daily grind is the most important thing.

Intent

It was always explained to me that in Sun Style the mind is the most important thing, 75% is intent in doing the movements and 25% physically performing them, I think this is a very difficult concept to understand unless you break it down in other ways for example, doing the Taiji with 25% effort but 75% concentration.

The most important movement according to teacher Lei Shi Tai is Pi Quan and this should be done slowly and softly but with 100% concentration on every movement. If you feel something different in the movement you should examine it with your mind, adjust it to what it should be and continue. Some days I just did Pi Quan for an hour nothing else! I maintained this routine, just teaching the form and other Xing Yi and so practicing it. The benefits from just doing Pi Quan on the rest of the Sun Style was amazing it improved everything.

This is really cutting down to a base movement no other movements needed just one fist to make all others.

Sun Style Xing Yi Spear

It was thought by many people that this was lost and no longer taught within Sun Style. But teacher Lei Shi Tai has knowledge of this form and though I never learned the form, I was shown the movements by him and they resembled the energy used in the 5 element fists, but developed it to a higher degree. As the idea is to put the energy into the spear and so project it out of the body. I have done a lot of spear training previously with Master Chu so this concept was not new to me, but in the Sun style it is projected in a natural way not forced. So this is a very high level of training, as you need to be at the ‘An Jing’ level to be able to put the energy into the spear without injuring yourself or forcing the energy and you must use the mind with intent to get the correct result.

Sun Style Xing Yi 12 Animals Part 2

She Xing (Snake) This is a difficult form, coiling and twisting as well as stepping in a low stance blocking and unbalancing the opponent in one move.

Xong / Ying (Bear and Eagle) This combination form is very powerful with steady stepping and grabbing and is number 8 and 9 in the forms list, the Qi Na movement can break an opponents arm if done correctly.

Yau Xing (Sparrow Hawk) A very simple form with an effective strike to finish the opponent.

Loong Xing (Dragon) Pi Quan is essential in performing this form and it is designed to be an evasion but also give a springy leg attribute.

Huo Xing (Monkey) This form has jumping and striking in 5 directions and is very difficult to perform correctly.

Teacher Lei Shi Tai explained that the 12 animals give different attributes like evasion and footwork they don’t train power as that is done with the 5 elements. So to make the them work you need to practice the basics of San Ti and the 5 elements then when you have time perform the 12 animals. His advice was to practice San Ti and Pi Quan and Taiji everyday and if you have time the 5 Elements and 12 Animals, if you did not have a lot of time just the San Ti and Taiji or even just Pi Quan as he taught everything comes from this and it is in everything within the Sun Style and is as Important as San Ti.

Sun Style Xing Yi 12 Animals Part 1

The following are how I learned them from Teacher Lei Shi Tai and he stressed that they could be practiced anyway you felt or in any order it was not important to do them strictly following a predetermined order.

I first learned Ma Xing (Horse) and there are two ways of doing this form a traditional straight line way and also a way using exchange step making it a practical method, it charges like a horse excluding the opponents guard or dragging the opponent towards you then hitting him with two fists.

Hu Xing (Tiger) was next and this involved a small step and jump to close the distance to the opponent and the footwork is at 45° as the opponent is pulled and pushed.

I then learned Tai Xing (Ostrich) again the start of the form involved a small step and a jump then stepping at 45° a double punch then a double block up is performed, the double block up is performed very fast before the next step is taken to perform the double punch.

Toh Xing (Llizard) this is done in a circular motion a bit like Yun Shou (Cloud Hands) using semi circular stepping this can also be done in circles forwards or backwards it is a very flexible form.

Yen Xing (Swallow) is a simple form with some devastating movement including jumping and a very powerful punch it swoops down to unbalance an opponent and also has some Qi Na.

Ji Xing (Chicken) this is a very powerful form and devastates an opponent rattling their teeth and shaking their bones.