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The Xing Yi Quan of Li Cun Yi

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A friend of Zhang Zhao Dong and also a Ba Gua Zhang practitioner, Li Cun Yi (1847-1921) is mostly known for his Xing Yi Quan.

In the region of Hebei, Shen county, a master of Xing Yi Quan named Li Neng Ran (1809-1890) taught a few very famous disciples such as Guo Yun Shen and Liu Qi Lan.

Li Cun Yi became one of the best disciples of Liu Qi Lan.

Meanwhile, he often visited an old friend, Cheng Ting Hua (disciple of Dong Hai Chuan, the creator of Ba Gua Zhang) and regularly went to Beijing to exchange combat techniques.

His Xing Yi Quan is clear and powerful, fluid and relaxed, with no flowery or empty moves.

His teaching is precise, it strengthens the body and develops the ability to express the power in combat.

It always begins with static positions and Nei Gong without stepping, searching for structure and rooting.

After the Qi Gongs of the school and the basic Nei Gong exercises (“keeping heaven and earth”, “the three old fists” and “linking the the whole body”), we begin the study of the five fists and of their related Nei Gongs.

Five fists:

– Pi Quan: separating, cutting,
– Tsuan Quan: twisting, going up,
– Beng Quan: screwing, sawing,
– Pao Quan: Forcing, exploding,
– Heng Quan: changing, horizontal force.

Each fist has several Nei Gong to develop the various combined strength of each move. These exercises develop the body and teach the practitioner to “express the power”.

For example, for Pi Quan we have the following exercises:

– Upward power Li Gong,
– Pushing power Li Gong,
– Lifting-pulling Nei Gong,
– Pushing-changing Nei Gong,
– 5 steps,
– Basic form,
– Back lines form,
– Front lines form,
– Fa-Jin form,
– Fighting form.

There are about twenty small fighting forms which develop the ability to combine some of the five fists for usage:

– Pi Beng Tsuan,
– Tsuan Pao Pi,
– Beng Beng Heng,
Etc …

To “relax” the five fists practice, there are a series of combined forms of these to link them naturally without mental reflection:

– The 5 linking fists,
– Uniting the five forces,
– The 5 explosions,
– Linking the five moves.

After releasing the five fists and developing the eight basic fa jin, one learns the twelve animal forms:

– Tiger: clawing power,
– Dragon: leg training,
– Horse: striking power,
– Snake: shoving and going back up,
– Rooster: One of the basics of Hebei style,
– Falcon: direction changes,
– Swallow: changing fist,
– Monkey: multiple strikes,
– “Tai” bird: hidden power,
– Crocodile: horizontal power,
– Eagle: grabbing,
– Ours: colliding.

Each animal form can be declined in three to five variations that develop different qualities and applications. There are also several Nei Gong for each, and each animal’s power is made of combined Fa-Jins of the 5 fists.

The 12 animals practice is long and physically difficult.

Then, if we have acquired the ability to express the power in each animal form, we move to several “advanced” forms:

– “5 fists and 12 animals”: a form which combines all that was learned since the beginning of the training.
– “Xing Yi Quan”: a form which is characteristic of the Zhang Zhao Dong and Li Cun Yi school, and which develops fighting combinations.
– “8 special forces”: develops forces which are missing in the learning process of the style: head butts, elbows and other combinations of uppercuts …
– “8 styles”: a short and explosive form which is practiced with “explosion” all the way.

Two-person exercises and other combat applications are practiced all along the way and start from the first course: one learns the basic Qi Gong and trains with a partner from the beginning.

Li Cun Yi said: “Xing Yi Quan develops the forces (solo training) and the exchange expresses these forces (partner training).”

Without two-person training, fighting exercises and sensitivity skills training, all developed with a partner, Xing Yi Quan cannot be practical.

Li Cun Yi also included in his teaching circle-walking and three Ba Gua Zhang palm changes:

– Single-palm change,
– Double-palm change,
– Fluid palm change.