形意拳 は八卦掌や太極拳 と同じく内家拳です。これら三つの内家拳はそれぞれに特徴があります。
The name hsing-i chuan (xing yi quan/shing yi chuan) is composed of three terms. Chuan translates as "fist". Hsing means "to form something." I, specifically in the phrase hsing-i, refers to the ability of the mind to create an idea and project it into the body, creating a functional physical form. The term hsing-i, then can be looked at from two perspectives. First it is whatever form the mind directs. Second, the form can run varieties of ideas, so you learn how to develop all the ideas within a form.
Hsing-i practitioners are military in approach--marching in straight lines with a powerful emphasis at the end of every technique on mentally or physically taking an enemy down. The obvious external attributes of punching and striking are inherenet to the way hsing-i is practiced. For many external martial artists not satisfied with the slow-motion form practice of tai chi (taiji), hsing-i done at normal speed fits the bill.
Moreover, hidden within the apparently linear techniques of hsing-i is a significant amount of very small, almost unseen, complete circles that are normally lacking in external martial arts. Rather than using muscular tension or anger for power, hsing-i focuses instead on utilizing relaxation, chi (qi) and stillness of mind to accomplish the pragmatic goal of winning in a confrontation.
Hsing-i possesses either the same or similiar primary goals as other more external fighting arts, such as karate or boxing, but also includes the chi (qi) work, health aspects and ability to be martially effective into old age that most of the external martial arts lack.
The physical technique of hsing-i is based completely on efficient use of the neigongi internal power system; hence it is internal. Because of this, it is capable of making the weak strong and the sick healthy. However, its primary mental set is still the aggressive one of Shaoline, karate or boxing.
Hsing-i's (xing yi's/Shing yi's) basic qualities as a martial art include:
The image frequently used to describe the technique of hsing-i is that of an iron ball rolling right over the opponent. Whether your body type is thin or heavyset, one of your major internal goals in hsing-i is to sink chi (qi) to make your body and arms become incredibly heavy.
Hsing-i's (Xing yi's/Shing yi's) Five Elements are in effective the five energies that, according to Taoist cosmology, comprise the energy matrix of the universe. In traditional Chinese medical theory, these five dynamic energies (Fire, Water, Wood, Earth and Metal) balance the internal organs of the human body.
Each of the following Hsing-i Five Elements utilize a particular hand technique that moves power along a specific physical force vector. Each individual hsing-i five-element techinique or fist has a slightly different way in which it is done: high (to the opponent's heart or above), middle (between the heart and the lower tantien), and low (to the opponent's hips, groin or legs).
In this hsing-i (xing yi/shing yi) five-element technique, physical motion goes from up to down, utilizing pushing downward internal energy. The final posture of the complete Pi Chuan movement is the one held in San Tii, a standing posture. The internal pressures that this movement initiates in the body, in addition to its basic chi (qi) work, directly and positively affects the lungs. It is represented by the metal element, and it focuses on makeing an extremely strong spine and hands as hard as steel.
In this hsing-i (xing yi/shing yi) technique, physical motion goes from down to up and uses Ward Off, expansive energy. The internal pressures that Tsuan Chuan generates within the body during execution of the technique, in addition to its basic chi (qi) work, directly and positively affect the kidneys and the whole vitality of the body. Hsing-i Tsuan Chuan is represented by the Water Element, and focuses on making the hands able tomove around the opponent's arems like water moves around a rock.
This hsing-i (xing yi/shing yi) technique uses straight-ahead physical motion along with the internal energy of Press Forward. Beng Chuan is hsing-i's most well-known attack technique. It is often considered to be the most powerful straight punch in all the Chinese martial arts. The internal pressures inititated in the body by this movement, in addition to its basic chi (qi) work, directly and positively affect the liver. Beng Chuan is represented by the Wood Element, and focuses on making fists "grow" out of the body. It is often compared to the force of a powerful plant growing and expanding through concrete with a steady, inexorable force.
This hsing-i (xing yi/shing yi) technique focuses on diagonal physical motion, and uses the internal energies of Ward Off, Roll Back, Press Forward, Push Downward and Pull Down. Pao Chuan concentrates on moving power diagonally in all directions and on explosive forward-moving power. In addition to its basic chi (qi) work, the internal pressures initiated in the body by this movement affect the heart and pericardium directly and positively. It is represented by the Fire Element and focuses on explosive and rapid oscillating releases of power. In Pao Chuan, one hand initially defends and shifts the opponent's center of balance.
This hsing-i (xing yi/shing yi) technique focuses on the inside of the fist moving horizontally. Heng Chuan is the most difficult of the Five Elements to do well. It focuses on horizontally moving power, and combines the energies and applications of the first four elements (pi, tsuan, beng and pao) into one seamless technique. The internal pressures initiated in the body by Heng Chuan, in addition to its basic chi work, directly affect the spleen. It is represented by the Earth Element, and focuses on tightening the cross-linkages between the left and right sides of the inside of the abdominal cavity.
At the very heart of the martial practice of hsing-i (xing yi/shing yi) and its Five Elements is San Ti, or the "trinity posture." San Ti is done holding a static standing posture, with your arms in the air. In the classic schools of hsing-i, the posture is held in Pi Chuan, which is the first of the Five Elements.
There is a common story about the best people in hsing-i that says they were made to do santi for between one and three years before being allowed to learn anything else. Many interpret this type of demand as a useless hazing process.
However, this process of standing is the most foundational power training in hsing-i, and without it ithe training of the Five Elements and the animal forms could easily become nothing more than movements with minimal internal power.
Aside from the martial aspects, San Ti teaches how to make the mind calm and how to free it of accumulated stress. The process that San Ti sets in motion for balance, health and healing is expanded and fulfilled in the Five Element practices. San Ti focuses on cultivating five critical processes: (1) breath; (2) legs and waist; (3) arms; and unifying connections within your self, both (4) externally and (5) internally.
San Ti uses a wide variety of breathing techniques. Breathing begins with regular Taoist breath training, which emphasizes breathing from the lower belly, sides, kidneys, upper back and spine. Each level of breath practice must be stabalized before moving onto the next. Moving on to each new type of breathing requires the guidance of an experienced teacher who has been through the process, experienced its results and can recognize the nuances of how internal energy is developing in your body.
The next state in santi involves learning the various levels of reverse breathing and spinal breathing. The final stage of the santi breath practices include the feeling of losing all sense of physical breath, even though your breathing processes are very strong.
San Ti develops your ability to root your energy and create and/or strengthen balance in your legs. As the methods for dropping your chi (qi) to your lower tantien are learned, your body (regardless of shape or weight) will seem to feel heavier and heavier to someone's touch. When the sinking of the chi and all the other grounding techniqes are accomplished, your body progressively becomes exceedingly stable whether hit from the front, side or back.
In San Ti, as your leg an hip flexibiity grow, you become able to raise and lower your stance effortlessly. The internal methods for developing power in the legs come next. Then, San Ti techniques are learned for joining your leg, waist and spine into one inseparable whole, with no energetic gaps or physical weakness in their unified power.
Finally, in San Ti as your legs and waist are trained to turn horizontally and rotate like a smoothly oiled wheel, where the power of each amplifies the other. When the "oiling" is complete in santi, your waist is able to turn extremely rapidly, to both the left and right, whether you are front or back weighted.
The next phase in San Ti is infusing both attach-oriented and defensive power into your arms, from the shoulders to the fingertips with the initial focus being on the elbows, forearms and hands. To train for this power, you first learn to relax your arms and lengthen all the soft tissues in your body from your spine to your arms.
Next in San Ti, the chi (qi) flow from your spine to your fingertips must become continuous and without gaps. This flow must become powerful until the chi in your palms and fingertips becomes full and extremely tangible, bringing with it a strong blood flow. Then stronger the blood flow to your fingers, the softer and more full your hand should feel.
The next stage of santi and the arms focuses on bringing downward vertical power into the elbows. After elbow strength increases and your arms become heavy, the focus shifts to developing the ability of your hand to absorb energy back to your spine. After all the above are accomplished, the intent shift to making the skin on your arms become extremely sensitive to the subtleties of air pressure. Finally, in San Ti and the arms, through various forms of mind intent, you learn to absorb and to project power from your hands using various internal techniqes, such as openings and closings and twistings.
Another major goal of santi is to connect your physical body into a unified whole. Such unification allows the movement of any small part of your arms or legs to be fully backed up by the whole of your body, thereby amplifying the power of the small parts significantly. Hsing-i (Xing yi/Shing yi) particularilty focuses on the six external coordinations or combinations (called liu he in Chinese). These six are the shoulder and the hip, the elbow and the knee, and the hand and the foot.
Along with the internal alignments and the six combinations, hsing-i shares several lifting, sinkings and roundings of the body with bagua (ba guai/pakua) and tai chi (taiji).
The next stage of San Ti involves unifying your mind with the gaze of your eyes and your awareness. The object here is to fuse your physical power, chi (qi), mind and perceptions into one unified entity. This training is done by fixing your gaze on the index or middle finger of your lead hand.
This gazing technique sensitized the mind, making it alive and calm with a relaxed concentration, the same state that comes from doing the "tradak" candle-staring exercises in yoga. When practiced sufficiently, this technique leads to an expansion of the mind so that it can link directly to the central nervous system, allowing you to feel the chi of your body with great clarity.
Lesser known than tai chi (taiji) and even bagua (ba gua/pakua), Bruce and Energy Arts occasionaly teaches Hsing-i (Xing Yii/Shing Yi) Five Elements and San Ti practices. We plan to release a DVD on hsing-i in the spring of 2011.
This tai chi training was a tranformational experience, breaking through one's sense of expectations, releasing stagnant areas in the body, mind and spirit.