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Master Chen Quan Gong on Xing Yi Quan Theory and Training: Part 1

A rare treat!! Li Gui Chang’s senior disciple, Chen Quan Gong, leads an in-depth discussion of Xing Yi Quan theory and training. Master Chen talks freely and openly about how to train Xing Yi correctly and the subtle changes that take place in the body during the practice of San Ti Shi and the Five Fists.

Originally posted online in Chinese, this English translation is offered by Huang Guo Qi, Tom Bisio and Martin LaPlatney. 

李桂昌先师论形意拳

记陈全恭师伯在太原市太极拳协会的讲话 白建云

Master Li Gui Chang On Xing Yi Quan

Speech of School Uncle Chen Quan Gong, at Taiyuan Tai Ji Quan Association

Compiled by Bai Jian Yun

ChenQuanGong with Whipstick Master Chen Quan Gong on Xing Yi Quan Theory and Training: Part 1

Chen Quan Gong demostrating the whipstick form in 2001.
Photo by Valerie Ghent.

四月十号协会请师伯陈全恭讲课,师伯一下车就把写好的《纪念先师李桂昌》的文稿给了我。陈师伯是跟师爷李桂昌学艺时间较长的弟子之一,至今学练内家拳已经四、五十年。师伯虽然已经是七十多岁的老人,但身体健壮,性格开朗,神情豁达,不以长者自贵。最近在摄制推手光碟时,连续运动一个多小时,仍然精神矍铄,身手矫健,力量雄浑,应用自如,鲜明地印证了修炼内家拳的养生效果。

会议由池少斌主持,陈师伯讲授,协会部分会员参加,主题是形意拳。

On April 10th, School Uncle, Chen Quan Gong, was invited by the association to give a lecture. As soon as School Uncle got out of the car, he gave me his written manuscript: “In Memory of Late Master Li Gui Chang”. School Uncle Chen is one of the oldest disciples who followed Master Li for a long time and has trained the internal arts for over 50 years. Although School Uncle is over seventy years old, he is still strong and robust, has a cheerful disposition. His expression is open and clear and he does not style himself a senior master. In shooting the Pushing Hands CD recently, he trained continuously for over one hour, and still looked hale and hearty, vigorous and nimble in his movements, firm and forceful in his strength and free in his applications, vividly confirming the life-preservation (yang sheng) effect of training in the internal arts.

The meeting was hosted by Chi Shao Bin. School Uncle Chen lectured to members of the association on the topic of Xing Yi Quan.

形意拳的概念。

Concept of Xing Yi Quan

一、形意拳解

陈师伯首先问:“大家知道什么是形意拳吗?谁能回答一下?”

大家沉默。我一边听师伯讲课一边看师伯的文章,师伯在文章中引用师爷的话说:“国家大事,君臣商议;家族大事,父子商议;学习艺术,就是师徒商议了”。在门内师父、师伯们常常希望弟子提出练拳学拳中的问题,来因势利导,再看师爷的语录,可见教与学在思想上的沟通也是门内很好的一种学风。

陈师伯见大家回答不上来,就开始讲授:“要弄清这个问题,就首先要弄懂什么是形,什么是意,什么是拳。”

邓锋:“形就是动作,意就是思维”。

白建云:“形意拳的‘意’是对身体内的指挥和感觉”。

First, School Uncle Cheng asked: “Do you know what Xing Yi Quan is? Who can give me an answer?

All of us were silent. I was listening to School Uncle’s lecture and also reading his article. In the article, School Uncle quoted his teacher: “For state affairs, the monarch should discuss with the ministers. For family affairs, the father should discuss with his sons. For learning the arts, the teacher should discuss with his disciples.” In the inner school, teachers and school uncles wish for the disciples to put forward questions about training in boxing so that advice can be given accordingly Seeing that all of us were at a loss as to how to answer, Uncle Chen started to instruct: “In order to clarify this question, it is necessary to understand what Xing (form) means, what Yi (mind) means, and what Quan (fist) means.”

Deng Feng: “Xing” means movements, and “Yi” means thinking.”

Bai Jian Yun: “’Yi’ in Xing Yi Quan refers to correctly directing and perceiving the inner body.”

陈师伯:“大家的认识都有一定的道理,但是从思想上的认识和理论上的角度来表述的,而不是从练形意拳到一定程度的身体感受来描述的。对于这个问题李师父是这样认识的:何为形?何为意?何为拳?发之于外谓之形,含之于内谓意,这是形、意二字的解释。如何成为拳呢?含之于内的意,可发之于外,发之于外的形,可含之于内——如此方为形意拳。

School Uncle Chen: “Your understanding is reasonable, but it is merely theoretical, expressed from the perspective of ideas, and not from what you feel inside your body after training in Xing Yi Quan. Regarding this question, Master Li understood it this way: What is Xing (form)? What is Yi (mind)? What is Quan (fist)? What is released to the exterior is called Xing (form). What is contained in the interior is called Yi (mind). This is the explanation of those two characters of Xing and Yi. How can it become Quan (fist)? Yi (mind) contained in the interior can be released externally, and Xing (form) released in the exterior can be contained internally – Only in this way, is there Xing Yi Quan.

白建云:“听师爷对形意拳概念的解释是不是可以这样认为:形意拳的形是拳术中的形体,但又不完全和一般拳术身体表现出的形体一样,而是形体内含有意识,按这种意识表现在形体上,才能成为形意拳的形。而‘意’虽然也是思想意识,但它是对身体内部感觉指挥的思想意识,只有这种对形体指挥的意识能够在身体内部体会时才是形意拳的‘意’;用身体内的意来指挥形成形体运动,用形体运动来表现身体内的意识思想的目的,这种将身体内的意和形体运动高度结合的拳术才可以成为形意拳。

Bai Jian Yun: “After listening to the explanation on concept of Xing Yi Quan from School Uncle, we have this understanding: the form in Xing Yi Quan is the body form, but this is not completely compatible with the body form in ordinary boxing arts, because it is also an intention contained inside the body. Only when this intention is displayed within the body form, can it become Xing Yi Quan. Yi (mind) is also thought and  consciousness, but it is the thought and consciousness which commands the internal sensation of the body. Only when this consciousness commanding the body form is sensed inside the body, can it be the ‘intention’ in Xing Yi Quan. The intention inside the body commands the movement of the body forms. The movement of the body forms displays the intention, thought and feelings inside the body. Only when the consciousness and intention inside the body and movement of the body form are highly integrated and harmonious can there be Xing Yi Quan.”

陈师伯:“可以。所以形意拳强调的就是形、意以及形和意高度结合的修炼。所以李师父说:‘形意拳站桩时,目光要远大,眼神放出去。打拳时,目光盯着指尖或拳根,随着拳势而盼顾,但余光仍要照着远方——这都是将意发之于外的训练法’。说得就是身体内意识和形体的结合。他还说:如何将形含之于内,这是老辈拳师不轻传的东西。以炮拳为例,炮拳总是两臂一磕,顶杠而进,有出手没有收手,其实杠出去后,还有个身子向后一纵的动作。这就是炮拳隐蔽的手法。说是个动作,便错了,狠微,甚至不必作出来,心领神会地一下,即可。有此一耸,就出了功夫。这一句看似讲得是拳架,实质是讲身体内部的劲力,讲得是两臂顶杠而进和身体向后一耸劲力相互支撑,讲得是内劲。也就是通过举例炮拳内劲的要求来表现身体内部的意识和形体的结合。

School Uncle Chen: “Right. Therefore, the form (xing) and mind (yi) are emphasized and are highly integrated in Xing Yi Quan training. So, Master Li said: ‘In the Xing Yi Quan standing posture, the gaze should be far and the spirit should be released outward from the eyes. When striking with the fist, it is necessary to stare at the finger tip or fist root, looking around in accordance with the fist posture, but still looking forward into the far distance — this is the training method to release the intention externally.’ This is exactly the integration between the intention and consciousness inside the body and body form. He also said: ‘How can the body form be contained internally? This is the thing that senior masters cannot readily hand down. Taking  Pao Quan (Cannon Fist) as an example: In Pao Quan, the two arms always go out and advance like a pushing up with a pole. The hand goes out but does not come back. In fact, after going out, the body moves backward vertically. This is a hidden method in Pao Quan. To say it is a movement, is wrong. It is very minute, even to the point of not happening. If it is hinted at, it is sufficient. Once this is aroused, real gong fu emerges.’ This sentence seems to talk about the boxing frame. In fact, it talks about Jin-Li (energy and strength) [1] inside the body, having harmonious and mutual support between the two arms pushing upward and forward and the backward lifting Jin-Li, in order to achieve internal strength. And in the example of Pao Quan, internal strength (Jin) means to display internal intention combined and harmonized with form and structure.”

[1] 劲力 Jin Li: Energy – Force

怎么练形意拳

How to Train Xing Yi Quan

陈师伯:“通过上面的讨论,大家对形意拳的概念有了一个比较清楚的认识,那么怎么来练形意拳呢?”。

白建云:“是先学五行吧?”

陈师伯:“对。但五行、十二形以及单练、对练套路教的主要是练功和实用的拳架,但粗略的会了拳架只能说是个皮毛,最根本的是要出功夫,有了功夫,身体才可能健康,学用招式才能有体能基础,否则就只是空架子。所以李师父说:‘现今学武,总是练套路的多,练功的少。学到拳架的是学生,学到功夫的是徒弟’。那么,为什么要有学生和徒弟的区别呢?其实就是学拳入门没有入门的区别,所以徒弟称入室弟子,而学生还是门外汉。所以学内家拳,会了一些架势后主要的精力应该是练功夫。那么怎么练功夫呢?首先就要对内家拳功夫形成的大致途径有个总体的认识。李师父对这个问题用形意拳做事列有很精炼的描述,就是:‘桩功、慢练、入道’。也就是通过站桩、慢练,引起身体的变化,最后达到体呼吸,到达道家空静虚无的功夫境界”。

School Uncle Chen: “After the above discussion, all of you have a comparatively clear understanding about the concept of Xing Yi Quan. So, how [does one] train Xing Yi Quan?”

Bai Jian Yun: “First learn the five elements?”

School Uncle Chen: “Right. But, five elements, twelve forms,  single training and technique training train the skill and practical framework of boxing. This framework is superficial; it is only the skin and hair. The root and foundation emerge in the gong fu. Only when one has the gong fu, can the body be strong and healthy and the movements have a foundation. Otherwise it is simply  an empty facade. Therefore, Master Li said: Nowadays in learning the martial arts, more attention is spent in training tricks and techniques and little on gong fu. Those who learn the boxing framework are students, and those learn the gong fu are disciples. Then, why is there a difference between the students and disciples? In fact, this is the difference between entering the door [2] or not entering the door. Therefore, disciples are apprentices who enter the room, and the students are laymen. So, in learning the internal martial arts, the energy and attention should be principally focused on the gong fu. Now how does one train the gong fu?

First of all, in the internal martial arts it is important to have an overview of the formation of the gong fu. Master Li had a very precise description about this issue, about the process of  training in Xing Yi Quan, namely, ‘Standing Gong (zhuang gong), and slow training to follow the proper path.’ That means to induce the changes in the body through training stake (post) standing (zhan zhuang) and slow training in order to realize body breathing and attain the Daoist empty, still and void state.”

[2] 入门 Ru Men: literally “entering the door” can also mean “learning the fundamentals.”

*******

The original discussion in Chinese can be found at: http://www.360doc.com/content/10/1026/00/3982397_64036580.shtml

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3 Responses to Master Chen Quan Gong on Xing Yi Quan Theory and Training: Part 1

  1. Victor

    Hi,

    That’s great, is there the rest of the translation available somewhere?

    Thanks!

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