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Master Chen Quan Gong on Xing Yi Quan Theory and Training – Part 4

Part 4 of a discussion of Xing Yi Quan theory and training by Li Gui Chang’s senior disciple, Chen Quan Gong. Master Chen talks freely and openly about how to train Xing Yi correctly and the subtle changes that take place in the body in 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. Read Part 1 of this discussion HERE.

如何练用法

“拳架里的劲力找到了,练到身上了,就有了内家拳的基本功夫,但有了这个功夫并不等于就可以搏击。所以李师父说:‘功夫好相当于一个人有了家产,比武相当于会不会投资,从功夫好到善比武,还得要一番苦悟’。就是说功夫好只是基础,要真真搏击还得在思想上,实践中磨练,醒悟。不过这种磨练和醒悟是多方面的。但首先要知道基本招式的基本用法。

How to Train Applications?

“Once you find the Jin-Li in the fist frame and put it into practice [in one’s own body], you have attained the foundational Gong Fu of Nei Jia Quan. But, when you have attained this Gong Fu, it does not mean you can fight. Therefore, Master Li said: Gong Fu is equivalent to a person with a family fortune. The martial contest is equivalent to whether this person knows to how to invest. Going from Gong Fu to good talent in the martial contest, requires a period of painstaking effort.’ In other words, Gong Fu is just the  foundation. Real fighting requires thinking, and sensing as one tempers [oneself] [34] through practice in order to realize the truth. [35]. However, one comes to realize that this kind of self-cultivation and tempering is muti-faceted. First of all, it is necessary to understand the basic applications of the fundamental techniques.

[34] 磨练 Mo Lian: Mo = rub; grind; polish. Lian = practice, train, drill. Mo Lian in this context means “to temper” or “steel oneself”.

[35] 醒悟 Xing Wu: to wake up, come to realize the truth; wake up to reality.

“首先说劈拳,李师父说:‘劈拳的打法是‘劈拳如劈斧’,山民抡斧子劈柴,跟抡鞭子一样,要个脆劲,否则,斧子就只能砍进木头里,无法一下劈成两半’。是说使用劈拳的时候要有惯性的那种打划的劲力。李师父还说:‘起手接变,缩身顶杠而进,有出手没有收手,其实杠出而后,还有个身子向后弓身动作,这就是劈拳蓄劲进身的隐蔽的手法。这是说实战中劈拳身法的应用。

“First, let’s talk about Pi Quan. Master Li said: ‘the striking method of Pi Quan is like splitting with an axe’. The mountain people split firewood, like swinging a whip, requiring a crisp Jin. Otherwise, the axe can only hack into the wood and cannot split it in two.’ This means that using Pi Quan, requires an initial striking and drawing [36] Jin-Li. Master Li also said: ‘when the hand rises, changes start; shrink the body, prop up the bar [37] and go forward. The hand comes out and does not come back. In fact, the bar goes out afterward, and also there is also a backward bowing movement of the body. This the hidden hand method that gathers Jin and advances the body in Pi Quan.’ This is the application of Pi Quan body methods in actual combat.”

[36] 划 Hua: paddle; row; scratch; mark or draw

[37] Ding, “to prop up”; “carry on the head”; “gore” or “butt with the head”; “to push up from below” is one of the Xing Yi Quan’s “Eight Words.” Propping up the bar or stick probably refers to the San Ding: 1. Press the head upward 2. The tongue touches the upper palate 3. The hands press outward.

“其次,是崩拳。李师父说:‘崩拳比武最方便,伸手就是。崩拳如箭,发中同时,这份利索是高东西,修为到了才能有。崩拳的要领在‘转环崩’上,转环崩是枪法,枪法中有转环枪,就是一枪刺过去,被对方兵器架住,不用换动作,枪杆子一转就势扎过去。将这无形的大枪杆子旋起来,就是转环崩。转环崩厉害了,等于耍大枪’。崩拳看似简单,其实不简单,从自己的劲力到实战的应用是很需要体悟的,李师父都赞扬是‘高东西,修为到了才能有’。

“Next, let’s talk about Beng Quan. [38] Master Li said: ‘In the martial contest, Beng Quan is the most convenient. It is there when the hand extends out. Beng Quan is like an arrow. When it goes out it must be well executed. This can only be achieved after painstaking cultivation. The essential point of Beng Quan lies in ‘ring-rotating Beng’. Ring Rotating Beng  is a spear method. In spear methods, there is ring-rotating spear. Namely, when the spear is poked out and parried by the weapon of the opponent, [you] do not need to change the movement. Simply rotate the shaft of the spear and use the momentum to poke out. Rotating a big invisible spear shaft is exactly the ‘ring-rotating Beng’. Beng Quan looks easy, but actually is not easy. It must be sensed and understood from your own Jin-Li in order to be applied in actual combat. Master Li appraised [Beng] as something that is  ‘high-level’,  only attainable through painstaking cultivation.’”

[38] 崩 Beng: means “to collapse”; “fall apart”; “burst” – as in  bursting or popping a balloon. It can also mean execute by “shooting.” Although often translated as “smashing” fist”, “bursting fist” may be more correct.

“再次,是钻拳。李师父说:‘钻拳不是钻拳头,是钻身子,一个是前手压住对方,扯带得后手撵锥子似地撵进去。另一个是,前手一晃,你就撞在他后手上了,变魔术一般,不是障眼法,而是他换了身形(两者的虚实不同)。冬天冷的时候,门上挂着沉甸甸的棉门帘,人进门时,前手一撩门帘,身子就往里钻,身子一动,手上搭的份量就卸了,人进了门,帘子也刚好落下,有道缝就进了人。这是生活里转换虚实的现象,形意拳的‘换影’也是这个。这是说实战中敌我双方劲力在粘接以后的虚实转换,其实太极推手也是这个道理。

“Next is Zuan Quan. Master Li said: ‘Zuan Quan is not drilling with the fist, it is drilling  with the body. The front hand suppresses the opponent by pulling and taking, the rear hand drives forward and enters like an awl. Shake away the front hand and you are bumped by the posterior hand. It is like sleight of hand, not a covering up method, [39] but instead changing the body form (In reality, they are not the same). In the winter, when it is cold, there is a heavy cotton door curtain on the door. When a person enters the front hand lifts up the door curtain and the body simply enters [zuan]. [40] The body moves and hand lifts up together, the person enters and the curtain drops. The person simply enters through a slit. In life, this is the change and transformation between the real and the apparent (the true and the false). In Xing Yi Quan this is exactly what ‘changing the shadow’ means.’ In actual combat the Jin-Li of both parties, the enemy and myself, connect (link) and stick, changing and transforming between the false and the real. In fact, this is the same principle as in Tai Ji Tui Shou (push hands).

[39] 障眼法 Zhangyanfa: camouflage, cloaking so someone will not see the truth.

[40] 钻 Zuan: this is the same zuan as in “drilling” fist, but it also means to “bore”; “dig”; “get into”

“另外李师父对形意拳在搏击中的步伐、身法和与对方的距离也有要求,说:‘形意拳走中门,占中路的道理,以慢打快。关键在步法。打法定,先上身,手脚齐到方为真’。是说搏斗时要发挥形意拳身体整体协调运动的特点,这样才能发挥形意拳整体劲力的优势。他还说:‘打人如亲嘴,也就是穷追不舍的意思,因此说,练拳如亲嘴’。是说形意拳、太极拳搏击中和对方的身体要赞粘连随,不让对方脱开自己的劲力控制。

“In addition, in Xing Yi Quan combat Master Li also had requirements with regards to footwork (Bu Fa), body methods (Shen Fa) and distance in relation to the opponent in the martial contest of Xing Yi Quan, saying: ‘Xing Yi Quan walks the middle gate, its principle, to occupy the middle road and to use slowness to strike quickly. The key lies in the stepping method. Once the striking method (Da Fa) is decided, the body, hand and foot arrive simultaneously. This means that in combat, it is necessary to bring into play the coordinated whole body movement characteristic of Xing Yi Quan. In this way one can bring to bear the advantage Xing Yi Quan’s whole body Jin-Li. He also said: ‘to strike a person is like kissing [a person], e.g. pursue relentlessly without giving up. Therefore, it is said that to train the fist (boxing) is like kissing a person.’ This means that in the combat with Xing Yi Quan and Tai Ji Quan, neutralize the opponent by sticking, linking and following his body, and not letting him extricate himself from the control of my Jin-Li.”

“而且在劲力上李师父认为练拳和实战也有不同,他说:‘形意拳的练法和打法,迥然不同。比如,练法要‘以身推肩,以肩推肘,以肘推手,直练到川流不息的程度,而打法则要将手鞭子样甩出去,再以肘追手,以肩追肘,以身追肩,如两手拍巴掌,很响,用身子拍手,就是打法了(快响)’。

“Also, Master Li believed that there is a difference between the Jin-Li in training and in actual combat. He said: ‘Xing Yi Quan training methods and striking methods are utterly different. For instance, in the training method (Lian Fa)  ‘the body pushes the shoulder, the shoulder pushes the elbow, the elbow pushes the hand, this process flowing without end, while in the striking method (Da Fa), the hand goes outward like throwing a whip.  [One] must throw out the hand like throwing a whip, pursuing [41] the hand with the elbow, pursuing the elbow with the shoulder, and pursuing the shoulder with the body,’ like two hands loudly clapping  together. Using the body to clap the hands is the striking method (fast, sharp sound)’.

[41] 追 Zhui: chase, pursue, trace, seek.

“在搏击的战术原则中,李师父也有自己的认识,他说:‘总之,见手说话,来手化打结合,正所谓‘拳法意来本五形,生克裹钻变化精。要知识者真消息,只在眼前一寸中。手脚齐到方为真’。化打结合是搏击的原则,发人、击人身体由下而上的整体气力是关键。

“In the tactical principles [42] of fighting, Master Li had his own understanding. He said: ‘In general, when [we] talk about seeing the [enemy’s] hand, when the hand comes, dissolving [43] and striking are combined. [44] This is exactly ‘the fist method [Quan Fa] intention originates originally from the five elements, their generation and overcoming,  wrapping and drilling, and refined changes and transformations. Knowing and identifying the fluctuations only happens one-inch in front of the eyes. Hand and foot arriving together is genuine [skill].’’ Combining dissolving and striking is the fighting principle. In throwing and striking use the energy and strength [Qi and Li] of the entire body from the bottom to top (ie: coming from below).”

[42] 战术 Zhan Shu: literally: “War Skill”; “Military Skill”, but can also mean “tactics”.

[43] 化 Hua: “to transform”; “to change”; “dissolve”.

[44] 结合 Jie He: “combine”; “unite”; “integrate”; ‘link”.

“李师父对实战意识的培养也有自己的方法:他说‘练拳的心思怎么动?练拳时,好像对面有人,每一手都象实发,是象实发而非实发,自己要多设想几个对手,慢慢地练拳,一拳出去要感觉是以极快的速度冷不防打倒了其中一个,其他人还盯着你呢。不要想着正式比武,要想着遭人暗算。等真比武脑子就空了,一切招式都根据对方来,等着对方送招,对方一动就是找挨打,所谓‘秋风未动蝉先觉’,比武就是比谁先知道,形意拳的后发制人不是等对方动手了我再动手,而是对方动手的征兆一起,要应着对方,适合什么用什么’。当然这种意识的训练是找到拳架劲力的基础,和知道拳架用法的基础上进行的训练,和练功的程序不能本末倒置。

“Master Li also had his own methods for fostering and developing a sense of actual fighting. He said: ‘How to initiate the intention in boxing training? In boxing training, imagine  a person in the front of you, and release every hand as a real hand, like releasing the real but not releasing the real. One should imagine several opponents and train the fist slowly, and when one fist comes out, you should feel you are knocking down one of them with extremely fast speed, and the rest of them are still just watching you. Do not think about the real martial contest, you need to imagine [that] a person plots against you. In real fighting, the brain should be empty. All techniques must depend upon the opponent’s; waiting for the opponent to offer his techniques. Once the opponent moves, simply get close to strike. This is exactly ‘even before the autumn wind moves, the cicada perceives it.’ The martial contest is just to test who knows first. In Xing Yi Quan, to gain mastery by counterattacking does not mean that after the opponent moves his hand, I move my hand. Instead, as soon as the opponent signals [the impulse] to strike, you need to respond with whatever is appropriate.’ Naturally, this awareness training is a foundation to seek the Jin-Li of the fist frame, and one should not mistake the incidental for the fundamental. [45] The training is conducted based upon awareness of the fist frame applications, foundational training and the training procedure.”

[45] 本末倒置 Ben Mo Dao Zhi: “turn fundamental and superficial upside down” or perhaps in colloquial English: “put the cart before the horse”

总之有功夫到比武实战是有过程的,在具备了功夫后,思想意识就显得很重要了,所以李师父教导说:‘平时用心思多练,一出手就是合适的。只有练拳时方方面面的心思都动到,在比武电闪雷鸣的一瞬,才能变出东西来’。

In short, there is a process [to go] from the Gong Fu to the actual martial contest. After obtaining the Gong Fu, the ideas, senses and intention [i.e.: physical and mental awareness] are very important. Therefore, Master Li instructed us: ‘At  ordinary times [you] must train diligently, and [your actions] will be appropriate as soon as the hand goes out. Only by considering every aspect of boxing training, can it be possible to instantaneously conjure up something, in the thunder and lightning of the martial contest’.

“李师父这些对练功和实战的经验都是在长期的修炼中总结出来的,都是实实在在的学问,内家拳的爱好者应该牢牢记住,即要知道武术功夫是实战的基础,又要知道功夫代替不了实战,得把功夫放在实践中体悟才有可能变为搏击中有用的东西。

“Master Li’s experiences on training of skills and actual combat are summarized and come from long term cultivation and training. This is true knowledge. Nei Jia Quan enthusiasts must keep them firmly mind. They need to know that Wu Shu [46] Gong Fu skills are the foundation of actual combat, and that Gong Fu cannot replace actual combat. Only by sensing and realizing Gong Fu in training and practice, can it become useful in actual fighting.”

[46] 武术Wu Shu: martial arts.

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

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