Li Jian Qiu (李劍秋) was a disciple of Li Cun Yi. Li Jian Qiu is the author of Xing Yi Quan Shu (形意拳術) – “the Art of Xing Yi Boxing” – written in 1919 during China’s Republican Period. In the following excerpt, Li is clearly reacting to the influx of foreign physical education methods that were rapidly changing attitudes toward traditional practices like Gong Fu. Taking this into account, Li’s words still speak to us more than 100 years later
Long distance running, sprinting, the long jump and high jump, running hurdles, pole vaulting, the shot put, javelin throw and discus throw, soccer, basketball, tennis, swimming, lifting weights, vaulting the pommel horse, all these kinds of exercise – except perhaps swimming, soccer and basketball – all to some extent employ specific emphasis.
In running and jumping the lower body exerts more effort than the upper body, and with the shot put or discus the upper body is employed more than the legs. If you practice exercises like this, the muscles are and strength will only be developed in certain specific areas, but not in others. To benefit from these exercises requires a lot of time and effort and furthermore these exercises each require specific equipment and playing fields.
However, when one trains in boxing through concentrating the spirit and gathering Qi the whole body is developed evenly; the eyes are alert and bright and the limbs lively and vigorous. The neck rotates nimbly and the abdomen is full and substantial. Then body and the Jing Shen are fully unified, and the will is resolute and the Qi indomitable. This generates a patient, enduring strength. Furthermore it [boxing] can be practiced anywhere it does not require a specific time or space, nor does it require special equipment. What could be better than this? It can be practically applied for self-defense and also to protect others, supporting the weak against the strong, thereby displaying chivalry and righteousness. These aspects of the foundation of the boxing art make it more beneficial than other types of sports and exercise and imbue it with superior qualities.