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Xing Yi Master Li Jian Qiu on Attacking & Defending in Xing Yi

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 discusses how attacking and defending are completely interwoven with one another.This method of boxing [Xing Yi Quan] is simple and direct. In ordinary boxing, attacking and defending are separate. One first defends and after one counterattacks. This is not so in Xing Yi Quan. Attacking is defending and defending is attacking. One action contains both functions. How can we talk about this? Lets talk about Splitting Fist (Pi Quan). If the opponent attacks my “Heart Mouth” (solar plexus) with a left punch, no matter whether his punch is high or low, I simply advance the right side and use splitting fist to parry his arm, protecting myself, while at the same time entering as my arm makes a oblique forward scraping/rubbing stabbing action. If his hand is not sensitive and quick, he will be hit by my fist. Thus defense is an attack. If the opponent’s hand is perceptive and quick, he will lift up [my fist] and push it outward. I ride his upward pushing force while shrinking [the body] and circling around while sinking my arm as my fist becomes a palm suddenly transforming into a Splitting Fist to his body. Even if he wants to defend he cannot. Why? To lift his arm and push he must use a lot of force making it difficult for him to have time to withdraw and return, while I smother his power. While he desires to attack quickly and violently, I merely make a circle and hit him. I simply use a single arm and he cannot defend and has no time to attack. Is this not attack as defense? Isn’t the art of Xing Yi Quan clever and efficient?

Some people say that Beng Quan (Bursting Fist) is very straight and direct and lacks subtlety. I would say that Beng Quan has two uses (ie: direct and subtle). If the opponent attacks with a high punch, I punch underneath [his punch] on a diagonal angle with an upward rinsing, carrying force (Tiao). As my fist enters on the diagonal angle, my body must enter towards the opponent’s side. I have already evaded his punch and now I simultaneously lift upward, poking and striking forward without hesitation or waste. If the opponent tries to press down on my [lifting-poking] fist, he cannot, and even if he does press, his pressure will be limited and I am prepared to defend and strike with my other fist. If the opponent strikes low, I strike from above slanting diagonally downward with a pressing force. When his fist is pressed, his arm cannot reach my body, while my fist scraps/rubs across his arm to strike the target. Who can say that Beng Quan does not have both uses?

Beng Quan