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Xing Yi Master Shang Ji on Zuan Quan – Drilling Fist (Part 1)

This month we look at  Xing Yi Master Shang Ji‘s discussion of  Zuan Quan (Drilling Fist). The below description and poem are excerpted from his book, Xing Yi Quan Fighting Skills.

Zuan Quan 钻拳 (Drilling Fist)

Metal generates Water; Water moistens Metal,                                                                      


Lungs and kidneys, two houses mutually related.                                                                   


Split open fire mountainn and go through to the red stove,[1]                                                 


Zuan emits from Kidney Water, and returns to Kunlun.                                                     


1. Fundamental Training Method

Starting from San Ti Shi (Three Body Pattern), as you inhale, the left hand returns to the left front moving in an arc and turning over to face upward at the heart to go back to its original position. Simultaneously the left foot takes a half-step forward. The toes turn outward so that the two feet make the shape of the character “eight” (Ba 八). The right hand makes a fist with the palm center facing downward and Hu Kou is against the abdomen. Look at the left hand (Fig. 2-7).

Exhale as the right fist drills outward from the belt turning over as it follows the pulse at the left wrist, so that the fist heart faces upward at the level of the mouth. Simultaneously, the right foot advances with the toes pointing straight ahead. The left foot makes a small step. (Fig.2-8).

The feet and body form a standing step. The right hand and left foot, above and below are in coordination with each other (in accord; connected). Meanwhile the left fist closes and draws back under the right elbow to return to the side of the navel. The center of the fist faces downward with Hu Kou against the lower abdomen. Look at the left hand. This is the right form of the drilling fist. Then advance the right foot and go forward with the left foot for the left form of the drilling fist. The movement is identical. Alternate left and right (Figs. 2-9 to 2-10)

2. Turning Body Action

When you wish to turn you can do so from either the left or right form. When turning from the left form, the tip of left foot turns inward so that the two feet resemble the character eight (Ba八). The left hand moves to the side of the lower abdomen with the palm facing downward as the body turns to the right. Meanwhile, the right foot lifts to make a half-step, the toe turning outward. From the waist, the right fist goes forward and upward in an arc, as the center of the palm turn to face upward and reaches the level of the mouth. The arm is bent at an angle of about 130°. The left posture becomes the right posture (Fig. 2-9). Then the left side follows with the left hand drilling outward as in Fig. 10. Then one moves forward and continues to train the form.

In order to finish and gather the form, make a right Drilling Fist, followed by a left spitting fist and then end as in Splitting Fist.

3.  Requirements for Employing Jin

The head presses upward from below (顶Ding); the arms and shoulders exhibit Jin; the Yao sinks; lift internally and shrink the kidney; Qi sinks downward.

The fist goes forward and upward with drilling Jin, with force in the elbow going to the centerline and wrapping Jin. The forearm rotates outward issuing twisting Jin, like using a screwdriver to twist a screw into wood. The other hand internally rotates so that the palm turns downward with the wrist (and forearm) hooking and covering to with downward pressing Jin. Shoulders beat and upper arms unite, and the waist settles down. Then one can bind up [2] the body and enter, like squeezing the body into a narrow crack. The Boxing classic says: Its (Zuan Quan] form is like lightning, and Zuan Quan is like flowing water, that winds, seeps and penetrates into a hole [everywhere].

The Qi of Drilling fist is released from the kidneys. It Qi arises at Yongquan (KID 1) and goes straight up the spinal column to the kidneys, continues rising to Shu Fu (KID 27) and goes along the inside of the arm to Zhong Chong (P 9), returning from Zhong Chong to issue outward. Its Jin is firm, vigorous, perceptive, agile and quick, making it elusive and as difficult to grasp as a flash of lightning. When training this fist, the hand method, footwork and body method must be completely harmonious and coordinated; the hands feet and body must be completely unified. One must be bold, precise, and lively. Courageously enter with the body and get close to strike; being too far will accomplish nothing.


[1] Red or Cinnabar Stove (丹灶) references the inner elixir.

[2] 束身 Shu Shen: “bind oneself,” “bind up” or” bundle” the body.