Schools: Canada | Finland | France | Hawaii | USA

Xing Yi Quan’s Twelve Animals – Excerpted From ‘A Detailed Collection of the Xing Yi Quan Skills’ by Liu Wen Hua (Part 2)

Liu Wen Hua’s book, A Detailed Collection of Xing Yi Quan Skills. is a gem. More than a mere how-to manual showing posture and form, the book gives practical descriptions on the internal actions and feelings inherent in the physical movements.

This second excerpt from Liu’s discussion on the 12 Animals, covering Hawk, Swallow, Snake, Tai Bird, Eagle and Bear, plus a discussion of Training the 12 Forms, completes our discussion of the 12 Animals of Xing Yi Quan. (Read Part 1 here).


Yao Xing: Hawk

It is said: that unlike other birds, the hawk enters the forest skillfully, using its spread wings to turn its body When training this style, there is strength in the two arms. But in the sparrow hawk style, this refers to the back of the arms.[1] It means to send diagonal strength from the back of the arms to the hands. In usage, the back of the arm does not go directly forward and the front of the arm [2] does not go directly backward either. The body is slightly inclined in order to shake the two arms; spreading wings and turning sideways so as to enter the forest skillfully.

In training this method, start with the splitting fist. The left hand wraps inward and the right hand drills upward from underneath like the form of a hawk. While the left foot inch steps, the left fist follows drilling outward, like the hawk entering. Then the right hand and right foot go forward as in  the first section in the horse style. [Then] the left foot goes forward to strike with Pao Quan (Cannon Fist). Right hand and right foot hit with Zuan Quan (Drilling Fist) posture. In this way the left and right sides are trained and are continuously linked and unbroken.

[1] 後 Hou – literally “rear, back, behind, after,” and 膊 Bi – arm. This can mean the upper arm, but here refer to the back of the arm and shoulder blade  which are like a bird’s wing.

[2] 前膊  Qian Bi – can mean front of the arm, and  also the forearm.

鷂形

譜云:鷂有入林之巧,以其展翅側身,舆别鳥不同也。練此形力多在兩膊。但鷂形之在膊者,乃係後膊,且將後膊之力側身而送於手。此則後膊並不直向前來,前膊亦並不直向後去,惟身稍取斜勢,兩膊一抖,展翅側身,乃入林之巧也。

練法亦劈拳開勢,左手裹裏,右手由下上攅,有似燕形。惟左足寸步時,左拳隨之攅出,非如燕形之順腿進也。然後,右手、右足前進,似馬形第一節。左足進步,打作順勢炮拳。右手、右足打作攅拳勢。如是左右接連不斷。

Yan Xing: Swallow

It is said that  the swallow has the ability to draw in water. [1] Drawing water means to drop to touch the surface of the water and then rise up again. When training this form, one must imitate the posture of the swallow drawing water. Therefore, strength is used in the arm, and then the body inclines pouring strength into the arm again.

In training this method, start with the splitting fist. The left hand wraps inward, and the right hand drills upward from underneath the left hand, rising to the level of the eyebrows. The two arms separate and the body bends downward and goes forward, the left hand following straight outward along the leg like the swallow drawing in water. The right foot follows to stop and stand still, and the left leg lifts to the level of the right shinbone. The right hand seizes the crotch, the left hand goes over the wrist and the left foot goes forward as the left hand goes out to hit with a splitting fist. In turn, the right hand and right foot go forward again in the splitting fist posture. In this way the left and right sides are trained and are continuously linked and unbroken.

[1] 抄 Chao, can mean ”to take in,” “to grab” or “to filch.” In order to drink, swallows skim low over the surface of a body of water scooping up water with their open mouths.

燕形

譜云:燕有抄水之精。抄水者,向水而落,沾水而起之謂也。練此形者,卽取燕之抄水之勢,故用力多在膊,然後側身一斜,再注於手。練法劈拳開勢,左手裹裏,右手向左手下攅挑,舆眉齊。兩膊分開,伏身而進,左手順腿直出,如燕之抄水。然右足進步,立定,左足提起,舆右脛骨平。右手抓襠,左手伏腕上,左足前進,左手作劈拳勢打出,右手、右足前進,再作劈拳勢。如是左右連接不斷。

She Xing: Snake

It is said: that the snake is skillful at turning[1] through the grass. In order to imitate its ability to find an opening, to go forward and to enter, strength must be concentrated in the shoulder. This is called, shoulder strike.

In training this method, start with the splitting fist. Insert the right hand in front of the left shoulder with the palm center twisting to face outward. Insert or thread the left hand under the right rib side also with the palm center twisting to face outward. This is the looking around method. [2] The left foot inch steps and the right foot quickly goes forward to stop and stand still. The left foot lifts to the level of the right shin bone. The left foot goes forward and the left hand follows pulling up to the level of the knee. The right hand draws back underneath the ribs. Then the left foot inch steps, with left hand responding [3] and the left leg goes forward and the right hand pulls up in front. In this way the left and right sides are trained and are continuously linked and unbroken.

[1] 撥 Bo: move, poke, stir, turn. Move with the hand foot, stick etc.

[2] The “looking around method” references the character 顧 (Gu) Which can mean “to look around” or “attend to”, “respond to” or to “take into consideration”. In martial arts texts it is often used to refer to defensive movements that adjust or adapt to the specific energetic signature of the opponent’s attack. In military texts it is used to refer to guards defending  a city.

[3] 相顧 Xiang Gu : “look after each other”; “observe each other.”

蛇形

譜云:有撥草之巧。取其乘隙前進,故此法用力須注於肩,所谓肩打者是也。練法劈拳開勢,右手向左肩前插去,手心向外扭轉。左手向右肋下插去,手心亦向外扭轉,均作顧法。左足寸步,右足疾進,立定。左足提起,舆右脛骨平,左足前進,左手隨之前擢,舆膝齊。右手撤回肋下,然後左足寸步,舆左手相顧,左腿前進,右手前擢。如是左右連接不斷。

Tai Xing: Tai Bird

The Tai Bird is a kind of eagle. It is said: that this bird has an ability to erect its tail and that its buttocks and tail are a fist. In preying on a rabbit, it throws its body fiercely downward and wraps the rabbit with its wings and then squats down with its legs to seize the prey [with its claws]. This prevents [the rabbit] from escaping. To squat down means a kua (hip) strike. Therefore, in training the Tai Bird Form, the two hands go down to the navel, and not being far apart, are alert and ready. When striking, turn and use the kua. This is called a kua (hip) strike.

In training this method, start with the splitting fist. Clench the hands into fists and simultaneously drill upward to the level of the eyebrows. Then separate them suddenly and forcefully. This is called “white crane spreads its wings.” Then, walk forward with the right foot, follow with the left foot, and wrap the two arms inward squeezing them together in front of the navel. In this way the left and right sides are trained and are continuously linked and unbroken.

鳥台形

鳥台爲鷹之一種。譜云:鳥台有竪尾之能。又云:臀尾爲一拳。蓋鳥台之擊兎時,其身向下猛捕,兩翅一裹,然後再用兩腿一蹲。捕者顧而思獲者,恐其或逃也。蹲者,胯打之也。故練鳥台形者,兩手皆落臍間,並不逺去,此爲顧法。至打時,翻轉皆用胯,此所謂胯打之也。

練法劈拳開勢,兩手握拳,同時上攅,舆眉齊。然後用力分開,所謂白鶴展翅者也。先進右足,左足隨之。兩膊向裏裹,擠至臍前。如是左右連接不斷。

YING XING XIONG XING – EAGLE and BEAR

It is said: that the eagle is excellent in grasping and seizing and the bear has power in erecting its neck (nape). The essential points of the two forms are in the eyes. The eagle stares without lowering its head and the bear looks upward without leaning backward. Both of them have great strength in extending and erecting the neck. In the striking method of the eagle style, the strength is focused on the sinews, just like when the eagle seizes the rabbit. It grabs the rabbit with one claw and gets another claw ready in front of the chest. In the bear style, power is in the arms. When the bear shows its power, it shakes the two arms. Unlike the eagle, its striking method is to  drill upward with the two hands.

In training this method, start with the splitting fist. The left hand draws back beneath the ribs, and the right hand drills upward to the nose. Then the left fist goes over the right fist and changes to strike out in a yin palm and the right hand spreads into a palm and draws back beneath the ribs. Walk forward with the right foot attending to [1] the left hand while twisting the step and inclining the body In this way the left and right sides are trained and are continuously linked and unbroken.

In the first movement (bear) one must concentrate the spirit in the eyes upward and the shen fa gathers together in order combine the fight of bear and eagle. In the second movement (eagle) concentrate the spirit in the eyes downward like an eagle battling a bear. [2]

[1] 相顧 Xiang Gu : “look after each other”; “observe each other.”

[2] The battle between bear and eagle references combining these forms together so that yang qi ascends and yin qi  descends when performing the movements.

鷹形熊形

譜云:鷹有捉拿之精,熊有竪項之力。蓋此二形要點皆在目。但鷹下視而頭不低,熊上視而頭不仰。二者均有絕大項力,不過一伸一竪而已。至鷹形打法之用力處,全在筋,稍一如鷹之拿兎時,以一爪猛抓,以一爪備在胸前也。熊之用力處在膊,如熊之抖擻威風時,兩膊之搖擺也。其打法必以兩手上攅,緣不如此。舆鷹鬭時,必不能及也。練法劈拳開勢,左手撤回肋下,右手上攅及鼻。左拳従右拳上攅過,變作陰掌打出。右手放掌撤回肋下,右足進步,舆左手相顧,拗步,斜身,連接不斷。第一圖须目神上注,身法收束若熊之鬭鷹勢。第二圖须目神下注如鷹之戦熊勢。

THE TWELVE FORMS TRAINING METHOD

The training methods and usage of the twelve forms have been explained above. The looking around method [1] and striking method do exist in every style of the boxing skills. For instance:

  • In the dragon form, rising belongs to the looking around method and crouching forward, to the striking method.
  • In the tiger form, drilling [upward] belongs to the looking around method and falling, to the striking method.
  • In the monkey form, retreating belongs to the looking around method and advancing, to the striking method.
  • In the horse form, the front hand belongs to the looking around method and the rear hand belongs to the striking method.
  • In the alligator form, rising belongs to the looking around method and falling, to the striking method.
  • In the rooster form, the left hand belongs to the looking around method and the right hand, to the striking method.
  • In the swallow form, spreading the arms  and lowering down the body belongs to the looking around method and seizing is the preparation for striking.
  • In the hawk form, the left looks around and right strikes, and then right looks around and left strikes.
  • In the snake form, the hand looks around and the shoulder strikes.
  • In the Tai bird form, the arm looks around and the kua strikes.
  • The bear form belongs to the looking around method and the eagle form belongs to the striking method.

Although the training methods are fixed, the methods of application are not. Therefore those who are proficient in application frequently use the looking around  to strike and if the striking methods are perfected they are not limited (limited) by the looking around method. There will be infinite changes and transformations if one carefully explores the foundations of application.

Beyond the training and application methods if the twelve forms, there is still the method of applying power. This principles exist not only in the twelve forms, but are even more important in the five fists. Whether the practitioners of Xing Yi martial skills can achieve real skill and ability depends entirely upon this. What is this method? In boxing training, power and  whole body strength must be evenly distributed in the six directions, upward, downward, in front, behind, inside and outside.  One cannot be partial to toward one aspect.

Gather the strength of the whole boy so that it is round like a ball so that [one] achieves stability without raising up. [2] To look around and strike simultaneously is simply this whole body idea. In The method of applying power, one must press up the head, curve and brace up the upper arms and hold the thighs inward. As for the two arms, push the back [of the arms] forward and draw in [3] the center of the palm, turn the elbows inward, the shoulders turn outward, drop the shoulders downward and uphold the armpits.

Regarding the foot, uplift the sole, press down the heel,  keep the toes back and hold everything inward. Every other part [of the body], the bones, the joints etc. in every movement and action, without exception, exert force in the six directions. So also do the internal organs. The five Zang expanding outward and the tendons and bones gathering and contracting inward are not outside the theory of exerting force [4] in the six directions.

[1] Again, the “looking around method” references the character 顧 (Gu) Which can mean “to look around” or “attend to”, “respond to” or to “take into consideration”. In martial arts texts it is often used to refer to defensive movements that adjust or adapt to the specific energetic signature of the opponent’s attack. In military texts it is used to refer to guards defending  a city.

[2] Without being uprooted

[3] Shrink, contract recoil, withdraw.

[4] 力 Li has appeared many times in this discussion of the 12 forms it can mean: power strength, force, ability

十二形練法、用法旣如上所述矣。至顧法、打法則每拳無不俱備。如龍形起爲顧法,伏爲打法。虎形攅爲顧法,落爲打法。猴形退爲顧法,進为打法。馬形前手爲顧法,後手爲打法。鮀形起爲顧法,落爲打法。鶏形左手顧,右手打。燕形展臂伏身爲顧,抓備为打。鷂形左顧右打,右顧左打。蛇形手顧肩打。鳥台形臂顧胯打。熊形爲顧法,鷹形爲打法。雖其練法有定,而用法則無定。故善用者往往以顧作打,或打法甚精卽無須乎顧。苟能探其本,以求之變化,豈有窮哉。

十二形行功法及用法之外,尚有用力法。惟此法非僅十二形有之,在五拳尤爲重要。蓋練形意武術者,能否得有功效,全在此也。其法爲何?卽練拳作勢時,須将全身之力均注於上、下、前、後、内、外六方,不可偏於一處。務使週身之力團聚如球,方得穩固不拔。顧打兼全,兹就一身而言之,其用力法須頭頂下壓,毂道上提,兩膀外撑,兩腿内夾。次就兩膊言之,背向前推則手心後縮,肘向裏則膀向外,肩向下則腋向上。次就一脚而言之,脚心上提,後跟下蹬,趾向後,踵向前,四周向裏,其他各處及骨節等凡動作時無不向六方用力者。卽在臓腑亦然,五臓向外鼓撑,而筋骨向内收縮。是亦不外六方用力之說也。

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Authentic Ba Gua Zhang Distance Learning Program

Sign up for our Free Newsletter

Song Zhi Yong Tu Na Si Ba Videos

Member’s area

Last Tweets

Follow @NYInternalArts on twitter.

id, id ultricies nunc ante. sit fringilla suscipit non velit,