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(4 pages total)

Page 3 - Neijia FAQ

After returning home, marrying, and having a child, he did return to Sichuan and studied with Taoists monks there for some time. Sun Lutang was quite famous in his day and afterwards, both for his martial skills as well as his literary skills. His knowledge of philosophy, Taoism, Confucusism, and Buddhism was remarkable, and he was one of the few martial artists who mastered more than one Neijia style.

He wrote five books about martial arts. His first, "The Study of Xingyiquan" was published in 1915. The second book, "The Study of Baguazhang", was published in 1916. His Taijiquan book, "The Study of Taijiquan" was published in 1921, and his book "The True Essence of Boxing" was published in 1924. His book "The Study of "Bagua Sword" was published in 1927. Another book, "The Study of Xingyi Spear" was never published, although most of the work and research had been completed.


Xingyiquan (Hsing-I Chuan) roughly translated means "xing", the form or shape of something; "yi", the mind or self; and "quan", fist. Thus, it is usually translated as "Mind-Form Boxing" or "Form-Mind Boxing". It is pronounced something like "shing-yee chwan" and is described as a martial art in which the mind and intent forms the postures.

Xingyi, although a true neijia or internal art, stresses powerful, linear movements that do not hide the martial intent of the form. Emphasis is directed towards the goal of destroying the target, utilizing efficient and sometimes explosive use of "neigong" or internal power. This makes it a good option for those martial artists who want to study a neijia style, but are frustrated with the slowness of Taijiquan practice.

Unfortunately, Xingyiquan has not been publically promoted for its meditative, health, and conditioning benefits as much as other neijia styles like Taijiquan and Yichuan, but this does not mean it is not effective as such.


Most people believe that Xingyi was created by the famous Chinese general, Yue Fei in the Song Dynasty (960-1127). Legend has it that he developed two arts, Xingyiquan and Eagle-claw boxing. Eagle-claw was taught to his foot soldiers and Xingyiquan was reserved for his officers. He based his Xingyiquan training on existing spear techniques, thus the noticable linear patterns of the forms. This original "Shansi" style (named after the province where it was taught) included 5 element and 12 animal forms.

There were several variations of Xingyiquan practiced as the art was handed down through numerous teachers. Two of the most popular still existing in the early 19th century were a Muslim-influenced Xingyi style from the Honan province, and the famous Hobei Xingyi school which became influenced by another neijia style, Baguazhang. This, sometimes unintentional, blending of the two internal arts resulted in a strong system with emphasis on the study of the 5 element forms and less on the animal forms.

A famous story (although many scholars disagree on its legitimacy) was a battle in Beijing that pitted Hobei Xingyi school's Guo Yunshen against Dong Haiquan, a famous Baguazhang stylist. It is told that the two battled for several days with Dong finally defeating Guo. So impressed with each other's fighting abilities, they formed a pact requiring all their students to train in the other's discipline as well as their own. Even today, this pact is still honored by many instructors of the individual arts.

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