Xing Yi means 'form - intention' in English. The use of this name implies the utilisation of body shape or form to release strength. The name is emphasising the connection between body shape and striking and the use of the mind to release striking power ie the link between the insubstantial mind and the substantial body. Breath puts mind into the component parts of the body and affects the form but conversely, the form affects the breath and the mind. In the Rose Li School mastery of the forms of Xing Yi does not mean mastery of the Art: the forms are not a crude list of martial arts applications, one form countering another, as demonstrated by the '5 elemental destructive cycle' often taught in other schools (see for example the paragraph on Five Element Shapes here). Rather the forms are viewed as a starting point in learning the principles that underly the Art. The aim therefore is for the practitioner to transcend, in their own personal way, beyond the forms. Form practice, particularly Wu Xing (the basic five forms of Xing Yi) practice, entails merely the first stage in the learning experience. Once the forms are fused into the individual, one must test the boundaries of what one has learnt and understood. In this way the practitioner hones their understanding of the principles of the Art. When this has been accomplished, the practitioner then can move onto the next step: to move in their own personal way but in total harmony with the forms; it not not what they do, it is how they do it. Masters of the Art all move in their own way but they all are doing Nei Jia. This is the true meaning of 'form-intention'.
Xing Yi is characterised by rapid, explosive striking power: force can be generated from a minute distance from the target. In Xing Yi, therefore, you strike into the target rather than through the target. This means that your opponent cannot use the 'strike though distance' to convert your attack into a throw or neutralise your strike. The first step in studying Xing Yi is to learn to calm your mind. Thus real Wu Shu (Chinese martial arts) does not contain violence and is not a sport; this is because your strength is your inner reservoir.
Xing Yi has its origins on the battlefield. Its original aim therefore was to provide both physical and mental training for high performance under extreme stress conditions and to neutralise an opponent in the fastest and most efficient manner possible. The feature that distinguishes the Nei Jia as taught within the School from other forms of 'internal' martial art is its distinctive breathing/movement mechanism.
Xing Yi, in particular, provides the tools for you to be 'in the zone' within moments, giving the practitioner a state of being derived from a unique and characteristic balance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. External martial arts attempt to reach this condition by external means (e.g. by sparring) whilst Nei Jia attempts to attain this condition by internal means (i.e. breathing practices that give insight into one's own state of being). In this way, external martial arts can be said to put emphasis on the body-breath aspect, whilst internal martial arts stress the breath-mind aspect, of the body-breath-mind trinity.
Mastery is an understanding of the basics. Because of its simple forms, Xing Yi avoids the superficial. The student is therefore able to practice Nei Jia in a way that goes to straight to the heart of the matter. Through practice, you are ultimately able to go beyond the forms, disregarding them, but not violating them.
The foundation forms of Xing Yi are called the Wu Xing: the 'five elements' or 'five forms'. Xing Yi is designed so that these five forms demonstrate the totality of ways that power may be produced and applied. In this way an infinite number of combat situations or environments can be reduced down to five basic ways of releasing strength. Combining and permuting these forms allows you to experience the totality of body-breath-intention interactions. Since you are always applying the core principles that underlie movement then practice allows you to interact and combine forms to make new and more complex movement sequences, therefore going from 'form' to 'no form'.
Enquiring students are warned that Xing Yi is a high impact art. These classes are only for experienced internal martial artists as: - A high level of core strength is required. - You will be using reverse breathing to strike at full power for the whole of the hour's session.
As an indicator, our Xing Yi students have at least 2 years experience of our Tai Chi system and anything from 10 to 15 years experience in the martial arts.
The School also runs specialised 1:1 intense Hsing I tuition for experienced martial artists as well as introductory workshops for beginners in Hsing I. These classes are advertised on the School Face Book page. Contact the School if interested.
Syllabus: 5 Forms Linking Form 12 Animals Animal Linking Form
Open access classes of Xing Yi are currently available at Pineapple Studios, Langley Street, Covent Garden. Cost £15 per class. Xing Yi may also be learnt via 1:1 classes at Pineapple Studios and at our North London studio. It's recommended that if you're interested in Xing Yi but are new to the internal arts then Mi Zong is a good place to start rather than Xing Yi.