Cheng Ming school’s xingyiquan has a close and direct connection with the origins of the style. Master Wang Shujin, her of the tradition of xingyiquan and baguazhang of the zhongnan men pai (Hebei xingyiquan) moved to Taiwan in the summer of 1948 to be able to teach and spread the knowledge and practice of martial arts. His transmission was therefore not affected by the Cultural Revolution, which had an impact on traditional masters who had remained on the continent.
The period known as “Cultural Revolution” (1966-1969) created a fracture in the complete transmission of martial arts. In that time it was forbidden to practice in public and many masters were put in the pillory or fled. All that had a “traditional” taste was considered related to a mentality that had to be annihilated – and therefore was banned and destroyed. The direct effects of the Cultural Revolution continued at least until 1976 and many martia arts teachings were lost. In every style there are relatively few contemporary schools that could actually benefit form a complete transmission. Masters who passed on the entire body of knowledge had to do it in hiding with few students, at great personal risk.
In Chen Ming Europe xingyiquan is taught to intermediate and advanced students, who already know the taijiquan form and qigong.
Xingyiquan is one of the three main internal styles of Chinese boxing, and is considered one of the most ancient fighting styles in China. Its origins are connected to the legendary hero general Yue Fei, who lived in the XII century, between the Northern Song (960-1127) and Southern Song (1127-1279) Dynasties. At the time the style was called xin yi quan (hear and mind boxing). In more recent times, xingyiquan was rediscovered by Ji Longfeng (also known as Ji Jike), who learnt it on mount Zhongnan in the XVII century. Ji Longfeng is universally acknowledged as the father of modern xingyiquan and almost every school is directly linked to him.
Xingyiquan has a profound theory that can be traced back to the concept of yin and yang, the five phases and the twelve animals. The theory of the five phases (metal, water, wood, fire, earth) of traditional Chinese medicine finds its martial application in the five phases boxing (wuxingquan).
The five phases are related to each other, to the internal organs and to the quality of the strength developed in the techniques. The principles of the style are also passed on through the forms of the twelve animal forms boxing (shierxingquan), that are: dragon, tiger, monkey, horse, crocodile, rooster, eagle and bear, Tai bird, snake, falcon, swallow.
There are also some sequences in which elements and animals are associated, and to which we must add the study of postures (zhan zhuang) and, when the level reached by the student is deemed sufficient, traditional weapons.
From a martial point of view, xingyiquan is a linear, practical, straightforward style, in which the emission of force (fajing) prevails. Forms are short repetitions of a limited number of movements, aimed at protecting the body and creating maximum effect on an opponent. Every movement is studied so as to obtain an effective feedback, applicable in self-defence and fighting.
In practice attention is focussed on linking together flowing and loose movements with a body structure that allows resisting to the opponent’s blows and releasing explosive power.
Xingyiquan allows the chest to expand and become flexible, thus benefitting breathing and the heart; it also improves elastic strength and muscle tone, increases the central nervous system’s ability of conducting motor control. Among the internal styles, xingyiquan has the greatest impact on the development of strength and willpower.
Like the other internal styles, xingyiquan also strengthens the lower limbs and balance, and makes bones stronger thus fighting osteoporosis.