Hsing-I Chuan cultivates “explosive”, “charging”, or “fast” chi compared to the “slow” chi of Tai Chi Chuan. Training Hsing-I Chuan makes the chi circulate faster in the body then possible from practicing Tai Chi Chuan alone.
Hsing-I Chuan is an aggressive fighting style, which is used in the Cheng Ming system as the foundation for training fa-jing, or expressed force. (A clear translation of fa is difficult and using a single English word tends to narrow the meaning considerably. However, an attempt at the most general meaning is shown) The foundation of Hsing-I is a set of five fist-forms called Wu-Xing Chuan, or the Five Element Fists.
Hsing-I Chuan trains Gan Jing, or “hard” power and Ming Jing, or “obvious” power. These jings are used in techniques involving the hands, fingers, wrists, waist, hips, belly, kicking, takedowns, and grabbing.
Hsing-I Chuan’s Five Elements is derived from the Chinese theory of the five main elements that make up the human body and the universe and their interactions with each other. These elements are metal, water, wood, fire, and earth, and are each represented by a specific hand technique. These techniques in turn are called Pi Chuan, Zhuan Chuan, Beng Chuan, Pao Chuan, and Heng Chuan. (Chuan literally means “fist”, but is used to describe forms as well) These terms are used to describe the essence behind each fist’s main technique, which are splitting, drilling, crushing, pounding, and crossing.
Though at first glance learning the Five Elements appears simple compared to the Tai Chi sequence, students quickly realize the complexity in each fist and focus on developing conditioning and coordination. Physically performing the Five Elements has many levels and requires constant training in order to develop all the finer nuances and ultimately have the ability to fa-jing.
Also not readily apparent are the qigong benefits that the postures of each element provide. As each element is represented by a technique, it is also related to an internal organ of the body. Each posture promotes the circulation of qi and provides gentle massage to the internal organs with emphasis on a particular organ for each fist. This important characteristic is one reason Hsing-I Chuan is an internal martial art, though outwardly it appears to fit an external style better.
Training in Hsing-I continues with forms and then later the Twelve Animals Fist Set, called Shi Er Xing. These are fist-forms derived from the Five Elements’ techniques but applied to the spirit of each particular animal. Hsing-I training also introduces students to weapons for the first time. Weapons initially learned include short stick, sword, and staff.
The Hsing-I curriculum:• Wu Xing Chuan (five elements fists)• Shang Sun (creation)• Lian Huan (linking)• Ba Shi (posting)• Er Shi Si Guai (short stick)• Shi Er Heng Chuan (12-crossing fists)• Jian (sword)• Za Shi Qui (combination)• Gun (staff)• Ji Xing Si Ba (Rooster)• Shi Er Xing (12 animals fists)• San Dian Shou (lighting hands)• Qun Yang Jian (sword - long form)• Spear• Si Shi Ba Dao Da Fa (saber)• Qi Xing Qui (seven-star fist)• Za Shi Qui II (2nd combination)
Push-hands training continues in Hsing-I and presents an opportunity to practice applying fa-jing in more “live” situations. Students also begin applying fa-jing in their Tai Chi techniques, substantially increasing their effectiveness.