Copyright: Pai Hui Ke Enterprises 1990

A Means To An End

By: Shr Fu Mike Patterson
The following article was originally written for and published in "Internal Arts Magazine".

The article that follows is a series of short summarizations of the main metaphysical and physical components prevalent in the Art of Hsing I Chuan. Each of these could separately be the subject of an entire book chapter. This article is intended as an introduction only.

Hsing I is one of the elder systemized forms of Kung Fu, tracing its known roots back to circa 1130 A.D. and Marshall Yueh Fuei, a famous military General/Hero of the Sung Dynasty. The origin of the Art probably predates this period by quite some time but Yueh's teacher is not recorded in history either written or verbally. Consequently, Yueh is given credit as founder although he himself claimed to have learned the Art from a wandering Taoist Monk. Suffice it to say that this Art form is Ancient and its endurance through the centuries is an attestation to its effectiveness. There exist three main families of Hsing I that could be considered "commonly" in practice today. The first being Shan Xi (orthodox) method from that same province. Although more rare, this method contains the most technique richness of the three. The Five Element Hsings have nuances that are not found in the other two families, and the Twelve Animal Hsings contain a great deal more movement and complexity. The second family, HeBei Hsing I (modified), is by far the most wide

and began to teach many people. Its power association is the cannon. WU HSING. lacking the nuance of the Shan Xi Method. The story commonly told of its origins are that a practitioner of the Shan Xi Method whom migrated to the capitol city. as are the animals. The Five Element Hsings are more simplistic. These five seemingly simple actions are loaded with subtleties and require years of practice to perform them with total Mind/Body integration. Pericardium and San Jiao (triple warmer) meridians. Small Intestine. It corresponds to the Liver and Gall Bladder meridians. developed and practiced almost exclusively by the Chinese Muslim community in China. THE 5 ELEMENTS Wu Hsing can be called the Heart and Soul of Hsing I practice. It corresponds to the Spleen and Stomach . Hsing I has enjoyed a reputation of a superior fighting discipline for more than 800 years. Peng Chuan (Wood) teaches the force of crushing. Pao Chuan (Fire) teaches the force of Pounding. Its power association is the Bullet. and the Animal Hsings have been synthesized to simple one and two step patterns of motion. Regardless of the differences. The third is the Honan Hsing I (synthetic) Method. then in HeBei province.spread of the three. Pi Chuan (Metal) teaches the force of Splitting. Heng Chuan (Earth) teaches the force of Crossing. Its power association is the arrow. It corresponds to the Heart. Tsuan Chuan (Water) teaches the force of Drilling. It corresponds to the Kidney and Urinary Bladder meridians. Its power association is electricity. It corresponds to the Lung and Large Intestine meridians. Over the course of time they will teach the practitioner many things and can be directly related to many aspects of Five Element cosmology of traditional Chinese medicine. This method is devoid of the Five Element Hsings entirely. Its power association is the axe.

earth? Words like solid. for technique. For the method of practice. Look second at its element. consistent. come to mind. Each element of the Wu Hsing is unique and different in this respect. Just as massage can stimulate energy flow. Earth. does it not? So should your whole body and fist when you perform Heng Chuan. These are not just idle associations. harmoniously align the body's meridian structures so that energy may flow uninhibited through the corresponding channels. look to its force "Crossing". and is this association simply a convenient tie-in to medicinal five element theory? The answer is a definitive no! The postures themselves. The firing of the muscle/nerve structures that are inherent in each postural change combined with precise mental focus unite to course the body energy through the associated meridians. Many people will ask why the meridian structures are associated with the Wu Hsing postures. so can motion. look first at its power association. For example.meridians. There is also another deeper reason for this correspondence. This means to cross your opponent s center forcing him to open it so that you may enter. They are meant as keys to unlock the doors of Hsing I practice. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the ground. firm. What does a bullet do when it leaves a rifle barrel? What is its motion? It projects in a spiraling manner. to understand how to practice Heng Chuan (Earth) properly. Could we not say as a general quality that the "Earth' is consistently solid? So should the general quality of Heng Chuan be when you perform it. if practiced correctly. . Hence the attitude of practice is also different in each action.

. comes the second stage. so I will not be discussing that here. a True Harmony of Mind AND Body.To be successful with this approach. First. To my knowledge. THE IMPORTANCE OF POSTURE Obviously for this concept's workability. the Mind teaches the Body. one of my school brothers in 1977. "The Eight Fundamentals" and "The Nine Essences" apply primarily to posture and I would like to list and briefly discuss them here. There are three main doctrines of Hsing I.. compiled by John L. and your mind tries to grasp the concepts and relays commands to the Body to form the postures. Master Hsu Hong Chi. The other two. Price. This is the stage of learning new movements (Hsing).. later. Patient. In this way you will begin to slowly realize subtleties that your Mind missed during stage one. Then. was the first person to record these doctrines in English in his book the Masters Manual of Hsing I Kung Fu. one must realize that there are three stages to Hsing I practice. The Body is now teaching the mind.. The "Seven Stars" doctrine applies solely to fighting. you must completely relax all unnecessary "parts" of the Mind and Body and FEEL. correct postural alignment is of paramount importance. . It is for this reason that the ancients first recorded the postural premises of Hsing I. persevering and sensitive effort in stage two will eventually lead to stage three. my teacher. Your teacher shows you what to do.

must be relaxed and dropping downward. 3. 2. A common problem area for the novice is excess tension in the shoulders. "Hu Kou" (Tiger's Mouth) rounded. left or right. The word "holding" here refers to "rooting" through the rear leg. left arm stretched forward at chest level.THE NINE ESSENCES (My comments are in Italics) I will start with The Nine Essences as they are easier to convey and pertain to the "Pi Chuan" posture (Metal Element) of Hsing I. Be bent but not flexed. 6. do not bend your back and misplace your center. This unnatural tension will block the easy flow of energy through the meridians of the arms. The curve must be maintained through the whole limb. 4. left hand held as high as the chest. Arms. backward. curved as shallow hook. This references the classic Metal hand position. right holding back. strength means "Intention. and then allow your mind to come to reside outward through your fingers to infinity. Too bent cannot reach far. Fingers. Do not "ground out" by closing the armpits. Allow your shoulders to move along naturally with each other. You are also warned not to force this attitude. It is through the shoulders that strength from the torso is transferred to the hands. Here. separated. Body. simply stretch them moderately in the physical sense. too straight cannot be powerful. "Tiger Mouth" is the space between tip of the index finger and the tip of the thumb. never can be powerful if leaning forward. The Mind must be present in both hands." Do not tense the muscles of the hand. Hands. The right hand will arc through the left armpit and come to reside at the navel as the posture is formed The left hand is Yang and the right Yin. Shoulders. taut but relaxed. Maintain a golf ball size space. 1. shape of a chicken's leg. right arm bent around right ribs. Energy flows in curves. stretched but not straight. The latter relaxed. Legs. Embrace the space of the arm pits. When you drop in posture. the former be strengthened also. Focus strength at fingers but never forcefully. be bow but straight. This rule warns against the problem. strength be even. This means keep the head erect and the whole spine straight (not rigid). right hand to armpit and then to navel. drop in the legs. 5. You create a condition of passive flexion to realize a relaxed springiness in the ready position. Both hands palm side downward. left to front. Be straight but not. The correct posture .

Betray no emotion while practicing. they will become ingrained in the practice. Energy will sink to the Tan Tien if eyes staring. In this way. Do not force. 7. THE EIGHT FUNDAMENTALS (Again. When this occurs. Hips." AT anything. It is important to realize that you do not "Stare. all toes of front foot pointing forward. be tilted upward and forward so that "Chi" can be transferred to the limbs easily. 8. Upthrust your tongue to the palate. Hollow the "Bubbling Well" (Kidney 1) point and passively grip the ground with the whole foot. by diffusing your focus and relaxing. strength means unified strength of Mind and Body. I save the most difficult for last. the "Chi" will circulate freely causing a sensation of your hair standing on end. Upthrust your palms upward as if upholding objects. rather. Hair standing. muscle on face be iron and inner organs are hardened. my comments in Italics) The Eight fundamentals have many levels of interpretation. following the lower leg. Feet. 9. Back foot close to 45 to 60 degrees sideward. strength is built to lift the trees. removing vital energy circulation through the organs. pondered a bit and put away until later. just passively bring the pelvis forward and align the lower lumbar with the rest of the spine. Toes be firm. The tongue acts as a fuse and if this connection is not formed. The rest will come clear little by little as the student progresses. Tongue. Stand natural for you. 3 UPTHRUSTS: Upthrust your head as if upthrusting the roof. Far too many to discuss here. The tongue must be stuck to the palate just behind the teeth to connect the circuit of the Du (Governor) and the Ren (Conception) meridians. 3 SUPPRESSES: . Separation is up to the individual. your practice may lead to over accumulation of "Fire" in the Brain. They should be re-read occassionally.actually resembles that of a chicken. as this will tend to draw the mind outside. never to sides. so I shall list them and make a very brief comment on the key phrase of each. the organs will be protected (hardened). Gradually as leg strength improves you will adjust your stance appropriately. "Chi" will be weak if tongue is not raised to the palate. or energy will be scattered. Kept inside. the "Chi" will sink of its own accord. Understanding the three upthrusts. Here.

the three gates of the spine (WeiLu. Understanding the three crescent moons. Ready to issue energy with great speed and power from one’s center point. illness is excluded. the secret is unveiled.Suppress downward your chin but gaze straight forward. 3 SENSITIVES: . For ease of energy circulation and usage for power. Understanding the three suppresses. "Rooting" is a term which refers to a part physical. Suppress your feet with waist and back but be closely linked. Body stop on four sides. shoulders are the roots. Chi is broadened. In Kung Fu. deep meaning there hidden. 3 CRESCENT MOONS: Arms as bows like the crescent moon. 3 CURVES: Curve of the shoulders and back to be a hemisphere. Understanding the three sinks. Ming Men. body is guarded. Spirit and Mind are induced. Understanding the three stops. Legs and Knees downward stopping as roots of trees. Yu Jen) will be allowed to open and energy will ascend the spine to the Occiput or Crown point (Pai Hui). With elbows sinking downward. 3 EMBRACES: "Tan Tien" (Lower abdomen) to be embraced with Chi as the root. Chest curved. Suppress your hands with upper arms but be natural. Guarded against illness and attack. Hu Kou (Tiger's Mouth) to be curved as a crescent moon. body is upstraight. Kung Fu is well rooted. 3 SINKS: With Chi sunk in Tan Tien. Heart to be embraced with body as the basis. Wrists thrusting outward like the crescent moon. Legs and Knees bent like the crescent moon. The "secret" here is Chi circulation. part mental 'linkage" to the Earth under one's feet. Understanding the three embraces. posture is best oriented. 3 STOPS: Neck shortened and upward stopping. Arms to be embraced with four limbs firmly still. By observing the three suppresses. With upper arm sinking downward. Understanding the three curves. body is keen and shrewd.

(Earth.(Water. and they all have elemental relationships. EAGLEBEAR strengthens the Shoulders and Hands. (All Five Elements). It . COCKEREL quickens the feet. Here. It pacifies the Spirit. It "Rubs" the Yin and Yang of the Spine. the metaphysical second. ( Earth. so that they further the overall health benefits of the discipline. I have briefly listed them here. Water). attaching to and guiding the opponents flow of motion and energy of attack. It reduces Fire in the brain. Water). DRAGON strengthens the legs and torso. Fire. the Heart must feel for subtle changes of intensity in the opponent. CHICKEN strengthens the feet. Understanding the three sensitives. THE TWELVE ANIMALS The Twelve Animals of Hsing I also play an important role in the development of the practitioner. and the Hands must stay light and alive. SWALLOW teaches low basin strength. (Metal. (Fire. It tones the Kidneys. posture is invincible. Water). Earth). It strengthens the Chi of the bones and tendons. (Fire. SPARROWHAWK stabilizes the center. It purifies the breathing. (Water. It exercises the Chi of the Hypogastrium. Wood). It tones the Heart. It tones the Spleen and Stomach. Hands sensitive. (Metal. the invincible is referencing fighting technique. The physical trait is listed first. Fire. Wood. Metal). and the elemental relationship(s) last.Eyes sensitive. It circulates the Breath. They each have a physical benefit. It tones the Liver. Fire). PHOENIX strengthens the arms. HORSE teaches expansion power. Earth). Water). Earth). a metaphysical benefit. TIGER strengthens the Spine. Otherwise the response will be less than adequate. The Eyes must watch for subtle change in the opponent. MONKEY quickens the hands. SNAKE improves swift directional change. (Metal. (Wood. Heart sensitive. TORTOISE improves the balance.

If the Mind is scattered. Intention. Make no mistake! The Mind is an extremely powerful tool if properly trained and disciplined. Chi Kung" in the future. you must visualize in exacting detail the desired position. This single focus of energy is what is meant by "I". It is important to remember that to apply this concept in practice. Its whole being is filled with only one "Intention" and that is to get the mouse. "As Fast As You Can Think. Master Hsu Hong Chi. or better still. In time. my teacher. It will sit completely motionless in front of that mouse hole except for maybe the occasional twitch of tail tip. What separates expert from novice is self doubt! THE IMPORTANCE OF MEDITATION TO DEVELOPMENT Hsing I contains many diverse types of meditative practices and postures. There will perhaps be a chance to elaborate on the "Twelve Animals. one must try to capture the essence of the animal nature. and the result will be minimal. so shall be the Chi. (Fire. I am often asked to define intention. Yin. You Can Be". NOT merely perform the movements as a human dance. If you have ever had occasion to watch your pet cat stalk a mouse at its place of residence. through repetitive practice. The focused imagery and the firing of the energy will become as a Mental Pulse. When the Animal Hsings are performed.INTENTION The character for "I" in Hsing I is usually translated as Mind or Intellect. sitting and kneeling postures are employed to stimulate Yang. and Yin/Yang circulation to accomplish various things. "I" . and I have come to rely on a simple analogy of a Cat and a Mouse Hole. They each have a different breath track visualization and purpose of practice.improves Mind/Body coordination. The more coherent the image. the better the result. To be more specific. and NOTHING will interfere with its concentration. you may have noticed the sheer intensity of the cat's focus. Standing. used to say. it should be translated as Will. this procedure will become totally natural. Water). I will confine . Each Animal Hsing also has a standing Chi Kung posture that goes with it. mental clarity is essential.

To integrate a meditative state of awareness into one's form is a highly desired goal and many years in the making. then total integrative patterns. let the Chi lead you. To neglect any one will negate balance in the practice of the discipline. Transform "Ching" to "Chi". sometimes called the state of "Mind of a Child". This is what the novice does when trying to use power. THE GOALS OF PRACTICE The goals of Hsing I Practice are the named "Three Treasures" of Taoism. Slowly. It is obvious and unrefined. with all the wisdom of the . Make haste remarks to only base premises of meditation in this school. One then should turn this vitality toward achieving "Shen". The following is an extreme over-simplification of a complex of principles. Each speed will serve a different purpose. Subtle but explosive ripples appear and disappear as if by magic. meaning Chi circulation can be controlled while moving through the forms. "Shen" then is refined to Emptiness. then the legs. enough to justify a thesis all its own. The first level of meditation involves freeing all of the energy pathways in the body so that they are devoid of any stagnation or blockage. This is done systematically. The higher phase is deemed "Fluid Motion". "Ching" is usually translated as Seminal essence. powerful and undisciplined. Spiritual awareness and balance. for correcting the form and practicing beginning stage mental focus. "Chi" to "Shen". This is what the expert does when using power. Also remember that there are three attitudes of energy expression. "Chi" in this context means a refined state of energy permeation. THREE METHODS OF PRACTICE Always remember that Hsing I should be practiced at three different speeds. Continued practice will lead to a condition known as "Fluid Stillness". for developing Martial capabilities. and "Shen" to Emptiness. 1) Practice with Visible Strength. This is the advanced Internal work utilizing only "I" Intention in the work of the form. to develop fluidity in motion. This is a very deep subject. Moderately. This energy must be nurtured and refined to "Chi". beginning with the Du and Ren Pulses. He is issuing "Jing". meaning Chi circulation can be consciously controlled while remaining still. Many years are required to reach this level. 2) Practice with invisible strength. It also implies one's vital essence. Quickly. 3) Practice with Refined Inner Strength. and progressing through the pulses of the arms.

A profound state of "Non-Attachment" and hence Personal Power.ages. Perhaps in the future there will be a chance to elaborate. This is one discipline which provides realistic courses of action to achieve growth in many areas for the student seeking self realization and enlightenment. There are many paths and many obstacles upon them. . Please realize that this short paragraph does not even begin to do justice to the profundity of these concepts.

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