Internal Martial Arts
The Taikiken pages, a compact introduction of Taikiken
and Kenichi Sawai's book - The Essence of Kung Fu
& profiles of known and unknown martial artists who practice Taikiken.
I should like to add more details to the explanation I have already given of Hsing-i-ch'üan in the discussion of the history of Taikiken. Hsing-i ch'üan (also known as Ksin-i-ch'üan) is said to have been originated in the Sung period (tenth to thirteenth century) in China by a man named Yueh-fai, though t ere is nothing to prove this. From the late Ming to the early Ch'ing period (about the second half of the seventeenth century), in province of Shansi, there appeared a great expert in the use of the lance; his name was Chi Chi-ho. By about this time, the basic nature of Hsing-i-ch'üan was already determined. The tradition was inherited and carried on by Ts'ao Chi-wu and Ma Hsueh-li. In the Ch'ing period (which lasted from 1644 until 1912), Tsai Neng-pang and Tsai Ling-pang became disciples of Ts’ao Chi-wu. Lin Neng-jan , who lived in Hopei province, heard rumours about Tsai Neng-pang and decided to study with him. In his late forties, Li Neng-jan became so skillful and powerful that he was called 'divine fist.' His skill and speed were so great that opponents never had a chance to come close to him. After he returned from the place in which he had been studying to his home province of Hopei, he concentrated on training disciples, with the consequence that Hopei Hsing-i-ch'üan became famous throughout China. He had many disciples, but among them Kuo Yun-shen was the most famous. He was said to have no worthy opponents in the whole nation. Kuo Yun-shen was especially noted for his skill in a technique called the peng-ch'üan, with which he was able to down almost all corners. In one bout, he employed this technique and killed his opponent, with the result that he was thrown into prison for three years. He continued his training during his period of incarceration and is said to have developed his own special version of the peng-ch'üan at that time. Since he was chained, he was unable to spread his arm wide. His shackles made it necessary for him to raise both arms whenever he raised one. Ironically, the apparent inconvenience enabled him to develop a technique that was at one and the same time an attack and a steel-wall defence. He learned to maintain a sensible interval between his own body and his opponent and to counter attacks and immediately initiate attacks. It took him the full three years of his term in jail to perfect this technique. Although he was not a big man, Kuo Yun-shen was very strong. Once a disciple of another school of martial arts asked Kuo to engage in a match with him. Kuo complied with the man's wish and immediately sent him flying with one blow of his peng-ch'üan. The man rose and asked for another bout. Once again Kuo did as he was requested, but this time the man did not rise, because one of his ribs was broken.
The study of Hsing-i-ch'üan involves first basic development of ki through Zen then the study of the Chinese cosmic, philosophy called T'ai-chi-hs5eh, which originated as a system for divination and reached full development during the Sung period. The physical aspects of training involve five techniques called the Hsing-i-wu-hsing-ch'üan: the p'i-ch'üan (splitting fist), peng-ch'üan (crushing fist), tsuan-ch'üan (piercing fist), p'ao-ch'üan (roasting fist), and the Kuo-ch'üan (united fists) plus a fifth that is an advanced application technique called the lien-huan-ch'üan (connected-circle fist). As a person practices using these techniques in training sessions and bouts with opponents, he gradually learns which suits him best. Hsing-i-ch'üan is further characterized by forms (hsing in Chinese and kata in Japanese) based on the instinctive motions of twelve actual and mythical animals: dragon, tiger, monkey, horse, turtle, cock, eagle, swallow, snake, phoenix, hawk, and bear.
The very name Hsing-i-ch'üan means that it is the ability to use these motions without conscious consideration that gives the system its meaning. The practitioner of Hsing-i-ch'üan must use the forms automatically and without reference to his conscious will. The point that sets Hsing-i-ch'üan most clearly apart from other martial arts is related to this theory, for in Hsing-i-ch'üan training, no matter how thoroughly a person may have mastered the techniques, if he is unenlightened about the basic meaning of the forms, his efforts are wasted. People striving for progress in the martial arts must be aware of this point and must keep it in mind throughout their daily practice.
Last update: Februari 2023
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