We’re going to show a vblog pretty soon with a bit more info on what we believe Real Xing Yi to be, but I wanted to get some more content up and start to explain our viewpoint on Xing Yi and how we teach.
A few years ago I ended up teaching a seminar after a Chinese teacher cancelled at the last minute. I thought that seeing as I’d rented a flat for the week and the hall was available I might as well do some training. Some of the guys booked on the seminar didn’t turn up because the teacher wasn’t there, some of my students came along and a few of the guys booked on joined in too.
One guy came and just watched for a while. I was teaching real basics and going through Pi Quan (Splitting strike from the five elements) and how to create Pi Jin (A splitting force related to the rise and fall of energy). I asked the guy if he’d like to join in with us and he said “It’s not how I was taught so I’ll just watch”. I thought it was a shame that he didn’t want to try something new but I was okay with it, it was his choice.
After a while he got up and said to me that what I was doing wasn’t right. So I said to him, “okay let’s see your version”. He did a version of Pi Quan, slowly and softly, it was very smooth. I liked it. Then I asked him to hit me with it. He was a little taken aback and looked at me like I was a little crazy. I asked again, “Go on, hit me with it”. He told me that he didn’t want to hurt me. And I said “It’s okay hit me in the chest”. Still a little concerned he told me that really, I could really get hurt.
I said it was okay and I’d take the risk, he could hit me lightly if he wanted to. So he said okay reluctantly.
Then he hits me in the chest with his Pi Quan and I hardly felt it, I certainly didn’t move an inch. A couple of the other guys in the room looked over but then carried on with their practice.
I said “Again but harder”. He’s surprised but has another go, same thing, no effect.
I say “Harder”. He tries again but nothing. “Come on, harder” I say and again nothing. this continues and he hits me again and again, each time I ask him to hit harder. Eventually I say “Just f***ing hit me as hard as you can, come on just do it” He puts all his effort into the strike and bounces off me again. By now everyone is watching as I’d been really pushing him to hit me as hard as possible.
He seemed a bit disheartened that his Pi Quan didn’t work. Without putting him down I said to him. “Look, see how you are not connecting your body into the strike, the strike lands too late, the power is dissipated at the elbow because your structure here is not quite right” We work on getting his structure right and connecting the foot movement and landing the strike. We do this for maybe ten minutes. At the end of the ten minutes I let him hit me again. This time he knocks me back a couple of feet and I feel a dull ache in my chest. He’s not got it quite right but it’s a million times better than even ten minutes before and he’s stood with a beaming smile on his face! It’s like a lightswitch has just flicked on in his head and now he understands how to make Pi Quan work, and not only how but why it works.
He goes on to tell me he’s never really been shown this before or been told to hit someone like that before. He tells me he has eight years of Xing Yi practice, I was treated to this kind of practice on day one of my own training, both being hit and hitting other people.
I get one of my students (Ben) up to demonstrate how it works for real. I hit Ben in the chest and he lands on the floor in a crumpled heap. This surprised me somewhat as I hadn’t really meant to hit him so hard.
We went for dinner and came back to do Pao Quan (Cannon fist), I asked the same guy if he wanted to join in, he replied “i’ll just watch because it’s not how I was taught”.
I’ve experienced this a number of times with experienced martial artists. Often some of these guys can make this stuff work without any problem but I’ve often received comments like “I can do it, but I’d never understood how I was doing it before” or “I’ve been doing this for years and didn’t really know what it was about”.
What does this say about Real Xing Yi? It says that I will only teach something I know works, I know it works because I test what we do, I can teach people how to make these things work and I can see and feel where they are missing something, it might be a lack of structure or too much rigidity, it could be a disconnection in timing or cutting off the movement/energy. It could be many things, but I’ve worked through these things myself and with students in the past to get them to a point where what they do is effective. That’s just one aspect of what Real Xing Yi is about and I hope that I’ll be able to show people much more as we continue to grow and develop Xing Yi Academy.
The photo at the top of the blog is of one of Xing Yi Academy’s instructors, Alex testing a strike on Joe. They’re wearing body armour but it doesn’t really do much to stop the force!