HsingI

Hsing-I (or Xingyi), usually translated as "heart and mind" or "shape of mind," is one of the three main "internal" styles of Chinese martial arts (the other two are Pakua and Tai Ch'i Ch'uan). Like the practitioners of other internal styles, Hsing-I practitioners strive to unite the mind and the body in such a way that the mind can freely command the body's ch'i, so that amazing feats can be performed.

According to legend, the founder of Hsing-I was a Sung Dynasty general named Yueh Fei, who lived from 1103-1141. He was supposedly taught the basics of Hsing-I by a Taoist named Chou Ton. His success in warfare was so phenomenal that jealous rivals had him imprisoned and killed; he wrote the first book about Hsing-I in prison.

Hsing-I has two basic sets of movements or maneuvers. The first set is made up of block-strike patterns based on the five elements: Metal (Pi Ch'uan), Water (Tsuan Ch'uan), Wood (Peng Ch'uan), Fire (Pao Ch'uan) and Earth (Heng Ch'uan). Each ele

ment has offensive and defensive aspects; in accord with ancient Chinese philosophies, an attack based on one element (say, Fire) is subject to a defense based on the element that it is vulnerable to (in this example, Water). The second set of maneuvers is based around twelve animal forms: Dragon, Tiger, Monkey, Horse, Turtle, Chicken, Phoenix (T'ai Bird), Sparrow Hawk, Swallow, Snake, Eagle and Bear (some masters use other animal forms as well).

Hsing-I practitioners combine these basic sets of maneuvers into attack patterns which usually involve blocking an incoming attack, grabbing the attacking limb, and then striking the attacker, usually with the hand. Hsing-I tends to be much more "linear" than the other internal styles, and for this reason it is often the first internal style a student will study (then he will move on to Pakua and Tai Ch'i Ch'uan).

Some scholars divide Hsing-I into three "schools": Honan, Hopei (the most common and least internal) and Shansi (the least common). Some masters of these schools teach weapons such as swords, staffs and spears, but this is relatively rare.

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