Harmonies and planes in kung fu stances

A discussion on the G+ forums turned towards stances and directions used in different styles of kung fu. There are certain difficulties involved even in discussing different types of kung fu thanks to certain phrases meaning different things to different people. One example in this thread came from the Three Body stance of Xingyiquan:

Me: I was referring to a specific stance in Xingyi kung fu called the Three Body Stance (it’s also called the Three Harmonies Posture). The “three harmonies” (or “three bodies”) refers to two different sets of three: the three “external harmonies” are having the feet (including legs), body (including head), and hands (including arms) in proper alignment. The three “internal harmonies” are internal force, energy flow, and the mind. When everything is working together, then the Xingyi practitioner (or indeed, any martial artist) is not wasting anything and can act at their full capability.

Reply by Richard Matel: Just to add fuel to the confusion fire, Everything Frederick Chu said above about the 6 harmonies is accurate, but there is also the other 6 harmonies: tiger head, ear shoulder, eagle claw, dragon body, chicken leg, and thunder voice.

My reply to Richard Matel:

Nice note, +Richard Betel , I’ve not heard about those. Baguazhang has its “Nine Points” for fighting (which I can never remember, but they’re all automatically included when you’re practicing Baguazhang correctly, so they’re only really useful for very fresh beginners).

Just to use yet another “harmonies” issue, let’s take Shaolin kung fu, Taijiquan, and Baguazhang. Shaolin kung fu often has the “three harmonies” of feet, body, and hands all going in one direction. Taijiquan, with its emphasis on the waist, often has the hands and body in the same direction (which may or may not be in the same direction as the feet). Baguazhang, with its emphasis on twisting, coiling, and turning, may have the feet going one direction, the body in another, and the hands in yet another!

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit demonstrates Cloud Dragon Returns Head, a pattern from the Swimming Dragon Baguazhang set. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit demonstrates Cloud Dragon Returns Head, a sophisticated, yet effective pattern from the Swimming Dragon Baguazhang set. See if you can spot the three planes! Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

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