Xingyiquan’s Five Elemental Fists

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit demonstrating Thrust Palm (also known as Splitting Fist) from the Five Elemental Fist set in Xingyiquan. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit demonstrating Thrust Palm (also known as Splitting Fist) from the Five Elemental Fist set in Xingyiquan. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

I had a brief discussion with some pals about Xingyiquan after showing them the videos posted below. Here’s what I had to say about this art. One of these days, I’ll have to get my brother (who actually practices Xingyiquan) to make a guest post here…

My grandmaster demonstrating the individual five elemental fists (the fundamental movements) of Xingyiquan. My brother particularly likes Xingyiquan because he doesn’t have to learn a whole lot of elaborate or sophisticated movements (in contrast to, say, Baguazhang, which has many elaborate and sophisticated movements). With good skills, he can use just five (or even just one) techniques for virtually any combat situation. 
形意五行拳 Xingyi Five Elemental Fists

Interestingly, these movements (thrust-palm, crushing fist, spiral fist, exploding fist, and horizontal chop) incorporate defending against and covering an opponent while moving into them. My old roommate, who often sparred Xingyiquan practitioners in the past, noted how frustrating it could be that they could use just these simple-seeming movements to drive into an opponent regardless of the opponent’s attacks or responses. 

After reaching a certain level of skill in the individual five elemental fists, some Xingyiquan schools introduce a Linked Five Elemental Fists set to teach the student how to flow more smoothly between the five fundamental movements: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFTyoAV2yHIhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFTyoAV2yHI

Many Xingyiquan schools have eight, ten, or twelve “animal” forms which they use to meet special combat situations, though the foundation training of most Xingyiquan practitioners is the Santi Shi (Three Body Stance) and the Five Elemental Fists (including their applications). The twelve animal forms that my grandmaster will be teaching can be seen individually here: 形意十二形連環拳 Xingyi Twelve Animal-Form Continuous Fist . A “continuous” set of the twelve animal forms can be seen here: 形意十二形連環拳 Xingyi Twelve Animal-Form Continuous Fist

In response to someone asking about the application of Cannon Fist:

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit demonstrating Cannon Fist, one of the five fundamental strikes of Xingyiquan. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit demonstrating Cannon Fist from the Five Element Linking Fist set in Xingyiquan. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

You’ve hit the head on the main application of cannon fist, +Michael A Dillon . That principle appears in Taijiquan (Jade Girl Threads Shuttle), Shaolin kung fu (Tame Tiger with Double Bows), Tantui & Eagle Claw (Cross-Road Lift Strike) and I’m sure in other fighting systems.

The floating arm is also very effective when dealing with someone who has gripped your wrist or forearm and offering them a vertical fist to the face or chest. I saw a demonstration of master Liang Shou-Yu (co-author, along with Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming of Xingyiquan) using “release force” with cannon fist to send an opponent who had used a whirlwind kick flying away. 

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