"Dragon Body - This imaginary beast is common in Chinese fables and folklore. The dragon could fly high, riding the mists, contracting and twisting it's body like a snake through the clouds. Xingyi places high importance on this for every transitional movement in the art should embody the spirit of the dragon, expanding and contracting, striking out with mystical prowess.
Chicken Leg - This is one of the most basic fundamentals of the art of Xingyiquan. A chicken can run very quickly and stop suddenly, keeping it's weight on one leg, ready to peck. Xingyi's five elements all encompass this theory by stepping forward onto one leg before it issues it's strike much like a chicken does. By mastering this, you can advance, retreat, turn and change forms very quickly because the weight is always ready to transfer.
Eagle Claw - While the hands are relaxed and held in gentle curves when in transitional movements, when striking, they must become like the fearless bird of prey's attacking talons, digging and grasping with an iron grip. This is especially seen in the beginning movement of Pi Quan when the hands draw down towards the Dan Tian. This is also very important in Xingyi, for many of the art's applications consist of grabbing with one hand while simultaneously striking with the other.
Bear Shoulders - Bears are large animals that can can generate a great deal of power from their great rounded shoulders. The Xingyi practitioner must mimic this to obtain maximum power in his art. By rounding the shoulders and hollowing the chest, the body actually "gets behind" the arms and hands, so when you strike, the power doesn't come from the arms, but from the whole body.
Tiger's Head Embrace - The tiger is a very regal beast. They are powerful and strong animals that exude the finest and most fearsome aspects of nature. In Xingyi, the head must be held erect and slightly back, but spiritually, it must also capture the imposing manner of the tiger, letting it's blank cunning show in your eyes and it's ability to pounce.
- Xonghua Xinyiquan
Xing Yi Quan (Hsing I Chuan): Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotes, Notes. By Mike Garofalo.
Xing Yi Quan Xue: The Study of Form-Mind Boxing. By Sun Lu Tang. Translated by Albert Liu. Compiled and edited by Dan Miller. Burbank, CA, Unique Publications, 2000. ISBN: 0865681856. 312 pages. Includes a biography of Sun Lu Tang (pp.1-41) by Dan Miller. The work was encouraged and supported by Sun Jian Yun, and an interview with her is included. Translations by Tim Cartmell, Gu Feng Mei, and Huang Guo Qi. This original book was first published in 1915. It was the first book ever published that integrated Chinese martial arts with Chinese philosophy and Daoist Qi cultivation theories. The book includes many photographs of Sun Lu Tang.
"Of the three internal arts, Xing Yi is probably the most straightforward to understand in terms of practical fighting applications. Grandmaster Sun, however, believed that the most important reason to practice martial arts was the improvement of one's health; developing fighting ability was merely of secondary importance. Sun himself certainly benefited in both respects. In 1933, at the age of 73 and shortly before his death, Sun was examined by a physician and found to have the body of a 40-year old. Furthermore, throughout his life he was an awesome fighter: He worked as a professional bodyguard, taught martial arts at the Presidential Palace, and never lost a challenge match.
Certain health benefits of Xing Yi training are obvious. It is a low-impact exercise requiring little jumping, few low stances, and smooth rather than ballistic movements. As Sun notes in his book, it can be practiced by anyone, both the young and old, and the sick and infirm. Healthy people will grow stronger, while those with a disease will recover their health. However, in addition to the external physical benefits, Xing Yi practice offers a sophisticated system of internal energy training that stimulates the major energetic pathways within the body.At the core of Sun Lu Tang's Xing Yi Quan system is the 12 animals set. This set consists of 12 lines of movements, each emulating the fighting techniques of the 12 animals that come from heaven and earth. These are the Dragon, Tiger, Monkey, Horse, Water Lizard, Chicken, Sparrow Hawk, Swallow, Snake, Tai Bird, Eagle, and Bear. Regular practice of the 12 animals set benefits the practitioner both externally and internally. Externally, one learns the physical characteristics of each animal-the explosive power of the tiger, or the strength of the bear, for example. Internally, each animal form stimulates the internal energy, or Qi, in a particular and beneficial manner. The remainder of this article describes both the energetic work and the fighting applications of four of the animal forms: the Dragon, Tiger, Eagle, and Bear."
- Justin Liu, Cultivation and Combat: The Fighting Animals of Xing Yi Quan.