Saturday, October 02, 2010

day 292: housekeeping

  • footwork hsing-yi
  • versions of hsing-yi
  • hsing-yi v tai chi v bagua
  • 5 lines
  • 5 elements
  • linking form
  • totou renshu
  • hsing-yi
  • kyudo
okay, so this is very late. things have been really busy as of late and i lost track of things. just to show how busy things are, i missed several saturday classes due to other priorities with respect to work. i'm posting this to fill in the 1 Saturday i made, but i'm also posting as a matter of housekeeping to record the material that i forgot to put into previous posts.


i'll run through everything that i forgot to put into previous posts. i'll begin with footwork. hsing-yi, just like other martial arts, has specific footwork that is emphasized within the style. the hsing-yi footwork is pretty familiar to anyone who's learned TCMA, although it's somewhat surprising in intricacy considering the stereotype of it being simple. Sifu listed out the 6 types of hsing-yi footwork as follows:
  • dragging (to bu)--the rear foot drags along the ground following each step forward by the front foot
  • step-through/scissor (jian bu)--this is a shift, with the rear foot stepping forward to become the front foot
  • triangle (san jiao bu)--this is the same as the triangle step in mantis, with the steps moving at an angle relative to the opponent
  • turn/circle (ko/bai bu)--this is the turning, with a pivot foot that is pointed in the direction of the turn
  • monkey/springing (ba bu)--this is a light spring step
  • chicken (shin bu)--somewhat similar to the dragging, except that the front foot is heavy and the rear foot is light
Sifu noted that the 5 lines involves all of these, so that as you go through the 5 lines you end up doing all 6 types of footwork.

next, Sifu some time ago discussed the various types of hsing-yi. there are 3 well-known types, each of which arose in a different region of China and has features distinct from the other 2 (somebody will have to correct me on this, since we went through this pretty quickly and my notes were rushed):
  • shanxi--this is the original, and arose sometime during the Qing dynasty. the curriculum is based on 12 animals, but no elements. here, hsing-yi was tied to the concepts of "heart intent"
  • henan--this is the islamic hsing-yi, and is sometimes called hsing-yi liu he. it has a curriculum based on 10 animals, but no elements. the term hsing-yi liu he connected "heart intent" to "body/limbs"
  • hebei--this introduced 5 element theory into the curriculum, and was associated with hsing-yi quan, which brings the concepts of "heart intent body fist"
Sifu followed this with some more comments about what distinguishes hsing-yi from tai chi or bagua. the comparison he gave is as follows:
  • hsing-yi: the visual metaphor is of catching a tiger, and receives with strong contact. offensively, the intent is akin to chopping a door (i.e., going straight through the opponent's gate despite its defenses)
  • tai chi: the visual metaphor is to catch a fish, and so receives with light contact. offensively, the intent is like using a key (i.e., you use techniques to open an opponent's defenses and penetrate his opponent's gate, just like a key opens a door)
  • bagua: the visual metaphor is like pushing a grinding stone (like the ones donkeys pushed to grind flour), and so receives with no contact but instead receives by moving your own body. offensively, the intent is to go through a window (i.e., you work yourself into a position where you can find an opening in the opponent's defenses and enter their gate)
i also finally got the names and the description of the power issuing and movement for the 5 lines:
  • line 1: pi quan (splitting, like an axe)
  • line 2: er quan (twisting, chan zieh jin--i.e. silk reeling, like a drill)
  • line 3: bung quan (smashing, like an arrow)
  • line 4: pao quan (pounding, like an explosion)
  • line 5: heng quan (crossing, like in horizontal motion)
we've also discussed these in relation to 5-element theory, with the lines following the creation cycle of the 5 elements, where each element helps denote the kind of power issuing/movement that should appear in each line:
  • line 1: metal
  • line 2: water
  • line 3: wood
  • line 4: fire
  • line 5: earth
Sifu noted that 5-element theory also works to show the defenses to each one. each element can be defeated by another element, and that this indicates what types of power issuing/movement can defeat another. Sifu says that you can see this by following the destruction cycle of the 5 elements, so that each element in the destruction cycle acts to defeat each corresponding element in the creation cycle.

we also finished 1 iteration of the linking form, going through all 15 postures. it's a relatively short form, and can be done very quickly. Sifu noted, however, that there are additional layers to the form, so that while it superficially appears short and simple it actually has quite a bit of complexity. he said we'd work on this over the next few weeks.


kyudo was tough this evening. i'd corrected some areas that had been giving me problems in the previous weeks, but i've found that with kyudo a change in 1 area produces a ripple of changes in others, necessitating a re-calibration of everything every time you make an adjustment with 1 part. this evening i got so frustrated that i went back to the air form (totou renshu) to just get a sense of the form back.

i told Sensei that what made this frustrating was that a few months i could not get the arrow to release from the strong, and now the arrow was releasing on its own before i can even reach full draw. Sensei noted my frustration, and said that he'd gone through similar periods himself in the past. he advised me that i was doing the right thing practicing totou renshu, and that i should probably do it more on my own during the weeks between classes, since it should help correct some of the mechanical problems he saw in my draw.