The Song of Heng Chuan
Майстор Лю Баочан (1893-1979 г.) изпълнява Хън-Цюан /"Пресичащ удар"/.
By: Shr Fu Mike Patterson
This is the fourth in a series of five articles covering the Wu Hsing (five forms), sometimes called the five elements of Hsing-I practice.
The focus of these short articles will be to offer explanation of the "Songs of the Five Forms". And to demonstrate various applications from the striking, grappling and throwing mediums of each of the respective forms.
The Song of Heng
Forehand "Yang Fist", hind fist "Yin", hind hand just below the elbow keeps.
Foot lifts up as fists move, body be firm and "Chi" is settled.
Tongue curls up and air exhales, feet close as scissors when style changes.
Half turn the body while feet/hands move, hind hand twists up and thrusts out.
Steps down, fists "Yang" and three points set, nose and feet are specially linked.
Heng Chuan always keep hind fist "Yin".
Forehand "Yang Fist", elbows protect heart.
Left and right arms thrust out as bows. Feet/Hand sink together with tongue curled.
The "Crossing Fist" is by far the most difficult of the elements to learn to perform properly, let alone powerfully. But once perfected, it is one of the most useful of techniques in the system.
To understand Heng Chuan, you must consider three things. First, the element association, Earth. This will tell you something about its base nature as opposed to the other elements. When you think of Earth (and I mean the stuff we walk, play and live o n), what qualities come to mind? Words like solid, firm, consistent? This gives you a clue as to performance of the movement. Heng Chuan should be solid and consistent in its power from start to finish. There should be no sudden acceleration contained in the action, unlike some of the other elemental movements. The crossing fist should be just as powerful at the beginning as it is at the end of the action. This is what gives it such remarkable versatility as a technique.
Second, consider its weapon association, the bullet. Kinetically, a bullet spirals with an explosive outward force causing a recoil which must be anchored.
This is what is alluded to in line four of the poem, "Half turn the body while feet/hands move, Forehand twists up and thrusts out." This describes a large moving spiral. Not unlike the planetary motion of the Earth itself.
Third, consider the name of the movement itself, the "Crossing Fist". This gives you a clue about application of the motion. Crossing your center, your opponent's center, your limbs, his limbs, both of your limbs, etc.
Now, going through the remaining lines of the poem in order:
Line two "Foot lifts up as fists move", which means to keep the "light foot" in transition to ensure swift changes from side to side. And the second half of line two "Body be firm and Chi is settled" which alludes to the "I" of complete solidity in execution.
Line three, "Tongue curls up and air exhales" is a reminder to keep the fuse in contact to permit free circulation of the small circuit. And the second part of line three, "Feet close as scissors when style changes" refers to the squeezing inward of the two "kua" (frontal hips) to insure the projection of energy from the Dan Tien area.
Then in line five, "Steps down, fists "Yang" and three points set, nose and feet are specially linked." This is to, as always, make the practitioner aware of the importance of maintaining your central alignment in Hsing-I Chuan, what we call the "wedging" theory. The second half of the line, however, gives a small glimpse into the "secret" relationship of the "I" (intention) and the "whole body power" that Hsing-I is famous for.
And in line six, "Heng Chuan always keep hind fist "Yin", we have a reminder of the necessary anchoring of Heng chuan's spiral power which I had mentioned earlier.
Line seven, "Forehand Yang Fist, elbows protect heart" is a reminder to keep the shoulders and elbows down to enable easy projection of your jing and to protect your heart cavities from attack.
The final line, "Left and right arms thrust out as bows" means to maintain the golfball size space in the armpits to insure good energy circulation, and a coiled readiness in the frame for issuing energy. And the second half of the final line, " Feet/Hands sink together with tongue curled" reminds you that true root is achieved through not only a relaxed dropping of body and mind, but also through applied metaphysics.
The kinetic power of Heng Chuan is imparted primarily from the waist and costal spaces. A vector product of force is not possible in a spiral, so the role of the legs in this form is to assure solidity of the root at the moment of impact. More solidity means more potential power. You must be well anchored to ensure that none of the projected energy of the movement rebounds back into you, thus weakening the technique.
For application of Heng Chuan, try to remember to be broad minded in your quest for viable techniques. Do not be one dimensional in your thinking. Remember, each form of Hsing-I can be applied from all five levels of application; striking, throwing, locking, hitting the nerve, and point attacks. This can be overlaid with the "Three Basin" theory, yielding a multitude of additional expressions of the "Crossing" fist in the form of the Head, Shoulder, Elbow, Hip, Knee, Foot and Hand strikes.
Since Heng Chuan is equally powerful through the whole movement, it can be applied as a hammer fist to the inside, or a strike with the eye of the fist to the outside, or a throw to the outside, or a forearm strike to the inside, or a forearm strike to the outside, or an oblique fisted strike to the outside/inside of the opponents body/guard, or, well you get the picture.
My teacher, master Hsu Hong Chi, was fond of saying "You know one, you know ten." He often expounded on the fact that a change of hand position, angle, or footwork was necessary to adjust the technique to an ever changing situation of fighting. As long as principle is correct, it's OK. This is what makes Hsing-I Chuan so complete.
For further myriad examples of application potential, try viewing the "Five Elements" tape from my Hsing-I series of Instructional videos. You will find the ad for this tape and others in the video section of our web page.
Come and check out the new Hsing-I Store
|This is the final installment of the articles dedicated to documenting the Zhang Yunxian method of Hsing-i Chuan as taught to me by Yan Gaofei. We began this process last year with an examination of the San Ti posture and the 6 requirements: chicken leg, dragon body, bear shoulder, tiger's embrace, eagle claw and thunder sound. Of this series, the first two articles remain the most important. Those which have followed, including this one, serve only to show different variations of the circle as applied with these concepts of structure and alignment. This article shall briefly explain Heng chuan, the crossing fist. It is associated with the element earth. It's practice is said to benefit the spleen and stomach. Without strength in these areas, the other elements are weakened. In the wu xing, heng chuan is created by pao chuan and destroys tsuan chuan.
Let us begin from the san ti posture with the left leg forward. From here, step forward at a slight angle to the left with the lead leg as you begin to save energy (bear) by collapsing inward towards center with your right side. As you step forward, the rear foot pushes from the ground to help you go forward. You continue the strike by extending and rotating the right arm forward so that the palm side of the fist is facing up. It is important to have the rear hand pull back simultaneously to add power and balance to the movement. To continue, save energy by collapsing the left side into center as you bring the rear foot next to the lead foot. Step out and strike as before to the opposite side. heng chuan, in the form, strikes with the opposite hand and foot forward. For example, left foot and right fist forward, right fist and left foot forward. The weight should remain in the rear leg during this fist. The power of the crossing fist comes from a forward movement. That is important....the crossing power comes from a whole body movement forward. To illustrate, lets examine heng chuan with the left foot forward and the right fist forward. The energy against an opponent is lateral and will knock him to the side hence the name crossing fist. But, a common mistake is to wind up the upper body and use your strength to muscle him to the side. The correct way according to the structural requirements is to rely on the forward movement of the body as the chicken leg,dragon body, bear shoulder, and tiger embrace are set. While all are essential, the chicken leg and dragon body are what is most obvious in this movement. When the legs are set and screwing into the ground, the left kua (inner groin) collapses through relaxation. As a result, the body naturally turns in such a way that the right fist goes forward as it rotates. This comes into contact with the opponent. This screwing combined with the forward momentum is what makes the crossing fist.
Now, you can see the basic concepts of the way inwhich power is generated in heng chuan. As in all internal arts, we must examine how the force is followed to attach the energy properly. This is the requirement of eagle claw. Upon contact we must seek to avoid force against force. We shall also seek the opponent's center as the target for our projection. If one feels the force coming directly at our body, it is easy enough to follow his force and attack from the side. If the opponent's force is rising towards us, we should relax into our structure and follow it force and deliver it back into him through the circle. If his force is dropping down, the same principle applies etc. etc..
Clearly, Hsing-i is one of the three main internal arts which come from China. One of the characteristics that makes it an internal art is the circling of force back into the opponent through a reliance on its structure and relaxation. While the circles are not as obvious an they are in Tai chi, they are the none the less. In fact, the five fists I have been writing about for the past year are nothing more than expressions of the structure moving in five different circles. If you can understand that, then your understanding of this art is deeper than many practitioners who train the art in the external way. In closing, I hope that the reader has gained a little insight into this wonderful art. I urge you all to remember that structure and alignment are the key to this and all internal arts. It is only through proper structure and alignment can one learn to truly relax and practice the internal arts as they where meant to be practiced. A goal which I am pursuing myself.
| Previous article: "Pao Chuan"
||Next article: "Bear"
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