The Art of Hsing-I Chuan is said to have come from the movements of the spear. While carrying a spear for defense or combat today is not practical, it remains a crucial tool in the pursuit of internal development. I would like briefly explain how the spear is an effective tool in Hsing-I training today.
There are six characteristics of Hsing-I. They are wrapping, closing, pouncing, leaping, shaking and thunder sound. In this article, I will only deal with shaking. Previous articles in the Internal Martial Arts Review have addressed the other topics.
The spear used in Hsing-I training is 3 to 4 meters long and made of wood. The wood selected should be straight with even grain. Wax wood is an excellent choice. This is characteristically firm yet flexible. The spears used are unlike those used in Wu Shu training. Those are far too thin and flexible. Any advanced student would break them easily. The base of the spear should fill the hand. Six to eight inches around would be about right. The shaft would gradually taper to a smaller tip with a diameter of one to two inched. As you can see, this is not a small piece of wood we are training with.
To use the spear in training, we want to assume a forward stance; let's use the left leg forward for our discussion. The weight is centered. The right had grasps the very end of the shaft. From here, the chest hollows and the elbows drop and the shaft is extended forward. One must relax in the left kua to rotate the body and avoid shifting weight back and forth. The arms are extended fully with both hands next to each other with the palms facing up. At this point, if your body is not well connected, you will find it difficult to support the weight of the spear. Hold this position for a moment. Then, return to the original position with one small difference, the lead hand will rotate so that the palm faces down at the last moment. Keep the shaft straight as you bring it back. When returning the shart to its original position, it is crucial to keep your structure. Any deviation will show clearly in the shaft.
If you are able to move correctly, in terms of structure, the shaft will vibrate from end to end. Anything less than that, there will be a diminished response. What causes this vibration and why do we want it? The vibration is a result of the energy given off by the movement of the Hsing-I player. In any internal martial art, we seek to strike with a vibrating force. Any deviation from sound structure and alignment will cause a leak in the release of energy. In this context, I am not referring to some esoteric mystical energy. I am referring to force that would be released into an opponent in a combative situation. This type of vibrating force is extremely powerful and can cause internal damage. The shaking of the shaft is a very good and reliable indicator of how efficiently our structure is while we are in motion. We can get a wide range of reactions from the shaft. At times the shaft will not vibrate at all. Sometimes the tip will shake. If done well, you can feel the vibration of the shaft in your rear hand. This means that the energy was all released into the shaft, as it had nowhere else to go because you maintained proper structure throughout the movement. In a combative situation, the energy would be released into your opponent insted of the shaft of the spear as that would be its only outlet since your structure was would and did not permit a leak of energy. This method of training is generally used to help advanced students fine-tune their structure in motion.
I would encourge everyone to try this exercise. Start this exercise slowly and easily to avoid injury for those who still have tight hips or shoulders. Like most aspects of internal martial art training, the drill is simple but very profound and deep.