HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF
12-ANIMAL-FORM CONTINUOUS FIST OF XINGYIQUAN
Dragon Form of Xingyiquan
The 12 Animals Forms of Xingyiquan and their relative characteristics are as follows
- Dragon -- contracting and expanding
- Tiger -- courage
- Monkey -- agility
- Horse -- speed
- Alligator -- gliding
- Cockerel -- combative
- Hawk -- soaring
- Swallow -- skimming
- Snake -- sliding
- Ostrich -- ramming
- Eagle -- gripping
- Bear -- stability
The techniques of these animal forms are jointed together to form a set called "12-Animal-Form Continuous fist", or "Shi Er Xing Lian Quan" in Chinese. Because of its long history, there are different versions of the set. The one practiced in our school was composed by me after examining many sources including some Xingyiquan classics.
It is often said that these 12 Animal Forms are added to the Five-Elemental Fist of Xingyiquan to compensate for its lack of variety. Personally I do not believe this statement was true for Xingyiquan masters, though mediocre Xingyiquan practitioners would greatly expanded the variety of their techniques with these 12 Animal Forms.
Xingyiquan is famous for its profundity in simplicity. It is simple in form but profound in its application. In the hands of a Xingyiquan master, just any one of the five elemental fists can be used to counter any attack! It is hard for many people to believe but this is true. It is not for no reason that Xingyiquan is regarded as "kungfu for generals".
The famous Xingyiquan master, Guo Yun Shen, used only one of the five elemental fists, "peng quan" or "crushing fist", and remained undefeated in all his challenges in the 19th century. He was credited with the saying, "ban bu beng quan da tian xia", which means "fight heaven and earth using only half-step crushing fist". "Heaven and earth" means the world, and in this case it refered to China. "Half-step" refered to gliding forward in a Triangle Stance.
When Guo Yun Shen thrust his right "crushing fist", which is a thrusting vertical fist, in a Triangle Stance with his left leg in front, irrespective of how his opponent responded, he would make an appropriate modification, then immediately glide his left leg forward, followed by his right leg, but still in the left Triangle Stance, and thrust another right "crushing fist" at his opponent. Irrespective of how the opponent responded, Guo Yum Shen would repeat this procedure. His crushing fist was so fast and powerful that he would eventually defeat his opponent, after pushing him against a wall.
Let us have some fun, and examine some scenarios where his opponent typically responded with the four categories of attack. His opponent warded off Gua Yun Shen's crushing fist, and responded with a strike. Guo Yun Shen warded of the strike, used one hand to tame two, and moved in with another crushing fist. His opponent leaned back to avoid the crushing fist, and simultaneous executed a side kick. Guo Yun Shen brushed off the kick and moved in with a crushing fist.
The opponent warded off the crushing fist, and attempted to fell Guo Yun Shen. Guo Yun Shen moved one leg away to avoid the opponent's leverage advantage, brushed off the opponent's hands, and moved in with a crushing fist. The opponent used a chin-na technique to grip Guo Yin Shen's attacking arm. Immediately Guo Yun Shen released the grip with a circular movement of his arm, tamed the opponent's hands, and moved in with a crushing fist. Notice that Guao Yun Shen used the same pattern every time.
Wong Kiew Kit
21st December 2015
12-Animal-Form Continuous Fist in Pictures
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