Saturday, July 4, 2015
Xingyi Quan of the Chinese Army - Hunag Bo Nian’s Xingyi Fist and Weapon instruction by Dennis Rovere
This is an excellent translation and of Hunag Bo Nian’s Xingyi Fist and Weapon instruction by Dennis Rovere and Chow Hon Huen. Mr. Rovere has also filled in some of the gaps about basic application, five elements theory and history. As always, I would like to explain how I evaluate martial arts books in general and Chinese Internal Martial Arts books specifically.
This book should be viewed as a translation of an important historical document, not as a book to teach Xingyi. It documents the re-adaptation of Xingyi back into a battlefield art. The manual doesn’t contain the forms and other training pieces that most full Xingyi systems do. It focuses on the five elements, linking forms and two weapons. Many people complain of the lack of clarity in the pictures or lack of applications. Mr. Rovere states in the beginning of the book that it was to be used by instructors as a training reference, the intention of the book was not to teach students Xingyi Quan. You cannot learn Xingyi Quan from a book; you cannot learn Chinese Internal Martial Arts from You Tube. You have to spent time with a real practitioner of the art. You can learn forms, you can even learn applications, but you will never achieve real understanding.
The first section of this book is a high level overview of:
· five element theory
· the five fists
· the linking form
· the Xingyi classics
Section two covers Xingyi training in the Chinese Army, the Xingyi five elements and linking forms. Mr. Rovere does a good job of augmenting the pictures from the original manual with pictures of himself, explanations of postures and simple applications.
The most interesting part of the book is the in-depth coverage of the two weapons, the bayonet and the cavalry sword. The reason these are important is they are the application of Xingyi principles for modern weapons. I believe anytime the principles are applied by an expert in a modern context it helps to expose the roots and viability of the art. Can the principles serve in another context and work well?
I believe the value of these manuals, besides preservation for historic value, is to give the modern Xingyi practitioner greater understanding of their style by adding depth and perspective. Books on internal martial arts are generally survey in style - covering the forms, history and general practices of that style. This book is interesting and unique because it takes the principles of an ancient martial art and shows its relevance in a battlefield context.
Owen Schilling is a 20 year practitioner and teacher of Xingyi Quan, Bagua Zhang and Tai Chi Quan, a lineage holder in the Yi Zong School and the lead instructor at Boulder Internal Arts in Boulder, CO.