Monday, September 19, 2011

Seven Stars of Xingyi Quan - Mike Patterson

Li Tsun I was once quoted saying, "If you want mercy, best not raise your hand." It was furthermore said of Li that when challenged, "He put forth his hand, strode forward easily and achieved his objective."

In actual combat, a fighter needs three things, a calm mind, no hesitation and a system that supports the kind of fluid energy necessary to win. Combat should be lucid, unbridled and succinct. "Stick like glue until conclusion." The opponent must be thought of as, not a system of arms and legs, but as one big target with unlimited points of attack.

Hsing I is well known for its rapid closing and punishingly powerful attacks. Anyone who has had the unpleasant experience of crossing arms with an adept of the Art will attest to this fact. They will probably also babble incoherently about the seeming impossibility that their nemesis seemed to have many more than just two arms and two feet. Blows seem to literally rain in from all angles and elevations, sometimes several at once.

Hsing I fighters from Hsu Hong Chi's school of thought have a credo, "Fold in, fold out, stick like glue until conclusion." Just how this is accomplished is the focus of this article. We show this to our opponents through use of the "Seven Stars " of Hsing I in fluid combination. These principles of striking hold that there are seven weapons of the body that can attack with devastating power. They are as follows:

1. Elbow hit. "To strike is to be all out. To move hands and legs together. Fists as cannons, body as a dragon. Move as if you have flame all over in the face of an attacker."

The elbow is an extremely damaging tool when used by someone who understands it. It is obvious that the bony tip can be quite destructive to various areas of the opponent's anatomy. Its limitation being, of course, its range. You must work diligently o n learning to "fold in" from a parried hand attack and upon gaining control of the opponents center line, utilize quick stepping and angular footwork as a vehicle of delivery of sequential elbow attacks.

2. Head hit. "The whole body moves as one. The feet take position in center."

The head is often unexpected in the clinch position when hands have been trapped and elbows neutralized. If you strike quickly, you can control the situation adroitly.

3. Shoulder hit. "One is Yin (back) one is Yang (front). Hands are hidden. Right or left depends on the situation."

The shoulder is a punishing weapon when used in the beginning of a clinch (sometimes in conjunction with the head) or as an adjunct fold immediately after a successful elbow. The "bracing" posture must be utilized when using either the shoulder or head as a striking weapon. My teacher used to say "When you strike with the shoulder, you think 1,000 dollars stay ground. You GET!"

4. Hand hit. "Moving from your chest, it is like a tiger catching a lamb. Strength put in hands should be instantly variable. Elbows are to be lower than armpits."

All proper Hsing I hand blows exemplify this principle. Keeping the elbows down allows proper kinetic alignment of the skeletal system for massive impact, and alignment of the sinews for tremendous kinetic potential. If the elbow is raised the flow of kinetic power is diffused at the shoulder and cannot reach the hand.

5. Hip hit. "Yin or Yang, left or right is up to the situation. Be natural while moving feet. Be quick as a sword while attacking."

The hip is the hardest of all the weapons to manifest power in as it is closest to the pivotal point of the waist. Therefore there is less distance for the wave of potential energy to travel and gain momentum. The key here is as implied, you must be ex tremely quick with your issuing (fah jing).

6. Knee hit. "Strike on vital points can be fatal. Hands up balancing body."

The knee is an excellent midrange tool if used in conjunction with the hands to immobilize and then attack. The knee must be snapped up from the strength of the abdominal muscle groups. It should not be swung up as a pendulum.

7. Feet hit. "Steps are firm. The strength comes from foot rooted to the ground, never let your attempt be known. Power of a tornado."

Too often, the novice in an attempt to gain more range or elevation in their kicking techniques will violate the root from their support foot by coming up on the ball of the foot. It is imperative that there exist a strong anchor from which to rebound the kinetic wave, or much of the energy potential will be scattered.


The reality of utilization of the Seven Stars principles in combat relies strongly on the development of Fah Jing (issuing energy) skills to ensure that the very close range weapons of the shoulder, hip and head carry sufficient force to accomplish the goal. This is one of the reasons this skill is so heavily emphasized in my family's training curriculum.

Also, two person exercises in the San Shou (pushing hands) category is an excellent place to hone these skills in a relatively safe environment before putting them to the test in contact training. Try occasionally limiting your push hands practice to d oing only shoulder or only elbow strikes or any of the other weapons or combinations of weapons where you feel deficient in skill. This "isolation" approach can work wonders in virtually any deficient area of skill. Start soft and slow and as you develop more familiarity and confidence with the new techniques, gradually increase the speed for a more realistic look at the true potential.

As a secondary step, try reduced speed sparring. This requires cooperation on the part of both combatants. The idea is to move at approximately one third to one half speed in a consistent manner, without suddenly speeding up to intercept or strike. If done properly, it will allow the time to think a bit during the evolution of combative flow, giving both participants a chance to grow in their appreciation of possible technique.

Learning the use of any new weapon simply requires a focused study of that particular weapon. Learn the techniques of usage and then practice, practice, practice.

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