Stillness in Xing Yi Chuan

It is often noted that Xing Yi Chuan does not have a reverse gear and it’s forms don’t have much in terms of backing up steps. However, the xing yi fighting method is not a constant barrage of reckless attacks. If one knows he’s not going to back up once he starts he should not rush in greedily. Xing Yi Chuan uses pauses and stillness to assess and re-assess before breaking in. When still you can watch your opponent quietly, like a crouching tiger.

Stillness in Xing Yi training.

Xing Yi training requires a lot of stillness, holding a few postures for long periods is one of the charateristics of the training. A typical two-hour training session with Shifu Chao only required the space of a yoga mat to practice on. Although space was small the effort was big, if you were not sweating after a 10 minutes of training you were being lazy. Training on my own I would often confine myself to a yoga mat to force myself to be more still. Forms were taught only after a lot of sweating and standing then only one at a time if we were lucky.

Stillness in Breath

Another example of stillness within Xing Yi is pausing the breath. While I was training at a seminar with the great Xing Yi Master Luo De Xiu we learned to pause breaths between one of the movements. At first, interrupting the breathing cycle seemed at odds with everything I had learned before in internal martial arts. All of my teachers emphasized linking movement with the breath. It took me a long time to realize that this is still true with pausing the breath, that is that it is the total stopping of all external and internal movement, to get next-level still the breath has to stop temporarily as well. From this stillness you can observe yourself and your opponent.

Being totally still you can feel peace while training on your own, little monkey in your mind goes away. Paradoxically, when you reach the point of total stillness it is easier to start the chi moving around.