The System for
Master Chen Shoufu's
Xin Yi Quan
Written by Dr. Able Yuanxia Zhang, Master Chen's Disciple
Xin Yi Quan focuses on “San Jie Si Shao,” “Liu Yi,” and “Shi Xing He Yi.” Currently, Xin Yi Quan usually focuses on intensive training on single move. Shoufu Chen’s teaching methods also start from teaching single move, but he is strongly against the single attack approach from single move. Master Tie mainly taught him the 24 moves, which are the main framework for Xin Yi Quan. Other schools also teach the 24 moves, but they differ from Master Tie’s 24 moves in the actual training process. Shoufu Chen emphasizes on bone and muscle stretching and practices single move with Dan Tian (lower abdomen). The 24 moves aim to practice Dan Tian from the 24 parts of your body. Therefore, Master Tie’s 24 moves are very different from other schools’.
When Da Xia was learning Xin Yi Quan from Lu School in Shanghai, students from different schools tried to compare who has learned more moves. It seems that you are more skillful than people who only know 24 moves if you know 48 moves. Later on, Da Xia heard that there was someone in Shanghai who could master 108 moves. This idea is actually very similar to Ba Gua Zhang. At the beginning, it has always been 8 zhang, then there came 64 zhang, then there came 108 zhang. People at the time thought that the more moves you knew, the more skillful in martial arts you were. But they already missed the essence of martial arts. Below is the system of Master Shoufu Chen’s Xin Yi Quan.
The 24 moves emphasize “Shi Xing He Yi”. It started from practicing the 24 moves, mastering complete bone and muscle stretching, and knowing clearly the exact strength used in the Dan Tian. Shoufu Chen always says that Xin Yi Quan fits in scientific human physiology really well. Practicing the 24 moves aims to explore all the potentials from the 24 parts of the human body. Therefore, it may seem that you are imitating the shape of a type of animal, but in reality you are exploring potentials of some part of the human body according to this type of animal. After exploiting potentials, the shape of the animal is not important anymore. Usually Xin Yi Quan can simply be called “Shi Xing”, but this name failed to convey the essence of Xin Yi Martial Art. The true secret of Xin Yi Quan doesn’t lie in the ten shapes: after mastering the 24 Methods, you can start with “Shi Xing He Yi”, which is that any move from your body contains all other moves.
Break down strength by having left and right hands in different positions. For example, the left hand in a single-move position and the right hand in a tiger position. This way, 24 moves are broken into half of 24 moves multiplied by half of 24 moves, which becomes 576 combinations. But these combinations are not mechanical but random combinations, so you are still learning 24 moves. And the combinations would only function when the body is functioning automatically.
Then practice the Four Quan. Four Quan is actually very short, and what you learn is how to connect all Qi together. Xin Yi Quan only has one set of skills and tricks. The main purpose of Xin Yi Quan is to practice Qi’s circulation in the body. Therefore, you cannot practice Xin Yi Quan as other conventional Quans. Conventional ways are all about the interchanges among different moves, but the secret of Four Quan is not about the move but about the internal Qi. The ultimate goal is to end Four Quan with one breath. Therefore, Four Quan is extreme martial arts.
Continuously bringing out strength means moving forward the process of breaking down strength. This training method is not mechanic but naturally designed, so it is not conventional, which doesn't allow you to plan for it in advance and then mechanically perform it.
Meditation with a clear mind and “Zhan Wu Ji Zhuang.” Use your mind to move internal Qi to finish the internal force and movement of Si Quan without moving your body. In the end, reach the boundary of emptiness by using the method of mediation, which is the unification of 24 moves and invisibility when practicing Quan.
From above, we can see that Xin Yi Quan, that is popular in the nation, basically only refers to the first or second step. Those Quan masters who only emphasize attacking with single move don’t even understand how to break down internal force. Shoufu Chen’s Xin Yi Quan is very simple but complicated at the same time. It is simple because it only requires 24 moves and one Si Quan, but it is also complicated because of all the different combinations resulting from breaking down the 24 moves. It only takes a person half an hour to learn the basic 24 moves and one Si Quan, but it really depends on the individual's quality on how much they can master and advance with Xin Yi Quan. There is the saying “Ling Jin Shang Shen Di Fan Tian.” The so-called “Ling jin” is the result from practicing the last three steps.
This is the first time that Master Shoufu Chen introduced his system of martial arts in the form of five steps to the public. Shoufu Chen is very conservative. He may not be conservative about the actual learning methods of single move. The five steps were top secrets in the past. You would not even know how to make progress if you do not know about the five steps.
There were many people practicing Xin Yi Quan in the nation at the time. People would all like to think that what they have learned is the most authentic martial art, so they were not happy when Da Xia introduced Shoufu Chen’s Xin Yi Quan. Shoufu Chen always stated that if someone can present better martial arts, I would definitely learn from it and wouldn’t feel ashamed for asking many questions without being unhappy. In actuality, he stated that there are fewer and fewer martial arts masters in the nation who can actually master martial arts really well. It shouldn't be the time for people to get jealous over each other but the time for people to learn from each other and make progress together. He talked about the benefits of being an intellectual when he mentioned the previous point, because intellectuals like to explore the truth behind many things. They are always learning from elementary school to college. They intensively study once they see good things from others. In fact, people who were closely following Master Shoufu Chen at the time were all intellectuals.