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Why Practice Xinyi


Dr. Able Yuanxia Zhang, Master Chen's Disciple

From "Xinyi, Instinctive Fighting"



He wrote an important theme of Instinctive Fighting, or Spontaneous Fighting. Many people have the painful experience of not being able to apply what they practice to real fighting. Traditional martial art trainings focus a lot on teaching students how to fight with specific techniques. However, in real fighting, those techniques turn to be useless. There are two reasons causing this problem.


Reason 1: Fear


In real fighting, it is about life and death, there is not much extra protection. People have to face the challenge of death which usually does not happen in daily exercises. If your mind is full of fear, no techniques will work. It is like in the battle field, if the commander-in-chief is defeated, millions of soldiers will be useless.


Xin Yi's Chinese meaning is Mind Mindfulness. Actually every martial art is about Mind Mindfulness. However, many martial arts focus on techniques and ignore this mental power. Techniques are visible and external, mental power is invisible and internal. It is much easier to teach techniques than mental power. Thus, Xin Yi is not about a special style of Chinese martial art, it is about how to activate one's mental power. Therefore, every style of martial art should have a core part of Xin Yi. If a martial art totally ignores Xin Yi, it cannot be a good style.


Looking at the weight center, Xing Yi and Ba Gua chose to withdraw the weight center to the back foot, Tai Chi chooses the middle, Xin Yi's weight center actually is near the front foot which is much more aggressive. This little nuance makes a Xin Yi practitioner closer to his opponent and naturally reduce the fear of mutual contact.


Reason 2: Reaction Time


Techniques need time to respond. In real fighting, the attack from the opponent is usually unexpected, gives little time for reaction. More important, if the attack is continuous, you will totally lose your mind of how to apply those fancy techniques.


I used to be very good at praying mantis, the techniques are beautiful and practical. When I used to fight with weaker opponents, it worked very well. However, when I used it to fight with a skillful fighter, it turned to be much less powerful. I noticed that the technique was arranged step by step. If the first step is fully blocked, there is no way for you to do the second step. When you cannot continue with the second step, it causes a short period of blankness in the mind. It sounds like "gee, what should I do next?" You have to "think" to get a solution, but it is too late. In real fighting, there is no time for you to think.


Eventually, a martial artist in real fighting transforms into a street fighter. Is it that good? No! Street fighting is a primitive fight, it is not ART. Bruce Lee used to be a king of street fighting. One day, he met a gentleman on the street, he thought that he could beat the gentleman easily. However, when they touched each other, Bruce Lee was knocked out like a flying kite without a string to hold onto. Bruce Lee realized that the gentleman used a totally different style of fighting which was an ART.


Xin Yi definitely has techniques, but the goal of Xin Yi is to integrate those techniques and attain the status of the ONE, then let the ONE spontaneously use those techniques. The ONE is a ball which is fully round. If you hit a ball, the ball will respond to the hit automatically. The resistance power to respond to the external attack is from the Dan Tian, the energy center.              

I got a message from a friend. He wrote:


"I saw your video on blacktaoist--you went through a lot of martial arts to find the one that works for you-you say that xin yi is the best chinese martial art --- i live in los angeles i found a xing yi teacher is this the same as xin yi ? i had a similar experience that you had about formless form---i was teaching my son the cheng man ching tai chi which i learned by watching him on youtube i always thought that the form was good for health and not for fighting but as i was teaching the form to my son i found many applications when i told him to attack me while showing him each postures use in self defense i felt whole body power and unity as you described in your xin yi also when i was young i learned hung gar we would learn many forms but i did not understand the use of the forms-one day my friend told me to spar with him- i told him that i did not know how to spar because in my class we did not do that--so we proceeded to spar and as i began to spar my feet and hands would move to defend against his attacks in ways of the forms i learned--my body reacted to his attacks in an instant without my knowing it it was fun-my friend stopped because he could not beat me--so i understand what you are saying about the mind fighting not to over think it if one does its over----thank you very much for your kind info on your Chinese art experience-it is good to hear your enthusiasm and knowledge i love it when Chinese masters speak about their art and not keep it to themselves or to certain special students."

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