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THE SPEAR as a TEACHER

In some martial arts systems, weapons are only taught to advanced students. Others will use it as living and personalized mirror of a student’s actions. Some tradition al Aikido schools that emphasized ki (chi), will use the spear, staff and sword for a basis of empty hand strikes; as well as throws. The short staff was used to show how to move the body as a unit. Skill in practicing the staff is concentrated on among the best swordsmen; for its efficient and leveraged action.

The staff can be used for walking and as a climbing aid. The phrase ‘Thy rod and staff comfort me’; has meanings.

Since the staff and spear magnify every movement, they are not recommended for novices. Once a rooted stance is learned, one can benefit from seeing the lopsided effects of ones actions leveraged by the rod.

Hsing Yi Five Element Spear

Hsing I Five Element Spear is well suited to be taught to beginning and intermediate students, after or as they study the empty hand Hsing I Five elements. Hsing Yi empty hand was based on the principles of the previously developed Five Element Spear.

In older times, students were more familiar with Chi, meditation, and intrinsic power. Students stayed with schools for longer.

In modern times, many will come with backgrounds in sports or karate, and have previous training that must be overcome.

The teaching axiom of going from the known, to the related unknown, can have unintended consequences. Many, but not all; have a difficult time switching their basic concepts in stances and simultaneous body movements of the limbs from their old system. Close in the internal, does not always count.

Rather than overcome a student’s previous training, it might be better introducing Hsing I power, using whole body power with the step, and origin of force; through the spear. Few have any training in it from before; and no previous training to overcome, is an advantage in this case.

The main purpose of learning to use a spear is to build power by learning correct body methods (Shenfa) to open up the joints and dynamically stretches the tendons. This method must be used to improve one's skill.

People, that do not practice martial arts or do not practice it correctly, will have rather stiff joints that limit their range of movements. With proper long spear practice, one can open the joints, increase flexibility, and therefore improve agility of movements. Some spear sets emphasize subtle wrist and waist movements that can emit powerful circular movements, which can be technically lethal in combat.

Every time the spear moves the tip should vibrate. The more the staff vibrates, or appears to be flexible: the more the Chi has been generated and directed to the killing end.

While learning the higher level concepts, introspection is needed to become aware of one's limitations of thinking. Terms of old basic concepts from a previously learned style, must be constantly redefined; otherwise one will never achieve the qualitative level of the newly learned internal concepts and energies. A newly learned arm move, for example, must have the coordinated changes in stances, body mechanics and breathing. If one is unaware of these differences and do not correct related items as you move on, the old way of moving slowly comes back.

After basic movement skills in the long spear are acquired, five element fist can be taught based on the newly acquired methods of the spear's internal foundations.

This spear technique shows how Hsing Yi developed the hidden and sliding steps.

When a long enough spear is used (fingertip height), one can be moved by the spear. This is fundamental in chi projection. The longer the pole, the easier to vibrate its tip; however more effort is needed when hands are held close together.

Due to its history and its lethal but proficient techniques, the spear has been nicknamed ‘The Emperor of All Chinese Long Weapons’. During ancient China, some spear forms were practiced on a horse.

A longer pole compared to a standard pole of six feet, develops chi projection and a more fluid movement of the pole. One can use a denser/heavier material for the pole, for a shorter length with the same effect; such as a hardwood (hickory, birch, ironwood etc.) or steel. Steel has the advantage of added spring.

Pi Qiang (Splitting Spear)
I. Helps with foot transfer in:
1) forward potential energy and changes in acceleration;
2) rooting energy and adjustments the ankle/knee/hip wave;
1) adjusting the blow’s direction and projection to a moving root.
II. As ‘one moves through the forward hand’.
When one moves through oneself, internal energy is passed through these chambers.
III. Moving spear tip up without using arms, by using the torso.

Hsing Yi Five Element Spear Metal Steps

1) Start in San Ti (T-stance or cat stance), with 2/3 weight on rear leg, front leg empty and draw the spear backward and upward, hold arms about 2 feet apart.

2) Push/swing the spear tip up vertically; with the legs pushing the lower back's grip on the gap between the arms:
a) as the front hand slides away from the other hand, toward the tip, for a wider gap between the hands of from 2 to 3 feet;
b) while raising front leg up, with knee bent, as foot dangles loosely toward the ground, while shifting to a one-legged stance.

3) The front raised foot, is empty; the rear supporting leg is slightly bent and full:
a) the front foot becomes full as it is dropped, from the heel pedaling-action of the supporting rear leg;
b) which is focused forward through the lower spine and Lower Dan Tien's projection of the filling Qi forward through legs and arms.

4) Spear is projected forward and levered downward by the two-arm's grip gap shortening to a distance of between two feet to zero; the stance is lengthened in mid-air.

5) As spear tip is carried forward and downward it carries the body forward;
as the body is carried forward; it carries the spear.

6) Front foot slides forward into San Ti Stance.

7) Stand holding spear or pole at about a 30 degree angle.

The force comes from rear foot with the blow directed by the pedaling action of the front foot's focusing of tip angle and direction.
Click here for Hsing Yi
Five Element Spear Metal


Pi Qiang (Splitting Spear) helps with foot transfer in:
  1. forward potential energy and changes in acceleration;
  2. rooting energy and adjustments the ankle/knee/hip wave;
  3. adjusting the blow’s direction and projection to a moving root.

Move spear tip up without using arms, by using a rocking motion. This is started by the rear leg which leverages the lower spine' s rocking motion. Cradle the hips.

When dropping forward foot forward, sink stance into rear leg's heal. This propels the body and spear forward and downward.

Zuan Qiang (Water Drilling Spear)
I. Shows how to pull the body forward, sliding through the front hand; with a balanced reciprocal action.
II. One moves forward internally, through inhaling and expanding the body’s center.

Beng Qian, (Wood Smashing Spear)
I. The rotation of the rear hip forward,
is coordinated with the hip/shoulder movement,
in conjunction with the step to provide the thrusting force.
II. Does not use the torso or opposite arm movements,
III. Teaches the proper attachment to the step, Sacrum, Chi center and
grounding.

Pao Qian, (Fire Pounding Spear)
I. Rise and twist done in tandem simultaneously by both forward moving arms. II. Moving forward from rear cross step, transfers to other leg’s forward step, shaping the spear tip’s downward crashing.

Heng Qian, (Earth Smashing Spear)
I. Forward pull of spear, sliding through front arm and
rear leg’s forward step coordinated.
II. Sliding push of spear through front arm and front leg’s advance;
propel the spear’s sideward thrust.

From book Axe Hand; Hsing-i & Internal Strength Workout, Pages 72, 132-13: available at the book's publisher Lulu.com

Ji Longfeng’s Spear

Letters by the late headman of Jun Village, Shanxi, Ji Genquan; visits to the present headman, Ji Zhenjiang, and conversations with old villagers: stated that Ji Longfeng made more than one trip to the Henan Shaolin temple.

There are two routes between Jun village and Shaolin. The first is through Pu city which is only one pass away from Bo’Ai county in Henan, and there is a valley in the Taixing Mountains near Pu. Merchants used this pass to travel between Henan and Shanxi in the old days.

The other route is crossing over Zhongtiao Mountain, across the Yellow River, to the “three gorges”, a short, but treacherous terrain.

During the end of the Ming dynasty, when Ji lived, the area was overrun with bandits. Ji, a doctor was worried of bandit raids and decided to study the martial arts to protect his home.

On the first visit to Shaolin Si, Ji may have taken the first route, through Pu city and up to Shaolin.

At that time, the most important styles in Shaolin Si was Shaolin Taizu Chuan, Shaolin Hong Chuan and Shaolin Pao Chuan.

Bai Yufeng's, Wu Xing Di Tang Chuan (Five Element Tumbling Boxing), created during the Yuan dynasty, had probably already been taught popularly.

During this time, Ji Longfeng had not yet gained any true inspiration. The path to Shaolin runs past the QianZhai Temple in Bo’Ai county. Priest Dong of QianZhai, was famous for his Shi San Shi Rou Shou (Thirteen Soft Hands) and Tongbei. Dong's Liu He Chang (Six Harmony Spear) was especially intricate.

(The saying goes, east spear, west staff; south fist, north legs.) Ji may well have learned the old Taoist's Neigong (internal exercises) and Shenfa (body methods) for Soft Hands and Six Harmony Spear. (Or it could be that Dong had traveled to Jun Village and taught there?)

This is the same way the merchant Wang Zong Yue passed his Soft Hands and Six Harmony Spear skills to Dong when he passed the temple when he passed by. No style can be created from nothing and just as Zhang San Feng took the lessons of those before him and created the 13 Soft Hands, Ji Longfeng too, had a teacher.

After learning the shenfa of Six Harmony Spear, Ji practiced day and night on the banks of the Yellow River, eventually gaining the level of Six Harmony Divine Spear. He then set off again for Shaolin temple.

By this time, Ji had considerable skill, and took the second route, over the mountains and across the Yellow River to the Three Gorges. He passed the provincial seat of Henan and arrived at Shaolin.

It is recorded that Ji's horse lost it's footing and fell into the valley below. Relying on his kungfu, Ji scaled the tall cliffs to safety.

During the days spent searching for a route to climb up, Ji observed the local birds and animals and gained an understanding of 10 true ways (Ten Animals) and more inspiration for the style he was to create in the future.

Arriving at Shaolin Si, Ji's “Six Harmony Spear” skill was incomparable, the abbot begged Ji to stay at the temple to teach. (this was recorded in the Ji Family Chronicles. In the Shaolin temple's archives, there is a spear manual titled, "Teacher Ji's Spear Manual) Shi Yong Wen, originally from Shaolin, still has it in his care. Also the tablet erected in honor of Ancestor Ji by Shaolin previously. It was seen by a Ji family 17th generation descendant during the first few years of the Republic (ROC). However, it was destroyed during the military invasion of Shaolin.

Ji's effect on Shaolin can be easily seen. (Ji's grand disciple, Li Yi Ming of Henan, struck up a friendship with Shaolin's abbot around the years of the emperors' Yong Zheng and Qian Long's reigns. Li presented the abbot with a copy of the manual "Ten Principle Theories of Xin Yi Liu He", written by him in the 11th year of Yong Zheng's reign. It was treasured by generations of Shaolin monks.

Ji, on returning to Jun village, thought of how he should defend himself now, should he meet an enemy. Peace was now here and swords and spears were no longer carried. He thus modified his spear style into an empty-handed style, using the intricate shenfa of the 13 posture Soft Hands (the 5 bows of the body) and added the 10 true ways, creating Xin Yi Liu He Chuan, with the principal philosophy of "when moving the path cannot be seen, once moving is effective."

The story of Ji Long Feng finding Yue Fei's boxing manual in the Yue Fei temple on XiaXi's Zhongnan mountain, probably first appeared in the falsified, “Dai Long Bang's Xin Yi Liu He manual”. In fact, there is no Yue Fei temple on Mt. Zhongnan. During the Ming Dynasty, one famous for Six Harmony Spear Li Ke Fu, who used Mei Hua Liu He Chang (Pear Blossom Six Harmony Spear).

The treatise written by Chen Zong You in 1621, “The Selection of Long Spear Ways”, details the style he learned from Li. General, Qi Ji Guang, who lived in the same era as Li, had gone to Tang Jing Zhou, 21 years his senior, in search of instruction, and it is possible that he had asked Li, who was the same age as him, for instruction too.

In his "New Book of Effective Techniques" are records of Yang Family Spear's “8 Mother Spears”, “Six Harmony Spear” and “24 Spears”. The Six Harmony Spear in Tang's book, "Martial Edited Selections", has little differences with the Six Harmony Spear recorded in Qi's manual.

Yang spear's “Six Harmony Spear,” also known as the “Plum Blossom”, or the “Plum Blossom 6 harmony Spear”, is related neither to the Yang Spear of the Yang warriors of the Song Dynasty, nor to the "Plum Blossom Spear" of Yang Miaozhen (the wife Li Quan leader of the Red Coat Army).

The latter is the combination of a spear with a tube of flammable substance in front, lit before battle, with the aim of burning one's opponents. "Flames and the spear thrusts"

From investigation, there is detailed information on Liu He Spear from the Ming Dynasty onwards. By the Year of Wan Li, Henan's Li Ke Fu was already very famous. (Wang Zong Yue was also of this era.) If that is so, Taoist Dong of Qian Zhai may, just like Cheng Zong You, have been taught by Li Ke Fu.

In the curriculum of the Wu Taiji that came from Qian Zhai, there are: “Life Saving 3 Spears”, “Single Posture 8 Spears”, “13 Big Spears”, “24 Spears” as well as 2 person exercises for sticking poles, wrapping spears, closing spears (a total of 13 paths).

The curriculum for Xin Yi includes “Single stance 13 Spears”, “13 Spears closing”, “21 Spears” and “36 Spears” (Liu He Spear). Primary techniques in the 36 Spears consists of: “8 Mother Spears”, “13 Spears “ and “24 Spears”, while Xin Yi's “21 Spears” is a combination of “8 Mother Spears” and “13 Spears”. “24 spears” may be a combination of “21 Spears” and “Life Saving Spears”.

The names of forms in Xin Yi Spear and Wu Taiji are extremely similar and Chang style, that came from Wang Bao Spear, also has 13 Spears, 21 Spears and 24 Spears etc, and also includes 3 point theory, similar to Xin Yi Liu He. We can see that there is some connection there. It is easy to see the why and when in 1887, Mai Zhuangtu's disciple Ding Zhao Xiang visited Chang Nai Zhou's hometown to converse with his 5th generation descendant Chang De Pu, he made a copy of Chang Nai Zhou's treatise, "Tendon Change Classic, Chi Channeling Secret", and included it in his boxing manual.

It seems that the 13 postures, which originated from Taoism, have an undeniable relationship with Xin Yi.

Chang Nai Zhou (1724-1763) wrote the "Central Chi Theory", and the twenty or so chapters on the "Theory on Yin Yang Entering and supporting" were called the "Tendon Change Classic, Chi Channeling Secret." The 3 Point theory contained within, seem to be from the same source as the 3 Point Theory in the Xin Yi Liu He boxing manual. This may be due to the fact that Chang was a student of Wang Bao Spear, which came from Taoist Dong of Qian Zhai Temple.

Taoist Dong had incredible skill with Liu He Spear and Staff, and was also an expert in the Taiji 13 Postures. Taoist Dong was an old man when Ji LongFeng was around 30, could it be that Ji gained his Liu He Spear and Staff from Dong?

Chang Nai Zhou had a friendship with Chen Village's 12th generation descendant Chen Ju Xia and his "Tendon Change Classic, Chi Channeling Secret" may have been passed to the Chen Village at that point.

One of Chang's teachers was “Holy Taoist Yan of Luoyang”. At this point in time, at this very place, Henan's Li Yi Ming's "Ten Principle Theories." were copied by Ma Zhen Ding and Wang Zhen Lin, active during the years of Qian Long's reign. Perhaps they passed a copy to Taoist Yan, who passed a copy to Chang, and Chang passed this, along with his treatise, to Chen Village?

Chen Family 16 generation descendant Chen Xin once used Taiji theory to edit the Xin Yi Boxing Manual. The part he edited being "3 verses on 10"(translated, 3 verses about 10 principles/theories?) and renamed the manual the "3, 3 Boxing Manual"(trans. 3*3=9).

14th generation descendant Chen Chang Xing too modified a copy of Xin Yi's "9 Theories" that was passed into Wen county into "Chen Taiji Theories".

Another of Chang's teachers was Taiji Master Li He Lin, and from the boxing style Chang created. What he learnt from Li He Lin was not his precious "13 postures" from Qian Zhai, but the "Taiji Health Maintaing Skill" created by Li Zhong, Li Rui, and Chen WangTing, or Tongbei, which was popular in the area at the time.

Otherwise, there would be no need for him to create a new style, and also, there has been no copy of the XinYi Boxing Manual found in Bo’Ai county.

Some of the books on Zhaobao Taijiquan, regarding Zhaobao’s Spring-Autumn great sword; do not show any record of Zhaobao’s Spring-Autumn great sword methods).

Learn how spear fits into an overall developement into the higher levels of Internal Martial Arts and many more martial workouts in the book
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Contact email at: jadedragonalaska@gmail.com

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