By Dietmar Stubenbaum

The martial art Xingyiquan combines the outer form (Xing) and the intent (Yi). It is one of the most consequent Chinese martial art systems ever created and is based on the five elements of Chinese philosophy (Metal, water, wood, fire and earth). Every element has its boxing technique, metal is Pi Quan (Splitting Fist), water is Zhuang Quan (drilling fist), wood is Beng Quan (smashing fist), fire is Pao Quan (pounding fist) and earth is Heng Quan (crossing fist).

These techniques can create or destroy each other. The direction of the movement is mostly linear. Hand, feet, body - all moves as one and hits as one. The nose, the front hand and the front foot are on the same vertical plane (San Jian Xiang Jiao).

The arms protect the body in a centred position confronting the opponent. The hand protects the heart and the elbow protects the ribs.

The Five Elements are completed by boxing forms, who characterise different animals and their typical spirit and action. They can vary in movement and quality (mostly ten or twelve) and each Xingyi style has its own variations. Well known animal forms are dragon, snake, bear, tiger, eagle, sparrow, chicken, alligator, horse, turtle, tai bird and water lizard.