This is the sixth and final part of Marshal Yue, Fei's "Ten Important Theses" an excerpt from Xingyiquan—Theory, Applications Fighting Tactics and Spirit. This is Thesis No. 10. For Theses 1-9, see Parts 1 through 5.
10. Thesis of Fighting (Jiao Shou Lun)
Grab the right, enter the left. Grab the left, enter the right. When stepping forward, the heels touch the ground first. The tip of the foot uses the toes to grab the ground. The stepping must be steady and the body must be solemn. The strike must be firm, solid, and have Li from the bones. While going (i.e., attacking), the hands are relaxed and when they reach the opponent they become fists. When fists are used, curl (the fingers) in tightly. When you grab, the grabbing must have qi. From the top to the bottom, the qi must be uniform. Exiting (attacking) and entering (withdrawing) use the heart as master. The eyes, hands, and feet then follow. Do not be greedy and do not be deficient. The elbows should fall into the cave of the elbows (i.e., their prescribed position) and the hands should fall into the hands cave. The right leg moves first and the tip of the shoulder (i.e., hands) moves forward. This is (the secret of) exchanging steps.
When you attack, the two hands coordinate with each other and the feet are rooted. The stepping is steady and the body is solid and stable. When you strike, the qi comes from deep in the bones. The key to leading the qi to the fist when striking is to relax in the beginning of the punch so that the qi can be led to the fist by the yi smoothly and without stagnation. Right before this fist arrives at the opponent's body, the fist should be tightened up firmly so that the forward power is firmly supported by the middle and the root section. This also keeps the fist from being injured.
Qi is also important in grabbing because it makes the grab powerful and irresistible. In all things, the heart is always the master. When using a technique, beware of trying too hard or attempting too much, but also avoid holding back and slighting the techniques. Your posture should always be correct, and all of the key parts of your body, such as the fists and elbows, should be positioned correctly. This seals the vital areas of your body from attack.
The fist is emitted from the heart, and the hand is urged by the body. The hand is grabbing with the heart and the heart is grabbing with the hand. (When) the man moves and steps forward, every step and every fist, one branch moves, hundreds of branches all follow. There is a secret in emitting jin, when one (hand) is grabbing, the entire body is all grabbing, when one is extending, the entire body is all extending. Extending must extend enough to enter, the grabbing must grab to the root. Like wrapping the cannon, (must) wrap tightly, and restrained with li. It does not matter whether lift striking, press striking, etc. all hundreds of striking methods, all must mutually follow each other. When releasing hands, first occupy the front door. This is called cunning.
A strike originates from the heart, and the body urges the hand forward. When you grab, your mind and the actual grabbing cannot be separated. The mind and the action must be united. This puts your opponent into a defensive and urgent position.
The bone sections must be matched, (if) not matched, no Li. The hand grabbing must be agile, (if) not agile, then changes can occur. The emitting hand must be fast, (if) not fast, then too late. The rising hand must be alive, (if) not alive, then not fast. Striking must have follow-up, (if) no follow-up, then not effective. The scheming heart must be venomous, (if) not venomous, then not accurate. Feet and hands must be alive, (if) not alive, then (they) carry danger. The scheming heart must be refined, (if) not refined, then it will be fooled. (When) attacking, must be brave and fierce like an eagle's stoop. (Be) calm externally and audacious, and use the opportunity skillfully. Must not be afraid, hesitant, and suspicious (i.e., worried). The heart is small (i.e. refined) and the bladder is big (i.e., brave). The face looks nice, the mind is venomous. Be calm like a scholar and move like the thunder striking.
The three sections must be coordinated with each other, otherwise they will not be able to support each other and the li will be weak. Grabbing must be fast and agile so that the opponent has no chance to change his strategy. When you attack, you must be like an eagle swooping down to attack its prey.
The opponent's approaching posture must also be carefully inspected, such as the feet's kicks, the head's bump, the fist's strikes and the shoulder's action, narrowing the body to advance, relying on the body to raise and emit, walking diagonally and exchanging stepping, intercepting strikes and retreating the body, and lifting and extending the leg for emitting (i.e., kicking). (When) you are wary of (the opponent's) feet to the east, must prevent (being) killed from the west. (When) the top is void, the bottom must be solid. The tricks (are so many that) the fingers are not enough for bending (i.e., counting). The clever tricks and opportunities must be figured out by yourself. The fast hand strikes the slow hand. The traditional sayings should not be ignored. (They) indeed have their knowledgeable opinion.
In a fight, you must not only consider your own attack, you must also concern yourself with how your opponent can attack you All of this comes from careful inspection and clear judgment.
(When) rising, expect falling. (When) falling, expect rising. The rising and falling mutually follow each other. (The techniques which) the body and the hands all arrive at the same time are the real (techniques). The thighs form a scissors and (the hands) chop toward the (opponent's) eyebrows (i.e., face). In addition, turning around is like a tiger searching the mountain. The hands rise like lighting and fall like the speedy thunder, (like) the wind blowing the rain, the eagle seizing the swallow, the sparrow hawk entering the woods, and the lion catching a rabbit. When the hands are raised, the three centers match each other. (When) not moving, like a scholar and (when you) move, like a dragon and a tiger. (If) too far, the hands should not be emitted for striking. Two hands protect the sides of the heart. (When) an attack is from the right, (I) intercept with the right (hand) and (when) an attack is from the left, (I) intercept with the left. This is a short cut in intercepting. If too far, then (I) move forward with my hand and when it is close, (then) add the elbow (strike). If it is far, then use the leg to kick and if it is close, (then) add the knee (strike). Far or close must be known properly. The fist's strike and the foot's kick (come) from the head to the postures; inspecting the opponent can cause you to think of advancing. (If) there is a yi, do not have shape (i.e., external appearance). (If) there is a shape, then (you) will not win.
In a fight, when your opponent is rising you should expect him to fall, and when he is falling you should expect him to rise. The same theory can apply to you. When you rise, you are already getting ready to fall. When you fall, your mind has already prepared to rise.
The method of defeating the opponent: inspect and be aware of the shape of the ground. (When) a fist is in an advantageous position, the hands must be speedy. The feet must be light (i.e., agile) and when the postures are moving, they are like a cat's walk. The heart (i.e., mind) must be neutral and centered, the eyes are gathering essence (i.e., concentrated), (when) the hands and feet all arrive, (I) must win. If the hands arrive but the feet are not arriving, then (I) cannot obtain the marvelous trick. (If) the hands arrive and the feet also arrive, (then) striking the opponent is just like pulling up grass (i.e., easy). The top strikes the throat and the bottom strikes the groin. The left or the right flank remains in the center. It is not far to strike ten feet away. (When) it is close; it can be within only an inch.
When you are about to get involved in a fight, first you must know the ground, such as high, low, hard soft, slippery, firm, facing the sun and wind direction. Only then can you skillfully take advantage of the surroundings. For example, avoid facing the sun and wind. Naturally, you would like to put your opponent into the disadvantageous position.
When the body moves, it is like a wall collapsing. When the feet are falling to the ground, it is like a tree is growing roots. When the hands are rising, it is like a fired cannonball, thrusting straight forward. The body should be like a living snake, when the head is attacked, the tail will respond, when the tail is attacked, the head will respond, and when the middle sections is attacked, the head and the tail both respond. When striking forward, be aware of the rear. Knowing how to move forward, you should also know how to move backward. The heart moves like a horse, the shoulders move with the speed of wind. When the front hand rises, the rear hand urges closely. When the front leg rises, the rear leg follows closely. (Though) there are hands in front of you, do not see the hands and (though) there are elbows in front of (your) chest (you) do not see the elbows.
You must connect your head, middle, and end sections and make them act as one. When any section is attacked, the other two will respond naturally. You must also beware of the four directions, the front, the rear, and the two sides. In qigong it is said: the real regulating is no regulating. This means that when your mind still has to pay attention and conduct the act, then you are regulating the act. It is just like when you are learning how to drive, your mind is on the driving. However, after you have driven for many years, all of the reactions have become natural, and you do not have to pay attention to all the details.
The Right Time to Attack
If (you) see an opening, do not strike, and if (you) see the opening, do not advance. The fist should not strike the false rising and also not strike the false lowering. (When) the hands rise, the feet must fall. When the feet fall, the hands must rise. The heart must move first and the Yi must defeat the opponent. The body will attack the opponent (first) and the stepping must be better than the opponent's. The front leg is like crossing (i.e., like a snake) and the rear leg is like sticking. The head must stick up and the chest must be exposed (i.e., thrust out). The waist must grow and rise, and the Dan Tian must transport the Qi (smoothly). From the top to the feet, the one Qi must thread through. (If) afraid in the battle and the heart is cold, (then) surely not able to win. (If) unable to inspect the talking and view the color (of the face), surely not able to prevent the opponent's (intention) and surely not able to move first. (He who) moves first is the master, and (he who) moves second is the follower. Be able to think only of advancing and do not keep thinking of retreating.
The key to winning is staying alert and responding earlier than the opponent. In order to manifest your fighting power, the qi must be threaded through your entire body so that it functions as a unit.
The three sections must be clear, the three tips must match, and the four extremities must be gathered. Understanding the three centers will increase by one more power, comprehending the three sections will add one more technique, understanding the four extremities will increase one essence, understanding the Five Phases will increase the one Qi. Understanding the three sections, not greedy and not deficient, rise, fall, advance, and retreat will have more variations. Three rounds and nine turns are one posture (i.e., in each posture). All must be mastered by the one heart. Using the two Qis (i.e., inhalation and exhalation) to govern the Five Phases, practice all the time, do not be delayed morning and evening. Crossing the legs (for meditation) and striking (for form practice) must often be forced. After the Gong (i.e., Gongfu: energy and time) has passed, it will be natural. This is sincere language and not empty talk.
Finally, this article reviews some of the key points of the training. You must understand the three sections clearly, because this enables you to use your body skillfully and increases the number of variations of the techniques that you can perform. The three tips (nose, fingers, and toes) must match. This keeps your posture firm and rooted, and makes it possible for you to increase your power. The three centers are the center of the head directed downward, the centers of the feet pointing upward, and the centers of the hands aiming inward. The qi must be able to reach the four extremities (tongue, hair, teeth, and nails) so that your qi will be strong. However, in order to have abundant qi, you must know how to increase the efficiency of the essence-qi conversion. With the knowledge of the Five Phases (Five Internal Organs), the qi can be threaded together and become one.
It does not matter where or how you fight, these key requirements remain the same. Inhalation and exhalation are the keys to governing the qi in the five organs. Practice hard and ceaselessly, and some day you will find that all of these requirements have become a part of you. Once this happens, you will surely be a proficient fighter.
The above excerpt is from Xingyiquan—Theory, Applications, Fighting Tactics and Spirit, by Liang, Shou-Yu and Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming.