Shanghai has three styles of kung fu which are popular, Xingyi Quan, Xinyi Liuhe Quan and Wu style Taiji Quan. After reading up and watching some clips I began to feel like Xinyi Liuhe Quan is quite similar to Taiji Mantis, so I decided to check it out. I made a new friend, a guy from Iran I met on Rum Soaked Fist called Reza, who had been learning the style for several years here alongside Chinese medicine, and he agreed to take me to visit his teacher.
His teachers name was Xue Hong En, and he is a Hui, a Chinese Muslim. Being born into a traditional martial arts family from central China, he began learning martial arts from a very young age. He studied Jiao Men Quan (教门拳), which means the styles of the faith, referring to Islam. There are three styles included under this term, which are Cha Quan, which is a kind of long fist developed in the Ming Dynasty by a famous Muslim general and is often taught to kids in local Mosques, Qi Shi Quan, which means seven postures fist and is considered very secret and apparently not taught to non-Muslims, and Xinyi Liuhe Quan, which is a very powerful and aggressive internal system which is Master Xue’s main style.
Xinyi Liuhe Quan is often known as “the Henan Xingyi branch” or “the Muslim Xingyi” branch, as it stems from the same root as Xingyi Quan, although has some major differences. Xinyi is based on 10 animals, and does not use the San Ti Shi posture or Five Element Fists found in other Xingyi branches. Instead it begins training with Ji Bu, or Chicken Step, a very odd looking posture which is incredibly demanding on the legs and develops huge internal power. Ji Bu is practiced both standing and walking, and looks very simple, however it is the core from which the whole system is built on.
Master Xue was a very friendly and nice man. He was teaching a class of students both old and young in a parking lot, to shelter from the typhoon. He invited me to join in and taught me the famous Chicken Step mentioned above. He showed me a few applications to the movement, for example although it just looks like a step, it is hiding both a knee and a shin kick. This shin kick is called Gua Di Feng, and is a trademark movement of the style. Xinyi Liuhe people are famous for the power of this kick, which they practice by kicking trees daily! He then showed me a groin strike, with a gentle slap to my thigh, which seriously stung and left a bruise! He also showed an elbow, luckily not one me, and lastly a shoulder strike, which I didn’t expect and he knocked me flying back! I also had chance to watch him perform some techniques, and well as some of the other students, and was really impressed by their Shen Fa and power generation.
Anyway, back to the Chicken Step. It is fairly similar to Taiji Mantis‘ small mountain climbing stance, with the knees very close to each other for groin protection, and the body held in a straight line totally side on to be more powerful in a forward direction. The major difference was the the chest is hollowed the back rounded, which Mantis doesn’t emphasize, and the XYLH posture has the arms in a much more relaxed state, whereas Mantis does stance training with the fists squeezed tightly to tense up the forearms. However from the little I saw the end result seems to be similar, as I didn’t see any major differences when they did their forms, however I will need more time to really get a good picture.