Xinyi Liuhe Quan and Xingyi are two names for a system which grew up in northern-central China around Shanxi, Henan and Hebei provinces. Xinyi, which means Heart-Mind Fist was the original name and is the name used by two branches, the Xinyi Liuhe Quan, practiced by Chinese Muslims from Henan and Anhui (which spread to Shanghai and the surrounding areas in the early 20th century), and the Dai Family Xinyi Quan in Shanxi province. The other name Xingyi, which means Shape-Mind Fist, is popular in Shanxi, where the Song and Che family are well known, and also in Hebei, which is the style which is most widespread in China.
Xinyi Liu He Quan is based on ten animals. Legend has it that the system was created by the famous general of the Song Dynasty, Yue Fei, who based this new and ingenious system on spear techniques. There is then a gap of several hundred years, before it reappeared at the end of the Ming Dynasty, when a man named Ji Long Feng travelled to the Zhongnan Mountains in Shaanxi province and studied with many masters there, who also gave him the manual of King Wumu (aka Yue Fei).
The first Muslim to learn the style was Ma Xue Li, who passed it down to few people. Nowadays there are two main branches which descend from him, the Luoyang Style and the Lushan style. The Lushan style spread to Shanghai, via Lu Song Gao, where it has become one of the signature styles of Shanghai.
Xinyi Liuhe is a system designed for use on the battlefield, and so very little grappling or high kicking is used. The idea is to attack directly and finish the opponent off as quickly as possible. a battalion of troops advancing into an enemy would have very little space for moving around, and so would engage the enemy directly, running them down in their tracks. The core footwork of the system, “treading chicken step” is reflected in this idea.
The core of the system is the ten animals, which are not forms, but techniques or groups of techniques repeated over and over by students. In fact in Shanghai, the system of Xinyi Liuhe is colloquially known simply as “the ten big animals”. The ten animals are: chicken, hawk, swallow, eagle, tiger, horse, bear, snake, monkey and dragon. Contained within are specific fighting principles and strategies that are designed to suit ten different body types. Traditionally, a student would only learn one or two animals, and only successors of the system would learn all ten.