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Li Cun Yi was a famous and formidable martial artist who helped in bringing the 3 popular internal Chinese Martial Arts styles (Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Hsing-I Chuan) together to form `Neijia,' or the Internal Arts Family.

The following advice is based on the Hsing-i system, but can easily be applied to other styles.

Li Cun Yi on Motion and Tranquility, Firmness and Gentleness, False and True, and Smartness and Clumsiness in Contest with the Opponent

-translated by Huang Guo Qi

Tranquility and Motion

The Boxing Manual said: "Tranquility manifests intuitive understanding and movement develops functionality." Through stillness and silence intuitive understanding can be gradually obtained. In the process of energy conversion to cultivate the spirit's return to emptiness, one applies the hidden energy in order to relax the four limbs of the body and sink the Qi to the Dan Tien thus uniting the interior and the exterior. Staring into the opponent's eys, yet watching the four limbs, tranquility manifests an intuitive understanding. The application begins when the gentle, firm, curved, straight, vertical, transverse, false, or true energy is launced and the rising, falling, advancing, retreating, dodging, spreading, extending or contracting method of change is employed. This is discrimination between two aspects "intuition" and "motion" in the original meaning of Form-Mind Boxing (Hsing-I Chuan). The solo-practice develops the intuition and the contest with an opponent according to the principles of the practice is the application. The change between false and true cannot be practiced by oneself, it is brought about by the forms of the opponent.


Firmness and Gentleness

Regarding "firmness," there is "open firmness" and "hidden firmness." Regarding "gentleness," there is "open gentleness" and "hidden gentleness." Open firmness implies movements of the body's qi which are expressed externally in contest with others. When playing with others, if the opponent grips my hand forcefully like a steel hook and it seems to penetrate to the bone and bond my body, this is an expression of the internal energy of "open firmness."

Regarding "hidden firmness," it cannot be seen in the movements of the opponent. Movements such as rise and fall are harmonious and smooth. When two hands touch each other in contest, the opponent's hands are as soft as cotton and in gripping the qi not only penetrates the marrow, but also irritates the heart like an electric shock. This is the internal energy of "hidden firmness."

Regarding "open gentleness," the forms and movements seem to be without force. Even to an expert observer the body looks soft and forceless and the body movements seem to be as light as a feather with unity of interior and exterior. There is no visible expression of power anywhere in the body. In coming to grips with the opponent, it seems to exist and yet it does not seem to exist when the hand is used to punch or push. Also, the opponent cannot detect my intention. This is the internal energy of "open gentleness."

In terms of "hidden gentleness," the qi appears as majestic as the Tai Shan mountains. In contest with others, both hands grip and rotate like a steel ball. As soon as the hand reaches the opponent's body it punches forcefully. But if the opponent's body is quite nimble and he can stick to and entangle me with a hand like fish glue and an arm like steel wire, then he can neutralize many of my methods. The opponent does not use specific types of strength, he would only let the one qi flow naturally. This is the internal energy of "hidden gentleness."

False and True, Smart and Clumsy

The false and true, smart and clumsy can be distinguished in a few words when two men encounter one another. It is not advisable to attack the opponent suddenly before observing his size, the agility of his movements and the skillfulness of his qi. One must judge whether the opponent is an expert or a layman by evaluating his movements and speech. Foremost, it is advisable to test with a false hand and it is possible to know victory or defeat immediately as soon as the false and true and smartness and clumsiness or the opponent's movements are revealed. Even if defeated by the opponent, you should not have the intention of applying fraudulent or deceptive tricks. To this end I have always argued with sound reasoning on the practice of boxing skills. Students must remember that although deceptive tactics should not be used, they should always be guarded against. Therefore, it is necessary to be cautious in contest with others.

Deceptive Tricks

When training the boxing skilss, I never knew how to apply deveptive ploys. The master said "There can never be too much deception in war." Although I myself do not use deceptive tricks, I still must guard against others. My whole life I never had the intention to overcome others by deception. I have always tried to achieve victory through use of skill. If deception is used to triumph over an opponent, the opponent may not be totally convinced. Is it really possible to benefit by deception? It is necessary to be just and honorable and not employ deception in contest with others. In conquering an opponent, it is necessary to be naturally bright in the heart. This benefits one's skill. Although I do not use deception, I must guard against it. The opponent's use of changing between firmness and gentleness, false and true, smartness and clumsiness, are true skills and cannot be ignored. However, it is also advisable to guard against one who would calm the opponent with kind words and then strike him when he is not ready.

This is my experience acquired in contests with others in the field of martial arts. Later, if the practitioners meet individuals with these skills it is necessary to fight them according to their ability with skill and qi. If you are not cheated by the opponent, you can fight with them. If you are not intimidated by the opponent, then you can fight with him. If you are intimidated by your opponent after meeting him, or you are frightened, it is best not to fight with him. There is nothing wrong with not fighting with opponents if you have no intention to pursue the martial doctrine. However, if the intention is to pursue the martial doctrine, it is necessary to pursue it humbly and respectfully. The military classics say, "If you know yourself and you know your enemy, one hundred victories will result from one hundred battles." There can be no enemies under heaven if the opponents are treated in such a way. Not everyone who wins a victory is a hero.