Xing Yi Chuan Styles
One might think that an art based on the simple directness of spear would have a tightly defined structure.

There's some good reasons to believe that Xing Yi Chuan had a great deal of Xin Yi Liu He (Intent and Harmonies Boxing) in its foundation. We've seen Hu XiuGun do both the Four Fists form and the Ten Animals form (both unarmed) as well as Six Harmonies Saber and Six Harmonies Spear. The forms are fierce and direct and so was he. The esteemed George Xu finds merit in Xin Yi Liu He, and that ought to be recommendation enough for anyone. That said,
finding a teacher of this rare art is difficult.  

As far as we can determine from across an ocean Hebei (also known as Ho Pei) style has the most students. We admire Di Guo-Yong's artistry. He was born in 1948 in LuXian County, HeBei Province. He learned Shaolin Chang Chuan and HeBei Xing Yi Chuan from Zhao Zhong in 1963 and ChuoJiao FanZi Boxing from Wu Bin Lou in 1973. He is a disciple of Zhao Zhong (grandstudent of Li CunYi). In 1975 he learned Chen-style BaGua Zhang from the famous teacher Li Zi Ming. He is now president of the BeiJing Wu Shu Research Association (XingYi Division) and a national Wu Shu judge. At present he is the only one to record sets for all major weapons. These are what we teach.
 
HeBei gave rise to Song Style, Synthetic Style and Ta Cheng.  There is considerable disagreement how (or even if) the Henan Dai school is related the HeBei school. 

Dai stylists assert that their material predates and inspired HeBei style. They definitely have some exotic weapons - Emei Thorn, Iron Chopsticks and so on.  We were (and remain) particularly impressed with a mantis form in this style - it was a long way from any of the traditional Twelve Animals.
 
We have seen Master Zhang Xi Gui do long fist, short fist and whip stick forms from the Shan Xi style. He was quite a formidable fellow, and his movements crackled with a relentless, straightahead explosiveness. He more or less told you he was coming - with the full expectation there's not much you were going to be able to do about it. To make matters more complex, there are deep disagreements about whether Che style is a style or merely a version of Shan Xi style.
In any case, Gao Bao Dong is now a national judge in China, and has gained fame for not only his choreography
and performance of the competition versions of unarmed forms, but also his work with spear (long considered the foundation of Xing Yi Chuan) and dual weapon drills.

There's something of an ongoing dispute about whether Shang style (from Shang Yun Xiang) is a distinct style or a version of Hebei style. We admire Li Hong's (the current lineage holder) expression of both Six Harmonies and Five Elements sword and saber (so four sets in all) and we have a high regard for his work on double sabers. As far as we are aware, no one has recorded Shang style spear or staff, but he has several volumes out on Twelve Animals (unarmed) sets.   
         
Then there's Sun Style developed by  Sun Lu-Tang and taught for many years by his very talented daughter
Sun Jian-Yun. It explicitly includes Tai Chi and Ba Gua so Xing Yi purists have argued for its exclusion. Note that there is a fair amount of crossover between Ba Gua and Xing Yi in other styles so we non-specialists find the whole area rather confusing.    

A current project is to more or less abandon the use of words and instead to provide an index of short videos illustrating each style (or version) doing either common sequences or forms of interest.  Stay tuned.

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