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Teachings: Core Concepts

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On this page we will discuss the Core Principles :
Introductions :
    Nearly every reference or commentary on LHBF verses or school-style, begins with the nearly same standard information :
>School Identity Naming :
    The verbose 'Xi-yi' Men sect, from 'HuaYo' mountain, and the xin-yi central ideas therefrom in conjunction with the teaching verses ....
LiuHe -six-hamonies with BaFa -eight-methods verses, as chuan -pugalism,
            華嶽 希夷  + 心意 六合八法 拳

   This is basic but which may also be further addended with 
                     三盤十二勢 San Pan Shi Er Shi,
the Three Levels of practice and Twelve Animation 'tendencies'.
Collectively this is no more than an extended description of the style. It also represents an inability of 'students' to unravel their 'teachers' narrative as both story telling, collective naming, and 'just passing alone' what he was told without any understanding nor attempt at exploring why? There is a possibility that various similarly branches of related exercises have been passed along and that their differing names joined; this in itself does not verify the stories.
   The succinct 'simplified'  簡稱 jian3 cheng3, name is :

    六合八法 LiuHe BaFa- [without the added  quan or chuan for boxing]

   The common aka, also known as name, is  水拳 shui3 chuan2,  'water boxing'. which is too often used as a synonym ...which it should not be and which seems more correct for an early Shanghai version.
Note:   shi, innate 'power-tendency', appears in the Lu-hong 8-shi boxing name and in other boxing arts. I think that 勢拳 would be better than to use the unclear 内 nei for internal.

Song Yuan-tong
Song Dynasty Coinage

六合八法拳 譜  LHBF-Reading Resources :
[ 譜 pǔ,  listing, chart; score-theme ]
There are three main documents of LHBF written resources :
1. The Cave Codex: 
[ alledgedly from a Mt. Hua Yo Shan 華嶽山 grotto ]
called either :
的意义 yi4 yi4 thinking ideas, correctly or as, 要義  yao4 yi4, necessary, essential, embodied in the two part poem: 
the 六合 liuhe six-harmonies and 
the 八法 bafa, eight exercise methods.

     These are the core versed concepts [6x8] ..the LiuHe BaFa divided in two :
the action-theories and the methologies.  This codex is very succinct,
and of much philosophical and symbolic depth. Similar codes for other martial arts exist and parts are similar. Its' origins are unclear. In effect, they could be called terse 'lecture' notes as 'memory clues'.
2.  The Five Word Verses : [ allegedly from 'East wind' Li.]
   These are generally refered to as: quan2 xue2, 拳學, boxing knowledge in verse format, wu3 zi4 五字 5-character-word,  ge1 jue2 歌訣  'verses', of farewell,
                  拳學 五字 歌訣  :  李東
  The 'said' author is always given as Li, 'East-wind' [ Li Dong-feng] with the locative claim that  撰于鹿邑 隱山,  'composed at'  'Lu district'  'yin-shan, hidden mountain' 隱山.
East Wind Li's first protege,  is said to be : Song Yuan-tong. [ See coinage],[the name 'east wind' is a popular allusion to a fortuous change in the wind currents.]
[ The Taoist Canon, 'bible' reference, the Daozang ( 道藏) compiled during the Jin, Tang, and Song Dynasties; the surviving Ming dynastry version of today. (The Ming Daozang) includes almost 1500 texts, is divided into three dong  ( 洞, "caves", "grottoes" ).]

     As much as the verses are 'claimed' as related, ...they are for the most part redundant and likely dedacted by later writers. In their favor, it can be said that they do follow the numerical verse patterns as used by Song to Ming Dynasties, usually as 3-word verse, 4-word verse,..etc.  They, however do not offer much beyond the core verses LHBF; also there existence does not verify claims that they were scribed in the Song Dynasty.

[ NOTE : school lineage is given as :  陳希夷 taoist Chen Xi-Yi [Chen Tuan], to
          => 李東風 => 宋元通
        Li Dong-feng, to Song Yuan-tong;
        from Hua-Yue-shan 華嶽山 - to -Yin-shan, 隱山
        during the Song Dynasty [ AD 960 - 1279 ]
[ Northern Song 北宋 (960-1126)   Southern Song 南宋 (1127-1279) ]
[ Some sources say 'yun shan' would be 雲山, cloud mountain ] 

3.  The 66-Verse Form-series :  [ qi shi ]
                                    六合八法  [六十六]  起式

    The Form Names, as 66 verses, [ 六十六 ] of 4 character-concepts each, is of greater use; it demonstrates a knowledge of the 'scholarly' four-arts and an adeptness of twisting various idioms and homonyms to present or to conceal. 
[ To my knowledge I am the only researcher-author that has considered them in this manner. [ see text within publication.]
4.  Personal Additions :
    To the above documents, attention can also be focused on 簡介 jiǎn jič or school-origins summary and introductions. The start from Chen Bo is the most doubtful, but the modern history from the 1900's onward is well documented.
   There are also suplementary verses to further explain obscure, needed aspects; these are not part of the traditional LHBF canon, but do present alternative and often simplified viewpoints.

Forms Series of LHBF :
   The exercise form series of Nanjing LHBF, as it is given, is also a teaching tome.  As it has come down historically, itself with little explanation of its' origins, it consists of 66 four character strings, these are grouped according to the exercise series [thus 5+ each on the average] and the entire listing divided into two parts of 33 lines each, thus a first and a second half.
   All of the translations that have come before are simple and adequate.  None go into the details of 'prepartation and starting'..preliminary activities prior to the 66-form series that follows. [ This is covered in detail in my own publication. ]
     None go into the multiple common idioms that some of the 4-character strings express nor to they go into the often allusion to similar hand motion themes expressed in Chinese Qin 'zither' poems and music. A common expression is to pluck at the stars, plucking strings as restricted by the 'stars' of the Qin.
   This opens up a reverse way to view the form names and intents: from Qin classic music to martial expression. [ ] Chinese IMA often applied weaving and twisting motions, these are similarly discribed in Qin.

   The composition of  poems with numerical code,  to formulate ideological principles in a brief, but complete teaching verses, is common at any time and for any subject through out chinese history.
   The often given origins of these verses is that they are from the taoist-buddhist sage Chen Bo Tuan from Mt.Hua in Shensi Province [this is unproven]. 
    Teaching lineage gives the name of Li Tong-feng as having
> 'found' them 'in the cave tomb'  'or
> written on a wall' as a document; alternate 'his-story' is that
> 'attracted by a light coming from a cave. 
[This story enhancing continues today as part of chinese martial movie mystic.]
   It is also a presumption that the 5-word 'secret' was a 'departing' wisdom for his first protege Song Yuan-tong.  Both the 6x8-verses and the 5-word verses have been translated into english. [ Foxx for the 6x8 verses and Paul Dillon for the 5-word secret.] The 5-word 'secret' or 'songs' as first translated from Chinese to English by teacher John ChungLi, are available.
   Three things can be said of these poems :
(1) they come from a time when numerological-mysticism and both the place, time, and mutability of things took on a oracle-like significance,  and
(2) their terseness is intentional, first like 'lecturers' notes they rely on single word brevity which only the addept understood and secondly, to obscure a secondary or tertiary meaning from all others; the verses are in a sense, an 'alchemical' test of the students' insightfulness and of the teachers intent to obscure a deeper idea. An insight is most of the ideo-pictograms chosen are composed of two parts (which interplay into deeper concepts) and that most of the characters are divisable into three categories: 3 chi's, 3 shen-spirits, 3-jings.
(3)  It also can be said, the poem-verses are not unique, and that as written, a terse alternative would be: 'to obtain unity'...'use a universal method' Although there now exists about  (4) English language offerings of the form name each is unremarkable and similar.

He-Fa: harmonious method
concordance by instruction

The Liu-He Ba-Fa Poems : 
     The only indepth, sholarly approach to deciphering and translating the teaching poem into english remains that previously offered by practitioner-author Khan Foxx.  Copies are only available by direct request.

Six Harmony Verses
Liu He Verses


Six Harmony-Combination :  Liu He
(Ti, Xin, Yi, Qi, Shen, Tung, Kung)
>1.  bodys' structure harmonizes with the minds' awareness, 
>2.  minds' awareness harmonizes with 'intent',
>3.  intent harmonizes with the chi (energy-flow),
>4.  chi harmonize with the 'spirit',
>5.  spirit harmonizes with 'motion',
>6.  motion harmonizes with the 'everywhere',
The seven-item union of aspects of importance is grouped in six-couplets :
1.  physical-body : the mantle of muscle bonded to the boney infrastructure
2.  minds' feeling the corporeal awareness of events 
3.  'intent' of the intrinsic~intuition 
4.  chi or qi : intregal and acquired flow-flux is energy-dynamic
5.  shen 'spirit' or espirit' is connected to exhuberence
6.  motion forms tropy, tropy and atropy limits motion
7.  space-awareness of  'everything', 'everyplace', 'everytime' and 'nothing'
 body-form-------\                /----flow~-wave-fluid
bone-form-----------\              /-----yi-intuition~aware
flow-form---------------\             /-----shen-spirit-tranquil
espirit------------\          /-----innate-hidden

The lesson is to regulate, mediate, adjust, reconcile, transfer, 'tiao' a
union of these attributes :
1. the body exterior mantle to the interior support and integral power
the jing, and from this base....structure-form : feel-intuition : flow-motion
2. regulate  the synergtic union of the breath-flow, the mind-feel,
with the Spirit-nexus as the dominant leader.
The adept student with greater insight will see that each of the seven aspects
can be further divided in groups of three:
san-ti (the three-way, three-level, three-segments of stance),
san-yi,  the three-ideas, san-qi ( the three-sources of qi-flow), etc. 
To read through without perceiving the diversity of each aspect is to only understand the top vineer of this teaching. Also, many 'students' and their 'teachers' tend to be dogmatic in the use of the 'three treasures' whose use will not unlock this verse. The verse does have segments, but it does not progress by 'pushing' the development of lower to higher aspects. There needs to be a 'leader' to pull the aspects into order to empower the leading element, the spirit; without espirit...impetus, there is no unity to the cause. Implementing 'mind', 'feelings', or 'intuition' only results in failure.

Verse Paradigm:
   Rather than track through the verse as: ..this with that yields...thus, etc etc.
It is more useful to understand the verses objective, or goal..harmonizing of all parts to unity. Therefore, it is Ti, Xin, Yi, Qi, Shen, Tung, Kung = one (1),
The seven aspects are unified via six couplets.. yielding a resultant of unity (1).
This is simple 'philosophical' arithmetics. The 'shen' or esprit of spirit pulls the chains advance.

Eight Method Verses
Ba Fa Verses


Eight Methods :  Ba Fa
>1.  Qi-Fa =Flow:
Move the chi and concentrate the spirit
>2.  Ku-Fa =Bone:
Genuine-structural energy when bones are correct
>3.  Hsing-Fa =Form: 
Shapes exchange freely, follow a model, pantomime 
>4.  Sui-Fa =Following: 
Flexible, adaptable, and coordinated in union
>5.  Ti-Fa =Lifting:
Lift the head upward as if suspended from space
>6.  Huan-Fa =Reversal:
The interchange of motions reverses and reciprocates
>7.  Le-Fa =Limit:
Restraint is needed to harness the dynamic forces
>8.  Fu-Fa =Hidden: 
The intrinsic force arises from natural obscurity

[Note: the last method, number 8, does not mean to 'practice' hiding or to use the tactic of deception to mislead to hide intentions. It simply says, all that has preceded, is innate..and thus requires no intervention to hide already is.]

Other View Points : Huang Shou Ting
Huang Shou Ting,  黃手庭  of the Shanghai Wu Shu Association, studied
with Song Guang-yu  宋关羽 in XuShou; 
in a magazine article, he discusses 8 Physical aspects :

1>  Qi-Luo:            起 :  落   rising + falling 
2>  Dong-Jing:       動 :  靜   moving  + stillness   
3>  Jin-Tui:           進 :  退    advance + retreat     
4>  Kai-He:           開 :  合    open + close           
5>  Yin-Yang:        陰 :  陽    in+out, soft+hard     
6>  Xu-Shi:           虛     empty + full
7>  Wa-Qiao:        跃 远    jumping + bridging
8>  Liu-He:           六 :  合     internal six-pairs in harmony
D.L.Murray  6x8-verse resources:

Other Points of View :
   Lu Gui-yao, 盧桂耀 was likely the longest practicing student of LHBF founder 
Wu Yi-hui; he would have likely been chosen to succeed Wu, but was imprisioned for his traditional practice of marital exercise by Red China.

   Msr. Lu is credited with the following verses :
六合八法 歌訣  李東風著   ge1 jue2 歌訣  verse-praise, farewell

[ Seven-word verse ]    [ Seven-word verse ] Lu Gui-yao
1. 六合八法始於心      09.  心意源頭神主之
2. 虛無自在靜中動     10.   靜中養息調精氣
3. 精氣相交依日月     11.   行工火候昆侖頂
4. 剛柔進退意相隨     12.   趨動形骸無遲滯
5. 往來順逆煉陰陽     13.  綿綿密密在胎息
6. 築基無欲養元神     14.  學得此法永於世
7. 無拘無束得自然     15.  我與乾坤為表裏
8. 欲知有象原無象     16.  固守虛無運坎離

References : 

[ Note: it is generally known that these principles are not originally part of LHBF, but are addended from contacts with Bagua- and Yi-chuan concepts. They are helpful but make the knowledge set to unnecessarily large. Unfortunately, they are mentioned too often with LHBF..that they are becoming textual baggage. ]

The Nine-Joints ...and ...the Six Harmonys :

"Michael Clanton"

The Internal Six Harmonies, which train the coordination of
mind and reflexes, chi and power, without all these elements,
a movement is not considered complete.
First Internal Harmony : Body and Heart.
The basic principle is to copy the natural image of something.  For example, copy the image of animals or things. When animals are fighting, you must see their meaning
(intentions of actions), speed, and power. You must imitate the feeling and take that feeling into your body. The heart means confidence. We must build up our confidence, which means to develop strong heart
(not the organ,but spiritual strength).
Second Internal Harmony : Mind and Heart.
When you get the image and you can imitate the feeling in your
body you must build up the feeling by practicing it over and over again.
By practicing you build confidence.   
Third Internal Harmony: Mind and Chi (energy or oxygen).
Once you practice enough to become confident,
then you can move without hesitation. The body and breathing(chi) will move naturally and automatically without the mind.
Four Internal Harmony: Chi and Spirit ( heighten awareness).
The spirit needs to be trained to be highly alert. When your spirit is highly alert the chi automatically circulates through the whole body at
higher level(very fast blood circulation which carries the oxygen or chi throughout the body).
Fifth Internal Harmony: Spirit Movement.
In martial arts, the spirit uses the eye, ear, and sensitivity
(heighten sense of touch or feeling). When you fight your opponent you see hear or feel. If you have the benefits of all the first four harmonies together, your spirit will recieve a signal and send a message to
the mind which will instantly react and power will automatically follow.
Sixth Internal Harmony: Movement and Emptiness
(not blankness of the mind but clarity and openess, ready for any experience to arise beyond presetting or calculating something to happen or anticipating something to happen) When you have the benefits of the first five harmonies, then you will know how to react. You won't need to focus (calculate) on technique or anything else, just react. The real meaning or technique is to move without thinking. This is what Zen Buddhist practitioners call No-Mind (the mind free of conceptual idea, spontaneous fully aware and open to all experiences).
These principles are the key in developing perfect movement and the ability to conserve energy when in
motion. When your body moves in harmony or as one unit you have speed which translate into power.
This is real martial arts training. Learning alot of techniques and forms do not even constitute martial arts
training. True technique is being able to move appropriately with ease without thinking. This can only be
achieved by mind and body harmony.'
The Six 'External' Harmonys 
...trains the coordination of arms and legs, shoulders and hips, elbows and knees, so one can attain a unity of  body mechanics.
  This is also viewed as the 9 joints.
First External Harmony: Body Joints Move as One:
The three joints of the body are in the lower spine the middle of the back and the neck. Move from spine, to the back, to the neck.
Second External Harmony: Arm Joints Move as One.
The three arm joints move from the shoulder, to the elbow, to the wrists.Third External Harmony: Leg Joints Move as One.The three leg jointsmove from hip, to the knee, to the ankle.
Fourth External Harmony: Hand and Foot.   The hands and feet move together as one unit.
Fifth External Harmony: Elbow and Knee.  The elbows and knees move together as one unit.
Sixth External Harmony: Shoulder and Hip. The shoulders and hips move together as one unit.

To summarize:   All main joints (call root joints, shoulder, hip, and lower spine) must start together and stop together in harmony with each other.

NOTE: the same 'joints above align with the joints below' is used in Yi-chuan.

The Nine-Joints (and the Six Harmonys)  curtousy "Michael Clanton"
'The LHPF style and all the internal styles of Chinese martial arts are concerned about the body moving as one unit, and only way it can move this way is that all the joints of the body must move together in a coordinated fashion.
Masters notice that there are nine joints in the whole body.
There are three joints in the trunk of the body, ... the lower spine, the middle of the back and the neck.
There are three joints in the arm, which are the shoulder, elbow, and wrist.
There are three joints in the leg, which are the hip, knee, and the ankle.
These 3 sets of joints total to 9 joints. It is these joints that must move in harmony or coordinated fashion.  
The nine-joints dynamically linked as one has been viewed and taught as the principle of the Six External Harmonys; of course this is starting from the outside to the inside and working piece by piece intending to achieve balance. 

NOTE:  This teaching is unlikely from the LHPF-school, but is more a part of the BaGua-school teaching. The 'Six Harmonys' thus have two aspects: outer and inner.