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Identities and Principles : Water-Spirit

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 Hua Yu Tai Chi Chuan
   Of the internal martial styles, LiuHe BaBa is ' rare'. It is a high bred matrix of principles and forms from various sources and times; it can be and has been described partially correctly by many sources depending on the point of view and depth of knowledge/ experience. [ The addended listing below was written and translated by teacher John Chung Li, available to his students.]   

    It is most often simply described as :
(1) a 3-way union of exercises in series of taiji + xingyi + bagua. This is correct
in principle only.    太極拳,     形意拳,    八卦掌
(2) a 4-part-series with an extra-special-part:  part-1: taichi-, part-2: xingyi-, part-3: bagua-, and a part-4: called 'water'-style. 
These views are both correct and incorrect.
(3) as an exericse-series that 'blends' together  'taiji', 'xingyi', and 'bagua' forms and principles, into its own unique exercise 'water' style, yet visually remains similar to the other three. This is partially correct but misleading.

[ Note: there are some 'teachers' that claim it is impossible as taichi-, xingyi- and bagua- principles and forms as they believe they are 'incompatible'. In fact, they are actually quite mutable to interchange and should be viewed variable aspects without separation.]

The Analysis viewpoint : 

   The usual LiuHe BaFa exercise consists of sixty-six named-form-postures, each consisting of several motions; collectively the exericse-series includes over five hundred martial applications [simple calculating 66x the number of applications within each form would held:  66x5=330, 66x7=462, 66x8=528] In practice, however, there are shorter and longer exercise-series depending on the teaching and the students stamina.

(4) As this 66-form exercise is divided into two sections, again, there are interpretations of each divisions'  utility and intent:  usually it is observed that the 'first' section is a routine more of a 'taiji' and 'xingyi' nature and that the 'second' section is a routine more of a 'bagua' nature. Again, this viewpoint is partly correct and incorrect; both sections can be shown to contain taiji-xingyi-bagua and 'water' style methods and applications. The 'original' or first known 'water' style exercise from Shanghai is mostly represented in the second-half with some required deletions. The first-half is more of a mixture with repeats from LuHong Ba Shi Palm. 呂紅八勢

(5) As there is a division of two sections, it has also been said that the first sections' intent is to bring about a integration of the mind-body relation; while the second sections' intent is more of an esoteric center-channel opening exercise; this is from a taoist qigong-spirit viewpoint. [ suggested by Taoist Eva Wong, a student of Moy Lin-shin who founded a non-martial Taoist TaiChi- ]

     This idea is also mentioned by the International Taoist Tai Chi Society Founder, Moy Lin-shin: "Lok Hup Ba Fa (or Liu He Ba Fa) originated with the Taoist sage Chen Hsi-I of Hua mountain (Hua Shan), who lived during the late Tang dynasty, about the 9th century of the current era.  Chen Hsi-I was known for his methods of cultivating health and longevity.  One of these methods was a set of movements known as Lok Hup Ba Fat, the six harmonies and eight methods of mind and intention. Recognized as the internal art par excellence the moves of Lok Hup are designed to stimulate and massage the internal organs and exercise the spine. The Lok Hup form consists of 66 movements that are noteworthy for their graceful, spiral turning. The movements may be regarded as an 'intensifier' of the turning and stretching effects that are already evident through the practice of Taoist Tai Chi. Movement originating from the spine forms the essence of Lok Hup and this art is most beneficial to students who have already developed some degree of spinal articulation through practice in Taoist Tai Chi." Msr.Moy was a student of Leung Zhi-peng; who was also the teacher of John Chung Li.

(6) Another way to understand the 'what' and 'how' of this exercise comes from its'  names : 'water style' all of the movements can and in principle should be performed as  'floating clouds', 'flowing water', or as a 'swimming dragon'. Sometimes it is soft-slow and calm, at other times quick and surging.   [Today, one must always ask the question, is the current exericise derived from and continuous with 'water' qigong principles; or does it only contain a reminent of these original 'water' style-principles; or is it a hopeful recreation of them in name only?] 

There is also the question [and some documentation] that supports the idea that the Mt.Hua Boxing is a separate, but notable, school that still exits and that the 'water' style-principle is somewhat related or surrounds it. [The documentation referred to is that of the Wu Family, which supports the idea that Wu Yi-Hui did not create what he learned; however Wu did conglumerate what was taught in Nanking Martial Academy later from input of fellow Academy Teachers.]

There currently exits three names for the exercise : [ Note: some teachers claim that these are 'correct' school names without consideration that beyond the LHBF name, all additions are adjective and are unlikely to be used in general.] Others claim that each is a 'naming' for a similar exercise that were cojoined:   [ 華嶽希夷門   +  六合八法  ]

華嶽 心意 六合八法   HuaYo= HwaYu 'central ideas' + LiuHe BaFa-boxing [ Note that phonetically taoist xiyi  希夷  mimics principle xiyi- 心意 ]

HuaYo-LiuHe-XinYi-BaFa : the high-standards [like Mt.Hua in Shenxi] guide to achieving 'harmony' by 'methods' [6 as 1 together and 8 method-principles], but the central guiding idea, is xinyi, the heart-center-intent/ intention. 

[ this is the line of teaching from the Chen Y.Y. to Choi Wai-Lun traditional school ] This title is also given as HuaYo-XinYi-LHBF, which can be read as famous Mt.Hua Shan's 'intuitve' and the 6x8-unity-by-harmony text-principles. 

The error in choosing this title is that xin-yi is also the name of one of the CIMA boxing styles [as is xing-yi] and this leads to confusion the title is the 'xin-yi' style of 'LHBF' or is related to the LiuHe xinyi-boxing. Although LHBF may be similar to and may be practiced in the manner of xin-yi [ying-yi] it is not derived from either.[ unfortunately, some students only understand the LHBF movements if done as xinyi- ]

    A longer, verbose collective of descriptive level of standing adjectives is the following :

六合八法三盤十二勢 Liu He Ba Fa San Pan Shi Er Shi, briefly as...

三盤十二勢 SanPan ShiErShi - 3 Divisions, 12 Spirits [3-levels and 12-anima]

LiuHe BaFa-Sanpan Shi-er-shi: the principles of 'harmony' by 'methods' is achieved at 3-standing levels and by emmulating  form-principles of the 12-animals, shi-er-shi [advancing, retreating, , which develop mobility skills for moving with a situation or partner.] { this is the line of teaching from Liu Yaoxing } Note : these first two names are overly verbose and demonstrate the influence of Bagua- classification well as the influence of these teachers in Nanjing.

   A newer, sucinct name, utilizing the already known Tai-chi-exercise and to differentiate it from the conservatism of the Hong Kong school is:

華嶽太極拳 Mt.Hua Yue-inspired Tai-Chi-chuan pugalism.

Hua Yo [Hwa Yue] Tai Chi-:  Also, taking the most basic forms from LHBF and executing them to the soft, centralized principles of taichi-, this exercise has also been named; this was a more modern naming by John Chung Li, however, Mr.Li was strongly influenced by teacher friends: T.T. Liang while in Boston, and by Han Xing-yuan while in Hong Kong; a touch of Cheng Man-ching-syle with Yi-Quan; in itself a novel update and a simplification. Mr. Li also studied the Hun-Yuan Chang principles while in Hong Kong, but rarely divulged this to most students; he later renamed his teachings as Yon-boxing. This 'openness' to evolving and improving what Msr. Li had learned led to his being opposed by the secular attitude of Chen Yik-Yan in Hong Kong. [ Note: there are some recent 'teachers' that claim it is impossible to blend yiquan with LHBF. ]

(7) A pragmatic historical/ principle view would be that its' foundation utilizes both stepping, stance, and the axial-torque-power of LiuHe-XingYi-Quan, and that it adapts the the yin-yang turning-stepping and evading patterns of MiTsung-BaGua and Aikido, and that the resilient-absorbing/ neutralizing principles and slowed-pace of practice characteristic of taiji carry throughout the exercise. This view is correct superficially and is also the official assessment of a noted martial-arts historian. [there  exists also personal documents from the survivors of Wu Yi-Hui's family which counter-attest that the exercise does predate Msr.Wu.]

(8) A pragmatic observation is that the exercise encompasses the water-flowing principles [which can be shown  to have an ancient lineage] passed from the three immediate teachers of Wu Yi-Hui were bonefide in principle, but that the actual forms taught by Wu in Nanjing show form and principle influence from the exercise known as Lu Hung's Eight-tactic-strategies, 呂紅八勢 Lu Hong Ba Shi, [which was Msr. Wu's many MA exercises] and some martial patterns drawn from other teachers of the Nanjing Martial academy. [It can be easily shown that the complete system is also dividable into four (4) parts: a start=finish, a flowing-series which is best in principles, a martial-series mostly within the second half which is almost identical with the Eight-Strategies series (and is thus not a qi-gong like as the flow-series), and a standing and weight-shifting aspect that is partly like Yi-quan and partly like the 'universal' tai chi- standing of Kuo Lien Ying, one-legged.] The influence and embedding of the Lu Hong 8-links patterns appears in the repetition of a turning, side to side pattern, similar to a 'waving' hands in clouds, but higher as in a single-change palming; each LuHong series begins and repeats this form-pattern. Toying with this known connection and observing that there exists no public records of a LHBF exercise before the Nanjing Academy (and also knowing that the Chinese are fond of word similarities) the formula name LuHong BaShih, LHBS, of the same four name pattern and phonetically similar to LiuHe BaFa, LHBF. Thus a possible simple, already in use archaic style, carries over : LHBS [ LH8 ] to LHBF.

For current 'styles' of the exercise, there is further influence entering from the yi-quan standing exercises.  Neither of these degrades the LHBF, but both impede the flow character of 'water' style. The water style tends to be more akin to the health-dancing that the Yi-quan aspires to [implemented lastly by Wang Xiang-jai] ; resulting in a better sense of flowing which the 'water' style starts with.

To add to the confusion, the original principles of 'water-style' tend not to be distinctly taught, separately, from the bulk of the Nanjing academic curriculum. There are teachers who concentrate on the LiuHe BaFa core 66-form series without the Nanking addendum.There is also an attempt to retrieve or rediscover some of the family history by visiting and linking with the family lines of Wu Yi-Hui or of  Chen Yik-yan this results in a huge collection of addended exercises that are not required

Glitches in History :
    Although currently, the presentation of LHBF is as a Song Dynasty originating martial exercise centered around a famous mountain Hua Shan and from a reknowned sage, Chen [Bo] Tuan, Master Xi-yi, 
> there exists a pre-history, which influenced the Song Dynasty
> there exists other locales where it exists, and 
> there exists alternate form numbers and interpretations.
> there exists addended exercises, martial and purely health making.
> there exists teacher narratives that accept 'histories' without question, but still introduce the telling teachers deviations to the narrative.

(9) The waterstyle-LHBF exercise of Wu YiHui : includes so many concepts and forms, a practitioner can perform them in the stylized-manner of his choice or as a mixed 'plasma' :
  • Center inpenetrable, Shell-Perimeter  soft-yielding, rubber-ball, standing-post, Tai Chi-
  • Center  void, Shell-Perimeter hard-woven, wire-mesh-ball, orbit-turning-track, BaGua
  • Center  resilient, Shell-Perimeter  hard-inpenetrable, metal-ball, axial-tensigrity, XinYi
  • Center  singularity, Shell-Perimeter  folding-vortex, omnipotent-point, primordial
  • Center  everywhere, Shell-Perimeter  nowhere, spiraling, cirrus, string
     Waterstyle-LHBF can and often is done both slow and fast and with fa-jing pulses similar to those seen in Chen-style, 'to stay awake'; I personally do not recommend this, it is better to flow through using occasional fa-li, test pulses. In comparison to LHBF, the pure water-principled-style is more eceletic and free-evolving, ever-changing and without distinct martial style and it can be done without martial intent. This continuous flowing without intention is called mo-jin and is considered a high achievement in yi-quan. I have been told that it appears like a swimming in circles or like a chasing a ghost; I have also been told that when done this way, it is identifiable as unalike any of the other three-CIMA styles.
[ Note: the 'water' style aspect of exercise is an archaic is the concept of 'tai-chi' supportive-center-pivot reference; both have come down through
Chinese MA history as 'examples', both have had their names 'rewritten'.  Teacher Wu Yi-hui is known to have named his exercise LiuHe+BaFa for his Nanjing classes [but it includes many other adapted MA's]; Wu also used the name 'water' style boxing when he was in Shanghai before Nanjing [where he first presented it] and again, as water-style boxing when he demonstrated it for teacher Sun Lu-tang [who also taught at the Nanjing Academy] and when Msr. Sun permitted Wu to teach his student: Ho Xing-ze...he later identified Foxx's 'LHBF' as being a 'water' boxing and later taught the differing water boxing to Foxx which he now uses exclusively.  Although associates and proteges of Wu Yi-hui have claimed that the 'water' boxing only came into later use for marketing, this does not seem to be completely true. Thus, there seems to be an 'earlier' water boxing Shanghai to Nanjing and a later LHBF that some 'chose' to call water boxing.

Liu He Pa Fa System:
 Originally, some have said have been called "Water Boxing" 水拳 [ this is however also just a principle with a long history ].  The 'water' or flowing principle is the release of the kinesthetic knowledge innate to the body; thus the water style-principle is archaic and long-predates its absorption and naming with the LiuHe BaFa boxing-system.
( 六合八法拳) by teacher: Wu Yi Hui.
The Wu Yi Hui, Shanghai to Nanjing System consists of just the LHBF series and the Lu Hong Eight Potentials.  + [ LH8 + LHBF ]

The academic curriculum of Nanjing includes reworked six forms of various origins, with associations to swimming-flowing to emphasize and augment the the core principles, that have complementary and oppositional balance, and swimming and coiling and aspects. thus, [ LH8 + LHBF + swimming/ coiling boxing ]

  The Nanjing LHBF exercise  is of 66 forms and was taught in the late nineteen thirties in Nanjing and later in Shanghai. 

The influence of protege-student Chen Yik-yan who was sponsored to teach in Hong Kong  addends further exercises; most of these seem to meet Chen's medical-health needs, ie. qigong and his 'interpretations', This results in a Chen YY Hongkong version
which should be clearly identified. Most students of Chen while in Hong Kong chose to teach only the core basics and may select on some of the addended aspects.

築基 六合八法拳 Zhu Ji-LiuHe BaFa Chuan,

    [The term,  Zhu Ji  ( 築基 )has been used to identify the 'core' of LHBF - 'Finding the Foundations' [seeking the roots] this is not a principle unique to LHBF and does not represent  'the original, ancient form'  through lineage. The term comes from Chinese alchemy, and is one of its four principle parts. Zhu ji [Zhu Zi] is in practice, has esecially the same objectives as zhan zhuang post standing of Yi chuan. Furthermore, there are far too many homonyms related: Zhu zhi is the generic name for a scholar.

   There is no evidence that the system was only or first called zhu ji as claimed by some. It represents an absorption of taoist alchemical terminology to the exercise.

    There is however a possible 'phonetic' intention as a prominent poet of the First Song Dynasty has an almost identical 'sounding' name.

   Further, one of the 'Four Diamonds' the top four  students of Yiquan founder Wang Xiang-zhai, who were sent to Nanjing to 'learn' LHBF, developed his matrixed version and named it as Zhu-ji Chuan. 築基


三盤十二勢  San Pan Shi Er Shi - 3 Level-Divisions, 12 Animals-form, this is best understood as part of a 'toolbox' of auxilliary expressions at various height levels to demonstrate variability; it is not actually necessary. Its' inclusion is believed of BaGua influences from Nanjing. In effect it is more of a reminder that the LHBF exercise can also be variably practiced a three-working levels. Further, almost all MA or Shaolin or Wu Dang pugalism tends to have this as trait or name.


>Addended-Exercises of Various Sources, to Augment Teaching :

呂紅八勢  LuHong BaShi - Lu Hong's 8 Imperative Tactics

[ LH8 was a complete archaic system incorporated into or used with LHBF ]

龍虎戰   Long Hu Zhan - Dragon and Tiger Fighting
螫龍遊   Zhe Long You - Coiled Dragon Swimming
螫龍拳   Zhe Long Chuan - Coiled Dragon Fist

[NOTE: they were external exericses [southern Shaolin] reworked to coexist with and augment the LHBF. There origins seems to be from the teaching staff of the Nanjing Central Martial Academy.]

>Addended Exercises taught or adapted to Instruction :

推手    Tui Shou - Push Hands [vaious styles: tai-chi, mantis, wing-chun]

混元球  Hun Yuan Liu - Wooden Ball-Table Rolling Methods

>Exercises Associated : Rarely Mentioned,

陳摶  Chen Tuan Qi Gong -Taoist Sleeping Chi Kung of Chen Tuan

水  Shui Gong -Waterwash Qi Gong

太极尺  Tai Chi Shih -Ruler-standard

>Exercises not historically a part of, nor coexisting with, LHPF :

Weapons practice per LHBF styling represents an unnecessary addition.

[This same ideology was expoused by Wang Xiang-zhai re: Yi-quan]

心意棍  Xin Yi Guan - Heart-mind Intent Staff
露花刀  Lu Hua Dao - Flower Broadsword Dew Mist Broadsword
玉川劍  Yu Chuan Jian - Jade River Straight Sword

Internal Cultivation :

[ This appears in the HK school of Chen YY who had various health and mobility problems, which evenutally resulted in his death. ]

韋佗功 Wei Tuo Gong - Standing Meditation

太陽功 Tai Yang Gong - Solar Meditation

先天座 Xian Tian Zhuo - Before-Heaven Meditation

三盤十二勢 3-Levels : 12 'animations'
三盤是指:『上盤行走如捲風,中盤動作如遊龍,下盤落地見真功,三盤練會是英雄』。十二勢之命名,都是從自然界中的十二種鳥獸類中衍生而來,由於生物都具有維護自己生存的內在才能、本能和固有特點,將之運用在技擊方法中,通過借鑑、模仿其形象或是象徵來發揮作用。十二勢分龍戰、虎賁、鶴列、豹掌、猿肱、熊攀、雁翼、蛇行、鷹揚、鸞趨、鵬搏、麟盤。其精義為 :
龍戰在推掠          虎賁在攏搓
鶴列在攝引          豹掌在劈捉
猿肱在長擊          熊攀在撐撥
雁翼在換影          蛇行在伸縮
鷹揚在鷂打          鸞趨在纏托
鵬搏在翼抖          麟盤在扣鎖

呂紅八勢 Lu-Hong 8- Boxing :

龍虎戰 Dragon-Tiger Fighting :

"Dear Mr. Foxx,
   Thank you very much for your letter. I apologize for my delay in response.  First of all, let me say I've been a fan of your work for 20 years, ever since I read an article you wrote on standing practice for Inside KungFu (as a matter of fact, I still have a copy in my files).  In addition, I thing your book on liu he ba fa is about the best work I've seen in English on the principles of internal martial arts.
   In regard to your questions, I'm afraid I can't be of much help.  Liu He Ba Fa is rare to find, even in china.  Actually, besides a wushu performance version of the form, the only traditional Liu He Ba Fa I encountered was in Hong Kong.
   On the next page, I've enclosed a translation from what is generally considered to be the definitive 'Encylopedia' on chinese martial arts in the Mainland.  The author, Kang  Ge Wu is probably the most knowledgable martial arts historian in China and is the recognised historical expert by the govenment.  This is really the only reliable info.  I have heard of the Wu YiHui - Wang XiangZhai friendship, but I personally haven't heard of any other Liu He Ba Fa - YiQuan connections.
   Good luck on your research.  Let me know if I can be of any help.
Sincerely, Tim Cartmell.
History of  Liu He Ba Fa,  六合八法,  [ Translation: Tim Cartmell ]
From : 'Chinese Practical Martial Arts Complete'
( 中国武術實用大全 ) zhong1 guo2 wu3shu4 shi2 yong4 da4 quan2
by: Kang Ge Wu  ( 康戈武 )( foremost Chinese Martial Arts Historian )  
 [Beijing Physical Culture Institute, Beijing, PRC]
"Liu He Ba Fa is one form of boxing.
"It was first taught in Shanghai in 1930 by the Manchurian  Wu Yi Hui.
" Wu said that he learned the style from
> Chen Guang Bi  陈光第 [from Henan], 
> Yan Guo Xing,  阎国兴
> Chen He Lu.     陈鹤侣 [from Beijing]
" Most are in agreement that the story that the Sung Dynasty Taoist Chen Tuan ( 陳摶 ) invented the style is  false.
" From observation it can be deduced that the style was based on Tai Ji Quan with some of the strong points of Xin Yi Liu He Quan (10-animal Xing Yi Quan) and Ba Gua Zhang  incorporated.

" Another plausible theory is the Liu He Ba Fa is primarily based on Xin Yi Liu He Quan, with some Tai Ji Quan and Ba Gua Zhang added (In the Compendium of Styles, Liu He Ba Fa is listed as a sub-style of Tai Ji Quan.)"
[ Comment :  In attempting to codify LHBF, Kang Ge Wu  康戈武 was doing this with only the usual CIMA's for comparison and may not have known or been aware of Lu-Hong's Eight-Fists as a major influence. ]
The following communique is from C.S.Tang,  Hong Kong :
Martial Arts Association.
"Dear Mr. Khan Foxx,

My friend, do believe me.  I have been learning water fist  (*liuhebafa*) since 1966. 

It's the creation of Wu Yi Hui in Nanking; later his students Leung Chi Pang and Chen YickYan taught this in Hong Kong.  We would say that it's a combination of internal three schools, ie. Taiji, Xingyi, and Bagua. 
There is no direct relation between Yiquan and Sun LuTang. Only we would say Wu YiHui and Wang XiangZhai are friends at that time.  Wu was also a famous martial artist. 

   This form is not so popular [so the number of people is limited] since the form itself is too long and not so practical the the 3 schools. But I still like its' beautiful movements.

Master Leung's movement is pretty and with different speed and close to BaGua.
Mr. Chen's is more harder and close to XingYi.
In 'the picture' [the group photo from Nanking] there is nobody still alive already.  Mr. Wan Tin Hung, who practised only Lu-Hung [quan], died already from too much drink. 
I,  myself have learned Lu Hung.
   We, our HongKong Martial Arts Assn. held NeiJi Quan competition each year and there are participants.  However, Fong Pak Sing [taiji-styled LHBF] is the oldest teacher available.  My form came from the same source as him, from Master Leung [bagua-styled LHBF]."      
 [from email dated 30 July 1999]
Sincerely, C.S. Tang