“The Old Sayings have Merit”
That’s a quote from one of Xingyiquan’s theoretical documents. While it’s true that older people can become “set in their ways” over time, it is also true that the Seniors have their opinions for a reason. It’s called “Experience”.
In the World of Martial Arts, what is valued most of all is full contact, lightly restricted free fighting… A.K.A. “Combat Experience”. Obviously, the best way to gain said experience is by getting into fights. Even more obviously, modern society is not conducive to such things. So, full-contact sparring with one’s friends & classmates is an invaluable resource. It’s the perfect laboratory for refining one of Xingyiquan’s signature concepts: “以攻為守/Use Attack as Defense”.
Xingyi is known for being more aggressive than most Styles of Chinese Martial Arts. This is demonstrated by a preference for direct attacks & seizing the initiative. It seems reasonable, maybe even logical, to assume that “Use Attack as Defense” is an encouragement to strike first, win quickly, etc. And to a certain extent, that’s a part of it.
But, it’s only a small part.
The Five Fists have fairly obvious Basic Applications, in an offensive sense. But they also have defensive variations, too. Again, Interception & Deflection Applications seem obvious to more experienced martial artists, & again, there’s more to it than that. In Xingyi terms, Interception or Deflection are still focused in the “Tip”, for the most part. The “Middle” & “Root” sections can also be used freely. This implies that, just as with Offensive Techniques, the mechanics trained at the basic level can & should also be applied as Defensive Techniques. Thus, Pi Quan mechanical pattern can be applied as either a Chopping Strike, or a Depressing/Covering/Sinking Deflection.
This is where the true genius of the Xingyi Training Method is revealed, my kung Fu nieces & nephews. By focusing on gaining a few, simple Techniques & taking them to a high level of refinement, it becomes possible to greatly shorten the timetable on a student’s journey from “Newbie Scrub” to “Competent Representative of the School”.