Qi does not lack Zheng, Zheng does not lack Qi, the transformation of Qi & Zheng’s ingenious usage is endless.
Xingyiquan is reputed to be a Style of Military origin. Legend has it that the core concepts are derive from material created by Yue Fei for training his officers during his war to save the Song Dynasty. One expression of this is the usage of an originally Military concept: Qi & Zheng.
In this piece, we will define our terms, give some simple examples of Xingyi’s usage of the concepts, & finally, discuss the above quote.
Definition of Terms
奇/Qi – strange / odd / weird / wonderful / surprisingly / unusually
In a Martial context, Qi is the Unorthodox, unexpected, or chaotic approach to achieving a goal. It’s a group of Americans crossing a frozen river in the darkness, just before dawn on Christmas to launch a surprise attack on sleeping, hung over mercenaries. Sunzi says that Qi is used to “gain victory”.
正/Zheng -straight / upright / proper / main / principal / to correct / to rectify
Again, in a Martial context, Zheng is the Orthodox, Standard, expected or known approach to deployment & engagement. It’s a nation with a strong Air Force decimating an enemy position manned totally by Ground to Ground forces. Sunzi says that Zheng is used to engage and/or occupy the enemy. “Pin him in place” with Zheng & then, while his attention is occupied, strike a critical blow to a weak point via Qi.
“Rise, Drill, Fall, Overturn”
As you may have grown to expect, Xingyiquan’s application of these two concepts is far less theoretical than that of the Militarists. If you get a chance, try to get a look at the Xingyiquan books of Jiang Rongqiao, “Xingyi Mother Fists” & “Xingyi Za Si Chui and Ba Shi Quan”. Both books reprint an article Jiang wrote which discusses Xingyi’s application of Qi & Zheng as Tactically employed Mechanical Concepts, instead of purely abstract tactical concepts.
For those already familiar with Xingyiquan, you’ve probably guessed where I’m going. Yes, the Five Fists are going to be my example, just as in Jiang’s books. We just need to add one thing, before we begin: & that’s the supreme importantance of “Rise, Drill, Fall, Overturn” to this issue, specifically, & to Xingyi’s Mechanics, in general.
The document linked above contains a section on the basic Mechanical Action of Xingyi: the aforementioned “Rise, Drill, Fall, Overturn”. In essence, it’s a way of moving any & every part of the body such that it is guaranteed to win any direct clashes, due to its inherently Three Dimensional nature.
Essentially, the “Rise & Drill” portion of the Mechanic is the Qi aspect; the “Fall & Overturn” portion is the Zheng aspect. Qi is virtually identical for each of the Five Fists & the overwhelming majority of their respective Variations. The Zheng portion, then, is the relatively obvious “Strike” portion of each Fist. Once a practitioner has gained sufficient experience with each Fist, the potential for surprise & ambush are greatly increased.
At the very beginning, this short couplet reveals its Daoist influence with a remark that indicates a clear Yin Yang relationship between Qi & Zheng. They not only contain the potential for one another, they also define each other through their interaction & contrast. The are opposite ends of a polarity, yet they are also inverse expressions of a spectrum of possible expressions. Endless possibility, in a very literal sense.
The ultimate point of the above piece is that the application of this principle is only limited by the individual attempting the application. If you are well versed in your Techniques & flexible in your approach to problem solving, its only a matter of time until you begin to catch the knack for applying Qi & Zheng. An excellent concept to incorporate into a streamlined Martial Arts Style that values Quality of Execution above all else.