Hsing I Chuan is one of the three traditional Chinese forms of internal boxing, the others being Tai Chi Chuan and Pa Kua Chang. These internal fighting systems differ from the Shaolin and other external traditions such as karate in that they depend upon the ability to cultivate the use of chi (internal energy) rather than only outer muscular strength. Internal styles develop and use the sinews ligaments and tendons, whereas external styles concentrate on the larger outer musculature.

Hsing I Chuan is a style of Chinese boxing of Taoist origin and development. It is devoted to the importance of uniting the body and mind as one. The name Hsing I Chuan translates as "mind-form boxing". The mind predominates over mere physicality and by harmoniously blending thought and action. The system, which dates back approximately 400 years, expresses itself in moving forms and postures. The regular practice of Hsing I Chuan coordinates, tonifies and regulates the body resulting in good health as a natural by-product of Hsing I Chuan practice.

Hsing I Chuan's five basic forms are called "The Five Elements" (wu hsing) after the five essential elements of; Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth respectively, the basic actions of: splitting, crushing, drilling, pounding, and crossing.

To the fundamental five fists, or forms, Hsing I Chuan adds twelve styles derived from the fighting characteristics of twelve animals they are: Dragon, Tiger, Monkey, Horse, Turtle, Chicken, Phoenix, Sparrow-Hawk, Swallow, Snake, Eagle-bear combined and Fighting-chicken. Rounding out the system of five element and the twelve animals linking forms (shir hong chui, za shi chui, ba shi) are two-person sets, basic and supplementary forms and Chi-Kung exercise.

Master Li Cun Yi (1847-1921) a native of Nan Xiao Ying village, Shen county, Hebei province. Master Li was a student of Liu Qi Lan and Dong Hai Chuan and mastered both Hsing I Chuan and Pa Kua Chang. During the 1890's master Li ran a body guard service in the cities of BaoDing and Tianjin. He trained his bodyguard employees in Hsing i chuan and Pa Kua Chang. In 1900 master Li joined the boxer rebellion, he personally led many men in battle against the foreign armies. It was said of him that "fought so hard that blood dyed his shirt sleeves".   He frequently used a broadsword in combat earning the nickname "Single saber Li". The top student of Li Cun Yi was Shang Yun Xiang (1864-1937).


Shang Yun Xiang was born in 1864 in Shandong province, Le Ling county Shang Jia village. When young he studied Shaolin Gong li Quan. At age 21 he met Master Li Cun Yi becoming his top student and an employee of his bodyguard service in Tainjin. From master Li he learned Hsing I Chuan and Pa Kua Chang and specialized in the use of the spear. Later Shang learned some PaKua chang from the famous Cheng Ting Hua and lived with the famous Hsing I master Guo Yun Shen, from Master Guo , Shang learned Ban Bu Beng Quan(Half StepSmashing Fist) and the skill of dan tian belly beating (dan tian fu da).He was a small but powerful man, outspoken and quick tempered he fought often. A difficult teacher it was said he was "hands on" and many of his students were injured during training some seriously. Shang was a practically minded teacher and believed in training for actual combat. In over 25 years of teaching he trained over 100 students. One of his best students was General Liu Chi Yuan.

General Liu Chi Yuan was a student of Shang Yun Xiang, Liu's teaching methods were very similar to his masters. after many years, Liu went to Shen Yang city, joining the warlord army there. eventually General Liu a master of Hsing I and Tai Chi, became the chief martial arts instructor for the North Eastern Military Division. His best and most famous student was Chiao Chang Hung.