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Song of Tsuan

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This article has been expanded upon and included in Mike Patterson's new book...

XINGYI - A Means To An End

Available for purchase at left!


The article follows immediately below...


Copyright: Pai Hui Ke Enterprises 1990

The Song of Tsuan Chuan

By: Shr Fu Mike Patterson

Xingyi Drilling Fist

This is the third in a series of five articles covering the Wu Hsing (five forms) sometimes called the five elements of Hsing I practice.

The focus of these short articles will be to offer explanation of the "Songs of the Five Forms". And to demonstrate various applications from the striking, grappling and throwing mediums of each of the respective forms.

The Song Of Tsuan

Fore Hand "Yin Palm" presses down.

Hind Hand "Yang Fist" upward tsuans.

Up to the eyebrows the fists tsuan, elbows embrace heart while hind foot moves.

Stare at fore fist, four limbs stop.

Tsuan Chuan moves and styles changed.

Fore foot steps first, hind foot next, hind hand "Yin Palm" down the elbows kept.

Step by step the three points set.

Fore Hand "Yang Fist" hit the nose.

Little finger upward turned, heart by elbows protected.

Tsuan Chuan punches nose when advancing.

Fore Palm downward pressed with wrist, then upward turned as steps forward.


Tsuan Chuan is perhaps one of the most frequently over simplified forms of the five elements, as most students interpret this as an extended boxing style upper cut. This is in error as a comparison for several important reasons.

Let's discuss the poem line by line as the song of Tsuan is quite revealing of Hsing I subtlety.

The first three lines of the poem jump right into the primary idea of the "Water" Fist which is to "Tsuan" (drill). The first two lines remark of the "yin Palm" (palm down) pressing while the "Yang Fist" (palm up) strikes upward while twisting "Tsuan." This is to be done on a narrow central axis (elbows embrace heart) while advancing on the opponent.

The fourth line then talks about two key elements of Hsing I practice "Stare at fore fist" alludes to the focused intention of mind at the moment of strike. It is vital that the mind is 100% committed to the strike, there can be no disparity of focus when the energy is discharged. The whole body power and mental intention must unite as one.

The second part of line four, "four limbs stop," remarks on the "body stop on four sides" principle from the 'Eight Fundamentals classic', in relation to backlashing kinetic energy as a result of issuing Jing. Physics teaches us that for every action there is an equal an opposite reaction. The body, being as elastic as it is, will experience a "backlash" effect from the tremendous amount of energy being extended at the point of issuing. Therefore it is necessary to train the body to solidify its mass upon issuing force. With practice, this will allow the maximum amount of force to be transmitted from a solid base, having minimal backlash. I sometimes use an analogy for my students of slinging wet mud from a shovel. You learn quickly to get the shovel moving and then suddenly stopping its forward momentum to allow the wet mud to slide off the shovel. In analogy, your body is the "shovel" and your hands are the mud that issues from it. You must move the body then stop!

Lines five and six reinforce the idea of movement while striking. This is again a major point of Hsing I boxing. Not only does the momentum gained through movement give the potential for more power but it is entirely practical as well. Since it is a given that if one must fight, the desire is to end the encounter as soon as possible, it only makes sense to move into the opponent immediately to make a pre-emptive strike.

Line seven remarks once again on the "three point set" as found in other poems. And this is something that cannot be told enough. Alignment on a single plane of the lead forefinger or knuckle, the lead toe or bubbling well (kidney #1), and the nose must always be observed. This keeps your potential kinetic energy centered and balanced for optimum efficiency plus you protect your center at the same time which is where you get hit! I don't know about you but those are good enough reasons for me.

Now, line eight is where the reader has to be really paying attention because line eight tied to line three gives you an often overlooked key to the Water Fist.

Up to the eyebrows the fists tsuan plus Fore Hand "Yang Fist" hit the nose = ?....... (any ideas?) Obviously since the drilling action must first rise to the height of the eyebrows before ending up hitting the nose there is a slight arcing curve at work here that is usually overlooked because the novice interprets the striking fist action of Tsuan as an uppercut.

Line nine is talking about the first action of Tsuan which is the open handed thrust of the Hsing-I style. The stipulation here is that the little finger is upturned during this action so that a coiled compression is formed in the muscles of the forearm in readiness for a strong hooking pull preceding the actual fisted attack.

Line ten reiterates two previously discussed points for blatant emphasis, namely hit the nose with whole body power advancing.

Line eleven finishes by alluding to the focused intention of the down hand being through the wrist and not through the palm. And then finally line fourteen one last time tells you that the essence is a drilling 180 degree twist as the attack is made.

Remember that the strength of Tsuan Chuan is imparted equally from the legs, waist and costal spaces. The movement is extremely powerful as the kinetic energy can be directed via vector product from the rear leg and combined with a forward momentum not unlike the crashing of a wave on the surf.

Do not be one dimensional in your thinking. Remember, each form of Hsing I can be applied from all five levels of application. This can be overlayed with the "Three Basin" theory, or the "Seven Stars" theory, yielding a multitude of additional expressions of "Drilling" in the form of the Head, Shoulder, Elbow, Hip, Knee, Foot and Hand. Try using Tsuan to attack the ribs under the guard and then immediately firing the other drilling hand over opponent's guard as he drops his elbow to stop the first.

My teacher used to say "You know one, you know ten." He was fond of expounding the fact that a change of hand position, angle, or footwork was necessary to adjust the technique to an ever changing situation of fighting. As long as principle is correct, it's ok. This is what makes Hsing-I so complete.

For further myriad examples of application potential, try viewing the "Five Forces" DVD from my Hsing-I series of Instructional videos. You will find this video DVD and others in the video section of our web page.

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If you like to read more about the songs of Xingyi, you may do so by purchasing the Hsing-I Journal CD at left!




A message from Shrfu Mike Patterson:
From time to time, we all have to deal with those who are trying to make a name for themselves off of building on the reputation of another. In this case, it is my reputation that is being utilized by another in a lame attempt to foster his own agenda. If interested in such nonsense, please feel free to read my side of things by accessing the link immediately below.
Formal Rebuttal to James W. McNeil