Jet Li’s movie, “Fearless”, is about Huo Yuanjia, the founder of Jing Wu Hue martial arts, also known as Chin Wu. Huo Yuanjia was the first martial artist in the history of Chinese martial arts to combine several styles into one school. Before him, all martial artists focused on only one style in their training. Today, we refer to this combining of several styles, as the Jia Jing Wu Spirit. The major style in Jing Wu Hue is Mi Zhong Quan. In this article I will talk about the basic characteristics, history and principles of Mi Zhong Quan.
I grew up in a martial arts family and learned Mi Zhong Quan in my childhood, as part of my training. Literally translated as “Secret Ancestor”, Mi Zhong Quan is a famous traditional art in the northern style of Shao Lin Kung Fu. It is very popular throughout China, and because of its great influence, even in southern China, many Jing Wu associations and schools have been established. The style itself is divided into different and complex branches, each with its own system, flavor, concept, techniques and methods. From ancient times to the present, traditional masters accepted different parts of the Mi Zhong system. Because it was practiced in different regions of China, Mi Zhong Quan eventually developed into several branches and styles, each with its own unique fighting characteristics. All of the Mi Zhong Quan styles belong to the “Long Fist” category, although their frame and structure is mainly Shao Lin External Fist.
Mi Zhong fist fighting posture is clear, precise, smooth, freely open, firmly rooted and grounded, characterized by strong and heavy punching. Although appearing to be gentle and light overall, it has sudden, rapid attacks and shooting fists. It seems to be in a straight direction, but actually goes to eight different directions. The foot and handwork respond to each other. Retreating and other actions create a series of attacking and defending forms inherent in this style, as this Quan form changes unexpectedly and surprisingly with jumping feet, lightning dodges, with solid and fixed stances.
Mi Zhong is rich in forms, strong in technique, specific in solid footwork, and uses maximum strength in each punch. This is achieved through five ways of linking hands, hopping, piercing through, springing, jumping, leaping, dodging/hiding and galloping, using hard and soft applications all combined, with clear and crisp movements.
Mi Zhong fist is designed for two person fighting drills, group practice, wrestling and throwing. In the hand and foot work, there are many wrestling and controlling moves. The bodies of the two who are sparring contact with fist punching, arm blocking, shoulder striking, foot hooking, and leg sweeping. With waist twisting and shoulder shaking, one conquers and wins over the enemy. In a real fight setting, Mi Zhong Quan often combines wrestling and hitting; but emphasizes the use of less fighting to overcome greater effort.
The Mi Zhong system encompasses close to one hundred different kinds of fists and weapons. Within Mi Zhong there are many different types of schools, each with its own techniques and style, yet all having similar effects and results. As an example, wide stances are used for training, by all schools, for a strong and powerful punching style. Within the Mi Zhong system, traditionally based, there are twenty-four principles for hitting, eight methods and twelve postures. Moving and walking require use of the waist and Kung Fu legs. Practiced externally, Mi Zhong also has internal martial arts characteristics.
There are many tales about Mi Zhong fist. Sometimes different names were used, such as Mi Zhong fist, Yan Qing fist, Mi Zhong Art, and sometimes with different spelling. During my childhood, I often listened to my masters, as they related stories from the Mi Zhong heritage.
By the end of the Tang dynasty in the year 906 A.D. there was a great grandmaster, named Zou Tong, who taught many historically famous martial arts heroes, such as Lu Jun Yi, Shi Wen Gong, Wang Ling, Wu Song (who killed a tiger with his fists), Yue Fei (a general in the Song Dynasty Army), and Yen Qing. Yen Qing passed down what people called the Yen Qing Fist form. Later when Yen Qing rebelled against the Emperor, he escaped to Liang San Mountain and from that point on, people called this style the Ancestor Fist. While he was escaping to Liang San Mountain, Yen Qing used special techniques and skills, making nine fast marks on the snowy ground that caused the armies to lose him, so he was able to get away. From then on, this form was called the Lost Track Fist.
By the end of the Kang Xi Emperor period (1662 – 1722 A.D.), in the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911 A.D.), one of my ancestors, Sun Tong, who lived in the Shandong Province, studied and spread the Lost Track Fist style. From Shandong Province, located east of the Taihang Mountains to the sea, the style was passed to Changzhou, a city famous for Martial Arts in East Central China on the Grand Canal. From Changzhou it passed to a family living in Jing Hai County in He Bei Province, a northern China province. Another branch passed to Yan Tai City, a seaport town on Bohai Bay (part of the Yellow Sea) in Northeast Shandong Province, and from there, over the Yellow Sea it passed to Dang Dong City (where I grew up) on the Yalu River, Liaoning Province. In order to distinguish it from other Mi Zhong forms, we called this branch Dong Bei (Northeast) Mi Zhong Fist.
1) Posture is upright, firmly rooted, body relaxed and straight, head up, neck straight, relaxed shoulders, elbows sinking, back stretched, waist rising, anus lifted up, hands working, hitting and moving like a tornado wind, with a fixed posture as quiet as Tai Mountain. Foot and handwork are clear. One step leads to the next.
2) Full powerful energy combines with hard and soft energy. Rush-punch releases in a sudden explosion of chop, smash, push, lift, cut, stab and spear. Fast footwork uses heel kicks, toe kicks, flip-up kicks, side kicks, round-house kicks, shovel kicks, stomps, poke kicks, and so on. Full energy goes to the foot with a clear point. The use of energy must be natural, harmonious, full-flowing and soft. Attacking must be fully grounded, fiercely speedy, quick and agile, hard and crisp, eventually looking as if the hands are like cotton, but touching the body like iron.
3) Waist and legs move with agility. Body and waist are forward, backward, dodging, and spinning. Footwork is quick, light and agile, forward and back, hopping and dodging, retreating, and coordinated up and down.
4) Spirit and body are one. Chi sinks to the Dan Tian. Eyes follow the direction of the movement. Spirit is energy for the mind, hidden inside. Hands, eyes, body and feet are the outer expression of the form. Essence, spirit, energy, strength, and Kung Fu are the inner Kung method. Eyes are like lightning.
Judge the opponent, then adjust and be in harmony with nature. Conquer the enemy and win the battle. Energy is solid inside. Mind goes down to the Dan Tian and is calm. The heart benefits, as energy flows naturally. Stances are rooted firmly, and powerful strength is exposed at one point.
The Quan forms are organized logically. Postures are upright, open, wide, natural and circular, dodging, spinning, jumping, retreating, fast and slow, practical but not flowery. The stress is on real Kung Fu qualities. Each movement is either attacking or defending, although, attacking is the main focus.
Energy and strength are sometimes hard, sometimes soft. Footwork is solid and grounded. Posture, like the TaiMountain , is straight up. When attacking, the fist moves in one line, fiercely hitting and rushing forward with speed and strength. Important in these attacking techniques is protection. Techniques are clean in order to make an opponent misjudge one’s intention and be unsure as to what defense to use. The Quan's essential techniques are full with the flow of energy. Soft and hard energy are combined, while empty and solid are intertwined. Heart is the master as chi sinks to the Dan Tian.
Every part of the body can be used as a weapon - hands holding, sticking, controlling, and grasping; body lifting and rolling, scooping, wrestling, twisting, pushing, squeezing; shoulders striking, elbows hitting and head striking. Footwork is complex, although forward and backward movements are done naturally and freely. Many, many techniques are used. In Mi Zhong, everything is done so that the performer and nature are as one. In general, an opponent is prevented from attacking by the use of fast spinning, the sudden moving from high to low, and by making tracks cross each other so that foot marks are spread across a wide area. Therefore the Quan is called, “Ten Sides of Hidden Fist”.
The Fist Proverb says, “Hands, eyes, body, feet, spirit, energy, and strength are a great road of one-hundred eighty-thousand miles. Where there is a will, there is a way.When one really has Kung Fu, dropping water can go through a thick stone. Fist is practiced over one thousand times, and body method is natural. Si Fu shows the disciple the right direction at the entrance, but the disciple must practice Kung Fu non-stop, then eventually you will find the Way."