An important concept in Xingyiquan is to take your opponent's ground.
Xingyi is not really a defensive art. The goal is not to take an opponent's energy and neutralize it. The purpose of Xingyi is to drive through your opponent like a bowling ball through bowling pins.
But to take ground, you need to build leg strength by practicing taking ground. Step one in that process is to "load" the rear leg.
Take a look at the three images in this post.
In the first image, I am standing tall. If I had to spring forward, it would be difficult.
In the second image, I am loaded into a Xingyi fighting stance. My energy is "sunk" and I am ready. Notice how I am compressed into the rear leg. It is like a spring, ready to release. And my energy is forward, not backward.
In the third image, I am springing forward to strike with Beng Chuan.
As soon as I land, I will load the rear leg again.
Taking ground is not just for Xingyi. Lively footwork and taking ground is important in Taiji and, of course, in Bagua. There are always movements that take ground. When you are fighting multiple opponents, and you become the wire ball that they punch into, you must be close to them.
You can practice taking ground like this:
** Mark your distance. Start from the same spot.
** Load the leg and spring out as far as you can. Mark the spot.
** Maintain your balance. Do not land with your energy over-committed forward, or leaning forward or to the side. Keep working on it until you can spring out and finish in a solid, balanced San Ti stance.
** Go back to where you started and try again. Try to get a little farther this time. Keep repeating to build strength and to increase your distance. It will build your leg strength and your explosive ability to take ground.
In the Xingyi section on the website, there is a video that shows this and another good exercise for building leg strength and "taking ground."
Psychologically, it is damaging to your attacker when you knock him off the spot where he is standing. That is one of the key goals of a Xingyi fighter.
And just as important -- if you are ever in a self-defense situation, you can really surprise someone if you can cover a lot of ground quickly.
One of my students was a police officer in Bettendorf, Iowa. He found himself in a living room, with a violent offender across the room threatening him. Before the offender knew it, my student lunged across the room with the "taking ground" principles we had practiced, and he put the criminal down with Pi Chuan (Splitting Palm).
When the criminal was cuffed, he looked at my student and said, "How did you get to me so FAST!"
My student the cop called to tell me how proud he was that he used Xingyi in a real situation. It would not be the last time.
These arts work.
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