Unveiling the Mysteries of Xingyiquan’s Pi Quan


Xingyiquan, a Chinese martial art that emphasizes internal power and the harmonization of the mind and body, is often misunderstood. One of its most intriguing techniques is Pi Quan, a fist form that belongs to the metal element and is deeply connected to the concept of “qi” (energy) and “jin” (force). This blog post aims to demystify Pi Quan by breaking down its underlying principles.

The Six Directions in Pi Quan

In Pi Quan, the six directions of rising, falling, drilling, overturning, horizontal, and vertical are seamlessly integrated. As the hand rises, it curls into a drilling motion. This drilling motion then twists to make the wrist horizontal, which further turns to bring the tiger’s mouth of the hand upwards, signifying overturning. Finally, the hand becomes vertical, ready to fall but not necessarily doing so immediately. This complex interplay of directions is what makes Pi Quan a technique of depth and subtlety.

The Concept of “Shun”

Apart from these six directions, Pi Quan also incorporates the concept of “shun,” a direct attack that comes from the hand. To execute “shun” effectively, footwork is crucial. The rear foot pushes off, causing the front foot to move forward and the body to shake with power. This is how the full force of “shun” is unleashed.

The Five Elements and Pi Quan

Pi Quan belongs to the metal element, which is connected to the lungs. Practicing Pi Quan can nourish the lungs and, by extension, the other organs represented by the Five Elements—heart, liver, spleen, and kidneys. This holistic approach to health is one of the unique aspects of Xingyiquan.

The Anatomy of Pi Quan

When practicing Pi Quan, the posture is of utmost importance. The eyes should look straight ahead, the chest should be open, and the lower abdomen filled with qi. The footwork is like that of an arrow—straight and fast. The use of force should be coordinated, and the hand and foot should move together as one. The technique begins from the starting position and involves a series of three steps: the lead foot advances first, followed by the rear foot, and then the same foot completes the third step.

The Importance of Qi and Jin

In Xingyiquan, the human body is controlled by the heart and utilizes qi (vitality), rooted in the dantian (coming from a strong core). A strong dantian leads to vigorous spirit and powerful brain function (allowing one to maintain a strong presence especially in combat). Therefore, practicing Pi Quan not only nourishes the organs but also strengthens the dantian, making the body agile and the mind sharp.


Pi Quan is a complex but rewarding technique that offers both martial prowess and health benefits. By understanding its intricate movements and the principles of qi and jin, practitioners can unlock new levels of skill and well-being. As the ancient saying goes, “If qi is harmonious, the body is strong. If qi is disturbed, the body is weak.” Pi Quan offers a path to harmonious qi and, consequently, a strong and agile body.

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