Monday, February 16, 2009

Review: "The Xingyi Quan Of The Chinese Army"

Now here's a book that may interest students of Xingyi (Hsing-i), Chinese military history, or just guys that like to play with rifles with fixed bayonets.
Xingyi Quan of the Chinese Army is authored by Dennis Rovere, with translation assistance by his wife Chow Hon Huen. Rovere was the first civilian to train with the Bodyguard Instructors' Unit of the Chinese Special Military Police. This overview of Chinese Military tactics and training are based on the 1928 publication by Huang Bo Nein's "Xingyi Fist and Weapon Instruction". This text, primaraly an instructors manual, became the manual for training soldiers at The Chinese Central Military Academy. This was at a time when hand-to-hand combat was quickly being replaced by combat with firearms. Rovere's Xingyi translates the original text, and offers contemporary explanation sand photos that suppliment those from the 1928 text.
Rovere's book offers a basic explanation of Xingyi's 'Five Element Theory", with the simple yet effective fighting methods. Those familiar with military training methods realize that there is a short window of training time for soldiers. They must be taught basic, large body motions that can be applied in a variety of conditions, wearing heavy clothing and packing gear.
As it is, the book shows the fist forms and fighting applications, but the second half of the book is designed for military enthusiasts with instructions on basic rifle/bayonet and sabre combat. On that note, I found the evolution of the Chinese combat sword interesting; it seems that the Chinese military sabre of the era looks very much like the Japanese Katana sword. Someone more knowledgable than me may have an opinion of that sword development.
"The Xingyi Quan of the Chinese Army" is somewhat of a "niche" book, of special intrest to practitioners of Xingyi for historical reasons, or for military enthusiasts.
Check out this book, and hundreds of other martial art titles at this link for Blue Snake Books!


Bill said...

Hello friends,

I wanted to comment on this: "it seems that the Chinese military sabre of the era looks very much like the Japanese Katana sword"

The sword used in the book is not the type of sword use for the military officers, the Chinese used a military style sabre instead. Chnese two hand sabers have been used for a long time. During the Tang two had sabers were in high steem by the Japanese due to their quality. However this weapon lost importance and was somewhat re-introduced during the Ming when the japanese woku attack the coast of China. General Qi Jiguang among others, took note of the efectivity of the Japanese blades and soon after started training his troops in their use as well as producing quality sabers.

This site has some good info on this topic:


sunahbill said...

The Chinese military sabre is similar to the one depicted in the drawing at the beginning of the sabre chapter in my book. We used the bokken for the application photos because it fit the length and weight of the Chinese sabre - not because the real Chinese sabres were Japanese in style.

However, in terms of historical accuracy in using a bokken, you can see in photos from sparring practice at the Central Military Academy (as late as 1942) the practice weapons are almost identical to the bokken used in our illustrations.

This use in the modern Chinese army (c. 1930), as well, is totally independent of the connection to the Tang Dynasty, Qi Jiguang, and Japanese pirates as presented by Bill.