Quan Jing Jie Yao
Essentials Of The Fist
Ancient Martial Arts Training Principles
紀效新書 (ji xiao xin shu) "New Book of Military Efficiency" is an ancient Chinese military manual written in 1560 by Qi Jiguang, a Ming Dynasty General who was famous for defending China from the Japanese pirates' invasion. There are many chapters in it, touching on various topics such as Siege Weapons, Formations, Terrains etc... One of the chapters is 拳經捷要 (quan jing jie yao) "Essentials of the Fist".
It consists of 32 unarmed fighting stances, which are described in a poetic manner. This has its pros and cons. Being poetic means it's more difficult and confusing to translate, and different readers might have different interpretation. However, this may also mean that the text conveys more of fundamental principles to guide the practitioner, rather than specific sets of movements.
The Holistic Warrior's Training
If you were to have a list of every single fighting techniques, you'd probably have thousands of it, and your list will be endless. If you were the General of an army, it would be impossible (and unnecessary) to train your soldiers in all of these techniques.
All techniques trace their roots only a few core principles. Train and master these essential principles will pave the way for you to easily perform thousands of different techniques. Let's discuss one example here.
Pictured here is a stance named as "Divine Fist". It is performed with your arm internally (medially) rotated, so that your thumb is pointing downwards. The core principle here is to train your shoulder's rotator-cuff muscles, so that you'll be able to rotate your arm and increase the flexibility of your shoulder joint.
Achieving this allows you to perform a wide variety of techniques that requires you to rotate your shoulder joint. One of them is performing the "High Guard" stance in the western Saber, and I've included the page from the book here for your preview. Other benefits includes: Upwards cuts, Shield fighting, Deflection techniques, Elbow strikes etc... Can you think of anymore?
By training yourself in these 32 core principles, you'll be ready for any situation, or use any weapon. Though not explicitly stated in the manual, I believe this is the wisdom of General Qi Jiguang, and I hope that my meaningful interpretation of his words will bring justice to this valuable ancient martial arts manual.
Stance #23: Divine Fist
Applications of "Divine Fist"
Sample English Translation
Video about "Divine Fist"
Essentials of the Fist
Essentials of the Fist
Essentials of the Fist
Essentials of the Fist
Instead of 32 fighting techniques, think of this book as 32 fighting principles which you can apply to any style of fighting, serving as a foundation for your martial arts journey. This is the most important book that I've worked on.
In this English translation/interpretation, I seek to discover what are the core principles for each stance. To achieve this, it took almost 3 years (2017 to 2020) worth of research and testing. Not only did I used my own martial arts background & experience, but I've also triangulated information from other manuals as well. On the left are some previews, you may click on the images to enlarge.
This English translation book is printed & distributed by Lulu.com in the US, so if you live in the US itself or in western countries, you can expect to enjoy very cheap shipping. Be sure to check out the front page of Lulu.com for promo codes to get yourself a discount!
Contents (6"x9", 290 pages):
32 Stances / Martial Arts Principles
Quick Reference Guide
Features to help you learn & understand:
Hanyu Pinyin pronunciation for all Chinese text
To help you pronounce the stances' names accurately.
Chinese text side-by-side with the English translation
For your reference to the meaning of every word.
Your contribution and support will help us to continue running this website, and further the research of ancient Chinese battlefield arts.
Eskirmology, The Modern Science of Defence
"I highly recommend acquiring Jack Chen’s work ‘Essentials of the Fist’. In Chen’s translation, it is clear that a number of the descriptions which Qijiquang gave to the postures are used by Chen and Yang Taijiquan today."
Full article at: http://eskirmology.co.uk/journal/martial-arts-interpretation/
"What makes this manual a very interesting source is its initial explanation of the significance of unarmed combat relative to the battlefield. Despite being initially dismissed as impractical, the importance of such study is emphasized as one should pursue such teachings for the sake of health, mobility, emergency, and as supplement to using weaponry. When comparing to modern martial arts, this manual can definitely help bridge gaps in explaining applications of techniques found in many forms, while allowing us to look back towards their possible sources and roots. Even as individual moves, these techniques are very applicable with proper practice."
"Jack here in his translation of this part of the manual points out something far more important than involve the reader in a discussion over the significance of the Chinese characters. The section called 拳經捷要 is of primary importance for who study seriously Chinese Martial Arts, is probably the origin of the "families styles" we had later on during the eighteen century and the grandfather of today's Gongfu. Jack explains something that I found also in my studies and practice: These sets of movements are in fact a multidiscipline gymnastic that aims to train certain ways of using the body. Train the body to be reactive and powerful, healthy, and put the basics for the general use of the primary Chinese warfare weapons."
New Book of Military Efficiency
There were a few versions of this manual historically, but with little differences. Sometimes there are "spelling mistakes", whereby a different word was used but the meaning stayed the same. Or the publisher hired a lousier/better artist and the stances were drawn slightly different but still recognizable.
Here are 2 versions for your reference. On the left is from Jixiao Xinshu itself, and on the right is from the Korean Muye Dobo Tongji. These versions are easily found on the Internet and you can download them for free.
The Chosen One
For this book, I've instead chosen to use a Japanese 1:1 reproduction of Jixiao Xinshu which was published in the 1800s, for a couple of reasons:
The most important reason is because it featured punctuations! In the original Chinese version, each stance had a big wall of text and you don't know for sure when is the end of a verse. Making a mistake here could mean a totally different meaning.
But in this Japanese version, it had punctuations. Notice that there are small circles found on the bottom right of some words. You can consider them as "full stops", so that I can separate the wall of text into a few distinguishable verses.
The diagrams are more cleanly drawn and preserved. Perhaps this might be necessary for your reference, as sometimes small details can make a difference.
You cannot find this version online anywhere. You cannot download it. I paid a few grands to buy this original antique, and I'm happy to share it exclusively with you in this book.
"Flash Step" is one of the most difficult stances in the manual. Here is a quick explanation video.
"Reverse Stab Stance" is a stance for hitting behind yourself. Here is 1 key lesson that you can gain from practicing this stance, which will be applicable in other parts of your martial arts training.
"Casual Tuck Shirt" is the 1st stance in this Fist manual. At first sight, it may seem like a mundane stance for tucking your shirt at your waist, so that you will enjoy greater freedom in moving around.
"Casual Tuck Shirt" is actually the most important stance in the manual, because its core principle is learning how to use your core & hips. The manual also states 3 ways (or 3 difficulty levels) in developing mastery of your hips.
I've created this mini-instruction video affordably at only $4.90, to help you understand this stance, so that it helps you to create the foundation for practicing all other stances.
Content (approx 1 GB, around 22+ mins):
Video #1: Reading the verses of the stance (13 secs)
Video #2:Introduction & Interpretation of the Stance (3m14s)
Video #3: Basic Practice (1 min 32 secs)
Video #4: Beginner's Practice (2 mins 54 secs)
Video #5: Intermediate Practice (6 mins 4 secs)
Video #6: Advanced Practice (5 mins 31 secs)
Video #7: Ready to fight with weapons (3 mins 9 secs)
The MasterMind Group
The work on this Fist manual is not completed, and we need YOU. People who are dedicated and passionate in martial arts. People who believe in contributing to the preservation & continuity of ancient martial arts.
After you've bought the book, you may join a private Facebook Group for the further discussion of this Fist manual. You may give your own ideas, opinions and interpretations on what each stance meant, no matter which style you're from.
For instance: You could be a HEMA practitioner, and you can offer some examples or ideas on how the core principle of a stance can actually be applied in a HEMA technique.
When we've discovered something interesting / major / important, we can then share it publicly for the benefit of everyone. The link to this private Facebook Group is found in the book. I'll see you there!