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External" and "internal" refer to different ways of training and generating practical

fighting power. External is obvious: you see a boxer or a great karate or Muay Thai
guy, and you see where the power comes from, and how it was trained: lots of
strength training, cardio, plyometrics, etc. Is anyone surprised that a guy who looks
like Mike Tyson or Mas Oyama can hit really really hard? it is different. It's
mysterious and surprising. It's that old guy who does what looks like a shoulder
shrug and sends a 300-pound biker flying. Note that it's not magic. You might hear
talk about "qi," the life force/bioenergy that is at the core of traditional Chinese
medicine. Well. qi may or may not exist, and while some explain "internal" in terms
of qi, it's entirely possible to explain it instead in terms of biomechanics and

Think of it this way: if you wanted to build the fastest, most powerful car, you could
focus on a bigger engine and nitro fuel supplements. Or, you could focus on
efficiency -- the most cutting edge lubricants, the finest balance and suspension to
avoid power loss, the most aerodynamically streamlined shell, etc. The former is the
external focus, while the latter is the internal focus.

What is Liuhebafa? The Beginning of the Liu He Ba Fa Form

Liu He Ba Fa (Six Harmonies and Eight Methods) is a special internal martial art
system passed down by Master Wu Yi-Hui.

Master Wu Yi-Hui is a very important figure in Chinese modern martial art history.
He had superb skills, taught many students, and dedicated his life to Chinese
martial arts education.Thousands of students learned directly from him. Many of his
top students such as Zhao Dao-Xin, Zhang Chang-Xin, Han Jiao, Zhang Wen-Guang,
He Fu-Sheng, and Jiang Hao-Quan later became famous martial artists in China and
in the rest of the world.

In 1936, the head of the Chinese Central Martial Arts Institute, Mr. Zhang Zhi-
Jiang, invited Master Wu to become the Dean of Studies in the Chinese Central
Martial Arts Institute. In 1948, Mr. Zhang Zhi-Jiang again invited Mr. Wu to be an
associate professor and the head of the Martial Arts Department at the Chinese
Physical Education Teacher's Institute. These invitations were extended because of
Master Wu's deep understanding and mastery of the Chinese martial arts.

The complete name of Liu He Ba Fa is Xin Yi Liu He Ba Fa San Pan Shi Er Shi, that
is, Mind Intention Six Harmonies Eight Methods Three Stances Twelve Postures. The
most important aspect of this system is one's mind and intention. In other words,
Mind Intention and the movements are led by one's mind and intention. Intention,
rather than physical force, is used. As a result, at the connecting points of different
postures, although physical strength appears to be momentarily disconnected,
one's intention connects the postures and make them a seamless whole. Liu He
Ba Fa

Mind Intention

most important aspect Mind Intention and the . Intention, rather than
movements are led by physical force, is used.
one's mind and

Six Harmonies include harmonizing the body and heart/mind, heart/mind and
intent, intent and Qi/energy, Qi/energy and spirit, spirit and movement, and
movement and emptiness. Here, emptiness means wu-ji, that is, void state. It is a
quiet, motionless state achieved when one's movement follows the body's
automatic reaction to a specific circumstance.

Six Harmonies- ---relate to the unification of the body,

harmonizing Harmonizin Harmonizin Harmonizin Harmonizin Harmonizin

the body g the mind g the mind g the g the g the spirit
and heart/ and heart and intent intent and Qi/energy and
Qi/energy, and spirit movement
, then
(Emptiness is a, void state, a quiet, motionless state)

The Eight Methods refer to practical applications.

(1) Qi (energy), circulating Qi to concentrate Shen (spirit);

2) Gu (bones), collecting energy inside the bones;
(3) Xing (form), incorporating animal forms from nature
(4) Sui (to follow), circular and smooth motion responding to the situation;
(5) Ti (lifting), lifting from the crown of one's head to have a floating feeling
6) Huan (returning), coming and going in a cycle
7) Le (suspending), being motionless and calm while waiting
8) Fu (concealing), looking for an opening while concealing yourself.

. The ancient Taoist Li Dong-Feng said that one good method should be adaptable
according to different circumstances. Then a superb technique will allow one to
stand above the crowds.
The movements of Liu He Ba Fa should be

Circular and flowing

Fast changing in response to circumstances.
The crown of the head should be lifted as if suspended from the ceiling by a
the tail bone is pointed downward in a central position

One moves in many directions, sometimes in high positions and

sometimes in low positions, while smoothly connecting different movements.

It should be difficult for an opponent to predict ones next movement and change
of direction. One should be calm when facing an opponent, looking for appropriate
openings and changing strategies according to different circumstances. The energy
should alternately open and close, rise and sink, and spirally move forward and
backward, following ones intention rather than being forced by ones physical
exertion. The energy movement is like the silk reeling movement of a spring
silkworm, continuing with no breaking point. It is also like water of a river, flowing
forward on and on without stopping. We are not referring simply to the external
movements. The important aspect is one's intention. Even though one is physically
moving, he is calm internally.

Three Stances refer to stances of different heights when one is practicing. The
classics have the following sayings: at the high stance, one can walk so fast as if he
is chasing the wind; at the middle stance, one is moving like a swimming dragon;
and at the low stance, one is very strong and demonstrates ones real internal

Twelve Postures refer to the single posture practice method, and are named after
twelve different animals. Since each type of animal has its own characteristics and
special techniques for fighting for survival, martial artists have borrowed these
techniques from various animals. The twelve postures show up in various parts of
the Liu He Ba Fa system.

The energy movement of Liu He Ba Fa is very complex, and we can only briefly
discuss it here. The important aspect of Liu He Ba Fa is to focus on intention rather
than on physical strength. One's mind, intention, spirit and qi should coordinate
with the external body movement. When one part of the body moves, the whole
body is set into motion. When one part of the body is still, the whole body is still.
The movement should be the movement of the mind, intention, spirit and qi. In
other words, one should have the "Six Harmonies." The energies expressed include
hard energy, soft energy, spinning energy, rotating energy, whipping energy,
pinning energy, hooking energy, sinking energy, shaking energy, and springing
energy. The change of energy includes both blocking and attacking, storing and
discharging, slowing down and speeding up, and emptying out and filling in. It
circles around, extends out and withdraws, and opens and closes unpredictably.
Sometimes the movement is relaxed and other times it is tight.

Students should first try to have the correct external postures. They then slowly
learn the internal energy movement so that they gradually master the Six
Harmonies and Eight Methods.

The theory of Liu He Ba Fa is quite deep. It has certain internal aspects of Xin Yi
Fist, the empty and full change of Ba Gua stepping method, and the soft and hard
energy of Tai Chi. Thus, it includes the Yin Yang exchange of all three internal
martial art systems. At one time, Liu He Ba Fa was listed as one of the standard
courses at the Chinese Central Martial Arts Institute and was highly regarded by
many famous martial artists.

Mr. Zhang Zhi-Jiang, the head of the Chinese Central Martial Arts Institute, wrote
a poem for Master Wu Yi-Hui: to lead the body with the mind and intention, one
should start from the Eight Methods; hard and soft energies should be both
employed so that Yin and Yang can be harmonized; when the body movements and
the applications are understood and coordinated, the whole body is full of springing
energy; one should be circular, extended, relaxed, harmonized and calm to cultivate
the qi; to move like a swimming dragon externally and to store the precious qi
internally; it is Master Wu that we depend on to spread and develop the great Liu He
Ba Fa art.

Some of the students of Master Wu from the earlier years went abroad and
brought the Liu He Ba Fa system with them. As a result, Liu He Ba Fa has been
taught in places such as Singapore, southeast Asia, Brazil, England and the U.S.

I was very fortunate to be able to study with Master Li Dao-Li and Master Liang
Qi-Zhong, two of Master Wu's disciples. Because of limited space and time, I can
only briefly discuss Liu He Ba Fa here. I hope to receive feedback and comments
from my colleagues in the martial arts community so that we can all contribute
what we can for the development of the great Liu He Ba Fa system.