Xingyiquan – Twelve Animals Kung Fu and Applications

Okay, I’ll admit that one of the first things I noticed when reading the back of the DVD cover was that the DVD was 45 minutes long. The reason this stood out is because I’m so used to YMAA DVDs containing two and three hour programs. Even with the shorter length, “Xingyiquan: Twelve Animals Kung Fu and Applications” with Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming and Master Liang, Shou-Yu is an informative and well produced DVD reference on this Chinese internal martial art that can be translated to “Shape-Mind Fist.”
The program begins with an introduction explaining what Xingyiquan is and some basics regarding the history and art. This is taught with a voice over and subtitles and you see demonstrations of movements without instruction and some charts to illustrate points. This brief introduction also points out that this DVD accompanies the book Xingyiquan by Master Liang, Shou-Yi and Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming. While the DVD provides good information, using it with the text will provide a much more complete understanding of this art.
The program progresses in the same way, with a voice over explaining certain movements and concepts and on the screen mainly students demonstrating. While the program and book were written by Dr. Yang and Master Liang, Dr. Yang does not appear in the DVD except for some still photographs near the end. Master Liang is shown in some scenes demonstrating certain movements, but he doesn’t “teach” to the camera. The only speaking is done through the voice over, and the program is demonstration, not instruction.
A person is not going to learn Xingyiquan from this DVD. It is however, a good demonstration of the art. Fundamental postures, explanations of the postures and their relationship to the Five Elements, two -person Five Phases Matching exercise and Linking sequences are demonstrated. Movements based on the twelve animals; Dragon, Tiger, Monkey, Horse, Water Lizard, Chicken, Harrier, Swallow, Snake, Chinese Ostrich, Eagle, and Bear are demonstrated along with martial applications of the movements.
I see two groups of people who will find value in this DVD. The first group are those who are learning this art and want an additional resource for home. The book accompanied by this DVD would be good to review if you are already learning the art. Again, you won’t learn it from this DVD, but it will assist you if you are learning from a qualified instructor. The second group would be people like myself. I enjoyed learning a bit about the art and seeing the movements demonstrated for a better understanding of the art for my global perspective on martial arts as a whole. I like to learn about all arts, and once in a while borrow things to include in my training which has the Korean art of Hapkido as its core. I don’t anticipate trying to learn how to perform these animal forms, but I enjoyed learning about them. The video is a little slow to watch repeatedly, but I liked watching it to just find out more about this art.
It’s a well produced DVD, but I think it has a limited audience. You must enjoy learning about all martial arts like I do, or be a practitioner of Xingyiquan to gain value, and for deeper instruction and information you need the book that this DVD accompanies. And to learn the art, you will need a qualified instructor.

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