INTERNAL THEORY OF LIUHEBAFA
Liuhebafa has been described as containing the fluidity of Taiji Chuan, the power-issuing of Xingyi Chuan, and the variable footwork of Bagua Zhang. And for this reason it has occasionally been assumed to be developed from a mixture of the 3 forementioned styles. Such a judgement comes from the inability to see and comprehend what Liuhebafa is and what it is not. When Wu Yi Hui was asked publically whether or not that was the case, he laughed and responded, "mixing those arts could not produce Liuhebafa". He might have a point as many others in history have tried to mix the 3 internals but the result was always "a mixture of the 3 styles" and not a unique style. Many of his students and collegues of that era made efforts to state clearly that Liuhebafa did not and could not have come from Taiji, or a mixture of the 3 internals. As Liuhebafa was concieved and developed around "5 hearts and 9 joints force" and dictated by the "6 harmonies and 8 methods", it simply grew and developed differently in form and function from the other styles.
The most superficial level of Liuhebafa is the external movements and forms. Simply learning the outside movements and techniques does not make one a practitioner of Liuhebafa by any means. What does make one a Liuhebafa practitioner is the study and application of the internal works of the system which was devised before any martial forms or techniques ever came about.
The Six Harmonies and Eight Methods are far more than simple theory, they are the core principles and consolidated understanding of internal martial arts to the highest degree. They were originally conceived and developed by founder Chen Xi Yi, along with their applications and techniques. Later, this understanding was expanded into a physical form by Li Dong Feng. Li's creation was called Zhu Ji Chuan, which literally means "discovering the foundation". This form is simply a method to learning and understanding the Six Harmonies and the Eight Methods.
The internal workings of Liuhebafa are:
The 3 Divisions actually can refer to numerous things, one simple one being the 3 levels of the body. But relevant to Liuhebafa the 3 Divisions express the concept of "Water Boxing", which is Liuhebafa's way of combat!
1. Solid State (ice)
2. Liquid State (water)
3. Gaseous State (steam)
The 5 Hearts, or more fuctionally accurate "5 terminals", is the heart of Liuhebafa and referred to as the "internal mechanism". This is not qigong, but is related to qi, and is the defining element of Liuhebafa that sets it aside from other arts.
1. point of the left palm (Lao Gong -"palace of toil" point)
2. point of the right palm (Lao Gong -"palace of toil" point)
3. point of the left foot (Yong Chuen - "bubbling spring" point)
4. point of the right foot (Yong Chuen - "bubbling spring" point)
5. point of the head (Bai Hui - "hundred meetings" point)
The 9 Joints have both a static feature that is related to the bones (recieving/channeling force) and a mobile feature that is related to the tendons (delivering/returning force). This is preliminary and is the internal frame work for the 5 Hearts, which is known as the "internal mechanism" of Liuhebafa. The 9 Joints are the infra-structure of Liuhebafa!
3. shoulder (including the clavicle)
6. hip (including the innominate)
7. cervical spine (including occiput)
8. thoracic spine (including scapula)
9. lumbar spine (including sacrum)
Both the 6 Harmonies and the 8 Methods have inner and outer factors
Inner Six Harmonies
The inner harmonies are 6 sequential steps or levels of achievement. They are always present in ones practice, though the premature focus of one inevitably leads to the loss of another.
1. Body and Mind Combine
The body moves when it is told to do so by the mind. Therefore the mind controls the movements of the body, even though it may not necessarily be aware of what is happening. As the body transitions from movement to movement it must become aware of all motions and micro-movements that occur.
2. Mind and Intent Combine
The mind tells the body to move but not necessarily for what purpose. The movements must be understood as one must intend to do something with the motions. Once so then the intention will take over and dictate what comes out.
3. Intent and Chi Combine
As intent strengthens the mind and body will relax and chi will begin to flow. Chi follows intent, it goes where the mind tells it to go, providing the mind and body are relaxed as tension (mental and physical) inhibits chi.
4. Chi and Spirit Combine
As the chi is refined (flow and intensity) the spirit comes forth. This may be known as emotional content, which can be more destructive than creative (to ones progress) if introduced/realized too early.
5. Spirit and Movement Combine
With the spirit (emotion) present it begins to determine what will happen. Techniques will differ if one fights aggressively or mercifully, so the emotion will dictate the action.
6. Movement and Emptiness Combine
Combining with emptiness means to be omnipotent, or more tangibly said means to go beyond the physical, mental, and spiritual by unifying them. It takes great effort to become effortless. This is a humble aim rather than an arrogant goal and only becomes possible if one follows the proper path.
Outer (physical) Six Harmonies
The outer harmonies are methods and clarifications of the application of Jiu Ji Li, or 9 Joint Power.
1. Body and Joints Combine
The three joints of the body (torso) are the cervical spine (neck), thoracic spine (upper back) and the lumbar spine (lower back). These 3 joints must move together in harmony with each other.
2. Arm and Joints Combine
The three joints of the arm are the shoulder, elbow and wrist. These 3 joints must move together projecting from the core to the extremity.
3. Leg and Joints Combine
The three joints of the leg are the hip, knee and ankle. These 3 joints must move together projecting from the core to the extremity.
4. Hands and Feet Combine
The movement of the hands tracks the movement of the feet. Directional focus of intent!
5. Elbows and Knees Combine
The movement of the elbows tracks the movement of the knees. Transfer of force!
6. Shoulders and Hips Combine
The movement of the shoulders tracks the movement of the hips. Spinal stabilization!
When one thing moves, all move; when one thing stops, all stop. All the main joints must start together and stop together in harmony.
Inner Eight Methods
The inner eight methods are ways to bring about transformation of the body from external to internal.
1. Chi - Use intention to move the chi
2. Bone - Use the skeletal structure for support
3. Shape - Use postures to focus intent
4. Follow - React and adapt according to the situation
5. Rise - Press the head up to open the spine
6. Return - Create an even balance in the bodys motion
7. Retain - Move naturally with calmness and clarity
8. Conceal - Use refinement to conceal the intent during combat
Outer (physical) Eight Methods
The outer eight methods refer to the directions of force. Though there are methods within the system that isolate and focus these directions, they are all always present to some degree and their training results in a simultaneous multi-directional force. If one of the directions is weak or underdeveloped it will diminish the whole. The outer eight methods are:
These Outer Eight Methods are further grouped into their "yinyang counterparts", and each group is represented by one of the 5 Elements:
1. Element Wood: Forward/Backward
2. Element Water: Upward/Downward
3. Element Earth: Left/Right
4. Element Fire: Straight (encompassing all directions in a single circle)
5. Element Metal: Circular (encompassing all directions in multiple circles)