Boxing Methods of the Internal School

王征南先生傳

BIOGRAPHY OF WANG ZHENGNAN
[also known in abridged form as 內家拳法 Boxing Methods of the Internal School]
黃百家
by Huang Baijia [1676]
[complete translation by Paul Brennan, Aug, 2014]


Wang Zhengnan mastered two arts: boxing and archery. But although there have been many extraordinary archers throughout history, Wang was the best boxer.

Shaolin is the peak of refinement for the external arts. Zhang Sanfeng was a Shaolin expert, but he turned the art on its head and thereby created the internal school. Obtaining just a little bit of it is enough to defeat Shaolin. Wang Zhengnan learned it from Dan Sinan and was the only one of his students to obtain the entire curriculum.

When I was young, I did not train at all for the civil service exams, for I preferred doing things that were a little more extreme. Once I had heard about Wang’s fame, I bundled up some provisions and went to the village of Baozhuang to learn from him. Wang was extremely proprietorial toward his art and very picky about accepting students, but he was happy to take me in and teach me. (There were five kinds of people who he would never teach: those who are devious, those who love to fight, those who are addicted to booze, those who gossip, and those who are klutzy.) There was not enough space in his house, so he trained me instead at the neighboring Iron Buddha Temple.

His art has many colorfully named combat techniques, such as: Reaching Punch and Rolling Chop, Punch Across the Center to Each Side, Swinging an Elbow to Force the Door, Waving an Iron Fan Against the Wind... There are many acupoint targets, such as: points which cause death, muteness, fainting, coughing, as well as the bladder, the “croaking toad”, the “jumping ape”, or Qu Chi [outer part of the bend at the elbow ...

There are many prohibitions against bad habits: do not be lazy, sluggish, or slouching, do not raise your shoulders, step like an old man, stick out your chest, stand too upright, pamper your legs, lift your elbows, sprain your fists, stick your butt out, bend at the waist, engage randomly, or put out both hands with the same reach.

The key principle is practice. Skill will only be achieved through practice. It is not necessary to seek for someone to copy, only to respond to opponents with whatever works, up or down, left or right, forward or back, and to notice the correct moment to engage.

There are thirty-five hand techniques to practice: chop, erase, shake, knock, bump... There are eighteen stepping techniques to practice...

These elements are all used within the Six Lines and the Ten Sections of Brocade, each recorded in verse. [The name “ten sections” is obviously not the same kind of thing as the “six lines” seeing it has twelve lines of verse. What exactly the “sections” are is a mystery.]

...

Considering that these poems are obscure and brief, and therefore hard to hold in the mind, I have added detailed explanations for each of them so as to preserve the material for posterity

...

Although the Six Lines set and the Ten Sections set are for the most part the same kind of material, the Six Lines emphasizes toughening the bones while the Ten Sections emphasizes loosening the joints.

Wang looked at what I had so far recorded, then smiled and told me: “I’ve practiced this stuff my whole life, but I often still seem to have trouble remembering it all. How’ve you made it is as clear as this? I don’t think your skill in the art will ever be able to live up to this record you’ve made of it.”

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