Fanziquan Overturning Fist

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Fanziquan (Chinese: 翻子拳; literally “tumbling fist”) is a Chinese martial art that emphasizes offense and defense with the hands. As a Chinese martial art, it is usually practiced in sets of preformulated routines.

Its movements have been described thus: “Two fists are fast like the falling rain drops, and fast like a snapping whip”. Fanziquan routines are usually quite short and very fast. There are no weapons routines for Fanziquan. Fānziquán is a source of the modern Eagle Claw style.

History: Until at least the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), Fānziquán was known as BāshÇŽnfān (Chinese: 八閃翻; literally “8 flash tumbles”), or “8 evasive tumbles”.

Fānziquán is often taught in conjunction with ChuōjiÇŽo, not unlike how Xíngyìquán and BāguàzhÇŽng are often taught together. The routines of ChuōjiÇŽo, with its kicks, wide open stances and focus on hard power, were known as Martial Routines and those of Fānziquán, with their more compact movements combining soft and hard power, were known as Scholarly Routines, which is why the ChuōjiÇŽo Fānziquán combination is known as “Martial-Scholar”.

Fanziquan Rotating Fist Jump

Both Fānziquán and Chuōjiǎo are associated with the 12th century Song Dynasty general Yue Fei and the association between the two may date that far back.

However, as a legendary figure, Yue Fei has had many martial arts attributed to him, including Eagle Claw and Xíngyìquán.

Nonetheless, the association between the two is old enough that by the mid-19th century, Zhao Canyi, a general in the failed Taiping Rebellion, was a master of both styles.

After the failure of the rebellion, Zhao went into seclusion in Hebei Province in Raoyang, where he taught Fānziquán, which emphasizes the hands, to the Wang family and Chuōjiǎo, which emphasizes the feet, to the Duan family. During practice, the families would exchange techniques.

Fanziquan, which can mean either Rotating Fist or Tumbling Fist, is a Chinese martial art that emphasizes use of the hands for both offense and defense. Fanziquan features short, vigorous movements, compact and well-knit routines, and swift force application. Techniques can be applied in different ways, and several techniques can be applied at the same time. Since it is characterized by quick successions of hand and foot movements, a saying goes that “Fanziquan is like a string of firecrackers going off.” There are no weapons forms in this art.

Techniques: Fanziquan stresses combining external and internal energies. Tumbling boxers a firmly-rooted stance while emphasizing hand tricks and movements. The tumbling exercises are divided into major and minor moves. The major moves include jabbing, axing, elbowing, jamming, wrestling, and holding. The minor moves are rolling, lifting, turning, penetrating, slipping, hammering, provoking and flicking. In tumbling boxing, the routine is made rhythmic by slow and fast moves, continuous and intermittent actions. Tumbling boxers prefer to fight in a straightforward manner. They change freely from hardness to softness and vice versa. The foot follows each hand-strike with a quick step. After each strike, the hand always tries to hit on its way back.

Modern Day: According to his official website, martial arts actor Jet Li specialized primarily in Fanziquan and Chángquán during his wushu training.

Modern fanziquan begin from the Duan family from Nortern Bulan village of Gaoyang county of Hebei province. During the years of reign under the motto “Daoguang” there were five brothers of “Dian” generation, all of them were very good fighters. They asked Han Luma to be their teacher, and studied fanzi and chuojiao. Xu Zhaoxiong from North-Eaststudied fanzi and chuojiao from Duan family and transferred the art to He Hexiang and Hu Fengsan from Shenyang. Besides them, Cheng Qingchun from Yantai also was skilled in fanzi and chuojiao, he also trained “9 hands of praying mantis”; it is said that he was Xu Zhaoxiong’s student.

Fanziquan of Gansu and Shanxi provinces origins from Ma Fengtu. During the first years of Chinese republic Ma Fengtu and his brother Ma Yingtu lived in Shenyang during 7 years. Ma brothers studied from He, Hu and Cheng fanziquan and chuojiao, He Hu and Cheng studied from Ma brothers tongbei pigua quan. Ma Fengtu transferred chuojiao and fanziquan to the North-West, and those, who study fanziquan in Shenyang now, also study piguaquan.

Fanziquan – it is quick rotation, from the left and from the right, from the top and from the bottom. It is hard and soft, real movements and false movements. It is divided on eight methods, each of them is divided on eight hands, so we have 64 hands.

During fanziquan training it is necessary to train tiao (lifting) and mo (brushing), lifting during advancing and brusing during retreating. “Strike comes from the above – use tiao, strikes comes from the below – use mo”. Tiao – it is flapping by both arms simultaniously forward on the vertical circle. Mo – it is movement by both arms simultaniously down to the abdomen on the vertical circle. Sense of eight methods – different movements on various circles.

Main fist set is lizhongfan (“rotation similar to the rotation of standing pillar”). Other sets: cuibafan (“concentrated 8 rotations”), jianzhongfan (“rotation, strenghtened the center”), qinshoufan (“rotation of grasping hand”), lushoufan (“rotation of stealing hand”). Specific fanziquan’s weapon includes: babu lianhuan jinshoudao (“8 steps of continuous movements of broadsword of attacking hands”), mianzhandao (“broadsword of continuous war”).

Two branches, known today on the North-East and on the North-West of China, are similar, but have some difference in methods of using the power, outer appearenceand schemes of sets. North-West branch has tongbei influence in the methods of using power, force is thrown from the waist, quickly and simultaniously. North-East branch prefer promptness, strong lifting and strong lowering. Besides them, in Hebei province and Beijing-Tianjin region there exist liushoufan (rotation of six hands), yanqing fanzi (fanzi of Yan Qing), yingzhao fan (rotation of eagle’s claw), cunfanzi (1-inch fanzi), cuifanzi (concentrated fanzi).