Interview with master Guo Xian He

HISTORICAL NOTE

Master Guo Xian He was born in Beijing in 1939. Son of Guo Shu Tang, personal student of Chen Zi Zheng, studied Ying Zhao Fan Zi Men since the age of ten. He has been taught by Guo Xian Ya, You Shu Kong and Li Bao Yin. In 1987 he published a book titled "Ying Shou Quan Fa" , in which he analyzes the basic principles of the style. Today he lives and works as a teacher of medicine at a University Clinic in Beijing. He also teaches Ying Zhao Fan Zi Men making an effort to spread the correct style.

This is your first visit to Greece. What brings you to our country?
Panagiotis Derventis is my personal student. He is a member of the Eagle Claw family. I started teaching him back in 1993, in Beijing. I came to Athens in order to see his progress and help him in his effort to expand the Eagle Claw style.

About the Eagle Claw style. Tell us a few words about the characteristics of this style and it's technique.
By using Ying Zhao (Eagle Claw) as a central point and adding Fan Zi characteristics, Ying Zhao Fan Zi Men was created. The heart of this style are the 50 ways of the continuing punch (Lian Quan) and that means 50 fighting techniques that can be practiced either separate or as a complete form. The core of these techniques is Yue Shi San Shou, general Yue Fei's (1103-1142) style, which was named Ying Zhao.
The substance of the style is Yue Shi San Shou and that can be confirmed through the history of Fan Zi. Great teachers of the Eagle Claw family such as Liu Cheng You and Liu Shi Jun learned Fan Zi first and were taught Yue Shi San Shou afterwards, but chose Yue Shi San Shou to be a personal part of their teaching.
This school does not imitate all eagle's movements as many people might think, but only "borrows" the way that the proud bird of prey grabs and catches. So among the system characteristics are Diao , Zhua , Luo , (ways of grabbing and catching) and also Fan (hiting by turning the hand around ), Beng (explosive hit), Zhou (hitting with forearm), Kao (pressing or pushing). The practicioner should remember that the purpose is not to hold or catch, but to hit the opponent.

Grabbing is a way only to bring the practicioner to a more advantageous situation.
During practice not only strength, speed and technique should be developed as much as possible, but also the human "spirit" and a natural way of standing and moving. Spirit means internal peace and calmness, which all practicioners should have. "One should be able to watch the highest mountain falling down, without even blink the eyes " .

The 7 kinds of strength in our system, should be developed by practicing both internal and external techniques. The practitioner should be aware of physiology, anatomy as well as human psychology, in order to use that strength effectively in fight. Power should concentrate like a coiled spring and then explode, driven focused where we want(e.g a punch).

About the speed:

  • Defense and attack should cooperate. One hand defends while the other attacks.
  • Defense and attack with the same side of the body, for example left hand.
  • Practice hitting effectively from a short distance.
  • Borrow the opponent's strength and use it against him or her.

Could you tell us about the fight techniques in your system ?
In fighting I use the following rules:

  • combine truth with imagination.
  • Grab and hit in one movement.
  • Allow the opponent to attack in order to attack back in the most effective way.
  • Instead of defend, attack or as a Chinese proverb says "become a householder instead of a visitor" .
  • Combine step and hand.
  • Press the opponent in order to move the way you want.
  • Avoid the true attack, hit the opponent's vulnerable side.
  • Expose to the opponent a side of the body as "bait" and hit afterwards the way it was planned.
  • Don't fight the opponent's attack, follow its direction e.g if the opponent uses an upper strength, do the same.
Of course all these are useless if they remain in theory, it takes constant practice and hard work to reach knowledge.

You come from the homeland of Kung Fu. What's the situation like, according to the traditional styles? Have there been any changes?
Traditional Wushu is famous all over China. Through it we develop:

  • skills on self-defence,
  • our body,
  • daring and the feeling of solidarity,
  • fighting championships and technique demonstration can be very spectacular.
In earlier days Wushu was mainly used in order to defend our country. Nowadays that battles are no longer fought man to man, one's defensive skills become of less importance. Wushu as a show gains in popularity and that affects traditional wushu as well. China has many excellent teachers of traditional Wushu and a lot of different styles are being taught. As long as there is even one person interested to learn, this treasure of China will be kept alive. Still, it would be a lie to suggest that there are many skillfull fighters of today to be compared to those of the past.

During your stay here you had the chance to be in contact with martial arts in Greece. What is your opinion on greek students and Wushu in Greece, generally?
Greek people are polite and warm. On Wushu they work hard and they do it with pleasure. I believe that to have some sort of connection with your history and culture. I wish for Wushu to spread and develop in your country, in the future.

When will we have the chance to see you again?
My desire is for Eagle Claw style to develop properly. Soon I will have the chance to be and practice with you again. Thank you for your care for chinese tradition and Wushu.

N.B. : We would like to thank Miss Tonia Luo, whose help with the translation was very valuable.

This article was published in the BUDO & sport magazine, issue 58, October - November 1998, pages 20-21. All rights reserved to the BUDO & sport magazine.

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