Xing Yi Quan is powerful and effective martial art with origins tracing back to the last days of the Ming Dynasty (around 1644). The art was developed by Ji Long Feng (aka. Ji Ji Ke) who had been a solider in the armies of the Ming Dynasty but found himself without an occupation when the Manchurian Qing Dynasty took control of China.


Ji is said to have wandered widely, developing his martial skills, the legend has it that at Zongnan Mountain, near to present day Xian, he inherited the tradition of the famous Song Dynasty General Yue Fei. Whether this story is true or not is a matter of opinion but Ji still went on to develop what was to become today's martial art of Xing Yi Quan.


He first taught Ma Xue Li in Henan Province who would go on to call the art Xin Yi Liu He Quan (Spirit, Intention, Six Harmonies Boxing) this art was preserved especially in the Muslim communities of Henan and later would expand out to other areas such as Shanghai.


The Dai Family of Shanxi Province were taught martial arts either by a former government official named Cao Ji Wu who may have studied under Ji Long Feng, or from students of Ma Xue Li.  The Dai Family mixed the Xin Yi Lui He with their own martial art (thought to be some kind of Mantis boxing) and other practices which may have come from a local man skilled in martial arts, calligraphy and painting named Yu Shan.  The Dai Family developed their own interpretation of the art and called it Dai Family Xin Yi Quan. 


In the early 1800s a man named Li Neng Ran (aka. Li Luo Neng) came to Shanxi province and discovered the martial arts of the Dai Family.  He went on to learn Xin Yi from the Dai Family and he further developed it, taking it with him on his travels to Hebei Province.  At that time, the terms Xin and Xing were used interchangeably, but over time the name Xing Yi Quan (Shape/Character Intention Boxing) came to be used for those that derived their martial arts from Li Neng Ran both in Shanxi province and Hebei, and then later further afield.


Xing Yi in all its forms has a reputation for being a direct and powerful martial art which can be used practically.  It historically was associated with weapons and especially with the use of the Da Qiang (Big Spear), which lends itself to strong and forceful offensive techniques. Through the 1800s, Xing Yi became an art sought out by those in Northern China wanting to make their name as martial artists, prize fighters, bodyguards, armed escorts for caravans, local militia men (called Braves) and at times by rebels and bandits. Many of the famous names of Xing Yi were employed as Biaoju - armed caravan escorts - and earned their reputations for protecting valuable goods across Northern China and beyond.


Today, Xing Yi still retains it's practical aspect and this is something that Xing Yi Academy is proud to preserve, with principles, applications, weapon work and sparring forming the majority of our practice rather than performing flowery forms.



Paul Andrews is the founder and head instructor of Xing Yi Academy.


Paul grew up near the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire in Northern England (United Kingdom).  He was always interested in furthering his understanding of the world around him, from academic studies to sports and art. He began martial arts in his late teens, when a friend at university asked if he would like to go along to a Wing Chun class.


Paul immediately connected to the martial arts and has since been practicing them for over 20 years. He has studied many different arts to greater or lesser extents, but his most complete and continuing study has always been Xing Yi Quan.


Paul's  main teacher and mentor is Sifu Damon Smith, who he met in Leeds in the early 2000s.  Sifu Smith taught Paul Xing Yi as well as a form of traditional Japanese Kempo (Mishima Kempo based on the Kiado Miwa Ryu style) and introduced him to Tai Ji Quan (Tai Chi Chuan), Choy Lee Fut, Mei Hua Zhuang, Bohiin Barildaan (Mongolian Wresting) and Baji Quan among other arts.

Through Sifu Smith he was introduced to many of his close classmates and training partners.  For many years he was part of Sifu Smith's indoor student classes and trained with close friends and fellow Xing Yi students Jon Doveston, Alex Sellars and Dev Jassi.  He also cross-trained extensively with kempo instructors trained by Damon Smith, including Sensei Harry Lea and Sensei Phil Marsh of the Kiado Miwa Ryu style of Japanese Kempo.  Paul's training partners were at times unrelenting and intense, Sensei Marsh was a close training partner and friend who never held back in sparring and had a particularly practical approach, having honed his martial skills as a doorman and security specialist for many years.


Paul has been part of the Yongquan Martial Arts Association since 2004, again introduced through Sifu Smith. The association is headed by Sifu Raymond Rand (the senior student of Master Lam Kam Chuen) and instructors Donald Kerr and Douglas Robertson.  Over the years Paul has trained extensively in Tai Ji Quan and Choy Lee Fut with the Yongquan Association, participating in training days and competitions, practicing forms, push hands, Xing Yi linking sequences, sparring and weapons.  Paul is still active in the association and has close connections with Sifu Donald Kerr whom he regularly visits in London to exchange teaching and practice.


In 2011 Paul heard  of the European Chinese Swordfighting Tournament in Groningen, The Netherlands. He tried to get some of his friends and training partners to commit to going but in the end got on a ferry and drove across Holland by himself to compete in a tournament with complete strangers trying to smash his head in with heavy wooden swords. In fact, Paul actually knocked out his first opponent with a blow to the head which was heavy enough to go through the padded helmet!  Paul eventually reached the quarter final and lost to Marko Khov who would go on to win the tournment, but not without some controversy as Paul actually broke Marko's hickory sword during the bout but he replaced the sword and fought on to victory!  Undetered Paul returned the next year and brought his student and friend Alistair Chatterley.  Paul reached the semi-final and had to face Alistair, but lost to a well timed thrust!  Alistair then went on win the tournament. 


It was at the European sword tournaments that Paul met Scott M Rodell.  Rodell Laoshi (Laoshi means teacher/instructor) and Paul kept in contact and later Paul would bring him to the UK to teach Tai Ji Sword.  Paul continues to train under Rodell Laoshi whenever possible and was named as one of Rodell Laoshi's Apprentice Sword Students.


Paul has also visited and trained in China, in 2016 Paul visited Beijing where he studied intensively in Yi Quan with Yao Cheng Rong, son of the famous Yao Zong Xun, spending six hours almost every day training in zhang zhuang (standing exercises), shi li (force testing), and tui shou (push hands). Through a chance encounter at a local park and outdoor gym Paul also met wrestling coach Wang Tong Qing and spent time training Shuai Jiao (Chinese Wrestling) with him.  During a short break in training Paul travelled to Shanghai and met up with Jon Nicklin (a practitioner of Song Style Xing Yi) who took him to a martial arts meeting in Qi Dong city in Jiansu Province. The meeting was in an athletics stadium and many martial artists had travelled from around China to perform martial arts displays.  On returning to Shanghai Paul met up with Will Wain-Williams (Monkey Steals Peach YouTube Channel) and they went to visit a local Xin Yi Liu He Master - Tao Guang Wen who demonstrated a little Xin Yi Liu He and discussed martial arts.  Whilst in Beijing Paul also briefly visited and met Xing Yi practitioner Byron Jacobs and his teacher Di Guo Yong.


In 2019 Paul returned to China with his friends Jon Nicklin and Will Wain-Williams to visit teachers and practitioners of Xing Yi in Tianjin and Shanxi.  Paul arrived in Beijing and after an eventful dash across the city he missed his train to Tianjin!  He managed, despite his almost non-existent Chinese language ability to get his ticket transferred and he made it onto a luxurious bullet train to Tianjin. Spending a few days in Tianjin Paul and his friends met with teachers in local parks and saw Tianjin's Hebei Style Xing Yi.  They then boarded a less than luxurious sleeper train to Taiyuan in Shanxi, spending the night in a coach for six people in bunkbeds on a noisy and very bumpy slow train into the country. Changing at Taiyuan they travelled to Taigu, a centre for Xing Yi in the mid 1800s where they trained Xing Yi in the still existing Song Family Courtyard, went out to the countryside and met representatives of Che Style Xing Yi before visiting the old Che Yi Zhai training courtyard, travelling to a farm where the old teacher studied Dai Style Xin Yi, and met with more representatives of Dai Style Xing Yi.


Paul's studies have allowed him to experience a great variety and depth in his Xing Yi, seeing all the different styles of Xin Yi and Xing Yi performed first hand, as well as training with world leading teachers in Chinese martial arts and weapons.  He has cross trained with extremely capable and experienced martial artists, he has competed against his peers and in tournaments, he has taught classes and workshops for many years. There are few other Xing Yi instructors in the world that have Paul's extensive experience.


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