The Modern Taoist Alchemist: Huang Xing Xian

Back! For the first post with the new blog style, and a renewed energy for this site …

… I am dedicating this to one of the great grandmasters of our time: Huang Xingxian or Huang Sheng Shyan.

Huang Sheng Shyan (Huang XingXian)

Master Huang’s martial arts training began with “one of the last great Fujian White Crane masters”1, Xie Zhongqian. In fact, Huang learned White Crane Boxing (baihe quan), 18 Buddha Boxing / Arhat Boxing (luohan quan), and Neigong all from master Xie.

Huang also studied further Fujian White Crane style, as well as Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Literary Classics from his teacher Pan Chun Nien.

Cheng Man Ching (Zheng Manqing) with Huang Sheng Shyan (Huang Xingxian)

However, Huang’s greatest love … the art of taiji … became his primary focus when, in 1947, he moved to Taiwan and began studying with taiji grandmaster Cheng Man Ching (Zheng Manqing). “It was into this tradition that Master Huang committed himself for the next 45 years”2

… While the rest is taijiquan history (and myth), it is well known that Huang traveled around extensively with the great grandmaster Cheng (pictured at left). It is also widely rumored that Huang’s skill reached a very high level during this time, as throughout his travels his skill was widely acclaimed everywhere he visited.

If you are looking for a much more detailed account & a complete timeline of Huang Sheng Shyan’s life … check it out here. In this article, my first profile article on Master Huang, I decided to focus on some of the finer points left with us by Huang Sheng Shyan.


<<< One of the most beautiful Huang XingXian videos I have seen. >>>

Master Huang’s 20 Important Points

Translated by Wee Kee-Jin

For the Taijiquan Form and Qi cultivation, Master Huang Sheng-Shyan referred to 20 Important Points:

  1. Every muscle in the body has to be relaxed and loosened.
  2. The body has to maintain an upright position without leaning or tilting.
  3. Empty the chest, relax the shoulders and drop the elbows.
  4. Tuck in the back and keep a light consciousness on the crown of the head.
  5. Contract the anus, but ensure the buttocks are relaxed and hanging.
  6. Bring the Spirit (mind awareness) within to cultivate the Qi.  Avoid unnecessary movements in the three parts of the body: head, arms and torso.
  7. Maintain an awareness of the three centres (centre of palms, tantien  and bubbling well).
  8. Use the mind, not brute force, to stay in your centre.
  9. Calm the mind, relax the body and maintain an awareness of the body.
  10. Initiate all the turning from the hips and waist.
  11. When stepping forward or backward, the substantial and insubstantial feet must be clearly differentiated and firmly grounded.
  12. The legs initiate the forward and backward movement.
  13.  In calmness there is movement and in movement there is sinking.
  14. Upper and lower body must synchronise harmoniously, without dispersed movements.
  15. Relax the neck, sink the shoulders and drop the elbows.
  16. Three things that should never be locked straight in the form; the body; the arms; the legs.
  17. Maintain continuity without any breaks, internal and external in harmony.
  18. The hands move like reeling silk from a cocoon and the feet move like a cat in motion.
  19. Have faith, modesty and perseverance and success will prevail.
  20. Fully understand the Taiji Form and the applications will be natural.

I’m sure that even to high level taiji practitioners, these 20 Important Points leave plenty to ponder. Huang’s attainment was deep and multi-faceted, and I wish I would have had a chance to meet the great master.

On a more easily understandable level (in some respects) … Huang also left a major physical contribution to the taijiquan community, namely:

Master Huang’s 5 Body Loosening Exercises (Song Shen Wu Fa)

The old master practicing the Five Body Loosening Techniques (Song Shen Wu Fa).

Here, below, are many other videos discussing & referencing Master Huang’s Song Shen Wu Fa. In my humble opinion, no one quite approaches the old master’s amazing quality of movement … even in spite of the fact that all these other videos are showcasing some of today’s greatest living masters. Huang truly reached a high level of attainment, and we are quite fortunate to have these other brilliant taiji masters to continue his tradition:

Wee Kee Jin (practicing & discussing the Song Shen Wu Fa)

It is from watching Jin’s quality of movement in these videos, and other similar ones that I am very much looking forward to a chance in training with the man directly. There are numerous places in this article linking to Jin’s site, but as a reminder, you can find out his availability, seminar schedules, and info about their residential training program at the Taijiquan School of Central Equilibrium.

Song Shen Wu Fa of Huang Tai Chi Instructor Kan Kun Tat from Malaysia


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