Xingyiquan or ‘Xingyi’ (also Hsing-I and Hsing-I-Chuan) is an internal martial art from Northern China based on the concepts and energies contained within five elemental fists, or wuxing quan, each representing one of the classical five Chinese elements: Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth. Each fist is actually a different, vital energy and a different expression of internal power or neijin. These energies are meant to mirror the energies of the five elements. So, for example, the wood fist should contain the same qualities that the wood element itself evinces. This could be an energy that feels like ‘growing out’ or ‘sprouting’. Metal fist might have a ‘cutting’ or ‘condensing’ energy, water might be ‘expansive’, earth ‘fixed’ or ‘stable’ and so on.

Xingyiquan literally means “shape-mind fist” so it is concerned with training the mind to manifest outward shape or form. This concept might appear highly abstruse but it just means that the mind-body connection is trained to such a degree that the very thoughts of the mind themselves can be translated into outer form. For Xingyiquan the forms that come from the mind must be realised in the most instantaneous, direct and efficient manner possible. What this translates as is a system of movement that is driven by the intention and will of the mind. For this reason Xingyi is often considered to be a very mentally intense martial art. Xingyi develops excellent focus and vehement will power. Because even though there is much kinetic physicality in Xingyi, make no mistake, the real heart of the teachings involve training the mind.  Without mind-training there is no Xingyi.
The Xingyi fighting strategy of using the intent of the mind and taking a line of attack and pursuing victory at all costs is best summarised by this classic text:

“Iron triangle, linked hands, whole body is fist, step with the tiger step, body is like a wind, fists are like water, remain in a mobile war where you neither go against the opponent’s power nor lose contact with him”.
Describing Xingyiquan as an iron triangle is very apt; Xingyi makes contact using a point (a hand or foot) and then the base of the triangle follows through. It could even be likened to an axe head, where the sharp outer edge of the cutting surface is followed by the heft of the axe-head. This is how Xingyi power is manifested, by this following-through action.
Xingyi is often considered to be a weapons art since it is generally believed to have been developed on the battlefield originally as a spear art, some nine hundred years ago. You can still see the spear movements in the forms and with the emphasis on keeping motion simple, unelaborated and constantly advancing. The emphasis in Xingyi is always on simplicity and economy of motion. The Chinese say that Xingyi looks awful but it fights like the devil. The Xingyi body that is formed from the Xingyi exercises is strong and stout, it is said to have the feet of the rooster, the back of the bear, the head of the leopard, the shoulders of the tiger and the claws of the eagle. Sometimes Xingyi is abbreviated simply to ‘Eagle-Bear Art’, as if somehow the synthesis of these two animals defines the art best - clawing and powerful rampaging together, the bear crushing and the eagle strafing.
Because of its focus on disciplined standing and strong linear movements combined with some spiralling, drilling and spherical movement, Xingyi will build a very strong body capable of great exertion and lucid agility and power. With these spirals combined with linear stepping, it is not unlike a supercharged version of Karate.
The five element fists of Xingyi are:
Pi Quan – Splitting Fist – Metal Element
Zuan Quan – Drilling Fist – Water Element
Beng Quan – Bursting Fist - Wood Element
Pao Quan – Pounding Fist – Fire Element
Heng Quan – Crossing Fist – Earth Element
Once competence in the five elements is achieved Xingyi has twelve animal forms that both evolve the five fists into new versions as well as knit them together with other kinds of new motion. The twelve animals are as follows:
•Dragon – Long   
•Tiger – Hu  
•Snake – She  
•Monkey – Hou  
•Horse – Ma  
•Goshawk or Sparrowhawk – Yao  
•Swallow – Yan   
•Rooster – Jin   
•Bear – Xiong   
•Eagle – Ying   
•Turtle/Alligator – Tuo   
•Tai - Fish/Mackerel/Also
Tai Bird/Ostrich