Ying Men Quan (硬门拳), also known as Yue Jia Quan, Hongmenquan, Pingxiang Nanquan, Ying Zi Men and Yue Jia Chui, is in fact a collective naming used that arised in Jiangxi a few hundred years ago mainly to differentiate with Zimenquan. However, Yingmenquan consists of a few different varieties with different origins which then latter we practiced as one by some practitioners. The variants of Yingmenquan include Pingxiang Nanquan (Yingmenquan) in the west of jiangxi, which is a boxing method originating from the Hong Men society and shares commonality with that practiced in neighbouring Hunan province. Yue Jia Quan (岳家拳，Yue Family Boxing) of the North of Jiangxi such as Jiujiang and in west Yichun shares common ancestory with the neighbouring Hubei style (in Wuxue and Huangmei counties) and originates from the descendants of the sons of Yue Fei (his wife and children resided in the north of Jiangxi/east of Hubei areas during the Southern Song Dynasty. The third major type of Yingmenquan is practiced in the western areas of Jiangxi and is likely a mix of Yuejiaquan with other styles such as Hong men and Huzunquan from Fujian.
One of the uniques aspects of Yingmenquan is the range of techniques are immense and although sharing attributes like other systems of the south it is structured in a very simple manner as the sets are often short with emphasis on practical application. This style is very rare outside of Jiangxi which is a shame given it's great history, techniques and effectiveness.
Our focus will attempt to be broad but the emphasis from a content perspective is based on that from the Taiping Institute, which is the Yuejiaquan variety as practiced throughout Jiangxi such as Nanchang and concentrated in Jiujiang and Yichun.
Yue Fei (1103-1142) born in the Tangyin Yonghe county - Yue Jia Zhuang (now this area is known is found in Caiyuan village, Tangyin county, Anyang City, Henan Province. Yue Fei was a famous general in the Southern Song Dynasty during the time when the Jurchen armies of the Jin Dynasty were expanding their empire. Originally from a simple farming family he was trained by various teachers (including Zhou Tong) in military strategy (Sunzi BinFa is mentioned) and weaponry (archery, spear) before participating in the Imperial military exams in Kaifeng of which he excelled over all others. His spear skills which he studied with Chen Guang, was said to have no equal. He later joined the Song army and became one of the greatest leaders of his time.
In 1122, he won a great victory when they entered a place called the Tigers Cave, however upon discussions with his superiors he was disillusioned of the afforts of the Song government and ask to return home for the mourning of his fathers passing. At that time it is said he passed on some elementary boxing skills to the youth in his village. Whilst he lived in Tangyin county which was very poor, many locals had heard of his victories and stayed at his home begging to be taught boxing and weapons so that they too may be able to find a place in the army. Yue Fei saw the difficulties as the beggars had no food nor decent clothing and was perplexed, his mother consoled him and he left to join further expeditions in Taixing Mountain and the Wei State area (now known as Xinxiang county) around 1127 together with general Zhang Yi. In 1132 he fought in Huangmei and Hongzhou (today's Nanchang, Jiangxi), he left his son, Yue Zhen to train the locals there to protect the area. They produced many soldiers that later joined the imperial song armies. His successes lead to becoming the general of Yue's Batallion and it was Yue Fei's golden age up until 1140 unfortunately in 1142 he endured a tragic end as he was betrayed and murdered at the age of only 39. He remained a symbol of loyalty and patriotism to the nation and has been respected by the Chinese people for centuries.
Although living until only a relatively young age, Yue Fei had achieved a high level of military strategy/skills and mastery of martial arts. Yue Fei had many sons including Yue Yun, Yue Lei, Yue Ting, Yue Lin and Yue Zhen. His wife and sons resided in the areas around what is now known as Huangmei, Wuxue and Jiujiang (in Hubei and Jiangxi province). His second son Yue Lei succeeded his post in the military, Yue Ting also followed his father in battle but later returned to join Yuezhen in Hubei. The Yue family has literally hundreds of direct descendants still living in Hubei/Jiangxi and many are direct from Yue Fei's sons. Originally the boxing methods that Yue Fei taught were not named as such and it is only generations later that it became known as Yue Jia Quan. Some of the military officers in earlier times in Henan also learnt some boxing which for a short period was known as Yue Jia Chui which have descendants in Henan province it was passed by some of his military members. Since the Hakka also passed through Jiangxi, the Yue Jia Jiao style of Meixian in Guangdong is also derived from this same source.
For an understanding of the Yingmen which originated in the Hongmen, please refer to section on Hongjia Quan.
History and Development
To the members of the Yue families in Hubei and Jiangxi province, the legend is in fact a reality. They are very clear that their boxing is descendant from the sons of Yue Fei and therefore Yue Fei himself. Being a direct bloodline until quite recently this was rarely taught to outsiders. In fact the principles of Yue Jia Quan are essentially the basis on which boxing in the Jiangxi areas was built upon.
According to the Jiangxi records of Yichun and Fengcheng (where Yingmen is popularly practiced), the first use of the Yingmenquan is attributed to the Qing dynasty when the most famous inheritor of Jiangxi Ying Men boxing Deng Zilong, learnt the skills from a warrior named Luo Hongxian, who was from the Huangmei districts of Hubei. According to one account Luo Hongxian fled from Huangmei southward as he had killed some bandits andhe then passed his skills of Yue Jia Shou (Yue Family Hands, equivalent to Yue jia Quan/Yingmenquan).
As result of Yingmenquan being a collective term for many southern boxing styles, it is distinguished by the major family practices. There are many family branches in Yingmenquan such as Zhang Family (originates from Guangdong, the founder was an ex Tian Di Hui member), Zhao family (originates from Hubei Huangmei, Yue Family Boxing), Ma Family (originates from Guangdong, Hongmen), Zhang Family (originates from Hubei Wuxue, Yue Famiy Boxing with later influences from Fujian).
Essentially the boxing systems of Jiangxi have later through countless practitioners adopted the best points of other schools. Ying Men Quan also inherited some Tiger boxing (Hu Zun Quan) from Fujian and even Guangdong boxing methods (Hong Quan) during the boxer rebellion periods. Therefore although there are many masters of Ying Men Quan in Jiangxi, each school or lineage can have different influences thus contributing to some contrast in the contents and practice.
Yingmen Quan Styles
Since Yingmen Quan is both a style and a collective term, we will outline some of the main systems of Yingmen Quan and Yuejiaquan from Jiangxi province and beyond.
Ying Men Quan （硬门拳）
Ying Men Quan traces its origins to the Yue Jia Quan (Yue Family) as passed by the sons and descendants of Yue Fei. The art is practiced predominantly in the north of Jiangxi (Jiujiang, Ruichang) which neighbours Huangmei and Wuxue across in Hubei Province. Deng Zilong was said to be a famous practitioner of this style and it is the first line to apply the term Ying Men Quan. In fact in some records Deng Zilong was said to have combined Zimenquan and Yingmenquan but retained the practice the hard way (the Yingmen approach). It was in the Qing dynasty that Master Zhao Zhenji (1822-1903) taught the art in in southern areas of De An, Xin Jian and Nan Chang. Therare many practitioners including Hu Yunlong, Wang Qinghui, Wan Chalin, Li Meisheng, Du Ping, Zhong Xiqiao and Zhong Shanshui. Master Mao Yimin is grandson of the headcoach of the national arts school in Nanchang during the Minjian period (pre-1949) and was renowned as a top class martial artist. Since he studied both Zimenquan and Yingmenquan he style at times was known as Yingzimen, and others followed suit as the annual gatherings in Nanchange of Masters from all over the province enhanced the development of the styles.
Ying Men Quan (Yue Jia Quan, also known as Hubei Yuejia Quan， 岳家拳)
The Yue Family Ying Men Quan is actually the last fist method to be called Yingmenquan and in fact up until the 1940's when gatherings heightened and the distinguishment between Ruan Men (i.e. Soft Method referring to Zimenquan) and the others was made it was always simply called Yue Jia Quan. Additionally there are two lineages (one from Wuxue and the other from Huangmei). The practice method is the closest to that of Hubei Wuxue and contains similar content where as other styles have since differed. Yue Jinming (1906-1982) and his disciples Tang Yunyue in Ruichang county and Xu Tangshan in Jiujiang county. Other lineages include practioners such as Xu Jianxin, Hu Songlin, Li Jianmin and Ye Chunyi.
Ying Men Quan (Yihe Quan, 义和拳)
The Zhang Family Ying Men Quan style was founded during the Qing dynasty by Master Zhang Shilong (1825 - 1891) who brought the boxing methods from Guangdong to Jiangxi. Master Zhang was a member of the rebellious society (White Lotus/Yi He Tuan) and latter travelled to Jiangxi where he lived out the remainder of his life. He started a martial arts school in Yue Zhou (nowadays known as Yichun City). Liu Faming (1876 - 1961) was from Xinyu county in Jiangxi and joined the Yue zhou school, since Master Liu was versed in the basic rudiments of Famenquan he excelled quickly and became the chief coach of the school. In his youth he continued the school but later due to social upheaval stopped teaching. Master Hong Bangma (1902-1992) later became a disciple of Master Liu and became the 3rd generation Master of Zhang Family Ying Men Quan. He taught many students who continue to practice and teach the art in the Yichun City areas until today. Liu Feiyi (1922 - 1989) had taught many in Yichun and they later started a school called the Yichun Feilong Martial Arts Institute. Ms Guo Fang, is since 1992 the head of the Institute in Yichun.
Ying Men Quan (Pingxiang Nanquan，萍乡南拳)
On the Western part of Jiangxi, close to the Hunan border, Pingxiang was known for practicing many different types of Boxing methods. The Long Men, Cang Men and Wu Ya Men groups. Unfortunately nowadays because of conservative approaches to their dissemination and the cultural revolution activities, most have died out as systems, and our investigations in Pingxiang and neighbouring areas found that old master hands can practice a set or two from the system but mostly has been unfortunately died out. These styles are now also considered subsets of Ying Men Quan and the boxing in Pingxiang has adopted the Ying Men Quan (mostly the Feng and Zhang family versions) and some of the methods from neighbouring Hunan, whilst retaining some of the old Long Men and Wu Ya Men boxing sets in their styles.
Ying Men Quan (Ma Family， 马氏硬门拳)
The Ma Family Ying Men Quan traces its origin to Ma Xingchao (est. 1624-1718), also known as Ma Jiulong, originally from Jiangxi who was said to have studied martial arts in in Fujian and then returned to Jiangxi after the Qing era, where and his descendants then practiced boxing. Practitioners include Jiang Liangu and Li Huashan.
There also exist other branches such as Feng and Yang family Ying Men Quan.
Henan Yuejia Quan (河南新乡岳家拳)
Lu Yunqing (30th generation) was a famous boxing expert from Henan province (Xin Xiang City) and was said to have practiced a martial art that was left to some of the village soldiers that Yue Fei had been training during his time in Xin Xiang. It has now reached up to 33rd Generation (Lu Yunqing's grandson), Lu Quanzhen. Lu Yunqing taught Lu Yongping (Yang Gang Village), Zhang Jiceng (Feng Quan District), Liang Pandong (Feng Quan District), Zhang Jingzhi (Xin Xiang City), Zhang Delu (Jie Fang Qiao), Lu Yongji ( Yang Gang Vllage, born 1920 now over 90), Zhang Anyi (Xin Xiang City).
Introduction and Fundamentals
In Ying Men Quan there is a saying " Wei Xi Da, Xian Zha Ma" (Before learning to strike, First Tackle Horse (Stance)). Therefore Ma Bu Zhuang (Horse Stance) is the first practice method. However there are unique alignment requirements in Ying Men Quan that may differ from some styles. Other stances include Wu Song Zhuang (Wu Song Stance), Dang Tui (Pressing Leg).
Once standing is mastered some hand motions are introduced these include Chen Qiao Shou (Sinking Bridge Hands), Da Shou (Large Hands), Chi Luo Shou (Rising and Falling Hands), La Gong Shou (Pulling Arrow Hands) and others.
The stances and hands are then combined in motion practices which include basic techniques such as Gua Shou Tui Zhang (Hanging Hands Push Palm), Xiao Shou Tui Zhang (Retreating Hands Push Palms), Dan Bian Shou (Single Whip Hands) and many others.
Ying Men quan's most important fundamental form is "Si Men Quan" which practices all the most important basic techniques - hands, stances, entering and retreating steps, moving on lines and in four directions and shuffling steps. It is known as the Mu Quan (Mother Boxing), of Ying Men Quan. Some of the key principles include upright head, straight neck, sunken shoulders, dropped elbows, rounded chest, sucked in abdomen, controlled waist, tucked in buttocks, chest does not go beyond knees, knees do not go beyond the feet. There are three lines of the hands, eyes and steppings that are mutually followed. The waist is important to generate power.
Quan Tao (拳套, Boxing Forms/Routines)
Qixie (器械, Weapons)