There is a twelve sentence poem in Xingyi Quan classic which describe the attributes of
twelve animal fighting postures. In every sentence, the second character is “
You”, which
means “has”; and the fifth character is “
Zhi”, which means “of”.
  long  you   sou   gu     zhi     fa
1. Long you sou gu zhi fa - Dragon possesses brisk technique

Long: dragon.
Sou Gu:  the ability to contract/shrink the skeleton.
Fa: as in Quan Fa, it can have the following meanings: method, way, mode, standard,
model, law, or doctrine.

Dragon is miraculous animal with mythical abilities. Created by the ancient Chinese, it
symbolized all of nature's wondrous powers. One of the defining greatness of dragon is
its ability to change according to situation. For example, it can change its size at will.
When the space is small, it shrinks to accommodate. But when the space is suddenly
opened up, it instantly expands, rise up and soar freely in the heavens. This sentence
describes that ability. The reader need to feel the magic and awe of that moment when
the dragon is sprung loose, the quickness, the agility, the flexibility, the grace, and the
power involved.

In Xingyi Quan practice, its attribute is: Shrink, twist, and quick pass through from a
small space when suddenly fly up.
  hu     you   pu     shi    zhi   yong
2. Hu you pu shi zhi yong - Tiger is fearless in its pounce

Hu: tiger.
Pu: lunging, pouncing.
Shi: food, here is means prey (soon to be food).
Yong:  normally means courage. But like other Chinese characters, when use in
association with other characters, it can have a meaning related but a little different to
the meaning of the character by itself. Here it means it is so courageous and fearless
that it is fearsome to others, that it's an unstoppable force.

Tiger is the most powerful and ferocious animal. It is a king of all beasts. It's always
used to express power, control, the ability to do anything you want.

In Xingyi Quan practice, its attribute is: So powerful and quick is the movement that
nothing can stop it.
  hou  you zhong shan  zhi   neng
3. Hou you zhong shan zhi neng - Monkey has the nimbleness to scale

Hou: monkey.
Zhong: technically it means jump up in quick, light, and nimble way.
Shan: mountain.
Neng: capability.

Monkey is the most smart and nimble animal. Here it is used to describe how the
monkey can go anywhere it wants in the mountain environment, a fish in the water so to

In Xingyi Quan practice, its attribute is: Quick, nimble, and skillful.
  ma    you     ji      ti      zhi   gong
4. Ma you ji ti zhi gong - Horse has churning footwork

Ma:  horse.
Ji:  fast.
Ti: hoofs. So Ji Ti means run fast.
Gong: skill, as in gong fu.

Horse is a strong and healthy animal. When it's running, its leg movements are quick,
powerful, and continuous.

In Xingyi Quan practice, its attribute is: Quick, powerful and continuous strikes just like a
horse’s leg movements when it's running.
  tuo    you    fu    shui   zhi   ling
5. Tuo you fu shui zhi ling - Tuo can float and swimming in waters well

Tuo:  a mythical animal. According to legend, dragon produced 9 sons. All of them look
entirely different from their father. Each has its own habitat and special powers. Tuo is
one of them, and it lives in water and resembles the alligator.
Fu Shui: float and swimming in waters.
Ling:  highly skilled. Ling has additional meanings here, beyond staying buoyant in the
water. According to legend Tuo has magic power and possesses very nimble or
impossibly high skills for the water. Very quick and powerful but at the same time quiet
and light. Ling also means spirit, clever, quick, and agile.

Tuo (alligator) stays in the water. It can swim quickly and smoothly. It can stay still very
quietly and attack suddenly.  It is very powerful when it rotates.

In Xingyi Quan practice, its attribute is: Nimble, quiet, smooth, and quick movement with
powerful rotating and twisting force.
  ji     you  zheng dou   zhi   xing
6. Ji you zheng dou zhi xing - Rooster is born with a competitiveness nature for

Ji:  rooster.
Zheng Dou: fighting, competing.
Xing: nature, disposition.

In ancient times, people believed it is in the rooster's nature to fight. In competition, it
fights bravely and hard, and never quit easily.

In Xingyi Quan practice, its attribute is: Hard, brave, and keep going on. Never be afraid
to make a hard fight.
  yao   you  zuan  tian   zhi   shi
7. Yao you zuan tian zhi shi - Sparrow hawk possess the form for piercing the

Yao:  sparrow hawk.
Zuan Tian: fly very quickly and straight up toward the sky. Here the feeling is like
seeing a swept wing fighter jet streaking toward the heavens at great speed, it looks
like it can break through earth's bound.
Shi:  form.

Sparrow hawk is a bird of prey. It is quick and agile. When it flies up – Zuan Tian, it
shows how strong it is. When it flies down, it shows how quick it is. When it flies to pass
through the forest, it shows how agile and accurate it is. When it turns over its body
during flying, it shows how nimble it is.

In Xingyi Quan practice, its attribute is: Quick, hard, and straight, but still very nimble.
Like a spare piercing forward.
  yan   you  chao  shui   zhi   qiao
8. Yan you chao shui zhi qiao - Swallow has the agility to skim over waters

Yan: swallow
Chao Shui: shallow grab or scoop the water from above lightly and quickly.
Qiao: very skillful, artful, clever, also meaning accurate, exactly the right way.

Here picture a swallow skimming just above the water, if it's a little bit low, it will fall into
the water, if a little bit high, it cannot get water.
Swallow can fly very quickly with accurate movement. It is not a hard but agile skill.

In Xingyi Quan practice, its attribute is: Accurate skillful power with light and quick
  she   you   bo    cao    zhi    jing
9. She you bo cao zhi jing - Snake has the refined skill to move grass to side
way cleanly

She: Snake.
Bo Cao: move grasses to the side. Here it means snake can hide in grass and go
through the grass with light, quiet, and quick movement. Usually it travels in zigzag
patterns, as if moving grass to side way lightly.
Jing: spirit, essence, refined, meticulous, skilled.

Snake is considered a vicious animal. It can hide well, move quietly, and attack
suddenly. When it prepares for an attacks, it moves from side by side, so it is difficult to
predict where the attack will come from.

In Xingyi Quan practice, its attribute is: Light, quick, sudden and accurate skill from
unknown direction.
  tai    you  beng zhuang zhi zing
10. Tai you beng zhuang zhi zing - Tai are skilled at collision and ram forward

Tai:  Mystical bird resembling the ostrich. This interpretation is the one commonly used
in most Hebei Style Xingyi groups. In other versions, Tai is a kind of big fish, or a kind of
wild horse.
Beng:  as in beng quan, collapse, burst. It always expresses some sudden and powerful
event, like an explosion.
Zhuang: collide or ram. Usually when a big and heavy thing rams you with very high
speed and strong power that is impossible to stop, it is called Zhuang. (eg. hit by a car)

Tai is a big mystical bird. When it's running, its wings flap very powerful so that it is very
strong and can knock over anything blocking it.

In Xingyi Quan practice, its attribute is: Strong and quick movement can destroy
anything trying to stop or  block it.
  ying   you  zhou   na    zhi     ji
11. Ying you zhou na zhi ji - Eagle are skilled at capture

Ying: Eagle.
Zhou: capture.
Na: grab, hold.
Ji:  skill, technique.

When the eagle is circling the skies and zooms in on a prey, it will suddenly drop down
and capture the prey. Its capturing skill needs to be powerful and accurate. In Xingyi
Quan, people said every attack skill has to be like eagle talon. It means when you find a
chance, your attack should be sudden, quick, powerful and accurate; and if you get it,
never give him chance to fight back or run away.

In Xingyi Quan practice, its attribute is: sudden, quick, powerful, and accurate, and keep
control all the way.
  xiong  you   shu  ding   zhi     li
12. Xiong you shu ding zhi li - Bear shows it’s the power when it stands up

: bear.
Shu Ding:  Shu means straight up, Din means the top of the head. So Shu Din means
hang up, straighten, or support with top of the head. It means stand up.
Li:  force.

When the bear stands up, it shows very strong and powerful force from its shoulders
and arms, like nothing can attack it. In Xingyi Quan, people always said when you
defend, you should be like a bear stand up. It will be very strong and stable.

In Xingyi Quan practice, its attribute is: Strong and stable.
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