The history of Xing Yi

Xing Yi history cover

The Heretics podcast has a long-running series of episodes dedicated to the history of Xing Yi. We’re probably into its second year now, as we add episodes only occasionally.

Unlike most histories of Xing Yi we don’t start with a brief mention of Yue Fei (the alleged founder of the art, who was also a real historical person) then instantly skip a thousand years into the future and talk about Xing Yi in the present day.

Not us! We’re going all the way from the Song Dynasty up to modern times, taking in the entire history of the art as we do so. We take a deep-dive into the political and societal structure of the Song Dyasty, looking at major influences like the Li Movement and Confusionism, and how this impacted the development of military practices at the time, and indirectly the martial art of Xing Yi hundreds of years later.

This is, without a doubt, going to be the most comprehensive history of Xing Yi ever produced. Enjoy.

Xing Yi Part 13 – The Water Chesnut Mirror. This episode explores the connection between the martial arts of the great Song generals’ tradition and Chinese theatre, which emerged during the height of the Yuan Dynasty.

Xing Yi Part 12 – Rocks and Bamboo. We pick up our series on Xing Yi with a new dynasty, the Yuan, examining the social changes that Mongol rule brought to China and their implications for the martial arts through the lens of the artwork of the period.

Xing Yi Part 11 – The Fall of the Song.
We turn our attention to the Fall of the Song, and examine the posthumous influence of the military legacy of the three great generals, Yue, Han and Zhang, on drawing out the final demise of the Dynasty.

Xing Yi Part 10 – Make Xing Yi Wild Again.
In this episode we discuss the article “Make Xing Yi Wild Again” from Graham Barlow’s Tai Chi Notebook, touching on subjects like rewilding, degrowth and shamanic practice.

Xing Yi Part 9 – General Zhang Jun
In this episode we discuss the role of General Zhang Jun in the survival of Yue Fei’s tradition, as well as in the survival of members of Yue Fei’s extended family. We also discuss how Zhang Jun managed to protect himself from the purges carried out by Qin Hui.

Xing Yi Part 8 – Song Dynasty arms and armour
This episode is about Song Dynasty arms and armour. This is a slightly shortened version of the episode from which a few of the more controversial topics have been omitted. The full uncensored version can be found inside Patreon.

Xing Yi Part 7 – Animal strategies for the battlefield
As a background to our upcoming discussion of late Song Dynasty armour and weapons, in this episode we give a brief overview of a few animal strategies applied on the battlefield at strategic and tactical levels, as well as in individual combat.

Xing Yi Part 6 – General Han Shizhong
We examine the life of Yue Fei’s best friend, General Han Shizhong, and the circumstances immediately following the death of Yue Fei. We also take a look at the the life of Han’s heroic wife, Liang Hongyu, and internal politics of the Jin Empire at that time.

Xing Yi Part 5 – Zhu Xi
In this episode we examine the work of the Confucian Scholar Zhu Xi, who lived during the time period we have reached in the narrative (during the Song Dynasty). His philosophy did not impact Xing Yi until centuries later, but when it did, the effect was a large one, so this episode sets the scene for other episodes to come.

19 – The Rainbow Bridge
(Not strictly part of the series, but it helps explain Song Dynasty China).
We return to China in the Song Dynasty, looking through the eyes of artist Zhang Zeduan at the vibrant economy that developed among the common people while their confucian rulers were distracted by external events, and the nascent Industrial Revolution that it gave rise to, which lasted until the early part of the Ming Dynasty.

Xing Yi Part 4 – The death of Yue Fei
We come at last to the great general Yue Fei’s greatest victories, and ultimate betrayal and death – at the hands of corrupt officials on his own side.

Xing Yi Part 3 – The Li Movement
In part 3 of our series on Xing Yi, we look at how the Li movement influenced Yue Fei and other Song generals in formulating effective strategies for use against the Jin, and how they managed to challenge the previously unbeatable dominance of the Jin cavalry. We also discuss the rise to power of chancellor Chin Hui in the regime of Emperor Gaozong.

Xing Yi Part 2 – The early life of Yue Fei
In this episode the look at the early life of Yue Fei, some of the factors that link him to the Li Movement, the meaning of some of the symbolism surrounding him, and the reasons for the transition between the Northern Song and Southern Song Dynasties.

Xing Yi Part 1 – The birth of the Song Dynasty and Yue Fei
In this episode we discuss significant events that occur between the end of the Han Dynasty and the beginning of the Song Dynasty, in particular highlighting issues that form the background to the life of the famous Song Dynasty general, Yue Fei, who has traditionally been attributed as a progenitor of Xing Yi and other martial arts.