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Yingzhao Quan (Eagle Claw Chuan)

Yingzhao Quan or the eagle claw Chuan is a traditional animal-imitating style of fist play that in-corporates the movements, tricks and methods of the eagle. It is a mixture of the Yue-style Chuan and the school of tumbling Chuan. It is also called Yingzhao Fanzi Quan (eagle claw tumbling Chuan). Because boxers form their hands into the shape of an eagle's claw, their style came to be called Yingzhao Quan.

The traditional routines of the eagle claw Chuan are said to have been created by Song Dynasty General Yue Fei. Li Quan, a monk of the Ming Dynasty, mastered the essentials of the Yue-style Chuan before combining the eagle claw and tumble Chuan to form the eagle claw tumbling Chuan. Li taught the style to Monk Fa Cheng who later passed it on to Liu Shijun of Xiongxian County in Hebei Province.

Liu Shijun, born in a poor family, used to sell flue-cured tobacco for a living but he was deeply fond of martial arts. One day, when out selling tobacco till late, he stayed at a small jnn. As he practised his martial arts by himself, Monk Fa Cheng who happened to be staying at the same inn, was woken up by the sounds of Liu's movements and actions. After he completed his exercises, the monk told Liu that his routines were good for maintaining health but not for fighting enemies. Liu, annoyed by the monk's remarks, asked Fa Cheng to fight with him. The two fought a practice bout. Eager to win, Liu unleashed three attacks in a row but all were easily warded off by the monk. As he launched his fourth attack Monk Fa Cheng used the eagle claw trick to catch Liu's wrist. Although he tried all he could, Liu could not shake off the monk's hand. Fa Cheng then touch an acupoint on Liu's back and Liu felt sourness and numbness spread throughout his body and fell to the ground. Realizing the monk was excellent at martial arts, Liu begged the monk to teach him. He followed Fa Cheng and learnt the eagle claw Chuan and its secrets. Three years later Liu left his master to travel alone and spent the rest of his life studying the art of fist plays and teaching youngster. Liu Shijun served as martial arts instructor at the barracks of imperial guards in Beijing during the Qing Dynasty and taught the eagle claw Chuan to Liu Dekuan, Ji San, Ji Si and nephew Liu Chengyou. Liu Chengyou passed it on to his sister's grandson Chen Zizheng who went to teach the art in northeast China, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

The eagle claw Chuan features simple but powerful moves. When moving, the boxer attacks relentlessly and looks formidable, but when standing still, he looks like an eagle awaiting the chance to pounce on rabbits. The northern-style eagle claw Chuan features comfortably spared movements which are aesthetically pleasing while the southern-style features delicate but spectacular acrobatic tricks.

There are many branches of eagle claw Chuan, including the eagle claw fist play which imitates all the movements of an eagle, the eagle Chuan which stresses both the claw, and the flapping and fanning of wings, and the rock eagle Chuan which imitates the eagle flying up and down a rock cliff.

The eagle claw Chuan is spectacular with boxers jumping high one minute and walking in a low position like an eagle diving into the woods for prey the next. Sometimes they run as fast as a shooting arrow while at others they stand steadily like an age-old pine tree. They demonstrate to the full, the bravery and flexibility of an eagle.

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