Interview with Master Di Guoyong
- The honorary president of the Xing Yi Association of Beijing
- The 4th generation inheritor/successor/descendant of Liang style Bagua Zhang
- Chuo Jiao Fanzi master
- 7th grade wushu expert (out of a total of 9 grades)
- First class competition judge
Master Di Guoyong spent several weeks in Hungary after he had received an invitation by the Kungfu Academy. During his visit he gave many interviews and successful presentations to increase the popularity of the different martial arts styles that he represents. The following is a summary from several conversations.
As the president of the Xing Yi Association of Beijing, you are a kind of sport ambassador. In which contries are you making the Chinese martial arts more popular?
First of all, I am not the president of the association any more.
I retreated after holding this position for ten years. I am elected as an honorary president. This way I have more time for editing my books that are going to be published and to fulfil foreign invitations. Apart from China I also teach in the United States of America in several places, in Canada, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Hungary. In the 1990’s I taught in Cameroon for two whole year. My book on Xing Yi Quan has been published in Chinese, Russian and English. My VCDs elaborating on the entire martial system are available worldwide, presented by the Qiao Jia Ren publishing company. (Translator’s comment: This is a famous Chinese publishing company. Their comission is a great honor for any martial artist.)
How do you feel in Hungary and what are your impressions about the kung fu scene in this country?
I feel better and better, more and more at home, as this is not my first visit in your contry. I came here last year too. My hosts, Attila and Andi has always demonstrated excelllent hospitality. I have very good impressions about the Hungarian kungfu. I am impressed by the dynamic development and the diligence that I experience here. I am thankful to the high quality Chinese skills of Andrea, who is also an expert of the language of martial arts and greatly facilitates my work here.
I would like to emphasize something, which is really an honour for you. My best student is the Hungarian leader, Attila Kapecska. In stregth and dedication, he is above all my other disciples, his future is very promising. Even in the past year the quality of practice advanced. Judging from this, I can say that Attila is a proficient teacher and his assistants are also exceptionally talented. I believe that whoever follows him is following the right path to excellence. In fact, there are no such systematic training anywhere else in the world where I teach or had the possibility to teach in the past. Generally I am invited to seminars, after which the disciples train themselves accoring to their own memories.
The students are not orgainized in a systematic school. I think the secret of the success of Hungarians is in their organisation. Well done, congratulations!
I would like to present this flag, the gift of the Xing Yi Association of Beijing as an expression of recognition to the leader of the Kungfu Academy to Attila Kapecska.
The flag was prepared before my retirement so my name is also written on it. In the middle with large characters it reads: „Excellent kungfu, noble virtue.” At the two sides: „The president of the Xing Yi Association of Beijing, Di Guoyong”, as well as „to the Hungarian Kungfu Academy.”
We would like to ask you to please explain the difference between
wushu and traditional martial arts practice.
It is quite easy for me to answer this question as I used to be a teacher at the Wushu College of Beijing and I have a good relationship with the instructors who work their at present. At the moment I am the head of the Xing Yi section of the Wushu department at the University of Beijing, so I have an inside experience from both sides. I would like to point out, that I am an adherent of the traditional practice, but not against the wushu movement either. Wushu is nothing but the sport version of the Chinese kungfu, which was created with the support of the state also for the purposes of country image.
The creators and the supporters were greatly inspired by the success of the spectacular floor excercises and artistic gymnastics of Russian athletes. This is the reason why wushu is more artistic and acrobatic than traditional kungfu. The traditional etiquette is not respected in wushu schools, there is more like a coach and athlete kind of relationship between instead of the ancient master and the disciple relationship. After graduating from the school the students gain a certificate which gives them a profession with which they can make a living. Thus, becoming a wushu coach is a normal profession in China today. During the few years at university students get acquainted with a couple of kungfu styles, most of which are compulsory. In fact there is neither possibility nor time to master any style completely. Rather, they learn bits and pieces from all the different styles. There is no application, traditional power development, martial qigong, etc. They hardly learn anything else than forms. I mention here that competition and competitive results play a very important role too.
The overwhelming majority, that is, more than 90 % of the competition judges practice one of the long fist styles, so they „prefer” – so to speak – to watch their own particular style. That is why the Xing Yi taught in the wushu schools has a Long Fist feel to it, its postures are not really for application but more for the „looks” and for „points”.
Traditional kungfu is more about practice as a lifestyle. There is master and disciple relationship.
The master is like a father to the the students. The relationship is about mutual respect and recognition, and its essence is passing on the practical knowledge on a trust basis. Spectacular outside performance is less significant than internal development. There is no time restraint, only results and development mark the possibility of advancement. It is important that practice has a positive effect on the health of the disciple and they need to learn the basics of traditional Chinese medicine.
Application and effective skills kept martial arts alive until today. So the reinterpretation and application is vital in traditional martial arts teaching. I only explained but a few elements of the whole picture, but I think the difference can be understood easily. In contemporary China, wushu is a sport and a profession, traditional kung fu is a lifestyle and selfdevelopment. In Hungary I teach the traditional and complete version of Xing Yi.
Can you say a few words about the health preservation effects of the style?
In the first period of learning Xing Yi, the students practice standing excercises. This is an excellent method of physical and mental strength development. Apart from these they also practice the five basic techniques, splitting fist, drilling, smashing, pounding and crossing. According to the teachings of the five elements, these reinforce the five yin organs such as the lungs, the kidneys, the liver, the heart and the spleen. If the five yin organs are strong and healthy, then body and mind are in balance. Regular practice is the best way to further the strenghtening of this stable state.
Xing Yi uses reverse breathing during power usage, which, by its very nature, maintains the healthy condition of the whole digestive system. Its stances are straight and natural, so after a few years the normal posture of the practitioner gets much better. The success one gathers during practice givse a more harmonious and stronger charisma to the person that will benefit him or her in different areas of their life.
What do you think, can a European person
be successful in learning this art?
According to my views, Xing Yi is the most suitable style among all the Far-Eastern martial arts styles for the European people. On the one hand, they are better built than Asian people, so they can manifest the intensity and power of the style even better than them. On the other hand, it is an excellent form of movement for people with stresssed out amd fast-paced lifestyle , because it maintains physical as well as mental health, practice recharges the body with energy and calms down the mind.
Xing Yi is recommended to practice for children and the more aged, for women as well as for men, as oposed to other sports or styles of movement. Its positive effect on health is proven by the research result, that the average life expectancy of long term Xing Yi practitioners are up to 80 years. I believe that European people it can be successful in learning this system, even I would say they need it very much, and the possibility is given at the Kungfu Academy.