in which Xinyiba has been developing into the styles today known as Xinyi Liuhe Quan, Dai Family Xinyi Quan, and the most recent addition, Xing Yi Quan. But the Xinyiba passed down through the temple's lineage has retained the original features and flavour - raw, ferocious and efficient - close to the ancestral spear techniques used on battlefields for thousands of years.

"Taiji is playful, Bagua is evasive, but none is as venomous as Xinyiba."

- Old Shaolin saying

Statue of Ji Longfeng in Zun village, Shanxi province

Ji Long 姬龙 (1620-?)

Ji Long (also known as Ji Longfeng, or Ji Jike - Lightning spear) from Longfeng county, Shanxi province was born in 1620 and started training martial arts when he was about 13 years old.

He was engaged in the "Fan Qing, Fu Ming" movement (destroy the Qing, restore the Ming) and was especially well known for being a great spear fighter. During those times of turmoil, common people were not allowed to carry around weapons, so Ji Long started practicing his art without spear (turning it into an art of the fist)

According to one hypothesis, he visited the Shaolin Temple himself and eventually learned and taught material there. It is unknown whether not there was anything called Xinyi or Xinyiba in the temple before that.

The most likely theory however is that it was his disciple Zheng Wukui who brought his knowledge to Dengfeng & Shaolin, since we know for sure that he was from Dengfeng, and that he was Ji Long's disciple.

Xinyiba secret shaolin style
Ancient Xinyiba painting in the Shaolin Temple

Zheng Wukui 郑武奎(1660-?)

Zheng Wukui , one of Ji Long's disciples , taught Martial Arts during Qianlong Dynasty, and was from Dengfeng County, Henan Province. He was recorded in the Nanshan Zheng Shi (Lit. "South of Mt. Song" - signifying Dengfeng - "Zheng family records") as well as in the documents written by his disciple Wang Zhicheng and various historical documents.

Zheng being from Dengfeng, it is most likely that the first contact between the Shaolin Temple and Xinyiba was through him.

Xinyiba & Liuhequan manuscripts written by Wang Zhicheng
Xinyiba & Liuhequan manuscripts written by Wang Zhicheng

Wang Zhicheng 王志诚(1680-?)

Wang Zhicheng, one of Zheng Wukui's disciples, was from Xin'an County, Henan Province. He was a famous Martial Arts master during the Qianlong Dynasty. According to the manuscripts, he was taught by Zheng WuKui. He then wrote down everything he learned from him. Hu Zhengsheng has inherited several of his (original!) writings, which summarize the theory of Xinyiba and Liuhequan.

According to us, he is the one who taught Ma Xueli and Dai Longbang (Which also makes more sense chronologically than the common lineage trees). Ma and Dai developed and innovated the style, and invented ten forms, Four Movements, etc. But prior to them, there were no Taolu / collections of movements.

His best and closest students were his 2 sons, who were also the ones who brought their knowledge once more into the Shaolin Temple.

Xinyiba secret shaolin style
Ancient Xinyiba painting in the Shaolin Temple

Wang Yi & Wang Kai 王益 王恺(1710-?)

They were the sons of Wang Zhicheng, and inherited the skills from their father. They spent their lives practicing and perfecting those skills, and from oral tradition we hear that they were also working as merchants at some point, and spent a lot of time in Dengfeng and in the Shaolin temple. What they practiced and taught retained the original simple but efficient flavour of Ji Long's teachings.

Shaolin master Shi Haifa depiction (unknown source)
Shaolin master Shi Haifa depiction (unknown source)

Shi Haifa 释海法 (1750-?)

Hai Fa, also called Xiang Bo, took Shaolin Temple grand monk Ru Xiang as his teacher. He did the odd-jobs at the beginning of his stay in the temple, and then learned Qianjin Feet, Iron Fists, Xuanhua Axe, and other skills, all by himself. He learned also from Wang Zhicheng's sons during their stays in the temple, and also practiced the Xinyi boxing that had been passed down by the monks since Zheng Wukui's days. He was cranky, frank and great-hearted, and was called Black Whirlwind as his nickname. Master Zhan Mo and Zhan De were his outstanding students.

Shaolin master Shi Zhanmo depiction (unknown source)
Shaolin master Shi Zhanmo depiction (unknown source)

Shi Zhanmo 释湛谟 (1780-?)

Practicing Martial Arts was strictly prohibited in 1828. Zhan Mo, Hai Fa and some of their disciples hid in the Shigou Temple, which is at the foot of the Shaolin Temple. They practiced martial arts secretly. Zhan Mo trained very hard and slept on a bench for 12 years. At night time, he and his disciple Ji Qin (also called Wu Gulun) practiced XinYiBa. He also did meditation and medicine: during daytime he saw the patients and helped the villagers. He saved many lives in that time. Even now, the older villages still know the stories about Zhan Mo and Ji Qin in the Shi Gou Temple .

Shi Jiqin, Wugulun, 释寂勤(1820—1917)
Famous depiction of Wu Gulun in the Shaolin Temple (The pale monk on the top left)

Shi Jiqin 释寂勤 (吴古轮) (1820-1917)

Wu Gulun's monk name was Shi Jiqin. He became a monk at the age of five under grand abbot Zhan Mo. During the Qing dynasty, martial arts were banned, but the Shaolin monks continued their practice secretly. In the year of DaoGuang, a Manchu officer named Li Qing arrived at the Shaolin temple and asked the abbot to make the monks show them his Kungfu skills. The abbot denied that the monks still practiced Kungfu, but after he persisted, the abbot allowed the monks to demonstrate their skills. After the general left the monks realized that the Manchu officers would return, fearing that the monks could pose a threat. The monks were very worried, so the abbot instructed Wu Gulun to leave the temple and carry on the traditions of Shaolin. Before Wu Gulun could leave the temple, he had to follow the Shaolin rules; the rules were that if any fully ordained monk wished to return to secular life outside the temple, he had to fight the 18 guardians of Shaolin in order to prove their strength and ability to cope with the secular life outside the temple. He was the last ever monk to do this. Wu Gulun beat them with ease and disappeared into the mountains to live in an isolated village, where he continued to practice and preserve the secrets of Shaolin Kungfu, most importantly Xinyiba. During his time in the temple, Wu Gulun achieved the highest level of Shaolin traditional Kungfu, XinYiBa, and mastered it. He taught his son, Wu Shanlin, everything he knew about Shaolin Kungfu, and passed onto him the skills of XinYiBa.  

Xinyiba Xin Yi Ba master
Portrait painting of Wu Shanlin in his old age

Wu Shanlin 吴山林(1875-1970)

Wu Shanlin was the second son of Wu Gulun. Even from a young age, Wu Shanlin showed he was a lot brighter than most of the kids his age. He began training Kungfu at the age of 7 while still attending school and helping his father with the farming. Wu Shanlin grew up in a small village in the mountainswhere the land was poor and most of the people living there were farmers with very little money. Wu Shanlin also studied traditional Chinese medicine and became a very highly skilled doctor. In his village, he had very good relationships with his neighbors and the rest of the villagers. He was a very generous doctor, treating all his patients even if they had no money.

The villagers gave him the nick name "Tui Na Shen Shou". Wu Shanlins father, Wu Gulun, taught him everything about Shaolin traditional Kungfu, and it was his desire for Wu Shanlin to return to the Shaolin temple and teach the remaining monks the Kungfu that Wu Gulun had taken and preserved in secrecy. So when the time was right, several years after the 1928 destruction of the temple, Wu Shanlin returned to the temple with the intention to help restoring Shaolin's old traditions which he had been preserving. But after seeing that the monks were men of poor character, Wu Shanlin thought that they were not suitable to be taught the old Shaolin traditions. He stayed at the temple for a period of 3 years and taught some basic movements to the monks, and then left. After leaving the temple, he was still looking for disciples to pass on the Shaolin traditions. He eventually taught a handful of students the Shaolin traditions and of course Shaolins highest skill, XinYiBa. Among those disciples were Shi Degen & Yang Guiwu.  

One of the rare photos of Shi Degen
One of the rare photos of Shi Degen

Shi Degen 释德根(1914-1970)

Shi Degen was from Guan Di Miao village in Gong Xian, in Henan province. He was sent to the Shaolin temple at the age of three because of his weakness and illness. With the Shaolin monks taking really good care of him, he became stronger and fought his illness and weakness, and began training Kungfu at the age of 6. The abbot of the temple at the time took a real liking to him due to his intelligence and his hard working nature. He was already an advanced martial artist before becoming disciple of Wu Shanlin. Amongst his disciples were some of the most famous masters of their generation, including Zhu Tianxi, Hao Shizhai, Shi Yongwen, Liu Cunliang, and Yang Guiwu, who had learned from him for the longest time.

Shi Degen had many students, but only few of them were taught the skills of Xinyiba. He was also famous for his monkey stick Kungfu.


Portrait of Xinyiba master Yang Guiwu
Portrait of Xinyiba master Yang Guiwu

Yang Guiwu 杨桂吾(1931-2010)

Grandmaster Yang Guiwu was from Yanshi Canjiadian in Henan province. He was a disciple of Abbot Shi De Chan who taught him Shaolin medicine in the Shaolin temple. He studied Traditional Kungfu from his master, Shi De Gen, and also from Wu Shanlin; they both taught him the most secret of all Shaolin arts, XinYiBa.

70 years of studying Shaolin Kungfu is what gave grandmaster Yang Guiwu a truly deep understanding of Shaolin martial arts, medicine and Buddhism. He was honored with the position of chief instructor for traditional Kungfu of the Shaolin warrior monks at the Shaolin temple for several years. He has some of the most skillful students of the Shaolin temple under his name, such as Shi Yongwen, Shi Yan'Ao, Hu Zhengsheng, and even Shi Dejian studied with him for some time. His Kungfu can be seen in an old Shaolin documentary filming him in the 1000 Buddha hall, where he is teaching XinYiBa. It was filmed in 1982 in hope of spreading awareness for real Shaolin Kungfu.

His teachings are one with the 500 years old Shaolin manuscripts , which were passed to him to preserve and teach the original way of Shaolin Kungfu. The manuscripts give full detailed explanations of Shaolin martial arts and theory.

When he decided that the time had come to pass on the manuscripts to carry on the Shaolin way, he passed the scripts on to Hu Zhengsheng, along with the responsibility to spread real traditional Shaolin Kungfu and the knowledge to future generations of Shaolin disciples.

Xinyiba Lineage photos
Hu Zhengsheng and his master, Yang Guiwu

Hu Zhengsheng 胡正生 (1977)

Master Hu Zhengsheng started his traditional Kungfu training at the age of 12. He first began studying under his first master, Zhang Guangjun, in the Shaolin temple. Hu Zhengsheng took care of master Zhang Guangjun in his old age, helping him to eat, clean and dress himself. When master Zhang felt his passing was imminent, he told Hu Zhengsheng to go and seek a master of traditional Shaolin Kungfu in San Bei village, whose name is Yang Guiwu. After Hu Zhengsheng was accepted by Yang Guiwu as a disciple, he continued his traditional Kung fu training under him for a further 15 years. Under Yang Guiwu, Hu Zhengsheng learned more traditional forms, skills, combat and self-defense techniques and most importantly Xinyiba. After Yang Guiwu became too old and weak to teach new students, he passed on his 500 year old Shaolin Kungfu manuscripts to Hu Zhengsheng, telling him that it was now his time to pass down traditional Shaolin Kungfu to the future generations of Shaolin disciples.