Six Harmony (Liu He) Style Kung Fu
Liu He Chuan is an old style of Kung Fu rarely taught nowadays. It has, however, been influential in the formation and completion of many other styles.
The Six Harmonies Traditionally there are two pairs of six harmonious relationships comprising the Six Harmonies theory. One pair is known as The External Harmonies. It's sister is called the Internal Harmonies. Before we consider them we should note that the Externals will actually contain six separate items, while the Internals will contain four items but parallel relationships. The Externals are paired relationships, the Internals are dependent relationships. This is just another level of sophistication derived from the philosophical base of the Liu He.
At first glance the Externals seem relatively easy to understand while the Internals appear somewhat baffling. It is hardly difficult to equate the knee to the elbow. But the Externals have their own level of sophistication. Initially they refer to range. Elbow range is basically knee range. But there's more to it than that. The energy of the elbow corresponds to that of the knee. Often, when a student can't generate enough power from the elbow, you can check the knees to see if the torque is true (and, yes, this still applies to aerial elbow strikes). In other words the ranged of the weapons, the correspondence of their power generation and the interplay of the different sets of limbs comprise at least the first level of Six Harmony practice.
The Internals refer to proper methods of training control, power and adaptability for the martial artist. Without getting too complicated let us consider a BAD example, and a common one to see the importance of the proper progression of the Internal Six Harmonies. In T'ai Chi, just to take an example, people often start lessons out of curiosity about Ch'i, that is to say vital energy. When they actually feel the energy they often let it lead them along through the movements. Unfortunately they often neglect to actually learn the order of the set. In essence they are "spacing out" with the energy. From a Six Harmony stand point the Ch'i is leading the mind, not to say the blood, and this is an improper way to learn (and it is).
The most recent incarnation of this set of principles into a style was developed by a man named Cao during the reign of Emperor Dao-Guang in the Qing Dynasty (1821 - 1850). Cao resided at Bo-Tou in He-Bei Province. Cao was a Shaolin boxer who is said to have passed on the style. From Cao it went to Li Guan-Ming; from Li to Wang Dian-Liang & Tong Zhong-Yi & Li Shu-Ting. Tong Zhong-Yi was one of the "Twin Heroes" in Cang-Zhou and opened a school there to spread the style.
Evidence seems to indicate that original Six Harmonies type styles were much like Xing Yi. Perhaps that is the reason that some say the Chinese national folk hero Yue Fei created both of these styles. (Yue Fei has variously been attributed with the creation of Xing Yi, Six Harmonies Spear, BaTuan Jin (Eight Pieces of Brocade), and Eagle Claw styles. When you're popular everyone wants to claim a connection.
What Six Harmony sets exist show a strong and simple style with much practical information based on the perfect control and interchanged of body parts. Six Harmony is also "married" to a number of styles. Here is a small representation: Six Harmony Praying Mantis (which among its seven sets actually retains one form that is entirely six harmony), Liu-He Xing -Yi (an important division of the Xing Yi family related to Xin Yi), Shaolin Six Harmony, a famous "core" set of the Shaolin system. The so-called "fourth internal style, Liu-He Ba-Fa, though probably unrelated still shows a recognition of the same general principles. In fact the Six Harmony principles have been recognized and universalized into every form of Kung Fu training. The correspondences of the hands and feet as well as the mind and ch'i are used by Chinese martial arts teachers all over the world not just to fight but to correct the actions and postures of their students. The Six Harmony principles are excellent means of rectifying student mistakes.
Some Names in the Six Harmony world:
Six Harmony practice is nicely constructed. The student first loosens then explodes with different actions to open different joints. The form, Dun Choy, for example beautifully segments the body before encouraging the practitioner's issuance of energy. Six Harmony is a justly famous and classical style of Chinese martial arts.