The best information I could find on this comes from a series of posts by DZQ of http://daixinyi.blogspot.com/.
By Stephen Yan, March 2007 No martial art can emerge from nothing. Letters by the late headman of Jun Village in Shanxi, Ji Genquan, visits to the present headman, Ji Zhenjiang, and conversations with old village folk, stated that Ji Longfeng made more than one trip to the Henan Shaolin temple. There are 2 routes between Jun village and Shaolin. The first is through Pu city. Pu city is only one pass away from Bo’Ai county in Henan, and there is a valley in the Taixing mountains near Pu. Merchants used this pass to travel between Henan and Shanxi in the old days. The other route is crossing over Zhongtiao mountain, across the Yellow River, to the “three gorges”. This route is short, but crosses treacherous terrain. During the end of the Ming dynasty, when Ji lived, the area was overrun with bandits. Ji, a doctor was worried of bandit raids and decided to study the martial arts to protect his home. On his first visit to Shaolin Si, Ji may have taken the first route, through Pu city and up to Shaolin.
At that time, the most important styles in Shaolin Si was Shaolin Taizu Chuan, Shaolin Hong Chuan and Shaolin Pao Chuan.
Bai Yufeng's, Wu Xing Di Tang Chuan (5 element tumbling boxing), created during the Yuan dynasty, had probably already been disseminated to the masses.
At this time, Ji Longfeng had not yet gained any true inspiration, however, the path to Shaolin runs past the QianZhai Temple in Bo’Ai county. Priest Dong of QianZhai, was famous for his Shi San Shi Rou Shou (13 soft hands) and Tongbei. Dong's liu he chang (six harmony spear) was especially intricate.
(The saying goes, east spear, west staff; south fist, north legs.) Ji may well have learned the old Taoist's Neigong (internal exercises) and Shenfa (body methods) for Soft Hands and Six Harmony Spear. (Or it could be that Dong had traveled to Jun Village and taught there?)
This is the same way the merchant Wang Zong Yue passed his Soft Hands and Six Harmony Spear skills to Dong when he passed the temple when he passed by. No style can be created from nothing and just as Zhang San Feng took the lessons of those before him and created the 13 Soft Hands, Ji Longfeng too, had a teacher. After learning the shenfa of Six Harmony Spear, Ji practiced day and night on the banks of the Yellow River, eventually gaining the level of Six Harmony Divine Spear. He then set off again for Shaolin temple. By this time, Ji had considerable skill, and took the second route, over the mountains and across the Yellow River to the Three Gorges. He passed the provincial seat of Henan and arrived at Shaolin.
It is recorded that Ji's horse lost it's footing and fell into the valley below. Relying on his kungfu, Ji scaled the tall cliffs to safety. During the days spent searching for a route to climb up, Ji observed the local birds and animals and gained an understanding of 10 true ways (10 animals) and more inspiration for the style he was to create in the future. Arriving at Shaolin Si, Ji's “6 harmony spear” skill was incomparable, the abbot begged Ji to stay at the temple to teach. (this was recorded in the Ji Family Chronicles. In the Shaolin temple's archives, there is a spear manual titled, “Teacher Ji's Spear Manual) Shi Yong Wen, originally from Shaolin, still has it in his care. (The author has visited Shi Yong Wen in Kaifeng, Henan to authenticate the manual.)
The manual in question is exactly the same as the “Xin Yi Liu He Chang” manual in the author's possession. From this, we can see that Shaolin treated Ji respectfully and called him Ji Lao Shi (teacher, Ji). This story matches up with the story in the Ji Family Chronicles. Not just the manual, but also the tablet erected in honor of Ancestor Ji by Shaolin previously. It was seen by a Ji family 17th generation descendant during the first few years of the Republic (ROC). However, it was destroyed during the military invasion of Shaolin.
Ji's effect on Shaolin can be easily seen. (Ji's grand disciple, Li Yi Ming of Henan, struck up a friendship with Shaolin's abbot around the years of the emperors' Yong Zheng and Qian Long's reigns. Li presented the abbot with a copy of the manual “Ten Principle Theories of Xin Yi Liu He”, written by him in the 11th year of Yong Zheng's reign. It was treasured by generations of Shaolin monks.
The 12 moves Xin Yi Liu He (Shaolin Xin Yi Ba) as passed to the abbot by Li, were taught only to monks of abbot level. It's a pity that Shaolin has gone through so much troubles, such that those who still know Xin Yi Ba's 12 moves are almost gone and the 12 moves are totally different from their original appearance.
(Li's disciple, Ma Xueli, and grand disciple, Ma Sanyuan, visited the temple too.) Ji, on returning to Jun village, thought of how he should defend himself now, should he meet an enemy. Peace was now here and swords and spears were no longer carried. He thus modified his spear style into an empty-handed style, using the intricate shenfa of the 13 posture Soft Hands (the 5 bows of the body) and added the 10 true ways, creating Xin Yi Liu He Chuan, with the principal philosophy of “when moving the path cannot be seen, once moving is effective.”
The story of Ji Long Feng finding Yue Fei's boxing manual in the Yue Fei temple on XiaXi's Zhongnan mountain, probably first appeared in the falsified, “Dai Long Bang's Xin Yi Liu He manual”.
Ji's descendant's told me that Ji never went to XiaXi, not to mention Mt. Zhongnan. In fact, there is no Yue Fei temple on Mt. Zhongnan. During the Ming Dynasty, one famous for Six Harmony Spear Li Ke Fu, who used Mei Hua Liu He Chang (Pear Blossom Six Harmony Spear).
The treatise written by Chen Zong You in 1621, “The Selection of Long Spear Ways”, details the style he learned from Li. General, Qi Ji Guang, who lived in the same era as Li, had gone to Tang Jing Zhou, 21 years his senior, in search of instruction, and it is possible that he had asked Li, who was the same age as him, for instruction too.
In his “New Book of Effective Techniques” are records of Yang Family Spear's “8 Mother Spears”, “Six Harmony Spear” and “24 Spears”. The Six Harmony Spear in Tang's book, “Martial Edited Selections”, has little differences with the Six Harmony Spear recorded in Qi's manual.
Yang spear's “Six Harmony Spear,” also known as the “Plum Blossom”, or the “Plum Blossom 6 harmony Spear”, is related neither to the Yang Spear of the Yang warriors of the Song Dynasty, nor to the “Plum Blossom Spear” of Yang Miaozhen (the wife Li Quan leader of the Red Coat Army).
The latter is the combination of a spear with a tube of flammable substance in front, lit before battle, with the aim of burning one's opponents. “Flames and the spear thrusts”
From investigation, there is detailed information on Liu He Spear from the Ming Dynasty onwards. By the Year of Wan Li, Henan's Li Ke Fu was already very famous. (Wang Zong Yue was also of this era.) If that is so, Taoist Dong of Qian Zhai may, just like Cheng Zong You, have been taught by Li Ke Fu.
In the curriculum of the Wu Taiji that came from Qian Zhai, there are: “Life Saving 3 Spears”, “Single Posture 8 Spears”, “13 Big Spears”, “24 Spears” as well as 2 person exercises for sticking poles, wrapping spears, closing spears (a total of 13 paths).
The curriculum for Xin Yi includes “Single stance 13 Spears”, “13 Spears closing”, “21 Spears” and “36 Spears” (Liu He Spear). Primary techniques in the 36 Spears consists of: “8 Mother Spears”, “13 Spears “ and “24 Spears”, while Xin Yi's “21 Spears” is a combination of “8 Mother Spears” and “13 Spears”. “24 spears” may be a combination of “21 Spears” and “Life Saving Spears”.
Anyway, the names of forms in Xin Yi Spear and Wu Taiji are extremely similar and Chang style, that came from Wang Bao Spear, also has 13 Spears, 21 Spears and 24 Spears etc, and also includes 3 point theory, similar to Xin Yi Liu He. We can see that there is some connection there. It is easy to see why,when in 1887, Mai Zhuangtu's disciple Ding Zhao Xiang visited Chang Nai Zhou's hometown to converse with his 5th generation descendant Chang De Pu, he made a copy of Chang Nai Zhou's treatise, “Tendon Change Classic, Chi Channeling Secret”, and included it in his boxing manual. It seems that the 13 postures, which originated from Taoism, have an undeniable relationship with Xin Yi. Chang Nai Zhou (1724-1763) wrote the “Central Chi Theory”, and the twenty or so chapters on the “Theory on Yin Yang Entering and supporting” were called the “Tendon Change Classic, Chi Channeling Secret.” The 3 Point theory contained within seem to be from the same source as as the 3 Point Theory in the Xin Yi Liu He boxing manual. This may be due to the fact that Chang was a student of Wang Bao Spear, which came from Taoist Dong of Qian Zhai Temple.
Taoist Dong had incredible skill with Liu He Spear and Staff, and was also an expert in the Taiji 13 Postures. Taoist Dong was an old man when Ji LongFeng was around 30, could it be that Ji gained his Liu He Spear and Staff from Dong?
Chang Nai Zhou had a friendship with Chen Village's 12th generation descendant Chen Ju Xia and his “Tendon Change Classic, Chi Channeling Secret” may have been passed to the Chen Village at that point.
One of Chang's teachers was “Holy Taoist Yan of Luoyang”. At this point in time, at this very place, Henan's Li Yi Ming's “Ten Principle Theories.” were copied by Ma Zhen Ding and Wang Zhen Lin, active during the years of Qian Long's reign. Perhaps they passed a copy to Taoist Yan, who passed a copy to Chang, and Chang passed this, along with his treatise, to Chen Village? Chen Family 16 generation descendant Chen Xin once used Taiji theory to edit the Xin Yi Boxing Manual. The part he edited being “3 verses on 10”(translated, 3 verses about 10 principles/theories?) and renamed the manual the “3, 3 Boxing Manual”(trans. 3*3=9).
14th generation descendant Chen Chang Xing too modified a copy of Xin Yi's “9 Theories” that was passed into Wen county into “Chen Taiji Theories”. Another of Chang's teachers was Taiji Master Li He Lin, and from the boxing style Chang created. What he learnt from Li He Lin was not his precious “13 postures” from Qian Zhai, but the “Taiji Health Maintaing Skill” created by Li Zhong, Li Rui, and Chen WangTing, or Tongbei, which was popular in the area at the time. Otherwise, there would be no need for him to create a new style, and also, there has been no copy of the XinYi Boxing Manual found in Bo’Ai county.
Last night, I was browsing through some books on Zhaobao Taijiquan, looking to seewhether or not they had information on Zhaobao’s Spring-Autumn great sword, so that I could compare them with the Spring-Autumn great sword essentials described in the stone stele at Qianzhai Temple in Bo’ai (I have already compared them with Chenjiagou’s Spring-Autumn great sword, Tongbei’s great sword, and Shanyou Wang’s Taiji manual and Yinfu Spear manual found in Liulichang by Tang Hao).
Unfortunately, I did not discover any record of Zhaobao’s Spring-Autumn great sword methods (if anyone has a copy of Zhaobao’s Spring-Autumn great sword manual, and could give me a copy, I would be most grateful). However, ‘the flower that you intentionally plant does not blossom, while the willow unintentionally stuck in the ground blooms forth.’
In 2004, Zhaobao He style disciple He Youlu gave me a copy of his work ‘Manual of He Style Taijiquan,’ but because I was busy at the time, I had no chance to read it. Now, I opened it and reading it to the end, I was able to discover a great treasure. I was overwhelmed with elation.
All along, in the second appendix of this book, some very noteworthy information had been concealed.The second appendix gives the following explanation, Chen Ji’s manual from 1804 and Chen Xin’s book, written at eighty years old in 1928, not only relate the direct relationship between the boxing and weapons fighting of the Chen family and the Tongbei gong of Qianzhai Temple (Tongbei Reeling Boxing/Tongbei chanquan) and the origins of Paochui, they also explain why Chen Xin, in his book ‘Explanation of Chen Family Taijiquan,’ took the word ‘reeling’ as the soul of Chen Taiji.
At the same time, they confirmed my theory that Chen Xin’s ‘Three-three Boxing manual’ was a combination of the Xinyi Liuhe Manual, Yijin jing’s ‘Formula of Connected Harmonies’ and the Tongbei Reeling Boxing Manual. People believed that ‘Three-three’ was a reference to Xinyi Liuhequan. But when I compared a few of my Xinyi Liuhe manuals with the table of contents to Chen Xin’s ‘Three-three Boxing Manual’ discovered by Tang Hao (the manual itself is lost), I discovered that there were a few inconsistencies. After later research, I found that the ‘Yijin jing Formula of Connected Harmonies’ came from Naizhou’s writings. I was confused about the other part, until a few days ago when, reading through the Hongdong Tongbei Boxing Manual, I realized that the part that was confusing me was connected to the “Tongbei reeling boxing manual”. This means that those uncertain parts of Chen Ji’s and Chen Xin’s books were from the Tongbei gong manual (Tongbei Reeling Boxing) of Qianzai Temple. Thus, Chen Xin combined the Xinyi Liuhe Manual, Yijin jing’s ‘Formula of Connected Harmonies’ and the Tongbei Reeling Boxing Manual together in his book, calling it the “Three-three Boxing Manual.’ The fact that it came from these three sources can possibly explain the significance of the word “three” in the title.
This discovery on its own was startling, but the real surprise was to come later.
During an earlier study of Taijiquan’s history, I quoted from Du Yuanhua’s book ‘Orthodox Taiji,’ which said that Jiang Fa’s teacher Old Wang was from Taigu in Shanxi. It also made use of Zhaobao Taiji practitioner Zhang Jingzhi’s writings, which were passed down to Yang Bangtai and then to Huan Dahai, stating that Jiang Fa’s teacher was “Wang Zongyue from Shanxi, Seven-Mile Village in Jinyang.”
Although I quoted these sources, in my heart I was not fully convinced that they were reliable. Jinyang is modern-day Taiyuan; no matter whether in Jinyang or in Taigu, in my research in Shanxi I was unable to discover ‘Seven-Mile Village’ (Qili bao). Moreover, Taiyuan and Taigu are very far away from Bo’ai County in Henan (Originally HeneiCounty) and Zhaobao Village in Wen County. If Wang Zongyue was a traveling merchant from Shanxi (in pre-modern times, Shanxi was called Shanyou (Right of the mountains) and Shandong, to the east of the Taihang mountains, was called Shanzuo (Left of the mountains), to travel from the Taiyuan or Taigu areas to Henan seems like a very long journey. All along I was suspicious of this information.
I never expected that I would find the solution in Chen Xin’s book!
In Chen Xin’s manuscript, between the ‘Explanation of Spear and Pole’ and the ‘Four Sets of Hammers’ is the chapter ‘On Differences in Boxing.’ This short piece was an incredibly important record. Quickly consulting some reference works, I found that the Qing dynasty Fenchuan Prefecture is modern-day Xiangfen County, Hefen County and Yicheng County (in Shanxi). In Yicheng County there is a Wang Village which in the Qing was known as Lesser Wang Village.
Lesser Wang Village was old Wang Zongyue’s hometown!
From Wang Village to Yangcheng County in Shanxi and the border with Bo’ai County in Henan it is just a short distance. If Wang Zongyue were to go to Henan on business, this would be the only possible route. Because of this, it is perfectly reasonable to suspect that Wang passed by Qianzai Temple, where he passed on his “13 Soft hands” to the Daoist Dong Bingqian. He also passed through Zhaobao Village, only 40km from Bo’ai (there was a Shanxi Hall there in pre-modern times), where he encountered Jiang Fa, mourning his parents’ death, and took Jiang Fa with him back to Wang Village in Shanxi where he taught him the “13 Postures Boxing.”