Xingyi quan is one of the major "internal" Chinese martial arts, characterized by aggressive, seemingly linear movements and explosive power. There is no single organizational body governing the teaching of the art, and several variant styles exist.
A practitioner of the art uses coordinated movements to generate bursts of power intended to overwhelm the opponent, simultaneously attacking and defending. Forms vary from school to school, but include barehanded sequences and versions of the same sequences with a variety of weapons. These sequences are based upon the movements and fighting behavior of a variety of animals. The training methods allow the student to progress through increasing difficulty in form sequences, timing and fighting strategy.
The goal of the xingyi quan exponent is to reach the opponent quickly and drive powerfully through them in a single burst — the analogy with spear fighting is useful here. This is achieved by coordinating one's body as a single unit and the intense focusing of one's "qi".
Efficiency and economy of movement are the qualities of a xingyi quan stylist and its direct fighting philosophy advocates simultaneous attack and defence. There are few kicks except for extremely low foot kicks (which avoids the hazards of balance involved with higher kicks) and some mid-level kicks, and techniques are prized for their deadliness rather than aesthetic value. Xingyi quan favours a high stance called "sāntǐshì" (三體式 / 三体式, literally "three bodies power,") referring to how the stance holds the head, torso and feet along the same vertical plane. A common saying of xingyi quan is that "the hands do not leave the heart and the elbows do not leave the ribs."