After trying xingyiquan basics with a spear (actually a broom), I can finally see that the five elements make so much sense as spear techniques. No wonder that in its heyday, xingyiquan must have been the best art for soldiers. The learning efficiency from spear down to other weapons and finally down to empty hands seems amazing. However, once those assumptions were gone, it’s hard to say. The empty hand techniques seem a bit confusing compared to the spear ones, and not as simple as they should be in hindsight, in the cold vacuum of modern theories. It makes me wonder about yiquan incorporating Western boxing and whether it not only wanted to de-emphasize forms, but also whether it rejected assumptions about traditional weapons. If the spear was seen as obsolete, a weapon of a bygone era, while some other empty hand techniques from contexts that assume NO weapons were seen as more technically efficient, this evolution (or devolution) makes sense. Part of me is more interested in the more modern art of yiquan as a result, though part of me is much more interested in xingyiquan. If improvised weapons are key to self defense as some say, and as the character Jason Bourne demonstrates, FMA is perhaps the most important and efficient learning path due to the skill transfer from traditional weapons, and the same could be said of xingyiquan. Except that xingyiquan overlaps with my other neijia interests directly. Plus the elegance and simplicity of the five elements under multiple conditions is just darn impressive.