I have a small story idea for Shenmue IV...

Nov 24, 2019
So in this game, we learned that Red Snakes boss Mr. Muscles was a practitioner of Xin Yi Liu He Qaun martial art right.

And we also learned about the origins of the Dragon and Phoenix mirror and the treasure located 'somewhere up north' in China and thus the whole goal of Lan Di pursuing said mirrors (and Niao Sun betraying him).

And we also learned of the origins of the Verdant Bridge in Bailu which was made to commemorate the visitation of the royalty that passed through that village etc.

So anyways, Xin Yi Liu He Quan, is an offshoot of Xin Yi Quan, a rather seemingly linear but brutal and practical style of Chinese martial arts.
This was sorta explained by the martial arts shop owners to Ryo in Naiowu.

Xin Yi Quan ('Heart-Mind Fist", developed first in the Shanxi, Henan and Hebei provinces) uses a 12 animal style form while Xin Yi Liu He Quan uses 10 animal, practiced by Chinese Muslims from Henan and Anhui (which spread to Shanghai and the surrounding areas in the early 20th century), and the Dai Family Xinyi Quan in Shanxi province.
Xingyi means "shape-mind", was later developed in the Shanxi and Hebei provinces as well, mostly by the Song and Che families
The notion of using the 'spirit' of the animal (the nature and logic of how it would attack or move), more so than actually fully mimicking an animals movements like Shaolin 5 animal style or Snake Fist, Eagle Claw, Mantis, Tiger Claw, Monkey Fist etc which use forms to explain and incorporate the animal movements.

Xinyi Liu He Quan is based on ten animals.
The core of the system, the ten animals, which are not forms, but techniques or groups of techniques repeated over and over by students. In fact in Shanghai, the system of Xinyi Liuhe is colloquially known simply as “the ten big animals”. The ten animals are: chicken, hawk, swallow, eagle, tiger, horse, bear, snake, monkey and dragon. Contained within are specific fighting principles and strategies that are designed to suit ten different body types. Traditionally, a student would only learn one or two animals, and only successors of the system would learn all ten.
We know that Mr. Muscles demonstrated three animal movements, so was he a regular student or a true successor. Or did he just beat it out of his master when he turned bad? hmm..

Legend has it that the system was created by the famous general of the Song Dynasty, Yue Fei, who based this new and ingenious system on spear techniques.

The linearity of both styles incorporated the physics of using a spear (forward thrusting linear movement but coil like spiral circulating strikes in said linear movement, like a spear disarming another weapon linearly would have to circle it out of an opponents hand or aim).

There is then a gap of several hundred years, before it reappeared at the end of the Ming Dynasty, when a man named Ji Long Feng travelled to the Zhongnan Mountains in Shaanxi province and studied with many masters there, who also gave him the manual of King Wumu (aka Yue Fei).

The first Muslim to learn the style was Ma Xue Li, who passed it down to few people.

Xinyi Liuhe is a system designed for use on the battlefield, and so very little grappling or high kicking is used. The idea is to attack directly and finish the opponent off as quickly as possible. a battalion of troops advancing into an enemy would have very little space for moving around, and so would engage the enemy directly, running them down in their tracks.

The core footwork of the system, “treading chicken step” (not to be confused with Baguazhang's circle walk, demonstrated in this game as "Rooster Step") is reflected in this idea. However some schools incorporate both as there are some similarities.
Ji Bu, or Chicken Step, a very odd looking posture which is incredibly demanding on the legs and develops huge internal power. Ji Bu is practiced both standing and walking, and looks very simple, however it is the core from which the whole system is built on.
For example although it just looks like a step, it is hiding both a knee and a shin kick. This shin kick is called Gua Di Feng, and is a trademark movement of the style. Xinyi Liuhe people are famous for the power of this kick, which they practice by kicking trees daily, much like how certain Bajiquan practitioners practiced punching, forward step elbowing and body checking trees daily...

The 'chicken step' being the forward movement you'd need to do for spear thrusting. This is what makes these styles brutal. In addition to incorporating a Rock Paper Scissors like 5 Elements methodology of striking:
  • Metal ~ Chopping or Splitting Fist Form ~ Pi Chuan.
  • Water ~ Drilling Fist Form ~ Tsuan Chuan.
  • Wood ~ Crushing Fist Form ~ Beng Chuan.
  • Fire ~ Pounding Fist Form ~ Pao Chuan.
  • Earth ~ Crossing Fist Form ~ Heng Chuan.
(this beats that, that beats this etc; a circular methodology of striking that cycles its way around. Heng Chuan, crossing fist strikes 'down to the Earth' for example; hence why Earth is used). Shenmue III didn't go this far into the explanation of it so perhaps later on who knows.

Anyways, learning more about Xin Yi Liu He Quan history and in how it can be incorporated more into this story:

So up north we have the Chinese Muslims; they used the style to protect themselves from persecution, but also for business.
See, they were often hired as bodyguards for caravan transports because they were known to be the most formidable guards due to their style ("the most brutal of practical martial arts" as noted by the Niaowu martial art store owners in Shenmue 3)

So I think historically wise, this could then tap into some of them being the guards of the Phoenix and Dragon mirror treasure that must have at one point the treasure needed to be transported from one area to another in a caravan, guarded by Chinese Muslim bodyguards using Xin Yi Liu He Quan; and somehow that could tie into the Chi You Men who might have been their opposition years ago.

This could also explain why Mr. Muscles somehow knows the style. Perhaps he is an outcast member of those practitioners as it is often stated that "Xin Yi Liu He Quan cannot be corrupted', yet he is corrupt. So they banished him and he started a gang (Red Snakes).

Similar to how Pail Toss guy lost his way in Bailu as well as that bum guy in Aberdeen (though both not evil)

This could be a way of bringing Mr. Muscles back into the story perhaps (if needed). But also further explain the history of the treasure and why the heroes of the story have to travel further up north to seek their answers.

This could also be a way of having more martial arts masters teach Ryo more martial arts. Perhaps he can learn some Xin Yi Liu He Quan himself, as well as incorporate more Bajiquan and the circular style of Baguazhang which the latter was only briefly touched upon in this game (the circle walk, aka Rooster Step exercises).
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Taking Bailu by storm
Oct 9, 2019
Delco, PA
Currently playing
TLDR: Maybe Iwao was training Ryo in Bajiquan to protect Qing Dynasty treasures.

Not sure if you are familiar with a manga called Kenji (late 80s/early 90s), but the author, Ryuichi Matsuda, was a Chinese martial arts historian and goes in depth on the backgrounds of various styles (mainly Bajiquan). I could see elements of the story pertaining to the Shenmue. I'm only about half way through the manga, but a couple of considerations:

Quotation from the wikipedia for Bajiquan:

The first recorded baji quan teacher was Wu Zhong (吳鍾) (1712–1802). Other notable teachers included Wu Xiufeng (吳秀峰) and Li Shuwen (李書文) (1864–1934). The latter was from Cangzhou (滄州), Hebei, and acquired the nickname "God of Spear Li".[3] A Beijing opera Wu Shen (martial male character) by training, he was also an expert fighter. His most famous quote is, "I do not know what it's like to hit a man twice."[4] Li Shuwen's students included Huo Dian Ge (霍殿閣) (bodyguard to Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China), Li Chenwu (bodyguard to Mao Zedong), and Liu Yunqiao (劉雲樵) (secret agent for the nationalist Kuomintang and instructor of the Chiang Kai-shek's bodyguards).[5] Baji quan has since acquired a reputation as the "bodyguard style"

Li Shuwen had students who were bodyguards for the highest figures in the three separate 20th century Chinese government administrations (Qing dynasty, Nationalists, Communists).

The manga stresses that the true knowledge of Bajiquan is held by a small group of elder martial artists and can only be taught to those who are deemed worthy to use the the martial art nobly. Perhaps Iwao Hazuki and Sunming Zhao were deemed worthy to be taught the full canon of Bajiquan and were qualified to protect the treasured Dragon/Phoenix mirror that were commissioned by the Qing emperor.

Speaking of the Qing emperor, the envoy arrived in Bailu in 1910 to have the Yuan family do work on the mirrors, being linked to the location of the Qing treasures. What was the reason? The threat of revolution would be actualized with the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in 1911. The emperor's administration must have known the inevitable and had to protect whatever treasures and material legacy they had, so they entrusted the task to protectors who were the most powerful and had the most integrity: the Bajiquan practitioners.

It could be the case that Iwao was grooming Ryo to carry on the true Bajiquan lineage and be a member of the martial art elite which had its hands in the highest levels of society. Maybe Iwao was keeping all of these things a secret from Ryo for his own protection. This explains many things from Shenmue I. Master Chen would be familiar with high-value antiquities as well as martial arts. He knew that Iwao was entrusted with the mirrors. After Iwao's death, Guizhang was sent to be Ryo's bodyguard for some reason. It must have been the plan that Ryo would be raised to have a part in the protection of the Qing dynasty treasures, which was obviously of interest to Master Chen. Guizhang knew the role that Ryo has, but he also decided to keep it a secret for whatever reason. Consider this scene:

It's also interesting that as Ryo interacts with these high-level martial arts masters, Xiuying in particular, they are so hard-up on him not seeking revenge. They must have had a sense that Ryo, as Iwao's son, had some tangible, higher purpose in the grand scheme.

This obviously doesn't fill in all of the story points of Shenmue, but it goes to show that there is crazy potential for fantastic storylines.

Side note: Yu Suzuki had to been acquainted with Matsuda's works, if not Matsuda himself. I can't find any info linking the two men together. If anyone knows anything, I'm all ears.


Taking Bailu by storm
Oct 9, 2019
Delco, PA
Currently playing
I just finished the Kenji manga, and without spoiling too much (in case anyone is inclined to read it), Xin Yi Liu He Quan is prominent in the latter portion of the story (alongside Shaolin Xin Yi Ba). There is so much that can be done in the Shenmue story from this martial arts lore. If we don't encounter Mr. Muscles again sometime in the story, then I hope that it can explain where he learned Xin Yi Liu He Quan.

Furthermore, the manga explains some similarities among techniques between Xin Yi Liu He Quan, Shaolin Xinyiba, and Bajiquan, which could play a role in Sunming Zhao's death and why Lan Di (maybe others) could believe that Iwao killed him.

All this to say that Yu Suzuki can still pull a rabbit out of his hat with all these loose story ends if his story is anything like Kenji. Would highly recommend reading it if you got that Shenmue story itch. The protagonist, Kenji Goh, starts off in Japan where his grandfather, who has ties in China, teaches him some Bajiquan. His grandfather decides to head back to China, but then disappears. Kenji continues to train in various martial arts and decides to head to China to see what happened. Along the way, his travels take him to Yokohama Chinatown, Taiwan, Hong Kong (Kowloon being prominent), and various places in mainland China. Things start as a typical shonen manga (of course a young child has the skills to defeat a delinquent biker gang!), but the story really solidifies once he gets to Yokohama Chinatown and starts getting connected with the Chinese martial arts circle.


Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2004 11:13 pm
Jul 27, 2018
"A long time ago, Zhu Yuanda once told me....that when the dragon and the Phoenix meet, the gates of heaven and Earth will open, and Chi You will resurrect itself on Earth."

I still am not convinced the treasure is a tangible thing like gold coins. It may have a picture of that on the scroll, but I am leaning towards that being an allusion to something else.
Aug 22, 2018
"A long time ago, Zhu Yuanda once told me....that when the dragon and the Phoenix meet, the gates of heaven and Earth will open, and Chi You will resurrect itself on Earth."

I still am not convinced the treasure is a tangible thing like gold coins. It may have a picture of that on the scroll, but I am leaning towards that being an allusion to something else.

I'm expecting it to be about the reincarnation of a person of great importance.