Northern Praying Mantis Kung Fu - Chinese Martial Arts

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Northern Praying Mantis Kung Fu - Chinese Martial Arts

Northern Praying Mantis Kung Fu originated in the northeastern province of Shandong, China. Although Hong Kong movies popularized the notion of the style being about mimicking the movements of an insect, this is in fact a misunderstanding. Praying Mantis style instead takes the principles of how a mantis uses its hooks to catch prey; the hooked shape hand (Mantis Claw) is excellent for latching onto an opponents limbs or body as a setup for the finishing blows.

Legend has it that the style was created by a man named Wang Lang, who supposedly having lost a fight gained inspiration on how to beat his opponent after seeing a mantis catch a cicada while strolling in the woods. There is very little historical references to this story, or who Wang Lang was, however current research puts the earliest documented master of Praying Mantis Kung Fu as a man named Li Bing Xiao, from mid Qing Dynasty.

Praying Mantis Kung Fu focuses on combinations of fast strikes, which are used to set up for a throw or sweep. Kicks are generally low, and grappling is used sparingly. There is an even mixture of long range and short range fighting techniques; long range focusing on large swinging type movements to generate maximum power, and short range using the body to generate explosive power.

The oldest recorded forms of Mantis are Beng Bu 崩补, Luan Jie 乱接 and Fen Shen Ba Zhou 分身八肘. Another core form to the system is the six sets of Zhai Yao 摘要.

There are three major branches of Mantis practiced in Shandong, and any others can be said to be offshoots of these. They are: Seven Star, Taiji-Plum Blossom and Six Harmony. Seven Star tends to use slightly more linear and longer movements, due to its influence from Long Fist. Taiji-Plum Blossom tends to use more circular and whole body movements, and Six Harmony is considered the "softest" of all the styles, as it has had a large influence from other styles such as Xinyi Quan.

For additional Chinese martial arts styles, please visit the main Chinese Martial Arts section.

Reference Sources

  1. Information kindly provided by Will at Monkey Steals Peach,

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