Praying Mantis:

CREATION OF THE MANTIS

The style known as Praying Mantis was created by Wang Lang. Born in Shan Dong Province, Wang was is said to have gone to the Shaolin Temple. While there he met defeat by a Shaolin monk which inspired him to leave the Temple and travel around adding many arts to his martial experience. (Other versions claim his defeat at the hands of Han Tong on the LeiTai or fighting platform). He gained much knowledge but it was the sight of a Mantis battling a cicada which inspired the revelation that was to become TangLang Quan (Praying Mantis boxing). Most accounts place Wang towards the end of the Ming Dynasty (around 1644) while others position him in the Song (969-1126). In the Song Dynasty version Wang, already a master was invited to Shaolin by Abbot Fu Ju to instruct the monks along with 17 other great teachers. Because there were 17 other friend it is said that the many styles contributing to Mantis came from this association. Whatever the reasons Mantis is said to be inspired by:

1. "Long-range Boxing" (Chang Quan) style from Emperor Tai Zu.
2. Through the Back" (Tongbei) boxing from Han Tong
3. "Wrap Around and Seal" (Chan Feng) from Zhang En
4. " Close-range Strikes" (Duanda) boxing from Ma Ji
5. "Blocking Hands and Following Through Fist" (Keshou Tongquan) from Jin Xiang.
6. "Hooking, Scooping and Grabbing Hands" (Gou Lou Cai Shou) from Liu Xing.
7. "Methods of Sticking, Grabbing, and Falling" (Zhanna Diefa) from Yan Qing.
8. "Short Boxing" (Duan Quan) from Wen Yuan
9. "Monkey Boxing" (Hou Quan) from Sun Heng.
10. "Cotton Fist" (Mien Quan) from Mien Shen is lightning fast.
11. "Throwing-Grabbing and Hard Crashing" (Shuailue Yingbeng) from Huai De.
12.
"Ducking, Leaking and Passing through the Ears" (Gunlou Guaner) from Tan Fang.
13. "Mandarin ducks" kicking technique (Yuanyang Jiao) from Lin Chong.
14. "Seven Postures of Continuous Fist Strikes" (Qishi Lianquan) from Meng Su.
15. "Hand Binding and Grabbing" (Kunlu Zhenru) from Yang Gun
16. "Explosive Strikes into the Hollow Body Parts (Woli Paochui) from Master Cui Lian.
17. Huang You's "Close Range Hand Techniques" (Kao Shou).
18. "Praying Mantis" (Tanglang) from Wang Lang absorbed all these skills.

In this version all the information, then known as MiShou (Secrets Hands) was gathered by Abbot FuJu and passed to Taoist prieat ShenXiao DaoRen only to disappear until the Chien Lung period of the Ching Dynasty (1736-1796).

After practicing for years and fully formulating his new style Wang Lang returned to the Temple and soundly defeated all comers. He then returned to ShanDong and taught his new style to Taoist followers from Lao Shan (Lao Mountain). Among his student there were Li SanJian and ShengXiao who transmitted his art to future generations.

SIX HARMONY MANTIS

Previous to the 1800's the Praying Mantis was a single linneage. At that time LiuHe Mantis a combination of Six Harmony Boxing and Praying Mantis was formed. LiuHeTangLang is popular in ZhaoYuan and HuanXian provinces of ShanDong. It is considered "soft style mantis", with primarily soft movements and density within. This is sometimes described as a needle in cotton. The founder of the branch, Lin ShiChun, studied from his grandfather (6 Harmony) and Mantis from Wei Xian - a direct descendent of Wang Lang. Lin then taught Ding ZiCheng who had many students.

One lineage is from Zhang XiangSan who was a direct student of Ding ZiCheng. Zhang XiangSan had many students. In the United States Shih BoRon (Boris Shih) is the present lineage holder of the line. Lin ShiChun developed LiuHe TangLang as it is taught today. The style is a hybrid of Six Harmonies Fist (LiuHe Chuan) and Seven Star (ChiHsing) Praying Mantis.

There are six mantis routines and one routine of Six Harmonies Short punch (LiuHe Duan Chui), in addition to a number of compulsory lines which are similar to Tan Tui (Spring Leg). In addition to these forms students are also taught a certain amount of Seven Star Praying Mantis performed in the Six Harmony manner.

The style is named after a principle, which is separate from the style itself. It can be argued that without the "Six Harmonies" there can be no conscious movement and therefore no true Kung Fu. Liu He or Six Harmonies means the uniting of 6 principles. There are three internal (nei jia) and three external( wai jia) principles, which cannot be separated from each other. The three internal are: Mind in harmony with intent, intent in harmony with chi and chi in harmony with force. The three external are: the shoulder in harmony with the hip, the elbow in harmony with the knee and the hand in harmony with the foot. The Six Harmonies are the foundation of all good martial arts practice and also good health. From the very beginning body mechanics and structure must be established. When the body is in alignment the chi will flow. The chi does not flow well when the alignment is off.

While traditionally Mantis, any Mantis except Southern, introduces the students to Long Fist at least for a while; Six Harmony may also use other Mantis fists and Linking forms to round out its training. The core fists can be shown simultaneously or separately and, really, can go in just about any order. One of these orders is the following:

1. Jie Shou Chuan
2. Tie Ci
3. Xian Shou Ben
4. Shuang Feng
5. Tuan Chui
6. Zhao Mien Deng
7. Tsang (Cang) Hua

SEVEN STAR MANTIS

The Mantis then split into two other branches, both quite popular and large. The first of these is QiXing TangLang (7 Star Praying Mantis). ShengXiao transmitted Mantis to Li SanJian (also known as ZhiZan) who instructed Wang YongChun. Master Wang combined his style with Chang Chuan and created the Seven Star Mantis which still teaches beginners Long Fist as an introduction to this day.
Here is a partial list of Seven Star forms...

PLUM BLOSSOM MANTIS

The other style, MeiHua TangLang, derives from Li BingXiao who instructed Zhao QiLu (also, Zhao Zhu). Li himself was the son of an official who had moved to ShanDong in the LaiYang HaiYang (Xiao ChiShan village) area. Li became the founder of Mantis in that region particularly inspired when, as legend states, his official career did not pan out. Again, legend confounds claiming that Li actually learned his Mantis from a local bandit whose life he had saved. Whatever the source Li had one disciple, Zhao ZhuIt is said that Li "ErhGou) "Two Hooks" so influenced the LaiYang area that for eight generations it has been handed down there with few outsiders learning anything. Zhao Zhu was from Da ChiShan village near Li's Xiao ChiShan. Very little is known about this generation disciple other than he ran a slaughter house and did actually live. Continuing the tradition Zhao Zhu had only few disciples, Liang XueXiang (1810-?) and it was he who was the formal originator of Plum Blossom (MeiHua) Mantis. Zhao also taught his son, according to some research, and the style was retained in the family to the fifth generation and Zhao QingZhi. Liang XueXiang, an inhabitant of YuShan village— an important Mantis location—was also known as Liang ShuPu. Liang was a professional bodyguard who, upon retirement, devoted the rest of his life to promulgating the art. Liang authored at least three boxing books:

"Boxing, Staff and Spear Fencing Book" (Quan Gun Qiang Pu) This contained the names of three Mantis Forms: Beng Bu, LuanJie and FanShen BaZhou.

2. Quan Pu (1853)

3. Chang Qiang Pu (Long Spear Manual) only recovered publically in 1999.

The Tai Chi Mantis is said to contain the following sets and methods:

BaZhou Eight Elbows an old form supposedly from Wang Lang himself but insufficient without MiShou or Secret Hands and
BengBu Crashing Step
Also LuanJie Chaotically Connected hands
Finally ZhaiYao or "Essentials" in a number of versions

Later additions include the 7th essential version
MeiHua Lu Plum Blossom Road
And DiGong Quan or Ground Fists

FLICKING HAND MANTIS

Shuai Shou (Flicking Hand) Praying Mantis is a member of the Praying Mantis Boxing group. It is said to be dervied from Mei Hua Mantis and then further developed, and is therefore also known as "Mei Hua (Plum Blossom) Shuai Shou Mantis." the essence of this boxing is the employment of the Flicking Hand for self defense. The hand if flicked laterally to explore, with a shivering hand flick at the wrist, back of the hand foremost as a main distance strike. Then it issues energy like a chicken pecking rice or a hummingbird lightly touching water. The flicking action is loose and soft, then firm and crisp. It goes out as a palm and returns as a hook.

translated by Debbie Shayne Information from professor Kang Ge Wu.

BACK CONNECTED (Tong Bei) MANTIS

Tong Bei Tang Lang is a much lesser know style of the Mantis school. To some the union of the two might not be very propitious. However, through careful selection of techniques of Tong Bei (as contributed to the Ba Bu Mantis) those Long Art features which did not clash with the Mantis theory were selected. We should never forget that Long Arm training is often madatory in different Mantis styles and, indeed, the style itself came from Long Fist. The generations of Tong Bei Mantis are considered as follows:

WANG LANG (founder)
FENG SENG
FENG SENG
EN SHOU
EN SHOU
YANG JUN PU
YANG JUN PU
MA DA HAN
ZHOU CHANG CHUN
SUN SHAO WEN
GUO DA XING
YANG YONG BIAO
WANG BO REN
YANG JIN YUAN
WANG BO REN
LI FENG SHAN
YANG JIN YUAN

YANG CHUN LIN
SUN ZHI PU
YANG DE FU
YANG DE QING
YANG DE YU

YANG CHUN LIN
YANG LE SHAN
SUN ZHI PU
SUN WEN BO
YANG DE FU
YANG JI SHAN
YANG DE YU
LI YU SAN
YANG JI SHAN
YANG JI E
LI YU SAN
ZHAO JIN CAI



Special Characteristics of Tong Bei Tang Lang include the Rake Fist (like Baji's), Fish Scale stance, the Claw hand, the Luo Han stance, the Sixty Forty stance and many changes of height (levels).

Our VCDs on this style...


EIGHT STEP MANTIS

A student of Liang's named Jiang HuaLong also studied Monkey (HouQuan), TongBei (from Wang Zhong Qing) and both BaGua and Xing Yin from Chen DeShan. From this he developed BaBu TangLang or Eight Step Praying Mantis. The core of this style is six forms but other sets were also brought into the system. The next generation rested on Feng HuangXi who added Chin Nah from Eagle Claw and wrestling moves from Shuai Jiao to the system. Feng passed the art onto Wei XiaoTang (1901-1982) who taught the Chinese army self defense. After staying in Korea in 1948 he moved to Taiwan and became the undisputed master of BaBu Mantis there.

LONG FIST MANTIS

Another style is known as ChangQuan TangLang or Long Fist Mantis. HuangYongKai's student, Ji ZhongDe taught Wang SuTing (1884-1964). The creator of MeiHua Mantis - Liang Xue Xian- had a son: Liang Zhong Quan. He taught Huang Yong Kai the Mantis. Huang's grandstudent, Wu Su Ting, taught in Qing Dao at Guo Shu Institute and was a friend of Seven Star master, Luo Guang Yu and his disciple Huang Han Xun. Wang combined his MeiHua back with Seven Star and added different Long Fist methods to create ChangQuan (Long Fist) Mantis which, on Taiwan, is still known as Seven Star. Wang himself named his style Shuai Shou Tang Lang or Thrown Hand Mantis.

 

SECRET DOOR MANTIS

Another style is known as MiMen TangLang or Secret Door Mantis. This was created by a student of Wang YuShan who himself was a student of Jiang HuaLong and Song JiDe. This student, Liu DoSan created the Secret Door then taught Zhang DeKui (1907-1991) who moved to Taiwan where the formal name of the style officially became Mi Men of BiMen (Closed Door) Mantis. But basically this is still a version of Mei Hua Mantis.

A NOTE ON TAI CHI MANTIS

Such ambiguities of name occur commonly in the style and its branches. For instance Hao LiangRu was a student of MeiHua Mantis from both Liang XueXiang and Jiang HuaLong. He taught his six sons. The official inheritor, Hao HengLu formally declared this branch to be Tai Chi Praying Mantis (no relation to the style Tai Chi other than the shared principles of Yin and Yang). However the name Tai Chi TangLang is rarely used outside LaiYang County, ShanDong, where the Mantis first took root. More commonly this branch can still be refered to as MeiHua. Often only the practitioners themselves call this branch by the "Tai Chi" nomenclature.

 

Plum Publications Praying Mantis Kung Fu Links:
Here are some links to items to the Mantis systems you may wish to investigate ...

Mantis Books in English particularly Tai Chi Mantis and Seven Star

Mantis Style VCDs

Mantis Books in Chinese especially Eight Step and Seven Star

Our collector's editions of old Mantis Books in Chinese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAJOR FORMS OF SEVEN STAR MANTIS
Underlined links to Chinese books Underlined links to English books Other links
Basics
Beng Bu Quan Burst or Smash Step Boxing VCD
Gong Li Quan Flowing Power Boxing  
Shi Sz Lu Tan Tui 14 Road Spring Leg  
Level One
Duo Gang Quan Evasive Boxing VCD
Hei Hu Jiao Cha Quan Black Tiger Intercepting Boxing
Shi Ba Sou Quan 18 Elders Form  
Cha Chui Quan Thrust Punch Boxing  
Er Lu Zhai Yao Quan Summary Boxing Road #2  
Lei Bian Quan Crack the Whip Boxing VCD
Level Two
Da Fan Che Quan Big Wheel Boxing
Bai Yuan Chu Dong Quan White Gibbon Exits Cave  
Fu Hu Gun Yang Gun Conquer Tiger And Sheep Staff  
Bai Yuan Tou Tao Quan White Gibbon Steals The Peach Boxing  
Ba Gua Dan Dao Eight Diagram Single Broadsword  
Mei Hua Luo Quan Plum Blossom Falling Boxing  
Mei Hua Shou Quan Plum Blossom Hand Boxing  
Tao Hua Shan Dui Da Quan Peach Blossom Free Hand Partner Boxing  
Tang Lang Bu Xuang Quan Mantis Stepping Whirling Boxing  
Tang Lang Tou Tao Quan Mantis Steals the Peach Boxing  
Rou Yun Zhang Quan Soft, Agile Palm Boxing  
Jie Quan Segmented Boxing  
Si Four Direction Rushing Boxing  
Li Pi Quan Splitting Arm Boxing
Da Jia Shi Big Frame Form  
Xiao Jia Shi Small Frame Form  
Level Three
Yi Lu Mei Hua Tui Plum Blossom Leg Road #1  
Er Lu Mei Hua Tui Plum Blossom Leg Road #2  
Zhi Wu Jiang 5 Meridian Sword  
Shuang Dao Dui Qiang Double Broadsword against Spear  
Wu Lang Ba Gua Gwun 5th son Eight Diagram Staff  
Xuan Fen Dan Gou Whirlwind Single Hook  
Qing Ping Jian Green Duckweed Sword VCD
Level Four
Tang Lang Chui Praying Mantis Punch  
Yi Lu Zhai Yao Quan Routine 1 of Summary Boxing  
Dan Cha Hua Quan Single Thrust Flowers Boxing  
Si Lu Beng Da Quan 10 Road Thrust Strike Boxing  
Wu Hu Qiang Five Tigers Spear  
Da Hu Tang Quan Big Tigers And Wild Geese Boxing  
Level Five
Shuang Cha Hua Quan Double Thrust Flowers Boxing  
Rou Yun Zhoug Quan Soft and Agile Claw Boxing  
Liu He Shuang Do Six Harmony Double Broadsword  
Tang Lang Zhu Tong Quan Mantis Comes Out Of The Cave  
Wen Wu Ba Xian Jian Civil & Military Eight Fairy Sword  
San Lu Zhai Yao Quan Routine 3 of Summary Boxing  
Da Za Dui Da Big Thrust Partner Fighting  
Xiao Hu Yan Small Tiger and Swallow Boxing
Mei Hua Quan Plum Blossom Fist Boxing  
Tou Jie Hu Quan Tou Jie Fighting  
Shang Shan Hu Quan Tiger Climbs the Mountain Boxing  
Xia Shan Hu Quan Tiger Leaves the Mountain Boxing  
Luo Yan Quan Tall Geese Boxing  
Ou Quan Gull Boxing  
Chuan Yun Zhang Thrust Cloud Palm  
Yi Lu Ba Zhoug Routine 1 of Ba Elbow  
Er Lu Ba Zhoug Routine 2 of Ba Elbow  
Xan Zhi Zhuan Lin Zhang Swallow Rushes The Forest Palm  
Hu Wei San Jei Gwun Tiger Tail Three Section Staff Boxing  
Mei Hua Zhang Plum Blossom Palm  
Yin Yi Lu Bai Yuan Kui Routine 1 of White Gibbon Gazes at the Feast  
Yang Yin Er Lu Bai Yuan Kui Routine 2 of White Gibbon Gazes at the Feast  
Yan Qing Dan Dao Yan Qing Single Broadsword  
Level Six
Suang Bi Sou Double Daggers  
Chuan Zhi Dui Da Cluster Free Fighting  
Gun Tang Shuang Dao Ground Rolling Double Broadsword  
Mei Hua Qiang Plum Blossom Spear  
Jiu Jie Liang Huan Bian Nine Section Whip  
Qi Xing Xuang Chui Seven Star Double Hammer  
Qi Xing Xuang Jian Seven Star Double Sword  
Chun Qiu Da Quan Dao Long Hilt Scimitar  
Fang Tian Hua Ji Fang Tian Hua Lance  
San Jie Guen Dui Qiang 3 Section Staff vs.Spear  
Dan Dao Dui Qiang Single Broadsword vs. Spear  
Mei Hua San Jie Qun Plum Blossom Three Section Staff  
San Yi Qiang Three Loyalty Spear  
Shuang Bi Sou Dui Qiang Double Daggers vs. Spear  
Kong Shou Dui Qiang Empty Hand vs. Spear  
Shan Chai Jian Shan Chai Sword  
Kong Shou Dui Dan Dao Empty Hand vs. Single Broadsword  
Mei Hua Zhi Wu Dao Plum Blossom Meridian Broadsword  
Liu He Gwun Six Harmony Staff  
Lian Hua Shuang Jian Chain Of Rings Double Swords  
Ba Gua Shuang Gou Eight Diagram Double Hooks  
Zhang Ma Dao Horse Cutter Broadsword  
Kong Shou Dui Shuang Bi Shou Empty Hand vs. Double Daggers  
Shuang Gou Dui Qiang Double Hooks vs. Spear  
Qi Men Gun Dui Qiang Qi Men Staff vs. Spear  
Dan Dao Dui Dan Dao Single Broadsword vs. Single Broadsword  
Kuan Dao Dui Kuan Dao Kwan Do vs. Kwan Do  
Jian Dui Jian Sword vs. Sword  
 
Shi Ba Lou Han Qi Gong Eighteen Buddha's Qi Gong  

 

 

 

 

Seven Star Generations
(One Branch)
WANG LANG (Founder)
SHENG XIAO
LI SAN JIAN
WANG RONG SHENG
FAN YU TUNG
LO KWANG YU
CHIU CHI MAN
LEE KAM WING