QA: Is there a Mantis out there…?

qaredI have been a student of Kung fu, kenpo, and tai chi since 1988. I am looking for praying mantis of a type I was taught, supposedly Chinese by way of Hawaii. It is a very rolled up approach to mantis emphasizing entering the opponent’s guard, employing hooking and grasping. It also emphasized attacking or intertwining opponents legs. There was a very effective internal kick off the back leg my instructor called a tea cup kick.

mantisqa1I have been told, though I don’t know if it is true, that there is a fighting system called tea cup. Anyway, I’m not asking you much about a style that is obscure. What I mainly want to know is if you have any instructional material that has mantis using such an approach. All the mantis I am seeing is wide open and reminiscent of long fist. Also, instead of big rushing attacks the mantis I am speaking of utilized small mincing steps with pecking attacks in low shifting stance.

Any thoughts you may have would be greatly appreciated. If you have any mantis materials featuring a similar method I would very much like to know. I … have 5 students. They are having difficulty understanding mantis. I think a couple basic forms would be good but, as I said, I can’t find anything like I want. Really enjoy your site and kaimen. Best regards, DR

Dear DR,

  Thanks for your question. It’s a bit of a puzzler because I don’t know what mantis you are familiar with. Of course, as you know, your teacher might not have been describing a branch as much of a style, even a personal style. However, assuming we are looking for a branch of mantis, I am trying to act like Hercule Poirot and use my little gray cells to suggest a few possibilities.


First, I assume that since you mentioned the wide-open versions of mantis, you might be referring to seven star and northern praying mantis (Wong Han Fun’s style.) So here are my guesses:
mantisqa3First, that you might have seen Liu He Tanglang, which looks more like XingYi and doesn’t even use the mantis hook.
My next two guesses are fairly obscure, the first being Throwing Mantis, about which I know almost nothing; and the other being that unusual form of mantis created to beat mantis, Secret Door Mantis, played most famously by Su Yu Chang.
My own opinion, after all is said and done, is that you are describing a level or expertise more than a style; in other words, Mantis done right.
Well, I hope this helps!
Ted Mancuso
P.S. Anyone out there have anything to add to or help on this?

PPS Before we even had a chance to post this QA, DR wrote back to us with the following:
mantisqa4Thanks for the advice. I did research your suggestions on Utube. You mentioned you hated this kind of thing, but I did see Tang Lang – 6 Harmonies Mantis (Master Han Yan Wu) and, at 1:08 of the 1:42 video he does, in fact, slip in the very deceptive horizontal kick off the back leg I mentioned. It’s funny, because it is the type of thing you would hardly notice without instruction, but a lot of Kung fu is that way. The stepping is also similar, so I think that 6 harmonies is a likely parent style.
   I was shocked that you mentioned your thought that it might be pa kua I was referencing as well, but damned if it doesn’t also say Han is a pa kua and xing yi player from Beijing. We also study XY and tai chi here…. The mantis style I learned does have a kind of staccato stutter stepping advance in place of the charging they show in 7 star. Do you find that in some type of internal styles?
So, in short, awesome guesses!. I also looked at Secret Door Praying Mantis Style and the play of that as done by Spanish speaking sifu on Utube is almost identical also. So, again, most helpful. Being on the Mexican border, the Spanish connection may be germane, who knows?
I also appreciated your summary about the significance of the individual understanding of any approach to Kung fu being so fundamental and unique. My teachers felt the Kung fu would speak to the student and we were encouraged to follow that leading. It may be the emphasis on mantis hooking as a means of capture and entering the guard was a personal interpretation …. I don’t find it employed extensively in Any ematerial at all, do you know of any ?
So, a final question, do you sell any instructional materials for 6 harmonies or Secret Door? Either one would be useful for teaching the style I learned.
Again, many thanks, as if you are not in possession of materials I can find some on the Internet, though the hand exchanges are hard to catch at times.

One Response to “QA: Is there a Mantis out there…?”

  1. Patrick says:

    Well since I’m in Hawaii that mantis style doesn’t seem familiar. Could be a family style or created by someone or even mistaken for Choy Gar Eating Crane. A friend of mine who passed away, Sifu Kimo Pang taught something similar but I never learned it. If the poster can tell who his teacher was here in Hawaii, I can track it down. Hope this helps. Patrick

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