Below I have listed the core theory of Praying Mantis Kung Fu. It is important to realise that whether a style is Praying Mantis or not depends not on whether the practitioner “imitates” a mantis or not, but on whether or not they follow these core principles, which are the building blocks of the style. I won’t go into detail explaining each principle here, but in future I will link to articles or videos on certain parts.
12 Keywords 十二字
The 12 keywords vary from branch to branch, but in the Taiji/Meihua line they are as follows: 沾粘帮贴 stick adhere help paste 来叫顺送 arrive provoke along send-off 提拿封闭 lift grab seal close
7 Long 8 Short 七长八短
The 7 long and 8 short are groupings of the core principles of long range and short range techniques.
7 Long: 1.顺步清长 along step* is clearly long, 2.摇步入手 rocked step* & entering hand, 3.缠封双掌 binding seal & double palm, 4.迎面通捶 greet the face & punch through, 5.剿手砍掌 suppress hand & cleaving palm, 6.反身迹入 turn around & enter, 7.韩通通背 Han Tong’s through the back
*along step means striking with the same hand and foot forward, rocked step means striking with the back hand
8 Short: 1.迎面头捶 greet the face with a head hammer, 2.靠身臂捶 lean on the body & forearm hammer, 3.蹲身膊捶 squat the body & arm hammer, 4.粘拿胸捶 stick & grab then chest hammer, 5-8.双膝两肘 two knees & two elbows
8 Hard 12 Soft 八刚十二柔法
Hard and soft are ideas in mantis which are often misunderstood. They shouldn’t be taken literally, it doesn’t mean the practitioner is BEING hard or soft, rather hard means “fully commited” and soft means “adaptable; meaning that hard techniques are fully commited to completion, regardless of how the opponent reacts and soft techniques are those which change in relation to how the opponent reacts.
8 Hard: 1.泰山压顶 crushing the top of Mount Tai 2.迎面直通 greeting the face and going straight through 3.顺步双掌 along step and double palms 4.叠肘硬蚣 piling elbows hard attack 5.贴门靠壁 paste to the door and lean on the wall 6.硬崩伏地 hard collapse prostrates to the earth 7.左右双棍 left and right double sticks 8.摔捋两分 throw-brush double dividing
12 Soft: 1.见刚而回手 when meeting hardness return the hand 2.入手而偷手 enter a hand then steal the hand 3.戴手而滚手 take the hand then roll the hand 4.棍手而漏手 stick hand then leak the hand 5.直通而勾手 straight through then hook the hand 6.採手而入手 pluck the hand then enter a hand 7.搂手而进手 holding the hand then enter a hand 8.磕手而入手 break the hand then enter a hand 9.拱手而进手 arch the hand then enter a hand 10.挑手而入手 provoke the hand then enter a hand 11.开手而叠手 open the hand then pile a hand 12.粘手而破手 adhere to the hand then break a hand
7 Postures 七势
These postures are some useful techniques taken from the 18 ancestors.
1.缠封 coiling seal, 2.双扣手 double taking hands, 3.窝里炮 cannons into body cavities, 4.双棍捋 double stick brushing, 5.铁门闩 iron door bolt, 6.黄龙摆尾 yellow dragon wags its tail, 7.螳螂捕蝉 mantis catches a cicada
12 Hammers 十二捶
These are basically 12 parts of the body used to strike with.
1.头捶 head hammer, 2/3.两膊 two arms, 4/5.两肘 two elbows, 6/7.两手 two hands, 8.臂捶 forearm hammer, 9/10.两膝 two knees, 11/12.两脚 two feet