What is Praying Mantis
History records that Wang was the primary teacher of the so-called higher level of Kung Fu art called the praying mantis. He taught this to a number of monks at the Shaolin Temple for many generations but as time went on, the art has evolved and more improvements were created by the very monks that learned the original technique.
Sheng Xiao Dao Ren, a traveling Taoist, once stopped by the Shaolin Temple. In there, he observed the kung fu style that the monks were practicing. It looked sort of jerky and it was as if it lacked power.
He then asked for a match but he quickly lost the battle to a junior monk. He thought it was just a stroke of luck so he asked to be matched to a senior monk. It was at this sparring game that he was thrown, embarrassingly, to the ground. He soon learned that the seemingly ineffective style that they were studying was called praying mantis.
Sheng Xiao Dao Ren decided to stay at the Shaolin Temple to learn the said Kung Fu style. He soon became a master and there began his travels once more. Throughout his life, he only taught one student – Lee San Jian.
It was Lee (after learning the praying mantis style) who established a famous caravan guarding service. Nobody was able to beat Lee and he was soon nicknamed as Lee the Fighting Fist. Local bandits had the highest respects for him.
When Lee retired from his guarding business, he decided to look for a successor. In Fusham, he came across a champion – Wang Rong Sheng. When Lee saw the demonstration shown by Wang, he decided that the latter should not have been called a champion. Offended, Wang challenged Lee to a fight. It was then that he realized that the praying mantis style was, indeed, a style to reckon with. Wang soon decided to be taught by Lee.
Through Wang, the praying mantis style soared to higher levels. Since Wang came from a wealthy family, he devoted more time to the development of the art. Several years after, he accepted his own student, Fan Xu Dong.
Fan was called a giant or the broadsword because of his 300-pound frame. He was notorious for the incident in which he confronted a pair of angry bulls. Both animals died and soon, people learned about Fan’s abilities. He became doubly popular when he traveled to Russia and won a match there.
The Praying Mantis Forms
The northern Kung Fu style of praying mantis is already a complete system with more than 80 forms. There are weapon forms, hand forms, one three-person empty hand form, two person empty hand and weapon set, and a breathing set referred to as the Luo Han Gong or Monk martial art. Included also are the Iron Palm and the Juey Luo Han Chuan or drunken form.
The Northern praying mantis instructors have added styles of their own to the system throughout the years. When the social conditions changed, so did the training highlights.
The system is an effective fighting art as it makes use of guiding principles and concepts of old while incorporating the flexible approach of the newer generations. In every generation, the praying mantis strategies are still applicable in any fighting environment.