Tuesday, 27 December 2011

moved sites

hi guys

from now on i will be using http://www.monkeystealspeach.com

here you can find all kinds of information about kung fu in china including interviews, translations of texts and theory, traditional training methods and listings of kung fu schools.

Monday, 31 October 2011

The Jade Master

A story my girlfriend told me:

In ancient China, when a jade craftsman would take on an apprentice they had an unusual way of training them. First, they would give the young child a piece of jade. Then, the master would read from a book; explaining the history, different kinds of jade: all the book knowledge on jade available. During the time, the young child would probably not listen, and just play with the piece of jade. after a period of time, the master would give the child another kind of jade to play with; all the while he never acknowledged the jade to the child, just read from the book and let him play. After doing this for several years, upon receiving a new piece, the child would suddenly call out "this piece isn't jade, it's just a stone!" At that time the master knew the child was ready to start crafting the jade, now he intrinsically knew the feel of jade, even if he couldn't explain why he knew if it was jade or not.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Motivation, Goals and Basics

After returning home for the summer with Master Zhou's basics to work on, I've realised I've ignored basics in the past. Now is my time to go right back to the beginning and get everything right. Basics are definitely something that every martial artist needs to train everyday, the bread and butter. Not only do they give you the correct body mechanics, but a serious session of repetition of basics, say doing Yi Bu San Chui (one step three punches) 100 times full power, 10 minutes horse stance, bow stance, stretches, kicks etc will leave you exhausted with every single muscle blasted. I've found loads of subtleties in the movements I had never thought of, a myriad of possible applications just from the most simple of movements.

The difficult thing is motivation. Forcing myself day after day to go through the same routine of the same endless amount of repetition of the same movements is boring, tiresome and horrible. But after a period of time I've started to feel the benefits. My body feels stronger, more powerful, my applications more natural and my forms smoother and nicer.

The only way I've managed to get through, is to set strong goals. Some days I get lazy, I feel like what's the point, I've done this so many times already! The only thing I can do is to remind myself of my goals and push myself through. Needless to say, I feel so much better than the days I give into my laziness, when I feel guilty and sluggish.

After all, this is the meaning of the very word kung fu. In ancient times kung fu wasn't the name of a martial art, it was an accomplishment of skill. Kung fu meant to have attained a high level through perseverance, through decades of training and refining; whether it was to make teapots, paint pictures, sword fight or even to cut vegetables, kung fu was an attainment. Through my constant training and refining, I have come to appreciate people who dedicate them to any skill, people who have that obsessive desire to perfect something. Kung fu is like a sculptor who chips away at the wood everyday, to reveal the beauty within; it's not adding on, but refining and discarding the roughness in your bodies movement.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

New Beginnings

I’ve now trained with my master for two years. Recently, with me living far away from him and him being busier and busier, I’ve become a little frustrated. I’ve been spending long hours climbing the hill behind Ludong University to train alone; it’s been hard to keep my motivation up when I’m not learning anything new and unable to find a training partner.

Right around this time fate kicked in and Kevin Brazier, a mantis teacher and historian/researcher from America, told me he was visiting Yantai to do some training and research for a book he’s writing. I jumped at the opportunity to meet with him and discuss mantis. He began to show me a lot of two person drills and principles of mantis, which I’d never been exposed to before. He also agreed to take me to meet the master he was visiting, Zhou Zhen Dong.

I’d been feeling frustrated with my training, and my lack of progression, feeling that as I’m in China I should be making the most of my time here and getting as much knowledge as I can. The mantis I had been learning was very good, but I wanted to learn more about these principles and two person drills Kevin showed me. The way I had been learning before was more focussed on forms and sanda (kickboxing), and was modified from the traditional mantis. My lineage was from Master Zhang Bing Dou, who had made a lot of changes to mantis, adding a lot of Chang Quan, Xingyi and other stuff into it. It was complex and deep, but I felt it was just too eclectic and seemed to lack a core.

So I met with Master Zhou, and noticed his mantis is definitely the more traditional. It seems to be more built upon a set of principles with core building blocks to help the student progress. After talking to a few of his students, including a mantis instructor from Austria called Nikki, I decided this is more for me and Master Zhou accepted me as a student, provided I start again from scratch. I then spent the next two weeks waking up at 5am to go to the park, training for 2-3 hours, then going to a field with no lighting to train from 7 to about 9 at night. During this time I would just repeat, over and over again, the basic movements. I had learnt most of these, but this time the body mechanics were different, and I was determined to make a good impression. So I would just go up and down, doing the same move over and over until I was ready to drop. It was a tough 2 weeks, and I lost some weight, but I persevered and Master Zhou was impressed.

Master Cui Shou Shan
Master Zhou studied from Zhang Kai Tang, who learnt two systems, Hao family meihua mantis from Hao Heng Lu and Taiji mantis from Cui Shou Shan, one of the 3 mountains of Laiyang, who were three blood brothers famous throughout China for their kung fu skills. Master Zhou had studied in secret from his master during the Cultural Revolution, facing persecution as traditional culture was banned and anyone practicing it was “part of the old” and had to be punished.

Now I have returned home for the summer and I have three months to master these basic moves before I return to China ready to learn more. I’ve explained to Master Zhou that I don’t just want to learn forms (I already know sooo many), I want to get more confident in my fighting ability. I want a strong foundation of kung fu I can really use.

Sifu Kevin Brazier runs the Penglai Kung Fu School based in Florida. His website, http://www.plumflowermantisboxing.com contains huge amounts of research and writings on the history of praying mantis kung fu.  

Monday, 8 August 2011

Interview with Kunyu Shan's Master Guo Xin Min

Master Guo Xin Min is a master at Kunyu Shan Kung Fu Academy, he is the successor of Grandmaster Yu Xian Hua for Jin Gang Li(金刚力), a system of Qigong specialising in developing incredible power. He is the only person in the world to successfully break a slab of marble resting on tofu, and has managed many other feats of power, such as breaking marble with 2 fingers. He is also a master of Ba Ji Quan, Wing Chun and Chen Style Tai Chi. He has studied martial arts for over 30 years, and has much experience, both in performance and combat. He is currently ranked at level 8 in Chinese martial arts, and has created his own qigong techniques, which have been listed by the Chinese Martial Arts Committee. He is also vice-secretary general of the Kunyu Mountain Cultural Research Association.

He teaches Baji Quan and Wing Chun together, and has a friendly, easy going teaching style. He believes it is up to the student to get what he wants from training, and will give students back as much as they put it. His training regime includes a balance of all aspects, mainly concentrating on both forms and applications, with supplementary qigong, power training and sanda/wrestling.

W (Will, me): Master Guo, please could you tell us about your experiences in learning kung fu:

MG: My grandfather’s master was a monk from the Shaolin temple. He taught him several styles including monkey and Da Hong Quan. Then, during the Japanese invasion of China, my father learnt a rare style called Guan Xi Xiao Jia. My family at that time were farmers, during spring and autumn they were working on the farm, winter and summer there was no work, so they had a lot of free time and would hire travelling kung fu masters to teach them for a period of time. You see, there was a very big family in our village, which would bully the other smaller families and were like a mafia, so we learnt kung fu to protect ourselves. My father was very strong from farm work, he used to carry very heavy bags around and operate heavy machinery. He was very skilled at wrestling and locking skills. When I was very young, I saw him fight with someone, and he knocked the man flying several metres! This left a deep impression on me and I knew I wanted to learn that.

When I was very young, I was often bullied, I was the youngest of several brothers and sisters, and my parents were very poor, so I didn’t get much milk as a baby. I was very weak and small, and the other children bullied me. I started kung fu at about 3 or 4 years old, but even at the age of 8, I still couldn’t fight. I spent too much time learning acrobatics and flexibility skills. When I was 8, I started to learn more practical kung fu, and when I was 10 I had my first fight. My sister was being picked on by some much older kids, so I went and beat them up. When I was a teenager I had a lot of fights with much bigger and older kids, and gained a reputation among kids in my village.

W: Can you tell me about your qigong training:

MG: My parents wanted me to have a good education, but I always wanted to do kung fu professionally. When I was 14, I became a student of a qigong master. He taught me Shaolin Nei Jia Yi Zhi Chan (少林内家一指禅shaolin 1 finger zen). I would stand in horse stance for at least an hour, with bricks on my arms. I sweated so much, there was a huge puddle underneath me, and in winter my whole body would steam. Sometimes I would even stand like this for up to 4 hours, and I could feel the Qi shooting out of my fingers.

Then, when I entered high school, I changed to learn Jin Gang Li, which included martial arts, as Yi Zhi Chan was just developing qi. In 1992 I lived with my master, first I would stay with him in the holidays, later I quit school to study full time. I would do qigong in the morning and free fighting in the afternoon. After 1 year, I began to help my master to teach. In 1999 I travelled overseas to teach and perform kung fu.

W: Your teaching focus is on Baji and Wing Chun, could you talk a bit about them:

MG: In 1995 I felt like I wanted to learn more kung fu, so I travelled around looking at different styles. At that time I started Wing Chun. Most northern Chinese would make fun of Wing Chun, saying it’s for women and it lacks strength, so I was already biased against it. It wasn’t until 2000, that I was invited to teach some bodyguards in Guangdong, that I really came to appreciate it. You see before I was young and liked beautiful forms.

My master often travelled to Hong Kong in secret during the revolution to exchange ideas on kung fu there. So the lineage I teach is a mixture of mainland and Hong Kong Wing Chun. The big difference people notice in my Wing Chun to what they learn in the west is there is an extra form, which comes before Siu Lim Tao. This form is called Shi Er San Shou (十二散手12 free hands), this form gives the student the fundamentals of wing chun, it is 12 principles for combat, which are practical and easy to learn. For most of my short term students, I will teach them this form. In Guangdong they say if you just want to learn self defence, this form is enough.

In the south of China, they use upper body techniques, but I am a northerner and my foundation is northern, so I like to use my legs a lot more. Traditional Wing Chun says kicks must be low, but I think that if you are good with your legs, high kicks are good too. In street fighting, low kicks are more effective, but in the ring, high kicks are better. Also, you can use a low kick, and then follow up with a high kick. They flow together. This is something I have added to the wing chun I teach.

Baji, however, I liked straight away. It’s strong, powerful and vicious. Wing Chun took me several years to appreciate. Wing Chun is like a gentleman’s art, it’s very reserved and humble. A Wing Chun fighter won’t move so much, and will act humbly. Baji is like a demon, it’s vicious, strong, and proud. So, it depends what mood I’m in as to what I practice, if I feel calm, I train my Wing Chun, if I’m excited, I train my Baji. Baji uses much more of the body than Wing Chun. In fact, Baji, Wing Chun and Taiji, in essence are very similar. Beginners can’t see that, but we all have the same body, there’s only so many ways of issuing power and moving it. In Wing Chun, we use the principle of leverage, in Taiji, it’s called Yin and Yang. They are both the same. In Baji, there are a lot of elbows and takedowns.

My Baji comes from Wu Lian Zhi, native of Meng County in Hebei. He is the oldest generation still alive. Our lineage is Wu Shi Kai Men (wu style “opening the door”) Baji. In fact, our basic zhan zhuang, or standing posture, is a horse stance, with the arms held one bent up, one bent down in the figure for the character (wu), the surname of my master.

W: Can you talk a little about the relationship between traditional forms and modern Sanda (散打kickboxing)

MG: Many young people in China really like Sanda now. But after they train for several years, they often feel they want to develop more. This is where traditional forms come in. Forms were created by old masters by taking their fighting experience and condensing into a form, like a catalogue of fighting techniques or strategies. So a fighter can research the forms to find fighting techniques suitable for them.

When you want to get a higher level, you can learn Qigong or Taiji. A lot of Sanda fighters get injuries; qigong training can help your body to heal faster, also to make it stronger and more resistant to injury. Many people who just practice hard kung fu get problems later in life, arthritis etc. I have a friend who was an iron head performer. He broke a concrete slab with his head one time and suffered a serious head injury. His face became partially paralysed and the doctors couldn’t do anything. I taught him qigong and he practiced for up to 8 hours a day! After breakfast, he would just do standing postures, and wouldn’t finish until dinner! After a period of time, his head had healed fairly well.

Thank you Master Guo for sharing your knowledge and experience with us!

For more interviews like this visit www.monkeystealspeach.co.uk

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Interview with Shaolin Master Shi Xing Long

Shi Xing Long, aka Master Wang is a 32nd generation Shaolin master who teaches traditional shaolin kung fu and Sanda. He has a very deep knowledge of traditional shaolin and modern sanda. He has come number one in several national Chinese sanda tournaments, as well as China-Korean martial arts tournament, but he gave this up after suffering a serious back injury. He has mostly recovered now, which he puts down to Shaolin Qigong training. During his injured period, rather than wasting time, he dedicated his time to reading and researching Shaolin manuscripts given to him by his master. I first met him about two years ago when I first came to Kunyu Shan academy to learn Mantis. My first encounter with him was when he taught a Buddhism class every Friday evening. Often I was the only student who turned up, so we would discuss Zen and its connection to martial arts, as well as his own personal experience about life at Shaolin Temple.  

He views kung fu as a way of improving people’s lives, to make them a better person, to be tougher, more confident, more polite etc. It extends to every aspect of life, not just fighting. I have seen many people change after spending some time training with him.

Master Wang was born in Shanxi province, into a very poor family. His grandfather was involved in kung fu and encouraged him to enter the temple for training at a young age. In the beginning, he was very naughty and had no interest in learning. His master would often beat him or make him spend 2 hours standing facing the wall. After his second year, he became much more focussed, beginning to mature and understand the training better.

His master was Shi De Qian, who has passed away now. He was one of the most knowledgeable masters of Shaolin in the modern times. I managed to talk to Master Wang about his experience at Shaolin temple: learning kung fu, training with his master, and some lessons in life he learnt there….

Shifu, please could you tell us about your master, Shi De Qian:

Learning kung fu was very bitter. You had to have perseverance. Our master would test each student; he would watch them carefully during class. He wanted to find the ones with the most potential. Those students he liked, he would take his free time to give extra training and theory to. He was very traditional, and made sure we understood the theory and applications of all the forms. You have to really think about this, to do a form is easy, but you must take your own time to contemplate the features of different forms, to understand them.

Our master was like a father, he would teach us about all aspects of life. He said we have to be men, At that time we knew how to respect our master, to help him teach new students, give him more free time. Because respecting the master is also a kind of kung fu.
Master said, as a man, you must be able to face all kinds of difficulties. Now we are older, and live in society, we slowly realise what he was teaching us. Things in life are really like our master told us, and we must be able to face these challenges.

What was it like learning kung fu in the temple:

When we learnt kung fu it wasn’t like how people learn it now. We learnt from monks, but we had to rely on ourselves to study. We all started from basics. After mastering the basics we spent a lot of time on forms. Our master made sure we understood the theory behind the forms too.

As there were many students, we all had to prove ourselves worthy of learning the higher knowledge. We were all from very poor families; we had no choice but to succeed. Also, as life was in the temple, there were no distractions from the outside world, before I was 18, I have never seen an MP3 player, and I didn’t even know what kind of clothes I would wear if I went out, as we wore our training uniforms all the time. We had to dedicate all our time to kung fu, we didn’t think about going out to play or whatever, we just cared about training hard.

You must have a lot of insights from life there, could you share some with us:

Well, training kung fu is not just about fighting. It’s about being a better person. It’s about learning to master yourself. For example, when we hold stances, it’s really tough, you want to give up. But you can see everyone else is doing it, and maybe the master will hit you if you stop. This doesn’t just give you strong legs; it gives you a strong mind. You can’t just go through life giving up at the first sign of discomfort, where will that get you?

All kinds of training are like that, when we train, we train our minds, and our spirits. Training is tough and painful, but as kung fu practitioners, we must be tough, be able to go through this difficulty, then we will be able to take on any challenge life can throw at us.

For more interviews like this, visit http://www.monkeystealspeach.co.uk

Friday, 17 June 2011

Principles of Taiji Meihua Mantis


When you practice forms
Footwork can be clear or hidden
The hands complement each other like yin and yang
Limbs move up and down, constantly whirling
Arms draw half circles
This is the characteristics of Taiji
Limbs move up and down, constantly whirling
Attack the opponent from all sides and surround him
Combinations should flow together
The movements’ don’t just have one purpose
The hands movements represent plum flowers
Emitting power you should "open like a bow"
When the movement finishes it "contracts like a ball"
Simultaneously these hold the development of the mantis movements


During training kung fu, you must express intent and show spirit,
Body movements must have a solid foundation.
When attacking, the hands must be in harmony with the feet,
Steps should be fast like sprinting.
Strike in all directions: coiling left, right, up and down.
Step in to hit directly, locking with left hand and coiling with right hand.
Strike continuously with the cooperation of the elbows.
Every movement must have fighting intent.

for more translations like this, visit http://monkeystealspeach.co.uk 

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Song of Mantis Fist

Song of Mantis Fist


"Tip your head, raise your neck
Hui yin point tucked in, qi in dantian
Shoulders relaxed, elbows sunken
Wrist sitting, fingers raised
Chest hollow, spine stretched
The posture's like a cat poised to catch a mouse."

This is a "song" explaining the correct body posture in mantis. Traditionally once a student mastered the basics of mantis, they were expected to memorise songs like this, to help them remember the internal principles of body posture and movement.

Tipping your head refers to tucking your chin in very slightly, this offers slight protection to your throat and helps you to focus your eyesight directly ahead. Raising your neck means to have a slight stretching feeling in the muscles in the back of your neck, also, you can imagine a string from the top of your head (bai hui point) pulling your spine straight (spine stretched).

The hui yin point is an acupoint just in front of your anus. The meaning of tucking this point in is to allow your hips to drop and tuck slightly forward. The feeling being your tailbone is curved slightly and your lower back is straight, rather than arched in. You should feel like you are perched on the edge of a chair, sitting into your stance, but only slightly, dont stick your groin forward, or it will be an easy target.

Relaxing the shoulders and sinking the elbows creates more power in the arms, while avoiding stiffness. “The elbows never leave the ribs” is another phrase often heard. This provides protection to the core of the body from attack, as the elbows are kept close to the body, following a pathway in line with the ribs as they move back and forth. “Wrists sitting and fingers raised” describes a guard position, a slight tweak of tension in the wrists, keeping them in position and developing potential energy at this point. The wrists shouldn’t be kept totally limp, but should have life, a small amount of tension holding them in place.

Hollowing the chest is a feeling of relaxing the chest. It shouldn’t be stuck out, but at the same time, hollowing means to relax, not to force it in. This allows your Qi to sink to your dantian (mentioned in the beginning), which means to allow your breathing to become deeper using your abdomen. This increases your power, by using this to point to breathe out sharply as you emit power.

Understanding and applying these points to your posture, as well as understanding the correct use of tension and relaxation, will allow you to use your body to its maximum potential in combat, allowing you to use a greater percentage of your bodies natural power and speed. Also, you will feel more powerful, and so will be more confident.

For more translations like this, visit http://www.monkeystealspeach.co.uk

Saturday, 11 June 2011

One night in Yantai

Before coming to Yantai, I expected to find mantis schools everywhere, it being the hometown of the kung fu style and all. This not being the case, I at least expected the university Im studying at to have a kung fu culture, but after looking around, I just found some modern Wushu and old people doing taiji.

Through the introduction of a friend, I finally found a little pocket of the kung fu atmosphere I was expecting to find here. Walking down a little back alley at dusk we came to a small courtyard with some little kids stretching their legs on a wall. There was a very old man sitting on a tiny stool smoking, who got up to greet me. This was Grandmaster Qu Zi Jun. He didn’t have the powerful, overbearing master attitude I often see in China, instead he was welcoming and humble. He invited me in to an apartment on the side of the courtyard, he said he didn’t live there, it seemed to just be full of swords, trophies and calligraphy, with boxes laying around everywhere. We sat down and I handed him a small gift of some tea and a box of milk, which is customary in China when meeting a master or person of respect. In return, he gave me a T-shirt with a mantis logo and Chinese characters on it.

After chatting for a bit, we went outside and I sat and watched the class. It was mostly kids, with 2 adults; my Chinese friend and another older guy who was helping teach. Master Qu would sit and watch quietly, chatting to me and occasionally telling the kids to stop talking and giving some corrections. I didn’t want to ask too many questions on the first meeting, I was quite happy to watch and soak up the atmosphere. From watching the better kids and the adults, I could see that even as our lineages are the same: Taiji Plum Blossom Mantis, there were obvious differences in the forms and body mechanics. They seem to be more obviously “mantis-like” in their movements, and I found it a bit more appealing to the eye.

They asked me to perform Luan Jie, which I was a bit reluctant about, I rarely review old forms, but I felt surprisingly powerful and clear in my movements and they seemed to like it. At first, the older student thought I did Seven Star mantis, but I explained it was the same lineage, just from Zhang Bing Dou of Qingdao (my master’s master). I was hoping to see some applications and more partner training, but it was mostly a kids class, I guess that’s kept for the older students, who need to prove themselves.

I guess I need to get out more and get looking for these kinds of experiences; the masters won’t come looking for me. My master is my master, but I want to gain a larger insight into mantis, and with my masters blessing, take a look at what others are doing and get more involved in the kung fu community here. Master Qu welcomed me to come back and visit again, although as he knows I already have a master, I’m not too sure what that means.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Interview with Master Qu

Master Qu Hai is a native of Yantai, birthplace of Praying Mantis kung fu. He is a 9th generation master of Taiji-Meihua Mantis, and a disciple of Li Kun Shan’s grandson, Zhang Bing Dou. He has practiced mantis since his early teens and is also a qualified Tui Na massage therapist and acupuncturist.

Shifu, could you please talk about your experience learning kung fu:

Well, when I was young, I was always interested in kung fu, and Shandong being the home of mantis, it was only natural that I chose it. I began training in basics and forms with a local master, but he was very busy and so recommended I follow a master in Qingdao, Zhang Bing Dou.

We would train in the evenings in Masters house, training was very slow and repetitive, we would get one move and just work that until Master was happy, then he would give us another one. Sometimes he would just send us home to work on one move and tell us to come back next month, then he would look at it and say its not good enough, go back and practice! Also, my master wanted to test you, to see what kind of person you are. You have to have a good character, and strong resolve. He won’ tell you anything for a long time, just make you repeat. Maybe after a period of time he will tell you what you’re doing wrong. You see, in kung fu, you must think for yourself, its not just about asking your master all the time.

For the first year, I just worked on basics, then forms. Later, I learnt paired practice, weapons and qigong. Forms are very important; they must be done with intent. It’s this intent that separates kung fu from mere wu shu. We would take single moves from forms and repeat them over and over again. If we didn’t understand an application, Master would make us spar, just using this one move. We never had mats on the ground or gloves like you guys. You can’t be afraid of being hit. Forms and sparring are interconnected, there is a saying: “spar like you’re doing a form, do a form like you’re sparring.” This is very important.

Shifu, how did you come to learn Ba Gua?

After studying mantis for a long time and having a high level, I felt like I wanted to broaden my horizons. I began to meet with people from other styles to exchange ideas with them. I took an interest in Wuxing Tongbei and Da Cheng Quan (Yi Quan). Later, I began to read about Ba Gua Zhang. After contacting a master named Wang Shang Zhi on the internet, I travelled to Beijing to meet him. We met in a park and discussed kung fu. I felt that he had a very high level and deep understanding, and I really liked his kung fu. So I spent three years living in his home studying Yin style Ba Gua. Master Wang made and sold redwood furniture, sometimes I would help him with his work. When we trained, I was often paired up with a huge guy, who was very strong. I had to use my brain to be clever. I couldn’t defeat him with brute force. Our master focused a lot on paried practice, and feeling the opponent. We learnt through doing and feeling, rather than explanations. The point was that if you got hit, you learnt something. Maybe your guard was down, maybe you left yourself open. So you wouldn’t do that again. Slowly you would learn and improve.

There is much talk about the differences between internal and external kung fu, what are your thoughts?

Actually there is no difference really. The names “internal” and “external” came about after the twentieth century. You must have internal and external together, internal power comes from correct body mechanics, and from intent. When you practice forms, you must have the intent of fighting. Don’t just do the movements, imagine there is an opponent, make your movements fast and flow together. In a fight you don’t stop after each punch, the same in forms. You can do three or four movements within one body movement. This is real kung fu, its not step 1, step 2, step 3 like you see in a magazine. That is just a beginner’s level. Also, you must use muscular power together with intent; you need to train power. Take Taiji for instance, most people think its all soft and powerless, in fact real Taiji training is tough and has high demands for power training. All kung fu is the same, you need a strong body to generate power, and you need intent to use your power.

Shifu, I find it difficult to explain mantis to people, it’s quite an eclectic style:

Well, basically, mantis takes the principles of how a praying mantis will catch it’s pray as a foundation. As mantis was created quite late, it was able to further absorb the strong points of other styles to add to this foundation. It is heavily influenced by Chang Quan, Tongbei Quan, Taiji Quan as well as others. The body must move as a whole unit, using circular movements, half circles and spirals, as well as the unity of opposites, such as forward and backwards, opening and closing etc.

And what about the differences between the different branches:

In fact, in the beginning, there was no separation of different branches. Liu He (6 harmonies) mantis was created fairly early, it has a different syllabus and principles to the other branches. Qi Xing (7 stars) and Taiji separated much later, and in fact the similarities are greater than the differences. Taiji and Meihua is pretty much the same thing, its only personal preferences as to the name used. Qi Xing uses the principle of body parts relating the 7 stars (the big dipper), and that these 7 parts should move in union. Taiji uses the principles of Yin and Yang, or opposites, like left and right, forward and backward, so that the body moves harmoniously and generates the most power. Meihua refers the footwork and hand methods; that they move in a plum blossom shape, attacking the opponent from different sides. All the styles have long and short, hard and soft, the principles are the same. It’s just like if I teach 5 of you, you will have Will mantis, Eric mantis, etc, you all have your own characteristics.

Shifu, how did you come to learn Chinese medicine?

In fact, my first master suffered from a bad lower back, so I wanted to learn massage to help him. Later, my interest grew and I saw how deep it is. I went to Jinan and later to Beijing, to gain my qualifications in Chinese medicine.

Finally, Shifu, can you tell me what you think the benefits of Mantis are:

Well, it can harmonise your body, kung fu exercises your body as a whole. Not only that but it is good for self defence, health preservation and making yourself stronger in body and mind. It can help you to become a better person, improve your heart and mind. You will be able to face whatever challenges life throws at you with a very peaceful and calm mind. You won’t be so stressed and worried, and will have more confidence in yourself.

Shifu, thank you for your time and sharing your knowledge with us!

For more interviews like this, visit http://monkeystealspeach.co.uk