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The 400 Year Old Iron Fist

The earliest manual of Shaolin martial arts was Exposition of Original Shaolin Stick Fighting written around 1610 by military expert Cheng Zongyou

At the end of the book is a chapter of questions and answers  which mentions a well known empty hand longfist style of the day from the Wen family.
"Of the Iron fist variety is the Wen Family's Longfist"

Iron Fist Today

When Li Kunshan came to Taiwan after WW2 he taught a longfist form called Iron Fist. Within his hand written manuscript of boxing he placed this form under the heading of longfist. Though we can not verify that it is the same form as that mentioned in 1610, there is a saying, 'forms don't pass three generations.' Which means that after the third generation the form has undergone a lot of changes. But we can look at the form and learn effective attack and defense methods.

Iron Fist is a good introduction to Li Kunshan's style of Plum Flower Mantis boxing. The form is comprised of moves found within well known mantis forms such as the Zhai Yao series, Plum Flower Road and Luan Jie.

The Slapping Blade

One common move to Mantis is the hook kick. Here it is called slapping blade small chiao.

Sam, on the right and I square off. I use closing hands to defend against his straight left.


My left hand grabs his left hand and my right hand chops to his throat. This is the slapping blade. His right hand blocks my chop and I grab it securely.


Once I grab him I can pull to the right as my right leg kicks in behind his ankle. The goal is to use my kicking leg to uproot his front leg. Before I manage to do that...


He only needs to lift his left leg to avoid being taken down. This is a common defense to this type of hook kick and there are many different techniques that I can follow up with. In the case of the form Iron Fist the follow up technique is called, 'rushing jump double evading knee.'

To apply this technique requires a speedy jump of off the left leg in order to ram it into the opponent's belly.
Jumping off
one leg to use it as a knee strike is part of the striking method from the eight short of Mantis Boxing.

The method of using a hook and following up with a knee strike is first introduced to the students in a kao da exercise called striking with the knee. Before students can learn that they need to have gone through conditioning of the belly to prevent injury from knee strikes.

A brief introduction of this type of conditioning was given in The Revolving Wheel of Water and Fire. Once again showing the essential importance of training the qi in order to properly practice the applications[

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