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One Step Three Punches
When I first met my shifu in Taiwan, Shi Zhengzhong, he started teaching me the fundamentals of Mantis Boxing through a one move form called ’one step three punches.’ To perform this method take one step and punch three times. Then step again as you grab and punch three more times, hence the name ‘one step three punches.’


First grab Then step and punch
The second and third punches immediately follow the first one

Shifu told me that this was also the first thing that he had been taught by his teacher Zhang Dekui of ’Secret Door (Mimen) Mantis.’ Most modern mantis styles such as Tai Ji Mantis, Seven Star Mantis, Eight Step Mantis, and Plum Flower Mantis contain this basic road where your punches follow each other as you advance your footwork towards the opponent. Roads like these are a window into the oldest aspect of Mantis Boxing. In forms of Mantis such as ‘Luan Jie’ and ‘Eight Elbows’ the punch is also called ‘interconnected breaking punch.’ One hand grabs and one hand punches. If the opponent defends or blocks my punch I grab his hand and punch with the other hand, in this way the punches can interconnect without end. We can trace this method back to master Ji Xiang.

The Unobstructed Fists of Mantis Boxing

The ‘unobstructed fists’ of Master Jin Xiang are one of the most powerful attacks of Mantis Boxing. The list of the creators of Mantis Boxing, ‘Surnames of the Founders of Eighteen Styles,’ defines the ninth master and technique, ‘Jin Xiang's colliding hands and unobstructed fists.’ These ‘unobstructed Fists’ are interconnected straight punches that can transform into any other technique. This is why we find ‘unobstructed fists’ part of so many groups of techniques such as ‘eight hard,’ ‘twelve soft’, ‘eight strikes’, ‘eight no strikes’, and ‘seven long’ among others. This ‘fist’ is most devastating when it travels on a direct line straight into the opponent’s face and so it is also known as ‘unobstructed punch to the face.’ When punching straight to the face it has an aspect of deadly danger. Our grandmasters from the past didn’t wish to make reckless killers of their mantis boxing descendants and left some moral guidelines called ‘Ten Rules of Pugilism’ to help teachers when instructing their students. The last two are especially helpful in knowing when to fight and how to hit without harming.

9. When things are tangled, you should only reason verbally to make peace instead of recklessly fighting.
10. Even if you are left with no choice but fighting, remember that striking can be light or heavy. You should protect your opponent's pressure points in order to avoid hurting him.

Forbidden Strikes

‘Eight forbidden strikes’ is a specific list of those strikes to avoid for fear of causing death while ‘eight strikes’ are those which should be used instead.

‘Eight strikes’ are spots of pain or unconsciousness…’

For the ‘unobstructed fist’ we are told by ‘eight strikes’ that striking at ‘ren zhong xue,’ a point located above the upper lip and below the nose, is one of the acceptable targets.

‘Eight no strikes’ are all the spots that can injure life. Though he may be at fault yet it is not deserving of death and we don’t need to take his life. Therefore, points such as the taiyang point (the temple) and the mouth locking spot should be avoided.’

The 'mouth locking spot' is the dangerous target of the ‘unobstructed fist,’ for this reason it is sometimes called ‘mouth locking fist.’

Eight Hard

‘Unobstructed fist to the face’ is part of ‘eight hard,’ the postscript of ‘eight hard’ describes the intent of a ‘hard’ technique.

‘Like a sword of steal that cuts the flesh opening up the tendons and bones. Like a stone pestle that smashes powder destroying the grounds. To advance without defense, only onward without retreat.’

‘Therefore such hand methods as mount tai presses the top and unobstructed punch to the face and other such types of hand methods can all be applied.’

Twelve Soft

The list of soft methods of Mantis Boxing is both a part of Jin Xiang’s ‘unobstructed fists’ as well as containing the methods for overcoming it. For applying 'unobstructed fist' use 'colliding hands.' ‘Jin Xiang's colliding hands and unobstructed fists.’ A short but descriptive sentence within ‘twelve soft’ describes ‘colliding,’ Colliding is to push to the side. ‘Twelve soft’ also can overcome these straight punches using the hooking hand.

Use the hooking hand against his straight rushing. When the opponent’s hand rushes to my face I intercept and hook and enter. If high then hook high, If low then hook low. Inside, outside, obverse or direct consider the situation and act appropriately.

‘Unobstructed fist with hooking high or low.’

If high then hook high

If low then hook low


Long Attacks and Short Strikes

The techniques applied from a distance are called ’seven long.’ Since the arm is fully extended on striking it is no surprise to find this technique as a part of ‘seven long’ where it is described,

Unobstructed fist to the face is either attacking or asking. The unobstructed strikes interconnect front and rear with both arriving in a single moment.

In other words, no time passes between strikes.

One old manuscript of Mantis Boxing called '9981 Short Strikes' gives a fuller understanding and explanation of techniques from 'eight hard' including ‘unobstructed punch to the face.’

Front and rear follow each other straight to the face,
When advancing, the left and right are swift as a wheel.

Like the spinning spokes of a wheel moving too fast for the eye to see the two hands come one after another.

Seven Maneuvers Gathered Within Continuous Fist

Make the 18 Combinations

Each of the eighteen masters has a technique which can combine with another masters’ technique, this is called a combination, and these techniques of eighteen masters also can connect and combine with ‘seven maneuvers.’

What are the seven maneuvers and 18 combinations?
They are seven types of maneuvers that take the techniques of 18 styles and combine them into a way that continuously interconnects without end.

There is a manuscript which contains both illustrations as well as descriptions of these techniques. The ‘unobstructed fist’ is featured here as well as how it combines with other techniques of Mantis Boxing.

Attacking with straight rushing fists and the interconnected stepping
Always relies on the hands following each other
Change the maneuver and the Mantis strikes
Cleave open the gates and change to the supporting hands


Straight attacking to the face follows the rear hand
Sealing hands entering fists and the interconnected steps

Seeing the number of references and descriptions of this method in the oldest manuscripts of Mantis Boxing leads us to understand how much importance they gave to this technique. For another version of the ‘unobstructed punch’ see the ‘window frame punch.’


For more on straight punching read Hide the Peach under the Leaf

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