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The Double Palm Strike of Mantis Boxing
Eighteen great masters of kung fu passed on their best techniques 'for later generations to extirpate cruel bandits and shatter injustice, the original intentions being mercy, chivalry and righteousness.' The techniques are arranged in descriptively titled groups such as ‘Seven Maneuvers’ , ‘Eight Hard’ and ‘Seven Long’ as well as methods of developing strength and vitality called ‘Eighteen Luohan Gung.’ There is one technique that shows up in each of these groups. It is the double palm strike.


The specialty of the ‘Eight Hard’ attacks is ‘to advance without defense, only onward without retreat.’ The third technique of ‘Eight Hard’ is called ‘following strike double palms.’


The ‘Seven Long’ attacks, supposedly descended from General Han Tong (?-960), use full range of the arms to attack. The 4th technique of ‘Seven Long’ says, ’Wrapping, sealing double palms; two hands unite and wrap and the double palms rush straight out.’


‘Eighteen Luohan Gung’ emphasizes developing the mind, body and spirit. ‘To accumulate strength, cultivate the qi and perfect the spirit is the Luohan’s accomplishment on the path of achievement.’
In ‘Eighteen Luohan Gung’ the double palm strike is called ‘Push the Window Display the Trellis,’ and contains four pages of descriptions and illustrations with names like, ‘Following step double palm push’ which we see in ‘Eight Hard’ and ‘Wrap and seal, unite the hands,’ which we see in ‘Seven Long.’
 

The window trellis and door at Confucius Temple in Tainan where author Kevin Brazier often trained.

 

The Luohan Moves a Mountain


The idea of strength includes physical strength to perform great feats, ‘Consider the strength to move Tai Hang Mountain.’ It also includes an uncommon speed and power. ‘Imitate the rushing wind and the joy of an unbridled horse.’ The development of mountain moving strength and the power of an untamed horse relies on the development of the qi.

 

The Tiger Riding Luohan


Wrap and seal, unite the hands, firmly compel the qi,
For attacking and entering uses all the body’s strength.
The overturning hawk rushes into the wind,
Coming and going like the pulling of a saw
.

Cultivate the Qi


The proper exertion of force requires the coordination of qi. ’The strength relies on the qi.’ Here, qi simply means the respiration, the goal being to have an even breathing with inhalation and exhalation being well balanced and deep, in this way can the strength go beyond the muscles and work to develop the sinews and bones. To the right is an illustration from Luohan Gung.

 

Adjusting respiration requires a returning and rotating,
One coming and one going,
Nourish it to the union of qi and blood,
And one day your sinews and bones will be strengthened.

‘Returning and rotating’ is a reminder to keep the mind focused on the point of change from inhalation to exhalation and vs. versa. Because inhalation is yang and exhalation is yin (the yin and yang which make up the two halves of the taiji diagram at right) so it is said to be ‘returning and rotating.’


Perfect the Spirit


Spirit means an animated spirit or strong vitality which we begin to acquire on mastering the ’returning and rotating’ of our own respiration. To master the respiration means not only while exercising, but keep respiration even throughout the day and night. When the respiration is always calm we have more energy to use at that critical moment.

Raise the qi, pass the shoulders,
Push past heaven and moon.
Changing your step burst into the yamen.

 


The yamen (above) was where government business of each town or region was administered and where the judging of civil and criminal cases took place. To the Chinese, considered the second class of citizen during the Manchurian ruled Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the idea of vitality enough to burst into the Manchurian yamen might have seemed appealing, yet Luohan Gung often stresses calmness in the face of excitement.

Ride the horse and pull the whip your hands raise the reins.
While leaping mountains and jumping streams your mind stays free of panic.

Finally, the effect on the mind of proper deep breathing that is maintained throughout the day is to expand your mind.


Polish the essence, refine your qi, open your mind’s door.

The Luohan’s Palm Strikes


Though there is a strong emphasis on proper cultivation of mind, thought and respiration, mantis boxing is originally a collection of martial techniques, descended from eighteen masters which were combined with seven key maneuvers. Within these seven maneuvers we also find the double palm strike called, 'following step push both palms' along with an illustration attributed to Sheng Xiao Dao Ren (right).

‘Seven Maneuvers Gathered Within Continuous Fist Make The Eighteen Combinations. They are seven types of maneuvers that take the techniques of eighteen styles and combine them into a way that continuously interconnects without end.’
 



Though pushing with the double palms is both simple and common, showing up not only in many areas of the oldest collections of Mantis Boxing but also within Shaolin and Taiji Quan. The double palm technique bursts through the opponent’s gate and knocks him down, yet it is somewhat safe as it is unlikely to cause permanent injury, No wonder it is considered one of the most important techniques in Chinese Kung Fu

 

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