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Fanche of the Middle Road

Which fist of Mantis Boxing has the power to break through walls and smash down doors? According to students descended from Jiang Hualong the technique called fanche is just such a move. Li Kunshan titles his fanche theory "Hard Collapsing solid Smashing." Other descendants of Jiang Hualong simply called it by its first sentence 'Fanche of the Central Road.'


Hard Collapsing Solid Smashing Fist

Fanche of the central road

Its beginning and ending are undefined

It doesn't rely on blocking

It doesn't rely on joint manipulations

It doesn't rely on pasting and leaning

It doesn't rely on counter strikes

It has no concern for doors

If there is a door go straight in

If there is no door break through the wall

A purely hard technique devoid of softness


"Fan" means "to overturn" and "che" means "a cart." Taken together the word fanche implies that it "overturns a horse drawn cart." Fanche can also mean "a waterwheel" and would imply that the hands spin around like a waterwheel being pushed by a fast flowing river. But the description we find in old mantis boxing manuals is most descriptive;

As for the word che; it is a cart's wheel ever turning.
As for the word lulu; it is like a windlass flowing endlessly.
To speak of both fanche and lulu; the single hand is lu and both hands make a wheel.
A cart is like lulu. Adding the "fan" character means to turn this way and return that way, falling without end.


More than any other form of Mantis Boxing Zhong Lu Fanche contains the idea of "falling without end."



Jiang Hualong learns Fanche


The story goes that Jiang Hualong (1855-1924) befriended Li Danbai (uncle to Li Kunshan) and learned the fanche moves from him. What form Jiang Hualong learned we can not say, but Jiang Hualong did  pass down a form called Zhong Lu Fanche, a form of over fifty falling fanche chops! You can say that this form combines fanche techniques with fanche techniques.


Zhong Lu Fanche comes from an era when masters trained fewer techniques but more repetitions. After several generations the original Zhong Lu Fanche came to be practiced less and less while its offspring such as Xiao Fan Che, Plum Flower Road and Third Road of Essentials, forms of fewer fanche moves, came to be practiced more and more.


Master Cui's Favorite Form


Before my July 2011 trip to Shandong I spoke to Zhou Zhendong by phone and politely asked if there was a chance I could learn Zhong Lu Fanche. To my great joy he happily agreed. While training with him in Shandong he told me that his grand teacher Cui Shoushan called Zhong Lu Fanche his favorite form.






Cui Shoushan performs Belly cavity punch from Zhong Lu Fanche


Zhong Lu Fanche consists of all the types of chops and combinations of lulu. The form has both striking from the top as well as attacking from the bottom. The fanche techniques come in combos of three, five, and six hands. Fanche can advance left and right or it can leap through the air straight ahead. It invokes the idea of a great war horse and contains four types of horse techniques. One of those techniques, "Running horse fanche," is the name given to the move where you run and leap as you perform fanche, though it looks long range, in application you are holding the opponent with one hand as they retreat and chopping their neck with your other hand. After chopping from the top the hands suddenly reverse to strike at the belly or heart cavity.


Postures of Zhong Lu Fanche


The form specializes in running feet and swinging arms, but you still must have focal points between all this running and swinging. These focal points of the form, the stationary postures, train the student to root themselves to the ground. Below is the beginning of the form containing the most important of the fanche moves.

Six hands running horse fanche

Horse riding belly cavity punch


Three hands fanche to left and right

Five hands fanche to left and right

After the series of fanche techniques has traveled its first four roads it displays a foot uprooting posture before moving on with the next several roads of fanche techniques.

Knife Break uprooting (kick). The returning horse lifts (the reins)



The complete first page of Middle Road Fanche.


Fanche's repetitive training method is a window into the past idea of how just a small number of techniques were practiced


More on Fanche Leaping Fist of Fanche


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