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A Weekend in Tennessee

On the last week of September Jim Smyer of Peng Lai Tennessee invited me up for an intensive class of Mantis Boxing. For this report I have included video as well as pictures.



Video from the weekend includes cleaving and striking the heart as well as an introductory drill for impeding the horse (lan ma shi). Lan ma shi is shown in detail in the pictorial.


Youtube version


It was my hope to inspire the class the way my shifu had inspired me with his teachings of praying mantis. One of the biggest inspirations from my shifu came years ago when he explained the all encompassing nature of fan-che. One evening after a rigorous class he did fan-che combinations combined with a similar move called lulu and said,

'All the moves of Mantis are within these motions.'

It was then that I got a sudden flash of inspiration as I realized that everything we do is an adjustment or alteration of fan-che and lulu.

It was this that I had hoped to share with everyone present which included not only Jim Smyer and his school but Matt Melton of Asheville Peng Lai and Sam Smith of Kentucky's Sam Smith's Martial Art Club.

Steve Ottaviano accompanied me up from Florida to assist in the teaching and demonstration of the two person techniques.

The form Xiao fan-che was the vessel I used to enlighten everyone as to the varied strikes, applications and changes of fan-che and lulu.

The old Mantis form Xiao fan-che is based on the variations of fan-che movement and is an excellent way to explain and train its changes and applications.





Huang Han Xun famous teacher of Mantis Boxing in Hong Kong had this to say about fan-che movement,

'Since ancient times it has been that to have Mantis you can't be without fan-che.'

'If you are skilled in the application of fan-che and lulu then there will be no strength that can't be destroyed and no enemy that can't be defeated.'

Powerful words from a well known master!

Students Training

Brandon and Jojo practice the groin strikes of the impeding horse maneuver


Joe (has hair) just threw a right straight to Dustin's gut. Dustin is in the midst of throwing a right hook.



After Class Demonstrations

After the training I showed some variations. Here I have pulled Steve's neck so I can kick him in the face from behind.



Stepping in for the takedown.


My right foot is planted and Steve is going down.


The Impeding Horse Maneuver

In the video clip at the top of the page are included two drills. The second one is called lan ma shi. Both students perform the exact same movements with one advancing and one retreating.

Lan ma uses your right hand to strike to the opponent's left side such as the neck or head. It can be either a smashing cleave as shown or a hook punch. The key point is that the follow through of this motion brings your traveling right hand to your opponents right side. It can be a strike to the outside of the opponent's right leg, shown, or a strike to the right side of the neck or the groin. Though these targets are all separate and different, the body motion of the attacker is almost exactly the same.

Once skilled in the application of lan ma shi the students can explore the variations.

Lan Ma Shi Applied

After having controlled his right hand with my left hand I can apply the right breaking punch to his face.


He closes my right hand by pushing against my elbow.


I take advantage of his left pushing hand by stealing it from underneath and firmly grasping it. Notice how my right hand pulls past my waist for the following move.

Once my right hand has grabbed his left hand I move to the outside of his left hand where my cleaving hand can strike unimpeded.

Steve must adjust his space with mine so that he can also swing his right hand up to counter my right strike. From here the strike can continue on its original path by smashing through the door that is Steve's arm and follow through with the low strike as demonstrated by Steve and Jim in the following pictures.

Variations of Lan Ma Shi

Here Jim takes my place in the attack and brings his hand down to strike at Steve's thigh.


Jim quickly slips his right hand to the inside and strikes the groin.


The momentary shock from that groin strike is all Jim needs to grab Steve's ankle.


Jim pulls Steve's ankle up high for the takedown. From here Jim can walk away or he can drop his left knee in for a finishing strike.

It can clearly be seen from these variations of lan ma shi the essential need of training with low stances.

For those who have trained the form First Essential Route the variation performed by Jim and Steve may appear familiar. This type of application was grouped under the Essential series of Mantis Boxing[

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