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Peng Lai's

Master Shi Zhengzhong

The Hooking Step of Mantis Boxing

The hooked front foot posture is one of the signature moves of Mantis Boxing. Usually called the seven star stance or the hooked foot stance, older mantis forms such as Luanjie and Duo Gang (Avoid hardness) rely on this for the majority of their moves.

 

Different Schools Different Names

The hooked front foot is commonly used in old Mantis Boxing yet it is rarely seen in other styles of kung fu.

 

Eight Step's Wei Xiaotang and Six Harmony Mantis both call it the sitting tiger posture. Wei Xiaotang even describes it verbally 'Back leg bent front leg straight, lift the front foot up and turn it in.'

 

Taiji Mantis' Zhao Zhuxi calls it the grand ultimate horse - taiji ma.

 

Many other schools such as Seven Star Mantis call it the seven star stance. My shifu alternately called it the seven star step or the hooked step.

 

Why the Hooked Foot

Mantis is a type of short strikes boxing. The hooked foot often aims to attach itself to the leg of the opponent to gain better control of him. Strikes with the hands, elbows or other parts of the body while fighting shoulder to shoulder are all applied from this position.

 

Hooked Foot from the Past

This step, by any of the above names, is rarely mentioned in old manuscripts of mantis short strikes. It is the type of thing that would only be mentioned in a classroom setting. Though it is not mentioned much in old books, most all modern books of Mantis name the stances as well as such rudimentary things as punches and blocks. It points to a shift in the audience.  

 

Old manuscripts were for masters to record or pass on their techniques and contained that which was most important to them and often times even things considered secret. Many new manuals are mostly written for newer students with the books having a strong commercial motive.

 

One place we find this posture mentioned in the old writings is the applications section of Cui Shoushan's manuscript. It starts with a paragraph called The Governing Formula of Mantis Hands. He probably copied this from a much older book. It is a variation on a 400 year old military manual by General Qi Jiguang called New Book on Effective Training Methods. It includes the principles of hand and feet under a six word formula.

 

It clearly describes the hooked foot posture,

The front leg is straight and the rear leg is bent.

This is the simplest yet most accurate description of the hooked step and almost the same as Eight Step's Wei Xiaotang's description of the stance. 'Back leg bent front leg straight.'

 

The Governing Formula of Mantis Hands

Discussing the six characters of yin and yang, hard and soft as well as false and real.

 

The turning of yin and yang is essential.

Keep both hands bent.

The front leg is straight and the rear leg is bent.

 

Striking and tempting,

Your entire body applies force when either advancing or retreating.

With your step advancing forward you'll meet no rival under heaven.

 

Training of the Hooked Foot

Traditional Plum Flower Mantis is taught with a series of between 7 or 8 basic roads.

Zhang Dekui

Mimen Mantis

Wei Xiaotang

8 Step Mantis

Zhao Zhuxi

Tai Ji Mantis

Huang Hanxun

7 Star Mantis

Chan Poi

Wah Lum

Liu Jingru

Six Harmony

 

One of these roads is called hooked step with jade ring hands. The legs coil and uncoil in the hooked step while the hands attach and seal.

 

Hooked Step Jade Ring Hands

chuan zhang gou zi bu
Coil the legs stick out the palm. Hooked step with double sealing hands.

Because moving in this fashion is also called jade ring stepping, so this exercise is also known as jade ring step jade ring hands.

  1. To perform it stand with both feet together.

  2. Piercing Palm-Twist to the left and shoot out the right palm as seen in the picture above.

  3. Hooked Step-The right leg steps forward in a hook posture. The foot makes an audible sound on the ground as it comes to a stop, both hands are in the mantis hook. The first picture of Shi Zhengzhong at the top is this same posture.

  4. Continue on the other side of the body.

Hooked Foot Applied

The hooked foot can be applied many ways. In this article I will illustrate how it is applied with the hooked step and jade ring hands.

xu bu bi shou We begin the drill in the empty step closing hands posture.
chuan zhang My right hand firmly grabs his right hand.

I coil my step as I stick out my left palm.

I want to have control of both his hands before I enter.

 

zuo you gou My left hand grab pulls his left hand.

The point of the pull is to pull his elbow across his centerline.

zuo you gou chao tui Now that I have closed his gate my left leg can step in and hook behind his ankle.
shuang feng Before he has time to get away my right forearm seals against his left upper arm in order to topple him.
the fall As he falls over I can follow for a punch or escape.

 

The above application is a great introduction to one of the essential types of throws in Plum Flower Mantis Boxing. Many other throws and strikes are based on similar principles as this.

 

After sufficient practice with falling the next step is learning how to escape from the fall and the attacker learns how to adopt to the situation and change his attack.

 

This type of move is common in Mantis Boxing and the forms give many examples of how to change the attack after the opponent has escaped from the fall.

 

One of the beautiful things of Mantis Boxing forms are the examples of alternate combinations the attacker can use after one of his main techniques has been foiled[

 

Bibliography

The above pictures of masters in order of appearance are as follows.

  • Shi ZhengZhong does the hooked step of this article. Picture taken at Brazil seminar by Andre Azevedo.

  • Zhang Dekui from Tang Lang Lan Jie Quan performs two yin yang.

  • Zhao Zhuxi from Taiji Tang Lang Men Zhao Zhu Xi Zong Shi Ji Nian Ji performs grand ultimate horse.

  • Wei Xiaotang from his book Shi Yung Tang Lang Quan performs sitting tiger stance.

  • Huang Hanxun 'Wong Hanfun' in his book Plum Flower Road performs seven star stance adding a punch.

  • Chan Poi from his book Wah Lum Kung Fu First Fist Form performs seven star horse.

  • Liu Jingru from Liu He Tang Lang Quan performs sitting tiger step hu zuo bu.

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