Seizing the Opportunity
All skills and
abilities of martial arts are built upon the Chinese word 'shi
勢.' This can be
translated as 'maneuver.'
the raising and cleaving
maneuver from his
2007 trip to Brazil
The concept of shi is the essence of martial arts. To master martial
arts is to master the ability of 'taking maneuvers.' For this reason
masters of pugilism were often
taking masters' or 'ba shi jiang'
in Northern China.
To get a deeper understanding of
shi the best place to start is from a well known master of the Ming(1368-1644) dynasty known as Tang Xun. During his lifetime
he penned a book known as Wu Bian. He tells us that maneuvers
can be fixed, as in the postures we learn when we first begin our
martial arts journey, or they are in constant motion. He explains
the requirements for the understanding of 'taking maneuvers' or 'ba
The maneuvers of pugilism are what enable us to produce its
Regardless of whether you move horizontally, diagonally, sideways,
upwards, forwards or downwards there exists walls and doors for
defending and attacking.
This is the meaning of maneuvers.
Within pugilism are the fixed maneuvers, but during their
application they are no longer fixed.
And when using them their changes also have no fixed maneuvers, yet
the maneuvers are still there.
This is what is known as ba shi.
Moving the Lantern
Around the time
of Tang Xun and his 'taking maneuvers,' General Qi Jiguang wrote 24
examples of actual maneuvers in his Pugilist Canon. Seven star
fist is a maneuver from the Canon of Boxing which
explains the movements of hands and feet.
hands and feet of seven star compliment each other.
When closing the distance move the
lantern up and down.
Even though others have fast hands and
feet like the wind.
I can still
rush in with heavy cleaving.
Here the lantern refers to a posture
of holding a stick with a lantern tied to the end. Imagine someone
moving this lantern stick up and down and we see how the hands move
up and down as we square off to fight. This happens as we are moving
towards our opponent.
When shi is, 'applied
against your opponent it is to seize the opportunity.'
When crossing hands with your opponent you must snatch your moment
of opportunity to overcome and defeat him.
The skills of Mantis
boxing are based on this maneuvering ability. Here, for the first
time ever, is an English translation of Cui Shoushan's Discourse
There are two meanings to the character
When it comes from oneself it is to be in wait.
Applied against your opponent it is to seize the opportunity.
The foundation of pugilist skill is built upon the waiting maneuver.
Its applications are built upon the maneuvers of seizing the
The student must diligently study the part concerning one's self
before learning how to apply it against others.
If you can hold the waiting maneuver and supposing your enemy can
not take the advantage from you, then you already occupy the winning
Otherwise, supposing the enemy can take advantage of you, plus you
have the foundation but lack the ability to apply it, then you are
not good enough to draw away your enemy.
The method of the waiting maneuver lies in being calm.
If you are calm then you can tell the intention of your enemy.
If you can tell the intention of your enemy then you will know where
to attack and where to defend.
So the military method says that in defending be like the virgin
girl, in attacking like a rapid hare.
Diligent study and
training of shi builds our foundation in Mantis Boxing. Its
applications are realized when we can seize the moment of