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Seizing the Opportunity

All skills and abilities of martial arts are built upon the Chinese word 'shi .' This can be translated as 'maneuver.'



Shi Zhengzhong teaching

the raising and cleaving

maneuver from his

2007 trip to Brazil









Walls and Doors

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 called 'maneuver 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 shi.'

The maneuvers of pugilism are what enable us to produce its changes.
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.

The 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.

Discourse on Maneuvering

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 on Maneuvering.

There are two meanings to the character shi.
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 opportunity.

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 ground.
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 opportunity[

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