Interesting they also emphasize the intercept... Along with many other similarities with WCK and other Southern Styles..
There are many other principles such as the centerline theory; intercepting hand and sticky hand; rooting, moving the center, attaching the center; crossing the bridge; straight power and borrowing force; float, sink, swallow and spit; which I may address in the future. Several strategies may be employed when fighting: scaring, faking actions, tripping the opponent attacking from the left and right angles as well as from the front, adhering and discharging. Sight and sound are also refined in order to understand and anticipate the opponent's movement. Hand-to-hand contact is used to "sense" the opponent strength, weaknesses, power, intentions, shifting of weight, and readiness to attack. The idea is to get your opponent off balance and not let him regain it; and at the same time shift in close with explosive rapid fire strikes. The opponent must try to ward off these blows, but so fast and many this is very difficult to do. Speed is essential. The principle of intent or "will-power" is first discussed. Intent may simply be defined as the "warrior spirit." Without it, their is no focus of the body and mind into one purpose.
If pushed downward the hand turns to strike upward, if pushed upward the hand turns to strike downward, if pushed inward the hand turns to strike outward, if pushed out the hand turns (changes) to strike inward (simply said). Of course, this is a principle and as one becomes skillful, his hand learns to adapt to any angle or circumstance.
This principle of contact, control and strike is central to all mantis action is based on the three powers of the arm; from the shoulder to the elbow, elbow to the wrist, wrist to the fingertips. A skillful mantis will defend and attack using one arm (leaving one hand free) to trap and control the opponents two arms. This is done with one arm by using the forearm for defensive movement while simultaneously attacking with the hand or fingers. This can only be accomplished if one has understood the centerline theory.
And so, a superior art is based on a deep rooted stance, upright footwork in stepping and production of power by the movement of the ribs and diaphragm. It will use the conditioned arms and hands 70% of the time and the legs and feet 30% of the time in offense and defense. This is because, in this style the hands are considered the quickest and most convenient weapon.
As many other traditional styles the Southern Praying Mantis has "songs" to help the student to remember the style's fighting theories. This is the Praying Mantis Fist Upper Body and Foot Work song:
Raise hands above, point palms down.
Grab, catch, punch and seize.
Move one hand above the head and level the other one.
Bend your knees like a frog's. Round your back like a basket.
Shape your feet like a "T" but not a "T", "V" not like a "V".
Stretch your hands out from the heart.
If you don't attack, I won't attack.
Another song in the styles says:
" The hanging power is like a noose that opens and contracts.
The hands that seize holds and catch
The head is down, eyes look sharp like that of a cat.
The ribs open and close like the hinge of a door.
The legs are bent like a frog ready to spring.
When you achieve something in Tong Long Kune, then you are about to
There is another song in the style that says "On tum chum bil loi lau hei sung" One should immediately block and attack from any gate. Welcome in the guest and when we get tired of him we kick him out The meaning of this song is take in opponent's power, neutralize it, and return it to him many fold.
Another song "Hand to hand, heart to heart; you don't come, I won't start" is used to explain the theory in the two man sensitivity drills.
By pressing the centerline of the opponent, sticking to his movement and feeling his intent, the skillful hand can, using small, quick, short, angular jerks and deflections, redirect and create an opening in the opponents center and intent while delivering a single devastating blow in a straight line (the shortest quickest distance between two points) to his vital spots. Continuous direct blows are given until the opponents submission. The mantis philosophy is train until within three blows the opponent submits, bleeds or ceases to exist.
Southern Praying Mantis has 3 distances to cover: long, to cover the distance; medium, where to enter; and close where punishing blows can be delivered. The techniques of the Southern Mantis system are short range, based on inch force power that comes from tendon contraction.
The first task of infighting is to get in close to the opponent. This would seem especially important to a style like southern mantis: since the mantis stylist's forte is infighting. It stands to reason he would be particularly vulnerable at the longer distance most other styles use. Actually, this is no problem. When one is used to fending blows that come from very near, a round kick or long arm punch seems slow by comparison.
If the opponent was the type who flicked kicks from as far away as possible, the mantis practitioner would simply attack the kicking leg by catching the kick and jamming the knee, or by actually striking the kicking leg (the side of the knee would be a good target), or by kicking the muscles of the thigh. All of these would prove very discouraging to a would-be attacker.
In most combat situations, the long-range fighter would try to drive in against a mantis stylist, opening with kicks to close the distance and then finishing with hand techniques. In such a case, the mantis stylist would simply sidestep the attack and allow his opponent's own movement to bring him into range. Often, accompanying this evasion tactic with a quick snap kick to the attacker's groin. As the assailant moves into range to apply his hand techniques, he would rind the mantis practitioner's hands reaching out for his arm and controlling him in his attempts at continuing the attack.
Once the mantis stylist has come into range, or more accurately, once the attacker has moved himself into the mantis practitioner's range-how is it possible for him to defend against getting hit?
As there are three distances, there are also 3 levels of height involved; floor fighting, where the Southern Praying Mantis practitioner is fighting from the floor; medium, where attacks are aimed low and the body is slightly dropped, and high, where Mantis techniques are applied to the face and shoulder line. if anybody has seen my school training they would notice that the punches never come from or start at the hip, but in front of the chest, this is where short 'inch force' movements can be applied to their fullest extent.
Even a beginning student can execute a punch in one fourth of a second, this means that within arm's reach it is very difficult to block a punch. The Southern mantis solution to this problem begins with the fighting posture taken. In imitation of the praying mantis. The practitioner holds his arms out toward his opponent. When possible, he seeks to have his arms in actual contact with his assailant's. In this way he can feel the attack from its earliest moment. This method saves precious time in two ways. First, he is able to react immediately to the stimulus of an aggressive action without having to wait for his brain to process the information through his eyes. Second, no time is lost bringing his arm from an on-guard position into place to block. In addition to the time-saving aspect of his fighting posture, the ability to catch an attack early in its movement makes it possible to control the blow with not too much effort.
The most important element in the mantis style integration of defense and offense does not he in tactics and techniques, but rather, in the development of "feeling." Feeling is the quality of being sensitive to an opponent's movements and being able to blend with them in a perfect response. Feeling is so central to the mantis style-and to infighting in general-that everything written so far presupposes its development One of the biggest drawbacks of close-quarters combat is that there is virtually no time in which to respond to an action. To further compound this, many attacks are virtually invisible. It becomes imperative that the responses a fighter makes are not dependent on his mind's analysis of a situation or his eyes' perceptions. By developing feeling one gains an almost "sixth" sense, a sensitivity through the arms to the movements of an opponent. Since the stimulus is perceived-through direct tactile contact. it is possible to respond faster. The response also tends to be mom appropriate, since the mind often overreacts to visual stimuli. If the mantis stylist's responses are more appropriate, due to his development of feeling, then they are also more efficient. This is an obvious advantage if one is called upon to fight for a prolonged period of time. Efficient techniques also mean better control over an opponent. By not over-reacting to an attack, the mantis stylist remains in balance and capable of giving that extra little push that can turn a simple block into a move that unbalances or exposes an assailant Another important benefit of the development of feeling is the ability to use an opponent's power against him. If an attacker punches the mantis stylist, he will grab the punching arm and pull it. This simple act has the effect of wrenching the attacker's shoulder destroying his balance, and possibly pulling him into a counter technique like a knee strike. However. if you have ever tried to grab a punch you know that it is not really easy to do. That is why feeling is so important. By sensing the attack initially, the mantis stylist is able to make contact with the punching arm early in the movement. In this way. the grabbing hand is moving with the punch and has plenty of time to grab hold- as opposed to trying to snatch the arm as it goes by. Well-developed feeling for the opponent's movements also determines which counter move will be used. If the attacker is pulled well off balance, then he can be drawn into a sharp counterattack. But, if the attacker's lead leg is well forward so that his center of gravity stays behind that foot, then a palm-heel strike to his fully locked elbow, or a single-knuckle punch to the armpit area would be more appropriate.
Southern Praying mantis fights from an upright position, never too low to impair response and speed. Using the feeling hands of the mantis the boxer closes the gap, crosses the bridge, feels his enemies power, yields, then with the weight of the whole body and the explosive power of internal energy concentrated into one small area destroys the enemy within one exchange that doesn't stop until blood is drawn.
At very close quarters, targets below the waist are among the most vulnerable. There are two important advantages to fighting at very close quarters. The first is that attacks can be delivered so quickly that they are almost impossible for the uninitiated to stop. The second is that, at close range, it becomes possible to strike at vital areas very precisely.
Defense & Offense
One of the most important elements of good infighting is how well defense and offense are integrated. An analysis of this integration begins with an examination of the purpose of defensive moves. The first goal of defense, obviously, is to keep from being hit. When blocking is approached from this vantage it becomes necessary to discover the openings in the assailant to exploit for a successful counter. The opening can be thought of as rhythmic. As a person attacks they have a punch-and-punch-and-punch-and pattern. There is a gap, or space of time, between each blow. In order to exploit this pattern. the defender must break this rhythm with his counterattack. The defender's pattern would go block-and is block-counter. thereby catching his opponent between punches. If an opponent attacked with a front kick-punch combination, the mantis fighter would employ this rhythm breaking pattern of defense. After parrying the kick with his leg, and while the attacker was recovering from the kick and preparing to punch, the well trained mantis stylist would counter with a side snap kick to the ribs. Obviously, the success of such an approach depends upon the speed at which the counterattack follows the block. (This is why the rapid-fire, multiple-power strike is so effective-it does not allow opportunity for a counterattacks. In order to cut down the interval between the block and counter, mantis practitioners frequently block and counter with the same arm (or leg) in one continuous motion. Another good way to utilize this rhythm braking idea is to block with one hand while simultaneously countering with the other.
Usage of the attacker energy
Though it is easy to see how an aggressive attack can be used against the attacker, the mantis practitioner can also turn the attacker's defense against him. If the mantis stylist attacked with a punch and his opponent blocked it forcefully with an inward block, he would simply allow the force of the block to spin his arm around like a propeller. His hand would circle with his elbow as the axis and come crashing in from the other side. A punch blocked to the side would return as a knife-hand blow to the neck. One blocked downward would come crashing down as a back-fist strike. If the defender blocks more softly-so there isn't enough force to spin the mantis' arm in a large circle-he will use what force there is to "flip" his fist around the block. This is an action done more with the wrist than the elbow. allowing the mantis practitioner to press the attack with the same hand by striking again. over the block.
Whole circles, half-circles, quarter circles, circling in and circling out, circling high and circling low. In the southern praying mantis system circles are everything and everywhere. Circles are used to walk the horse, position the body, generate power, block, strike, perform the chi kung, and move from gate to gate. Working alongside the system of circles is the yat yee som (1-2-3). As higher levels are achieved, the numbers increase, much based on the number three. The foundation, however, rests in the chin som, or the first three soft positions, and the how som, the second or power positions.
The yin/yang theory (Mandarin) is known in Cantonese as yum/yan. To throw a punch you must be relaxed (Yin) to make your punch speedy. Just as you are about to strike your opponent, you suddenly exert a lot of force and become Yang. If the opponent blocks your punch, instead of trying to exert more force (Yang versus Yang) to get by his parry, you become soft (Yin) and spin around his block in the direction of the exerted force, striking him and becoming Yang on contact.
A Praying Mantis practitioner develops short power, the ability to exert tremendous force from a short distance. Therefore, a punch need not be finalized until the instant before striking and you can also attack again without withdrawing the attacking arm.
Blocking, kicking, grappling and using weapons also turn the opponent's power against him, just like a wall reflects a thrown ball. Combat then becomes time varying mixture of Yin and Yang.
Yin and Yang energies circulate in the ventral and dorsal parts of the body, respectively, determining their nature. the toughest parts of the body, which are more resistant to blows, are the dorsal and exterior surfaces of the arms and legs and also the back. The inside surfaces of the arms, legs and body are more sensitive. In these parts the skin is softer and more easily bruised.