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Deception Within the Boxing of Shaolin and Mantis

highlighted lines are quotes from the original manuscripts.


"How can the weak defeat the strong?" Asks Shaolin's earliest existing manual of empty hand fighting, The Pugilist Methodology Essential Reference (Quan Jing Quan Fa Bei Yao).

"It all lies in deceptive dodging, leaping and turning(pian-shan, teng-nuo).
If you can dodge deceptively then even though your opponent has a mountain pulling force it will be wasted in vain.
By leaping and turning you can break into your opponent's opening and take advantage of him.
It is best to seemingly give way while not really giving way.
First break through then turn and come back, why should you remain motionless?"

To make your opponent's mountain pulling strength useless in combat is the purpose of this method. Deceptive dodging is the name of the dodge since it deceives your opponent into misjudging your angle of attack. From his initial misjudgment you can create an opening in his gate. Take advantage of him by combining deceptive dodging with leaping and turning. From the opponent's perspective your initial movement makes you appear as though you are giving way when in fact you are not. Moving on the diagonal is the way to successfully apply the deceptive dodge. Hence, we have the following question of the diagonal posed by this classic book of fighting.

"Why do you move diagonally when using the dodging footsteps?
It is in order to avoid that which comes straight towards you and to evade that which charges at you.
Avoid his charge and fly diagonally when his force is difficult to stop.
How can you defend yourself from a straight attack without dodging?
Go sideways and immediately go straight.
Occupy his space so he'll be injured by a fall."

Once his charge has momentum it is difficult to stop.
Deceptive dodging requires you to dodge to the side. Then you can use his developed momentum against himself.

The classics of Mantis Boxing begin with an uncannily similar keyword formula,

"Dodging, deceiving, leaping and turning.
Dodging is like the extinguishing of a lantern in the blink of an eye. It changes according to the situation. Seek and it can not be found. Palms fists elbows and knees can all be applied to it. If your dodge is only an escaping dodge then the word dodge fails to live up to its expectations.
Deceiving is to beguile.
Leaping is to put aside.
Turning is to shift
Within all is contained, 'shan', the dodging character."

To place yourself in a superior position from which to launch your attack is the purpose of dodging. Cleverly dodge the opponent's attack and his perception of the situation is like the sudden lack of illumination on the extinguishing of a lantern. The rules of dodging are not fixed, but instead are constantly adopting to the ever changing situation.

" All warfare is based on deception." This was the philosophy of the great strategist Sun Zi. "If he is superior in strength evade him." According to Sun Zi the method to apply this evasion is to... "Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected."

Sun Zi's treatise on large scale warfare and the empty hand combat of Mantis and Shaolin boxing are all in accord
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