and his Pair of Swords
is based on chopping with the hands and
forearms in moves
such as beng (collapsing-the back fist) and
pi (cleaving). These same motions are
constantly seen in weapon techniques. Is
Mantis Boxing closely
tied to the techniques of chopping weapons?
This month I uncover never before seen
relationships between Mantis Boxing and
Verifiable Record of Wang Lang
Chang's Pugilist Volume (Chang Shi Wu Ji Shu),
Published in Henan sometime during the
Chien Long reign (1736-1795) of the Qing
dynasty, references Wang Lang, historical
founder of Mantis Boxing, when it describes
double sword maneuvers.
Straight Sword Content of Names (Shuang Jian
Ming Mu)," Is the name of this section of
Chang's book. Though Wang Lang is named in
the book it does not prove his existence,
but it does show that his name was
associated with movements of the double
to being the earliest verifiable recording
of his name found so far in published
material, it also indicates a link between
Wang Lang and techniques having to do with
Chopping of Wang Lang's Mantis
with Wang Lang is short but descriptive.
Wang Lang chops the
Shoot the body up.
Lower down the pair of
Crouch the body chop
The key word here is
'chopping.' The pictures above show left grab right chop
as done in the Mantis Boxing style.
with a little imagination you can put a pair of
double straight swords in his hands.
I first wrote about
this discovery in Mantis Quarterly of 2004*.
Since that time new information has come to light
relating the chopping strikes of twin weapons
to the Mantis Boxing sonnet Essential
Treatise of Short Strikes.
Short strikes as it
relates to Mantis Boxing are those techniques
involving the various grabs such as hooking,
plucking and sealing as well as other short range
maneuvers like hanging and lifting. When these are
coupled with strikes of hands, feet, elbows,
shoulders and other short range weapons of the human
body for strikes, locks and throws it is called
Short strikes are a
key ingredient of what makes up not only the Mantis
Boxing style but many other styles of martial art as
The theory of short
strikes is also the underlying method of weapons.
Recent discoveries have uncovered a new link between
the short strikes of Mantis Boxing and that of
In other words there
triangle relationship between;
Wang Lang and
chopping with double straight swords from the
Treatise of Short Strikes of Mantis Boxing.
And finally a
manuscript and picture that tie double chopping
weapons together with the Essential Treatise
of Short Strikes
from a non-Mantis Boxing source. This recent
discovery also dating back to Qing Dynasty
of Short Strikes is built on 6 groups of keywords
containing four characters each for a total of 24
keywords. The keywords are defined with mnemonic
language helping the students to remember key
aspects of the short strikes fighting methods.
The key words are
based on the yin and yang principle of
transformation. The changes of yin and yang define
the key words of short strikes. The keywords are a
way to help students understand the transformations
of fighting. Such as how false and real intermingle,
advancing and retreating coexist, hard and soft are
both required and so on.
Fighting can be seen
as an imbalance of yin and yang seeking resolution.
These keywords arise from astute observations of
our martial ancestors who applied them to their training.
retreating, false and real.
Rushing, jumping, attacking and entering.
Dodging, deceiving, leaping and turning.
Opening, shutting, taking and closing.
Long, short, rising and falling.
Gang, rou, yin and ran.
The final group of key
words is not easily translated. Gang and yin both
mean hard in English. Rou and ran both men soft in
English, but look at the following subtleties of
That which is hard can not be bent.
That which is yin can not be broken.
Soft is like a branch that flutters in the wind
whipping back and forth with no escape.
Ran is like the winding waters soaking into the
sand. There is no place that they can not enter.
These types of short rhyming phrases are used by the
teacher when he feels that the student is receptive
to a sudden enlightenment of the technique.
Their usefulness lies
in saying them to the student at that certain moment
in training when the student will
suddenly arrive at a new level of understanding of
The Short Stick
One of the deadly
weapons of kung fu is the short staff or duan bang.
It has a handle like a straight sword, but it is not
sharp. Instead it has a bumpy or knotted surface,
often with sharp corners such as octagonal shapes.
Unlike a sword it has
no sharp edges that become dull. It is a thick and
sturdy weapon. It doesn't break as easily as the
straight sword does against heavier weapons.
Often made of solid brass or iron or some such alloy
it is much heavier than the straight sword.
Its application is
similar to the chopping movements of
the straight sword.
The Double Short Stick
Just like a saber it
is not uncommon to see them used in pairs. The double short stick
is also similar in application to the double
straight sword. The main difference is that the
short stick chops to crush and pound, while the
sword chops to cut and slice.
While researching a
historical martial art book by Ma Ming Da I came
across an artistic looking picture from the Qing
Dynasty. On second glance I realized that it is an
outline of the 24 keywords of our
Essential Treatise of Short Strikes.
picture from a Qing dynasty manuscript of unknown
origin. It is a man performing with double short
sticks. The sonnet written around the man's body is
known to practitioners of Mantis Boxing as
the outline to Essential Treatise of
Short Strikes are
the Forefather of Bladed Weapons
Is the title of an
introduction in Cui Shoushan's manuscript. Though he
may have written it himself it is more likely that
he himself copied it from a much older text.
The eighteen types of bladed weapons are
variations of short strikes.
In general, the
techniques of bladed weapons are the
applications of short strike methods.
To change the
short range to long take the close quarters'
techniques and apply them at a distance.
In fact, short
strike methods are bladed weapon techniques.
Once you have
mastered the short strikes method
enlightenment with bladed weapons comes
From the manuscript
of Cui Shoushan on his introduction to
From the above
examples it would seem that there is a strong
relationship between the short strikes of Mantis
Boxing to the short strikes of weapons.
Though we may never
really know what methods of empty hand and weapons
styles Wang Lang practiced we ourselves
can attain our own enlightenment through the steady
and diligent practice of our martial art. It
requires an uncommon dedication to the training[
|Sample of two person double
sabers using double short sticks. This was performed at
Cheng Geng University in Tainan Taiwan.
More articles on the
idea behind the
Essential Treatise of Short Strikes can
be found here;
leaping and turning was written about in
Deception Within the Boxing of Shaolin and Mantis
Rising and falling
were written about in
The Rising and Falling of the Mantis
Long and short were
written about in Sparrow Brushes the Water
Quarterly 2004 Volume 2 issue 3