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Leaping Fist of Fanche

Last trip to Taiwan for me was in June of 2008. I sorely missed my home of 16 years and looked forward to visiting my old patches of training grass and spots of tree shade. On this visit to Taiwan I had the foresight to bring a camera to class and take some photographs of shifu doing kung fu. Shifu demonstrated one of the oldest techniques of Mantis Boxing.

Fanche Lulu Fist Six Six Thirty-Six

Fanche and lulu probably date back to the creation of the Mantis style. The simplicity of movement of fanche and lulu are the pattern for many difficult types of movement within Praying Mantis seen today. Most, if not all, variations of Mantis relate to fanche lulu.

What makes fanche lulu so important is not that they contain some application that is so powerful or so incomprehensible from the opponent's point of view. The key to fanche lulu is the actual motion. The motion is an extremely simple way to move the arms at the shoulders. The motion can be applied to many fighting applications, in other words, there are hundreds, if not thousands of applications to fanche lulu.

When the mantis insect subdues its prey, it relies on a pattern of motion that applies to all situations.

The old description,


As for the word che; it is a cart's wheel ever turning.
As for the word lulu; it is like a windlass flowing endlessly.
To speak of both fanche and lulu; the single hand is lu and both hands make a wheel.
A cart is like lulu. Adding the "fan" character means to turn this way and return that way, falling without end.

The Key Words of Fanche

 

The fanche sonnet use the numbers 6636. It is a description of the six keywords.

  1. beng -collapsing
  2. za -smashing
  3. nian -adhering
  4. na -grasping
  5. tie -pasting
  6. kao -leaning

'Key' hints that inner secrets lie within. These words are underlying principles that define how the fanche pattern of movement is used.

Fanche lulu interconnects with the hands of collapsing, smashing, adhering and grasping along with the maneuvers of pasting and leaning. Adding the fists and elbows as well as applying the knees and feet constitutes mantis striking.

These six key words times six combinations produces 36 changes. Hence we get the term 6636! A combination might mean that you do collapse and smash or you might smash and lean or any other combination that arises.

These changes combined with 'fists, elbows, knees and feet constitute the striking of Mantis Boxing.' Actually the fists, knees, elbows and feet are a short hand way of saying the 8 short strikes (an article is in the works).

The text defines the subtle difference between mantis strikes and the fanche method.


Fanche stays afar while mantis approaches.
Fanche is distant while mantis is close.
Actually fanche is not distant, it only seems that way when compared to mantis.
When using fanche your opponent has no place to hide.
When using mantis your opponent has no way to defend.
Adopt yourself to the changing circumstances using the entire body for hitting.
This is the profoundness of short strikes, the highest extreme of technique.
 

Adopt to the situation! Short and long or hard and soft must be used at the proper instant. Not to do so invites defeat.

Shifu Shi Zhengzhong Demonstrates Fanche

There are many variations of fanche among the different schools of Mantis Boxing. They all contain the same movement of the arms. There are variations such as advancing and retreating, stationary or leaping, three hands or six hands or some other number. Both hands chop or one hand chops and one hand grabs.

The solo movements of fanche can start with either the left side or the right side.

Here Shifu starts with the right side.

This is smashing, the second of the six keywords.

 

 

 

 

 

Shifu steps forward forcefully with a left hook punch. In some versions this is a left chopping cleave.

The hook and the chop are closely related.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Interconnected Chops

The following four moves can be done more times or less times than what is shown here.

 
1. The left hook unfolds to a left chop. Beng, first of the keywords. 2. A right chop.
3. A left chop 4. A right chop.

Leap off the front leg as you throw a left hook punch. All of these movements are smooth flowing with the force on the strike or chop.

Notice how knee and elbow point in the same direction.

 

 

 

 

Ready Stance

I include this picture to show Shifu's on guard position before attacking.

A picture of Shifu with his hands ready to defend and attack.

Cai Jiaming prepares to kick him in the ribs.

 

The Application of Fanche

I come in with a left side kick to Shifu's ribs. He shifts out of the way. This is the last of the five leaks called shen lou or body leak.

 

 

 

Shifu blocks my side kick and his rear hand is ready to swing like a baseball bat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shifu throws a left hook punch to the outer corner of my eye.

 

 

 

I block the hook punch with a left hanging block. This is the motion of lulu, but I don't get to continue with it because Shifu's attack is overwhelming.

 

 

 

Shifu's hook adheres to my block. The third of the six fanche key words. He pulls his hook downward and uses the chance to grab my wrist with his left hand. This is na, fourth of the key words.

 

 

He applies the collapsing strike to my head. I block it with the hanging block.

His right hand will grab this block for his next strike.

 

 

His right hand has grabbed my right hand and he chops to my face.

Now he has my hands positioned right where he wants them.

 

 

 

With a solid grab of my left hand he can leap forward and apply the right hook punch and flying right knee to my ribs.

It is easy to duck the hook punch, but you might miss defending against the flying knee!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Shifu striking Cai Jiaming from two different angles.

When the mantis insect subdues its prey it relies on a pattern of motion that apply to all situations. It can be said that fanche lulu combinations follow the patterns of the mantis[

The bold writing are translations from Cui Shoushan and Wang Yifu's old manuscripts.

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