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The Seven Hands of 8 Step Mantis

Perhaps the best known form of the Eight Step Praying Mantis style is their seven hands form. It is probably the most concise representation of what the praying mantis attacking style of kung fu is all about.

Why is that? The form is so short it can be finished in just over ten seconds, yet it has powerful hand strikes, trips, takedowns, and locking techniques.

Wei Xiao Tang and Zuo Xian Fu

 

 

 

 

 

Wei Xiao Tang demonstrates an uprooting move on Zuo Xian Fu.

7 hands manuscriptEach move of seven hands connects to the next move in such a clever way that it is an ideal set for training with a partner.

Beginning students get a close look at what the short strikes method of praying mantis is all about. Advanced students can train essential moves of the mantis style and learn how to apply variations.

  Tomb Sweeping Day

Some years ago I traveled to Taipei from Tainan to visit Wei Xiao Tang's well known disciple Zuo Xian Fu, the man in the above photo about to be thrown. The Chinese Tomb Sweeping Day was approaching and I was to join in the sweeping of Master Wei's tomb. This is an important event in Taiwan and there was a large group of old time students participating. I felt honored to be part of Wei Xiao Tang's disciples tomb sweeping. I met many old timers and heard many of their stories of learning under Master Wei going back to the mid '60's.

Afterwards we went out for lunch and then off to the Eight Step headquarters where we talked and showed different moves and applications on kung fu.

A Rare Gift

Master Zuo imparted to me a rare gift called The Secret Book of the Practical Applications of Praying Mantis. Never before published it had only been available many years ago when Master Wei was teaching in the park.

Within the book are the following pictures and explanations of the Seven Hands form which I present to the west for the first time. This is for the study and enlightenment of English reading students of the Mantis style of boxing.

Original Manuscript

The pictures have an explanation and a short 7 character verse of four lines each. The verse I have highlighted in bold to distinguish from the explanations.

The verse was originally rhythmic and was a good way of remembering certain details of the moves. I have not been able to preserve the rhythm instead opting to get an accurate translation.

My comments I have enclosed in grey boxes.

Wei Xiao Tang's Seven Hands

Wei Xiao Tang double sealing

 "This is the hook, pull and sealing hands of 7 hands small form; the empty pose with the praying mantis hand method."

Right hook, left pull and empty pose.

The front hand hooks the back hand attacks.

The hook and pull of both hands is divided into first and last.

The front is empty the rear is full the praying mantis pose.

 

 

Wei Xiao Tang back hand

"This connects with above; praying mantis hook, pull and sealing hand. Plucking hand advancing step with the back hand strike and hill climbing pose."

This palm is the first of seven hands.

When striking the rear hand follows the front hand.

The left hand plucks the right hand strikes.

Next comes the stealing step and stealing hand.

 

This is one of the basic roads of 8 Step Mantis. Skipping away while applying this back hand. This type of strike is also a chief characteristic of the tong bei or 'through the back' style of boxing which mantis is partly descended from.

Wei Xiao Tang  stealing step

"This maneuver is the stealing hand stealing step preparing to apply deng pu. It is a throwing maneuver."

This is stealing step and stealing hand.

When the stealing step goes the hands divide high and low.

The hands and feet simultaneously apply strength.

The hand pushes forward the foot steps back.

 

Wei Xiao Tang collapsing step

"This is the deng pu maneuver. It takes the foot and stamps it out. Deng pu uses the hand to grab and push forward."

Plucking hand deng pu throws the enemy.

The hand in front the foot in back both use jin.

The hands and feet use force simultaneously.

The hand attacks the foot arrives and the waist releases jin.

 

Wei Xiao Tang breaking knife hand

"This maneuver is the breaking knife hand using the uprooting kick. When he strikes me one hand slaps out his incoming hand and immediately use uprooting."

This hand is the knife breaking hand.

The hands and feet move simultaneously.

If you ask the application of this move.

The foot moves forward to uproot while the hands throw to the rear.

This is one of the basic roads of 8 Step Mantis. Applying deng pu and the knife breaking hand with the uprooting kick.

 

Wei Xiao Tang breaking knife hand"Breaking knife hand divides left and right. Both use chopping. Remember that when the left comes the right chops. When the right comes the left chops. The direction must be accurate."

 

When using this method divide left and right.

Breaking hand uprooting foot divide front and back.

The rear hand must follow the front hand.

Advance with the front hand again and you can avoid grieving.

 

You only grieve when you lose. Keep the hands coming one after another to avoid losing.

Wei Xiao Tang interconnected folding hand

"This hand is interconnected folding eagle sparrow hand. When the opponent strikes me my front hand slaps, my rear hand connects then my slapping hand changes to a palm."

This is the interconnected folding hand.

Both hands attack set the front and rear.

As the front hand pulls down the rear hand has arrived.

The opponent finds it difficult to attack.

 

The opponent finds it difficult to attack

Because my left hand seals his right hand onto his body as my right hand strikes his face. A very short range attack.

Wei Xiao Tang  coiled step

"This maneuver is the coiled step. The left hand plucks and holds the incoming hand. My right elbow controls his incoming hand and I prepare to kick."

Both hands hold a fist in this coiled stance.

Using the feet is easy when you control his incoming hand.

The enemy tries to escape and retreat.

Immediately step with the side thrust kick.

 

The fifth road of Zhang De Kui's basic roads drills is this attack of combining the coiled step and elbow control with the side kick.

 

 

 

Wei Xiao Tang  stomping kick

"This is the side thrust kick maneuver. The rear hand is held in a ready pose. When the foot falls to the ground the rear hand pulls."

 

This is before the side kick has come down.

Prepare to throw both front and back hands.

The foot comes down the hands pulls the palm strikes.

The opponent defends the hand but finds it hard to stop the foot.

 

 

Though Master Wei does not show it in his picture as a high side kick I show it here as the sidekick was taught to me. Note the similarity in the placement of the hands.

Some afternoon after training I sat down in one of the many tea shops in Tainan city to draw out the picture of the side kick.

Wei Xiao Tang  back hand

"This connects with the above side thrusting kick maneuver. The left hand pulls down the foot steps out. The opponent can't dodge in time."

 

Advancing step left pull right back hand.

Make it so the opponent has no chance to block.

The hands are yin yang dividing high and low.

The name of this move is back hand palm.

 

The Manuscript of the 7 Hands Road

Here is the translation of the manuscript as it appears at the top of the article.

  1. Hook, pull and seal in the praying mantis pose

  2. The plucking hand, advancing step and back hand

  3. The stealing hand, tun step and right deng pu

  4. The plucking hand with the knife breaking hand

  5. Again with the the plucking hand with the knife breaking hand

  6. The plucking hand, advancing step and interconnected folding step

  7. The stealing hand and side thrust kick

  8. The pulling hand and back hand

  9. Turn the body with the advancing step to take the treasure from the bottom of the sea.

  10. Sealing hands.

 

Treasure of the Sea

 

Number 9 'snatch the treasure from the bottom of the sea' is not pictured here in Wei Xiao Tang's book. Our school performs this move like this bi zhou.

 

The final move of the form, 'sealing hands' is the same posture as the first move of the form[

 

Shi Zheng Zhong bi zhou

Shi Zheng Zhong performs bi zhou while teaching the Peng Lai school in Brazil.

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