If you’re on the prowl for new ways to improve your martial arts skills and expand your knowledge base, the five animals of Shaolin kung fu are for you. By studying the fighting methods of the snake, crane, tiger, leopard and dragon, you’ll glimpse kung fu through the eyes of
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Praying Mantis Kung Fu
According to Chinese lore, when Shaolin monk Wang Lung, spurned by a recent combative loss, was studying his Buddhist texts, he was disturbed by the sound of a praying mantis attacking a cricket. Astonished by how easily the mantis defeated its prey, Wang Lung prodded the mantis with a piece of straw and observed how the insect jumped back and forth to escape harm. The mantis used its front legs to parry, grasp and crush the straw. After years of studying the insect, Wang Lung developed the 13 arm and hand movements of the mantis, the foundation for seven star praying mantis kung fu.
Praying mantis kung fu practitioners hold their arms in a jackknife position in order to mimic the highly adapted raptorial (grabbing) forelegs of the praying mantis. Then, they use their hands’ drooping forefingers to strike an attacker’s vital points. Wang Lung later added monkey kung fu footwork to improve the praying mantis kung fu stylist’s mobility.
Of note: There is also a southern praying mantis kung fu style, created by the Hakka people, based on observations of a praying mantis attacking a bird.