SECRETS OF THE MANTIS BOXING ART
by Huang Hanxun [Wong Honfan] of Shunde
[published in Hong Kong, 1946 (revised Nov, 1954)]
[translation by Paul Brennan, Aug, 2020]
Secrets of the Mantis Boxing Art
– calligraphy by Weng Shihuang
Image & Brief Bio of the Late Master Luo Guangyu
Photo of Master Luo & Sons, Changcai and Changdi
Portrait of Master Luo & Author
Author Demonstrating Tiger Tail Three-Section Staff
Performing a “Coiling Dragon” Posture
[One] The Ups & Downs of Our Martial Arts Through the Ages
[Two] A Shift in Mentality to Improve Our Progress
[Three] The Origin & Transmission of the Mantis Boxing Art
[Four] A General Discussion of Hard & Soft, Empty & Full
[Five] Qualities of the Internal & External Five Elements, Plus Some Other Things to Pay Attention To
[Six] The Techniques of Wheeling & Winching
[Seven] Various Thoughts Regarding Martial Arts
[Eight] On Performing With the Proper Attitude
[Nine] The Eighteen Masters & Their Methods
[Ten] Essentials for Engaging in All Directions
[Eleven] On the Effectiveness of the Luohan Exercises
[Twelve] Iron Palm Training Methods & Medicines
[Thirteen] The Eight Hardnesses
[Fourteen] The Twelve Softnesses
[Fifteen] The Eight Allowable Targets
[Sixteen] The Eight Forbidden Targets
[Seventeen] Emperor Taizu of the Song Dynasty Seeks Out Masters
[Eighteen] Weapon Maxims
[Nineteen] Tuina Methods for Treating Injuries
[Twenty] Effective Medical Prescriptions for Injuries
The West is rising, the East in decline. Alas, in the competition of war, the strong survive and the weak perish. In this modern era, it is absurd that a diminished nation should not be able to work hard and heroically to strive to survive. This is why we promote martial arts as a means of saving the nation.
A mallet will crack the shell of a turtle, a case of hardness overcoming softness. Alas, the result is so effective that the domination of one quality over the other seems almost magical. In accordance with this principle, any learning or behavior can become so imbalanced as to lead to a veritable illness of disharmonious bias, and so a more foolproof strategy is required. This is why boxing arts should emphasize both hardness and softness.
Our nation in recent years has not resigned itself to the slander of being the “sick men of Asia” and we have instead endeavored to use martial arts as a remedy for the fragile physiques of our citizens. Our boxing arts are numerous and varied. I have heard many among the older generation say that southern boxing arts emphasize hardness and that styles such as Wing Chun and Taiji emphasize softness. It is true that hardness has the stubbornness of hardness and that softness has the subtlety of softness. However, the passive and active aspects are paired together, for it is through their interactions that the universe was made, and thus qualities of hardness and softness are actually equals. Just think of the way that teeth and tongue protect each other. Therefore boxing arts that use hardness and softness equally, such as Mantis Boxing, should not be casually dismissed.
The Mantis system is the methods of eighteen masters assembled to form a single art. Be quick but not floating, solid but not sluggish. The supplemental Luohan exercises enrich you internally, while the iron palm training develops you externally. Use long-range techniques for seventy percent of your attacks and short-range techniques for eighty percent of your defensive actions. Attack with hardness and defend with softness. Let hardness come to the aid of softness and let softness prepare the way for hardness. Hidden within this boxing principle of hardness and softness complementing each other is the broader principle of simultaneously maintaining domestic tranquility and resisting foreign aggression.
Huang Hanxun is a direct disciple of the Mantis master Luo Guangyu. Through daily study, he too has become an expert in the Mantis boxing art and has lately been sharing his knowledge with the public. Once he finished this book, he asked me to make a preface for it. When I read through the manuscript, I discovered that the material does indeed conform to the principles I have outlined above. Look to the well-reasoned material that fills this volume and ignore the explanations of the laymen, who have little of relevance to contribute.
- Feng Baoyu of Shunde, in Hong Kong, May, 1946
By the time I had learned from Master Luo for a full five years, I had still barely scratched the surface of this art. During that time, my fellow students Cai Binghuan and Lin Huwen began running a school in Macao, since it had become fashionable everywhere to study Chinese martial arts. Cai and Lin repeatedly wrote to me inviting me to Macao to teach, but I felt that I was too young and inexperienced, and so I did not dare to accept their request. They soon wrote again and more insistently, then had a word with Master Luo about it, who accepted on my behalf, and I thus took my first steps into teaching boxing arts for a living.
After spending six months there, Master Luo then ordered me to the Hankou Jingwu Association, where I taught for the next three years. When the war with Japan started, I returned south and this time went to Hong Kong. The schools in the martial arts community there did not reject me for my inadequate skills and it is there that I have been established to this day. From 1937 to 1940, there I learned from Master Luo every day. I am indebted to him for granting me instruction, from which I have benefited greatly.
Unfortunately the war then came to Hong Kong as well and Master Luo quickly left to go back to his hometown. He stopped in Shanghai at a friend’s house on the way, but his stay there ended up being longer than he intended, and alas, he unexpectedly became ill and died. Though I had learned from him for many years, I was never able to express my gratitude to him. Therefore I have now made this small book of some of the things I learned from him, both in order to spread this material more widely and to commemorate the man. I am not terribly bright, but because I have deep feeling for my fellow practitioners both at home and abroad, and because I strongly hope that the Mantis boxing art will be carried on, I have produced this rambling collection of the general ideas of the art.
- written by Huang Hanxun, also called Jingtao, of Shunde, in the martial arts department of the Hong Kong Jingwu Athletic Association
IMAGE & BRIEF BIO OF THE LATE MASTER LUO GUANGYU
Master Luo Guangyu was from Penglai, Shandong. In his youth, he accompanied the Mantis master Fan Xudong in his travels, learning all his secrets accumulated over the course of decades. The central Jingwu Association in Shanghai recruited Fan’s talents in hopes of expanding their curriculum. Hearing of his great reputation for his Mantis boxing skill, they sent representatives north with lavish gifts to tempt him. However, Fan was already approaching his eighth decade and no longer wanted the competitive life of martial arts circles, so he gently declined. Not wanting to leave in defeat, they pleaded again and again. Fan declined more firmly, pointed to Luo, and said: “This is my disciple. If you don’t mind youth, you can use him in my place.”
Luo accepted the position and went south with them to Shanghai to teach. Luo, Zhao Zhenqun, and Chen Zizheng subsequently became known as “the three great Jingwu masters”, a reputation that has carried on for thirty years. His students are now everywhere, within the nation and abroad. He also held a teaching position for the army, training numerous soldiers, such as Pan Hongchang, Zou Xigong, and Lin Bosou. His two best students in the army were the generals Li Zongren and Bai Chongxi.
Luo was over thirty when he got married. Within a decade, he had five boys and two girls. When he was appointed to teach at the Hong Kong Jingwu Association, he brought along his wife and kids. His eldest and second sons are named Changcai and Changdi. They practice these skills very diligently and have achieved great success in the art. When the war came to Hong Kong, Luo returned north with his family, staying with an old friend in Shanghai. He originally planned to stay there only for a short time, but unexpectedly became very ill. His temperamant was unfortunately the type that hates to take medicine, and so he was taken away by his illness. This great man then left the human realm and went away to the paradise of souls. [quoting from the Book of Rites, chapter 3, originally describing the death of Confucius:] “The mountain has collapsed, and now there is nothing for me to look up to. The supporting beam has broken, the wise man withered away, and now there is no longer an example for me to follow.”
Photo of Master Luo with his sons, Changcai [right] and Changdi [left] (performing PINCER ATTACK TO THE FRONT & REAR from the Three Swallows Fly Through the Forest three-person set):
Portrait of Master Luo and the author:
The author demonstrating with the tiger tail three-section staff:
Performing a “coiling dragon” posture:
A souvenir for director Huang Hanxun:
“Here’s to the glory of the Mantis art.”
螳螂國術館 漢口分館 深水埔分館 澳门縂館 全骵敬題
– sincerely inscribed on behalf of the Hankou Branch, Sham Shui Po Branch, and all Macao Branches of the Mantis Martial Arts Institute
[ONE] THE UPS & DOWNS OF OUR MARTIAL ARTS THROUGH THE AGES
Our nation’s martial arts were at their height during the Han [202 BC–220 AD] and Tang [618–907] Dynasties, and went into decline at the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty [1279–1368], when Genghis Khan rampaged with his Mongol hordes, leading them all the way into Europe. Armies one after another busily relocated capital cities in order to avoid them. Even large nations such as Russia could not summon the courage to blunt the thrust of this invading force. If Genghis had even more ambition and decided to conquer all of Europe, he might have driven the white race to extinction. To prevent this kind of catastrophe from occurring again in the future, Europeans loudly warned of a “yellow peril” and formed defensive anti-Asian militias.
Failing to learn from such events, our own barriers were left unguarded and weaknesses revealed. There is no greater foolishness than this. Consequently the Manchus later took us over, establishing the Qing Dynasty [1644–1911]. Once they were governing us Han people, they realized that they would not be able to keep us under control through force, so they emphasized literary studies and mocked martial pursuits, creating the imperial civil-service examination system as a means of keeping the people ignorant. They looked upon soldiers as the “dog of the household” and cultivated contempt for any citizens who practiced martial arts, perverting the culture into being excessively scholarly. But the Manchus forever found governing the Han people to be difficult.
In 1900, the Eight-Nation Alliance [Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, UK, USA] used modern weapons to storm and occupy Beijing. They were responding to the actions of the Boxer rebels in their cause of resisting against humiliation from foreign nations. The course of the Boxers only served to force the Allies to capture the city, and we ended completely losing our sovereignty and our national prestige as a result. It was this that was the beginning of our nation’s bitter fate, a situation primed by the terrible policy of emphasizing only literary pursuits and dismissing martial endeavors.
Sun Yat-sen then began promoting his Three Principles of the People [Identity of the People, Power of the People, Livelihood of the People] while abroad. China has gone through many revolutions, and when once again the banner of righteousness was raised, people from every direction answered the call, and the Manchu government was finally toppled, the Republic of China taking its place. Seeing that the weakness of the people was the reason for the weakness of the country, General Zhang Zhijiang then established the Central Martial Arts Institute next to Purple Mountain [in Nanjing]. Our ancient martial arts became known as our “national arts” and this kind of art has since been classified as one of the official arts of our nation.
In 1936, while I held a teaching position in Hankou, I listened to the broadcast from Nanjing of when Chiang Kai-shek was making a review of the National Boy Scouts, and also received the “winter telegram” when he repeated his message, urging students throughout the nation to give great attention to physical education. He said we must first popularize martial arts, making martial arts a regular part of school curricula. His message spread throughout the nation, and then one after another a Martial Arts Institute popped up in every province and major city. The people were inspired, the institutes hummed with enthusiasm, and the purely civic organization of the Jingwu Athletic Association was about to embark on its fourth decade.
And then just as these arts were at last flourishing, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident happened, the Battle of Shanghai commenced, and the central government ordered the total mobilization of the entire nation to fight the Japanese pirates to the bitter end. The southeastern part of the country was shaking from its occupation and the people were uncertain of their fate. The work of promoting martial arts could not continue under these circumstances, especially with the Martial Arts Institutes and the Jingwu Associations having fallen into enemy hands and being among the first things they destroyed.
Now that the War of Resistance Against Japan has been won, it is time to start building up the country to prepare it against other destructive threats, and for this task the people will need to develop heroic physiques to qualify as worthy citizens. Martial arts are the ideal means of doing so, since they have no limitations of space or number of people and can be practiced whenever one pleases. We have our own tools for exercise and need not seek answers from any foreign imports.
[TWO] A SHIFT IN MENTALITY TO IMPROVE OUR PROGRESS
There’s a saying: “First you need guts, then strength, then skill.” Students of martial arts accept this maxim, but I disagree with it.
First of all, the extent of one’s courage usually varies depending on the situation. For instance, when a man is poor, he becomes brazen enough to commit crimes, but when he is wealthy, he is afraid to even walk at night. How is it that he has so much boldness in one case and none at all in the other? We should not allow our level of courage to be dictated by circumstances. Furthermore, ancient people had an idiom about the boldness of talented individuals which shares some insightful wisdom: “The dragonfly tries to shake the tree.” This demonstrates great boldness which ultimately results in failure. The tiny animal’s inability to shake the tree even slightly shows that guts alone will not get the job done. For these reasons, there is not adequate cause to prioritize guts.
As for strength, if we say that great strength can defeat skill, then what is the point of decades of practice? Surely being a farmer or laborer would produce all the strength that is needed. If we examine the capacity of farmers and laborers to carry heavy objects, it cannot be matched by most martial artists, therefore the strength of a laborer typically excels the strength of a martial artist. However, when a trained martial artist sends out a hand or flings out a foot, it contains limitless power, so much that even a man with great strength could not handle being hit by it. This is because his punch concentrates the strength of his entire body, transmitting it from his waist to his arm to his fist, and unleashing it upon the opponent’s center of balance, resulting in his defeat. Therefore to say that strength can outmatch skill is not correct. For these reasons, there is not adequate cause to prioritize strength either.
I hereby presume to reverse the order: “First you need skill, then strength, then guts.” I hope that my fellow martial artists will instead put their primary emphasis upon the training, then upon building up their strength, and then upon developing their courage.
[THREE] THE ORIGIN & TRANSMISSION OF THE MANTIS BOXING ART
During the last years of the Ming Dynasty, there was a man from Shandong called Wang Lang, who saw that the map was about to be changed. He wanted to devote himself to the defense of his nation, but the army would not accept him, and so he went to Mt. Song and joined the Shaolin Temple, where he learned martial arts to prepare himself for what he knew was coming. When the Manchu troops then invaded, he decided to go see what he could do alone to aid his homeland, but because traitors within the government had already sold their country out, there was nothing a martial hero could do.
Once the new Qing Dynasty had been established, Wang returned to Shaolin to organize the monks in order to restore the nation and avenge its humiliation. However, a spy learned of their plans and the Qing government ordered the temple be surrounded and burned down. Wang and his colleagues craftily managed to escape and ensure their master’s safety. To avoid being captured by the Manchu troops, they fled to the Emei Mountains, to the Kunlun Mountains, through several provinces, and finally came to a monastery on Shandong’s Mt. Lao, which became their new home.
Alas, their master soon passed away. Their eldest classmate then became the one in charge. Wang trained his martial arts every day to dispel the loneliness of their situation, but he always lost his sparring matches and felt ashamed. He vowed that in three years he would be able to defeat his elder. Three years later, Wang again had a bout with his elder, and again he lost. He was even more ashamed than before, so much so that he wanted to kill himself. His elder then decided to do some traveling. Just before he parted, he told Wang: “Practice hard! I’ll be back in another three years, and when I get back, I expect you to impress me.”
One hot summer’s day after his elder left, Wang found his stuffy room to be a very dreary place to be, so he grabbed his sword and some literature and went into the forest to get away from the heat. Once he had disappeared into the woods, he was met with a cool breeze gently blowing through and felt elated in mind and body. Then as soon as he opened a book to start reading, he heard the buzzing cries of an insect, a chaotic chirping sound that seemed almost sorrowful. He raised his head up and saw a mantis and a cicada fighting to the death. The mantis was using its sharp arms and its determined stepping, and soon the cicada was dead in the hands of the mantis.
After Wang had finished watching this, he considered how the mantis had performed its advancing and retreating with precision, used actions for both long range and short range, and had methods of both seizing and releasing, all exactly like skills of boxing. He therefore climbed onto the branch to catch it and then brought it back to the temple, where he toyed with it every day using pieces of straw, examining its multifaceted behaviors of sticking and adhering, collapsing and crushing, suddenness and greed, alertness and shifting, Wang, who was naturally gifted with intelligence, realized within just a few days that the hand methods of the mantis could be expressed in these twelve simple terms:  grab,  pull,  take,  hang, [5 & 6] hook and advance, [7 & 8] collapse and hit, [9 & 10] stick and adhere, [11 & 12] crowd and cram. He subsequently drew from the best methods of seventeen different masters, such as incorporating monkey stepping, and combined it all into one integrated art. After three years, he had created his own style.
Having had enough of traveling, Wang’s elder then returned and they had another bout. Not knowing what to expect, the elder ended up getting thrown more than ten feet away. Surprised, he asked how it happened. Wang explained the process of his new understanding, and thereupon they named his new art after the mantis. They henceforth ceaselessly increased their knowledge of these boxing methods, diligently researching it together, and turned the Mantis art into something profound.
Within the next ten years, Wang and his elder classmate had both passed away as well. The monks looked upon Mantis Boxing as nothing less than a treasure and did not lightly share it with outsiders. Later the Daoist Shengxiao [“Ascend to the Clouds”] traveled there and received the complete art. Mantis Boxing was then spread beyond the temple, for Shengxiao taught it to Li Sanjian of Haiyang County. After Li had absorbed these skills, he set up a bodyguard service in Jinan and earned a reputation that spread far and wide, being esteemed as a “forest hero” both north and south of the Yangzte River. Nicknamed “Lightning Hands”, he never lost a fight, and his glorious fame never diminished for his entire life.
In his later years, Li sought widely for someone worthy to carry on the art, having no heirs of his own to pass it down to. When he got to Fushan County, he heard of a man named Wang Rongsheng, who had recently became a successful candidate in the highest level of the imperial military examinations. Li paid him a visit at his home and ask to see a demonstration of his skill. Wang had made a name for himself due to his ability with the large saber, and so he performed with this weapon. After Li had finished watching this, he gave not a single word of approval, instead remarking: “That’s it? How did you get famous for that?” This made Wang so angry that he suddenly charged forward to attack Li, but somehow Li had vanished, leaving him hesitating in confusion. Hearing laughter behind him, he turned around and tried to attack again, but once again there was nothing there and he found that he himself had been seized. As a result, he then begged Li to be his teacher.
Over the course of the next several years, Li taught Wang everything he knew, and then Li went away and was never seen again. Since Wang was already from a wealthy family, he did not need to seek any official position, nor did he feel tempted to show off his skills to other people, he practiced simply for his own amusement during his free time. Practicing throughout winter and summer without ever taking a break, he trained consistently for decades, and hence his skill made dramatic progress.
In his later years, Wang taught his art to Fan Xudong of Yantai. Fan had a very large physique. He weighed over three hundred pounds and was known as “The Giant”. He was a master of iron palm. He once was passing through a field and encountered two plow oxen locking horns. When they saw him, they interpreted him to be a threat and charged forward. Seeing the ferocity of their power, he realized that he would not be able to save himself unless he acted with the utmost skillfulness. In response to the ox in front, Fan focused all of his power into his right foot and gave a forceful kick to its underbelly. This enormous beast fell to the ground with an echoing thud. Then to deal with the one that was charging up from behind it, he used his left hand to grab its horn and used his right hand to forcefully strike its spine. It too collapsed in a heap. The farmer had seen Fan kill his oxen and demanded compensation, to which Fan declared: “But I was acting in self-defense! What if instead they had killed me? How would you compensate me for that?” And there the matter ended. Because of this instance, Fan became known for his great power, his fame spreading far and wide.
In the early years of the reign of Emperor Guangxu [1875–1908], a Russian man invited Fan to Siberia for a wrestling challenge. Fan could not afford such a trip, but he was aided by funds from martial arts masters throughout Yantai. Since he was not a formal representative of China, and because newspapers in those days were not as widespread as they are today, this whole event did not become well-known. Once Fan arrived, he first defeated the Russian champion, thereby usurping his title, then went on to fight in dozens of other matches, in which he met none who were his equal. Having won the prize, he returned to China. Fan later taught his art to Lin Jingshan, Luo Guangyu, and several others.
In 1919, the Shanghai Jingwu Athletic Association so admired the Mantis boxing skills that they sent staff members north and consequently engaged Master Luo, who then went south to Shanghai to serve as their chief instructor for this art. In 1929, the National Games was held in Nanjing. Luo’s student Ma Chengxin represented Shanghai in the sparring competition and ended up listed among the most successful competitors. [It is not entirely clear what tournament is intended here. There was no 全國運動會 National Games held in 1929. There was one held in 1924 in Wuchang, the next one held in 1930 in Hangzhou, and after that in 1933, which was indeed held in Nanjing. It seems more likely that the famous 國考 National Examinations (short for 國術考試 National Martial Arts Examinations) is what was meant, though that was held in 1928, not 1929. For that tournament, Ma Chengxin is listed as being among the thirty-seven second-place winners.] The results were published in Nanjing and Shanghai newspapers, and Master Luo’s name was increasingly talked of as a result.
Soon after this, Luo was sent south by the main Jingwu Association in Shanghai to make an inspection tour of the branch schools in Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macao, and throughout the Malay Archipelago. Upon finishing this mammoth task, he returned to Shanghai, but then the January 28 Incident happened and the Jingwu headquarters was destroyed. Since it was no longer tenable to conduct classes there, the head of the Hong Kong Jingwu Association invited Luo back to Hong Kong to teach Mantis. In no position to refuse, he notified the temporary Shanghai office by telegram, saying that he was urgently heading south to be a Hongkonger from that point on. Discovering the true value of the Mantis boxing art, the people of Hong Kong have had a high opinion of it ever since.
War unfortunately made its way to Hong Kong as well. Master Luo was unwilling to endure the chaos and treachery of the place, so he hired a ship and returned north, but then he became ill and passed away while staying in Shanghai. This great man of his generation is now dead and buried. The Mantis Boxing he taught me has so far been passed down through seven generations, over the course of three hundred years.
[FOUR] A GENERAL DISCUSSION OF HARD & SOFT, EMPTY & FULL (or ON THE MANTIS METHODS OF FIGHTING)
The methods in Mantis Boxing are many, but very few of them are easy to explain. I will attempt to convey some of the training principles:
When the hands go out, they have to be coordinated with the feet. Every movement has a practical application. The movements should be tightly linked together, producing a single flow from beginning to end.
Boxing techniques are difficult to train because they require distinguishing between hardness and softness, long range and short range, and have to be performed at the appropriate speed. If you cannot distinguish between hardness and softness, and cannot properly judge between long range and short range, then even though you may appear to be skillful, you have not actually reached a deep level at all.
Attacking and defending is even more complicated. Attacking is seventy percent long-range, but defending is eighty percent short-range, therefore defending is more economical than attacking. If the opponent attacks with great hardness, use the twelve softnesses to control him. When he attacks with soft techniques, use the eight hardnesses to overpower him.
The eighteen masters had many more principles, such as:
“Strike below to attack above and attack above to strike below. Be aware of both above and below. When striking with your left hand, you must defend with your right hand, and when striking with your right hand, you must defend with your left hand. Left and right work in concert.”
“Block and then strike. Strike and then block. Striking should flow right back into blocking. Blocking should surge right back into striking.”
“One who never blocks has mastered the art. One who is constantly blocking has mastered nothing.”
“You must keep calm and carefully observe the opponent with sharp eyes, not getting tricked by his ruses.”
“To move with the maximum agility, your steps are determined by your hand techniques.”
“Operate at both long range and short range, your hands and feet acting in unison.”
“When your mind decides to advance, your hands and feet go together.”
“Although the arts of Long Boxing and Short Fighting are peerless, you must take advantage of the situation as it is and act according to what the opponent does.”
There are many kicks in Mantis Boxing, of which the most useful are: crushing kick, cross-shaped kick, through-the-center kick, door-closing kick, sweep-the-hall kick, snapping a kick to the rear while grabbing in front, continuous kick, flying double kick, whirlwind kick, swinging lotus kick, sideways sweeping kick, and pressing kick. There are also many stances, such as horse-riding stance, mountain-climbing stance, sitting-tiger stance, kneeling stance, big-dipper stance, reaching-leg stance, gulp & sink stance, centering stance, sitting-twisted stance, and one-legged stance. Practitioners have to study meticulously, delving deeply into the principles and working hard to understand the applications, in order to be able to use the art. Kicking in particular requires a steadiness of mind, a focus on maintaining a stable stance and well-defended posture while kicking, so that the kicks can be unleashed without any doubts.
In the summer of 1939, the South Seas Overseas Chinese Return-to-Enlist Corps passed through Hong Kong to learn from Master Luo. He gave them instruction in the large saber art and also gave them a tip to prepare them for battle, which was “the three steadinesses and the three quicknesses”. Because I had to translate his words for others, I know them in detail. “The three steadinesses are: steady gaze, steady mind, and steady stance. The three quicknesses are: quick hands, quick steps, and quick kicks.” Ponder his words and you will find that they are reasonable. When the time comes to fight, if you can first observe the opponent carefully, awaken your willpower, and stand your ground, then your hands, steps, and kicks will be able to act with tremendous speed, in the same way that [from Six Scabbards (Dragon Scabbard), chapter 26] “the thunderclap gives no time to cover one’s ears”, and victory will be assured.
[FIVE] QUALITIES OF THE INTERNAL & EXTERNAL FIVE ELEMENTS, PLUS SOME OTHER THINGS TO PAY ATTENTION TO
The internal five elements are: essence, spirit, energy, strength, and skill. The external five elements are: hands, eyes, torso, technique, and footwork. All boxing practitioners are confronted with these two aspects. It is required that essence and spirit be coursing through, energy and strength be abundant, and skill be refined to a deep level. This then expands outward, your feet stepping in accordance with the actions of your hands, your hands going where your eyes tell them to go. Proper distance and precision of advance and retreat depend entirely upon keen vision in order to avoid the outcome of “miss by an inch, lose by a mile”. The torso is especially important, for if you advance from the side or step in with your body sideways, you can reduce the number of targets available to the opponent, and you can also attack him from a greater distance. The proper way to perform techniques has to be understood clearly in order to take advantage of his weak points once they appear, and thus meticulous study is needed for you to succeed.
Training yourself mentally is also essential, for it is not only important during an actual fight, but for preparing yourself psychologically to deal with opponents before any fight has begun. Therefore you must first train the internal and external five elements, and link them together so that they are functioning in unison. When face to face with a powerful opponent, close enough to touch him with hands and feet, provoke him to attack, evade his attack, then counterattack. Always take action based upon open-minded awareness [rather than stubborn intellect], otherwise you will commit the error of being too late. Furthermore, your fists and feet are your weapons in battle, so make them superior weapons. You must keep your weapons fully loaded with ammunition, i.e. your energy and strength.
With all of these features prepared, you then also need to possess a refined strategic mind, and then you will be able to be confident of victory. Boxing arts are a matter of strategy just as much as fighting. In the same way that soldiers in combat have to estimate the strength of the enemy, if you observe that your opponent is taller than you, then you should attack his lower area, and if he is shorter, then techniques such as MT. TAI CRUSHES THE HEAD can be employed to attack his upper area. As it is said [from Art of War, chapter 6]: “Avoid him where he is full and attack him where he is empty.” Use your strengths to attack his weaknesses. Seize opportunity based on being aware of the whole situation, the way soldiers use the terrain to their advantage, and you will defeat him faultlessly.
[SIX] THE TECHNIQUES OF WHEELING & WINCHING
Master Luo often said: “The wheeling technique reaches far, whereas the usual Mantis techniques draw near. The wheeling technique is done very fast, whereas the usual Mantis techniques put more emphasis on precision.” The wheeling technique in Mantis is indispensable. When you find yourself surrounded by opponents and have no way out, you need this technique to smash through them. You can then use other Mantis techniques to build on the results of this one and quickly succeed. But what is this technique? I must explain:
The wheeling method first involves both hands grasping into fists, and then alternating left and right they chop down from above, swinging back up and chopping down again, whirling unceasingly. Regardless of what your assailants are doing, fiercely advance upon them until you have charged right through.
In order to employ this kind of technique, you must first examine yourself as to whether or not you have the vigor required to sustain this action for a long time, for if you cannot, you will not be able to rely on using it for attacking opponents. You have to be able to use it suddenly, and then you can follow it up with other techniques such as MT. TAI CRUSHES THE HEAD, THRUST PUNCH TO THE FACE, or BLACK TIGER STEALS THE HEART. If none of this works, you must act decisively and switch to techniques of softness, such as LEFT & RIGHT DODGING STEPS, in order to anticipate what he might do and then find a better moment to attack him. If he forces you to retreat and then crowds in on you, giving you no respite, you are truly in a disadvantageous position, liable to be knocked down at any moment, a dangerous situation.
It is the way of combat that the one who seizes the initiative in an all-out struggle, the one who refuses the passive role, has the best chance of victory. Whenever an opponent takes charge, it will be rare for you to win. Therefore in a life-or-death situation, never allow yourself to not seize the initiative.
Reverse the direction of the movement and the wheeling becomes winching. There is no fixed pattern, and so it does not matter which leg is advancing or retreating, which hand is going out while the other is coming back, only that your body stays sideways and the stance stays low. Whirl a hand in a circle going upward higher than your head, your hand and step acting in unison to achieve the objective. If the opponent changes his direction, employ LEFT & RIGHT LUNGING STEPS to attack him from the side.
The wheeling and winching techniques are an indispensable part of your arsenal.
[SEVEN] VARIOUS THOUGHTS REGARDING MARTIAL ARTS
I have devoted myself to martial arts for more than a decade and have tacitly observed the motivations of ordinary practitioners. What drives them is nothing more than the issues of health and self-defense.
These being the goals, you must abide by the principle of gradual progress by starting with the things that are easier to practice. Learn the movements in order, make your postures correct, and be careful not to overexert yourself in hopes of succeeding faster. You have to understand that skill grows only a tiny little bit each day. If you express power vigorously before you have developed sufficient balance, this will result in two counterproductive consequences: 1. Whenever you send out a hand or foot, your body will go along with it uncontrollably and end up leaning. 2. Not yet being accustomed to the exercise, you will move too abruptly and forcefully, causing your muscles to ache and your joints to become fatigued. These are things that beginners have to be very mindful of.
Also, do not eat and drink thoughtlessly. After eating a meal, you must wait a full hour before exercising in order to keep from irritating your stomach and intestines, and to allow your food to be more thoroughly digested. After doing strenuous exercise, you also must not eat and drink right away, because you will be so hungry and thirsty that the merest sight of food will make you want to wolf it down, and eating in such an immoderate way will only make you sick.
Intense exercise, even in winter, will leave you dripping with sweat, veins showing, muscles swollen, pores wide open. At such a time, keep from standing in direct wind in order to avoid catching a cold. Also do not end your exercise session abruptly, instead wait for your breath, blood, and the state of your skin to return to normal, then wipe yourself down with a dry towel and wash with water. Thus your spirit will be boosted and the strengthening of your body will be more effectively achieved.
There is a saying [from Hanfeizi, chapter 49]: “[Scholars use their elegant rhetoric to bend the law.] Warriors use their martial skill to break the law.” I am not trying to give a mixed message with this choice of words. Our society indeed often contains treacherous swindlers and those who gang up in large numbers to bully a few. You are therefore allowed to rely on individual courage to right the wrongs of the world. However, as long as you are not being personally harmed or compelled to act, first appeal to rationality and use courtesy in order to seek a reasonable solution. But if this does not stop the situation and you are left with no choice, you may then unleash martial force. As it is commonly said: “If there’s nothing that needs to be done, don’t cause trouble, but if there’s something that needs to be done, don’t be afraid to do it.”
In every single nation, its citizens have to love their native land with its unique art and culture. For example, the people of Fuzhou are famous throughout the world for their lacquerware, the people of Jiangxi are famous for their exquisite porcelain, and the people of the West are famous for their excellent tobacco. They surely are all delighted when they receive praise from others for the special things they produce. China and foreign countries are no different in this regard. Because the audience for my clumsy writings is mainly comprised of Chinese people, most readers will likely have pretty much the same understanding of the historical value of Chinese martial arts.
Our martial arts are a kind of art form that represents the whole nation, having equal status to traditional Chinese medicine or traditional Chinese painting. It is totally absurd to imagine that performers peddling their skills on street corners are a measure for the character of the martial arts community as a whole. Should a heap of noodles slouching on the sidewalk be looked upon as a colorful character from literature, or is he really just a bum? Wise people are discriminating. They cannot be fooled by something counterfeit. Such attempts [“trying to pass off fish eyes as pearls”] only bring shame to our glorious arts.
A visitor once asked me: “Which style of boxing arts is the best?” I unintentionally let out a laugh, because every kind of boxing art has its own brilliant ingenuities. Generally speaking, styles that punch with fully expressed power can be traced back to Shaolin, whereas styles that keep their power hidden, are driven by intention, and have gentle movements and mild postures usually come from Wudang, but each has its distinctive characteristics. Whether a style relies more on posture, footwork, or nimbleness, victory always comes down to a bunch of punching and kicking.
The training always starts with strengthening the body and mastering the self. For example, there was someone who sought out a good teacher to learn from, managed to find one, and began the training in earnest. But he thereafter practiced more sporadically, eventually reducing his effort to half-heartedly studying only the theory, and then simply let the time pass until he could say that he been learning the art for ten years. Equipped with both a good teacher and a long period of time, his skill should have reached a high level. However, when he one day had to actually apply the art, he was incapable of doing anything, and he ended up getting mocked, and by association so did his teacher. The blame cannot be put upon the teacher or style for being bad, for it is the student who brought these consequences upon himself.
There was once a performer peddling his skill in the center of town and people were praising him for his ability, and then a famous teacher passed by, gave the performer barely a glance, and walked on. Confused spectators then asked him: “Are his skills not worth watching?”
“Not at all.”
“Could you please explain why not?”
“What is there to explain? These are just the antics of itinerant performers. This guy spent his youth training to exhibit a single trick, developing just one arm to make it hard enough to chop through bricks, and simply for the purpose of showing off to spectators so they will give him some notoriety. If you don’t believe me, ask him to demonstrate with his other hand and then you’ll know I’m not exaggerating.”
The crowd did as he suggested, which confirmed his words, and were then inspired to inquire of him further. He told them: “All those who practice martial arts first have to possess total commitment and be willing to suffer through all the hard work that is required. In addition to boxing skills, they have to train with various weapons and also study the theory of their art until it is completely clear to them. They must never waste their time perfecting silly tricks for the sake of impressing simple folk. That kind of thing only ends up giving the masses a low regard for all martial arts.”
[EIGHT] ON PERFORMING WITH THE PROPER ATTITUDE
Etiquette for performing boxing sets is different between northerners and southerners, both having their own point of view. When southerners climb onto a stage to perform their skills, they first stand in the center, salute with a hand over a fist, and present this salute all the way across from one side to the other.
My uncle Yu Juchuan told me: “This is a specifically Shaolin tradition, from the time when the Shaolin Temple was the headquarters of the movement to ‘overthrow the Qing Dynasty, restore the Ming Dynasty’. Supporters of the movement knew each other by showing this salute [the right fist making the 日, the left palm making the 月, thereby displaying 明 (Ming)]. Long usage of this salute turned it into a custom, and it is still used up to now.” Uncle Yu is a famous boxing arts master in the south, and so I feel his words have some clout.
As for northerners, they always bow, and this has not changed up to now. To describe it more precisely, once they are on a stage, they advance three steps, bow, retreat three steps, then commence their performance, and upon completion, repeat this ritual.
I once saw a so-called “master” who went onto a stage to perform and gave us the most soulless display, no solemnity at all. This kind of thing shows contempt for the audience. Although he furrowed his brow and glared with his eyes, gave a curl to his lips to bring a cruelty to his face, and tried to look as though he was engaged in a vastly strenuous effort, he was merely toadying to the spectators, which only resulted in an exhibition so ugly as to be beyond the power of words to describe.
When you go on a stage to demonstrate something, put all of yourself into it and perform it properly, neither walking through the motions nor over-exaggerating, maintaining a naturalness on your face. This prevents the audience both from being given a bad impression or from walking away thoroughly unimpressed. People know quality when they see it.
[NINE] THE EIGHTEEN MASTERS & THEIR METHODS
 Emperor Taizu’s Long Boxing is the father
 and Han Tong’s Tongbei Boxing is the mother.
 Then there is Zheng En’s ingenious methods of “twining & sealing”,
 Wen Yuan’s brilliant Short Boxing,
 Ma Ji’s even more brilliant Short Fighting,
 Sun Heng’s Monkey Boxing with its boundless energy,
 Huang You’s crowding body, making it difficult for an opponent to find a way in,
 “Cotton” Sheng’s blindingly fast palm strikes to the face,
 Jin Xiang’s “slapping block, piercing punch”,
 Gao Huaide’s technique of throwing away to the side followed by an unstoppable backfist,
 Liu Xing’s “hook & pull” seizing technique,
 Tan Fang’s “rolling & slipping” attacks to the ears,
 Yan Qing’s “grab & throw” technique,
 Lin Chong’s powerful mandarin-duck kicks,
 Meng Su’s Seven Posture Continuous Boxing,
 Cui Lian’s devastating punches to the solar plexus,
 Yang Gun’s technique of snaring and poking through,
 and Wang Lang’s Mantis Boxing, which overcomes all opponents.
[TEN] ESSENTIALS FOR ENGAGING IN ALL DIRECTIONS
When Xiang Yu began his military training, he said [from Historical Records, chapter 7]: “[Studying the sword is good for dealing with one opponent at a time, but] what I need to learn is how to defeat thousands of them.” He was then trained to use the spear. Spears can be used against a multitude. Well, so can fists. The boxing theory for such eventualities is called “methods for engaging in all directions”. If you can fight in all directions, you can fend off a multitude. This concept is basically the Mantis technique of wheeling, but with the addition of footwork that advances and retreats, jumps and startles, of postures of colliding against everything from any angle, and of techniques of weaving through and tangling up to the left and right. Face to the south, but then strike to the north. Point to the east, but then attack to the west. Suddenly rise and suddenly lower. Keep them from making sense of anything you are doing. However, this requires constant practice to be prepared for the urgency of the situation. This theory is expressed in ten variations, which are briefly explained below:
 GRAND POLARITY
Employ Mantis techniques in all directions, turning every which way, turning around with stealth steps, and pile on attacks as though smashing down mountains. Teach your assailants that wherever they reach out their hands against you, they will end up getting injured. Have the completeness of a grand polarity [i.e. the full circular coverage of a yinyang symbol].
 EIGHT TRIGRAMS
Conforming to the positions of the eight trigrams, start at any one of them and move in a circle all the way through them. Once you have found yourself in enemy territory, it is as though you are being ambushed from all sides with no space to escape. Adapt accord to circumstances, stepping around to the eight directions, each position reinforcing the rest.
 HEAVY AS A MOUNTAIN, FAR AS THE HORIZON
Attack and then go through. When your fist starts to move, your step goes along with it. Abandon one place to seek another. Crash right through as if there is no one there. To be “heavy as a mountain” is to become crushing and powerful. To go as “far as the horizon” is to move nimbly to a great distance.
 GRADUALLY GATHERING YOUR FORCES
Strike them with each step, punching them one after another. Staying stable, attack as you advance. This is very different from FAR AS THE HORIZON, for there has to be greater speed [rather than great distance]. When surrounded on all sides, if you can knock away every attacker, your skill will seem miraculous.
 CRASHING THROUGH
Straighten up and stand proudly, for you have been completely surrounded. Although the GRAND POLARITY method can keep you from getting too close to anyone, your hands and feet not stopping can keep buying you time. If you want to use the FAR AS THE HORIZON method, but you find that you are already surrounded too tightly to jump in any direction, or you want to use GATHERING YOUR FORCES, but your assailants are so numerous and overlapped that there is no moment in which you can suddenly escape, then use CRASHING THROUGH. If you want to exit to the east, first attack to the west. If you want to exit to the left, first strike to the right. Take advantage of where they are unprepared and suddenly burst through. As soon as one of them lifts a hand to strike, this creates a gap that can be cracked open. Feint a movement, then strike for real. Feint a strike, then crash through for real. The methods of HEAVY AS A MOUNTAIN, FAR AS THE HORIZON and GRADUALLY GATHERING YOUR FORCES are somewhat comparable, but this method gets you out faster so that you will not end up getting trapped.
 ATTACKING THE CIRCLE ITSELF
They are many, you are alone. Being at the center of a circle, you therefore attack toward the outer edge of the circle. Advance and retreat with confidence, crissing and crossing as you please. But you must engage continuously, otherwise you will end up like long hair being bundled back or like fish caught in a finely woven net.
 GOING WITH & AGAINST
Step in and counterattack, advancing with punches. Advance courageously, without any hesitation, then retreat rapidly, without any delay. This will result in the opponents getting tangled up on each other.
 OVERTURNING RETREATS [no explanation given]
 FLOWING WATER [no explanation given]
Before retreating, turn, then after retreating, turn again. There is a large whirlwind and a small whirlwind, a single whirlwind and a double whirlwind. The large whirlwind involves abandoning one place to seek another, suddenly employing FAR AS THE HORIZON, then leaping back to where you started. For the small whirlwind, before going east, turn to the west, and before attacking with your left hand, lift up your right hand. The single whirlwind involves advancing or retreating with just one spin and then going forward. The double whirlwind goes back and forth, side to side, turning and yielding, yielding and turning, moving continuously.
When training with these concepts, start with the GRAND POLARITY method as an initial strategy, then become stable in the EIGHT TRIGRAMS positions, then move on to FAR AS THE HORIZON and GATHERING YOUR FORCES, transforming and weaving, and then attacking once you see an opening. Even if you are surrounded by a hoard of opponents, you have methods of fighting in all directions, and so you have nothing to fear.
[ELEVEN] ON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE LUOHAN EXERCISES
These ancient exercises come from Damo. They are based on the energy flow between the sky and ground, between the passive and active aspects, and between the six unions [up/down, left/right, forward/back], and are modeled upon the images of the Luohan idols. There are altogether eighteen exercises, divided into sixty-nine postures. Involving total concentration, they are unlike ordinary exercises. Practicing them perseveringly invigorates the body and spirit, greatly boosting energy.
There is a Mr. Wang of Shandong, who was a businessman in Hong Kong in his fifties. In his spare time, he came to the Jingwu Association to sit and talk, because he and Luo Guangyu were from the same town. In the midst of a long conversation, they got onto the subject of family matters and Wang started sighing endlessly. Luo became concerned and asked what was wrong. Wang explained that he was rich but had no children, then asked Luo if he had any guidance to help him out of this predicament. Luo said nothing in reply, just laughed. Wang repeated his question until Luo finally asked him with a smile: “Are you a persevering person? Can you learn from me for a whole year?” Wang answered that he could and thereafter this grey-haired old man practiced the Luohan exercises every day alongside us young boys. We did not know why and thought it rather strange that a man in his declining years would engage in such activities.
After his full year had passed, Wang went home to Shandong. A year after that, he sent a letter to Master Luo, saying that his wife and concubine had each delivered a child, and that he was more delighted than words could express. Several years later, he had so many children that they formed a long line. If he now has many children and yet the wife and concubine are the same women as before, then the difference between before and after is surely the result of him practicing the Luohan exercises.
These exercises truly have the capacity to change a weak body into a strong one. The movements are relatively mild and thus are easy to practice. Throughout the exercises, the breathing is regulated and orderly. Within boxing arts, this is an excellent tool for greatly boosting one’s energy. I hope my fellow practitioners will not underestimate it.
[TWELVE] IRON PALM
There are many methods of iron palm training. One constant is the soaking of the hands in special medicine before practicing. Even for very strong men, training without using the medicine can result in blood clots that might find their way to the heart and become life-threatening. For such reasons, the second-generation master known as the Daoist Shengxiao, in order to better accomplish his goals, traveled ceaselessly throughout the famous mountains and mighty rivers of our nation to make a comprehensive study of medicine so that he would be equipped to rescue himself in the event of any emergency.
Here is his iron palm formula: 10 grams each of chuanwu, Chinese aconite, raw nanxing, cnidium monnieri seeds, fresh pinellia ternata, stemona tuber, Sichuan pepper, Euphorbia ebracteolata Hayata, black false hellebore, fossil fragments, lopseed, powdered sea stone, medlar root bark, Tatarinow’s aster, dandelion, plus 20 grams of lake salt, 10 grams of sulfur, and five soup bowls of black rice vinegar. Cook all of these ingredients together for seven minutes, then store it in a jar to preserve its potency. When using it, heat it up again and soak your hands in it for about ten minutes, and then you can practice.
The method is to first put about a hundred pounds of iron pellets as big as soybeans into a large ceramic pot. When practicing, get into a horse stance beside the pot and jab all ten fingers straight down into the pellets, focusing all of your power at the fingertips, then grab a handful in each hand, forming fists, and pull the pellets up, and then punch down back into the pellets in the pot. This makes one complete movement.
Beginners most commonly will do this movement no more than ten times as the basic level of the exercise. Practice three sessions of this every day, altogether performing the action thirty times. With each day, add another count to each session. When you rest at the end of every session, you must again soak your hands in the medicine. Practice at the same time every day, never missing a session.
During the first hundred days of this [by the end of which a session has grown to more than a hundred counts], you must not engage in sexual intercourse or allow wet dreams, otherwise you will lose all of the gains you have made so far. You should thereafter continue to forbid yourself, and then you will get twice the result for half the effort.
Fan Xudong said about the medicine: “For those engaging in the long-term training of hardening the hands, this is a medicine that is difficult to obtain. Do not lightly reveal to others that you possess some, for this skill should only be taught to those who abide by a high moral standard.”
[THIRTEEN] THE EIGHT HARDNESSES
Hardness can of course defeat softness, like a hard knife cutting up meat, separating muscles from bones, or like a pestle pounding a material down until it has been completely transformed into a powder. It goes forward unstoppably, committed and unretreating. But someone may ask: “If I am using hardness, and the opponent is also using hardness, can I defeat him?”
Do not worry about having a hardness insufficient to defeat another hardness. No hardness is invincible. Fine jade is so hard that even the sharpest northern blades are useless against it. Jing Ke’s dagger, so difficult to wield, could be considered to have hardness, but if it encountered the famous Kunwu Sword [which could “cut through jade as though it was but mud”], it would have been easily broken in two, and in that case it would have been said that its hardness was insufficient. And yet even with the hardness of the Kunwu’s blade, there is still jade in the world that it would not be able to cut.
MT. TAI CRUSHES THE HEAD or STRAIGHT PUNCH TO THE FACE are examples of hand techniques that employ hardness. The eight techniques of hardness are listed below:
1. MT. TAI CRUSHES THE HEAD
2. STRAIGHT PUNCH TO THE FACE
3. STRAIGHT STANCE, DOUBLE PALMS
4. THE PILING ELBOW ATTACKS UNSTOPPABLY
5. CROWD THROUGH THE DOORWAY AND LEAN AGAINST THE WALL
6. CRUSHING AVALANCHE SUBDUES THE GROUND
7. DOUBLE SNARING HANDS
8. THROWING AWAY TO BOTH SIDES
[FOURTEEN] THE TWELVE SOFTNESSES
Softness can also defeat hardness, and the small can overcome the large.
To illustrate the latter, a mouse and an elephant are completely different in size, but the mouse can scurry up the elephant’s trunk as if to nibble at his brains. Although the elephant has greater strength, he is unable to use it, for the mere sight of a mouse hole causes him to lose his mind with fright. Elephant trainers always dig mouse holes in every direction so that the animal will never dare to step outside of a certain area. This is an example of the small overcoming the large.
To illustrate the former, an agate stone is hard but very smooth, while the hairs from a horse’s tail are thin and very soft, and yet you need a horsetail bow to cut the stone. Based on this example, you can intuit that softness can defeat hardness. The twelve scenarios of softness are listed below:
1. He uses hardness, I withdraw.
The opponent blocks my hand with such fierceness that I withdraw my body to evade it, sending out a slowing hand used to blunt his sharpness, then wait for an attackable gap to show up. This is a method of first emptying and then filling, of first avoiding and then snatching.
2. He enters, I sneak.
He suddenly sends out a hand while I am already advancing. Since it is too late to defend, I continue my advance by switching to sneaking in at an angle. This must be done quickly in order to be effective.
3. He intercepts, I roll.
He wants to block my hand, so I go along with his movement and use a rolling technique to get in, causing his block to land on nothing, making the best use of left and right, up and down [by circling clockwise to the right, down, left, and up].
4. He snares, I slip.
The snaring action [called “catching a cicada” when done two-handed] is a curled form of blocking. The slipping technique is a reversal of the rolling technique [rolling using a clockwise circle, slipping using a counterclockwise circle]. This is an action of opening and then closing, as though gathering in [i.e. slipping your right arm out of his grip and swinging it around to slap the left side of his face].
5. He thrusts, I grab.
He does a straight thrust to my face, so I connect to his hand by sending out a grabbing hand. If he goes high, my grab goes upward, and if he goes low, my grab goes downward. After I send his hand outward, I can counter to the center, responding according to the situation.
6. He takes, I enter.
His hand suddenly goes forward, so I go along with it and find a way in, whether hooking back and using a rolling technique, or dodging his attack and using a piling technique, or entering right through the center, or going inward from outside or outward from inside.
7. He pulls, I advance.
He pulls, drawing me in [so I go along with it and advance upon him].
8. He knocks, I enter.
He knocks, deflecting me downward, so I take advantage of the opportunity to advance.
9. He advances, I pat.
He shoots out his hands, one after another, so I pat them down. I do not need to use the same aggressiveness as him, for to press his attacks down lightly is sufficient.
10. He carries, I enter.
He attacks in an upward direction, so I go along with him upward and then advance.
11. He spreads, I pile.
He spreads aside to fling my hand away, so I fold my arm to counter with a piling technique.
12. He sticks, I overturn.
He sticks to my hand or employs a grabbing technique, so I make use of his momentum and turn my palm over to countergrab.
[FIFTEEN] THE EIGHT ALLOWABLE TARGETS
These are all secondary targets. Although not life-threatening, they are sure to cause injury. If you encounter an attacker who is highly skilled, these will be sufficient to defeat him. But you must not employ them rashly or you may do injury to your own life-sparing virtue. I hope you will be mindful of this point.
1. the spot between the eyebrows
2. the Renzhong acupoint above the upper lip [GV 26 (also called Shuigou)]
3. the hollow between cheek and earlobe
4. the spine
5. the lungs underneath the upper ribs
6. the pelvic bone
7. the soft tissue just below the kneecap
8. the shins
[SIXTEEN] THE EIGHT FORBIDDEN TARGETS
All of these targets are for life-threatening situations [and are thus the primary targets]. If you are not fighting for your life, I hope you will not employ them. Only use them if your attacker clearly does not consider human life to be of any value.
1. the temples
2. the windpipe
3. the solar plexus
4. the false ribs
5. the groin
6. the kidneys
7. the tailbone
8. the ears
[SEVENTEEN] EMPEROR TAIZU OF THE SONG DYNASTY SEEKS OUT MASTERS
Emperor Taizu’s Long Boxing is highly praiseworthy.
He traveled everywhere in search of the best masters.
Sorting out the wheat from the chaff, he reached the highest skill.
But then Han Tong humbled him with his Tongbei Boxing.
Among the best, there is always someone better.
Do not become proud and start boasting.
Zheng En looked on and saw how he could defeat him too.
First Tongbei Boxing… then Monkey Boxing… and one remarkable style after another emerged, each more flawless than before.
As the process went on, it was discovered that Jin Xiang’s piercing punches could be defeated by Zheng En’s twining & sealing.
The art seems to be revealed only to others, not to us ordinary people.
The palace of great warriors is a place we might peek into, but most will not pass through.
Such skills are as deep as the eastern sea and as meticulous as woven thread.
[EIGHTEEN] WEAPON MAXIMS
“With the single saber, be mindful of your other hand. With the double sabers, be mindful of your footwork. With the large saber, be mindful of the tip.”
“The sword should not pass around the head. The hooks should not go near the elbows.”
“When the staff attacks the center, it is very difficult to block.”
“The spear rolls like a dragon and shoots out like a thread.”
“The saber goes out like a fierce tiger. The sword dances like a flying phoenix.”
“When life is at stake, flourish a spear.”
“To train to stab well with a spear takes a thousand days. To train skill with a sword takes ten thousand days of hard work. A hundred days is all that is needed to train competence with a saber.”
“The double sabers should be wielded evenly. The double swords should be supple and lively.”
“If your concealed weapon is a soft weapon [such as a rope-dart], you must guard against it getting snapped by a strong opponent wielding hooks.”
“Longer by an inch means stronger by an inch. Shorter by an inch means subtler by an inch.”
“When chopping to his head, you must beware of leaving yourself unguarded below. If you focus only on dominating the upper area, your lower area or middle area is sure to suffer.”
“If you develop artistry but fail to train skill, for your whole life you will have achieved nothing.”
[NINETEEN] TUINA METHODS FOR TREATING INJURIES
Boxing arts practitioners are bound to get hurt at some point. If they have no understanding of methods of treating injuries, then they will be bound to not only get hurt, but also suffer. Recognizing this problem, Master Luo in 1939 decided to teach this unique treatment skill in order to spread it more widely. At that time, I had come south from Wuhan to teach in Hong Kong. Some among my colleagues there did not understand Mandarin, and so I often had to serve as an interpreter during the lectures, describing how this skill is divided into five major methods: pushing, grabbing, rubbing, trembling, and twisting.
If the surface area of an injury is large, press gently with the palm of one hand while using the other hand to hold the upper part of the injured area steady so that it does not shift around. Then rub with the palm to the left and right, being careful not to let the palm come away from the area so that this does not cause any chafing to the skin.
If the injured area is small, press with the flat part of the thumb rather than the whole palm. The first step is use rubbing methods. The second step is to apply pushing methods, pushing with down→up strokes, while using the other hand to hold the lower part of the injured area steady and then switching to holding the upper area. After applying such pushing dozens of times, then the third step is to apply grabbing methods, using the fingers of both hands, working slowly toward the injured area.
If the injury is not to the limbs, there will be no need to use trembling and twisting methods. If an injury to the limbs is close to the bones, trembling methods are required, creating a vibration all the way through to the bone to help dissipate any stagnation of blood. Twisting methods involve gripping around the injured area with both palms and applying an action of twisting inward to loosen the blood vessels.
Master Luo said these are ancient methods, from a time when medical studies were not as advanced as they are nowadays, but northerners still use this art to treat all sorts of illnesses. It is an excellent means of treating concussions, sprains, and physical trauma from strikes and falls.
[TWENTY] EFFECTIVE MEDICAL PRESCRIPTIONS FOR INJURIES
“Recover-Health & Invigorate-Blood Soup” (for treating injuries that result in blood clots and chest pain):
當歸尾二錢 柴胡二錢 山甲（炙）三錢 紅花二錢 括蔞仁三錢 川朴（後下）二錢 沒藥二錢 莪木二錢 乳香二錢 茛羗二錢 蘇木二錢 九製燃銅三錢 米酒半碗 水二碗 煎至一碗之八分服
dong quai – 10 grams, bupleurum – 10 grams, pangolin scales – 15 grams, safflower – 10 grams, Chinese cucumber seeds – 15 grams, magnolia bark – 10 grams, myrrh – 10 grams, white turmeric – 10 grams, frankincense – 10 grams, genjiang – 10 grams, sapanwood – 10 grams, purified copper – 15 grams, rice wine – half bowl, water – two bowls. One dose is one bowl’s worth. Cook one bowl for eight minutes and consume.
“Eight Best Flavors Soup” (for treating injuries that result in excessive bleeding, dizziness, and fear):
川芎二錢 當歸二錢半 白芍二錢半 生地二錢半 防黨二錢半 貢朮二錢半 雲苓（殊砂伴）二錢半 炙草二錢 龍牙（先煎）五錢 沒藥二錢半 正牛胆星二錢 粒乳香二錢 淸水三碗煎服 加米酒半杯冲
Sichuan lovage – 10 grams, dong quai – 12.5 grams, peony root – 12.5 grams, Chinese foxglove – 12.5 grams, dangshen – 12.5 grams, gongshu – 12.5 grams, ground tuckahoe – 12.5 grams, licorice root – 10 grams, fried dragon tooth – 25 grams, myrrh – 12.5 grams, danxing – 10 grams, granulated frankincense – 10 grams, clean water – three bowls. Cook a dose, then gulp it down with a half cup of rice wine.
Supplements for healing injury of particular parts:
『頭部』加白芷 川芎 京子 黃麻各二錢
For the head: Chinese angelica, Sichuan lovage, jingzi, jute – 10 grams each.
『中部』加枳壳 桔梗 羗蠶 元胡 乙金各二錢
For the midsection: medicinal orange, Chinese bellflower, medicinal silkworm, Chinese poppy, yijin – 10 grams each.
『下部』加大王 枳實 牛七各二錢
For the lower body: dawang, dried citron, ox knee root – 10 grams each.
『傷中氣』用川朴 香付 木香
For internal energy: magnolia bark, flatsedge tuber, costus root.
For the hand: Chinese bellflower, cassia twig.
For the waist: eucommia bark.
For the foot: papaya skin, ox knee root.
『傷在上部用方』澤蘭 乙金 紅花 製川烏 桂枝 法夏 枝子 五加皮 碎補 千年健 羗活各二錢煎服
Prescription for injury to the upper area: thoroughwort, yijin, safflower, processed chuanwu, cassia twig, pinellia root, Japanese clover, Siberian ginseng, squirrel’s foot fern, homalomena occulta, angelica – 10 grams each.
『傷在中部用方』元胡 乙金 莪朮 靈芝 枝子 桃仁 羗活 當歸 靈仙 紅花各二錢煎服
Prescription for injury to the middle area: Chinese poppy, yijin, white turmeric, lingzhi, Japanese clover, taoren nuts, angelica, dong quai, clematis root, safflower – 10 grams each.
『傷在下部用方』木通 枳壳 牛七 生地 歸尾 羗活 紅花 莪朮各二錢煎服
Prescription for injury to the lower area: akebi, medicinal orange, ox knee root, Chinese foxglove, dong quai, angelica, safflower, white turmeric – 10 grams each.
(Difficult injuries to treat: The most difficult injuries to treat are fractures of the skull, spine, and sternum, as well as ceaseless bleeding from the corners of the eyes or the temples, or ceaseless bleeding from the ears. Further problems that are extremely difficult to treat are incontinence of urination or defecation after receiving an injury, a fit of uncontrollable laughter after an injury, an episode of madness after falling, and not being able to close one’s eyes after a fall.)
Additional Prescriptions from Volume Four of Authentic Shaolin Teachings:
防風十錢 劉寄奴二両 柏葉一錢 朋礬五錢 蒼耳子一錢 澤蘭一錢 銀花一錢 苦參五錢 乳香五錢 荊芥穗十両 白芷一錢 當歸一錢 棓子五錢 獨活五錢 細茶一錢
parsnip root, liujinu – 100 grams, Chinese arborvitae leaves – 5 grams, alum – 25 grams, cocklebur – 5 grams, thoroughwort – 5 grams, honeysuckle – 5 grams, sophora flavescens root – 25 grams, frankincense – 25 grams, catnip grains, Chinese angelica – 5 grams, dong quai – 5 grams, gallnut – 25 grams, angelica – 25 grams, powdered tea – 5 grams.
當歸三錢 桂枝二錢 伸筋草二錢 艾葉三錢 劉寄奴二錢 生葱十枝 沒藥一錢 川斷二錢 五加皮三錢 紅花錢半 制閙楊花二錢 乳香一錢 紫稍花二錢 香附二錢 樟木二両
dong quai – 15 grams, cassia twig – 10 grams, ground pine – 10 grams, mugwort leaves – 15 grams, liujinu – 10 grams, raw scallions – 10 sticks, myrrh – 5 grams, teasel root – 10 grams, Siberian ginseng – 15 grams, safflower – 7.5 grams, naoyanghua – 10 grams, frankincense – 5 grams, zishao flower – 10 grams, flatsedge tuber – 10 grams, camphor – 100 grams.
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[View an original Chinese edition of Secrets of the Mantis Boxing Art, provided by the Ravenswood Academy.]