COMMEMORATING WONG HONFAN’S FORTY YEARS OF SERVICE TO CHINESE MARTIAL ARTS
published by the Hong Kong-Kowloon Mantis Boxing Alumni Club & the Honfan Fitness Academy
edited by Huang Pengying & Huang Wenjie
[published in Hong Kong, 1972]
[translation by Paul Brennan, Dec, 2022]
Commemorating Wong Honfan’s Forty Years of Service to Chinese Martial Arts
– calligraphy by Shum Wai Yau
發刋詞 黃漢勛師父退休紀念 韋基舜
FOREWORD: COMMEMORATING MASTER HUANG’S RETIREMENT by Wei Jishun
Master Huang Hanxun [Wong Honfan] has practiced martial arts since he was young, and having energy to spare, he also became a scholar. He is regarded as one of the top Mantis masters of his generation, and he has written so many books that they could be stacked up next to him and match his height. He is therefore both a man of martial prowess and a man of letters. Having made significant contribution to Chinese martial arts literature, he is now retiring. At his invitation, and the elbowing of fellow students, I here provide some introductory words for this special commemorative volume.
There are reasons for his martial and scholarly achievements. The key to his literary accomplishment is that he is fond of learning on his own. Being an avid reader, he naturally became a capable writer. The root of his martial excellence in the Mantis tradition lies in learning the art directly from Master Luo Guangyu. Master Huang has been promoting our nation’s martial arts consistently for forty years, practicing constantly and obsessively [“the boxing never leaving his feet, his feet never leaving the boxing”].
When teaching students, he shares all that he knows and explains everything fully. His unique personality trait is that he never holds anything back, and so of course he would share the authentic secrets of the Mantis art with the whole world. He has passed the torch of this martial tradition to the next generation and has recorded its wisdom in books. Over the course of decades, he has educated a great many people.
I am unworthy to be one of his students and unqualified to provide any wise words of introduction. Some may cynically think that such a statement is just an attempt to flatter him, but no, I assure you that he is immune to that. His forty years of dedication to Chinese martial arts and service to Jingwu shows his perseverance in both thought and action, indeed making him deserving of our emulation and admiration.
After he asked me to write the foreword, I procrastinated for a long time, full of doubt, for he and his other students have accomplished so much more than I ever could. Now I have finally fulfilled my duty and completed this short piece because I am convinced of the worth of the book itself, realizing that it is not just about commemorating Master Huang’s retirement, but also that it serves as a priceless historical document for the art of Mantis Boxing.
- written in Hong Kong, March, 1972
Portraits of Huang Hanxun
Inscriptions Contributed from Prominent Figures in All Walks of Life
Photos from the Last Forty Years
Looking Back at These Forty Years by Huang Hanxun
My Experience of Learning Martial Arts & Other Ramblings by Wei Hansheng
On the Rise & Decline of Chinese Martial Arts by Huang Hanxun
Our Alumni Club by Xie Qingzhou
Master Huang Hanxun & the Last Forty Years of Martial Arts Exercise by Huang Hanchao
Remembering My Elder Brother by Huang Hanxun
Chastising the Foolishness of Trying to Divide the Art into Separate Styles by Huang Hanxun
The Origin & Transmission of the Mantis Boxing Art (including a lineage chart) by Huang Hanxun
Looking Back at Our Disciple Ceremony by Chen Yuliang
Two-Person Versions of Solo Sets – A Special Feature of Mantis Boxing by Huang Wenjie
A Promoter of Fighting Arts by Ta Shaocan
A Brief Discussion of Martial Arts by Ye Jiongcai
Trials & Tribulations of Publishing the Mantis Boxing Book Series by Su Shimin
Mantis Boxing is a Perfect Martial Art by Huang Pengying
List of All Honfan Fitness Academy Graduates
Four Practice Sets with Photos & Instructions:
1. Mantis Steals a Peach
2. Flying Goose Palms
3. Descending Eagle Palms
4. Drunken Groundwork Saber
Portrait of Master Huang Hanxun at age fifty:
Master Huang at age twenty, having just been given a teaching position at the Hankou Jingwu Athletic Association, wearing the all-black uniform of new instructors:
INSCRIPTIONS CONTRIBUTED FROM PROMINENT FIGURES IN ALL WALKS OF LIFE:
A treasure scroll of Yu Youren’s [who died in 1964] calligraphy given to Master Huang many years ago:
Li Guang as a fit young man with long strong arms
went out to the frontier.
The snobbish official who detained him in Baling
should not have treated him with such scorn.
Who do you think you are, little man?
This is the general famous for mistaking a boulder for a tiger
and managing to shoot his arrow through it anyway,
and who is now the governor of Youbeiping.
– for “elder brother” Hanxun, calligraphy by Yu Youren (from a poem by Wang Shizhen)
Inscription by Zhang Zhijiang, director of the Central Guoshu Institute:
Give equal emphasis to both skill and morality.
Inscription by Jingwu founding member Lu Weichang:
Practicing these arts will enable the smooth flow of essence, energy, and spirit.
– inscription by Lu Weichang for my colleague Hanxun, Apr 4, 1939
Inscription by Jingwu founding member Chen Gongzhe:
A gift of calligraphy for teachers at Hong Kong Jingwu Association who answered the call to participate in the fundraising performance for the 80th anniversary celebration of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals:
A real show of community spirit!
– Chen Gongzhe, at the Hong Kong Jingwu Association 
An example of Grandmaster Fan Xudong’s handwriting (from Volume 5 of Authentic Teachings of Shaolin):
Authentic Teachings of Shaolin – as recorded by Fan Xudong of Yuli Village
For the Hong Kong-Kowloon Honfan Fitness Academy, a gift of calligraphy to commemorate Master Huang’s retirement:
He has both scholarly integrity and martial skill.
– Li Puyi, director of the Vietnam Jingwu Association
A gift of calligraphy to commemorate Master Huang’s retirement:
We in the martial arts community look up to you.
– from the Kampar Jingwu Association, Malaysia
A gift of calligraphy to commemorate Master Huang’s retirement after forty years of service to the Jingwu Association and the martial arts community as a whole, both within the nation and abroad:
His students are everywhere.
– Penang Jingwu Association, Malaysia
A gift of calligraphy for this special volume commemorating Master Huang’s retirement:
We in the martial arts community look up to you.
– Gao Zhi, director of the Hong Kong Jingwu Association
A gift of calligraphy to commemorate Master Huang’s retirement:
He made everyone in the martial arts community capable of coexisting.
– Hong Kong-Kowloon Restaurant & Teahouse Workers Union
A gift of calligraphy for the Honfan Fitness Academy’s special commemorative volume:
To the glory of Chinese martial arts!
– Xie Bochang, Chairman of Kowloon Chamber of Commerce
Master Huang has conducted exhaustive research in our martial arts. After serving the Jingwu Association and the martial arts community as a whole, both within the nation and abroad, dedicating himself to the work of revitalizing our martial arts for the last forty years, his outstanding achievements are admired everywhere. In awe, I offer this simple statement to proclaim the magnificent result of his accomplishments [quoting from the Book of Documents, document 28]:
“Our martial prowess is on the rise.”
– Li Mengbiao, principal of Pui Ching Middle School, Dec 1, 1971
A gift of calligraphy for this special volume commemorating Master Huang’s retirement:
To the spreading of our martial arts!
– Zhen Zijie
A gift of calligraphy in commemoration of Master Huang’s retirement:
He is a man of both skill and virtue.
His achievements will bring him lasting fame.
– Chen Hanzong
A gift of calligraphy for Master Huang’s special commemorative volume:
To the glory of Chinese martial arts!
– Zhang Jintian, Dec 27, 1971
A gift of calligraphy for this special volume commemorating Master Huang’s retirement:
He links past and future.
– Luo Junchou
A gift of calligraphy for this special volume commemorating Master Huang’s retirement:
He spreads martial virtue.
– Lu Shaohua
A gift of calligraphy in commemoration of Master Huang’s retirement:
He is a model of martial virtue.
– Chen Jin
A gift of calligraphy in commemoration of Master Huang’s retirement:
We in the martial arts community look up to you.
– Sun Baogang, Dec, 1971
A gift of calligraphy to commemorate Master Huang’s retirement after forty years of service to the Jingwu Association and the martial arts community as a whole, both within the nation and abroad:
In the project to revitalize our martial arts,
his hard work has produced incredible results.
– Kuang Qiyi, martial arts instructor at the Penang Jingwu Association, Malaysia
My classmate Huang Hanxun learned from Luo Guangyu the art that was passed down long before from Wang Lang. All his life, he has carried forward the teachings to enlighten future generations. After passing on the teachings and skills for so many years, he has now decided to retire. I am unworthy to even eat at the same table, for he has struggled without complaint to maintain the tradition.
The art he has carried on started from Wang Lang long ago.
Master Luo carved him like jade in order for him to pass down the teachings.
Jingwu gave him a position, then he helped Jingwu stay alive.
After forty years of influence upon education, he has brought clarity like rainy skies becoming sunny.
He is praised, for there is harmony.
– Chen Zhenyi, director of the Hong Kong-Kowloon Chen Zhenyi Martial Arts School, winter solstice, 1971
A gift of calligraphy for this special volume commemorating Master Huang’s retirement:
“Our martial prowess is on the rise.”
– Wu Hanchen, of the Hong Kong-Kowloon Mantis Alumni Club
A gift of calligraphy for this special volume commemorating my “elder brother” Huang Hanxun’s retirement after forty years of service to the Jingwu Association and the martial arts community as a whole:
His ceaseless enterprise
has made him admired throughout the martial arts community.
– Huang Jinhong, martial arts instructor at the Penang Jingwu Association
A gift of calligraphy in congratulations to my “elder brother” Hanxun on his retirement:
His name carries great weight within the martial arts community.
– Cen Zhiguang
A gift of calligraphy for my colleague Huang Hanxun in commemoration of his retirement:
His Mantis Boxing is the real stuff,
he possesses both skill and virtue equally,
and because of his great service to Jingwu,
“our martial prowess is on the rise”.
– Yang Qinghe of the Penang Jingwu Association, Malaysia
An inscription of good wishes in commemoration of Master Huang’s retirement:
For maintaining the traditions of our cultural essence,
let him be famous forever in the martial arts community.
– Liu Sanmu, 1st month of winter, 1971
Linking past and future, he carries on the Mantis boxing art.
– Huang Xiang
A gift of calligraphy for this special volume commemorating my “uncle” Huang Hanxun’s retirement after forty years of service to the Jingwu Association and the martial arts community as a whole:
He has promoted the guoshu spirit consistently for forty years.
– Huang Baizhong, director of the martial arts department of the Penang Jingwu Association
A gift of calligraphy in commemoration of Master Huang’s retirement:
This is how you pass down martial skills.
– his student Chau Cham-son
A gift of calligraphy from the late [having recently passed away at the beginning of the year] Chau Tsun-nin (壽卋益羣 “Here is a means of longevity for the masses.”) presented by his son Chau Cham-son to Master Huang (with Huang’s student Wei Jishun standing in the middle):
“To fail at both book learning and sword training – that is a distracted mind.
To fail at both conquering the world and hiding from it – that is to be admired.”
– calligraphy by Huang Hanxun (from a couplet by Liang Dingfen), 42nd year of the cycle, 9th month, 1st day [i.e. Sep 25, 1965]
PHOTOS FROM THE LAST FORTY YEARS:
Master Luo performing SITTING-TIGER STANCE, DIAGONAL FILLING PUNCH from Avalanche Steps [Posture 2], autumn, 1936:
Portrait of Master Luo, summer, 1936:
Two photos that were presented as a gift, showing Eagle Claw master Chen Zizheng, a Jingwu chief instructor, performing boxing postures, the photos originally taken in 1931:
Nine photos of Master Huang exhibiting robust health at the age of forty:
1. Performing SITTING-TWISTED STANCE, BLOCK & CHOP from Liuhe Double Sabers [Posture 35]:
2. Performing MONK GOES INTO A TRANCE from Sundial Sword [Posture 19]:
3. Performing EMBRACING THE MOON from Yan Qing’s Single Saber [poetic name for Posture 37c]:
4. Performing PHOENIX SPREADS ITS WINGS from Tongzhen Sword:
5. Performing GRAND DUKE JIANG FISHES from Long Pole:
6. Performing MANTIS LIFTS BOTH CLAWS from Plum Blossom Fists [Postures 5 & 19]:
7. Performing OLD FISHERMAN CASTS HIS NET from Tiger Tail Three-Section Staff [though the position in the photo does not really seem to resemble either Posture 6 or Posture 27]:
8. Performing A PILLAR SUPPORTING A ROOF BEAM [actually 鶴立雞群 A CRANE STANDING OUT AMONG CHICKENS] from Spring & Autumn Halberd [Posture 22]:
9. Performing SU QIN CARRIES HIS SWORD ON HIS BACK [actually 纏繞背槍式 COILING THE SPEAR AROUND THE BACK] from Plum Blossom Spear [Posture 41]:
Master Huang performing RISING UP TO OFFER A TOAST from Drunken Luohan Boxing [Posture 31] (photo taken on May 5, 1958):
Group photo of Master Huang and his sponsors at the founding of the Honfan Fitness Academy on Hing Hon Rd, 1937:
Group photo of the founders and students of the Mantis Guoshu Institute (which later became the current Honfan Fitness Academy), 1945:
Group photo of the Hong Kong-Kowloon Mantis Boxing Alumni Club for their celebration honoring the Two Martial Saints, Guan Yu and Yue Fei, 1946:
Memento photo for the opening ceremony of the martial arts course for the Hong Kong-Kowloon Restaurant & Teahouse Workers Union:
A martial arts program was established in girls’ schools, the Cultivated Young Ladies Middle School being the first in Hong Kong, where Master Huang taught for more than ten years. Group photo of the Cultivated Young Ladies Middle School martial arts team, July 6, 1950:
Group photo of Master Huang and Jingwu students at the fundraising performance given on the basketball courts of Southorn Playground in honor of the 80th anniversary celebration of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, 1951:
Group portrait of Hong Kong Jingwu Association teachers and staff, during a banquet at the Golden Dragon Restaurant, discussing plans for rejuvenating Jingwu, 1953:
後排：吳大新 潘茂容 陳公哲 吳漢琛 盧秀東
(Back row: Wu Daxin, Pan Maorong, Chen Gongzhe, Wu Hanchen, Lu Xiudong)
前排：張俊庭 李孑農 劉法孟 吳公儀 黃漢勛 蔡仲夔 馮竹修 劉金泉
(Front row: Zhang Junting, Li Jienong, Liu Fameng, Wu Gongyi, Huang Hanxun, Cai Zhongkui, Feng Zhuxiu, Liu Jinquan)
Not long after Master Huang had been invited to start a class at the Overseas Chinese Fitness Academy – group photo at the opening of their Mantis Martial Arts Class, July 9, 1956 (photographed by 泰山攝 Tazan Studio):
In order to raise funds for volunteer schools, the Kowloon Chamber of Commerce held a benefit performance of “Northern & Southern Martial Arts” at the Lai Chi Kok Amusement Park, April 18, 1954, in which Master Huang gave his support as a Jingwu representative, shown here being presented with a silk banner from the chairman of the Kowloon Chinese Herbalists Association during the event:
Group photo of all performers at the event:
漢勛健身院參加歡迎菲臘親王青年大會 國術表演全體合照 一九五九年三月廿九日攝
Group photo of the participating martial artists from the Honfan Fitness Academy, performing for the Youth Conference’s welcoming ceremony for Prince Philip, March 29, 1959:
Grand opening of Huang’s injury clinic on Portland Street, established for the needs of the local townspeople [and including a salesroom for his books], Aug 8, 1968:
Chau Cham-son and Master Huang, after the opening of the Mantis Traumatology Research Institute (which Huang funded with his own money), Chau presiding over the unveiling, 1967:
Group photo with students at the event:
Group photo of the first graduates of the Institute, 1968:
Invited to provide a special demonstration of Mantis Boxing on Hong Kong television, Sep 13, 1968 – Master Huang standing here with host Yu An, explaining each performance:
The students who participated in the performance:
Upon resigning from Jingwu, being presented with a memento for his services by young but long-training student Huang Dewang, Lunar New Year’s Eve, 1969:
Group photo of students at the farewell party:
Group photo of graduates at all levels after receiving diplomas, 23rd graduation session, 1970:
Group photo for the 26th gathering of the Hong Kong-Kowloon Mantis Boxing Alumni Club, seated members being graduates at the expert level, 1970 (absent from the photo are Huang Hanchao & Kuang Jutang, who were in America at the time, as well as Chen Yuliang, Zheng Xiang, and Hong Ze, who were in Australia):
Master Huang giving a speech at the event:
Invited by colleagues to add to the celebration at a graduation ceremony at the New Asia College of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Huang Hanchao, himself an alumnus of the college [majoring in Chinese history], performs Drunken Luohan Boxing [Posture 17] (There is exquisite skillfulness in both the timing of the photographer and the precision of the performer. His whole body is straight, with no part of it touching the ground, and yet his facial expression remains dignified, very difficult to do when pulling off such a stunt.):
陳玉良 張顯棠 麥雄興 李其森 姚黃勝 蘇應芳 黃鑑西 敬贈
A memento portrait presented to Master Huang by Chen Yuliang, Zhang Xiantang, Mai Xiongxing, Li Qisen, Yao Huangsheng, Su Yingfang, and Huang Jianxi, having just been made his formal disciples, the ceremony being held at the Hong Kong Jinjiang Restaurant at the recommendation of Guan Zhuo, June 2, 1946:
Master Huang Hanhuan performing with the crescent-moon fork:
LOOKING BACK AT THESE FORTY YEARS by Huang Hanxun
In 1932, I accepted Luo Guangyu’s command to establish a Mantis Guoshu Institute at 33 Nanwan Street in Macao. I was only eighteen. Due to my youth, the crude facilities, and a lack of publicity, there were hardly any students. After about six months, I started to see some improvement, going from just a few students to a dozen. After the school opened, I also accepted teaching positions at the Duosheng Recreation Club, Confucian Academy, and the High Aspirations Middle School. With this expanded exposure, the school steadily gained more students and the future looked brighter.
The following year, I went to Hong Kong with Master Luo for the New Year celebration, where he showed me a letter of invitation for a teacher at the Hankou Jingwu Association, drawing the curiosity of my Hong Kong colleagues. I felt I could not accept it anyway and discussed with them about who could fill the position. Most of them disliked how far away it was and the gamble of so drastic a move, and so the position remained vacant. Luo took me aside and told me: “Macao is tiny, so it doesn’t offer you as much opportunity to grow your school, whereas the triple city of Wuhan [made of Wuchang, Hankou, and Hanyang] is an industrial and commercial center many times larger than Macao, which means your salary would be higher. And with your meals and lodging taken care of as well, it’d be a better way to fulfill your ambition to teach for a living.”
I responded: “I’m too young, I don’t think I’m qualified yet.” Luo said: “I’ll let you make up your own mind. Don’t worry about being qualified, you’ve eaten your fair share of knuckle sandwiches to know what you’re talking about with students. But since you have a mother who’s still living, you should certainly go ask her permission first.” I thereafter quickly returned to Macao and talked it over with my brothers. They both encouraged me to pursue the chance. Then I went to my mother and explained everything to her. She too gave her approval, so I promptly wrote a letter to Master Luo informing him and then set my affairs in order, resigning from all of my various teaching duties in Macao. Luo sent me instructions: “Already received telegram from Hankou Jingwu staff, who urge you to be on your way, hoping you make it on time to northbound boat from Hong Kong.”
Spending the next three days in Hong Kong was better than the last three years of training. On the first day, I was at last made a formal disciple of Master Luo, alongside Li Weiyi, Zhu Zhixiang, Qu Xinghan, and Li Guanlan. A grand ceremony was held at the Eastern Mountains Restaurant, followed in the evening by a banquet at the Citizens Restaurant. On the second day, Master Luo then gave us all additional instruction in the practice sets for half a dozen weapons in order to further enrich our knowledge base. I have felt forever indebted to him for teaching me skills that will help me to adapt in a crisis, to escape from a life or death situation, and for causing me to develop the remarkable faculty of having an inexhaustible supply of techniques. On the third day, Jingwu colleagues gave us a farewell tea party, followed by a banquet for all us in which we were presented with money for travel expenses. Those three days meant a lot to me, and I have never forgotten them. But when I first arrived in Hankou, I felt beset with difficulties:
1. The language barrier (I could only speak Cantonese).
2. The students were all older and taller than me. (At that time, I was five foot seven and weighed about a hundred sixty pounds.)
3. The previous teacher had held the position for a long time and had developed a close bond with those students, so naturally they were biased against me.
Fortunately, the head of the martial arts department, Xie Zhishou (who for a while got to accompany Master Luo in his travels) set an example by personally joining in for the Mantis class, which due to his influence then started to make steady progress. Xie also introduced me to many Cantonese friends, among them even people who had come from my hometown. I still feel deeply grateful to him. During my three years in Hankou, I was also employed in several other positions: preparatory committee member and special skills director at the Municipal Physical Education Technical School, martial arts director for the World Theater, instructor to the officers at the army garrison headquarters, and instructor in large saber methods for the volunteer reserve militia.
Then in 1937, on the 7th of July: Japan invaded, war began. With the whole nation caught in a life or death situation, the people unified their spirit to commit to a sacred struggle, ready to risk everything. Jingwu had no choice but to shut down for the time being. I had already been away from home for a long time and now the flames of war were crowding in all around. I decided to return south to help support my family. Not long after getting back to Hong Kong, I visited Master Luo and then accompanied him everywhere, an experience I greatly benefitted from, after which I laid what became the groundwork for my own career by establishing the Honfan Fitness Academy on Hing Hon Rd. During those years, I also served as martial arts director for the Cultivated Young Ladies Middle School, Zhongnan Middle School, the Shau Kei Wan branch and Aberdeen Island branch of the Fishermen’s College, the Strong Citizens Athletic Club, the Encourage Survival Martial Arts Society, and for the Reviving Strength chapter and Shining Righteousness chapter of the Teahouse Workers Union.
After almost four years in Hong Kong during those dark days, I remained in a situation of struggling, so I relocated the Honfan Fitness Academy to Tai Nan Street in the Sham Shui Po District in order to have a larger space and thereby draw in more students. Although I was hungry, cold, and broke, I was not discouraged. With post-war Hong Kong booming, I contacted various Jingwu colleagues who had returned to Hong Kong from the mainland to reorganize the Jingwu school here. In addition to serving in it as an instructor, I was given an eight-year term as martial arts director and appointed as secretary-general. I was also hired as martial arts director for the Municipal Public Health Workers Union, the Hong Kong-Kowloon Restaurant & Teahouse Workers Union, and for the Reviving Strength chapter, Shining Righteousness chapter, and Patience Cottage chapter of the Teahouse Workers Union. By the following year, classes had also resumed at the Cultivated Young Ladies Middle School and at the branches of the Fishermen’s College, where I was again hired as martial arts director.
Within about three years, I had become a respected person in society. Because I needed to find more spare time to work on the gaps in my own skills, I had my “younger brothers” Wei Hansheng, Mai Huayong, and Chen Zhenhua each set up their own academies to teach the art, a strategy that worked so well that I actually ended up with even more time to do things for the community.
At that time, the Chiang Kai-shek Young Workers College consulted me about ways to get more funding. Since I of course never have anything else in my mind except martial arts, my only suggestion was a “Northern & Southern Martial Arts Masters Benefit Performance”. I was then invited to a meeting of the board of trustees to explain how to proceed with this idea, to estimate both how much funding it would require to hold such an event and how much funding the event would generate. After some deliberation, they put me in charge of arranging the whole thing, a heavy responsibility and very busy task. Luckily, I had support from many colleagues. The number of masters who consented to perform rose to an astonishing seventy-eight, including many famous ones who have since passed away, such as: Cui Hua, Lin Yaogui, Dong Yingjie, Cui Zhang, Liu Xian, Ye Yuting, Geng Dehai, Wu Zhaozhong, Mai Zhanqing, etc.
Due to the unexpected volume of spectators, the event had to be spread out over two evenings, the site chosen being the auditorium of the Chinese YMCA. Being the first time that a large gathering of northern and southern martial arts masters was ever held here, and considering the renown of so many of them, people from all walks of life attended in huge numbers, quickly filling the venue to capacity. Those who could not manage to squeeze into the space could only hope to glimpse something and then sigh when they missed it.
After the performance finished, a banquet was held in the YMCA cafeteria as an act of gratitude to the masters for “seeing what needed to be done and bravely doing it” [a quote from History of the Song Dynasty, bio of Ouyang Xiu (itself an inversion of this saying by Confucius, Lun Yu, 2.25: “Seeing what needs to be done and not doing it is cowardly.”)] After there had been several rounds of drinks, I stood up as representative for the whole event to make a speech. However, due to the rare sight of so many masters gathered together amicably, I suddenly had a revelation and immediately brought it up:
”This evening could be said to break the historical trend. We have come together for a single cause and dedicated all of our effort into seeing it succeed, thereby initiating the start of something that is bigger than anyone of us. Building upon this foundational moment, we could establish an organization, which would demonstrate a unity, and from that unity, we would derive greater strength. With that strength, what could we not accomplish?”
Everyone applauded in favor of this idea. Master Liu Xian then recommended that I be made “convener”. I protested that there were so many better people than myself right there. He rebuked me: “Excellency, you were the one who convened us for this occasion. Now you want to withdraw from the job you’ve already started doing? You’re not living up to your own suggestion!” All agreed and thus I had accidentally got myself forced into the role.
So I later convened a meeting of all members at the Dragon Spring Teahouse. More than eighty were present, all of whom had accepted my proposal for a “Hong Kong-Kowloon Martial Arts Masters Friendship Association”. During the dinner, fifteen were selected to become a preparatory committee and five to run daily affairs. I was elected as chairman, Liu Xian as vice chairman. A provisional office was set up in the Restaurant & Teahouse Workers Union. Lacking financial resources and clerical staff, I had to do all the paperwork myself, involving drafting the Association charter, sending and receiving all correspondence, and rushing around as liaison to everyone. Although I did not get to the point of robbing myself of sleep or meals, I was putting duty before self and ended up pushing myself too far.
At the same time, many colleagues were coming into Hong Kong from the mainland because their livelihoods had been destroyed [by the communist takeover], and they came to me for help. I had to tell them that the Association had not yet even been properly established and severely lacked funding, and that it was therefore very difficult for me to do anything for them. I had to pay for their food with my own money, and doing this hundreds of times while in the midst of putting the Association together almost made me destitute. After going through three months of preparatory work, the final draft of the Association charter was finally revealed at a meeting of all members and approved. The next step was to present it to the Chinese Civil Administration in order to apply for official registration. An interview was soon arranged through Huang Cuiwei, who had become a government secretary (and had previously been a member of the Jingwu Association in Shanghai).
Liu Xian and I went together to put forward our case, saying: “The Chinese martial arts community is full of quarrels, there being endless disagreements between masters. Without such an organization, such problems will soon be harder and harder to manage. Therefore we urgently seek official recognition.” The reply we received was basically: “Our apologies, we do not find it convenient at this time.” We repeated our case over and over, explaining about our recent camaraderie and unity, but were still rejected.
The following day, I convened the preparatory committee and reported the situation to them, then convened a meeting of all members, where I took full responsibility for the failure and resigned from my position so that it could be filled by someone more qualified. Everyone instead felt that there was no point in selecting a replacement since the situation seemed to be hopeless anyway, better to just let it all go. All agreed and declared the Association disbanded.
(At least this project was arguably the seed of today’s Hong Kong Guoshu Association [formed in 1969]. I was invited to participate in organizing it, but I was already burned out after forty years of hard work, and so I left it in the hands of more capable people. Seeing the marvelous unity they have achieved is a great consolation to me and I feel no need for my previous efforts to be celebrated.)
Once I had eventually given up on that dream, I decided to instead focus all my efforts into promoting Mantis Boxing. It struck me that personal instruction can only reach a relatively small number of students, and thus the art is not widely known and very rarely known in detail. Surely the best way to spread it widely would be to put it in writing and publish it for all to see. Alas, I had only attended the school in my village for a year. To write a book is easier said than done. I dreaded that it might be beyond my capacity. But I maintained the ambition for a long time, and that ambition was what saw me through, enabling me to not care about success or failure and just get on with it, to not be too finicky about the quality of the writing and just write. Thinking about how best to proceed, I most of all wanted to make sure that readers could easily understand the explanations and photos/drawings.
In 1946, Volume 1 of the Mantis Boxing Book Series was published: Secrets of the Mantis Boxing Art. The printing costs set me back over a HK$1000 [and the books were priced at HK$5 per copy], which was manageable only due to my frugal living. At the time, I was thoroughly gratified by the achievement and had a mentality of indifference about any losses I had to suffer to make things happen. The following year, the earnings from the first volume went toward producing Volume 2: Avalanche Steps Boxing Set. This series of books ended up totaling twenty-eight volumes.
My goal originally was to publish a hundred volumes, and to do this through the method of using the books to make more books, in other words to take profit each year from the books sold so far and put it into the printing costs for the next batch of books, rather than making a profit for its own sake. My intentions were pure and sincere, but then some unscrupulous greedy man began making his own reprints of all my books without permission and selling them. Since I am not profit-minded, I did not really feel injured that he was profiting from my labor. What bothered me was that the quality was so poor, the cheaply mimeographed photos looking blurred and murky, the sloppily retranscribed text riddled with ridiculous and confusing errors. I felt sorry for the real victims: the readers. This was the reason I stopped publishing new books for so many years.
On the brighter side, I am proud to have restored the Jingwu testing system, which we have so far maintained for twenty-five years. Looking at the results at all levels, there have been nearly four hundred people who have succeeded in completing a significant part of the course. Almost ten percent of them have gone through the full eight years and graduated at the expert level, more than twenty of whom are now serving as teachers themselves.
I also founded an “alumni club” in order to give students more opportunity to form friendships. There are now alumni clubs throughout the martial arts community and I think I can claim to have started the trend. Since they are everywhere, I guess I have a right to say it: all great minds think like me. I was later also hired as administrator and martial arts director for the Far East Athletic Club, as well as instructor at the Overseas Chinese Fitness Academy, and martial arts director for the Realized Ambition Fitness Academy and for Pui Ching Middle School.
I decided I would resign first from my various extra positions at the end of 1969, then wait until the end of 1971 to fully retire from the school I founded myself. I initially considered closing the school as well, but senior students convinced me that because of the effort I had put into starting it in the first place, it would be a shame to suddenly throw it all away. The obvious suggestion was made that my sons should take it over, but I thought they were still too young and inexperienced to bear the full responsibility, and also too busy anyway since they were in the midst of college studies. Their ambitions also did not really seem to lean toward becoming martial arts teachers, and so I freely encouraged them to focus more on academic studies as a more likely way to someday establish themselves in society. I therefore told the senior students that if there really are any individuals who can inherit and maintain it, I will decide who are the ones that are qualified. I put forth several names and then let them make the final choice from those candidates. The result: Huang Wenjie would inherit the position of overall head instructor, Ta Shaocan would be in charge of running the evening classes, and I would still serve nominally as director in a supervisory role.
This commemorative volume was the idea of my student Huang Hanchao, who is a fully qualified instructor in this school and is currently striving toward a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. Contacting fellow students, many of them also having moved to various other places, he has compiled the pieces that form the content of this book. Since retiring, I have been arranging my piles of handwritten manuscripts and continuing to write new manuals, so far recording more than thirty practice sets, and I hope to keep at it until I get to a hundred of them. As to whether or not they will get published, I have not made plans yet, but we shall see how it goes. This book about my forty years is intended for publication, though above I have made only the briefest outline of events throughout that time.
My experience of going far from home to start teaching at such a young age may help ease some of the worries of mentors and mothers about their own students and children: it turns out that we can leave home and not entirely screw up after all. However, it was pretty tough in those days, for there was plenty of feuding within the martial arts community, especially in a place like Wuhan, where all the different ethnic groups from throughout the nation tried to live among each other. Since I was a southerner, my job of teaching a northern martial art to northerners created a lot of jealousy. Students who wanted to start fights about it were everywhere, as were older teachers looking for any reason to criticize. When I first set out on my voyage there, I had no idea I was walking into danger and would often be a target of such people.
I will always remember my master’s parting warning [quoting from Boy & Girl Heroes, chapter 32]: “‘People pass through life leaving only a reputation, just like geese passing by overhead leaving only their sound.’ Flesh may be torn, bones broken. But suffer insults to our art? Better if we all die.” It has been almost forty years since I saw him. No matter what struggles he encountered, nothing ever rattled him, and he always lived up to his words of warning. There are still people today who get into fights for the honor of Luo Guangyu’s teachings, though I cannot think of any among them who have also done anything to actually promote Mantis Boxing.
I would not dare to give wild gushing praise to this art in an attempt to promote it, but on the cover of each book that I have published, I proudly wrote the words “as taught by Master Luo Guangyu of Penglai, Shandong”, and for the Mantis Traumatology Research Institute, I named the auditorium “Guangyu Hall”. Seeing that Mantis Boxing is flourishing today in so many places, I feel deeply gratified. For me to withdraw from the martial arts community at this time is in line with the ancient advice [from Su Dongpo’s “A Gift of Poetry for Xiang Chengjie”]: “The best time to retire is at the very height of your career.”
MY EXPERIENCE OF LEARNING MARTIAL ARTS & OTHER RAMBLINGS by Wei Hansheng
I started learning martial arts in about 1935 or 1936. I think it was during the early part of winter. I was a young man of seventeen or eighteen. My older brother sent me off to learn martial arts. In my youth, I was in love with every kind of exercise. Martial arts were especially widespread throughout Wuhan. My teacher, also a young man at the time, came there from Guangdong in the south, and yet what he taught was a northern art. At that time, what I was learning amazed me. By the time I was just eleven or twelve years old, I had already been given the impression from reading old-fashioned martial arts fiction that northern martial arts were incredible. I also often watched street performers, all of whom had come down from the north. My teacher dared to break this pattern, coming up from the south. He was just as skillful as the northerners, and was considered talented and bold. Visitors often came to his home to challenge him, what southerners call “kicking the tray”.
One morning, my older brother took me to meet Master Huang. This was when I first learned what his name was and that he came from Shunde County. It was also when I started to receive instruction, starting with the “eight postures”. Southerners call them the “eight horse postures”, meaning the eight kinds of stances. After a few days of practice, they all made sense to me. Then after a couple weeks had passed, I started to learn the basic hand techniques. But by the end of a full month, I started to lose my inspiration and I mentioned to my brother that I felt I ought to quit. Due to my brother’s urging and Master Huang’s encouragement, I discovered that merely admiring the abilities of others was not good enough and that doing the actual practice is the only thing that will bring good skill. In the same way that “a long journey starts with a single step” [Daodejing, chapter 64], working at something is better than wishing for it, and to imagine otherwise is probably a common mistake among beginners.
The beginning is the difficult part, because if you do not take the time to build a good foundation, you will end up no better than an actor putting on a show. Moving this way and that, what you are doing may look pretty, but it is of no practical use, in the category of “a flowery arrangement of punches and an embroidery of kicks”. This is due to the error of beginner’s greed. Practice with total devotion. Even during the most oppressive days of summer or the bitterest days of winter, no matter if the temperature goes below zero, practice every morning without fail.
Fellow practitioners, although we know how to train gongfu, it is not a thing of physical substance, and yet it certainly is something. My understanding is that gongfu is most of all a matter of the hard work of standing in certain positions for long periods of time. This is not as simple as standing on your toes. The stances have particular heights and angles, making them hard work from the start. The longer you stand, the harder the work. If you can put enough work into them, you will eventually reach the point that you feel it is no longer hard work. Therefore the hardest work is building the foundation.
Winter passed, spring arrived. By that time, I had absorbed quite a few boxing sets. Gradually catching up with the more senior students naturally boosted my interest. After finishing practice each morning, Master Huang always treated me to breakfast. Since these meals were on the pricey side, it made me feel rather wealthy. This was more than thirty years ago. After continuing in this way for a several months, another problem arose in my training. I felt that my hands lacked strength, I did not want to get up in the morning, and I was often absent from the classes. When Master Huang and my elder brother noticed this, they started asking what had happened to me. They then explained to me that this situation is actually a good sign, a very normal thing called “plateauing”. When this occurred, I did not understand it, I simply became demoralized and lazy, unconsciously distancing myself from the martial arts community. Fellow practitioners, have you had this experience too? When this happens, it is necessary to increase your practice in order to progress. Plateauing does not happen according to a schedule. Some plateau sooner, some later. But pay attention to it when it happens, for it is actually the best opportunity to progress.
Among our fellow practitioners, getting through the first year or two of training is a dangerous time, dangerous because one is liable to think of one’s skill as being much better that it is. We learn martial arts as a means of exercise, developing a strong physique and a determination to get things done. But we also need to understand the self-cultivation aspect of martial arts, developing a refined moral sense and embodying virtuous martial customs in order to set a good example within the martial arts community. If we do the opposite of this, we will turn into rowdy hooligans who love to get into fights, and future generations will hate our kind forever.
How does such a situation come about? By not understanding the endless cycle of revenge: avenging an insult, then getting revenge for the avenging, then getting revenge for that revenge, and so on. Someone gets upset by something that should not be that upsetting anyway. Then there’s a quarrel, which turns into a fight, which escalates from fighting to killing. For the first couple years of the training, you will not yet really know if your gongfu is applicable or just meaningless display. You might wish to go out and give it a try, to see if this or that technique will work in a fight, and subconsciously stir up trouble to have an excuse, which will give your training an atmosphere of violence rather than virtue. Fellow practitioners, once you reach a certain level, it will be time to practice sparring, and so if you feel a need to go out and test things, please just wait until you are ready to spar.
To learn and practice a martial art often clashes with everyday life. Attending to other commitments means that people who love martial arts frequently cannot find the time to do the training. This causes many talented martial artists to fall by the wayside, a great pity. Alas, life treats us like toys. We often have a lot of things to do as a part of a group, such as meetings, parties, meals, travel, and so on. Everybody starts out happy, but once we begin discussing how to carry out these occasions, everyone expresses a different opinion. Everyone understands the principle that the majority overrules the minority, but what they decide can sometimes conflict with one’s own viewpoint. It is not worthwhile to fixate on these disagreements or try to argue your position forcefully. Sometimes those who feel the same way about things will form small factions, and then an ugly atmosphere forms between these factions. The factions will initially put off discussing certain petty disagreements between them, but they can eventually end up unable to make decisions together about large matters too, which would only threaten the cohesion of the larger group as a whole.
Once I started studying medicine, I became lazy in my martial practice. I felt ashamed that I was not doing my part to help promote martial arts or supply more knowledge to my fellow students. Now that Master Huang is retiring, I have been asked to write some words for the occasion. In response, I produced this piece briefly describing my experience as a beginner as well as some other ramblings. But I am not a highly literate man, and so I am no good at conveying my ideas. These superficial thoughts of mine will probably just make scholars laugh.
ON THE RISE & DECLINE OF CHINESE MARTIAL ARTS by Huang Hanxun
During the end of the Han Dynasty, Hua Tuo created the Five Animal Frolics in order to strengthen the body. Following generations imitated his exercises and made use of them for martial arts training. The Zen master Damo achieved enlightenment after staring at a wall for ten years. After observing a tiger and a leopard fighting, he also created his Hundred and Eight Luohan Postures for exercising the body. They were at first intended as pure exercises rather than martial techniques. Later generations deeply pondered upon these exercises for the arms and legs, then began linking them together into arrangements of continuous movements, which became the basis for the Shaolin boxing art.
Our branch of Mantis Boxing was passed down by Fan Xudong, who recorded the secrets of the art, which had been passed down orally through many generations, compiling them into a five-volume book called Authentic Teachings of Shaolin. Fan bestowed the book to my teacher, Luo Guangyu, who in turn gave a copy of the whole book to me. When the Japanese occupied Hong Kong, Luo decided to return north, and he said to me before leaving: “In times of war, people get separated. I have to go back north and I don’t know when we’ll meet again. Sorry I don’t have anything to give you as a memento. It would be a mistake to wait for me. Since you’ve already been teaching for quite a while, and you’ve not done a bad job of it, it’s your responsibility from now on to carry on the art. Give it all you got. Oh, hang on a minute, actually you should have this.” He then pulled a particular volume of Fan’s book out of his travel bag, handwritten by Fan himself, and presented it to me. As I reached out my hand to receive it, he then said solemnly: “This volume is all lost teachings. You have to experience this stuff a lot with your own body in order to appreciate the depth of its ideas. Don’t forget.”
Within Fan’s book, it is stated clearly that the first of the “eighteen masters” is the founding emperor of the Song Dynasty, Zhao Kuangyin, his Long Boxing being considered the earliest ancestor of the art. I am no position to select from the various traditions and to dispute over whoever it was that was the founder of this art, but I have noticed that Damo’s original intention for his art was purely for improving health rather than giving attention to fighting, whereas Zhao Kuangyin was a man on horseback, holding a weapon, conquering the whole country. The martial training Zhao established was obviously and in all respects focused on combat. Damo may have been first chronologically, but if Zhao is said to be the founder, then it has to be asked if Shaolin should even be considered a martial art, initially lacking a martial purpose. Never mind my thoughts on the matter, I leave it to you to decide.
From the Han Dynasty all the way to the Tang Dynasty, China always relied on its martial skills to dominate its territories. To this day, even foreigners consider the people of the Han Dynasty and Tang Dynasty to be worthy of immortal prestige. After the Tang Dynasty had gone, its renown never diminished. In the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, Tang still had more clout than Qing. By the last years of the Qing Dynasty, the Empress Dowager’s blind faith in magical abilities facilitated the Boxer Rebellion [1899–1901], resulting in the Eight-Nation Alliance [Germany, Japan, Russia, Britain, France, the United States, Italy, and Austria-Hungary] invading Beijing, thereby bringing disaster onto herself.
After the Boxer Rebellion, the Chinese people lost faith in their martial arts. Fathers stopped teaching sons, and elder brothers likewise stopped training younger brothers, for fear that they would be passing down something that would only cause trouble. They now looked upon martial arts in the same way that they regarded destructive floodwaters or dangerous beasts. Alas, our native martial skills began to fade away, and with it the spirit of the ancient “six arts” [referring in particular to archery and charioteering]. Our martial arts waned so much for several decades that neighboring nations wanting to bite chunks out of China began laughing at our foolishness and drooling in anticipation.
During the last years of the Qing Dynasty, Huo Yuanjia of Hebei repeatedly defeated foreign strong men. There have always been people among us who felt humiliated and wanted to become more powerful, and all they lacked was the opportunity to do it. Inspired by Huo’s achievements, Sun Yat-sen traveled to Shanghai, where together with the young Lu Weicheng and Cheng Gongzhe, all three of them being from Guangdong, and Yao Chanbo of Zhejiang, they called upon Huo to publicly promote Chinese martial arts in order to rouse and strengthen the masses. Huo likewise wished to publicly share his secret family art, Mizong Boxing, and so Lu, Chen, and Yao worked to accumulate funds and recruit aspiring youths, and they established the Jingwu Association in Shanghai.
Since that moment, branch schools opened in dozens of regions and Jingwu membership rose into the tens of thousands. Thanks to excellent organizational skills, the gathering of highly talented people, and maintaining an undistracted focus (“no smoking or drinking, no discussion of religion or politics”), Chinese martial arts at last experienced a revival. A group of Jingwu representatives was then sent to the capital to present the government with three requests:
1. Take back the right to host the National Games, the previous Games [1910, held in Nanjing, and 1914, held in Beijing] having been hosted by foreigners, a blow to our national prestige, and add a martial arts competition to it, complete with titles for the winners: 1st place – a “scholar”; 2nd place – a “warrior”; 3rd place – a “hero”.
2. Order that these skills passed down through the generations are now to be referred to throughout the nation as “guoshu” [national arts, as opposed to merely “wushu” (martial arts)].
3. Make Jingwu a national institution.
After many such meetings, the first two items were accepted [though the results of this were apparently years apart, China hosting for the first time with the 3rd Games, held in Wuchang in 1924, and the first to include any martial arts competition being the 5th Games, held in Nanjing in 1933 (the categories being: forms [empty hand, long weapon, short weapon], sparring, and shuaijiao)], but the third item could not be accepted, despite the eloquence of the delegation, because the government decided to establish its own state-run organization for promoting Chinese martial arts nationally, adopting the name from the second item – calling it the “Guoshu Institute” [established in Nanjing in 1928]. However, the success of the delegation was not dependent on bringing glory to the Jingwu name. Getting the government itself to participate in the promoting of Chinese martial arts was an entirely satisfactory result.
Twenty years after this event, Lu Weichang and I chatted about it in a teahouse. I remarked: “The government authorities at that time sure found it hard to accept that third item.” Lu replied: “That’s because there were more Jingwu members than there were party members, so they were afraid the zeal of our ambition in those days might make our movement eclipse the influence of the government.” I then asked: “Knowing they probably wouldn’t go for it anyway, why raise the issue in the first place?” He smiled and said: “You’re still young, so you don’t quite see it: it was so we could get the first two! Those items would’ve had no chance if we asked for them on their own, but that third item being so outrageous made the first two look reasonable.” I think that in addition to succeeding with the first two items, the Guoshu Institute owing its existence to the impassioned urging of the Jingwu delegation is some remarkable icing on the cake.
I began teaching right when our martial arts renaissance was at its peak. In addition to the many Jingwu locations available in various provinces and cities, everywhere there was another Guoshu Institute popping up. Both projects were advancing together, different paths to the same goal. There were also many martial arts competitions being held, in Shanxi, Nanjing, Shanghai, Guangxi, Hunan, Wuhan, and other places. The wind was blowing our way and all felt it: “Our martial prowess is on the rise.” The army began hiring martial arts instructors to train soldiers in unarmed combat, bayonet fighting, and large saber methods. In battles such as Shanhai Pass [Jan 1—3, 1933], Xifengkou Pass [Mar 12—24, 1933], and the Battle of Shanghai [Aug—Nov, 1937], our nation had inferior equipment and yet surprised that formidable foe equipped with modern weapons by confronting him with an indomitable might.
The Japanese invasion was a chaos of war that lasted eight years. China’s beautiful tapestry of mountains and rivers was turned into ugly battlefields. Rape, pillage, slaughter – tens of millions suffered. Both the Guoshu Institute and the Jingwu Association were of course erased from the land during that time. Thirty years later, Jingwu has been resurrected and continues in Shanghai, but nowhere else in mainland China as far as I have heard. Outside the mainland, it goes on in places like Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea. Although new schools can be established pretty quickly, fully restoring the Jingwu spirit still needs more time.
In recent years, martial arts novels have been flooding bookstalls, and kungfu movies are now so numerous that there is no way anyone could ever see them all. Is this what a revival of Chinese martial arts is supposed to look like? I say: hell no. The authors of martial arts fiction often make their books instructive in the classical ideals of loyalty, filiality, mercy, and justice, but most readers just dismiss these aspects as old-fashioned. The old ways then get pushed aside for the sake of new fashion, absurd feats of skill such as “he collapses the mountain to extinguish the volcano”, “sending a wind from his palm that blows down trees”, or “leaping over an abyss a thousand strides wide in a single bound” – all designed to dazzle.
Those who know that these kinds of things are not supposed to be taken literally are able to see that it all amounts to nothing more than escapist fantasy to pleasurably pass the time. But for impressionable youngsters who have not yet matured to a level of discernment about reality, when they go into a school to ask for lessons, expecting what they find to be like those books, they end up hugely disappointed. This is a way to wreck the whole project of promoting the art to potential students before we can even start explaining anything to them. The tricks of modern photography are amazingly clever. When making a movie that shows supernatural abilities, special effects are used to achieve this, with the result that a whole generation of ignorant youths think that such nonsense is real, the same problem as those dreadful novels all over again.
Also in recent years, many new styles have appeared. Every existing martial art was of course created by somebody, but one must first go through a period of fully immersed concentration, of arduous study, passing through a process of guidance from wise teachers, in order to become capable of having legitimate self-realizations about such skills. Whether we are looking at China or the West, Japan or Thailand, and so on, we can see that they have all gone through the same steps to create their own martial arts. In our case, many of our inventors come up with clever pretexts to claim that what they have made up should indeed be categorized among the rest of Chinese martial arts, or they pin some modern name to it, like “Something Something Do” [clearly winking at Jeet Kune Do], and people’s ideas about these arts get subtly shifted… shifted… shifted, until finally everyone ends up forgetting what the real traditions even were.
I did not plan to keep talking about these issues after retiring, but after more than forty years of devotion to martial arts, I urgently advise those who are intent upon creating their own styles, giddy with grand plans and personal ambitions: please try to have consideration for the prestige of these traditions, to preserve at least some of the authentic skills and authentic spirit, and then there might still be hope for the future of Chinese martial arts. Otherwise, owing to a generation of narcissists who just want to call themselves “founders”, “masters”, “grandmasters”, our martial arts will be so utterly wrecked that there will be nothing left of them at all. Thinking about this makes me want to throw my pen across the room and sigh in despair.
There are also those who actually think that new concepts and new trends are somehow wonderful weapons for clearing the field of old concepts and old ideas. [The text here uses 舊思想 for “old ideas”, making this an obvious dig at the Cultural Revolution, with its policy of eliminating the “Four Olds”, in which the stunningly shortsighted communists set out to deliberately destroy “舊思想 old ideas, 舊文化 old culture, 舊風俗 old customs, and 舊習慣 old habits”, the loss of which effectively amounts to a nation committing suicide. Huang’s fear of a similar cultural revolution within Chinese martial arts would lead to the same message: it would never be worth it, because it would lose far more of value than it would gain.] They are obsessed and excited only about new things, and yet our martial arts are already old things. How can anyone presume to claim that his martial skills are superior to those of previous generations?
When such a martial arts teacher starts his own school, he makes full use of his master’s fame in order to establish himself in society, but then once his business has become at all secure, he does not hesitate to start criticizing his master, even slandering the style he inherited, and then he starts his own style so that he can proclaim himself a “grandmaster”. This kind of behavior, which corrupts martial arts as a whole, destroying both martial tradition and martial virtue, happens all the time. If this is allowed to go on, how will our ancient and glorious martial arts get handed down to future generations? Having already disrespected his master while still alive, fighting over the man’s grave after he is dead will not make up for it. There is a pertinent anecdote that spread after the end of the war against the Japanese:
A famous master had died defending his country early in the war. Since his disciples had become scattered to various places, it fell to some friends to pool together the funeral expenses and they had him buried hastily in a public cemetery. Returning home after the war was over, two of his disciples argued over which one was responsible for looking after the grave site. The argument turned into a dispute about which one had received the genuine transmission, scolding each other for the particular gaps in what he had been taught. They then went from arguing to fighting. This subsequently became a scandal in the newspapers, making them both a laughingstock within the martial arts community and turning their master’s school into an embarrassment.
This is just like an old saying: “Failing to support parents while alive, making useless offerings in front of their tablets after they are dead.” We can adjust this to: “Failing to respect the master while alive, fighting pointlessly over his grave after he is dead.” I offer a piece of advice to young martial artists who behave this way, in the form of a folk saying: “water dripping from the eaves” [representing continuity of tradition through the generations], meaning that if you are not filial, how can you expect your children and grandchildren to be filial to you?
In conclusion, though it may sound somewhat sentimental and old-fashioned, I want you to let go of supernatural fantasies and instead pick up fallen martial virtue, all strive together, and hoist our dilapidated martial arts into a realm of unstoppable resurgence! Although I am retiring from the martial arts community, I will still burn incense and pray for its success.
OUR ALUMNI CLUB by Xie Qingzhou
The Alumni Club is as the name suggests: a club where fellow students can gather and connect with each other. All the best schools nowadays have set up an alumni club. Because there is such a large number of students, many will end up in different classes and never meet each other, some will leave right after graduating to continue their studies abroad, and others will go abroad to make a living. A situation gradually develops in which students in the same school may see each other frequently and yet never get to know each other, sometimes not even aware that they are fellow students unless they are told. This situation is too sad, and thus there is a need for an alumni club. It is an excellent means for newer students and older students to get to know each other, and to hear news of overseas students. It is also of tremendous benefit for learning the art, exposing you to unique insights from other students that may help you with your own difficulties, which increases a sense of fondness for your fellow students, leading to lasting friendships.
Throughout the long history of the martial arts community, students have referred to each by such titles as “elder brother” and “younger brother”, the bond between them formed by formality. But this has gradually changed. I’m convinced that the trend of having an alumni club, and with it the equalizing effect of fellow students switching to calling each other simply “classmate”, began with Master Huang. As early as thirty years ago, he established the Hong Kong-Kowloon Mantis Boxing Alumni Club. In recent years, more branches have been formed, even giving rise to a Chinese-Living-in-America Mantis Boxing Alumni Club. Because Master Huang went beyond teaching for the Jingwu Association, teaching also for many other schools and organizations already early in his career, the forming of Mantis Boxing alumni clubs was a natural result of his influence. Now every kind of martial arts school has its own alumni club, indicating just how valuable such clubs are for the future of martial arts, and all thanks to Master Huang.
MASTER HUANG HANXUN & THE LAST FORTY YEARS OF MARTIAL ARTS EXERCISE by Huang Hanchao
Modern organizations for Chinese martial arts began with Huo Yuanjia’s founding of the Jingwu Athletic Association. Huo was from Tianjin and witnessed the Boxer Rebellion. The ignorant people of those days practiced what was called “Supernatural Boxing”, willing to be taken in by such nonsense because of their desperation, feeling that they were being surrounded by powerful conquering nations. Understanding that there is no way to truly resist foreign aggression except through the principle of “strengthen the nation by strengthening the people”, Huo thereafter vowed to teach his countrymen genuine martial arts.
In 1910, the Jingwu Association was established in an area of Shanghai where Chinese people and foreigners lived among each other, where industry and commerce were flourishing. A broad range of famous masters were hired and a comprehensive curriculum was developed, focused on the revitalization of our martial arts to become a form of education that would bring longevity to each and to all. A radical moment in Chinese martial arts history, this was the public sharing of the structure and spirit of a family’s secret tradition.
(Note: The phrase “revitalization of our martial arts” was used by Jingwu colleagues when the Association started as a way to express their wish to promote the teaching of martial arts. Jingwu elder Lu Weichang wrote a book called My Hundred Thoughts on the Revitalization of Our Martial Arts in 1923. It later went out of print for a long time until Master Huang republished it in 1955 in order to spread the material more widely. Jingwu Association history can be studied in Master Huang’s Things Witnessed Throughout Three Decades at Jingwu, which was published in serialized form by Chen Jin, also known as Mr. Hermit, within Chinese Boxing Magazine, volumes 11–17, 1953–55.)
Huo did not get to witness the great success of the Jingwu Association. He died just two years after it started. Fortunately, he set an example that inspired others to carry on his mission, the Association fulfilling its purpose superbly thanks to the ceaseless efforts of people such as Lu Weichang, Chen Tiesheng, Yao Chanbo, and Chen Gongzhe. They went steps further to promote martial arts by publishing the Jingwu Book Series and the Jingwu Journal, by sending representatives out to cities to give public demonstrations, even to the nations in the South Sea, by introducing people to the uses of both Chinese and Western training equipment, and by presenting comprehensive analysis of martial arts theory.
Within twenty years since the Jingwu Association began, the guoshu movement was underway. Jingwu had established more than fifty branch locations and cemented an eminent reputation. Following their lead, the nationalist government then established the Central Guoshu Institute and the guoshu movement became the new trend right alongside them. The Central Guoshu Institute was established in Nanjing in 1927, following upon the success of the Northern Expedition. Branch institutes gradually appeared everywhere, extending to all provinces, cities, counties, even reaching to the level of districts, towns, villages. Its purpose was to promote Chinese martial arts, improve the health of the people, and produce martial arts manuals. With endorsement and encouragement coming from the government itself, our martial arts flourished to a greater extent than at any point since ancient times, even becoming officially recognized as a national sport.
(Note: A small booklet presenting the organizing principles and rules of the Central Guoshu Institute was published by Commercial Press. This material was later reproduced as the fifth chapter of Wu Tunan’s General Discussion of Chinese Martial Arts, also published by Commercial Press, 1939.)
The guoshu movement was a vigorous push forward, propelling many public and private martial arts groups into being, and cultivating many talented practitioners. But it is clear to us today that most of the development within every system and style was brought to an end when the Japanese invaded and war began – July 7, 1937. During the stable years before that, there were a great many masters employed by the Jingwu Association and the Guoshu Institute, as well as many private schools, and they were able to excel in their profession. Due to the government’s fervent endorsement, the martial arts community became awash with incredible employment opportunities, gradually even surpassing those of the liberal arts fields, and students were able to blissfully take it for granted that such material was readily available for them to study.
However, martial arts organizations were hit hard by the war, as were all other cultural institutions. Keeping these arts alive has since depended entirely on noble individuals who vowed to never give up, committing fully to the unceasing struggle to carry forward our cultural essence, providing a lifeline so that it may endure. My teacher, Master Huang Hanxun, is a monumental figure who links us to that remarkable past by spreading our traditional martial arts, keeping the revitalization movement alive.
2. Understanding the Revitalization Movement Through Master Huang’s Own Words
Master Huang Hanxun’s background was formed at the Jingwu Association. The purpose of that organization was to reform martial arts by getting rid of the feudalistic attitude of keeping knowledge secret. Therefore beyond absorbing the meticulous instruction of Master Luo Guangyu in the three-hundred-year-old northern art of Mantis Boxing, he also received the enthusiastic wisdom of Jingwu elders, giving him a deep instinct to promote the guoshu movement in order to benefit the people and help the nation. He has by now been teaching martial arts for forty years. His method of instruction is based in the standards established by the Jingwu Association, which he has consistently adhered to throughout that time.
In 1935, Huang went north to teach at the Hankou Jingwu Association. But then when the war with Japan began, he returned south and devoted himself to the Hong Kong Jingwu Association for more than thirty years. After the war, the Association struggled to keep going, but he helped preserve the prestige of Jingwu, earning him high regard from Jingwu colleagues and the martial arts community as a whole.
In addition to teaching martial arts and practicing medicine, he has also devoted himself to writing about these things. As for medicine, he co-authored The Science of Treating Bone Injuries with Chen Haizhuo, published 1956, explaining in detail the injury medicine that is taught in his school. As for his many martial arts books, he said in his preface to Plum Blossom Hands that his goal is to make a hundred of them. He has so far published more than thirty, containing textual explanations and photos or drawings, but there are at least thirty more that are still unpublished. Factoring in the articles he has contributed to martial arts magazines, special Jingwu publications, and newspapers, which would probably add up to another dozen or so volumes, and then the total is getting pretty close to a hundred.
He has great determination and boldness, and yet he somehow keeps himself from getting carried away, adamantly seeking reality over fantasy, aiming always for the real stuff, an approach that has been all too rare throughout martial arts history. Master Huang’s commentary on the martial arts community can be found within his Secrets of the Mantis Boxing Art, Notes on the Mantis Boxing Art, Mantis Boxing Lectures, and Things Witnessed Throughout Three Decades at Jingwu. His theories about the boxing and weapon skills can be found within his Essentials of Fighting, and of course numerous manuals presenting each of the practice sets in detail.
His books are all masterpieces built of accumulated experience and diligent physical training, the crystallization of a great deal of thought and experimentation. I am not a skillful enough writer to reveal a complete portrait of him in so short an essay, so I will only highlight three of his key traits: 1. his deep concern about the proper cultivation of qualified instructors, 2. his forthright criticism of the martial arts community, both past and present, 3. and his directness when correcting students.
Anyone who has practiced a martial art at all, whether unarmed skills or weapons, is aware that it is something that is taught in person, face to face. Those who only know how to dance around with their bodies or swinging weapons mindlessly, but are ignorant of the specific strengths and weaknesses of using the hands or feet, short weapons or long weapons, or the distinction between feints and real techniques, or the concept of hardness and softness complementing each other, are like writers of compositions who do not know about the proper dividing of an essay into its four sections of introduction, development, transition, and conclusion, or about the methods of writing with masculine strength and feminine suppleness. However, practicing martial arts is far more difficult than writing essays, with its panting exertion and its iron-palm conditioning. Without personally experiencing it, you will have no idea how much hard work it all is.
When sparring with swords, every action has to be accurate in terms of distance and timing, otherwise there will be unnecessary injuries. Therefore in addition to possessing excellent skill, a martial arts teacher also needs to have a thorough understanding of boxing theory, an exquisite knowledge of weapons, and a strong sense of martial virtue. This is similar to the way that historians have to be well equipped with scholarship, insight, talent, and morality in order to be considered good historians.
How then to cultivate a good martial arts teacher? He must first undergo a demanding course of training. Famous teachers all have their teaching methods, as did Yue Fei and Qi Jiguang when they each trained their troops. What is needed is to gather together noteworthy teachers and have them all discuss authentic principles of martial arts without any silly bias over styles. That work began with the Jingwu Association, as described by Master Huang (excerpt from “On the Cultivating of Martial Arts Teachers” – Notes on the Mantis Boxing Art, 1951):
Physical education has entered a new era because of the standardized training of teachers. This is not intended as an accusation that teachers in previous eras were doing anything wrong. The issue is that martial arts training had become stuck in its ways for many centuries. The first step in the modern approach was when Huo Yuanjia established the Jingwu Association.
The goal was to improve Chinese martial arts, most notably by eliminating prejudice between styles in order to give these arts directly to the public, and also by instituting a standard teacher-training program: completing the beginner level after two years, the intermediate level after four years, the advanced level after six years, followed by rigorous specialized training. Two-year stages seemed to give the best results. At the end of this process, the best of the best were selected and sent to teach in the branch schools under strict supervision. Based on their performance within a year’s time, they were transferred to other locations, thereby furthering their knowledge and experience. This shows how much hard work was put into these arts by previous generations.
The modern standard has become this: practitioners seek to obtain the highest skill level in the shortest amount of time. This is a perfectly reasonable ambition. All ordinary practitioners can enter into an accelerated training program and achieve a decent level in just a few months, or a year or two. However, it is not possible to cultivate a good teacher within only a couple of years.
The Jingwu Association established their teaching-training program as a partnership between individual effort and group-provided facilities, enabling a student to grow into a teacher who would go on to become a valuable part of the martial arts community after a matter of decades, not mere years. Alas, this superb method stopped being used in 1932. Endlessly frustrated by the loss of it, Master Huang confronted the martial arts community with these earnest words (again from “On the Cultivating of Teachers”, followed by an excerpt from “Will the Sleeping Lion Awake?” – Further Notes on the Mantis Boxing Art, 1955):
It is difficult to find people nowadays who have even practiced martial arts for seven or eight years, much less seven or eight years in a disciplined and systematic training program, and almost impossible to find practitioners who are both knowledgeable in the skills and well-versed in teaching methods. Our martial arts are now in a precarious situation due to a lack of good teachers, with the result that the fate of these arts has been rather cowardly left in God’s hands.
Our martial arts are already in decline, and yet somehow there is no unanimous haste to save them from destruction. I will not dare to give up on these arts, for I believe they can indeed continue for many years to come. Do not dismiss my observations about the situation as mere complaining. Think about it and you will see that my words are not exaggerations.
(See also “On the Rise & Decline of Chinese Martial Arts” – White Ape Leaves the Cave, 1958.)
Since the time those essays were written, there have actually been many people promoting Chinese martial arts, but few of them have been qualified to make much of a difference in the martial arts community, and so Master Huang’s warning continues to remain relevant.
Teachers should undergo more rigorous training, and the training methods themselves need more improvement. Over time, any society progresses toward increased specialization, labor getting divided into particular tasks which are attended to by experts in those fields. This means that it is not necessary to expect every martial arts student to become a martial arts teacher. However, if students are not training to become teachers, a serious problem in the martial arts community is the question of how to make those students understand the true meaning of these arts. Addressing this issue, Master Huang wrote [excerpt from “The Martial Arts Community is Facing an Enormous Crisis” – Notes, 1951]:
The heroic ideal of proving one’s prowess by getting into fights has gradually lost its value in the twentieth century, a time in which science has become the theme of the age.
The times have changed and we in the current generation of the martial arts community have been slow to change with them. The methods of these arts have often been “improved” to turn them mainly into a means of building health and fitness, thereby making them a more popular form of exercise for the masses, tricking those who had previously had only contempt for martial arts into somehow developing a good opinion of them.
However, applications for the postures should now be changed back from overly elaborate flashy techniques to simple practical actions, so that after just a few years of practice, students can be made more than capable of dealing with attackers. A love of getting into fights should of course be treated as shameful in order to keep students on the right ethical path, but any mystical explanations are just a waste of time, leaving students with nothing to use to save themselves in an emergency even after ten years of training.
If everyone truly recognized the needs of the time, they would take a good hard look at themselves and what they stand for, and then perhaps our traditional martial arts would have a brighter future instead of being on the cusp of becoming mere relics of the past. I have followed in the footsteps of my Jingwu elders, standing proudly under the three-starred banner for more than twenty years. Seeing with my own eyes how desperate the situation has become, I cannot help but greatly worry for the future of our martial arts.
This describes the need to improve teaching methods in order to make self-defense equally as important a goal as health. Parts of the tradition that are probably of less use in the modern world can be treated as extracurricular rather than required, such as very old-fashioned long weapons such as halberds or the various hidden weapons like the sleeve dart. This is an act of separating the wheat from the chaff, of discarding unnecessary complexity in favor of basic essentials, making it easier for these arts to become more widespread. The responsibility for improving the teaching methods should be given to those who think the deepest and work the hardest, who have the most experience and the greatest wisdom, and who will forge the most qualified teachers by putting them through the most rigorous training.
Master Huang expresses a forthright criticism of the martial arts community, both past and present, in order to wake practitioners up. They otherwise tend to slip into habits of practicing more and more mindlessly, which only contributes to the decline of these arts. A sense of both the grief and sincerity in his criticism can be found in passages such as this (excerpt from “Real Versus Fake” – Notes, 1951):
Martial arts are supposed to be a practical field of study. Without going through the hardship of training, it is difficult to expect to get anything meaningful out of it. There are quite a few people who perform with uncommonly seen “archaic” weapons just so that they can then brag that they have a “rare” skill. They may perform with artistic and expressive motions in order to appeal to ordinary spectators, but they draw scorn from knowledgeable people.
We who practice martial arts have one goal: to obtain genuine skill, and to do so in such a way that it conforms to proper principles of improving one’s health. As for a desire to gain an empty reputation, how would that make you any better than a clown on a stage?
This is the error of seeking the superficial. A martial art is supposed to be a practical study, and so you have to be able to discern when things are nonsense that will waste your time. If you get obsessed with exotic weapons or seduced by exaggerations like “launching him dozens of feet away with a single palm strike”, you will only be fooling yourself and others, contributing to the further decline of martial arts. To correct this error, find a teacher who sets the right example. Master Huang has this to say about how teachers should be setting an example (excerpt from “On the Demeanor that Teachers Ought to Have” – Notes, 1951):
A martial arts teacher is simply an instructor in martial skills, but intimidating others will not gain him respect. To be a genuine teacher, he is not only responsible for passing on his skills, he also has to set an example of proper conduct. Only in this way will he prevent thousands of years of martial tradition from being discarded. Despite having amazing skill, if he has no moral sense at all, the authentic art will not get passed down.
This is a declaration that there should be equal importance given to martial virtue and martial skill, not an over-emphasis on either, in order for a teacher be truly qualified to teach. If teachers can give equal importance to virtue and skill, and students can give proper respect to the teacher and the teachings, then most of the disputes within the martial arts community, as described below, would vanish (excerpt from “On the Survival of Chinese Martial Arts” – Further Notes, 1955):
In the martial arts community, the various styles do not accept each other and instead attack each other. Most of the time, it comes down to issues of which school is superior and which style is the true interpretation. One school sings its own praises while condemning another school, praising and condemning with equal exaggeration. Or an older student proclaims himself the true inheritor of a system, denigrating a younger student for “not possessing the authentic transmission”. Or a student manages to get himself somewhat established as a teacher by slandering his own teacher as being too old and no longer capable of representing the art.
Our martial arts are therefore bogged down in a situation in which friends are not behaving like friends, brothers not behaving like brothers, teachers not like teachers, students not like students. In this way, respect is not being paid to previous generations for all their hard work in creating these arts and developing methods to pass on their teachings. Nor is a good example being set for the next generation of students.
Alas, the martial arts community tends to forget about martial virtue. Respect not being paid to previous generations for their hard work, nor a good example being set for the next generation of students – for those of us who genuinely feel, this makes us downright hurt.
When Master Huang started teaching, he knew he had to set an example, that he had to exhibit self-discipline in order to expect others to practice with discipline as well. Because he was teaching martial arts as a practical skill, he was also very direct when correcting students. Modern students often make the mistake of trying to learn too much and practicing too little. Learning too much means you are not focusing on anything. Practicing too little means you are not developing any skill. If you are neither focusing nor skill-building, there is nothing at all that will help you gain real knowledge. Alas, the poisonous influence of this behavior does not stop with just a few individuals who witness it, but can infect the entire martial arts community. Master Huang wrote these pertinent words (excerpt from “Speech from the 11th Graduation Ceremony of the Mantis Guoshu Institute” – White Ape Steals a Peach, 1958):
A martial arts practitioner is not allowed to have an impetuous mind and distracted temperament. That kind of thing is an even bigger hindrance to making progress than wanting to hurry up and be a teacher… Martial arts methods are easy to obtain and easy to lose. Unless you go through the experience, you will have no idea of the ordeals within the training… Only when the student has learned how to learn will he then be of use in rescuing our martial arts.
The golden rule for modern martial arts practitioners is (quoting from “Trying to Learn Too Much is Like Going into Debt” – Further Notes, 1955): “Better to learn a little and practice it a lot than to learn a lot and practice little.”
All over the world, there are fighting competitions and methods of training for them. Chinese martial artists typically practice boxing sets, although some give less time to practicing sets and instead focus directly on developing “deadly skills”, working on a variety of particular actions for dealing with opponents. All practitioners rehearse their techniques thousands of times, but few are clever enough to use them successfully in competition. This is because many practitioners make the mistake of overlooking the need for adaptability. For instance, they may have the courage to charge forward, but lack the nimbleness to turn and evade. This demonstrates the practical value of the principle of “learn a little and practice it a lot”.
Practitioners who are intelligent and talented, dedicated to both study and training, ought to be the ones to bear the duty of promoting Chinese martial arts. Master Huang wrote an essay called “Hard to Find the Right Teacher, Even Harder to Find the Right Student”, in which he said this (excerpt from “Hard to Find the Right Teacher, Even Harder to Find the Right Student” – Notes, 1951):
On the other hand, it is extraordinarily difficult to find worthy students. This is because people nowadays often lack a hardworking spirit. Practitioners of these skills have no meaningful goal in mind, they are just playing around. So many of them are unenlightened fools, deliberately provoking trouble for the sake of it, so that at the slightest insult they can then act justified in hurling out their fists and feet. Such behavior is hardly going to make these arts more respected.
Chinese literature, Chinese medicine, Chinese painting, and Chinese martial arts all form the essence of our ancient culture. However, “the waves behind are not replacing the waves in front” [i.e. the new is not excelling the old, subverting the proverb “the waves behind push away the waves in front”], and as a result, the current generation is actually inferior to the one that preceded it. The arts of our nation are therefore suffering a serious illness. Europe and America are constantly making giant strides in both medicine and physical education. As our civilization retreats, theirs advances, and we are now so inadequate that we no longer even qualify for comparison.
“Maybe the stones from other mountains will be better for carving jade.” These ancient words [from the Book of Poetry, poem 184] are a bitter pill to swallow. The future of the martial arts community is dependent upon students taking the initiative so that they can attend to the problems that previous generations did not foresee and do what previous generations did not have to do.
Based on his more than forty years of teaching experience and quiet observation, Master Huang has a thorough understanding of the martial arts community’s deeper problems and therefore always shoots his criticisms directly at the bull’s eye. He really is like a mirror being held in front of all of us to show us our flaws.
As for the Mantis Boxing manuals he has so lovingly written, he has turned the principles and methods of the boxing sets and weapon sets into a systematic study. He has also supplied us with a long catalogue of posture lists, providing easy access to the names of the techniques in each of the sets, a useful reference guide for modern practitioners to consult and a fascinating menu for laymen to peruse. His explanations for each technique in the sets are an inductive study, building up a clear overall pattern through an examination of details, making note of the use of fingers, palms, punches, kicks, stances, scrutinizing meticulously and neglecting nothing.
Not only do his accomplishments stand tall next to all the other achievements of Mantis Boxing’s three hundred years, all the way back to Wang Lang creating the art in the first place, but he has also contributed to the Jingwu Association perhaps the largest single collection of teaching materials it has had in decades, and there is still more to come. It is therefore fitting that the theme of this article is his influence upon the future of Chinese martial arts.
- written in Philadelphia, New Year’s Day, 1972
REMEMBERING MY ELDER BROTHER by Huang Hanxun
My elder brother Hanhuan had a large build (usually between a hundred eighty and a hundred ninety pounds, which is a pretty big guy for a Cantonese man). He loved athletic exercise, especially martial arts, and in his youth learned from Choy Li Fut master Zhao Jiyou. After two years of training, he gave up, just as he was on the verge of gaining a deeper understanding of the art. He then also learned Mantis Boxing from Master Luo, but again after two years he moved on from it, this time because his career took him away to Borneo.
In terms of physical strength, intelligence, and quick-wittedness, he completely outclassed me. His only great defect was a lack of willpower. I on the other hand have devoted myself single-mindedly to martial arts, never daring to slack for a moment, and that is why I have been able to serve the martial arts community for forty years.
My brother was once invited by the overseas Chinese community in Borneo to set up a school for teaching martial arts. A school was indeed established, though the curriculum that the founders were able to remember in his absence was very limited, and unfortunately he soon was unable to fulfill their request to be there at all. I know that deep down he wanted to help out the students in Borneo, and the Chinese representative in Borneo, Guan Runxuan, was even in the midst of handling his immigration process. I had planned to go out there too, but then war in the Pacific began, postponing all plans, and Hong Kong soon fell to the Japanese.
After the war, my brother helped to reorganize the martial arts community in Borneo, which he did so successfully that it made certain people jealous, and they thereafter frequently schemed against him. When I learned of this situation, I quickly went by boat to meet him and warn him to be on his guard against such plots. Because I was well aware that he was an alcoholic, I worried that after some drinking he would present those people with even better opportunities to work against him.
Sure enough, while drinking, he got challenged. He fortunately was only half drunk and pretending to be fully drunk. As a result, his challenger got seriously injured. This scenario happened to him so many times that I finally had to spread threats all over town against such upstarts in order to make any more of them hesitate to come forward to give my brother a try. Because I was by then one of the older instructors in the Jingwu Association, and thus respected by the students at the Singapore and Malaysia locations, the Borneo challengers backed off and did not bother him again.
Not long after this, my brother quit martial arts anyway and started a career in business. He made some slight success at it, but then suddenly became ill and died at the age of sixty-one, leaving behind his three children, the eldest about to get married, the youngest just starting school. I am completely unworthy to be their uncle, still having not yet met them face to face, still failing to live up to my duties toward them.
CHASTISING THE FOOLISHNESS OF TRYING TO DIVIDE THE ART INTO SEPARATE STYLES by Huang Hanxun
Throughout Master Luo’s career, from the time he started teaching at the Jingwu Association in 1919 to the time he went south to teach in other locations, he always referred to his art as Mantis Boxing and nothing else, but it was often called “Mantis School” in the monthly Jingwu Magazine. Those Jingwu writers also described exercises taught there, such as “Heroic Dance”, “Jester Dance”, and so on, which were composed of actions from various martial arts taught at Jingwu. Within them appears the technique of SLICING THROUGH THE WAIST from the Avalanche Steps boxing set, though they instead called it WAIST-CUTTING PALM, as well as the signature technique of LARGE WHEELING from the Large Wheeling boxing art, which they called LARGE WHEELING HANDS. Going further back to Authentic Teachings of Shaolin, there is little discussion of differences between systems, only this: “The wheeling technique reaches far, whereas the usual Mantis techniques draw near. The wheeling technique is done with great speed, whereas the usual Mantis techniques put more emphasis on precision.” And in this case, it is clear that what is indicated is in fact a merging of the Mantis art and the Wheeling art.
The boxing sets all contain elements of supposedly different “styles” of Mantis: Big Dipper, Plum Blossom, and Guangban. However, without being able to know the exact distinctions between these so-called styles, there would seem to be little point in claiming some special allegiance to one more than another. It would also be unfairly dismissive of the hard work of former masters who may have contributed just as much to the art as others did. Although what Master Luo passed down contains aspects of Big Dipper, Plum Blossom, Guangban, and Wheeling Boxing, these terms are just cryptic jargon to those who are new to the art, while those who make a big deal about the different styles should be asked if they can even identify techniques that are from Big Dipper, Plum Blossom, Guangban, or Wheeling Boxing. Not really knowing what the differences are anyway, it does not make any sense to try to glorify the different styles specifically. Such pettiness leads people to roll their eyes at the martial arts community, making prospective students leave schools in disgust shortly after walking in, wondering why they bothered to come in the first place.
The “twelve terms” of Mantis Boxing are:  grab,  pull,  take,  hang, [5 & 6] hook and advance, [7 & 8] hook and hit, [9 & 10] stick and adhere, [11 & 12] crowd and cram. It is sometimes said that the twelve terms are twelve kinds of techniques, which is nonsense. I once decided to change “hook and advance, hook and hit” to “hook and advance, collapse and hit”, thinking I was improving it. I later decided I was wrong to do it and felt ashamed of my error for many years. My changed version had been published for all to see and was subsequently often quoted in various newspapers and magazines. I hope I can slightly redeem myself now. Most people would not consider an error of a single word to be a serious issue, but to me it feels like I have committed a sin that reaches all the way to the horizon, for I worry that I may have confused beginners in the midst of building their foundation. I was not yet forty years old when I changed that word, and now twenty years later I feel that I badly misjudged the original teaching, which I suppose shows the value of long experience bringing greater wisdom. Despite my more than forty years of devotion to this art, I am still haunted by my error, which indicates that it is perhaps not so trivial a thing after all. I hope that by correcting it now, it will cease to be a lifelong regret. As for expounding on the twelve terms, as well as the eight hardnesses and twelve softnesses, and exploring the five basic hand methods turning into twenty-five, and the twenty-five turning into a hundred twenty-five… such things deserve attention in a later article.
Scholarly texts are not like recreational articles. There is a need for grounded arguments, clearheaded ideas, and a lack of exaggeration. To instead write about this kind of material baselessly, frivolously, and hyperbolically [in the way of martial arts novels] would only mislead students, a great crime. As long as we take this issue seriously, our martial arts will be able to flourish, and that would make practitioners of the Mantis school grateful indeed.
THE ORIGIN & TRANSMISSION OF THE MANTIS BOXING ART by Huang Hanxun [text reused from Secrets 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 become a successful candidate in the highest level of the imperial military examinations. Li paid him a visit at his home and asked 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. 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 returned north by boat, 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.
* * * *
The article above was published twenty-six years ago in Secrets of the Mantis Boxing Art. In recent years, it has often been quoted from in newspapers and magazines. People have copied out sections of my text as the basis of discussions on the Mantis boxing art, but frequently coming up with exaggerated interpretations and going so far as to describe the early masters as “divine beings” or “immortals”, which is ludicrous, far too intent on praising them rather than letting be ordinary men. I therefore have to make some additional statements:
In Authentic Teachings of Shaolin, there is no mention of those masters, and there are no reliable historical details or even a lineage chart.
When Master Luo first arrived in Hong Kong to teach at the Jingwu Association, he was asked by the editor of their newsletter to write an article introducing Mantis Boxing. He found it too difficult a task to actually write such an article himself, so he asked Wu Baoxiang (Taiji Boxing instructor at the Hong Kong Jingwu Association) to simply take down his dictation. The title of that article was the same as the piece above and Luo likewise began by discussing how Wang Lang created Mantis Boxing.
When I returned from the Hankou Jingwu Association, I shared his room at the Hong Kong location. Because my Mandarin was progressing, though with a strong Cantonese accent, I frequently asked him about the secrets of the Mantis boxing art. He shared freely with me and held nothing back. I studied from him for more than ten years, and it was during that time that I gained the most benefit. I once asked him who Wang Lang really was. He said: “Wang is a very common surname and ‘Lang’ is the equivalent of ‘some guy’, telling us nothing more than that he was male. His actual name seems to have been forgotten.” As a matter of fact, Wu Baoxiang intuited this point during the writing of the article and in place of “Wang Lang” wrote “a certain Mr. Wang”.
When I wrote Secrets of the Mantis Boxing Art, the first volume of my Mantis Boxing Series, I insisted that the “Lang” of Wang Lang should be 朗 instead of 郎, almost the same in both the way it is written and the way it is pronounced, but making more sense to me in terms of meaning. I have met people who condemn my use of 朗 without even considering my reasoning. It just seems to me to fit better as a name [the word meaning “clear” or “bright”, giving a sense of Wang Lang having a shining presence], and so I feel no guilt for changing the character and I shrug off anyone’s bad opinion of me. In fact, I am a little proud that Mantis practitioners nowadays have taken the hint and typically choose to use 朗 themselves.
Was it only seven generations from Wang Lang to myself? Then how did it take more than three hundred years? A generation averages about thirty years, so it seems that seven generations would only cover about two hundred years. After the second generation master, the Daoist Shengxiao, all subsequent generations involve direct personal instruction. However, it is extremely doubtful that Shengxiao was taught by Wang Lang. My guess is that there is a gap of about a hundred years between Wang passing down the art and Shengxiao obtaining it, this art which has now spread around the whole world. Below I have included a lineage chart showing a direct line of transmission through the generations, except the seventh generation, for which I have also listed my fellow students.
MANTIS BOXING LINEAGE:
[1st generation] Wang Lang, founder of the art, taught
[2nd] the Daoist Shengxiao, who taught
[3rd] Li Sanjian of Haiyang County, who taught
[4th] Wang Rongsheng of Fushan County, who taught
[5th] Fan Xudong of Jimo County, who taught
[6th] Luo Guangyu of Penglai County, who taught:
Yu Lejiang of Shandong
Zou Xigong of Shandong
Ma Chengxin of Jiangsu
Fan Yongzhen of Shandong
Cui Kuisan of Shandong
Cui Shouting of Shandong
Chen Zhenyi of Guangdong
Huang Hanxun of Guangdong
Chi Lunzhi of Shandong
Wang Shengzhong of Zhejiang
Qu Xinghan of Guangdong
Wu Hanchen of Guangdong
Guo Zuchao of Guangdong
Huang Jinhong of Guangdong
Li Weiyi of Guangdong
Zhang Baohou of Shandong
Li Guanlan of Guangdong
Chen Menghuan of Guangdong
Pan Hongchang of Shandong
Lin Boyan of Fujian
Zhu Zhixiang of Guangdong
LOOKING BACK AT OUR DISCIPLE CEREMONY by Chen Yuliang
Master Huang Hanxun has served the Jingwu Athletic Association and the martial arts community as a whole for forty years. After all his distinguished accomplishments, he is now retiring.
I remember the first time I walked into his school to seek instruction, in 1940. At that time, Master Huang was teaching at the Society for the Preservation of Martial Arts. The following winter, war erupted in the Pacific, and so I had to interrupt my studies for a while. Once Hong Kong had been liberated, Master Huang took up a teaching position in the martial arts department of the Hong Kong Jingwu Association. I sought him out and recommenced my training.
In the autumn of 1946, a ceremony to become formal disciples was held at the Jinjiang Restaurant on Wellington Street, the venue having been recommended by Huang’s fellow student Guan Zhuo. This ceremony made disciples of Yao Huangsheng, Mai Xiongxing, Huang Jianxi, Li Qisen, Su Yingfang, Zhang Xiantang, and myself. However, life again obstructed me, forcing me go work in the Haojiang District [of Shantou, eastern Guangdong], and so I missed out on a lot of personal instruction from Huang at that time, which I still regret.
Master Huang is a man of few regrets and great ambitions, outstanding in both his conduct and his knowledge, a systematic and tireless teacher. He often said: “The art is for fitness and self-defense, not for bullying others and committing crimes.” This was a point he made repeatedly.
Not that many years ago, Master Huang compiled the “Mantis Boxing Book Series”, producing more than two dozen volumes. Wholeheartedly devoting himself to the project, he sweat blood to get it right, putting all of his spirit into the task. In the promoting of martial arts, the scale of his achievement is awe-inspiring. Incapable of keeping the art for himself, he presents everything he knows, not holding back a single detail.
To share with the public all that one has learned through decades of personal research is truly admirable. He is at the highest level in morality as well as skill, brilliant in both the civil and martial realms, a unique talent within the martial arts community. Now that Master Huang is retiring, I have composed these few words to briefly describe what it has been like to be his student, making a record of it so that what he has done will not be forgotten.
TWO-PERSON VERSIONS OF SOLO SETS – A SPECIAL FEATURE OF MANTIS BOXING by Huang Wenjie
Wang Lang created Mantis Boxing in the early days of the Qing Dynasty, more than three hundred years ago. Students of it have since spread everywhere, north and south, as well as to various countries overseas. It is one of the major schools of Chinese martial arts. The Mantis boxing art was made by mixing in seventeen other martial arts. In this art, hardness and softness complement each other, and both long-range and short-range actions are used equally. The techniques are fast and yet still hit with heaviness. The stances are stable and yet still switch with great mobility. The longer you practice the art, the more you will discover its subtleties, experiencing things that cannot even be expressed in words.
What makes Mantis Boxing different from other martial arts is this unique feature: it has two-person versions of its solo sets. [In other words, instead of the usual way of having solo sets and two-person sets as separate things within a curriculum, it relates the practice of both more directly by having two-person versions of the actual solo sets themselves.] When I started learning this art from Master Huang, I did not yet know about the two-person sets, instead I innocently sought more of the solo practice, and therefore my progress was slower than it would have been if I had incorporated more partner practice earlier. After I finally learned the two-person Avalanche Steps boxing set, I gradually began to understand the unique character of the Mantis system.
I once asked an elder practitioner who had learned from Master Luo himself about these two-person sets. He told me: “When I learned the art, the only two-person version of a solo set was the Dodging Hardness set, because that was the only one Master Luo taught in those days.” After learning the two-person Dodging Hardness set, I too had assumed that it was the limit of the two-person versions. Little did I know that within a couple of years I would also be learning from Master Huang the two-person versions of Charging Punches, White Ape Leaves the Cave, White Ape Steals a Peach, Black Tiger Blocks the Path, Plum Blossom Hands, Mantis Leaves the Cave, and Small-Scale Postures. My understanding of this martial art deepened further and I finally realized that every single solo set in Mantis Boxing could indeed be turned into a two-person version.
The reason Mantis Boxing is able to turn its solo sets into two-person sets is because of how superbly the sets are constructed, having a continuity from one technique to another rather than made of bits and pieces randomly stuck together. When students practice one of these boxing sets, it feels like there is a continuous flow throughout. When you have become skillful at one of these two-person sets, you will be able to perform it just like an ordinary two-person set in some other martial art. It will provoke admiration for the conciseness of the movements and the artistry of the choreography. You will also be able to better appreciate the application of each movement in a set, and when fighting be able to wield them even more naturally. These sets are therefore of tremendous benefit to students.
Additionally, there are the “twelve terms” of Mantis Boxing:  grab,  pull,  take,  hang, [5 & 6] hook and advance, [7 & 8] collapse and hit, [9 & 10] stick and adhere, [11 & 12] crowd and cram. If you practice these two-person sets, the meaning of these terms will become so much clearer to you, a case of one thing revealing many other things. Practicing these sets requires two partners to be working in perfect coordination with each other, consequently improving the timing of your movements. These sets are therefore also of great assistance in training the “external five elements”: hands, eyes, torso, technique, and footwork.
Mantis Boxing has a great many techniques. They are easy to learn, but difficult to master. We are fortunate to have two-person versions as an aid. If you can work hard, practicing them more and more, you are certain to have tremendous gains to your skill, proving just valuable these sets are.
A PROMOTER OF FIGHTING ARTS by Ta Shaocan
Modern martial arts masters have been doing their utmost to promote the spread of fighting arts, bringing many of our nation’s traditional martial arts back from the brink of extinction, able to again raise their banners proudly. This is truly a blessing for our people.
The work of spreading our fighting arts did not begin very long ago. In the early days of the Republic, branches of the Jingwu Athletic Association were being established one after another, emerging in every province, sprouting up like bamboo after a rainfall. Because of this, the central Jingwu headquarters in Shanghai urgently sought out specialized teachers in order to best instruct students.
In 1918, Mantis Boxing master Luo Guangyu went south to Shanghai, accepting a position to teach young men at the Jingwu Association. Because he was still so young himself at that time, he was inevitably confronted with some barriers and bias in the workplace. Shrugging it off, he taught his lessons with special attention on improving the ability of the students to actually apply the techniques.
In addition to his methodical and excellent instruction, he personally demonstrated everything and engaged in discussion about the material directly with the students, enabling them to more deeply understand how to adapt when in a fight, thereby adding to their experience and confidence. Those who saw his fighting skill were amazed and asked him about it. He always humbly gave the credit to the art: “This is the magic of Mantis techniques.”
In 1929, Luo sent his student Ma Chengxin to represent Shanghai in the martial arts competition at the National Games in Nanjing. Ma accepted the challenge wholeheartedly and did not fail to live up to expectations, winning bout after bout, achieving a glorious victory after finally knocking down the champion from Xikang Province [what is now western Sichuan and eastern Tibet]. His success in the competition, which gave him instant fame in the martial arts community, was due to the training he received from Luo, and the attention Luo subsequently received was in turn due to the exquisite performance of Ma.
Because Ma set such a remarkable example among the competitors, Luo’s unique training method became talked of everywhere, and to this day is still considered the best fighting training for the last half century. When Master Luo went south to teach at the Hong Kong branch, he remained true to his art and continued to use his method of fighting training. In countless competitions and demonstrations, his performance was superb and earned him unanimous praise.
The southern martial arts community in particular has received enormous benefit from him, all agreeing that his training method is the most practical and striving to imitate it. He continued to improve further and further, his skill gradually reaching such a height that practitioners from everywhere came to learn from him. The popularity of fighting arts nowadays would never have been achieved without the pioneering work of Master Luo.
A BRIEF DISCUSSION OF MARTIAL ARTS by Ye Jiongcai
Martials arts are one of our nation’s most ancient art forms.
Used on behalf of the nation as a whole, these arts are for defending territory. All nations large and small have a military that engages in diligent training, the act of training itself being even more important than any theories of battle. Having soldiers that are nimble and strong is a requirement for being able to protect the nation and defend its people.
Used for one’s household, practicing these arts makes it easier to get up in morning, accomplish chores with greater efficiency, and leave one completely unfatigued by the day’s tasks, not to mention the ability to defend one’s home against burglars in the middle of the night.
Used for the self, these arts invigorate the body, ridding it of illness and adding more years of life.
Countless types of sports have come to us from Europe, all of which are excellent methods of exercising the body. Unfortunately so many of them are group activities, involving from two or three people up to ten or twenty. Although there are also various such activities for individuals, they require so much equipment as to be beyond the financial resources of an individual to afford.
None of these sports are as good as any of the vast variety of Chinese martial arts, which everyone can practice, regardless of group practice or solo practice. As for equipment, objects of any weight that be conveniently picked up can be used as a practice weapon. And since there are no limits as to training facilities or schedule, these arts can be practiced anywhere and at any time.
We should all learn martial arts to both strengthen our bodies and be able to defend ourselves from attackers. I hope all who are interested will join in and train with us.
- Feb, 1972
TRIALS & TRIBULATIONS OF PUBLISHING THE MANTIS BOXING BOOK SERIES by Su Shimin
Whenever I pick up one of Master Huang’s books, I find his explanations to be very clear, always choosing the right words to make his point. I think that when he was young, he must have been strongly steeped in a traditional Chinese education in order to attain such accomplishments. Once when we were chatting, I asked him about this, and he told me with extraordinary frankness that he had received only a very brief “classical” schooling. However, because of his ambition to promote Mantis Boxing, he had to go beyond the mere teaching of the art and put in extra effort to study literature on his own. [Quoting from Books of Han, bio of Geng Yan: “If you have ambition, your goals will be accomplished.” (i.e. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”)]
After many years of hard work, as well as living frugally to save up the required funds, he published the first volume of his Mantis Boxing Series in 1945 [June, 1946]: Secrets of the Mantis Boxing Art. Under the circumstances in those days, self-publishing was no easy task anyway, but it was made even more difficult for Master Huang by a lack of funds, a lack of editorial craft, and a lack of publishing experience. Furthermore, a feature of his personality is that he is unwilling to ask others for help with his projects, and so in order to fulfill this ambition, he contributed all of his own money and mental energy to it.
Because of Master Huang’s incomparable willpower and hardworking spirit, Secrets was published. And then instead of resting on his laurels, he maintained his effort and went right into producing volume 2: Avalanche Steps Boxing Set, publishing it within just a year of the first book [June, 1947]. However, publishing these books was one thing, but selling them was another.
At that time, the Mantis Boxing course at the Shanghai Jingwu Association was being run by Xie Zhishou. (Xie in his youth had also learned from Luo Guangyu for many years. When Master Huang went to teach at the Hankou Jingwu Association, he enthusiastically invited Xie to join him there.) He knew about Master Huang’s project of publishing books in Hong Kong and made it his personal duty to peddle them in various places throughout the nation, which gave a huge boost to the sales of the books.
Unfortunately, considering that the nation was at that time in the midst of civil war, the economy was very unstable. The transporting of books from Hong Kong to Shanghai was not convenient, taking almost two weeks, and in the time it took for Xie to receive the books, the value of the currency had already dropped, meaning that he would not be able to make back hardly any of the money he had spent to purchase the books in order to sell them, much less return a profit to Master Huang, a major blow to the whole project.
In response to this setback, Master Huang did not even slow down, instead he tried even harder, never slacking, over the course of more than twenty years of struggle. In his series of published books, there are more than twenty-eight volumes, including books about martial arts theory such as Secrets, Fighting Mentality, and Fighting Techniques; about boxing sets such as Avalanche Steps, Large-Scale Postures, and Small-Scale Postures; and about weapon sets such as Large Saber Techniques for the Army and Sundial Sword.
Beyond Hong Kong, these books have also been sold in various places in the South Sea. In recent years, many of his students have gone to work in Europe and America, spending their spare time promoting the Mantis boxing art. As a result, there are many students in those places who have ordered his books, thus expanding the spread of the art throughout the world.
Sales of the books increased, the number of Mantis practitioners increasing by the day. Huang therefore decided to continue to publish further books, and in fact already had written manuscripts and had photos made for some thirty more practice sets, but unfortunately, a certain bookseller started reprinting his own copies of the previous books, one after another, which Huang had neglected to copyright. (While traveling last year, I saw with my own eyes that these unauthorized volumes continue to inhabit bookstalls.) This vile situation soured the act of publishing for Huang and induced him to take a break from it.
Master Huang has spent half his life promoting the skills of this art, never hesitating to contribute any of his money and all of his effort, and that is why Mantis Boxing is now flourishing. Although this kind of dedication seems almost beyond human ability, his hardworking attitude and uncompromising nature will always set a noble example for future students.
(Editors’ note: Master Huang’s books are indeed of significant value for Chinese martial arts, and so it is inevitable that someone will make reprints of them without permission. It is simply a pity that they are made so cheaply, revealing that the motivation behind it is just to make money off the brand. Of course, if they were to make high quality reprints, practitioners might instead thank them for helping to promote the art.)
(A further note: When Huang Hanchao was studying at Harvard University, he discovered that their library had a collection of Master Huang’s publications, the only problem being that it was incomplete. He then asked Master Huang to fill in the gaps, for which the librarian sent a letter of special thanks. Master Huang thereafter sent complete collections to Hong Kong and Kowloon public libraries so that all citizens would have access to these materials, and whenever any other libraries wrote to him requesting his books, he donated them without hesitation.)
MANTIS BOXING IS A PERFECT MARTIAL ART by Huang Pengying
Chinese martial arts have been around for so long that they have of course evolved and branched off into many different versions. Naturally each system and each style within that system has developed its own unique characteristics, and Mantis Boxing is no exception to this. Beyond its fundamental premise of “mantis hands, monkey feet”, it also famously uses both hardness and softness, and gives equal emphasis to long-range and short-range techniques. Because the art was improved by adding in the best techniques from seventeen other systems, it can be considered a perfect martial art.
First of all, every solo set in Mantis Boxing can also be practiced as a two-person set. I am certain that anyone who has practiced a Mantis Boxing solo set would easily be able to identify it upon seeing the two-person version of that set. This is because every technique in that set gets performed against an attacking partner, thereby supplying an explicit understanding of the application of each technique. (Since Huang Wenjie already discussed this subject above, I do not need to say anything more about it here.)
Beyond the two-person sets, there is also the training of fighting applications for the most commonly used techniques. Give them added attention in your daily practice until you are able to execute them with speed, power, and precision. Techniques such as BLACK TIGER STEALS THE HEART are incredibly simple, but as for actions like “sticky hand”, “hanging hand”, or “millstone hands”, their subtleties might be a little too refined for beginners to appreciate and will make more sense at higher levels.
Every martial art involves weapons training. There are many weapons in Mantis Boxing, and there are several different sets for each weapon. In the case of the saber for instance, there are: Yan Qing’s Saber, Eight Trigrams Saber, Five Elements Saber, Liuhe Saber, and the unique Drunken Groundwork Saber. Although none of them depart from the ten basic saber techniques [chopping, rolling, hooking, hanging, slicing, patting, carrying, raising, searching, scooping], students who have learned these sets know that each set nevertheless has its own particular personality. The movements are beautiful to watch, but the emphasis remains on basic practical application: getting in close to tangle up an opponent’s attacks, then reaching out with long-range techniques to defeat him. But of course, the marvels of the weapon cannot be condensed into just a few words.
There are also ordinary sparring sets [i.e. not based on the solo sets], such as Peach Blossom Parasols and Steal & Catch, and there are also sparring sets for weapons. The weapon sparring sets are most often paired against a spear, naturally so, for the spear is honored as the “king of weapons”. Within Mantis Boxing, sparring sets with a spear include: Saber versus Spear, Double Sabers versus Spear, Double Daggers versus Spear, Saber & Dagger versus Spear, Saber & Cane versus Spear, Three-Section Staff versus Spear, Qimen Staff versus Spear, Halberd versus Spear, Two-Section Staff versus Spear, Coiling-Dragon Staff versus Spear, as well as Empty-Hand versus Spear. These sparring sets therefore not only give us a clearer understanding of each weapon, but also a more thorough understanding of the ingenuities of wielding a spear.
There are also weapon sparring sets in which both people are using the same weapon, such as Two-Person Fifth Son’s Staff, a very simple set, as well as Two-Person Ziwu Sword, Two-Person Plum Blossom Saber, and Two-Person Three-Section Staff, which cannot be performed properly, or even practiced at all, before reaching a decent level of skill in those weapons, first developing supple wrists and superb coordination.
There are also three-person sparring sets, such as Three Swallows Fly Through the Forest, a three-person empty-hand set, or Three-Person Halberd versus Spear [halberd versus two spears, also called Crouching Tiger Catches the Dragons]. (In Chinese martial arts, the use of “dragon” in the name of a set refers to a spear, “tiger” refers to a halberd [or saber], and “phoenix” refers to a sword.) These sets can further enhance your timing and coordination. Even if these classical weapon techniques end up having no use in everyday life, they at least provide an excellent means of exercising the body and hands.
There is also free sparring in Mantis Boxing, which Master Luo Guangyu liked to call simply “fighting”. It involves two people sparring against each other using whatever Mantis techniques, stances, or kicks they feel like. There is of course more to it than this, but surely it is already obvious that it presents the best opportunity to use and experiment with the techniques learned from the choreographed sparring sets.
Everything above has to do with the training and applying of martial skills. However, Mantis Boxing does not neglect exercises for strength training, the best known being the Luohan Exercises, which are for cultivating a vigorous spirit, and the iron palm exercises, which are for tempering the skin of the hands. Both of these kinds of exercises are of enormous benefit to Mantis Boxing practitioners and are often absent from other martial arts.
Looking at the various martial arts both north and south of the Yangtze River, none of them have all of these training methods – solo sets, two-person versions of solo sets, sparring sets, solo weapon sets, weapon sparring sets, three-person sparring sets, free sparring, strength training – except Mantis Boxing. We can therefore proclaim without exaggeration that this particular martial art is genuinely complete. It is also clear from all this that the creation of a perfect martial art is no easy task and cannot be achieved by someone who has practiced for just a few years.
LIST OF ALL HONFAN FITNESS ACADEMY GRADUATES:
1st Graduation Session (1948)
Expert: Wei Hansheng
Advanced: Su Yingfang, Chen Yuliang
Intermediate: Mai Huayong, Chen Zhenhua
初級：馬紹棋 陳慶 林德 張銓 陳伙 譚志 鍾松 梁順 吳文 吳財貴 陳錦洪 鄺鉅堂 范雄飛 麥蘭芳 麥恆芳 吳漢滔 麥冠華 吳寶
Beginner: Ma Shaoqi, Chen Qing, Lin De, Zhang Quan, Chen Huo, Tan Zhi, Zhong Song, Liang Shun, Wu Wen, Wu Caigui, Chen Jinhong, Kuang Jutang, Fan Xiongfei, Mai Lanfang, Mai Hengfang, Wu Hantao, Mai Guanhua, Wu Bao
2nd Session (1949)
Advanced: Mai Huayong
中級：林德 梁順 馬紹棋 陳錦洪 譚志 鄺鉅堂 吳文 麥冠華 吳漢滔 屈震強
Intermediate: Lin De, Liang Shun, Ma Shaoqi, Chen Jinhong, Tan Zhi, Kuang Jutang, Wu Wen, Mai Guanhua, Wu Hantao, Qu Zhenqiang
初級：李植光 李浩良 李植發 鄭祥 蔡肇濤 陳海儔 陳變 吳有才 黃福 戴金城 李炎鑫
Beginner: Li Zhiguang, Li Haoliang, Li Zhifa, Zheng Xiang, Cai Zhaotao, Chen Haichou, Chen Bian, Wu Youcai, Huang Fu, Dai Jincheng, Li Yanxin
3rd Session (1950)
Expert: Mai Huayong, Chen Yuliang
高級：屈震強 陳錦洪 陳鎭華
Advanced: Qu Zhenqiang, Chen Jinhong, Chen Zhenhua
中級：陳海儔 蔡肇濤 鍾松 鄭祥 吳有才 戴金城 李炎鑫
Intermediate: Chen Haichou, Cai Zhaotao, Zhong Song, Zheng Xiang, Wu Youcai, Dai Jincheng, Li Yanxin
初級：陳喜生 鄧金霞 葉烱財 康棉 周登 彭有 李志華 譚悅翕 呂錫貴 趙景 陳強 夏啓元 劉燦光 黃焜培 張顯 雷南山 李展雲
Beginner: Chen Xisheng, Deng Jinxia, Ye Jiongcai, Kang Mian, Zhou Deng, Peng You, Li Zhihua, Tan Yuexi, Lü Xigui, Zhao Jing, Chen Qiang, Xia Qiyuan, Liu Canguang, Huang Kunpei, Zhang Xian, Lei Nanshan, Li Zhanyun
4th Session (1951)
高級：麥冠華 鍾松 姚勝 吳漢滔 吳文
Advanced: Mai Guanhua, Zhong Song, Yao Huangsheng, Wu Hantao, Wu Wen
初級：丁瑞光 林志超 劉廣智 鄧醒洪 楊泉昌 陳永昌 戴諒 嚴巨培 黃國泉 朱添 尹東 尹林 彭文 林悅喜 區健民 黃煊 李錫球 戴華達 周任民 李世安 戴紹球 戴漢樑 岑愷生 溫世海 曾廷輝 麥汝良 謝少峯 馮潤祥 劉永根 馮潤水
Beginner: Ding Ruiguang, Lin Zhichao, Liu Guangzhi, Deng Xinghong, Yang Quanchang, Chen Yongchang, Dai Liang, Yan Jupei, Huang Guoquan, Zhu Tian, Jun Dong, Jun Lin, Peng Wen, Lin Yuexi, Ou Jianmin, Huang Xuan, Li Xiqiu, Dai Huada, Zhou Renmin, Li Shi’an, Dai Shaoqiu, Dai Hanliang, Cen Kaisheng, Wen Shihai, Zeng Tinghui, Mai Ruliang, Xie Shaofeng, Feng Runxiang, Liu Yonggen, Feng Runshui
5th Session (1952)
Expert: Chen Jinhong
高級：鄭祥 吳財 李炎鑫 戴金城
Advanced: Zheng Xiang, Wu Cai, Li Yanxin, Dai Jincheng
中級：陳喜生 康棉 李展雲 戴漢樑 李浩良 戴紹裘 雷南山 葉烱財 陳強
Intermediate: Chen Xisheng, Kang Mian, Li Zhanyun, Dai Hanliang, Li Haoliang, Dai Shaoqiu, Lei Nanshan, Ye Jiongcai, Chen Qiang
初級：黎藻淦 陳漢生 李啓芬 林偉明 陳世傑 古善枝 林幸盛 馮桂滔 梁金 陳卓 謝文 余旺 寥蘇
Beginner: Li Zaogan, Chen Hansheng, Li Qifen, Lin Weiming, Chen Shijie, Gu Shanzhi, Lin Xingcheng, Feng Guitao, Liang Jin, Chen Zhuo, Xie Wen, Yu Wang, Liao Su
6th Session (1953)
Advanced: Dai Hanliang, Dai Shaoqiu
中級：戴諒 黃國泉 周任民
Intermediate: Dai Liang, Huang Guoquan, Zhou Renmin
初級：蔡暖成 梁仲仁 李廷祥 李廷溥 劉耀增 馬柱輝 洪澤 何慶華 馮林 何德
Beginner: Cai Nuancheng, Liang Zhongren, Li Tingxiang, Li Tingpu, Liu Yaozeng, Ma Zhuhui, Hong Ze, He Qinghua, Feng Lin, He De
7th Session (1954)
特級：戴金城 李炎鑫 姚勝 陳鎭華 鄭祥 麥冠華
Expert: Dai Jincheng, Li Yanxin, Yao Huangsheng, Chen Zhenhua, Zheng Xiang, Mai Guanhua
高級：李浩良 雷南山 鄭鉅堂 葉烱財 李展雲
Advanced: Li Haoliang, Lei Nanshan, Zheng Jutang, Ye Jiongcai, Li Zhanyun
中級：林志超 蔡其光 廖志峯 黎藻淦 黃煊 岑愷生
Intermediate: Lin Zhichao, Cai Qiguang, Liao Zhifeng, Li Zaogan, Huang Xuan, Cen Kaisheng
初級：黃漢超 馬冠駒 簡惠芳 譚以仁
Beginner: Huang Hanchao, Ma Guanju, Jian Huifang, Tan Yiren
8th Session (1955)
中級：譚以仁 洪澤 何慶華 蔡暖成 黃漢超
Intermediate: Tan Yiren, Hong Ze, He Qinghua, Cai Nuancheng, Huang Hanchao
初級：蕭活泉 譚以禮 黃滿朝 林華暖 李禹鈞 陳家輝 何其磊 梁偉 嚴國雄 李桂蘭 李維 黃新強 莫榮宗 梁錦泮 梁添 李烱彬 梁國春
Beginner: Xiao Huoquan, Tan Yili, Huang Manchao, Lin Huanuan, Li Yujun, Chen Jiahui, He Qilei, Liang Wei, Yan Guoxiong, Li Guilan, Li Wei, Huang Xinqiang, Mo Rongzong, Liang Jinpan, Liang Tian, Li Jiongbin, Liang Guochun
9th Session (1956)
Expert: Kuang Jutang
Advanced: Li Zaogan, Pan Biao
初級：黃碧輝 梁宜海 黃玉葉 梁耀華 符榮基 譚以信 蘇少明
Beginner: Huang Bihui, Liang Yihai, Huang Yuye, Liang Yaohua, Fu Rongji, Tan Yixin, Su Shaoming
10th Session (1957)
高級：洪澤 何慶華 黃漢超 譚以仁
Advanced: Hong Ze, He Qinghua, Huang Hanchao, Tan Yiren
中級：蕭活泉 譚以禮 黃滿朝 李禹鈞 梁偉 嚴國雄 李桂蘭 李烱彬
Intermediate: Xiao Huoquan, Tan Yili, Huang Manchao, Li Yujun, Liang Wei, Yan Guoxiong, Li Guilan, Li Jiongbin
初級：羅如璧 蔡樸均 陳炳欽
Beginner: Luo Rubi, Cai Pujun, Chen Bingqin
11th Session (1958)
Advanced: Chen Hansheng
初級：關雲 翟泉 蔡尚斌 源斌祥 徐德珍 黃伯勵 張俠濤
Beginner: Guan Yun, Zhai Quan, Cai Shangbin, Yuan Binxiang, Xu Dezhen, Huang Boli, Zhang Xiatao
12th Session (1959)
特級：洪澤 黃漢超 何慶華
Expert: Hong Ze, Huang Hanchao, He Qinghua
Advanced: Huang Manchao, Xiao Huoquan
中級：陳紹偉 陳炳欽 梁宜海 蔡樸均
Intermediate: Chen Shaowei, Chen Bingqin, Liang Yihai, Cai Pujun
初級：黃昌 龍活虎 戴超 謝祺常 甘文俊 鄭強毅 李煒標
Beginner: Huang Chang, Long Huohu, Dai Chao, Xie Qichang, Gan Wenjun, Zheng Qiangyi, Li Weibiao
13th Session (1960)
Expert: Lei Nanshan
Advanced: Su Shaoming, Huang Yuye
中級：關雲 張俠濤 源斌祥 徐德珍 蔡尚斌
Intermediate: Guan Yun, Zhang Xiatao, Yuan Binxiang, Xu Dezhen, Cai Shangbin
Beginner: Li Yongwei, Hu Shengyou
14th Session (1961)
Expert: Xiao Huoquan, Huang Manchao
高級：梁宜海 蔡樸均 陳炳欽
Advanced: Liang Yihai, Cai Pujun, Chen Bingqin
中級：謝祺常 黃昌 李煒標
Intermediate: Xie Qichang, Huang Chang, Li Weibiao
初級：甄耀財 袁秉權 源汶湝 余蔭梧 何仍桂 何有為 何家龍 江景培 唐國華 伍棣榮 林錦棠 何顯威
Beginner: Zhen Yaocai, Yuan Bingquan, Yuan Wenjie, Yu Yinwu, He Renggui, He Youwei, He Jialong, Jiang Jingpei, Tang Guohua, Wu Dirong, Lin Jintang, He Xianwei
15th Session (1962)
Expert: Su Shaoming
高級：關雲 張俠濤 蔡尚斌
Advanced: Guan Yun, Zhang Xiatao, Cai Shangbin
Intermediate: Hu Shengyou
16th Session (1963)
Advanced: Li Weibiao
中級：何仍桂 何有為 袁秉權 余蔭梧 劉國輝 源汶湝
Intermediate: He Renggui, He Youwei, Yuan Bingquan, Yu Yinwu, Liu Guohui, Yuan Wenjie
初級：梁文 林孝傑 羅潤 李賢 駱振強 鄧維賢 陳振聲 韋耀 鄧錦昌 余伯寬
Beginner: Liang Wen, Lin Xiaojie, Luo Run, Li Xian, Luo Zhenqiang, Deng Weixian, Chen Zhensheng, Wei Yao, Deng Jinchang, Yu Bokuan
17th Session (1964)
Expert: Guan Yun
18th Session (1965)
Expert: Tan Yiren
高級：袁秉權 劉國輝 胡聖佑
Advanced: Yuan Bingquan, Liu Guohui, Hu Shengyou
中級：梁文 林孝傑 羅潤 李賢 鄧維賢 鄧錦昌 黃文階
Intermediate: Liang Wen, Lin Xiaojie, Luo Run, Li Xian, Deng Weixian, Deng Jinchang, Huang Wenjie
初級：何有威 方煥曾 李卓文 羅自強 何祥 黃永烈 連校昌 黃鏡波
Beginner: He Youwei, Fang Huanceng, Li Zhuowen, Luo Ziqiang, He Xiang, Huang Yonglie, Lian Xiaochang, Huang Jingbo
19th Session (1966)
初級：譚銘勛 翁鴻焯 蘇振昌 戴子興 黃德望
Beginner: Tan Mingxun, Weng Hongchao, Su Zhenchang, Dai Zixing, Huang Dewang
20th Session (1967)
Expert: Hu Shengyou, Yuan Bingquan
高級：梁文 鄧維賢 林孝傑 黃文階 李賢 鄧錦昌
Advanced: Liang Wen, Deng Weixian, Lin Xiaojie, Huang Wenjie, Li Xian, Deng Jinchang
中級：何有威 羅自強 黃永烈 黃鏡波
Intermediate: He Youwei, Luo Ziqiang, Huang Yonglie, Huang Jingbo
初級：湯獎沛 陳慶棠 何振寧 顏兆林 朱讓德 錢波 謝炳桂 張起俊 禤紹燦 張志新 郭錦彬 李國深 陳金泰 郭景文 黃協昌 謝淸洲 陳鐵如 許添良 黃志邦 陳業宏 羅永年 黃洪鴻 黃華治 張芝強 蘇世民 林貞明 陳應安 陳潤光 郭大甫
Beginner: Tang Jiangpei, Chen Qingtang, He Zhenning, Yan Zhaolin, Zhu Rangde, Qian Bo, Xie Binggui, Zhang Qijun, Ta Shaocan, Zhang Zhixin, Guo Jinbin, Li Guoshen, Chen Jintai, Guo Jingwen, Huang Xiechang, Xie Qingzhou, Chen Tieru, Xu Tianliang, Huang Zhibang, Chen Yehong, Luo Yongnian, Huang Honghong, Huang Huazhi, Zhang Zhiqiang, Su Shimin, Lin Zhenming, Chen Ying’an, Chen Runguang, Guo Dafu
21st Session (1968)
中級：譚銘勛 黃德望 戴子興
Intermediate: Tan Mingxun, Huang Dewang, Dai Zixing
初級：程子傑 麥順邦 黃洪英 吳廣源
Beginner: Cheng Zijie, Mai Shunbang, Huang Hongying, Wu Guangyuan
22nd Session (1969)
特級：梁文 鄧維賢 林孝傑
Expert: Liang Wen, Deng Weixian, Lin Xiaojie
高級：何有威 羅自強 黃永烈 黃鏡波
Advanced: He Youwei, Luo Ziqiang, Huang Yonglie, Huang Jingbo
中級：陳慶棠 何振寧 朱讓德 錢波 禤紹燦 黃協昌 謝淸洲 陳鐵如 許添良 陳業宏 羅永年 張芝強 蘇世民 蕭炳初 黎達沖（美國）
Intermediate: Chen Qingtang, He Zhenning, Zhu Rangde, Qian Bo, Ta Shaocan, Huang Xiechang, Xie Qingzhou, Chen Tieru, Xu Tianliang, Chen Yehong, Luo Yongnian, Zhang Zhiqiang, Su Shimin, Xiao Bingchu, Li Dachong (American)
初級：方秋燕 譚偉雄 譚偉權 譚偉謀 譚偉象 何國垣 程金全 簡潤洪 余乃洪 呂國泰 陳世強 劉南洋 梁志忠 鄭龍川 徐長根 梁以能 趙克明 崔漢基 黎源章 周麟 周文傳（美、黎） 梁達成（美、黎） 黃健錚（美、黎） 方國倫（美、黎） 張仲強（美、黎） 何兆基（美、黎） 馬丁高馬利奧（美、黎） 馬丁高亞倫（美、黎）
Beginner: Fang Qiuyan, Tan Weixiong, Tan Weiquan, Tan Weimou, Tan Weixiang, He Guoyuan, Cheng Jinquan, Jian Runhong, Yu Naihong, Lü Guotai, Chen Shiqiang, Liu Nanyang, Liang Zhizhong, Zheng Longchuan, Xu Changgen, Liang Yineng, Zhao Keming, Cui Hanji, Li Yuanzhang, Zhou Lin, Zhou Wenchuan (US Li), Liang Dacheng (US Li), Huang Jianzheng (US Li), Fang Guolun (US Li), Zhang Zhongqiang (US Li), He Zhaoji (US Li), Mario MacDonald (US Li), Aaron MacDonald (US Li)
(Note: “US Li” means student of Li Dachong, “US Kuang” means student of Kuang Jutang.)
23rd Session (1970)
Expert: Huang Wenjie, Liu Guohui
高級：戴子興 禤紹燦 謝淸洲 蘇世民 黃協昌
Advanced: Dai Zixing, Ta Shaocan, Xie Qingzhou, Su Shimin, Huang Xiechang
中級：余乃洪 黃洪英 吳廣源 陳應安 麥順邦 鄭龍川 徐長根
Intermediate: Yu Naihong, Huang Hongying, Wu Guangyuan, Chen Ying’an, Mai Shunbang, Zheng Longchuan, Xu Changgen
初級：林文錦（美、鄺） 林文銘（美、鄺） 黃志強 徐長喜 葉錦輝 蕭楚山 王偉雄 譚興盛 容蔭怡 伍國明 謝楚洲 馬偉祥 蕭志發 黃進源 蕭景雨 劉桂 李昆池 李輝煌 方效石
Beginner: Lin Wenjin (US Kuang), Lin Wenming (US Kuang), Huang Zhiqiang, Xu Changxi, Ye Jinhui, Xiao Chushan, Wang Weixiong, Tan Xingsheng, Rong Yinyi, Wu Guoming, Xie Chuzhou, Ma Weixiang, Xiao Zhifa, Huang Jinyuan, Xiao Jingyu, Liu Gui, Li Kunchi, Li Huihuang, Fang Xiaoshi
24th Session (1971)
Advanced: Li Dachong
Intermediate: Zhang Zhongqiang (US Kuang), Huang Jianzheng (US Kuang)
初級：盧楚潮（美、鄺） 李耀榮（美、黎） 黃樹光（美、黎） ALDEN SEID（美、黎） GARY E. LANZA（美、黎） JOSEPH ROGER SORIANO（美、黎） DAVID ARTHUR LANG（美、黎） BRIGIDE VILLALON（美、黎） JACKSON SEAN MERCER（美、黎） LARRY LEE JOHNSON（美、黎）
Beginner: Lu Chuchao (US Kuang), Li Yaorong (US Li), Huang Shuguang (US Li), Alden Seid (US Li), Gary E. Lanza (US Li), Joseph Roger Soriano (US Li), David Arthur Lang (US Li), Brigide Villalon (US Li), Jackson Sean Mercer (US Li), Larry Lee Johnson (US Li)
25th Session (1972)
特級：黃鵬英 禤紹燦 黃協昌 葉烱財 葉世民 謝淸洲 戴子興
Expert: Huang Pengying, Ta Shaocan, Huang Xiechang, Ye Jiongcai, Ye Shimin, Xie Qingzhou, Dai Zixing
Advanced: Huang Hongying, Huang Yiying
中級：譚偉雄 譚偉謀 譚偉象 葉錦輝 劉桂 李昆池 黃進源 方效石
Intermediate: Tan Weixiong, Tan Weimou, Tan Weixiang, Ye Jinhui, Liu Gui, Li Kunchi, Huang Jinyuan, Fang Xiaoshi
初級：劉慧明 黃志豪 潘錦標 駱錦佳 袁耀流 霍滿芬
Beginner: Liu Huiming, Huang Zhihao, Pan Jinbiao, Luo Jinjia, Yuan Yaoliu, Huo Manfen
FOUR PRACTICE SETS WITH PHOTOS & INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Mantis Steals a Peach
3. Descending Eagle Palms
4. Drunken Groundwork Saber
編輯：黃文階黃鵬英 校訂：黃子英 一九七二年四月二日
Huang Wenjie, Huang Pengying, and myself were entrusted by the editing committee with the responsibility of putting together the material for this book. Because many of our colleagues have been teaching abroad, there was no way to simply make a general request for manuscripts and be able to receive them all at once. Taking into account limitations in terms of their experience and surroundings, there was naturally a delay in being able to finish the book and hand it over to the printers.
This book has been beautifully decorated by gifts of calligraphy from prominent members of society and has been substantially enriched by literary contributions from fellow students. Furthermore, Master Huang himself selected and presented us with many photos of historical significance, and also personally composed several priceless and detailed articles about the history of the art, making this an even bigger and better contribution to Mantis Boxing. To all of these people, we extend our gratitude. Alas, it is inevitable that this book is in some ways incomplete or contains errors, and we hope our fellow countrymen will forgive this.
- written by proofreader Huang Ziying, with editors Huang Wenjie and Huang Pengying, April 2, 1972
[An acknowledgement for financial contributions:]
The printing fee for this publication was almost HK$7000. A thousand was contributed by fellow students Tan Yiren, Lei Nanshan, Huang Wenjie, Yu Naihong, and Liu Guohui. Another thousand was contributed by fellow students currently teaching in America: Huang Hanchao, Kuang Jutang, and Li Dachong. After various other fellow students chipped in, a further two thousand was still needed, which was then covered by Master Huang himself. Our sincere acknowledgement is extended to all of these people.
- financial affairs committee members Ta Shaocan and Xie Qingzhou