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- True Concepts of Luo Guang Yu's Seven Star Praying Mantis Kung Fu
- Luo Guang Yu:  Mantis Footwork (Footwork Under Luo Guang Yu’s Lineage - Overview and Analysis)
- Repositioning Standards in Traditional Praying Mantis
- In Memory of our Late Grandmaster Lin Bo Yan
- Luo Guang Yu Beng Bu Quan (Photoset)
- Seven Star Praying Mantis - Introduction and Overview

SEVEN STAR PRAYING MANTIS  - Introduction and Overview

1. General Overview
        1.1 Introduction
        1.2 Branch Systems
2. Legend of Praying Mantis   
        2.1 Perspectives on Legends
        2.2 Wang Lang - the Legend and the Man
        2.3 Exchange with a Mantis
        2.4 Monkey Business as Usual
        2.5 Eighteen Family Systems
        2.6 Later Developments
3. Seven Star Praying Mantis Lineage Tree
4. Select Masters of Seven Star Praying Mantis
        4.1 Wang Lang
        4.2 Sheng Xiao Dao Ren
        4.3 Li Zhi Shan
        4.4 Wang Rong Sheng
        4.5 Fan Xu Dong
        4.6 Luo Guang Yu
        4.7 Lin Bo Yan
        4.8 Koh Kim Kok
        4.9 Kai Uwe Pel
5. System Characteristics and Technicals
        5.1 Purpose of System
        5.2 Footwork
        5.3 Leg Techniques
        5.4 Hand Techniques
        5.5 Twelve Principles
        5.6 Grappling
        5.7 Throwing
        5.8 Power Generation
        5.9 Strength, Conditioning, and Ying Gong         
            Raw Physical Attributes
            Body Conditioning
            Wooden Dummy Training
            Iron Palm Training
        5.10 Fighting Application
        5.11 Combative Spirit
        5.12 A Typical Class
        5.13 Empty Hand Sets
        5.14 Weapons Sets
        5.15 Nei Gong Training
        5.16 Some Seven Star Theory
6. Master Pel in Shanghai


General Introduction

Praying Mantis kung fu is a traditional Chinese fighting system indigenous to the Shandong provincial region. It was founded by Master Wang Lang approximately 350-400 years ago based on the dynamic footwork of the monkey, the rapidly flowing infighting techniques of the mantis, together with fighting techniques and principles from seventeen other systems. It is a complete system employing kicking, striking, grappling, throwing, weapons, strategy, training methodology, and internal qi gong exercises. 

Branch Systems

Over its 350-400 year history Praying Mantis evolved into a number of branch systems, some of which include:


In Shanghai we train the Qi Xing (Seven Star) Tang Lang system as passed on by the famous lineage Luo Guang Yu - Lin Bo Yan - Koh Kim Kok. It is currently being taught by Master Kai Uwe Pel in Shanghai.


Perspective on Legends

Stories outlining the origins and developments of martial art systems are fascinating and fun topics. They have the potential to provide us with colorful insights and anecdotal stories into the lives of the individuals that shaped the arts we train today. On the flip side oral histories and legends are also prone to factual inaccuracies and can be difficult to verify. Factors including human error and human biases extended over long periods of time can potentially lead to the deterioration of information quality. While we encourage readers to have fun, keep in mind that all legends should be read "with a grain of salt¯. The true value of Praying Mantis boxing lies in the physical experience of diligent training.

Wang Lang the Legend and the Man

The Northern Praying Mantis system was developed approximately 350 to 400 years by a Shaolin monk named Wang Lang living in China's Shandong province.  Some accounts suggest he lived during the end of the Ming Dynasty around 1644, while others speculate he lived between 969-1126 AD during in the Song Dynasty. Some also say he was Daoist monk. Despite such discrepancies most branch families accredit him as being the founder of Praying Mantis boxing. 

Wang Lang was said to be a highly famed and fierce boxer in the Shaolin fighting arts before creating his Praying Mantis system. Speculation suggests Wang Lang was already proficient in Tai Zu Quan boxing ¡§C an ancient Shaolin long fist boxing system. During his stay at the Shaolin temple located in Shandong provinces Mount Lao (Lao Shan), Wang Lang was cited as having three influential and profound experiences eventually leading to his creation and development of the Praying Mantis boxing system.

Run in with a Mantis

Wang Lang¡¯s first source of inspiration came when he encountered a Praying Mantis (Tang Lang in Mandarin) in battle with a Cicada in the forest. Inspired by the movement of the little green bug, Wang Lang envisioned an innovative new boxing strategy of rapid attacking and retreating using distinct combinations of long distance striking and short range blows, with unique intermittent grasping, hooking, and releasing of the opponent.

Like any good creation it was most probably one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Through a lengthy process of trial and error Wang Lang built upon his pre-existing framework of boxing skills, eventually transforming his vision into a tangible set of combat techniques and principles. 

At the core of his creation existed twelve key principles known as the Shi Er Zi Jue. These principles included Gou (Hooking/Deflecting), Lou (Grasping), Cai (Pulling), Gua (Hanging), Diao (Hooking/Absorbing), Jin (Advancing), Beng (Smashing), Da (Striking), Tie (Adhering), Kao (Leaning), Zhan (Sticking), and Nian (Following). This was the beginning of Praying Mantis kung fu. Training together with his kung fu brothers Wang Lang was able to further refine his boxing skills. Having quite a bit of success Wang Lang defeated many of his kungfu brothers in tests of skill. However the story goes Wang Lang continued to have problems defeating his older kung fu brother.

Monkey Business as Usual

Wang Lang¡¯s second inspirational experience came when he witnessed a group of monkeys playing in the woods. Inspired by their swift, agile, and deceptive movements, Wang Lang once again went about incorporating such traits into his boxing repertoire. Through a lengthy, systematic, and tedious process of applied trial and error, Wang Lang arrived at a formalized system of footwork uniquely integrated with his praying mantis hand techniques. The results provided great synergies further enhancing the effectives of Wang Lang¡¯s overall boxing skills. In practice with his kung fu brothers Wang Lang was eventually able to defeat all of them including his eldest and previously more skilled brother.

Eighteen Family Systems
(Shi Ba Jia Fa)
According to the legend, Wang Lang's final experience involved a formal exchange with eighteen kung fu masters. The story is documented in a poem from the "Shaolin Authentics" entitled the "Eighteen Families Sonet" supposedly written in the 1700's. While the document does lend credibility to the legend, admittedly it is still difficult to verify and does not provide conclusive evidence one way or the other. Regardless, the legend goes that Abbot Fu Ju of the Shaolin Monastery, invited eighteen highly respected and skilled martial arts masters to exchange their ideas and knowledge on the strategies, concepts, and techniques of the fighting arts - Wang Lang included.  After completing their exchange Wang Lang integrated a number boxing strategies and techniques from the other masters rounding out his own Praying Mantis fighting system. Below is the list of boxing masters and the essential techniques extracted from their vast bodies of knowledge:

Later Developments

Over the next 350 years Tang Lang boxing underwent numerous developments branching into unique sub systems with distinct refinements and add-ons.  Some masters added on new empty hand boxing sets and fighting techniques, some added new weapons sets, some refined and condensed movements, some added iron palm training methods, some added qi gong training methods, and some added new and innovative training methods. Please refer to section 1.2 for an overview of some of the different branch systems.




Wang Lang
Father of Praying Mantis boxing.  See section 2.0 on the legend of Wang Lang.

Sheng Xiao Dao Ren  1st generation
Sheng Xiao Daoren was the first generation student of Wang Lang, although to this day remains more of a mythical figure than anything else. His existence is difficult if not impossible to prove. In view of such it is suspected that his existence, in name at least, serves the purpose of filling the gap between Wang Lang the Founder and the later more legitimate generations like Li Zhizhan who followed.

Li San Jian / Li Zhi Zhan  2nd generation
Li Zhi Zhan was born in Shandong province in 1821. Li Zhi Zhan was famous for his Mantis combat skills and put them to the ultimate test serving as a caravan escort. These guys were some of the most reputable fighters around, as their jobs depended on it. Despite having a number of students, perhaps his most famous student was Wang Rongsheng.

Wang Rong Sheng  3rd generation
Born 1854 in Shandong province, Wang Rong Sheng was already a master of the Shaolin boxing arts, although it is not entirely known which specific system he studied. He was also a free fighting champion before meeting his Mantis teacher Li Zhi Zhan. But it wasn¡¯t until being defeated by Li Zhe Zhan in a challenge match that Wang Rong Sheng was accepted as a disciple. Wang Rong Sheng was a dedicated student and mastered his teacher's knowledge. It is said that he was instrumental in introducing a number of Shaolin boxing sets speculated to include Cha Chui, Hei Hu Jiao Yi, and Shuang Cha Hua amongst others. Wang Rong Sheng had a number of high level disciples, the most famous of all being Fan Xu Dong.

Fan Xu Dong  4th generation
Fan Xu Dong was born in Shandong province. He was both famed and feared for his immense size, fearsome mantis free fighting abilities, and devastating iron palm skills. He later became known throughout China as the Tanglang Wang (King of Mantis Boxing). Fan Xu Dong is said to have further strengthened the Tang Lang and Shaolin traditions making further additions and refinements in training sets and methodologies. Fan Xu Dong had five main disciples including Gou Jia Lu, Wang Chuan Yi, Yang Wei Xin, Lin Jing Shann, and Luo Guang Yu

Luo Guang Yu  5th generation
Date of Birth: 1888 - 1944
Birth Place: Peng Lai Country - Shandong
Teacher: Fan Xu Dong
System: Seven Star Praying Mantis
Favorite Empty Hand Set: Tang Lang Tou Tao
Specialties: Iron Palm and Free Fighting

(more to come)

Lin Bo Yan  6th generation

Date of Birth: 1903 - 1990
Birth Place: Longyan Country ¡§C Fujian
Teacher: Luo Guang Yu
System: Seven Star Praying Mantis, Chen Style Tai Ji
Favorite Empty Hand Set: Rou LIng Zhou
Specialty: Qi Gong


Koh Kim Kok  7th generation

Date of Birth: 1949
Place of Birth: Fujian province
Teacher: Lin Bo Yan
System: Qi Xing Tang Lang, Chen Style Tai Ji, Yang Style Tai Ji
Favorite Empty Hand Set: Beng Bu Quan

(more to come)

Kai Uwe Pel  8th generation

Date of Birth: 1964
Place of Birth: Recklinghausen, Germany
Teacher: Koh Kim Kok
System: Qi Xing Tang Lang
Favorite Empty Hand Set: Beng Bu Quan
Favorite Weapon Set: San Jie Gun
Specialty: Free Fighting

Read more on Kai Uwe Pel


Purpose of System (Xun Lian Mu Di)

Seven Star Praying Mantis kung fu is a traditional Chinese combat system.  It was designed for one purpose and one purpose only ¡§C fighting. This is fundamental to understanding everything else. As a system it contains a highly integrated body of combat knowledge encompassing: i) fighting strategy, principles, and tactics, ii) physical combat techniques including kicking, striking, grappling, throwing, weapons, and iii) a scientific and progressive training methodology (both physical and psychological).

Footwork and Movement (Bu Fa)

Footwork in the Seven Star Praying Mantis system is dynamic, powerful, and explosive. Developing good footwork is fundamental to advancing effective boxing skills. It provides practitioners with a combative platform for mobility, positioning, rooting, stability, and explosive power in application. 

There are eight fundamental stances in the Seven Star Praying Mantis system which practitioners begin learning from the first day of training. These include the:

Transitional footwork training is also a key component in the first 2-3 years of training. Practitioners must learn how to skillfully control their bodies moving from stance to stance.

Leg Techniques & Kicking (Ti Fa)

The Seven Star Praying Mantis system employs a comprehensive arsenal of kicking, sweeping, and close quarter leg techniques designed for maximum combat effectiveness. Leg techniques are generally targeted below the opponent's waist, and are always deployed in combination with hand techniques. Praying Mantis makes extensive use of lower leg bridging and trapping techniques designed to immobilize, uproot, and even break an attacker's leg. In total there are twenty four primary leg methods, sixty four combinations, and 108 vital point targets.

Striking and Hand Methods (Da Fa / Shou Fa)

Striking techniques and hand methods in the Seven Star system are fast, explosive, deceptive, and flowing. Virtually all hand methods and techniques are 100% attack oriented with defensive maneuvering seamlessly integrated into the overall movement. Defensive parrying and blocking on its own should be understood as an incomplete movement representing only the midpoint on the greater path towards striking the opponent down. Tang Lang hand methods and techniques are comprehensive covering all ranges of combat. Furthermore techniques can encompass any combination of direct, indirect, straight line, circular, penetrating, absorbing, short, and long. Mantis hand methods are particularly famed for their extensive use of hooking, grabbing, and trapping techniques used to momentarily control the enemy before following up with a game ending blow. The Seven Star Praying Mantis system encompasses a number of fundamentals including: twenty four striking methods, eighteen palm methods, and eight elbow methods.

Twelve Key Word Principles (Shi Er Zi Jue)

Although closely linked to the above section on hand techniques, the Twelve Key Words are deserving of thier own separate section due their fundamental importance.  Despite making use of many principles, the core of the Seven Star Mantis system integrates twelve key word principles that were originally synthesized by the founder Wang Lang. Otherwise known as the Shi Er Zi Jue they include the following:

Gou (Hooking/Deflecting)
Lou (Grasping/Controlling)
Cai (Pulling)
Gua (Hanging/Vertical)
Diao (Hooking/Absorbing)
Jin (Advancing Forward)
Beng (Smashing)
Da (Striking)
Tie (Adhering)
Kao (Leaning)
Zhan (Sticking)
Nian (Following)

Each of these principles is associated with a number of different techniques. Practitioners begin learning these principles and associated techniques from the first day of training. Only through dedicated and applied training can they be understood and mastered.

Grappling (Qin Na)

Grappling, known as Qin Na in Chinese, is an integral and complex component of the Praying Mantis system. Its strategy focuses on controlling and incapacitating the enemy via joint locking and pressure point manipulation. The system comprises seventy-two methods designed to rip muscle/tendons at the joints, break bones, inhibit breathing, and even cause unconsciousness. There is nothing mystical about these methods - they are based on a scientific and applied understanding of human anatomy and bodily mechanics. As with all techniques, mastering qina requires many years of dedicated and applied training.

Throwing (Shuai Jiao Fa)

Seven Star Praying Mantis utilizes a number of simple and effective throwing techniques. These methods maximize mechanical leverage and timing in pulling, pushing, uprooting, and slamming the opponent to the ground. In total there are 36 throwing principles.

Power Generation (Jing)

Seven Star Praying Mantis leverages use of the entire body in executing techniques with bone jarring power. There are a number of specific divisions of power including long, short, pulling, pushing, lifting, absorbing, and explosive. Skillful execution requires a firmly rooted base, explosive legs, a powerful waste and core body, proper mechanical alignment, proper timing/rhythm, and nothing less than 100% conviction to finish off the attacker. The effectiveness of a technique is commonly enhanced by the simultaneous grasping, pulling, and jerking of the opponent into an explosive oncoming attack. 

Strength and Conditioning  (Xun Lian Shenti Yu Ying Gong)

Raw Physical Attributes (Ti Li)
Praying Mantis training methodologies encompass a large number of Mantis specific movements, exercises, and drills designed to develop high levels of applied: flexibility, aerobic/anaerobic conditioning, strength, power, speed, quickness, reflexes, and mental fortitude. Only through hard dedicated training can individuals achieve adequate levels of fitness. 

Body Hardening
Praying Mantis practitioners must develop high levels of iron body conditioning and power. Through progressive training exercises and drills practitioners work towards developing high levels of bone density, muscle density, and pain tolerance. Such attributes allow individuals to literally smash through the defenses of the opponent, while at the same time enabling them to resist a powerful attack in return. In the beginning levels of training students will work together on two-person drills striking each others arms and legs to build tolerance and power. All training is common sense and designed to provide steady incremental benefits while maintaining overall safety of the practitioner.

Wooden Dummy Training (Shaolin Mei Hua Zhuang)
The Wooden Dummy is a supplemental training apparatus made of hard wood that practitioners use to strike. It is commonly found throughout many systems, with the idea most probably originating out of the Shaolin temple. In Seven Star Praying Mantis it is considered an intermediate level training regime used to further enhance attacking power, blocking power, kicking power, and iron body conditioning. Generally speaking practitioners must already possess adequate levels of striking power, and body conditioning because of the wooden dummies high density and immovability.

The Seven Star Praying Mantis training regime includes one wooden dummy set consisting of sixty four techniques. These techniques can be broken down into three levels: blocking, striking, and kicking. While the set can be played in its entirety, usually short combinations of techniques are trained at any one time to gain the benefits associated with high repetition.

Iron Palm Training (Tie Sha Zhang)
Iron palm training is a high level training regimen specifically designed to further enhance explosive short range power and develop ¡¡ãiron like¡¡À open-hand qualities.  Despite great mysticism surrounding Iron Palm training, its methods are simple yet strict, with tangible results available to anyone who trains with commitment and dedication.

Skill and Fighting Application  (Yong Fa  / Ji Shu)

A key skill factor separating traditional kung fu from modern performance wushu is the emphasis on combative application¯. Praying Mantis places 100% emphasis on being able to effectively apply the strategy and techniques one learns against a dynamic resistant opponent. As such a large component of training is dedicated to interactive two person drills. This division of training is comprehensive and progressive. It develops elements of applied reaction, distance, timing, rhythm, quickness, power, and intent. At the core of the system are thirteen two-person drills. In the beginning practitioners are guided in a step by step fashion from controlled two person combat drills, eventually progressing into increasingly more advanced free flowing fighting applications. One must never forget that the primary goal of training is too achieve a high level free fighting skill.

Combative Spirit and Intent  (Bing Fa Jing Shen)

Combative spirit and intent are grass roots concepts fundamental to traditional kung fu - Praying Mantis included. Praying Mantis kung fu requires nothing less than 100% commitment and dedication to pursuing excellence and perfection. Not only does this require a physical commitment to training, but more importantly also a mental commitment. Only being physically committed is the equivalent of going through the motions or just mechanical training. Individuals must be committed in heart, mind, and soul. Although this appears to be common sense , it has very important implications that some schools and teachers have seemingly forgotten, or do not know altogether.

In the pugilistic arts it is essential to understand that there should be no difference between practice and real combat. That is you can only fight the way you train. Half hearted fighters train half heartedly, while fierce fighters train fiercely. In daily practice individuals must train with all their heart and soul, training movement and techniques with full intensity, full resolve, and full conviction ¡§C this is the mental aspect otherwise known as fighting spirit or intent. Practitioners must be mindful in execution and visualize as if they are going in for the ¡¡ãkill¡¡À on every movement. If practitioners are unable to harness their sprit in practice it will be difficult for them to do it in a real life fight.

A Typical Class (Ke Cheng)

A typical two hour class usually begins with a simple warm up,  followed by dynamic stretching and kicking exercises, strength/power conditioning, endurance conditioning, footwork/movement drills, repetition of fundamental hand/leg techniques, two person body hardening conditioning drills, extensive two person application drills (involving striking, kicking, qin na, takedowns), and finally ending with empty hands and weapons forms training. Aside from in class training with the teacher, it is essential that students train hard and train smart everyday.

Empty Hand Sets (Tao Lu)

Our Seven Star lineage via Master Luo Guang Yu - Lin Bo Yan - Koh Kim Kok passed down over 35 traditional empty hand sets. At the very core of the system are a number of key forms including Beng Bu, Duo Gang, and Shi Ba Shou to name a few. The system also contains a number of two person sets. For more explanation on the function of forms, please see my article entitled Standards in Praying Mantis

Weapons Training (Bing Qi)

Technically Praying Mantis is strictly an empty hands system. However there is a number of traditional weapons sets that have been adopted and passed on by the generations of past masters. In our Seven Star Praying Mantis family system we train eighteen different types of traditional weapons. Some of these weapons include the staff, spear, broad sword, straight sword, daggers, halberd, two section staff, three section staff, double hammers, half moon spear lance, tiger hook sword, and nine section chain whip just to name a few. In total there are over 40 weapons sets as passed on by Master Luo Guang Yu. Included in these are also a number of two person weapons sets.

Internal Energy Training (Nei Gong)

In our Seven Star Praying Mantis system we train the Eighteen Luohan Qigong set. This is an internal qi gong set originating from within the Shaolin temple. It is a training method used to cultivate and transport Qi throughout the human body. Qi is the natural bio-electric energy that is produced in all living things.  The Eighteen Luohan Qigong set provides practitioners with a large number of health giving benefits.

Some Seven Star Praying Mantis Theory (Li Lun)

As with all complete fighting systems, Praying Mantis contains a large body of conceptual knowledge relating to fighting strategy, tactics, principles, and techniques.  Below is a sample of some of the key theory in the system. Please keep in mind that there is a world of difference between simple academic knowledge and understanding based on experience. The real meaning of such theory can only be understood through diligent physical training and applied fighting experience, all under the guidance of a truly experienced master. 

Tang Lang Quan Si Ji Fa  - Four Attacking Strategies of Praying Mantis
Shi Er Zi Jue  - Twelve Key Words
Ba Gang Shi Er Rou  - Eight Hard Twelve Soft
Qi Chang Ba Duan  - Seven Long Eight Short
Ba Da Ba Bu Da  - Eight Hits Eight No Hits
Jiu Fa  - Nine Strategic Points  
Wu Nei Xing Wu Wai Xing - Five Internal Strengths Five External Strengths 
Shi San Zhan Nian Fa - Five Sticking  Eight Leaking
Three Fast, Three Slow, Three Focused, Three Calm
Four Basic Eight Directional Tactics


If you are already living in Shanghai please feel free to come down to the Jin Cheng Lu Yuan Community Center in Xin Zhuang on Saturday or Sunday morning to check things out and attend a free class.
And if you are living outside of Shanghai please feel free to contact Master Pel at kaiuwepel@asia.com for more information on training and living in Shanghai.


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