Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Seven Star Praying Mantis: Bengbu

Image courtesy Luc Viatour

Although I now mainly practice baguazhang and xingyiquan, in the past I tried many styles, such as changquan, taijiquan, chaquan, Choy Lee Fut, Hung Gar, zuiquan, and even a smattering of Wing Chun. Unfortunately, I have forgotten nearly all that I learned before... except for a single seven star praying mantis (七星螳螂拳; qixing tanglangquan) set, bengbu (崩步), whose 48 movements are given in their entirety below:

中平雙蓄勢 - Stable Preparatory Posture
跨虎斜補捶 - Straddle the Tiger Stance, Diagonal Capturing Fist
跨虎捕蟬式 - Straddle the Tiger Stance, Capture Cicada Posture
登山左插掌 - Dengshan Stance, Left Inserting Palm
登山右補捶 - Dengshan Stance, Right Capturing Fist
縱跳封統捶 - Leaping, Sealing Fist
入環右疊肘 - Ruhuan Stance, Elbow
入環右崩捶 - Ruhuan Stance, Backfist
背踢雙撥掌 - Back Kick, Double Releasing Palms
馬式雙封手 - Horse Stance, Double Sealing Hands
登山刁劈捶 - Dengshan Stance, Hammerfist
右勾摟采手 - Right Gou, Lou, Cai
跨虎番車式 - Straddle the Tiger Stance, Fanche
登山左插掌 - Dengshan Stance, Left Inserting Palm
登山右補捶 - Dengshan Stance, Right Capturing Fist
馬式雙封手 - Horse Stance, Double Sealing Hands
登山右腰斬 - Dengshan Stance, Right Waist Chop
馬式左崩捶 - Horse Stance, Left Backfist
提腿左刁手 - Raise Leg, Left Hook Hand
提腿反刁手 - Raise Leg, Reverse Hook Hand
馬式右劈軋 - Horse Stance, Right Chop and Crush
扭步左黏肘 - Wringing Step, Left Sticky Elbow
登山左拐肘 - Dengshan Stance, Left Capturing Elbow
登山右斜掌 - Dengshan Stance, Right Diagonal Palm
馬式正補捶 - Horse Stance, Forward Capturing Fist
雙刁左揪腿 - Double Hooks, Left Jiutui
雙刁右揪腿 - Double Hooks, Right Jiutui
跨虎反捆手 - Straddle the Tiger Stance, Reverse Capturing Hands
踢腿刁取眼 - Kicking Legs, Hooks to the Eyes
提腿雙擊掌 - Raise Leg, Double Attacking Palms
刁手反沖爪 - Hook Hands, Reverse Rushing Claws
拼腿上圈捶 - Parallel Legs, Upper Hook Fist
提腿下截捶 - Raise Leg, Lower Intercepting Fist
提腿上截捶 - Raise Leg, Upper Intercepting Fist
登山封齊掌 - Dengshan Stance, Sealing Together Palms
反封左措捶 - Reverse Sealing, Left Placing Fist
迎風右措捶 - Welcome the Wind, Right Placing Fist
挂手頂臍捶 - Sealing Hands, Top Navel Fist
吞塌右扇風 - Tunta Stance, Right Fan Wind
吞塌左扇風 - Tunta Stance, Left Fan Wind
吞塌右扇風 - Tunta Stance, Right Fan Wind
引針右腰斬 - Pull Needle, Right Waist Chop
登山左圈捶 - Dengshan Stance, Left Hook Fist
登山左崩捶 - Dengshan Stance, Left Backfist
七星左刁手 - Seven Star Left Hook Hand
七星右補捶 - Seven Star Right Capturing Fist
跨虎捕蟬式 - Straddle the Tiger Stance, Capture Cicada Posture
中平作收式 - Stable Ending Posture

The legendary founder of praying mantis, Wang Lang (王朗), was said to have created two sets - bengbu and bazhou (八肘), as well as a set of secret techniques called mishou (秘手). This version of bengbu comes down from the Hong Kong lineage of Luo Guangyu (羅光玉), and is a fun set that is a great introduction to the techniques of praying mantis:

The trademark mantis hands posture (捕蟬)
The trademark "rolling" punch with both arms (番車)
The trademark gou, lou, cai trapping hands (勾摟采)
The trademark mantis low kick to the Achilles tendon (揪腿)
A very strange and surprising kick that goes around from the back (背踢)

The set also contains most of the major seven star praying mantis stances, i.e.:
Horse stance (馬式)
Dengshan stance, i.e. bow stance (登山)
Tunta stance, i.e. low stance (吞塌)
One-legged stance (提腿)
Tiger straddling stance, i.e. empty stance (跨虎)
Ruhuan stance, i.e. entering ring stance (入環)
Seven star stance (七星)

The last two are peculiar to the seven star branch of praying mantis.

In general, praying mantis seems easier to understand "as-is" than some other northern Chinese martial arts, like chaquan. I do admit that I don't completely understand the form's applications, though - perhaps one day I will be able to follow up and learn some more of this very interesting style! It would also be interesting to compare with seven star praying mantis practitioners from mainland China as well.

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