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Tai Chi Mantis (太极螳螂拳)

 

Đường Lang quyền ( 螳螂拳) – Thái Cực Đường Lang quyền (太极螳螂拳).

Đường Lang quyền (螳螂拳 Tanglangquan, Praying mantis boxing) was born approximately 350 years ago through the action of Wang Lang (王朗), native of the Jimo area, in the Shandong province. It is told that he saw a fight between a praying mantis and a cicada. He was very impressed by the predatory skills of the mantis and this inspired him to create the homonymous style, using the way this insect moves its arms and combining it with the agile footwork of the monkey style kung fu. Nowadays, this style is classified as imitative style since it was developed from an idea inspired by the animal world. This style is today divided into a series of ramifications or variations, among which the main are:

- Qixing Tanglangquan (七星螳螂拳, Seven star praying mantis boxing)
- Meihua Tanglangquan (梅花螳螂拳, Plum blossom praying mantis boxing)
- Liuhe Tanglangquan (六合螳螂拳, Six harmony praying mantis boxing)
- Taiji Meihua Tanglangquan (太极梅花螳螂拳, Taiji plum blossom praying mantis boxing

It is told that, before creating his style, Master Wang Lang was an expert of 17 different Northern styles. Anyway, it is important to stress that there is no conclusive evidence as to whether Wang Lang himself really existed, since information about him is diverse and contradictory, often at variance as far as dates and historical periods are concerned.

Thái Cực Đường Lang quyền ( 太极螳螂拳)

From the documents by Sifu Zhao Zhu Xi, (趙宗師 in Cantonese: Chiu Chuk Kai), who is told to have taught (both directly and indirectly) to thousands of students during his life in Vietnam and in Hong Kong, this style can be traced back directly to the Đường Lang quyền style.

Chiu Chuk Kai was born in the Loo Wan (路 旺村) village, Shun Tung (山东 省) province. When he was 5 years old, his mother passed away. His father, who was a Chinese opera enthusiast, hardly looked after him. The person who mainly took care of young Chiu was a woman who lived next door. The woman entrusted Chiu to a monk who offered himself to teach him martial arts.

With the authorization of the woman, the monk took Chiu to the Chong Chi (智 藏寺) temple, on Chak Dai (大 泽 山) mountain, in the Ping Do region, Shun Tung (山东 省). Here, Chiu studied under the guidance of masters Ching Chuen (清泉) and Gok Dong (觉 东). Chiu spent 10 years in the temple, until his Sifus died. He came back home at 18 and found a job as a security guard to protect precious shipments at Tak Sing Security. In that period, Chiu refused the offer by his uncle to be a business man in his trading company. He thought he still had a lot to learn about Kung Fu, and consequently, with some of his rich friends, hired a famous martial artist, Yum Fung Tsui (任丰瑞), to teach them the Praying mantis style. After three years’ study, they became pupils of Sifu Chi Sao Jung (迟 守 进) for 4 years.

Seven years later, Chiu received the offer by a friend of his to spread the style in the Southern regions of China and he even taught in Macau. After the Second World War, he accepted an offer to become a teacher in Vietnam, where he stayed until 1968. Then he moved to Hong Kong, where he taught Kung Fu until he died at the age of ninety-one, in 1991.

Sifu Chiu Chuk Kai ( 趙宗師)

The Tang Lang style stands out for the particular quickness of movements and attacks. The features that distinguishes Thái Cực Đường Lang quyền from other Northern praying mantis styles is the combination of elements coming from traditional Tang Lang schools and elements derived from Tai Chi Chuan: in a single style we can find both forms characterized by quickness and smoothness of movements, with rapid changes of stance and attacks delivered with swift sequences, and forms performed with slow and steady movements, typical of the so-called “inner” styles. It is an efficient style not only at long distance but also at close distance, where it offers a really interesting technical background from the strategic point of view.

Nowadays, this style, besides being very popular in Hong Kong, Vietnam and many Asian countries, is very popular also in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, thanks to the spreading and teaching work of the various students of that great Sifu.

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