The Mantis style of Chinese Martial Arts is widely categorised into two distinct styles. The Northern and Southern styles. Despite sharing a similar name, the two styles have little in common. The footwork, hand techniques and even the origins of the Mantis Kung Fu styles are vastly dissimilar.
The Northern Mantis Kung Fu
The Northern Mantis Kung Fu is a style that is said to have originated from Shaolin. It was then passed on to pugilists outside of the temple and grew into its many different variation we now have today. Highly popularised by kung fu films, the Northern Mantis Kung Fu has intrigued many with its unique movements.
The Northern Mantis Kung Fu is a style that focuses a lot on lightning strikes in rapid succession. Many strikes are usually compressed into a short time-frame, and are mostly targeted at vital ‘soft’ areas such as the throat, eye and groin. Northern Mantis Kung Fu practitioners commonly execute the series of attacks after a successful evasion or diversion of the opponent’s attack. The quick counterattack and volley of rapid strikes are executed to disorientate the opponent, aside from inflicting injury. A distinct feature of the style is the ‘hooked’ fist. It is widely used divert the flow of energy and to attack soft areas of the body. The footwork of the Northern Mantis Kung Fu has plenty of lunging steps. This brings the practitioner close to the opponent for the attack. Small jump kicks and front kicks also give range to this style, making it suitable for close to mid range combat. Most of the time, one foot is placed in front of the other, allowing for fast and far movement to close into the opponent or to escape backwards. The foot is also widely used to trip the opponent, by putting one foot out and using the upper body to create a force that pushes the opponent sideways. Again, these moves are always executed in quick movements and with little forewarning.
Here’s a clip to better illustrate the essence of Northern Mantis Kung Fu.
The Southern Mantis Kung Fu
The Southern Mantis Kung Fu is the lesser known of the two styles. It has inherently smaller and more solid movements, and thus becomes the less favoured choice in popular media. It has origins in the Hakka people of the south.
Southern Mantis Kung Fu is a close range combat style that focuses a lot on high powered punches and stability. Hand movements are engrained with strength and surety, and each strike of the Southern Mantis Kung Fu is aimed to maim the opponent. As a result of the stronger punches from arm muscles, fewer attacks are made in succession. Strikes from the practitioner are meant to attack the vital areas of the body, such as the throat and solar plexus, and a well-aimed strike from a skilled practitioner is often fatal. A strong and stable foot stance of the Southern Mantis Kung Fu means that feet movement are limited to short steps and small but powerful front kicks. The feet are mostly keep wide apart for stability, but are moved quickly from one position to the next. This gives short distance speed and the impression of an impenetrable wall.
This video clip shows the power of Southern Mantis Kung Fu excellently.