Form and Function
In most teachings, forms are broken down into a sequence of 1, 2, or 3 techniques (movements) and explained as combat application. The problem with this is that the demonstration is usually static, this is, one person is asked to punch (attack) and hold out his hand while the other applies a sequence of
1 2 3 actions in defense and offense. This is unrealistic. In a real fight the attacker will never punch only once and stop - waiting for your reaction. Neither will he remain static waiting for you to attack him (or his weak spots). Action causes reaction - this is a basic law of nature (and survival).
When one person defends and/or attacks the other will instinctually move to avoid being hit - in example, clap your hands in a wilderness area and watch as the fowl and animals instinctually move - or like one automatically blinks when being poked toward the eyes.
Martial arts applications cannot be realistic if they are static. Application must be dynamic; cause and effect, action and reaction, especially against skilled martial art. It is possible that a skilled martial artist defending against an unskilled person MIGHT find himself in a situation where his 1,2,3 movement can be applied, but, even an unskilled person will turn his head when being struck in the face or turn his body when being struck in the chest.
Therefore, superior martial art must first be guided by relentless intent - eye to eye, hand to hand, driving forward into the center of the opponents being. Second, a superior skill must have segmented feeling power which can produce whole body force, that is, any part of the body can yield independently to the opponents incoming force creating an unstable center and opening and then discharge a focused single deadly strike with power issuing from the feet, up the legs, back, arms, and fingers into a weak vital point of the opponent such as the eyes, throat, or solar plexus. Third, a skillful art must be based on changes of the hand, since the hand (arm) is the quickest and most convenient weapon (just watch any real fight).
By pressing the centerline of the opponent, sticking to his movement and feeling his intent, the skillful hand can, using small, quick, short, angular jerks and deflections, redirect and create an opening in the opponents center and intent while delivering a single devasting blow in a straight line (the shortest quickest distance between two points) to his vital spots. Continuous direct blows are given until the opponents submission. The mantis philosophy is train until within three blows the opponent submits, bleeds or ceases to exist.
But this is based on the ability of the practicer to intently stick, feel, yield and discharge continuous changes based on the opponent's action and reaction. Simply said, if pushed downward the hand turns to strike upward, if pushed upward the hand turns to strike downward, if pushed inward the hand turns to strike outward, if pushed out the hand turns (changes) to strike inward (simply said). Of course, this is a principle and as one becomes skillful, his hand learns to adapt to any angle or circumstance. Like the stance, one first finds the center, develops power, moves the center and attaches the center to his opponent. Later, any position or posture is centered, whether lying, sitting, standing or walking.
The eighteen mantis hands all change in this way without a break in the power and contact of the two people. A is followed by B, by C turns to D and so on. In time, two people learn to change hands (power) automatically. By repitition A instinctually turns to B turns to C, etc. At this point, one may simply hold out his hands and they will move and strike without thought. When the eighteen mantis hands are practiced by two skillful people, it looks like a continuous "sticky" fight. Once contact is made there is no backing up or breaking apart. Each of the eighteen hands is a reaction to an action with the intent of each movement to make one deadly strike enough.Learning the eighteen hand changes individually is basic training and is followed by a series of two man "sticky, feeling, changing" forms in which the mantis practicers begin to instinctually skill various changes while developing precision in striking vital areas. The forms are "hands on" and realistic in "continuous fighting".
This principle of contact, control and strike (until the opponent is red) is central to all mantis action is based on the three powers of the arm; from the shoulder to the elbow, elbow to the wrist, wrist to the fingertips. A skillful mantis will defend and attack using one arm (leaving one hand free) to trap and control the opponents two arms. This is done with one arm by using the forearm for defensive movement while simultaneously attacking with the hand or fingers. This can only be accomplished if one has understood the centerline theory.
And so, a superior art is based on a deep rooted stance, upright footwork in stepping and production of power by the movement of the ribs and diaphragm. It will use the conditioned arms and hands 70% of the time and the legs and feet 30% of the time in offense and defense. Again this is because, the hands are the quickest and most convenient weapon (as we can see in any real fight).
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