If one talks about Praying Mantis Boxing then one must know that its founder and patriarch was someone, named Wang Lang. However it is unknown when exactly he lived and what kind of family he came from but certainly his family was not wealthy. Wang Lang was famous for his passion for martial arts and was an outstanding person. He traveled a lot around the Empire Under Heaven (China), while studying different styles of boxing and had many friends skillful in martial arts.
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Once, during the mid-autumn festival Wang Lang went hiking to Lao Shan mountains. He looked at the magnificent cliffs above and boundless rivers below and felt astonished by this mighty vastness. When out of curiosity he decided to climb even higher, following the curvy and steep path going up the mountains, Wang Lang suddenly heard the quiet sound of a bell ringing somewhere nearby. Walking along the path Wang Lang soon reached an ancient temple, abode of hermits and decided to enter in order to get some food and water. The first thing he saw was Taoist monks practicing the art of boxing in the main plaza of the temple. Wang Lang counted about sixty positions and styles that he had never seen before. Then Wang Lang asked the taoist monks a question but was not regarded with an answer, he asked again but the answer was just a silence randomly interrupted by the sounds of their movements. Finally, Wang Lang decided to attract the attention of one of the practitioners by pulling his arm. The monk became angry seeing a great boldness of this uninvited guest and lack of etiquette and jumped on Wang Lang with clinched fists, ready to punish him. However the monk was immediately knocked down by Wang Lang’s quick response. A dozen of monks ran to help their religious brother but all failed. Monks started yelling and called the abbot. When the abbot came Wang Lang explained to him the situation that he just wanted to ask for food and water and did not have any bad intent. Abbot replied: “All these are my disciples and monks and I am strongly ashamed by their failure, would you please indulge me with a just fight?” Wang Lang agreed but lost the fight. Then Wang Lang realized the depth of the abbot’s martial skills and immediately left the temple.
Wang Lang went deep in the woods and decided to rest, he laid down and started thinking about his unsuccessful fight and the reasons why he lost it. Suddenly he saw two white praying mantises on the tree branch. One of them was holding a fly in his front legs and the other tried to take away the prey. During the fight one mantis was attacking and another would jump from side to side, ducking and counter-attacking with the lightning speed. Wang Lang concentrated his entire mind on this fight and suddenly realized the hidden principals of outstanding flexibility and agility of praying mantis’ attacks, counter-attacks and moves.
He then immediately returned to the taoist temple and started a fight with the abbot. As soon as the venerable abbot saw that hand techniques of Wang Lang were noticeably different from the last time they had fought and also had a feeling that this fight would be won by Wang Lang, the abbot asked about the source of such a technique, but Wang Lang continued fighting in complete silence. After a while the abbot asked again but did not get an answer. Only when Wang Lang won the fight, did he tell the abbot the reason of his success. The abbot immediately sent his disciples to the woods to catch about ten pairs of praying mantises. When the insects were delivered the abbot put them on the table and set them to fight each other. In this manner Wang Lang and the abbot spent quite a long time learning movements and tactical positions of the praying mantises, engaged in deadly fights. Then the two masters developed a new, secret technique of boxing which was significantly different from other ones. Later Wang Lang said to the abbot: “Even though you and I developed a new style of boxing, we should not forget the cause and the source of our knowledge. If the praying mantis while striving for food and existence did not reveal us its secrets, we would never develop this new style.” The abbot replied: “You are right! In order to perpetuate the memory of the source, we shall call this style “The Gates of Praying Mantis” (Tang Lang Men). Wang Lang and the abbot developed twelve characters – guiding principles of the praying mantis fighting technique: zhan (contacting), nian (sticking), bang (linking), tie (pressing), lai (intruding), jiao (provoking), shun (moving along), song (sending), ti (lifting), na (grabbing), feng (blocking), bi (locking). Also they developed formal sets of praying mantis technique, such as: Beng bu (crushing step), Lan jie (obstruction), Ba zhou (eight elbows), Mei hua lu (plum blossom technique) and Bai yuan tou tao (white ape steals the peach). However, this new style for a long time was a privilege of the taoist monks of the Lao Shan taoist religious community and it was kept as a part of the secret taoist doctrine and closed to lay people. Wang Lang, for the rest of his days, lived in the taoist temple practicing self cultivation, developing Praying Mantis boxing and following the way of the Tao…”