Off-Helmet 霸王摘盔

The Off-Helmet (摘盔) technique is a Plum Blossom close-quarter move that gives multiple options in ending the fight.

When you engage your opponent with your right and he tries to parry with his left from inside towards outside, follow his movement with your right, maintain contact with his arm, draw a half circle in the way of the quarter moon, turn your arm towards yourself and slip pass his guard from the inside and cut towards the back of his neck with the back of your arm.

When you start the movement above, you need to take a left step forward, your left arm needs to shoot in under his armpit like a twisting arrow, and turn you forearm to a vertical position using your joint to lock his shoulder. This is important: the movements of the right, step, and left all happen at the same time, as this would move your body into position, and gives you the necessary momentum.

This will get you to the position where you are locking your opponent on his right with your left, and your right holding his neck. Your flow doesn’t stop there, however, as you need to use the same momentum to perform various moves to take down your opponent  or seriously injuring him.

You can hold your opponent’s back neck or by grabbing his hair, and with the aid of your left, perform a clockwise circular motion take-down, and this is called the Picking Hair (取髮), as performed in the form of The Essentials, 1st Route (摘要一路).

If you opponent resists by holding his balance back, then you can pivot your right to elbow him on his throat and maintain tight contact there. Hook the back of your left around his right leg, pull with your left arm and twist you body counter-clockwise to perform another take-down.

Suppose you feel he is able to resist this as well, then you can try to execute the Picking Hair (取髮) again, because his would be off-balanced by your rocking him back and forth. Otherwise, you can also simply hold the back of his head again, pull him downwards and knee him in the head or stomach. This is the same as the Peach Thieving (偷桃) move in the form the Peach Thieving White Monkey (白猿偷桃).

“Peach stealing” is commonly perceived as the groin attack in Chinese. We don’t know why this kneeling move is called Peach Thieving the Mantis Style. Perhaps the knee could be used to attack the groin, or perhaps this kneeling move is preceded by a Groin Palm (撩陰掌) in its most original form, as it is the case in our short form practice. Or the general population has an erroneous idea of what martial artists mean by “peach stealing”. We just can’t tell for sure.

The “White Monkey” refers to the Monkey Steps (馬猴步) of the Mantis style. There is also the ancient legend of The “Old Man Monkey”, who pretended to be a Mr. Yuan and had a sword sparring match with the Virgin of Yue. The family name Yuan is pronounced the same as ape or monkey, 猿 yuan, in Chinese.

To conclude, the Off-Helmet (摘盔) is one of the more advance techniques in the Plum Blossom branch, because of its sheer complexity, the close-quarter nature, and the variations, including wrestling moves, one need to know in order to account for different situations. It is also very effective because of its idiosyncratic angle of attack.

「摘盔」是梅花螳螂拳用以在近距離作出不同制敵方式的手法。

當你從右方作「點睛」,對方以左臂從裡往外抗力,你的右臂可以跟隨他的慣力,以貼著他手臂的方式畫半月形,畫過月尖的時候手臂往內轉,從內側越過他的門戶,再以臂的外側切往他頸項。

進行上述動作的同時,你的左腿要上步,左臂要像箭一樣旋轉的穿過他腋底,在將前臂扭直,以你關節控制他的肩膀。這點很重要:右臂、左腿、左臂的動作要同時進行,因為這樣你的身體才可以自然的進入該佔的位置,並為你提供所需的動能。

上述的動作使你的左臂鎖上他右臂,你的右臂控制著他頸項。但你的動作還不能停下來,因為你需要運動上述動作所提供的動能和慣力去將對方摔倒在地或作出重擊以結束戰鬥。

你可以鉤持著對方的後頸,或倒持他的頭髮,並配合上左臂的幫助,以順時針的方式將對方摔倒。這就是「摘要一路」所說的「取髮」。

如對方將身體平衡移的方式制止「取髮」,你就可以用你的肘子頂上他咽喉,以你的左腿鉤著他右腿,再經左臂一拉,以逆時針的方式扭動身體並摔倒他。

假如你感覺到他的平衡能躲開這一摔,你又可以再施出「取髮」,因為你這樣前後搖動他就能破壞他身體的平衡。你又可以選擇拉下他的頭部,再以膝蓋撞擊他的頭或腹部。這膝撞的攻擊就是套路「白猿偷桃」中的「白猿偷桃起膝打」。

我們一般所說的「偷桃」,尤其是日常俚語,都是指對下體的攻擊。我們不能確實說出為什麼這個起膝是「偷桃」:或者膝蓋也可以用以撞擊下體;或者原來的套路在起膝前有「撩陰掌」一式,因為這出現在我們基本功練習中;又或者是武學術語在傳播過程中出現訛誤,或為大眾所誤解;又或者「桃」不過是比喻以巧妙的方法製造和找出對方的空隙。

「白猿」則是描述螳螂拳的「馬猴步」。「白猿」也是一則有關古代武藝的傳說典故。案《吳越春秋》(東漢時書,為稗官雜記,非歷史)所載,越王勾踐聘越地一處女至國傳授劍術武藝,越女於路上遇一老翁自稱「袁公」,老翁折竹杖作劍與越女比試,試合後則化白猿而去。此典故多為歷代詩人描述劍術時引用,亦說明古代武術早有藉詞授於神人或神物的傳統,旁證「王朗悟拳於螳螂、馬猴」並不一定是歷史事件,而是武學門派在述其不可追溯的源流時所形成的傳說故事,更可能是傳授武藝時為方便記憶、學習而起的比喻。

總括而言,「摘盔」是梅花螳螂中較為高端的技術,因為它涉及的複雜程度、手身的配合、近距離聽力,使用者也需明瞭熟悉各種變化,包括摔跤技巧,去應付不同的狀況。這技巧是以獨特、刁鑽的角度去作出攻擊,熟習了以後就能以出其不意的方法制服對手。

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