Seal, Binding Throw 掛印捆摔

This is a compound technique with two disticnt phases. A “combo” would be a combination of moves on within the same movement range, say, punching or kicking range, but a compound is a combination of two or more techniques across the spectrum, for example, move from striking to grappling range.

First initiate with Seal, if the opponent fail to defend, it will then be just a hit. Should the opponent deflect the incoming Seal by pushing your arm towards his inside line, you can then cut to and bind the inside of his arm and perform a Binging Throw. Other techniqies can also be used depending on your arm’s position and if the opponent resists your throw. The binding throw is very similar to the Cracking Whip, min. (小摔鞭) in wrestling; the difference being the holding position of the opponent’s arm.

We can learn improvisation by practising compound techniqes as they emphasise on body movement and awareness across the range instead of just trying to strike standing on the same spot.



Chaotic Fury 亂截

The Chaotic Fury is not a “technique”, but, rather, a concept that is ingrained in the Mantis system. I use the term “Chaotic Fury” here to better translate what the concept conveys. In Chinese, and according to different lineages, it can be called in many slightly different variations, such as “Chaotic Sever” (亂截) , “Chaotic Strikes” (亂打), “Chaotic Connect” (亂接), or the “Interdiction” (攔截), which is also a form. None of them is more correct than the other, as they are just different way to express the same concept. The Six Harmonies Mantis tradition uses mnemonic in the form of limericks to pass down its tenets, and one of the limericks states, I paraphrase, “[To] chaotically sever the central gate and go through it like a ditch, cutting against the wind and throw yourself right inside (i.e. how you open the central line)”, that is why I took “Chaotic Sever” (亂截) and reinterpret it into “Chaotic Fury”.

The Chaotic Fury, as stated above, is a central tenet in the Mantis system. It is chaotic, as it goes without a fathomable pattern, so unfathomable that even the one who is executing it does not know exactly what they are doing. It is this way, because, in order to go through the central gate, which is the opponent’s main defence, one would have to open it up first and in order to open it one would have to gain initiative first. While at the same time, the defending side enjoys a geometric advantage, because in order to attack, the offensive side has to step into the range of the defence, and that means the reaction time of the defence is shorter.

Therefore, the question posed to the offensive side is how could he overcome that advantage. If, for example, the offensive side initiated a strike, encountered the defence, and as a result pulled back his punch, then he would be worse off than the initial state, as he just wasted his energy and set back to square one.

There are many ways to overcome this geometrical challenge; movements such as feint and element of surprise could potentially lure the defence in making a mistake. If the defence caught on, however, the offence would still be set back to square one.

Our system likes to go for a more certain way, and that is where the concept of Chaotic Fury comes in. The offending side enjoys a strategic advantage as the defending side has to react to the first contact. Therefore, when we attack, we expect the defence to be able to mount a successful initial defence, but instead of pulling back, we follow and use the momentum the defence is giving to launch cycles and cycles of attacks immediately. Whatever the defence is going to do, be it deflecting or counter attacking, he would be opening himself up due to his movements. The point of contest here is not whether the offence can hit the defence in the first instance, but how either side can gain the initiative by slipping into each other’s gate just a beat ahead.

Since the offensive side is following the momentum of the defence and exploiting whatever openings that be, he can only improvise right at the spot, and that is why the actions can appear to be without pattern, and it cannot be repeated due to actions and reactions being different next time. Therefore, it is “chaotic”. Yet, it is not devoid of logic, as the defence is still reacting following a certain pattern and the laws of physics. It is very much like jazz, where the musician is going to play a range of notes following the general melody, but at the same time reacting to the specific notes other players are giving him.

Sun Tzu summed it up best, “Amid the turmoil and tumult of battle, there may be seeming disorder and yet no real disorder at all; amid confusion and chaos, your array may be without head or tail, yet it will be proof against defeat” (Chapter 5, Sun Tzu).

A Bit of History on Chinese Wrestling

Two people prepared to wrestle. Ink sketch found in Mogao Caves No.17. Dunhuang.

Chinese wrestling depicted in an ink-sketch (~9th c.) found in the Mogao Caves No.17, stored in the British Museum (as told by some Chinese articles).

Chinese wrestling has many names. Modern nomenclature follows Ming and Qing convention and uses the term Shuāi Jiāo (摔跤 lit. throws and trips). It was also called Jué Dǐ (角抵 lit. antlers butting ). Xiāng Pū (相撲 lit. pounce against each other) was the more popular name in the older days. Here you guessed it, they are the same characters used for sumo (相撲).

Xiāng Pū back in Tang and Song’s (~7th-13th c.) time was a very popular sport and form of entertainment. They used to host the wrestling games at temples during major festivals, with the matches dedicated to some deities, and the wrestlers would go and compete from all over the country. The novel Water Margins describes a wrestling match dedicated to the deified Mt. Tai.

Winners of the matches would gain lavish match prizes sponsored by businesses and artisans, country-wide recognition, and massive following. The sport was so popular and well-developed that, like football back in that time, wrestlers were organised into clubs governed by wrestlers societies. To make the sport even more enticing, there was also a women “division”, for the lack of a better term, and they were competing half-naked. Women wrestling was so hot that the Emperor was caught watching it and subsequently scolded by one of his minsters (the Emperor could been participated in the organisation of it even, but the details are not very clear).

Many of the traditions are still followed by Sumo in Japan today. Sadly, the tradition of women wrestling is discontinued.

Class Note No. 3

We are continuing our current theme of initial engagement then proceed to wrestling or grappling immediately.

This is a very fundamental concept to be instilled, as it helps the students understand why it is important to connect to the opponent and how to move across different measures.

If we only learn how to strike or wrestle, it would be very easy to be stuck when the opponent moves in and out of that particular measure, and you would be open for a counter. Connectivity helps us shorten our action cycle and keep the action flowing to maintain the initiative.

Strikes and Takedowns

The main points here are improvisation and connectivity. Since we don’t go into a fight knowing how the opponent is going to react, we can’t have a predetermined method of approach and a set way to end the fight.

The method is to engage the opponent with credible threats, so he is forced to react to your actions; thereby giving you the initiative and a quicker route to get inside his decision/action loop. You don’t have to be really fast, just a bit faster than his cycles would be enough. This is how you dictate the terms to him. What you do depends entirely on what the opponent is giving you.