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。

Three Punches 三捶

The Three Punches (三捶) is better understood as the one of the core principles of the Six Harmonies branch of the Mantis school of martial arts, instead of one single move set.

The idea behind is not simply throwing three punches together, but to use the movements to maintain body composure and control, create tension, and draw power in a very short distance. This is essentially the same as the “one inch punch” made famous by Bruce Lee, but that is, in fact, a faulty translation, as the move is about how power can be generated in that distance without pulling the arms back, not about punching at all. The better translation would be Inch Explosion (寸勁).

Calling it an “explosion” is still figuratively inaccurate, as “explosion” can only describe how the energy is generated in such short amount of time and distance, but not how it feels when it lands:  being hammered to the ground by a tank.

The hammering power is drawn from the whole body and the tension the opponent has given you, then release in a a tight and controlled burst, while maintaining tension and contact with the opponent, in a twisting motion and in a downward angle.

Because tension and contact are maintained, you can keep pressure and maintain control, thereby giving you faster reaction time and allowing you to open up your opponent in a safe manner. Therefore, it isn’t necessary to completely perform all three punches; the three punches help to understand the motion and tension better as a practice exercise.

Suppose the opponent counterattacks, you can parry that attack by turning one arm towards yourself and making it vertical in the process, then proceed with your own counter punch with the other arm. This is then called the Cruciform Punch (十字捶, lit. “figure ten” in Chinese character).

六合螳螂拳視「三捶」為「母拳」,所表述的其實是六合螳螂拳的核心原理,而不是簡單的一樣技擊手法。

故此「三捶」並不是簡單的發出連環三捶,而是要在整個過程中,利用和控制雙方身體的姿態去凝聚張力,並在極短距離中將張力轉化成勁力發揮出來。這與因李小龍而變得非常有名的「寸勁」很相似。

跟一般人說「寸勁」不一樣的是,「三捶」並不是要將人打飛出去,而是要在極短距離中,像坦克一樣將人撞倒在地。這股「撞」的勁力是用上全身的力度,加上對方所提供的張力而形成。發揮的時候要繃緊,節奏要短速,同時要緊貼對手維持張力,以往下旋轉的角度出拳,將對手「撞」在地上。

因為緊貼著對手維持張力,你可以藉此向對方施加壓力並控制他的節奏,因此你的節拍更短,反應比他更快,你就可以安全的打開和尋找對方門戶的空檔。所以,在使用「三捶」的時候並不需要三捶都用上,可以根據情況變化;練習時用上三捶是為了幫助瞭解整個動作與如何維持張力。

假如對方出拳反擊,這時你可以將手臂往自己方向旋轉、扭直以架開對方的拳向,同時以另一隻手出拳反擊。此時你的雙臂形成十字狀,故此稱為「十字捶」,為「三捶」的變異。

Felling Gate 斬關手

Think of the arms as the gate with two doors in oblique order that protects the body. Initiate an attack by threaten the eyes with you right by going through the front right door on his side, his will have to response with his left, lest he would lose his eyes. Meanwhile, your left should be maintaining contact with his right.

Should he push your right from outside towards inside, you should follow and make use of his forces to cut towards the inner joint of his right with the blade of your right arm, bending his arm and twisting his body with one coup; thus, opening up his right for further attack. This is the technique of the Felling Gate. This is particularly effective if the opponent uses force and holds your right, as his attention will be focused there and won’t be able to respond to your flow.

If the opponents pushes away your initiate attack from inside to outside, your right can then follow this movement and cuts toward the inner joint of his right with the inward facing side of your arm, twisting his arm with a pull motion, and gain control of his body. This is the technique of the Reverse Gate (反關手).

If the motion is performed on the outside of the opponent’s arms, then it is called Cradle Hold (摟手)

想像雙臂是兩扇門,一前一後保護身軀的門關。用你的右手,以越過對方前右門的方式去點睛威脅他雙眼,他必須改用左手招架,否則他的眼睛就會受傷。在攻擊的過程中,你的左手須同時貼著對方的右手。

如他的左手從外到裡推你的右手,你就可以使用他的力量,順勢用你的右臂手肘,像鐮刀的一樣剪往他右臂關節,藉此折疊他的手臂同時扭曲他的身體。這就是「斬關手」的技巧。這手法對用力握拿你右臂的對手特別有效,因為他的注意力將會集中在你右方、他左方的攻擊,不期然你會轉向取他右臂。

如對方從裡到外推開你點睛的攻擊,你亦可以利用這力量,走外圈順勢用你的手臂內側剪往他的右臂關節。因為方向與上述相反,古稱「反關手」。

如使用同樣的動作,不論是走內圈或外圈,從對方手臂外側去拿並帶動他,這就是「摟手」的技巧。

Flying Catch 飛擒手

The Flying Catch (飛擒手) is one of the most simple method to lead from an initial attack and proceed to various grappling moves based on the opponent’s reaction.

The Mantis Style typically initiates an attack by threatening the eyes, an Eye Stroke (點睛). If the opponent doesn’t reaction, then they will lose their eyes and match; if they react by a parry, then you can follow with a Catch (採) to take control and perform grappling moves depends on positions and reactions. When General Qi Jiguang (戚繼光) of the Ming Dynasty said, “trying to parry or block will be punished by getting hit ten times over”, to describe the skillful performance of a master’s unarmed combat techniques in his New Treatise on Military Efficiency (《紀效新書》), this is exactly what he meant.

The Flying Catch is the combination of an Eye Stroke and a Catch in a single fluid movement.

「飛擒手」是六合螳螂拳手法中最簡單、最容易接上擒拿的初出手手法。

螳螂拳以點睛為最基本又最具威脅的攻擊方法(六合螳螂拳九十五手另有「螳螂點睛」)。如對方不作反應,那他就要被刺傷眼睛;如他以手招架,那你就可以順勢以「採」的方法控制對方的手臂和身體,根據情況使用各種擒拿技巧。這就是《紀效新書》所言「犯了招架,就是十下」的意思。

將「點睛」與「採」混合成一組無間斷的動作,這就是六合螳螂拳的「飛擒手」。