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.











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).






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)





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.