One dominant theme is emerging in Praying Mantis. Much like other martial arts, Mantis seems to specialize in certain things. Two on that list are the hooking hand and an awful lot of arm breaks. Related to these are getting in close to trap, grab, and break or strike some “thing”–tangling the feet and breaking the knee are also important themes.
I bring this up because I’m learning a new form. In a few months Sifu is visiting Sigung. Naturally some of us are invited. This particular form is going to be part of that visit. While I’m not sure my schedule will let me make the trip they decided to skip the next form in sequence and teach me this one. That way I won’t be totally lost at the seminar. I think this one is number three but I’m not totally sure. Even if I can’t go Sifu Mantis plans to teach me the whole form and then step back and catch the next one in sequence.
This form is called Gung Lee Kune. I know I’ve only spelled the Kune part right. I can also only remember that Kune stands for fist. Past that I’ve already forgotten the form’s English translation. I tried finding some videos of this form with no luck.
Anyhow, I made good progress last night and plan to review when I get home this evening. A few areas that I still need to work on:
- Turning the chambered fist over just before you extend the punch. In TKD we started the turn as soon as the fist left your belt. In Mantis you keep it knuckles down until the last second. (given I’ve done it the TKD way for five years this is harder than it sounds!)
- Making everything flow and happen at the same time. This form has some simultaneous block/strikes or break/strikes. I still break it down TKD style with a block followed by a strike.
Update: A reader found the form that I could not!
Mr. Foot is still jacked up. I bowed out of lunges last night and I’m going to have to bow out for at least a month. I am ordering new shoes, too. The ones I currently have are very thin and cheap. So I figure to upgrade things and try for something like this. I’m looking for light, designed for kicking, and hopefully something with some padding. We practice on concrete and hard tile most of the time. You have no idea how hard that is until you jump around on it in shoes without much cushion.
Mack Truck may be testing out of basic Praying Mantis on Wednesday. The school does not award sashes for adults. You test out of basic, intermediate, and finally advanced. After he tests once at the school he’ll have to test again in front of Sigung. So, much like my old taekwondo school, it appears that a black sash or “black belt” has to double test! Sifu Mantis quipped: “If we gave out sashes you’d be getting a black one!” So, it’s comparable to getting your black belt in karate or taekwondo. However, Praying Mantis is different enough that it’s not equal to a karate or taekwondo black belt. One of my past TKD instructors has a husband who is studying traditional karate. Both traditional karate and TKD are cut from different sides of the same cloth. So, things are more similar. Anyhow, I point this all out because I’m not saying a black sash is better or worse than a black belt. Both are darn hard and take years to achieve!
Anyhow, I’m going to close this post with two Mantis forms I found during my search. I know that my school does teach versions of these. I’m just not sure where they are in the sequence. Regardless, it gives you a sense of what old Bob is facing!