Stand-Up Boxing

Stand-Up Class

The Stand-Up class will introduce you to my repertoire of Mantis Boxing (see below) techniques, drills, and training methods. Mantis Boxing uses punching & kicking, combined with hooking, grabbing, and clinch work, as well as takedowns as it's primary tools. Be prepared to study Randy's techniques through cooperative training drills, partner work, and live sparring, once ready. 

What Is Mantis Boxing?

Mantis Boxing (Tang Lang Quan - 螳螂拳) is a stand-up grappling, self-defense art from northern China dating back hundreds of years. It includes strikes, kicks, knees, elbowsthrows, and joint locks in it's arsenal. Mimicking the fighting strategy of the Praying Mantis, you control your opponent with hooks and grabs with the objective to trip, takedown, throw; rendering their attacks nil. It has existed for roughly 350 years.



In the beginning...


For thousands of years there has existed a style of wrestling know as Bökh. This translates as 'durability', and is a folk wrestling art used by the Mongols as well as other regions in Asia. Ghenghis Khan (1162 - 1227), used this as a method of keeping his soldiers fit for battle. It was considered one of the 'three manly acts'. The Mongols, conquered many regions under the reign of Ghenghis Khan, and his descendants. As such, the influences of their culture spread, evidenced by the Qing Dynasty (1646–1911). Centuries later, the Qing held regular wrestling bouts. (wikipedia reference)


Tracing Roots

                Eagle Claw Hand

                Eagle Claw Hand

During the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279), the history of a northern Chinese Martial Art style known as Eagle Claw Boxing (鷹爪拳) was born. Early references referred to the style as - 'Elephant Style'; coincidentally, also the nickname of Mongolian Wrestling.

While Bökh, contained some kicking to the legs, it was not a striking art by nature. Eagle Claw, growing off of it's grappling heritage, eventually incorporated other techniques for self-defense such as, striking, kicking, and joint locks.

Why the Eagle Claw? The Eagle Claw is a hand shape technique (Xiàng (象) means "shape, form, or appearance") that emphasizes grabbing techniques of an opponent when there are limited, to no clothes to grab. Eagle Claw uses the fingers to separate muscle, increasing the holding power on the opponent. Great stress is placed upon finger strength in this system. 


Enter the Mantis


Fast forward to the late Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) and a style known as Mantis Boxing (螳螂拳) appears in the northern Chinese province known as Shandong. [Note Shandong's relative geographical location to Inner Mongolia.]

Incidentally, around the same time another famous style of stand-up grappling appeared next door in Henan Province. Sharing many of the principles of the Mantis style and also based around stand-up grappling as it's core, this art was later to be known as Tai Ji Quan - 太極拳 (Tai Chi). 

Scholar Douglas Wile points out in his book 'Lost T'ai-chi Classics from the Late Ch'ing Dynasty', this region was "China's most fertile breeding ground for martial arts." due to it's volatile nature and generations of combat. 


The Hook

                                              勾 - Mantis Hook

                                              勾 - Mantis Hook

The Mantis Hook hand shape (Xiàng (象)) is a key indicator of the style. This seemingly innocuous shape is highly effective and ingenious in it’s design. Other martial arts styles also use hooks: White Crane, Muay Thai, Wrestling (Mongolian and Western), but the Mantis hook places emphasis on the curling of the fingers to strengthen the forearm and the holds.

When a Mantis Boxer latches onto an opponent, the hook has been trained to create a tight clinch. When a Mantis Boxer practices forms (tao lu 套路, or shadow boxing), they emphasize folding the fingers into the hook hand, engaging the muscles in the forearm. Training this focus, as well as other tools/drills, increases the hook strength in the arms of the Mantis Boxer, giving them more control over their opponent.

The common hooks are: neck hook, over hook, under hook, arm hook, wrist hook, and leg hook.


Mantis Boxing Ranking

The 5 Elements of a Mantis Boxer

Mantis Boxers use the hook to clinch and control the opponent. Here are the 5 key elements to Mantis Boxing:

  1. Bridge - 渡過 - using deceptive kicking and other techniques to close distance.
  2. Strike - 打 - Overwhelm with ‘crushing’ strikes (Beng Da), or block/counter strikes.
  3. Hook - 勾 - control in the clinch. Use elbows/knees where necessary.
  4. Throw - 摔 - toss, trip, throw the opponent to the ground.
  5. Submit - 击败 - defeat opponent with strikes, kicks, knees, elbows, or joint locks.

The overall strategy of the Mantis Boxer; overwhelm, seize, control, strike with knees, elbows, tight hooking strikes, uppercuts; take to the ground, and finish.


The 12 Keywords of Mantis Boxing

The 12 Keywords of Mantis Boxing have been handed down from generation to generation, from teacher to student. They are the keystones of the art, and house the principles we are guided by.

Here is a list of the keywords, along with links to more in-depth explanations/videos as we compile them.

  1. Hook (Gōu 勾)
  2. Grapple (Lǒu 摟)
  3. Pluck (Cǎi 採)
  4. Contact (Zhan 粘)
  5. Cling (Nian 黏)
  6. Hang (Gua 掛)
  7. Sly (Diao 刁)
  8. Enter (Jin 進)
  9. Crush (Beng 崩)
  10. Strike (Da 打)
  11. Adhere (Tie 貼)
  12. Lean (Kao 靠)

Our Mantis Boxing Lineage

  1. Li San Jian - (1821 - ?)
  2. Wang Rong Sheng - (1854 - 1926)
  3. Fan Xu Dong - (1841 - 1936)
  4. Luo Guan Yu - (1888 - 1944) 
  5. Zhao Zhi Min - (1901 - 2002)
  6. Chui Chuen Luen - (1927 - 2006)
  7. Stephen H. Laurette - (1954 - 2015)
  8. Tony Puyot - (1962)
  9. Randy Brown - (1972)

Note: Prior to Li San Jian there are no records; the lineage becomes dependent upon oral transmission. The original founder is fabled to be Wang Lang, who according to legend, lived in the late Ming to early Qing Dynasty. The trace between he and Li San Jian is through temple monks for a few generations.