Praying Mantis Kung Fu - A Complete Martial Arts System

In order to understand and master Praying Mantis Kung Fu a student is required to learn a number of concepts within a theoretical framework.

As well, they must become comfortable with a wide range of strategies and a variety of fighting tactics while mastering a prescribed set of stances, stance-transitions, body-postures, fist and palm striking techniques, kicking techniques and methods, as well as trapping, joint-locking, and throwing skills.

Simultaneously, the mantis practitioner seeks to achieve internal attainments and external attainments through the practice of breathwork techniques, stretching and strengthening drills, and the use of extremities-toughening methods such as iron-palm training, and wooden-dummy or pole-striking, all of which will succeed in toughening the body and will allow as well for control of the inner energy or chi.

This must be combined with a knowledge of vital points and accupressure and balanced with training in the healing arts. In addition, the use and training of various weapons techniques complete the mantis exponent's arsenal.


Perhaps this may not seem simple at first. And yet, with appropriate guidance it can be surprisingly simple to learn and apply praying mantis fist.

The complete martial art is known as
Seven Star Praying Mantis Kung Fu


7 Star Praying Mantis Kung Fu in Vancouver

7 Star Praying Mantis Kung Fu in Winnipeg

Sifu Jon Funk | Sifu Josh Schafer

International Praying Mantis Kung Fu Federation

Vancouver's Chinatown Gate
vancouver chinatown
Vancouver's historic chinatown gate on West Pender street.

Grandmaster Jon Funk

Grandmaster Jon Funk has been teaching and training in martial arts for over 35 years. His Seven Star Praying Mantis Martial Arts Athletic Association can be found in the heart of downtown Vancouver, Canada. It has been running continuously out of the West End Community Centre for more than 30 years.

Sifu Jon Funk's passion for martial arts, and his depth of knowledge in praying mantis kung fu are unparallelled, except perhaps by his open willingness to share and to teach.


mantiskungfu website

You can become part of
The International Seven Star Praying Mantis Kung Fu Federation

7 Star Praying Mantis Kung Fu in Winnipeg


Winnipeg Chinatown Overpass

Winnipeg's Chinatown Gate was built in 1986. The pedestrian bridge links the Mandarin Building with the Dynasty Building. The Winnipeg Chinese Cultural & Community Centre is on the second floor of the Dynasty building and this is where the Red Mantis Athletic Association holds classes.

Sifu Josh Schafer

Sifu Josh Schafer has been training in martial arts for over two and a half decades. He is currently teaching and training in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada at the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre.

Sifu Schafer's initial training was in T'ai Chi and Tiger Claw Gong Fu in Winnipeg. After moving to Vancouver to pursue academic studies he discovered traditional Northern Praying Mantis kung fu. In September of 1994 he enrolled at Jon Funk's Seven-Star Praying Mantis Kung Fu Academy. In August of 2002 he was awarded his instructor-level, first-degree black sash in the Praying Mantis System. He attained his fourth degree black sash Advanced Instructor Level in November, 2012. He has been involved as an instructor in Jon Funk's school since 2001, and as a Head-Instructor at his own school since September, 2004.

During the course of his martial arts journey Sifu Josh Schafer has performed in many public demonstrations in the promotion of praying mantis kung fu. He has appeared in televised performances on MTV Canada, BCTV News, Vancouver's Channel M, and Winnipeg's CityTV News and CTV Breakfast Show. He has also also brought kung fu to many theatrical venues, performing in Vancouver onstage alongside Master Chan Kai Leung son of Grandmaster Chan Sau Chung (known internationally as the "Monkey King"), as well as Master Shou Yu Liang, Sifu Bruce Fontaine, Sifu Fred Whiting, Sifu Ken Low and many others in the Vancouver wu shu community; and in Winnipeg at the Pantages Theatre, alongside the Manitoba Great Wall Performing Arts Association, and at Eva Clare Hall at the University of Manitoba as part of a multidisciplinary collaboration in The Journey.

Sifu Josh Schafer is a multiple-times international full-contact san shou fighting gold-medallist; is an international tournament forms champion in both weapons and open-hand competition; and has served as the tournament director and weapons-fighting director at the Tiger Balm Internationals for more than 15 years.

He is also a passionate student of the praying mantis insect, a scientist in his day-job, and occasionally designs websites.

Sifu Josh Schafer's Praying Mantis Kung Fu Lineage

willing and dedicated student of the praying mantis.

Find out more about RedMantis

Sifu Schafer is also available for instructional seminars and private coaching sessions.



Praying Mantis Kung Fu in Vancouver

Praying Mantis Kung Fu Lineage

For those individuals who train deeply in a particular style of martial art, it is quite important to know one's lineage. The unbroken chain links back to our masterful ancestors from whom we inherit our teachings and to whom we owe a debt of honour and loyalty.

In the following chart are listed the Descendency of Seven Stars Praying Mantis Boxing from Wang Lang to Joshua Schafer.


7 Star Praying Mantis Descendency Chart

Alternate Spellings, Pronunciations, Nicknames, and Linkages
Wang Lang
Wong Long
Shaolin Monks
Sil Lum, Siu Lam
Sing Sil
Sheng Xiao Dao Ren, taoist priest
Lee San Chien
Li San Jian, Lightning Fist Lee
Wong Wing Sun
Wang Rong Sheng
Fan Yuk Toung
Fan Xu Dong, The Giant,
The Broadsword
Lo Kwang Yu
Luo Guang Yuk, LGY
Wong Hon Fun
Huang Han Xun, Mantis King, WHF
Cheng Luen Chuen
Jon Funk
Joshua Schafer

How To Learn 7 Star Praying Mantis Kung Fu

12 Character Principles | Stances | 18 Systems | Internal Elements | External Elements | Speeds | Attainments | Rigid Methods | Flexible Methods | Attacking Points | Fighting Ranges | Types of Force | Conditions of Stability | Trapping | Grappling | Acrobatics | Drunken Mantis Boxing | Praying Mantis Ground Fighting Theory | Mantis Weaponry

The brotherhood of martial artists no longer needs to be secretive and jealously guard its treasures for the privileged few.


The Twelve Character Principles

The "12 character principles" of praying mantis kung fu underlie all of the movements and strategies of combat within the system. There are many interpretations of the translations of the various principles, and much discussion amongst the mantis community world-wide as to the applications and uses of the 12 character principles. The oral-history tradition of praying mantis kung fu describes the development of a sing-song chant which was used as a mnemonic device to pass on the mantis teachings throughout the generations.

Depending on how you interpret and expand upon the concepts of the chant, there may be many more principles than merely 12 described. Certain mantis stylists list as many as 31 keywords which can be derived from the description of the types of attacks incorporated into the praying mantis forms. Consult the mantis character principles chart below for a description and rudimentary explanation of the fundamental elements of praying mantis kung fu.

one written interpretation of the praying mantis
12 character principles chant is as follows:

'ou lou t'sai kwa

tiao-chin peng-ta

chan nien tieh k'ao

chien shan teng nuo.'

An 'Anglicized' version of the Mantis Character Principles chant:

hook-grapple, pluck and strike,
upward lift, wicked hook,
intercept and contact, stick and cling,
pinch, chop, advance-recede,
tag, lean,
dodge, bounce,
always strike first.

Praying Mantis Character Principles Chart

The following table includes some of the concepts which are incorporated into the praying mantis exponent's arsenal.


Expanded Meanings and Concepts

ou, kou

mantis hook, also described as 'false hand', a sideways push following contact with an opponent's attack



pluck, tug, disrupt rooting, grasp

t'sai, choy

following a hook-grapple, a plucking movement accompanies any strike/punch
note: ou-lou-t'sai is a linked series of movements

upward block

to hang something up from lower to upper point ("hanging arm"), often described as a simultaneous upward block and straight punch technique, control of the centre-line


mantis hook when not followed by a pluck,
'go forward after intercept' with a sense of keenness and activity, trapping skills, also described as an 'intercept-hand'

chen, chien

the difficult skill of contacting an attack, intimately connected with tiao


a forceful fist chopping down heavily, as with the intent of a mountain collapsing, backfist strike


to rapidly 'advance and recede' are skills which are built into this concept, to 'dodge', to escape and avoid attack, the use of footwork and body position to avoid being struck


grasp, pinch, refuse to let go or be dislodged, control, applying a pressure point attack with fingertips, stick, often described as a linked movement 'chan-nien' 'contact-cling'


to get a close attack with the opponent, linked with kao, short-range technique, close the distance while your opponent attacks and move in on them while obtaining contact or trapping their attack


lean, disrupt balance and throw, close-quarters movements, the effective use of elbow strikes and arm breaks along with throwing techniques over short distances, the application of 'push-hands' techniques of sensitivity to the opponent's bodyweight coupled with the use of supple-linked body movements

strike first

'straight forward', the act of launching a fierce attack without fear, the skill of vehemence, to strike in the instant before your opponent attacks


this skill is principally applied for a quick movement in a close contact. It is personified by the skillful leg-kicking techniques contained within the style, also described as a 'hop-kick'


to punch diagonally from below to above, exemplified by the trap-uppercut technique


to contact an opponent's attack and simultaneously adjust body position to avoid the attack and provide an opportunity for an angled counter-attack, as exemplified by the first movement of the crushing-step form beng bu

ward off

another interpretation of tiao is to mean 'ward-off' and described as 'to sprout from below', embodied by movements of fist from low-to-high, typically used as a defence for a high punch, typically followed by a lower region attack, within the forms often accompanied by a palm-check to the forearm of the warding arm.


to close with an attack from the inside to the outside, the use of a circular movement with the fingertips of a palm-hand position followed by a mantis hand grasping attack.


a round or circular strike at opponent's unguarded regions, for example a swing-hammerfist strike, or a hook-punch, often employed with the 'check-hand'

powerful chop

an extremely powerful downward chop with the forearm or hammerfist from the outside-to-inside angle, for example 'hammerfist' from an upward block (kwa)


the skill of using hand traps to prevent an opponent's hand which has grasped one's arm to escape, can also be used to injure the attacker's hand while effecting an escape from the trap, often used in conjunction with an elbow attack which may be followed by a backfist


the use of a surprise attack to opponent's unguarded regions, as described by the palm-trap and simultaneous downward press/hook and palm counter-strike techniques


the use of skillful inside trapping techniques to slip between an opponent's arms for an attack to opponent's unguarded areas, as in the upward hand-trap followed by a low punch technique in a horse-stance


this technique involves the use of circular movement of the arms which can be used in either long or short ranges to effect either a block or an attack, 'wheel-strikes'
these 'chariot wheel' movements may be large or small, and applied in both forward or reverse directions.


a close-range fierce technique which employs a pull-punch type of movement, exemplified by the 'water-wheel' palm striking techniques


the use of a pressing-hand, or hand-bumping to break opponent's balance and topple them, exemplified by the cross-arm trap throw


a unique skill of reversing an opponent's attack and weakening their stance while attacking their joints, for example with a small circular trapping movements, also described as shuai jiao

attack elbow

the characteristic grasping press attack with two hands on opponent's arm so as to effect pressure on their elbow, press down attack on the elbow joint can be used to control opponent's balance and to throw them with a simultaneous elbow break, exemplified in the plum blossom forms


upward leg-hanging movement which is typically a lower-region defence employed while attacking high, 'hanging leg', also acts as a knee attack during certain movements


an elastic skill of expanding and contracting the fingers to the front and back, used to separate and strike as a continuous motion, uses circular patterns and waist-power


a whole range of movements which succeed in dislodging the opponent's control using circular movements, hand-traps, and grasp-neutralizing escapes


a skillful set of techniques which are comprised of upward leg-kicking methods simultaneously applied with mantis-hand traps and upper area strikes, eg: flick-kicks, upward leg-sweep throws


an elastic skill of expanding and contracting the fingers to the front and back, used to separate and strike as a continuous motion, uses circular patterns and waist-power




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  • The information and materials provided on this website are intended primarily for reference and were generated out of the personal interest of the author and not for profit.
  • RedMantis Kung Fu Athletic Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to the training and teaching of seven star praying mantis kung fu as well as promotion of the praying mantis insect.
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