history of the Praying Mantis Style of Kung-Fu (T'ang L'ang Ch'uan) began
in Gimore County in the Shantung Province, during the Ming Dynasty
From the oral tradition and the writings of later Mantis masters, we know
that the founder and patriarch of the style was Wang Lang. Wang Lang was
the smartest and most talented child of his family, and from an early age
had developed a great interest in the martial arts. He had travelled
through China to learn the various arts, and soon became well known for
his skills. Despite his mastery, Wang Lang felt that something was missing
from his technique and decided to test himself.
As it is well know, there were no better martial artists than those
that were to be found in the temples of Shaolin. So, during the mid-Autumn
festival, Wang Lang set out for the Lao Shan mountains to challenge the
monks of the Shaolin Temple. Upon his arrival, the first thing he saw were
taoist monks practicing the art of boxing in the main plaza of the temple.
Wang Lang counted some sixty positions and styles that he had never seen
before. Sensing that this was the perfect place to test his abilities,
he challenged the monks but was ignored. Time and again he issued his
but the silent monks would have no part of it. It took much time and
for Wang Lang to persuade the monks at the temple to test him, but
they decided that he would fight a lower level student. Wang Lang had
hard for many years and was confident in his abilities. This was the
he had been waiting for.
The fight was set. Wang Lang and his opponent of the famous Shaolin
Temple were face to face. Wang Lang fought hard and with great swiftness
but was defeated, for the abilities of the monk were far superior. There
was much for him to learn.
Wang Lang returned home. Determined and dedicated, he practiced very
hard. After two years of continuous training, Wang Lang was in the best
shape of his life. The time had come to test himself once again at the
Wang Lang returned to Shaolin, much more powerful and fierce than
Once again he faced a student of the temple. This time Wang Lang was
His rigorous training had paid off and his improvement became more and
more evident as he moved higher through the ranks of monks. Wang Lang
one monk after another until he was face to face with the head abbot of
the monastery. Wang Lang had fought many fierce opponents and had proven
himself a courageous fighter, but this was the true test. Wang Lang fought
his best but was easily beaten by the abbot.
Humiliated and aching, Wang Lang realized the depth of the abbot's
skills and immediately left the temple. He had trained hard, but having
tested himself he realized he would have to have much better technique
as well. As Taoist masters have recognized, the answers to many questions
can be found in nature by those who observe. It was in just this way that
fate stepped in and changed the life of Wang Lang and the future of the
his tired body, Wang Lang sat for a moment near a willow tree on the
slopes of the Lao Shan mountains. As he pondered on his unsuccessful fight
and the reasons he lost it, his mind came to focus on his surroundings.
He heard some curious sounds which grabbed his attention. Finding the
of these sounds, Wang Lang was amazed at the sight of two insects battling
for their lives--a cicada and a much smaller praying mantis. The movements
of this praying mantis were astonishing. With its strong legs and
strong arms the mantis waited, ready. Drawing its opponent in, then
with devastating power and fast, instinctive movements, the mantis was
able to defeat its much larger and fiercer opponent. Wang Lang had
the key to what he had been missing.
Astonished by the skills of the insect, Wang Lang captured the praying
mantis and carried it with him on his return home. Having built a cage
for his new friend, Wang Lang had decided to keep the mantis and study
itÕs movements. Using chop sticks, Wang Lang spent much of his time
battling with his tiny opponent, and very carefully watched to see which
actions the mantis would take in order to defend itself. Wang Lang took
these techniques and incorporated them into his training. Having learned
the techniques of the Praying Mantis and having trained much harder, Wang
Lang felt the time had come to test himself once again.
Wang Lang could not forget the beating he had received last time, but
he was dedicated to truly perfecting his skills. His defeat was all the
more reason to return, and it was further evidence he had indeed chosen
a worthy test. Wang Lang returned once more to the Shaolin Temple.
The monks recognized Wang Lang and agreed that he should be able to
test his skills. Once again he stood face to face with the head abbot of
Shaolin Temple, but this time Wang Lang was victorious. Everyone was
by this strange new form of fighting. How did he learn such skills, where
had they come from, they asked.
Wang Lang had defeated some of the Shaolin Temple's most fierce monks
but now he had faced the fiercest and most skillful of all and had beaten
him. The monks could hardly believe what they had seen. They could not
let Wang Lang leave until they too learned these techniques. Wang Lang
did not want to stay with the Shaolin monks so he left quietly in the
The monks were left only with the memories of what they had seen Wang Lang
Back home again, Wang Lang continued his training. He had discovered
a very effective style but wasn't about to leave it at that. Wang Lang
had fought many opponents in his lifetime and now he had faced the best
in the world. Wang Lang now had the experience needed to develop and
a fighting style that would be effective over any style or level of
Wang Lang then dedicated himself to further develop the Praying Mantis
system of fighting throughout his lifetime.
Although his Praying Mantis techniques were very effective, Wang Lang
realized a large part of his failure in his first fight with the head
of the Shaolin Temple was due to a lack of footwork. Once again an answer
was to be found in nature. Carefully looking for the for the stepping
needed to complete his system, Wang Lang discovered the fast and deceptive
footwork of the monkey. Their movements were swift and agile, skillful
and tricky. The stepping and jumping techniques of the monkey were a very
effective addition to what Wang Lang had developed, so he decided that
he would incorporate them. During the rest of his life, Wang Lang further
refined his Praying Mantis techniques until it was easily considered one
of the most effective and fierce martial arts styles that had ever been
The art of Praying Mantis had become very famous, everyone had heard
of its incredible effectiveness and many sought to learn, but despite all
this the Praying Mantis system was kept very secret. Almost no one saw
the techniques performed and little was heard other than the legendary
stories and accounts of great men performing this elusive and secret style
of fighting. Many years passed before in Tai City, during the 1800's,
Hua Long was the 7th generation master of the Praying Mantis system.
him, much of this art form was shrouded in mystery. With his appearance
people would again marvel at skills that had only been dreamt of. Famous
for his lightning fast hands, "Ghost Hands" became a very
figure in Chinese history. Not only did Chiang Hua Long posses great
as a martial artist, but he proved to be a person with the highest of
as well. Taking from the rich to distribute to the poor, it is easy to
see similarities between Chiang Hua Long and Robin Hood. Chiang Hua Long's
courageous and selfless acts won him the love and admiration of the
people. His mastery of the Praying Mantis system won him the respect of
martial artist everywhere, and the fear of his enemies.
To uphold his responsibility as Grandmaster of the style, Chiang Hua
Long could never be short sighted. The very energetic jumping style of
the monkey footwork was very effective but it required a great deal of
energy. Chiang Hua Long realized that if he were to live up to his
he would have to maintain his fighting abilities well into his old age.
He would have to create a new system of footwork that would use energy
efficiently but also maintain the MantisÕs devastating
Changing the Mantis system was not to be taken lightly, but as Grandmaster
he was responsible for strengthening any weaknesses.
Being well respected by the masters of the martial arts throughout
Chiang Hua Long was in an advantageous position. Traveling throughout
Chiang Hua Long met with masters of many styles. To have such a man as
Chiang Hua Long ask about their techniques was a great honor. The masters
of martial art's most effective systems openly shared their techniques
and secrets with him. Chiang Hua Long studied the footwork of many styles
such as Bagua and Tom Pei. He spent a great deal of time studying and
with each movement. Having an incredible amount of experience applying
his skills, Chiang Hua Long knew what would be an improvement and what
would simply be change. Very carefully he considered each technique until,
after ten years, he had narrowed down the most effective to eight short
and eight long steps. Chiang Hua Long had taken one of the very most
fighting systems in the world and was able to improve it. The Eight Step
Praying Mantis system had been born.
Although the Praying Mantis system was very famous, nothing was yet
to be known about Chiang Hua Long's innovations. The techniques of the
Praying Mantis had been kept secret for centuries. Chiang Hua Long had
a great many, dedicated students. If this new system were to be passed
on, Chiang Hua Long would have to find a disciple that was worthy and
The city of Yan Ti in the province of Shantung was the home to Fong
Hua Yi. He had studied Shuai Chiao and Eagle Claw and had become well
as a powerful fighter. Fong Hua Yi was a confident young man; he trained
hard and had won many fights. It was a real shock for him when a friend
of his was able to defeat him. This friend studied Praying Mantis under
a student of Chiang Hua Long.
Fong Hua Yi begged his friend to share his techniques but he refused.
If he were to learn the techniques he would have to go to the source. Fong
Hua Yi went straight away to the school of Chiang Hua Long. If there was
a student that could beat him, he would have to learn the techniques.
At that time, joining a school was more than registering and paying
tuition. It was necessary to prove your dedication before being accepted.
Fong Hua Yi went through a lot of trouble to join. Once he was allowed
into Chiang Hua Long's school it was still necessary for him to prove that
he was a dedicated student. He spent six years working at the school,
and cooking and was only allowed to participate in the basic physical
Then finally, Chiang Hua Long took special notice of Fong Hua Yi. Fong
Hua Yi had trained hard and was dedicated; it had become evident that he
was worthy to begin learning under Chiang Hua Long's tutelage. Chiang Hua
Long had something very special in mind for his young student. He was to
be the first to learn the new Eight Step Praying Mantis. Fong Hua Yi
mastered the new footwork so well that those that witnessed his agile
named him "Ghost Shadow." Chiang Hua Long continued to teach
everything he know to Fong Hua Yi until his death at the age of 106.
Fong Hua Yi was now the 2nd generation Grandmaster of Eight Step
Mantis. He had learned the entire system of fighting, which included
hands techniques, long and short range techniques, as well as pressure
points and devastating ground techniques. All that really could be added
were throwing techniques and joint locks. This was just where Fong Hua
Yi could make his contribution; this is what he learned during his
training. Fong Hua Yi went through all of his throwing techniques and,
because of his education under Chiang Hua Long, was able to refine and
perfect each technique until it was truly worthy of becoming part of the
Fong Hua Yi was already famous because of his association with Chiang
Hua Long. As Chiang Hua Long's student, Fong Hua Yi had a lot to live up
to. Fame can cause a lot of jealousy and this in turn seems to always lead
to foolish acts. Many people had come to the conclusion that if they were
able to defeat Fong Hua Yi that they too would become very famous.
this could very well be true, it would very likely be a deadly chance to
take. Some men were willing to take this chance.
Fong Hua Yi was having tea one day in a local teahouse when a fight
broke out. One man, seeing this as an opportunity, kicked over the table
were Fong Hua Yi sat. As he jumped out of the way the attacker quickly
stabbed him with a knife. The group of men at the teahouse immediately
saw that they might have a chance to defeat this famous master and gain
instant fame. They then chased after Fong Hua Yi who fled, not wishing
to get involved in such a foolish situation.
Running out of the village, Fong Hua Yi came across a small hut. Seeing
that this man was badly hurt, the owner of the house hid him inside. As
the villagers caught up they demanded to know if he had seen anyone run
past. The man said that he had just seen a man go by, and that he had
running down the path and out of view.
Fong Hua Yi had spent a few days recuperating when one morning he went
outside to see the man who had helped him participating in some activity
with his son. He asked what it was that he was teaching his son. The man
replied that he was teaching him Kung Fu. Amused, Fong Hua Long said that
his son was likely to be killed if he were to attempt to use such
Becoming quite angry with this seemingly ungrateful man, he demanded to
know who he was to be qualified to make such a statement. Having no
during this day and age, the man had no way to recognize his face; but
upon hearing his name, Fong Hua Yi, the man was completely dumfounded.
Falling to his knees, he begged that his attitude be forgiven and that
he please teach his son.
It seems as though fate had stepped in. There could have been no better
teacher nor could there have been any better pupil. Fong Hua Yi's new
was Wei Hsiao Tang. This young boy would spend his life studying Eight
Step Praying Mantis and was destined to become the 3rd generation
Wei Hsiao Tang practiced very hard and was a very dedicated student. He
managed to develop phenomenal strength and incredible speed. So much so
that he come to be known as "Thunder Hands".
Hsiao Tang was chief instructor in the Chinese Military. He was in charge
of instructing the 25th Regiment in fighting techniques. After serving
in China, Wei Hsiao Tang went to Korea where he was an instructor to their
military. It was here that a famous incident occurred.
It happened that one day while Wei Hsiao Tang was walking through town
he came across a fellow Chinese, who was working as a merchant, involved
in a dispute. As Wei Hsiao Tang came upon the scene a great many Koreans
had begun beating the Chinese merchant. The situation was out of hand and
Wei Hsiao Tang immediately intervened and asked for everyone to stop.
with sticks and different manner of weapons, the mob would not quiet down.
They soon turned on Wei Hsiao Tang, angered by his interference. The next
day all of the of the papers told of the mob scene in which Wei Hsiao Tang
drove off 50 men, injuring most and killing 4. The Korean government
set out to capture Wei Hsiao Tang. If it were not for friends in the
underground, he might not of been able to escape.
Back in China, hiding under an assumed name, Wei Hsiao Tang eventually
made his way to Shanghai. Here in 1930, he met and became friends with
Grandmaster Wu Ching To, master of Wu style Tai Chi Chuan. They were both
the highest of masters who had come from an incredible lineage. Their
styles were complete, with little else that could be added and nothing
to change. The only thing they could do was to exchange their systems,
so that is what they decided. They taught their respective systems in
entirety, holding back no secrets. Soon after, Master Wu died, taking with
him what he had learned. Fortunately he had left Wei Hsiao Tang with his
In 1949 the communists took over China. Chairman Mao Tse-Tung gathered
huge military support from among China's poor peasants, and began a
Revolution which attacked everything from China's "feudal and
days. The ancient martial arts were outlawed, many masters were killed,
and schools were closed down until the new government could decide whether
they were in line with their political ends. As many did, Wei Hsiao Tang
left China for Taiwan.
In 1950, the Shyun family moved to Taiwan from China. The youngest of
the Shyun Family, a young boy, had become very ill. They were a successful
family, with a good deal of money and number of other resources that they
could call upon. They spread the news everywhere that they desperately
needed someone that might be able to save their son. Searching among the
finest of doctors, both Chinese and Western, there seemed to be no one
that could save their son. They were told to prepare for their son's
One day a friend of Mr. Shyun said that he had heard of someone that
might be able to help. This friend went off in search of the friend who
had told him of this healer. His friend did not know where to find this
healer but he had a friend that surely know where to find him, so they
both set off to find this other friend. This man knew where to find the
man they sought and together they set off to meet him. This troublesome
search led them to Wei Hsiao Tang. All on bicycle these four men went to
the Shyun home.
Wei Hsiao Tang examined the young boy carefully. The boy was indeed
very ill and Master Wei was unsure if he could save him. He did, however,
make a promise. If the parents would agree, he would take their son to
his home in the mountains. If he were able to heal the boy he would return
with him in one year. If he was unable, he would bury this young child
and they would not hear anything further. Very fortunate for the kindness
of Wei Hsiao Tang, it was agreed upon that this was what had to be done.
Wei Hsiao Tang took the young child with him to his home. There, around
his home in the mountains, Wei Hsiao Tang busied himself gathering herbs
and preparing medicines. Taking one full year Wei Hsiao Tang was able to
completely cure the boy.
At the age of six, Shyun Kwong Long was returned to his overjoyed
It was a miracle! The Shyun family could not have guessed if they were
to ever see their son again but now after one long, painful year, here
he was alive and well. Wei Hsiao Tang had done them a favor that they were
so very thankful for. Wei Hsiao Tang returned home and the Shyun family,
with their son with them once again, went back to living their life
as a family should be.
This might of been all that were to come of this fateful meeting. Some
time later though, Wei Hsiao Tang became involved with a business
He had put everything he had into the deal when the people he was involved
with left, leaving him with nothing. Hearing of this, the Shyun family
was anxious to help. Being able to be of assistance, they invited Wei
Tang to stay in their home. This was to be the beginning of Shyun Kwong
Long's formal training.
Shyun Kwong Long was six when he began training in martial arts. Twelve
years later he was a strong, young man ready for his first big fight. Wei
Hsiao Tang had taught his young pupil a great deal and was confident in
him. Shyun Kwong Long was entered into the International Full Contact
Arts Championships. This was a very intense competition which at times
even proved to be fatal. This would be a genuine test of Shyun Kwong
Before his first match Wei Hsiao Tang told Shyun Kwong Long that he
give him a signal in order to let him know which techniques to use. His
first match of the competition was underway, Shyun Kwong Long looked to
his master for a signal. As he turned to look, his opponent struck him.
Looking to his master once again the same thing happened. This continued
until Shyun Kwong Long was knocked to the ground. Shyun Kwong Long lost
first match. In the traditional competitions losing your match did not
take you out of the running. If you chose to continue you were put into
a line up which required that you fight everyone who had lost their match,
and if you managed to beat everyone you would then continue on to fight
with those who had won. This is what Shyun Kwong Long did. Fighting as
as 80 matches, Shyun Kwong Long climbed his way to the top and won first
place! Shyun Kwong Long continued his success and remained champion
five consecutive years until everyone refused to fight him. He then
from tournament fighting.
Once he had completed his training under Wei Hsiao Tang and inherited
the Eight Step Praying Mantis system at the age of 26, Shyun Kwong Long
traveled to Singapore, Japan, West Germany, France and Australia. Everyone
had heard of Shyun Kwong Long and they all sought after him to teach their
military and law enforcement agencies. Considering many offers, Shyun
Long made his way to the United States where he worked instructing law
enforcement agencies. Now known as James Sun, he made an important
He had seen that many styles of authentic Kung Fu had been lost.
James Sun realized that in this modern day the same could happen to the
Eight Step Praying Mantis system. He had to take steps to prevent this
from happening. This is when he decided to open his school in San
The year was 1984.
In 1990 Grandmaster James Sun (the sole inheritor of the Eight Step
Praying Mantis System) made the decision to further protect the system.
He adopted the name of Shyun Style Praying Mantis so that people could
discern the authenticity of this system's heritage and lineage from
those that are in imitation.
It was in the new San Francisco school, in 1986, that Master Dean
was to meet Grandmaster James Sun. Enduring many years of arduous
Master Dean has gone on to open his own school in Buffalo, New York. There
he has trained his own students, some of which have gone on to open their
The Eight Step Praying Mantis System has been passed down from
to generation -- master to disciple, for over 350 years. Consisting of
the famous fighting techniques as well as the healing arts. The Shyun
Praying Mantis System is one of the last pure and authentic Chinese
Arts existing today.