I have recently seen some videos by a somewhat older master of 8 step Praying Mantis. Many of the moves look extremely similar to Wing Chun, although there are also a lot of throws and joint locks which clearly come from Mantis. This particular master shows a very interesting approach to hand strikes. His videos mostly show him entering with a basic pak punch, but when the oppoenent interposes a defense, typically a parry, he  has a a lot of sneaky follow ups, which include hook punches, straight punches at unusual angles, stand up grappling and throws, and also he uses  huen sao circing hand paired with an attack with the other hand which distracts the opponent from the circling hand movement.

Origins and Founder of 8 Step Praying Mantis Kung Fu

8 Step Praying Mantis Kung Fu, also known as Babu Tanglangquan (八步螳螂拳), is a distinguished martial arts style rooted in the rich tapestry of Chinese martial traditions. This style was founded by Master Jiang Hua Long during the late Qing Dynasty (1644–1912). Jiang Hua Long, born in the Shandong province, was a prodigious martial artist who sought to synthesize various effective techniques into a cohesive system. The foundation of 8 Step Praying Mantis Kung Fu was laid in the late 19th century, crystallizing the essence of earlier martial traditions while incorporating innovative elements to enhance combat efficacy.

Evolution from the Legacy Northern Praying Mantis Style

The Northern Praying Mantis system, originally devised by Wang Lang during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), serves as the progenitor of several distinct mantis styles, including the 8 Step variant. Wang Lang’s system was renowned for its emphasis on mimicry of the praying mantis insect, integrating swift, precise strikes, and intricate trapping techniques. As the Northern Praying Mantis style matured, it bifurcated into several substyles, each with unique characteristics and specializations. These substyles include the Seven Star, Plum Blossom, Six Harmony, and Tai Chi Mantis forms.

Jiang Hua Long, building upon this legacy, meticulously analyzed and extracted techniques that exhibited supreme effectiveness. His innovative approach led to the creation of 8 Step Praying Mantis, a style that preserves the core principles of its ancestor while distinguishing itself through distinctive footwork and integration of various martial influences.

Influences on 8 Step Mantis Kung Fu

8 Step Praying Mantis Kung Fu is a hybrid style, influenced by various martial arts traditions that Jiang Hua Long encountered. The key influences include:

Baguazhang (八卦掌): Known for its circular walking and intricate footwork, Baguazhang’s influence is evident in the fluid, evasive maneuvers of 8 Step Mantis.
Xingyiquan (形意拳): This style contributed to the linear, powerful striking techniques seen in 8 Step Mantis.
Taijiquan (太极拳): The principles of yielding and redirecting force from Taijiquan are integrated into the defensive strategies of 8 Step Mantis.
Tong Bei: A long fist style which uses very powerful long swinging strikes powered by the large muscles of the lats and other large muscles in the back.

Special Footwork and Techniques of 8 Step Mantis

8 Step Praying Mantis Kung Fu is renowned for its unique footwork, kicks, hand techniques, and grappling methods. These components are harmoniously blended to create a versatile and adaptive combat style.


Babu (八步): The term “Babu” translates to “eight steps,” signifying the intricate footwork patterns that form the foundation of this style. Practitioners utilize precise, agile steps to maneuver around opponents, creating angles for attack and evasion.

Circular and Linear Movement: The combination of circular footwork from Baguazhang and linear steps from Xingyiquan allows for dynamic movement, enabling practitioners to seamlessly transition between offense and defense.


Low Kicks: Emphasizing rapid, low-line kicks aimed at destabilizing opponents.
Sweeps and Trips: Utilized to unbalance and bring down opponents, capitalizing on momentary lapses in their stability.
High Kicks: Less frequent but executed with precision, targeting vital areas such as the head and upper torso.
Hand Techniques:

Rapid Strikes: Emulating the speed and precision of a praying mantis, practitioners deliver rapid, targeted strikes to vital points.
Trapping and Controlling: Techniques designed to trap an opponent’s limbs, control their movement, and create openings for counter-attacks.
Hooking and Grasping: Utilized to secure an opponent’s limb, preventing their escape and setting up for follow-up attacks.

Powerful swinging arm strikes landing with the hammer fist or forearm, coming from Tong Bei.

Grappling Techniques:

Joint Locks: Applied to manipulate and control an opponent’s joints, causing pain and submission.
Throws and Takedowns: Executed with fluidity, these techniques leverage an opponent’s momentum to bring them to the ground. These throws, which seem to drive mainly from Bagua, are quite different from throws from Judo, Sambo, or Wrestling, so that they introduce a large lement of surprise when the opponent is trained in modern styles.

Comparison with Other Northern Mantis Styles

Tai Chi Mantis (太极螳螂拳):

Philosophy: Integrates principles of Taijiquan, emphasizing softness and internal energy (Qi) in conjunction with Praying Mantis techniques.
Techniques: Focuses on yielding, neutralizing force, and using an opponent’s energy against them. 8 step uses a combination of soft and hard techniques.

Plum Blossom Mantis (梅花螳螂拳):

Philosophy: Known for its rigid structure and emphasis on direct, powerful attacks.
Techniques: Utilizes a combination of high and low attacks with a focus on overwhelming the opponent through sheer force. 8 step uses sticking techniques and circling hands, focussing on controlling the opponenet.

Seven Star Mantis (七星螳螂拳):

Philosophy: Named after the seven-star constellation, it emphasizes quick, decisive movements and aggressive attacks.
Techniques: Known for its straight-line attacks, powerful strikes, and robust footwork. 8 star uses sticking techniques, while 7 star does not. Also 7 star uses very differenet footwork from Monkey Kung Fu.

Six Harmony Mantis (六合螳螂拳):

Philosophy: Stresses harmony between internal and external forces, blending soft and hard techniques.
Techniques: Incorporates fluid transitions between offense and defense, focusing on maintaining balance and coordination. This seems to be the subtyle of Mantis that has the greatest similarity to 8 step, although the footwork is still different.

Effectiveness for Real-World Self-Defense

8 Step Praying Mantis Kung Fu is recognized for its practical effectiveness in real-world self-defense scenarios. Its comprehensive approach combines striking, grappling, and evasive maneuvers, making it adaptable to various confrontational situations.

Comparison with Other Martial Arts

Wing Chun (詠春):

Strengths: Emphasizes close-range combat, direct linear strikes, and rapid hand techniques. Known for its simplicity and efficiency in self-defense.
Comparison: While Wing Chun focuses on economy of motion and direct attacks, 8 Step Mantis offers a broader range of techniques, including elaborate footwork and grappling.

Southern Praying Mantis (南派螳螂拳):

Strengths: Known for its short, powerful strikes and emphasis on close-quarters combat. Utilizes strong, rooted stances and aggressive trapping.
Comparison: Southern Praying Mantis shares the trapping , ssticking, and close-range combat focus with 8 Step Mantis, but lacks the extensive footwork  found in the latter.

Western Boxing:

Strengths: Renowned for its powerful punches, defensive maneuvers, and footwork. Boxing trains fighters in endurance, speed, and tactical striking.
Comparison: While Western Boxing excels in striking and head movement, 8 Step Mantis incorporates a more holistic approach, integrating strikes with grappling and very different traditional footwork patterns.


Strengths: Combines punches and kicks from Western Boxing and traditional martial arts, emphasizing full-contact strikes and conditioning.
Comparison: Kickboxing’s focus on powerful, direct strikes complements 8 Step Mantis’ variety in striking, but the latter’s intricate grappling and more diverse footwork provide additional layers of defense and attack strategies.


8 Step Praying Mantis Kung Fu represents a sophisticated, adaptable martial arts style, deeply rooted in Chinese martial traditions while embracing innovative elements from various influences. Its distinctive footwork, diverse techniques, and comprehensive approach to combat make it a formidable system for both martial arts practitioners and self-defense enthusiasts.

Comparatively, while styles such as Wing Chun, Southern Praying Mantis, Western Boxing, and Kickboxing each offer unique strengths, 8 Step Praying Mantis stands out for its blend of striking, grappling, and dynamic movement. Its ability to adapt to different combat scenarios and effectively neutralize threats attests to its enduring legacy and relevance in the modern martial arts landscape.

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