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DVD Review: Bong Bo Kuen (MartialSkill 7 Star Praying Mantis Series)

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Bong Bo Kuen (“Crushing Step” hand form) features Wes Hardy who is an 18-year Praying Mantis practitioner with experience in Chiu Chi Man and Wong Hun Fun lineages of Praying Mantis kung fu. Assisting Mr. Hardy is Sean Daily, a 10-year Praying Mantis practitioner and student of Mr. Hardy.

Bong Bo is the foundation form of Northern Praying Mantis kung fu. It contains the 12 character principles that the style’s founder Wong Long used to create the original Praying Mantis system. Most styles of Northern Praying Mantis recognize that Bong Bo was the first form created by Wong Long. Bong Bo Kuen contains a wide variety of rapid fighting techniques which are considered to be the core techniques of the Praying Mantis style. The form covers variety of hand and leg techniques as well as various trapping and throwing methods and covers all ranges of combat. It should be noted that the version of Bong Bo demonstrated in this DVD differs slightly from the Wong Hun Fun lineage.

This two-disc DVD is structured so that an individual or group can learn the techniques contained therein. The form itself is broken into sections: an introduction that explains the form’s history and intent, an applications section that illustrates the core martial techniques of this particular form, and finally sections that illustrate continuous movements and individual movements. The DVD is also formatted so that you can learn the form in segments and at a slower training speed.

As with other MartialSkill DVDs you can use Bong Bo to learn the form fresh, review the form or, depending upon your lineage of kung fu, view a different version of the form and thereby broaden your knowledge of Praying Mantis kung fu.

Moreover, this latest offering once again excels in practical applications. The martial applications are taken directly from the form and Mr. Hardy does an excellent job of breaking out their self-defense applications in teachable segments. Included in this DVD are segments that emphasize dodging with nimble footwork, trapping, seizing, and simultaneous punching and kicking.

Bong Bo includes some useful training drills such as speed drills for punch improvement, lessons in trapping and seizing, and an explanation of the high/low theory. In my humble opinion, the part that excels is Mr. Hardy’s basic lessons in trapping and seizing. Included is a basic two-person trapping and seizing drill, a double seize drill, and a seizing demonstration that transitions to locking (Chin Na) and a take-down.

The second disc contains bonus material including a teaser from a four-part series on kicking drills. Having a background in a style of martial arts that emphasizes kicking I have to say that I enjoyed the basic four-step kicking drill that was demonstrated. It’s similar to some of the Taekwondo kicking drills I’ve done before. The drill itself has you string together four core Praying Mantis kicks in a continuous series. Repeated over time such a drill helps you develop your skills in combination kicking as well as also developing overall kicking speed.

I would recommend this DVD for anyone interested in Praying Mantis kung fu. In addition, martial arts enthusiasts who want to pick up some useful two-person drills for in-fighting will also find this DVD useful.

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