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DVD Review: Praying Mantis Chain Styles 1 (MartialSkill 7 Star Praying Mantis Series)

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This MartialSkill training video features Mr. Sean Daily who has 10 years of experience in Seven Star Praying Mantis Kung Fu. Mr. Daily trains under Mr. 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. This DVD also features Carlos Lopez, Pat Brown, and Dan Goodrich.

“Chain style” is essentially stringing together a series of martial techniques in an attempt to overwhelm and confuse your opponent. Some typical characteristics of chain styles are efficiency, multiple techniques, and speed. Those hailing from the Karate or Taekwondo world will see similarities to their one or three-step sparring drills. What sets Praying Mantis chain style apart from other martial styles is its emphasis on simultaneous high and low striking, getting in close to your opponent, and intricate handwork.

This DVD differs from others in the MartialSkill series mostly because it is not built around one particular form. Instead, the instructors have chosen to primarily focus on 10 chain style techniques. They are:

  • Praying Mantis rolling elbow
  • High low theory
  • Double raised hooks
  • Fanning (blocking two attacks with one hand)
  • Millstone Palm Chain Style
  • Rolling water
  • Waist chopping)
  • Heavy chopping fist with throw
  • Low High Fist
  • Triple Hooking

Northern Praying Mantis practitioners will recognize much of the material presented in this DVD. For example, one of the chain styles features a hooking hand which leads to a grab and simultaneous punch. In the Mantis world this particular technique is fairly standard, though it may seem new to other martial styles. Also featured in the chain styles are two other Mantis staples – tangling your opponent’s arms and a Praying Mantis throw. The latter, of course, is not your typical Judo or Karate hip throw. Rather, most of the throws in Praying Mantis Kung Fu feature some sort of in-fighting leg trip.

One of the things that is really starting to stand out in the MartialSkill series of videos is their attempt to take “classical” martial arts techniques and translate them to a 21st century fighting paradigm. An example of this is Mr. Daily’s treatment of the Praying Mantis double raised hooks technique (similar to Karate or Taekwondo’s double outside block). As Daily is quick to point out, this technique has been over-dramatized in many of the kung fu cinema B-movies. What Daily does is rescue this technique from the cheese, and actually show the viewer that it does have practical and effective applications in a realistic self-defense situation.

The other nice thing about MartialSkill videos is that you get to see the logic behind what many would call classical techniques. For example, in the Chain Styles DVD the viewer is treated to a good explanation of the Praying Mantis one inch theory — letting the attack come as close as possible to you without moving off your center. This concept really highlights Praying Mantis close quarters fighting and is definitely not for the novice Mantis practitioner, or martial artist who is not comfortable with in-fighting. In short, if you are a thinking martial artist then you will enjoy the DVDs in the MartialSkill lineup.

I would definitely recommend this DVD for all Northern Praying Mantis practitioners. In addition, those martial artists hailing from Karate, Taekwondo, or another style of Kung Fu would probably find a few techniques in this DVD that they could add to their martial toolkits — though I would caution the latter group that some of the material presented herein is definitely intended for the Praying Mantis practitioner!

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