TANLAN-QUAN, or Mantis Style



As a result of imitating the habits and movements of the mantis in fights and combining them with traditional tactical and technical techniques of martial arts a very peculiar and surprising style of Quan Shu - mantis style or, in Chinese, Tanlan-Quan. It is divided into northern and southern directions.


According to tradition, the "father" of the northern movement is Wang Lan, who lived in the mid-18th century in the Mo district. Since childhood, Wang Lan fell in love with wushu, and went to the Shaolin monastery to study the art of martial arts. Later, with the same purpose, he went to the Emeishan and Kunlunshan mountains in Sichuan province and found many teachers and friends, but eventually returned to Shandong province. Wang practiced wushu very diligently, but his health and body were weak, so in fights always defeated. However, he did not lose heart. On the contrary, he practiced diligently and tried to grasp the essence of each technique. Once he saw a praying mantis in the field attacking a cicada, swinging both paws in one direction with long and short blows, defensive and offensive, grabbing and releasing movements, and he realized that he could apply that observation in his practice.


Tirelessly examining the mantis' habits, Wang Lan tried to understand the specifics of his attack and to feel from within his "crown" techniques: sticking, touching, caving, jabbing, dodging, pressing, cutting off, deceptive actions, closing, using the hook hand and the blade hand. Eventually, the basic Shaolin chuan technique combined with the habits of the mantis evolved into a separate, distinctive mantis style. After three years of persistent training and perfecting his skills, Wang Lan achieved remarkable results and eventually became invincible.


In the process of development tanlangquan gradually split into two directions - northern and southern.


In the northern direction, five schools are distinguished:


1. Seven stars of a mantis or, in another way, a male mantis which often uses a rack of seven stars (it means seven stars of the Big Dipper, the arrangement of which resembles a rack). The content of the training is divided into three parts: basic techniques, taolu complexes and so-called opening workouts (this includes practicing kicks on piles and sparring). This style is characterized by power and strength, assertive open collisions, as well as straight up stands.


2. Meihua tanlan chuan (a fusion of the styles of Meihua and mantis) and Tai chi tan chuan (a fusion of Tai chi tan and mantis). In these schools, the most common is the yuilinbu stance (scaly step). These schools stand out for their speed, swiftness, and abundance of turns. The content of training here is similar to the seven-star mantis, but the emphasis is on using the power of inertia, agility and softness. Its peculiarity is closeness to the real image of the mantis, clarity and rhythmicity.


3. luhe tanlan-quan (fusion of styles of six correspondences and mantis), also known as mahou tan-lan (horse-monkey and mantis). The emphasis here is on the observance of three internal and three external correspondences (internal: correspondence of heart and will; will and qi energy; qi energy and li power; external: correspondence of hands and feet; elbows and knees; shoulders and hips). In "softness discover hardness," to direct the force through inner energy, pay special attention to the principles: "the will AND directs the body, the body does not resist the will"; "alternate actions on the upper and lower levels"; "unity of the inner and outer."


4) Shuayshou tanlangquan (throwing arms of a mantis) or full name meihua shuayshou tanlangquan is a result of fusion of mantis and meihua styles, but as there are many throws with hands, also shuayshou - throwing arms was added.


5. Yuanyang tanlan (yuanyang and mantis style) - also a derivative style of meihua tanlan. Stands and actions here are symmetrical, that is why it is called yuanyan (literally, gentle spouses).


The northern directions of the mantis style also include: tunbei tanlangquan, guanban tanlangquan, and babu tanlangquan.


Southern styles are also called Zhoujia tanlanquan (mantis of the Zhou family). According to a legend, the founder of this direction is considered to be Zhou Yanan, who lived in the Qing period in Guangdong province. The southern direction has both similarities and differences with its northern counterpart.


It is impossible to count all the movements of tanlangquan, but all of them, nevertheless, have common features. First of all, it imitates the actions of the mantis, the inner spirit of resilience to mortal danger, and daring attacks. "Use your hands like the mantis - quickly and sharply, striking suddenly." Body technique borrowed from the mantis mobility and leaping. Hardness and malleability are equally important in this school, long strokes are intertwined with short ones, there is confidence and resourcefulness in his actions. There are many sudden transitions, the attacks are powerful and temperamental.