We present this form for two reasons. First, to emphasize the importance of creativity and thought in the evolution of martial arts. Second, to show how this form evolved from a simple street fighting drill into a complete multi-dimensional exercise.
The original inspiration for “Mantis” was Sensei Steve Armstong’s elbow strike drill. For more detailed information on this, and other Isshinryu drills, click here. It was the mid 1980’s when the elbow strike drill migrated into our system. It fit in with everything we were doing at the time, and someone questioned why the sequence had never found its way into Kata. I suggested we could remedy that easily enough, and suggested we could, as a group, create a form incorporating all 8 of the elbow strikes into a legitimate fighting sequence.
It took about three months. Not only did each move have to stand on its own. It had to fit into the whole tapestry of what was happening. That’s the trick, and it’s what distinguishes all great Kata from the commonality of rote drills.
For the class, it was sometimes a trying period. For every idea presented, they would be challenged to prove it was the “right” move recognizing the entire context of movement.
In Gun Fu, we don’t take Kata for granted. The premise is that most great forms were created directly by, or under the personal guidance of masters. For that reason, when something about a traditional form doesn’t make sense, you are told to practice more, and explore it further. I can vouch from personal experience that some forms required 20 years diligent practice before revealing their secrets.
Mantis is unique in its simplicity, and sophistication. This is a multi-dimensional form covering joint locks, traps, evasions, dislocations, deadly strikes, throws, pressure point attacks, poison hand techniques, chi breathing, and more...and...it also includes the 8 elbow strike drill from Isshinryu.
From us to you...please enjoy our dance of the “Mantis.”
Mantis #1 - Overview/demonstration
Mantis #2 - Mantis Explained