Seven Star Praying Mantis Kung Fu Instructor Mark Long

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Seven Star Praying MantisPhil @ Enso Martial Arts: Hi Mark Thank you agreeing to do an interview for Enso Martial Arts. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your style of martial art please.

Mark @ Seven Star Praying Mantis:

Yeah sure, I’m Mark Long. I;m from KuiDeTang Seven Star Praying Mantis Kung Fu. It’s the original style of Seven Star Praying Mantis, not the Hong Kong branch, from the era of early 1890’s from Wang Yunsheng was the founder of that particular style.

Phil @ Enso Martial Arts: Cool. Am I undertsnad you have branched out int oth e Bristol area could you tell us a little bit about your club please.

Mark @ Seven Star Praying Mantis:

The school originates in DaLian, where my teacher trained and I was trained in Worcester and teaching in Cheltenham and I’ve just moved over to Bristol specifically to start up this new school here and to try and promote traditional Chinese martial art in the Bristol area, where I feel I will be more appreciated than where we were before.

Phil @ Enso Martial Arts: Can you tell us a little bit about what Praying Mantis is. What the animals of Kung Fu are.

Mark @ Seven Star Praying Mantis:

Yeah sure. I studied Shaolin and various other styles before. I did some White Crane and a form of Huen Kuen, which is the five animals style. Praying Mantis, obviously originates from Shaolin, the original type of Praying Mantis, which is very different to Seven Star. Seven Star is a mixture of lots of different things that were studied along the way. It’s from the Mount Hua sect, so it’s a Taoist martial art and incorporates Long Fist, some Praying Mantis, Monkey foot-work, all these different things. And what makes it different to a lot of Chinese martial arts is that it’s a Yin Yang martial art. It encompasses Qigong soft movements with harder movements. And also it is one of the few martial arts or Chinese martial arts that has managed to maintain it’s original teachings, scriptures, training manuals and all the other bits and pieces that go along with it. So in that sense it’s unique.

Phil @ Enso Martial Arts: Can you tell us a little bit about what the training involves, the different areas of training you do?

Mark @ Seven Star Praying Mantis:

At the higher levels, things I haven’t seen yet, it gets very esoteric, so I can’t really comment on any of that. At beginner level, it’s very much about JiBenGong training, getting mobilityin the limbs, flexibility in the waist, shoudlers, stance training, which is very big in Chinese culture. Also at the elemenarty level, they cover lot sof thigns like, kicking, forms, weapons, Qigong, massage, mediation, we should be studying thing slike feng shui, caligrapghy, it’s all encompassing. I don’t think you can styudy a Chinese martial art without undertsaning the culture, because you’ll be at a distinct disadvantage, so where we are we study everything.

At the basic level, it’s kicking punching, sparring, weapons and then branches out and beyond.

Phil @ Enso Martial Arts: You told me something quite interesting about the sparring style and maybe some of the areas can spar with. What does the sparring look like.

Mark @ Seven Star Praying Mantis:

Well, at the beginner level is really 3 to 10 years. In the first year you would just concentrate on kicking techniques, five and six kicking techniques, in the second year, hand techniques, and in the third year, you’d do throws. It’s not actually traditional Seven Star Praying Mantis sparring, it’s more Yang Tai Seven Star Praying Mantis San Da, but I think the thing that makes it a bit different is there is quite a lot of technique that you aren’t allowed to use in conventional tournaments. You will be doing groin kicks, full contact kicks to the shin and knee, throws form the ear, there are a lot of techniques where you are hitting the ears with your hands, palms. If you’re into tournament fighting, forms competition it probably isn’t the best thing for you. If you want to learn how people learnt and fought 100 – 120 years ago, this is it. It was very different back them. That is one of the things to bear in mind., if you’re a little bit squeamish.

Sparring isn’t a necessity, you don’t have to it, but it is obviously a big thing and part of what we do.

Phil @ Enso Martial Arts: I know lineage is quite important in Chinese martial arts, can you tell us a little bit about the lineage of Seven Star Praying Mantis.

Mark @ Seven Star Praying Mantis:

It started with Wang Long, he would be the reference point for people with Praying Mantis. That was quite a long time ago, but in terms of actual Seven Star Praying Mantis, it would have been Wang Yunsheng, who was the first ancestor, then it all goes form that point onwards. If you go to Yang Tai there a different version and Hong Kong has a different family style, but ours is the one that is traced back the furthest so could be the original form of Seven Star Praying Mantis. KuideTang is the name of the house where Wang Yunsheng lived, so that is why the style is named after him. If you go on our website the complete lineage is on there. I’ll tell you where it starts and ends, it starts with Wang Yunsheng and it currently at the moment with Wang Mengyi who is my teacher.

Phil @ Enso Martial Arts: How long have you been involved in martial arts

Mark @ Seven Star Praying Mantis:

I started martial arts when was 15 and now I’m 36, so I’m getting on a bit. I started with things like, Judo, Taekwondo, Karate and very quickly found that I enjoyed Chinese martial arts more. I studied White Crane, bits of Shaolin, Five Animals styles, Wing Chun, other bits and pieces but was looking for something that was a bit like this and kind of gave up and found an enlightened teacher in Worcester. It’s the only style of Kung Fu I’ve seen where the style of fighting actually looks like the forms. I’ve never asked my teacher a question he couldn’t answer and my only worry is whether it is a stupid question not whether he can answer it or not. I’ve been doing this style for 8 years now.

Phil @ Enso Martial Arts: How can we get in contact with you, is there a website reference if we can get in touch with you.

Mark @ Seven Star Praying Mantis:

The best way to get in contact with me is to Jamie Rodrigues at www.kuidetang.co.uk and we have a Facebook page too which is Seven Star Praying Mantis Bristol those are the two ways to get in contact with us. Obviously Enso Martial Arts has got us on their website and a few flyers in their shop.

Phil @ Enso Martial Arts: Wonderful, thank you for your time and lovely to hear about a slightly different martial art than normal.

Mark @ Seven Star Praying Mantis:

Xie Xie Thank You

Watch the video in full of this interview here