This Saturday, we organized a Chinese martial arts class and tried the Northern Praying Mantis style (螳螂拳; tánglángquán; “praying mantis fist”). Named after the predatory insect, this style is known for its speed and the use of wrist and arm techniques. Moreover, Qingdao was once called “Praying Mantis’ Nest” because a large number of people studied it in the 1960s and 1970s so the class was all the more interesting.
Our instructor was Pan laoshi (潘老师). He started to train at the age of 11. Because of the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, he had to hide in the forest to train and that’s the reason why we had an outdoor class on the beach (and the weather was really nice). He is now around 60 but he still is very fast and impressive! He is also a very good and patient teacher so the class was really fun and interesting.

He first showed us the moves and then explained us how to use them in a situation where you need to defend yourself. We tried these with him and on each other. We learnt really effective wrist and arm lock techniques so don’t mess with us! :p After that, we lined up and repeated a choreographed pattern of movements and Pan laoshi demonstrated how useful they were against an opponent.

Finally, he also showed us another Chinese martial art called Bāguàzhǎng (八卦掌; “eight trigram palm”). This martial art was created to face 8 opponents at the same time. It’s a combination of circle walking, evasive footwork, spinning movements and relies a lot on open hand techniques.

This one hour and a half was awesome. Not only was it fascinating to watch Pan laoshi performing 8 moves in 2 seconds but it was also very fun to try to master some techniques and to get a glimpse of an important part of theChinese culture

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