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I recently saw a Seven Star Praying Mantis school perform in public for a cultural festival, and one of their characteristics is the seven-star stance. The stance entails one of practictioner's leg sticking out straight with the heel on the ground and toe pointing upwards whilst the body weight is placed more on the back leg which is bent.

A seven star stance

I was trying to figure out what is the purpose of this particular footwork in its applicability to defense and attack because it seems odd to stick out your leg like that, but I also wondered whether it may be a stylistic feature of this particular kung fu system.

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The question is awkward. Not only is it written badly, it also encourages functional fixedness instead of functional fluidity. It should be changed to, "What are some applications for this particular Seven-Star Mantis stance?" If possible, the name of this shi (勢) should be determined and substituted for "this particular ... stance". –  Ho-Sheng Hsiao Oct 1 '12 at 15:23
    
@Ho-ShengHsiao Feel free to edit it if you think the question could be written more clearly. –  Matt Chan Oct 1 '12 at 16:01
    
@Ho-ShengHsiao No. Making up applications on whimsy is not how people who received actual transmission practice. –  Dave Liepmann Oct 1 '12 at 20:46
    
@DaveLiepmann You sure are assuming a lot of things. For one thing, according to the story, the OP is not receiving the transmission. The purpose is to exercise functional fluidity in order to enhance your primary art, not to say that "I know Mantis". Ah well, the bigger the tree, the bigger it falls :-) –  Ho-Sheng Hsiao Oct 1 '12 at 23:22
    
@Ho-ShengHsiao A good answer to this question would involve someone familiar with the technique, hopefully within the context of a 7-star mantis school that proves itself in competition at least occasionally. Answers that are just flights of imagination without reference or experience are poor. –  Dave Liepmann Oct 2 '12 at 2:05

5 Answers 5

I have not trained in Seven Star Praying Mantis; I will defer to anyone with even a modicum of specific knowledge. I also admit my ignorance with respect to the hand position. I can state that within Tai Chi there are several stances that are backweighted like that, and where the heel is down and the toe is up. When I came to tai chi from aikido that drove me nuts.

I'm still a relative beginner in tai chi, but I can tell you that from a learning perspective, that stance enforces separation. If your heel is down and your toe is up, that leg does not bear weaight. Your weight is 95% on the other leg. Separation is an important feature of mobility for tai chi. Separation forces me to move from my hips, rather than relying on momentum and mass.

Sorry - that's longwinded, discursive and has three different disclaimers. But I believe that the stance both teaches and preserves a type of mobility that I find in Chinese Martial arts but not in Aikido.

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So while I know you are trying to say, you don't know Seven-Star Praying Mantis, saying "I don't know Kung-Fu" is like saying "I don't know budo" when referring to Aikido. –  Ho-Sheng Hsiao Oct 1 '12 at 15:26
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Thank you Ho-Sheng Hsaio - good correction. –  Mark C. Wallace Oct 1 '12 at 15:53

Off the top of my head and untested, one application could be to interdict the opponent's footwork while pulling/locking his upper body off center. Based on my experience of Xingyi Horse form, the right hand behind the ear is weak. He is probably using the extended left to apply a lock under the armpit. If the left hand is in the signature praying mantis hand, then there are probably various finger attacks to the throat.

The extended leg also has an option for kicking up into the grown if the other guy gets distracted with what's going on up top.

There are likely other applications. The important thing isn't to fix a particular function of a stance or a form. When you do that, you get functional fixedness . Instead, you want functional fluidity.

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-1 for trying to reverse engineer the form. That misguided practice is the source of a huge quantity of poor martial skills. –  Dave Liepmann Oct 1 '12 at 20:45
    
@DaveLiepmann Wow, whatever floats your boat, man. –  Ho-Sheng Hsiao Oct 1 '12 at 23:19
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I was actually asking more about the legwork rather than what the arms are doing. The picture there was just something I wanted to use to supplement my description. –  Matt Chan Oct 2 '12 at 17:21

The technique depicted in this picture is called "mantis spies the cave" in 7 Star Praying mantis style.The right hand would be pulling an apponent into your space while the back of the left wrist is striking the face.The stance as you have said is Seven Star Stance and is used to signify a low sweep/stomp on the toe with heel/hooking into an apponents leg to destabilisestance or generally any opportunity which presents itself.As you say there is no weight on that foot so it is available for attacks and not easily exploited by sweeps from apponents.

Regards 7StarMan (Nine Years on the path of a Chinese Boxer)

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A main use is to trap the opponent's foot in place - combined with the hooking hand this twists the body up exposing (for example) the kidneys. Additionally it could represent a 'bumping kick', used to displace the kneecap. Another common application is to hook behind the foot, setting up for a stance change to bow stance used to straighten out the opponent's leg and again attack the knee. I hope these suggestions are helpful!

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That stance could be an accepting of an attack. Then shift the weight forward and into the attacker. It's an empty stance. I think of it as rolling back, like pulling back on a sling shot, then let go.

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