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.

  • 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". Oct 1, 2012 at 15:23
  • @Ho-ShengHsiao Feel free to edit it if you think the question could be written more clearly.
    – user15
    Oct 1, 2012 at 16:01
  • @Ho-ShengHsiao No. Making up applications on whimsy is not how people who received actual transmission practice. Oct 1, 2012 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 :-) Oct 1, 2012 at 23:22
  • 1
    Calm down, guys...
    – user15
    Oct 2, 2012 at 23:32

7 Answers 7


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)


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.

  • 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. Oct 1, 2012 at 15:26

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!


While occasionally it's very easy to determine what's going on where you have some very characteristic body shapes:



Fireman's carry throw.


Where the positioning is less characteristic, it's usually very difficult to determine the meaning of a stance or posture from a static image. All postures in solo forms from Chinese derived systems are parts of a sequence of movements, usually several movements in length within the larger form. Therefore several preceding and succeeding movements are usually required for ultimately decoding the real meaning of the movement/posture.

Looking at it, the specific stance is probably relatively unimportant, body weight is pulling backwards so you are probably pulling on the opponent. More important would be what are your arms doing. What part of the opponent do you have hold of and what parts of you does the opponent have hold of. From the height, it's likely that you have hold of bits of upper body of the opponent, so the question is what happened before and what happens next?

Note be aware that the real meaning is probably grappling related, not striking.


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.

  • 1
    -1 for trying to reverse engineer the form. That misguided practice is the source of a huge quantity of poor martial skills. Oct 1, 2012 at 20:45
  • @DaveLiepmann Wow, whatever floats your boat, man. Oct 1, 2012 at 23:19
  • 1
    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.
    – user15
    Oct 2, 2012 at 17:21

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.


Seven Star Stance

OP commented that he was mainly concerned with the foot position of the movement. This is "Seven Star Stance", one of the primary stances of Northern Mantis generally, although it may bear different names outside of the Seven Star Mantis style.

enter image description here

I tried to find better pictures, honestly. This one does not show a proper Seven Star Stance. Notice that the foot is 90 degrees out from the body. In the picture you included, notice how the back leg is bearing most of the weight, and the back foot is angled at approximately 45 degrees out from the body. That is a proper Seven Star stance.

Nonetheless, it was the only readily available photo involving another person that depicted the intent of the movement. Seven Star Stance is always a foot capture, and it usually occurs from the outside of the foot.

There are many potential applications to the foot capture. Consider the effect of the fighter in the above photo doing the following:

  • grabbing the opponent's right wrist and pulling him in tight
  • applying his arm against the opponent's throat
  • sweeping the opponents foot forcefully

Here is a video of Wong Kiew Kit demonstrating this application at 00:30

Below is a drawing of another route you could go after capturing the foot.

enter image description here

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