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A China Five Year Comprehensive Survey
Origins, History, Practices

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China Southern Praying Mantis Kungfu Survey™

Qing Ming Jie - The Legend

Although the Hakka people celebrate "tomb sweeping day" in September, it is commonly celebrated in April among the masses.  It is the 104th day after the winter solstice.

On this day, one tends to any underbrush that has grown near their Ancestor's gravesite.  Weeds are pulled, dirt swept away and the family will set out offerings of food and spirit money.  Unlike the sumptuous sacrifices at a family's home altar, the offerings at the tomb usually consist of dry, bland food.  One theory is that since any number of ghosts roam around a grave area, the less appealing food will be consumed by the ancestors, and not be plundered by strange ghosts.

According to the legend, the day is in memory of Jie Zhitui who lived in the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476BC), in Shanxi Province (On Som Dot's Trail - Mantis Survey eBook). Death Over Capitulation! Jie Zitui

Jie was a good official in the Jin State, working for Crown Prince Chong'er.  When the Jin State was in turmoil, Chong'er was forced into exile with his henchmen, including Jie.  They went through all kinds of hardships and difficulties.  To save the starving Chong'er, Jie cut the flesh off his own leg and boiled it for Chong'er.  After ascending the throne, Chong'er began to forget Jie by and by.  Jie was so sad that he prepared to leave and live in seclusion with his mother in mountains.

Chong'er felt so guilty that he, in person, went to the mountains to look for Jie.  It was impossible to find him in the endless trees and hills, therefore Chong'er ordered to set the mountain on fire, so as to force Jie out.  But Jie didn't show up;  he and his mother were found to be dead in arms, after the fire was put out, together with a note written by him in blood: "I cut off my own flesh to dedicate to you, only to wish my king will always be clear and bright."  (Qing Ming translates Clear and Bright)

In order to keep the memory of Jie Zitui, Chong'er issued an order to make the day named "Cold Food Day".  He ordered all fires in every home to be put out on the anniversary of Jie's death. Thus began the "cold food feast", a day when no food could be cooked since no fire could be lit.

It was not until the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) about 300 years ago that the practice of Hanshi (or eating cold food) was replaced by that of Qingming.

The basic observation of Qing Ming is to remember one's elders by making a special effort to visit their graves, ashes or ancestral tablets.  To make the visit even more meaningful, some time should be spent to remind the younger members of the family of the lives and contributions of their ancestors.

The practice of an annual visit to the family graves is quite universal and not limited to the Chinese.  Christians, Jews and Muslims all do it.  Americans often visit the graves on Memorial Day.

Since most of the Southern Mantis ancestors are Hakka, their gravesites should be tended in September.  It is considered improper to publish photographs of gravesites and so therefore you must make your pilgrimage in person!  Or at least, in your heart!

*I'm still looking into this issue of a separate date for Hakka.  I have several Hakka who are researching the old traditions.  I'll let you know when the answer is definitive.  RDH


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Form and Function

Being that the structure of this kungfu is based on the natural movements of man and the hand
movements of a mantis, the style's form and function express themselves as one. How many
times have we seen dozens of different stylists, all practicing their various forms, only to enter the fighting competition and become indistinguishable from each other? That is to say, that their form and function is not the same. Jook Lum Mantis is one style that exhibits form and function inseparably.

Stepping Patterns

Once found, one must learn to move the center while remaining stable in all positions. This is the
function of stepping and is based on the body structure and the use of power in attack and
defense with the feet, shins, knees and hips. Jook Lum has both linear and circular stepping
such as three steps forward, four corners and eight directions.


18 Lohan Hands

In my teaching, I first introduce 18 hands individually, one by one, combined with the steps. One
learns this as a single man exercise but quickly begins two man, "partners," practice in offense and defense. This is "attaching to the center of the opponent and controlling him." These 18 hands can be likened to the alphabet. A follows B turns to C, etc. Once the alphabet is learned, we can make words, which make sentences, which make paragraphs and books and so on. At last, the practicers arrive at 18 continuous hand combinations.

Copyright © 2010, Roger D. Hagood.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.