Northern Mantis Xiao-huyan
Praying Mantis was created near the end of the Ming Dynasty by Grandmaster Wang Lang, who combined the rapid, fierce arm attacks of a praying mantis insect with the light and agile footwork of a monkey. The melding of these elements resulted in a unique martial style. After creating Praying Mantis boxing, Grandmaster Wang Lang is said to have had many friendly exchanges with other martial artists, absorbing the best points of their arts into his own. He synthesized these different elements into the structure of Praying Mantis, making Praying Mantis a rich and complete martial system. Whether it was long-range or in-fighting, hard and fierce or soft and sensitive, all different elements were combined into the art. Therefore, it came to be heralded as “The True Style of 18 Families.” The hand techniques of Mantis are quick and the body movement nimble. It also places a special
emphasis on practical combat applications. For this reason, it has earned the title of “combat fist” in the Chinese martial arts world.
Within the training process of Praying Mantis boxing, Once the learner has a firm grasp of fundamentals, Xiao-huyan is often the first formal form to be taught. Xiao-huyan is not an extremely difficult form, but it’s also not as simple as it seems. The reason we like to teach Xiao-huyan as the first formal Praying Mantis form, is not only to challenge the learner, but also because it has an important commemorative value. This is because when Xiao-huyan (“Screeching Tiger Swallow”) is said to be the first form Wang Lang created when creating the Praying Mantis system. having gone through this long period of time and build-up of experience, the Screeching Tiger Swallow forms grew， to encompass a full set of forms, known as the “Tiger Swallow Series” of the Praying Mantis system. For this reason, the name of “Screeching Tiger Swallow” was switched to “Little Tiger Swallow” to indicate it comes first in the Huyan series.
The Huyan (Tiger and Swallow) series of forms is one of the first sets to be practiced within Praying Mantis training. Of the Huyan forms, Xiao-huyan is considered most representative. As the name implies, Xiao-huyan combines the ferocity of a tiger with the lightness and agility of a swallow. This form has both hardness and softness and can be applied at long or short range. It is described as: move like a fierce tiger emerging from a thicket, land like a wild goose gently hovering to the ground. Hard and soft happen at the same time. Though this contradiction seems to be unnatural at first, This form actually flows extremely well. The hand techniques of Xiao-huyan are fast and highly applicable in combat. This is the first and most important form in the Huyan series.