Chow Gar Techniques

Every martial art has a repertoire of techniques to be learned, understood and eventually mastered. Contrary to what you might expect, they are not the be all and end all of a given style. Once they're mastered and all the lessons learnt, the techniques can be virtually forgotten. This is because the martial art is not the techniques in the style but rather the interpretation of the techniques by the individual exponent. The techniques teach the student how to express himself/herself in accordance with the style learnt. The teacher gives the artist his/her tools and commands him/her to create!

Technique is the way the style works. It is the principle and motion in a strike and not the fist/palm/spearhand/claw at the end of the striking arm.

Compared to many traditional martial arts, Chow Gar Southern Praying Mantis Kung Fu has relatively few actual techniques to learn. It doesn't take long for a new student to increase his/her defensive potential dramatically! However, students should always be aware that there's a big difference between learning a technique and being able to use it effectively...

This is not an exhaustive review of techniques and as such, will be expanded upon in due course.


Without a good stance, there is no kung fu! Before learning anything else, the new student must learn how to stand. This is why:-

  • Damage to joints and connective structures is avoided.
  • Balance is improved.
  • Manoeuvrability is maximised.
  • Stability is maximised.
  • Proper, effective power generation for a range of offensive techniques is made available.

Steps and Turns

Mobility is an important aspect of kung fu and in Chow Gar this is no exception. In a self-defence situation, high mobility is very desirable and the first technique of self-defence is running away. Fortunately, most of us are pretty good at that. There is an old adage which states that a fight is lost by the person who can no-longer run.

If you can't run away then you must rely on your footwork to keep you safe. Chow Gar has a number of steps that the student must make their own through lots of practice. Each step not only gets the exponent from A to B, but contains within it a defensive/evasive aspect and an offensive/attacking aspect.

Single Step Ha Ma
Double Step Ser Ma
Knee Raise Tong Sa
Mouse Step Shu Bo
Cross Step Ka Lun
Leaping Horse  
Turning Step  


Our hands are our finest tools for manipulating objects in the physical world because they are sensitive, versatile and strong. Chow Gar Southern Praying Mantis Kung Fu hand techniques are extremely efficient and one technique follows another without having to move the arm back to a starting position. Few martial arts come close to achieving this level of close-in speed.

Southern Praying Mantis techniques are centred at the elbow whilst most martial arts use the shoulder as the pivot or launch point for a strike. Elbow-centric techniques are best for self-defense because:-

  • They need less room for execution.
  • Strikes happen more rapidly because there's less distance for the hand to travel.
  • It is harder for the attacker to defend himself because he has less time to react.
  • Positioning the elbows towards the centreline allows faster response to any attack and directly covers the chest.
Phoenix-Eye Punch Fen An
Phoenix-Eye Block Gar Sau
Ginger Fist Gurn A Choi
Chop Pek
Exploding Fingers Bil Jee
Eagle Claw Ying Kum Sau
Downward Spear Hand Chap Sau
Upward Spear Hand Tan Sau
Slicing Bridge Pai Kiu
Shaking off the Bridge Yiu Kiu
Parallel Bridge Pin Kiu
Throat & Elbow Punch Got Choi
Deflecting Hand Sai Sau
Single Clamping Hand Dao Sau
Hooking Hand Nap Sau
Cutting Hand Got Sau
Sinking Elbow Hand Chum Chung Sau
Locking Hand Saw Sau
Outside Circle Hand Gnoi Yeun Sau
Inside Circle Hand Loi Yeun Sau
Elbow Siezing Hand Lim Jam Sau
Inside Cleaning Hand Mut Sau
Splitting Hand Fun Sau
Closing Hand Bao Jhong
Noose Hand Sok Sau


Whilst the mantis practitioner relies a lot on handwork, he or she also has an arsenal of kicks.  The kicks have the same flavour as the hand techniques, being sudden and medium to short range.  They are often employed simultaneous with hand techniques so as to make them hard to foresee or avoid and can be used whilst advancing, tackling or retreating.

Kicks are mainly aimed at vital points in the feet, legs, groin and the joints.

Stamp Kick  
Whip Kick  
Front Toe Kick  
Side Kick