“If you intend to waste your time learning something other than Baguazhang, it should be Bung Bo Kuen. Anything else would be a complete waste of time.”
My Sifu said that to me over twenty years ago. I didn’t strictly follow his advice, as I studied several other systems of Kung Fu. Still, I heeded his wisdom and did a dedicated practice of Bung Bo Kuen, or Crushing Step Fist. Bung Bo Kuen is an exceptionally ferocious set worthy of its Praying Mantis association. I am grateful I did.
Crushing Step Fist is the foundational form for the Seven Star clan’s Northern Praying Mantis Kung Fu style. It sets a formidable pace and tone, a catalog of fast, heavy-handed techniques arranged in a highly logical fashion, dictating the military science and fighting strategy of the Seven Star clan. Crushing Step Fist subscribes to the theory that “the best defense is a strong offense.”
The Praying Mantis is a consummate hunter, and Bung Bo Kuen reflects its nature. The system utilizes slips, side steps, and angular attacks but constantly advances upon the opponent. Crushing Step Fist refers to its prescribed manner of forwarding movement. Each step is a potentially impactful stomp on the opponent’s foot or ankle. Bung Bo Kuen’s aggressiveness is geared towards keeping the opponent on the back foot.
As outlined in Crushing Step Fist’s combat theory and from my experience in applying it, my opponents leaned backward to avoid the onslaught of my hands. This structural misalignment creates favorable circumstances for traps and trips via stomping on foot or hooking behind the heel for falls and injury in a high percentage of cases.
The hands Crushing Step Fist develops are strong, quick, full of endurance, and eager for violence. Primary adherence to attack/defense combinations there is no idle hands in Bung Bo Kuen. Each hand has a dirty job to do until the work is done. Compound circular blocking, mantis-hand hooking, and strike-grab combinations are launched in rapid-fire succession keeping the opponent under constant threat and fear of losing life and limb.
Seven Star clan Praying Mantis Kung Fu is no doubt a Shaolin-derived system. I see the Luohan Quan influences. However, Northern Praying Mantis Kung Fu being a combination of 18 styles of Shaolin paired with the footwork of Monkey boxing, is likely exaggerated, at least in its earliest or “originating” combat sets. The influences of other Shaolin systems look to blend in with Northern Praying Mantis Kung Fu’s later forms. In observing the more recent forms of Seven Star Praying Mantis, they appear to deviate from the ruthless two-fisted gin joint bouncer persona and tactics embodied by Bung Bo Kuen.
Bung Bo Kuen is a fighting form of medium length. It is composed of four “lines,” up and back and up and back, and nearly wholly linear. Roughly 40 to 45 steps, depending on what variation and how you count steps. As my Sifu suggested, Crushing Step Fist is well suited to be a singular point of martial focus for developing the strength, speed, durability, and techniques required to pose a credible threat to most of the population. This is, of course, if you train appropriately.
For the sincere student, I will outline a streamlined summary of my first year of training in Bung Bo Kuen.
*I ONLY used the video I will reference because it is section by section and captioned.
This first year should be dedicated to the first line of Crushing Step Fist. This means from the opening to the first rolling back fist, right after the elbow, and just before the turnaround. This first line should be trained continuously, up and back, with the right side dominance, then left-hand dominance for no less than 30 minutes and no more than 45 minutes, 6 days a week.
*This line begins at 2:00 and ends at 2:32. In my lineage, neither the elbow at 2:27 nor the rolling back fist is performed in a crouching stance. However, you may practice it that way if you wish. Video is HERE.
The opening 45-degree step back into the “riding the tiger” stance off the center line, parrying with your left palm clearing your center line, you develop a western boxing/head movement “slip” and your right punch targeting the opponent’s liver and transitioning into the “Mantis catches Cicada” stance with mantis hooks; needs to be practiced, in addition to the formwork, no less than 108 times (54 times right side dominance and 54 times left side dominance) a day at least 5 days a week.
This is an excellent video of it! Video is HERE.
Next, after “riding the tiger” and “catching the cicada,” you must practice what my lineage called “chasing step” with a palm strike. This enabled you to very quickly advance onto the opponent with sneaky footwork. Assume a “catching the cicada” stance and perform a “chasing step” with a palm strike (aiming for the opponent’s solar plexus. Reassume the “catching the cicada” stance and repeat. No less than 108 times. 54 times right side dominance and 54 times left side dominance 5 days a week.
Reference the original video starting at 2:11 to 2:18. Note how the feet shuffle. Video is HERE.
Lastly is a rolling back fist with a rear trapping hand. This must be drilled with speed and power no less than 108 times (54 times right side dominance and 54 times left side dominance) a day at least 5 times a week.
Again the lineage of Bung Bo Kuen I inherited does not use a kneeling or crouching stance to perform the elbow or rolling back hit/trap hand combo. Use this detailed video of the rolling back fist as a reference to train with. Video is HERE.
A WEALTH of resources about Crushing Step Fist has been made available online. Make use of it; many clubs, associations, and societies have posted their own versions of Bung Bo Kuen online. Study and compare!
As for exercise:
100 to 200 bodyweight squats a day, 5 days a week.
Perform as many diamond push-ups as you can. Build up to at least 50 in a row over the year. Of course, more like 100 is better. Again, 5 days a week.
Diamond push-up tutorial is HERE.
Bung Bo Kuen is an exceptional fighting form and will serve the earnest student well. Here you have a functional martial arts practice you can ease into. You will forge the mental and physical power and toughness to hold your own against most of the population. You will also lay the foundation for more advanced forms of training and higher levels of martial skills and ready yourself for the following sections of Bung Bo Kuen.
If you fulfill a year of this training, contact me. Be ready to be tested, and should you be prepared, I will reward your dedication with entrance into deep functional martial arts knowledge.