Bamboo Forest (‘Jook Lum’) Southern Mantis is a style of Kung Fu originating from Southern China. There are many sub-lineages of the Southern Mantis Kung Fu, and the Bamboo Forest tradition is perhaps the most secretive and esoteric of all. Though bits and pieces have thus far been seen by the public on occasion, the essence of this deadly style had always been taught behind closed doors. This unusual martial art was developed specifically for urban combat. It has no fancy movements, flying kicks or forms that have you running across an entire courtyard. Like Wing Chun, it is meant for close-quarters fighting. But unlike Wing Chun, each and every strike in this art is aimed at a vital point or a combination of acupuncture points, for causing maximum damage. Like Krav Maga, each and every movement in this system is solely focused on practical self-defense. But unlike Krav Maga, the system has a sophisticated curriculum for both body and mind, which includes skills for developing explosive powers, an internal movement for controlling opponents, breath-work, Iron Body methods, meditation, healing, and much more. One of the most important things Bamboo Forest Mantis can teach is how to use the extremes of Hardness and Softness. When touching an opponent, the practitioner can feel to him like a granite rock, or like a silk thread, and interchange between these within a fraction of a second. This is very challenging to contend with. Even beginners in the system can do such things. Later is learned how to make half the body soft, and half hard, and switch between these! The adversary is overwhelmed by such an ability.
These skills are learned via energetic practices of hard and soft Qi Gong, unique to this system, which are unlike those of other martial arts. They make the body’s tendons like steel cables, and the skin like thick, impenetrable rubber. Upon feeling-up the seasoned practitioner’s flesh, one could tell that such development is surprising and unnatural. The transitions between hardness and softness are accompanied by the use of explosive short powers. Some martial arts can release a strike from close range. Bamboo Forest Mantis can issue several strikes in quick succession from distance of less than an inch, each. Be him either defensive or offensive, the practitioner will overwhelm the opponent with a flurry of devastating striking combinations. Just when you think you have blocked, trapped, or contained him, the trained practitioner explodes with exacting inch power. Through the system, one learns how to strike with every part of the body, and a wide variety of surfaces are used to that effect. ‘Normal’ punches are not used in this martial art! Instead, the staple is the Phoenix-Eye Fist and its variations, which are hardened to be able to penetrate any obstacle.
In order to apply such useful techniques, the system uses tight circles and spiral to control a fighting scenario. These special mechanics are barely seen from afar but can be felt dramatically upon touch, with shocking results. Even seemingly straight motions, contain circles and spirals within them. This makes the practitioner impossible to grab or hold, and the opponent’s attacks bounce off one’s body with ease. Circles and spirals are taught via the scheme of using three heights and three gates, which is also unique to this system in the manner in which it is taught and applied. The countless circles, spirals, short powers, and techniques are taught via four types of methods: solo drills, forms, partner drills, and sparring. The system follows the rule that any movement practiced must be directly applicable for combat, and the practitioners are noted for being able to use their art as they train it. Bamboo Forest Mantis is a complete martial art, in the sense that it covers all types of scenarios and needs for holistic living. In training, one addresses the body and mind, the aerobic and anaerobic, the hard and the soft. In combat, it has answers for striking, grappling, throwing, takedowns and even ground-fighting. It includes both the destructive, through the martial skills, and the constructive, by teaching health-preservation and healing. The last grand-master of our Bamboo Forest Mantis lineage, Henry Poo Yee, passed away in old age early in 2018AD. During the years before his passing, it was grand-master Henry’s wish that his disciples would carry on the system for the next generations. Sifu Sapir Tal is one of grand-master Henry’s senior disciples.