Legend tells that over 350 years ago a young man by the name of Wong Long was a student and martial arts practioner at the Shaolin Temple. Wong Long’s skill and understanding of kung fu was so profound that he developed his own style of fighting that incorporated the best techniques from all of the other great masters associated with the temple. However, despite his great skill he was unable to best the abbot of the temple. Challenge after challenge, Wong Long failed to surpass the abbot, falling against the abbot’s superior skill each and every time. Then came a day where the abbot had to leave the temple for purposes unknown, but before leaving he had told Wong Long to continue his training and he would test his progress when he returned. Distraught and frustrated, Wong Long knew that although he continued to practice and improve, the abbot would be doing the same and he would still be unable to breach his defenses. One day during his training, Wong Long was pondering what he could do to best the abbot when he had observed a small praying mantis fighting with a cicada. Despite the cicada being much larger in size the mantis was able to control it effortlessly. Wong Long was so impressed by the mantis he captured it to study and imitate its movements. When probed with a stick the mantis was able to attach itself by hooking its claws in and riding the motion of the stick.
The mantis was a bold insect using minimal effort yet exacting precision. When threatened it didn’t flee, but remained deep in the conflict, calmly awaiting each new movement by its assailant. No matter how much its opponent would fight back it was easily overwhelmed. In fact the more its opponent would resist, the more devastating the mantis became.
Using the fighting principles he derived from observing the mantis, Wong Long went on to develop the Northern Praying Mantis style. After a great deal of training, Wong Long had mastered his creation and not soon after did the abbot return to the temple. Excited at the chance to show the abbot what he has developed he challenged him immediately upon his arrival. The abbot too was looking forward to seeing Wong Long as he had been training during his travels. Much to the abbot’s dismay, he was no longer able to best Wong Long as his new style was so efficient and effective that his skill had far surpassed that of the abbot’s.
The abbot had officially recognized all 18 of the great kung fu masters of their time. The list that the abbot had written contained the names of each of the masters and a description of their respective styles. Added on as number 18 was Wong Long; with a description that stated “Using the best techniques from all previous 17 styles and combining them with the techniques of the Praying Mantis.”
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