Northern Praying Mantis
There are many skeptical thoughts on how this style came to be, but there is one version that most say its true and have seen the most of. The Northern Praying Mantis style is one of many martial art forms of Shaolin and is one of the most effective forms. This form has two other names: Shandong and T'ang L'ang Ch'uan; these names originated from the province in which the style was created.
The creation of The Northern Praying Mantis took place in North China 1600 A.D. by Master Wang Lang, and the story starts when Master Wang Lang lost a match in a competitive fight competition and went outside to clear his head and saw a praying mantis attacking a much larger cicada. During this fight he notices the movements and the attacks of the mantis when overtaking the cicada. He compared it to his matches with much larger opponents and took the Praying Mantis with him to study it.
All the movements of the Northern Praying Mantis were generated from the insect and the personal preference of Wang Lang himself. This martial form usually attacks joints and pressure points, usually causes breakage with the forcefully utilized elbow of the palm. It's similar to boxing form but just with open hands they move there blocks in a whipping motion making it easier to attack an opponent and counter there attacks to strike vital areas. There are many different forms practiced and studied, but all of them have some kind similarities. One may use a cat stance, another might use a bouncing stance; some prefer the open hand, some like closed fist; it's a personal preference, but they all go through the same training, and everything started with Wang Lang.
It's interesting how many martial arts are formed from animals or insects. A praying mantis is a very powerful insect. Even though the Northern Praying Mantis style, created by Master Wang Lang, is really old, it is not easy to master it. Many people still practice this style today.
"Northern Praying Mantis (martial art)." July 11, 2007.. Wikipedia. 30 Jul 2007
Northern Praying Mantis." Shaolin Gung Fu Institute. 30 Jul 2007 <http://shaolin.com/n_mantis_martialarts.aspx>.