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螳螂 / 蟷螂 is mantis or "praying mantis" as it's often titled in English.
Technically speaking, this is especially applies to the narrow-winged mantis (Tenodera angustipennis)
It is best to use this very common two-character Asian title for mantis, as the second character alone can mean mantis or dragonfly (totally ambiguous).
This title is antiquated in Japanese, as they tend to write カマキリ (kama kiri) in Katakana to mean praying mantis.
Note: There is an alternate form of this title which uses the character shown to the right instead of the first character shown above. This is uncommon in both Japan and China (if you really want it anyway, please let us know).
This can be translated literally as "Southern School Praying Mantis" or "Southern Style Praying Mantis".
Despite its name, the Southern Praying Mantis style of Chinese martial arts is unrelated to the Northern Praying Mantis style. Southern Praying Mantis is instead related most closely to fellow Hakka styles such as Dragon and more distantly to the Fujian family of styles that includes Fujian White Crane, Five Ancestors, and Wing Chun.
This style of martial arts focuses more on fighting skills rather than aesthetics.
Of course, you already knew that if you were looking for this term.
Note: This title can be pronounced and does have meaning in Korean but only to Koreans familiar with Chinese martial arts.
This can be translated literally as "Praying Mantis Fist".
螳螂拳 is sometimes called Shandong Praying Mantis after its place of origin. It was created by Wang Lang and was named after the praying mantis, an insect, the aggressiveness of which inspired the style.
Shaolin records document that Wang Lang was one of the 18 masters gathered by the Shaolin Abbot Fu Ju, which dates him and Northern Praying Mantis style to the Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.).
The fact that the word "Northern" is used in the English title has more to do with where this style came from (Shandong is in northern China) but "north" is absent from this Chinese title.
Note: 螳螂拳 is also a title in Japanese - however, only a Japanese person who practices or is familiar with "Praying Mantis Fist" style would recognize it.
The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji (Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|螳螂 / 蟷螂|
|tou rou / tourou / to ro / toro||táng láng|
|Southern Praying Mantis||南派螳螂||nán pài táng láng|
nan2 pai4 tang2 lang2
nan pai tang lang
|nan p`ai t`ang lang
nan pai tang lang
|Northern Praying Mantis||螳螂拳||tou rou ken|
to ro ken
|táng láng quán|
tang2 lang2 quan2
tang lang quan
|t`ang lang ch`üan
tang lang chüan
|In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.|
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.
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The wall scroll that Sandy is holding in this picture is a "large size"
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Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.
There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.
Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.
The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.
Check out my lists of Japanese Kanji Calligraphy Wall Scrolls and Old Korean Hanja Calligraphy Wall Scrolls.
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