Founder of Northern Praying Mantis Kung Fu
Shen Xiao Dao Ren
Taoist Herbalist and Surgeon
Li San Jin
Traveling Bodyguard who was nicknamed “Lightning Hands” for his fast hands.
Students of Li San Jin
Abbot Ching Yeung
Abbot of the Wah Lum Monastery, Home of the Shuai Shou (Wrestling Hands) Mantis System
Lee Kwan Shan
Traveling Bodyguard who combined his family system, Tam Tui (Seeking Legs) with the Mantis System to create Wah Lum Tam Tui Praying Mantis Kung Fu
Current Grandmaster of Wah Lum Kung Fu and Founder of the U.S.A Wah Lum Kung Fu Temple
Chan mastered the system after Lee’s death under the tutelage of his older Kung Fu brother, Chan Wan Ching.
Yao Li & Joshua Grant
Chief instructor (Yao Li) to Pui Chan at the time of Daems’ instruction.
Joshua Grant instructed Daems in internal styles of Kung Fu
Wong Long – Mantis Boxing Founder
Praying Mantis Kung Fu can trace its origins back approximately 1644 to Wong Long. Wong Long was a legendary rebel figure of China who fought against the Manchurian overthrow of the Han Chinese and their Ming Dynasty. After the Manchurian forces overthrew the Han and established their own Qing Dynasty, Wong Long fled to Shaolin where he trained, seeking to improve his fighting skills.
During his training, no matter how much he excelled, he was unable to beat the monks of Shaolin. Time and time again, Wong long would test his skills against those of the monks, only to be beaten. Realizing that if he was ever to beat them, he would have to train harder than his kung fu brothers.
One day after resting from a particularly rigorous training session, Wong Long heard a particular screaming noise coming from the trees. Upon further investigation he came upon a cicada which was being attacked by a praying mantis. The mantis while smaller than the much larger cicada appeared to be not only holding its own, but winning. Thoroughly intrigued and Impressed by the fighting spirit of the praying mantis, Wong Long captured it to further observe its behavior. Wong Long proceeded to toy with the praying mantis with a blade of grass. With his own fighting skills in mind, he carefully studied the offensive and defensive reactions of the praying mantis and its forearms. Wong Long then practiced what he had learned from the praying mantis to improve upon his own fighting skills.
After much practice, Wong Long decided that it was time to test his new skills against the monks. He requested a match of skills with an older classmate who had always been able to beat him in the past. This time however, Wong Long incorporated his newly developed techniques learned from the praying mantis. The end results were quite different; not only was Wong Long the victor, but he was able to defend and counter everything the monk used against him.
Soon after the match a meeting was held with seventeen other masters to study this new technique and develop it further. With their help, Wong Long created a 12 keyword formula (or principals) to define his new system. These principals were then manifested in to a set of techniques known as Beng bu or “Crushing Step”.
Shen Xiao Dao Ren (2nd Generation: Herbalist and Surgeon)
Shen Xia Dao Ren was a traveling herbalist and surgeon who while traveling stopped into the Shaolin temple to consult with other herbalists there. Upon entering the temple Shen Xia Dao Ren noticed that the monks were practicing a fighting style that he had not seen before. Eager to discern the effectiveness of this style he asked for a test of skills. At first the monks would not agree to this, however after taunting by Shen Xia Dao Ren, they agreed. He was quickly defeated. Fascinated by a style that could defeat him so easily, Shen Xia Dao Ren negotiated with the abbot of the temple to let him train in the style which turned out to be praying mantis style.
Li San Jin (3rd Generation: Traveling Bodyguard)
After leaving Shaolin, Shen Xia Dao Ren came across a caravan that was being attacked by bandits. While the caravan was being guarded by armed security guards lead by Li San Jin, Shen Xia Dao Ren quickly joined the guards in order to defeat the bandits. During the encounter both Shen Xia Dao Ren and Li San Jin became equally impressed with the other’s martial aptitude. They quickly became friends.
Realizing the sincerity and skill that Li San Jin possessed, Shen Xia Dao Ren taught him the entire praying mantis system that he had learned in Shaolin.
Li San Jin went on to continue his services as a traveling body guard. During this time that he came to be known as Li Kuai Shou (Li Fast Hands) or Li Dian Shou (Li Flash Hands) by bandits who were defeated by him. It was rumored that caravans that boasted his flag during transports were often avoided by bandits completely.
Li San Jin retired in 1891. His students would go on to create sub systems of the original praying mantis system, such as Seven Star, Grand Ultimate Plum Flower, and Shuai Shou.
***Li San Jin was born in Pingdu village in Shantung province in the year 1821.
Students of Li San Jin (4th Generation)
Ching Yeung (5th Generation: Wah Lum Temple Abbot)
Ching Yeung, who later became the abbot of the Wah Lum (or Garden Forest) temple was an anti-Qing patriot and a member of the “Righteous and Harmonious Fist Society” or more commonly known as the boxers society. He learned the praying mantis style from a student of Li San Jin.
Lee Kwan Shan (6th Generation: Wah Lum Kung Fu Founder)
Born in 1867, Lee Kwan Shan, whose real name was Yuk Tong (“Yuk” means jade in Cantonese. This was implying that he was as clean and pure as Jade.) As told in a Chinese classic, Lee changed his name to Kwan Shan, the name of a mountain where jade was found, after he reached Hong Kong.
Lee Kwan Shan was the fifth generation practitioner of his families’ style of kung fu, Tam Tui (Seeking Legs). The family was renowned for the exceptionally powerful legwork of their style and earned their living as bodyguards. Lee being no exception and being accomplished in his family style worked as a traveling bodyguard as well.
In the early 1900’s Lee entered into the Wah Lum temple in the Ping To district of Shangtung province. The temple was home to the Shuai Shou (Wrestling Hands) praying mantis system. Here, seeking to improve his hand and arm movements, Lee committed to 10 years of training under the guidance of the temple abbot, Ching Yeung.
After completing his 10 years of training, Lee Kwan Shan left the temple and returned to his work as a bodyguard. It was during this time that Lee began to combine his family style, Tam Tui, with the Shuai Shou mantis system. Lee felt that the styles complimented each other greatly. While the praying mantis system had superior hand and arm movements, he felt the system lacked the lightning kicks and powerful legwork of his family system. Out of respect for the temple where he learned the mantis system, Lee called his new combined system, Wah Lum Tam Tui Tong Long.
While traveling as a bodyguard Lee encountered three notorious bandits in Shangtung province. These bandits were adept in the martial arts and famous for plundering merchant teams and killing anyone who did not submit to them. Lee succeeded in killing these bandits. The incident however left Lee with a sour taste towards his profession. This caused him not to continue his work as a bodyguard. Deciding to make a living off of his training, Lee began to teach his new system of kung fu.
During his life Lee taught in four different areas. The first of which was Shangtung, the second was Nan-ning in Kwangsi province Vietnam, third was Hong Kong and lastly was the small village of Sha Cheng in Guang Dong province in China.
During his time teaching in Vietnam an argument with a scoundrel by the nickname of “Black Tiger”, who was jealous of Lee’s fame, led to an open fight between the two. The fight resulted in Lee’s favor, shortly after the start and only a few exchanges of blows, the “Black Tiger” was struck to death. To avoid being arrested Lee fled from Vietnam and went in to hiding in Hong Kong.
In Hong Kong, Lee accepted the post of Inspector of the Porter’s Association in Causeway Bay. While accepting a few students, Lee eventually left Hong Kong to settle in the small village of Sha Cheng in 1936. Here he accepted the majority of his students before passing away in 1948 at the age of 76.
Pui Chan (7th Generation: Wah Lum Tam Tui Kung Fu comes to America)
Before his death in 1948 Lee accepted one of his last students, a young man by the name of Pui Chan. Pui Chan began his Wah Lum training in 1946 and then after Lee’s death Chan continued his studies under the tutelage of his older Kung Fu brother, Chan Wan Ching (Passed away August 1975) in Hong Kong.
In 1968 Chan emigrated from Hong Kong to the United States and in 1971 Chan opened his own school in Boston. Within a few years Chan decided to move to Florida and open his own kung fu temple in memory Lee Kwan Shan.
In 1980 the Florida Wah Lum temple opened its doors.
Yao Li (8th Generation: Chan’s top student)
In 1973, while still teaching in Boston, Chan accepted a young student by the name of Yao Li. Li, having previously studied martial arts in Taiwan, studied the style for over a decade, where in 1970’s, Li took over the Boston school and became Chan’s head instructor when Chan moved to Florida to open his Wah Lum temple. During this time Li and Chan would go on to spread the art of Wah Lum kung fu and even grace the cover of Inside Kung Fu Magazine.
However with the relocation of Chan in 1980 and Li, looking to branch out and expand his training parted ways with the Wah Lum organization in the mid 80s. Li went on to study under some of China’s top wu shu coaches through multiple trips to China. Li currently owns and runs his own Kung Fu school in Boston where he teaches a wide variety of kung fu styles.
Clem Daems (9th Generation: Praying Mantis comes to Arizona)
During the time outlined above (before and after the break with Wah Lum), Li took on a student by the name of Clem Daems. Daems studied under Li in the traditional Wah Lum Tam Tui Praying Mantis kung fu system and Li’s fellow instructor Joshua Grant in both Chen Tai Chi and Internal Mantis for 15 years before moving to Arizona.
Once in Arizona, Daems took up teaching the styles he had learned while in Boston. Following his belief that there are three aspects to true Kung Fu training, Daems combined what Li and Grant had taught him forming his own “Triple Path” training method to Kung Fu. The three paths that Daems referred to were External training, Internal training and Weapon training. Daems believes to this day that to truly understand the art of kung fu one must understand all 3 aspects of its training.
Daems retired from public teaching in 2002 due to knee problems.
Paul LaPointe (10th Generation)
Students (11th Generation)