In choosing the red pill “teacher” training I did not really understand the implications of this. Being young as is sometimes the case I thought I understood and could always figure it out later, right?

The military base I was stationed at in Korea, Camp Edwards very close to the “DMZ” still a long trip to Camp Casey,  home of the 2nd Infantry Division, a 2hr bus ride over dusty rough roads of the time, along with some paved roads

I would make this trip once a week, spending at least 4 to 6 hrs each time we met, going over what was learned before adding or learning new things.

It made for a long day, Mr Park, was quite severe in his teachings. He would show something up to 3 times if I was unable to get the movement each time changing it a little bit to make it easier. If I still didn’t get it or couldn’t do it, he would drop it and move on to something else.

Each visit before starting he would ask to see what was covered before. If it was not correct or up to his standards this would be the lesson for that day.

This meant that during the week, I would spend 2 to 3 hours a night practicing what ever was learned once I was back at Camp Edwards.  My fellow GI’s often thought of me as a monk, because I seldom went out to the local village at night as most young GI’s did at the time visiting the many bars, spending time with the local ladies of the night.

My time spent in solitude in the small gym on the Camp, practicing my craft waiting for the weekend to come again.

Mr Lee, another student of Mr Park at the time.

Mr. Park, true to his word, the focus was on learning new movements along with some practical application insuring the focus of the movement was right.

The style of mantis he taught was called “Mei Hua Tang Lang Quan” plum flower mantis.

How different this was from my previous training where single movements were practiced into the 1000s of reps and then used live against another person. Much like in a western boxing gym, learn a hand, or movement,  go use it live,  practice it until one could use it effectively.

In other words the training was directed at learning how to fight with what was practiced along with the conditioning that made it practical and effective to use

The training that I was doing under Mr Park, was directed at learning the system, along with whatever physical skill set was needed in order to do it. Things that would normally be learned in years, I learned in months. All the while meeting the standard of being able to do it.

Unknown to me at that time this left some real gaps in my understanding while at the same time detraining whatever was left of the Tibetan White Crane  system that I once practiced.

The mantis and crane systems complete opposites in function, attributes developed and strategies used.

The strategies used and type of training that mantis uses compared to the white crane system, could be classed as narrow as opposed to a wide system like white crane.

“A “narrow” system is one that specifies a particular response for a particular attack. So for every possible attack, there is a specific response. And because there are a great many possible attacks, there are also a great may specific techniques to counter them. With “narrow” systems, you have A LOT of techniques — like the proverbial 108 hand techniques, for instance. A “wide” system has much fewer techniques, but looks to the changes possible for each of them. So for instance, you might only have 5 or 6 basic punches… but many “changes” associated with those punches. See also Baqua, with it’s emphasis on changes.

The way to learn how to use a wide system (like White Crane) is then to gain experience with using the limited number of techniques you have available, in a wide assortment of attacks. In other words, you have to use the techniques in sparring… a lot of sparing… so you can learn how a single punch can be used against multiple attack patterns”

Mike Staples

At the time not understanding I had chosen the “narrow” way I threw myself into the training.  I trained until there was nothing left…not even my shadow.


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