Lineage (Family Tree) & History
Southern Praying Mantis Style is an aggressive close to medium range combat style belonging to a group of closely related Chinese martial art styles originating from the Hakka (Kejia) sub-group of Han Chinese. The Hakka Chinese have been gradually migrating in waves throughout China since around 200 AD, with many Hakka martial styles evolving over the centuries. Those most commonly referred to as Hakka Styles (within the context of Hong Kong) evolved principally within the neighbouring Guang Dong and Guang Xi provinces. Other examples of Hakka styles falling within this category include White Eyebrow and Southern Dragon styles.
Within Southern Mantis, four main sub-styles are commonly recognised in Hong Kong: Iron Ox Mantis, Gwong Sai Bamboo Forest Temple Southern Mantis, Chu Family Southern Mantis and Chow Family Southern Mantis styles with the last two only evolving separately very recently, both sharing a common origin.
All sub-styles of southern mantis are relatively young in Chinese martial terms with most tracing their origin to only 150 to 200 years ago. The Hakka diaspora to South-East Asia also carried Southern Mantis variants to Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia however, these are sufficiently different in expression and lineage to be considered separate to those southern mantis variants found in Hong Kong and Guang Dong Province.
Similarity in certain techniques and expression to some Fujian White Crane variants has led to academic speculation that southern mantis has evolved from Fujian White Crane, which is a considerably older martial style. This may possibly be true however, any concrete evidence is likely lost to the mists of time.