Students commence with learning exercises which increase the flexibility of the waist, followed by leg exercises. The first part of which is stretching the legs. Through continuous practice the flexibility and elasticity of tendons and muscles is increased, which enhances the range of movement in the joints. This in turn improves the speed of techniques. The increased flexibility also makes injuries less likely to occur during training.
The second stage involves practicing the Tuifa or ‘Kicking techniques’. Students learn the unique kicks of Seven Stars Praying Mantis including the ‘24 deadly continuous mandarin duck kicks’ and ‘36 hidden kicks’. Some of the kicks taught are: Tantui (Spring kick), Shizi tui (10 character kick), Gua tui (Hanging kick), Furen jiao (Axe blade kick), Yuanyang jiao (Mandarin ducks kick) etc. By practicing the many different kicking techniques overall co-ordination, flexibility, power and control of the legs increase. The student is also introduced to how the kicks are applied in a combat setting.
After being introduced to the above waist and leg exercises students should commence learning Zhuanggong (Stake exercises) also known as Zhanzhuangfa or ‘The method of standing like a wooden stake’. This involves learning and perfecting the basic stances. Standing still in these various postures for prolonged periods helps cultivate our Qi or ‘energy’. It increases the muscular power of the legs, developing deep roots, providing the student with a strong foundation upon which the rest of the style can be built. Today, due to the hardship experienced in learning such an exercise it has become relatively unknown within Seven Stars Praying Mantis circles.