Si-Gung Mike Purnell
Sifu Mike Purnell has trained in many different disciplines throughout his life. Though he started with boxing at a very early age (his grandfather fought bare knuckle boxing during the depression), and later Karate and Judo, it was Kung Fu under Sigung Kung that left its mark. Sifu Purnell has over 30 years experience teaching Praying Mantis Kung Fu.
Sifu Kevin Chan
Kevin assists most regularly with the advanced kids and adults class. With 9+ years of training under his belt, Kevin is the most advanced student currently at the club. Earning his black sash in 2010, Kevin continues to show patience, precision and dedication to the new and upcoming students. Currently, Kevin is working on becoming an electrician.
The History of Seven Stars Praying Mantis
Our tale begins 350 years ago with Wong Long a Shoalin monk. Wong had opposed the Manchurian takeover of China and joined a temple in Honan province to learn Kung Fu in order to become a skilled fighter and defender of his people.
The emperor, after hearing tales of defiance at this temple sent his army, thousands strong, to eradicate the monks. Long and his fellow monks defended the temple for a day and night, escaping into the mountains at dawn. Only 128 monks survived the attack, less than half of the original number.
Once the remaining monks felt safe, they settled in Shang Tung province. In a few short years, their elderly Sifu passed away and Long and his brother Feng became the leaders of the survivors. To determine supremacy, Feng and Long battled in front of the group with Feng defeating Long. Feng thus became the Abbot (leader) and Long the Si-Hing (Eldest Student).
Over the next five years Long could never best Feng in combat and seemed destined to remain a loyal advisor to his brother. Feng left the group to travel and gain knowledge for a 3 year pilgrimage and Long was left to lead the order.
One day after practice, Long observed how a praying mantis fought and defeated an enormous cicada. Long was so impressed that he captured the insect and spent day and night studying the movements. To complete the movements, Long infused strength and powerful footwork into the Shaolin style. He accomplished this by studying the monkeys of China, renowned for their deft and powerful movements.
Long built forms and powerful, quick strikes in the coming months that captured the essence of the mantis. When Feng returned, Long dominated his brother in sparing matches and quickly overtook his brother as Abbot. Wong taught Feng his new style and it became known as Praying Mantis Kung Fu. It became the highest level of fighting within the order and taught only to the students who had proven their dedication and skill at the craft.
Decades passed with Wong and Leng passing away, leaving the knowledge with the new Abbot.
A travelling Taoist master Seng Sil Tao arrived at the temple and watched in bemusement as the mantis style was demonstrated. He was not impressed and challenged the monks to a friendly sparring match. His disdain quickly grew into humility as he was defeated by each student he challenged.
Humbly, he asked the Abbot to stay and learn the technique, apologizing for his disrespect. The Abbot agreed and Sil Tao quickly grew into the order’s most skilled and powerful monk. Sil Tao left the order years later and only taught the complete system to one student, Lee San Chen. Chen, using the knowledge, set up security system in his youth and in his sixtieth year decided to travel and teach the praying mantis system to an individual worthy of its power.
When Chen arrived in Futzang he heard of a local champion called Wong Ywing Sun. Chen met with Sun and asked Sun for a demonstration of his skill. Lee San Chen was very critical of Sun’s style which caused the local champion to become angry. Sun challenged Chen to a short fight. Within moments it became apparent that Wong Ywing Sun’s skill was no match for the mantis style.
As it was 100 years before, Wong Ywing Sun humbly asked to learn from Chen and thus the knowledge was passed on.
Sun later took on a student named Fan Hsu Tung, nicknamed “The Giant Fan”. Fan Hsu Tung weighed 300 pounds and gained infamy when he stopped an attacking bull and killed it with his bare hands. Fan Hsu Tung studied with great dedication under Sun.
Fan later had a student, Lo Kwoon Yuk who made a name for himself as one of the Ten Tigers of China as well as the first instructor of the famous Ching Mo Athletic Association. Kwok Cho Chiu, one of Lo Kwoon’s most dedicated students, became the next disciple of the style. Chiu persevered against all odds as Kwok Cho was born with a club foot. Surgery at this time was not an option and Kwok Cho bore his disability with pride and rose to become Yuk’s most masterful student.
In 1970, Kwok Cho Chiu gave leave to his most decorated student, Kwing Fai Kung, to travel to Canada to study. As amazing as it seems, Kung began teaching Seven Starts Praying Mantis here in Red Deer at the College. Again, by way of chance, a young Mike Purnell met with Kung and decided to join his class. Purnell had trained in nearly every type of martial art including boxing, but was impressed to the point of awe by the style. After many years of practice and trips to Hong Kong to study with Kwok Cho Chiu and Kung, Purnell returned to Red Deer to become our Sifu.
Seven Stars Praying Mantis Kung Fu Lineage Legendary Instructors
Kung Fu is taken seriously in China and our club can trace it’s lineage back hundreds of years to men who trained during ancient China. Each number represents a generation, so if two masters have the same number, they achieved an instructor level within the same time frame. Also if the number changes this shows that the higher number trained under the lower number. Our current instructor can be found at the bottom of the family tree.
1. Wong Long
2. Various Monks at Shaolin temples followed Wong Long, these monks branched off at this time and their names were lost to history.
3. Shen Xiao Dao Ren
4. Li Zhi Zhan
5. Li TAi Bao
5. Hao Shun Chang
5. Wang Yong Chun
6. Huang Kai
6. Wang Jie
6. Fan Xu Dong
7. Guo Jia Lu
7. Yu Chuan Yi
7. Xiao Yu Liang
7. Yang Wei Xin
7. Chan Chen Wen
8. Mo Lam (England!)
7. Li Jing Shan
8. Xiao Hua Ting
8. Wang Chuan Yi
8. Wang Chun Shan
8. Yu Tian Lu
8. Yu Ren Zhu
8. Yu Zhen Hai
8. Zhong Lian Bao
8. Yu Tian Tang
8. Leung Wa Ting
8. Yu Tian Cheng (Yantai)
9. Yu Yong Sheng
9. Ba Kun
9. Lu Ting Bo
9. Wang Li Qiang
9. Chu Yong
10. Slawomir Milczarek (Poland!)
8. Hu Yong Fu
9. Li Zhan Yuan (Qingdao)
10. Qui Fang Jian
10. Qin Gui Hua
10. Ji Xue Ling
10. Liu Chong Xi
10. Jie En Li
11. WAng Xiao Hua
10. Kang Zhi Da
11. Bai Ren Da (Australia!)
12. He Neng
7. Si-Ti-Tigung Luo Guang Yu (Hong Kong)
8. Ma Sheng Jin
8. Chiu Fui Sam
8. Wong Sing Chun
8. Lay Yi Let/ Loy Y Lot
8. Pon Hon Chuen
8. Cheung Poi Hou
8. Feng Wing Chun
8. Chi Lun Chi
8. Wong Gum Hon/ Wing Gorn Hun
8. Lom Ba Flum
8. Gok Jow Chu/ Gok Jor Chin
8. Lay Gwon Lan / Loy Guy Lan
8. Jow Hai Gon / Joe Hei Gun
8. Yo Lai Chun
8. Chiu Sow Ting/ Chui Sam Tung
8. Nig Hon Sum/ Ng Hun Soe
8. Ou Hing Hong/ Chi Hung
8. Cheung Bo Chin
8. Chan Wan Ho
8. King Lok Gong
8. Wong Kam Hung (Singapore)
8. Si Tigung Kwok Cho Chiu
9. Kwok Wah Wai
9. Peter Tsang
9. Sigung Kwing Fai Kung
10. Sifu Mike Purnell (Canada!)
Luo Guang Yu (Hong Kong)
Trained Master Chui, who then trained Master Kung, who then trained Sifu Mike Purnell.
Kwok Chu Chui
Trained Kwing Fai Kung, who trained the current Sifu of the Red Deer branch, Mike Purnell.
Kwing Fai Kung
Trained Current Sifu Mike Purnell.
Sifu Mike Purnell
Sifu Mike Purnell has trained in many different disciplines throughout his life. Though he started with boxing at a very early age (his grandfather fought bare knuckle boxing during the depression), and later Karate and Judo it was Kung Fu under Sigung Kung that left its mark. Sifu Purnell has over 30 years experience teaching Praying Mantis Kung Fu.
Master Kung Visits this Summer!
Grand Master Kwing Fai Kung visited Seven Stars Praying Mantis this summer for two weeks. During the visit he imparted a wealth of knowledge and skills to all the age groups. Included was sage-like wisdom from his 35+ years teaching Kung Fu.
Pictured above is Sifu Mike Purnell and Si-Gung Kung. Si-Gung was honored by the club for his dedication and long teacher career. While he stayed only a short two weeks, his impact was keenly felt by all students. His tales of taking Kung Fu from Hong Kong and travelling to Red Deer to teach left the classes mesmerized. Speaking little English, Kung worked at setting up a club as well as teaching and taking classes at Red Deer College and the University of Alberta. Over the years, his love for Canada grew as did his command of the English language. Today he speaks English with a flourish and has made his home in Hong Kong, teaching Design at one of the colleges.
Animal Styles in Shaolin Kung Fu
The classical and non-classical animal styles are all complete fighting styles based upon the movement and character of animals familiar to the Shoaling monks. Each animal embodies a particular range of strategies; a well-rounded fighter is assumed to be familiar with all the animals, so as to be well equipped to choose strategies appropriate for different situations. At the same time, monks traditionally specialized in a style that was well suited to their physiques and characters.
The five classical animals each correspond to a particular aspect of training, and each embodies a strategy.
Praying Mantis style is a very famous style, developed to defeat the monks of the Shaolin Temple. He devoted years of his life to developing a fighting system with which the Shaolin had no answer and the result, as told, is the style after the praying mantis. The mantis moves with blinding speed, capable of capturing much larger prey.
Two words. Muscle/Strength. More precise than a tiger and relies on great strength. The Leopard employs many crushing techniques and internal strikes with the hands. It’s an up close and personal type of style.
Flexibility. They prefer to work at a distance and uses great flexibility to attack and evade. Strong arm and long leg movements are critical. Balance is also an asset and the disruption of balance in others is key.
Spirit. The use of simple, basic techniques, with a challenging strategy of movement is important. Zigzagging motion is preferred. The Dragon has a floating motion with swinging and whipping.
Internal Energy. The Snake goes for vital points. The eyes and throat being most common.
Hard, linear strikes and kicks derived from ancient techniques are the mainstay of this style. Leaping with a flurry of strikes, leaping back of out range and repeating combines to make a deadly series of movements. The bird emphasizes elbow and finger thrusts.
Monkey style is a very advanced style that demands much. It assumes that the opponent is larger and compensates by making it hard to reach, hold or strike the practitioner. Jumping, flipping, rolling and attacking from peculiar angles are also important. Monkey stylists strike with the backs of the forearms, with the elbows, with hook kicks and tease their opponent into taking rash action. The Monkey, however, is no fool.
Grappling. It relies on very powerful seizing, pinching and twisting techniques to lock, immobilize or punish a foe. Eagle claw stylists work hard on developing their grips to facilitate application of painful locks and nerve pinches. Like jujutsu, Eagle Claw employs leverage and joint manipulation to defeat an opponent.
Kim trained hard and fought hard in all sparing matches. She worked hard and received her green sash before moving on to pursue other interests.
Sam Seery was a fearsome fighter who in many tournaments were spar boys older than her and twice her size. As her medal count shows many a young man learned an important lesson about the strength of the female character.
Drew placed first in sparing and forms at the Western Canadian Championships in his age/division and represented the club at World’s in Las Vegas, scoring a bronze in forms.
Gabriel St. Martin
Gabriel (top image) started studying Kung Fu at the age 4 and was so focused that he was one of the best students Sifu Mike Purnell ever taught. It was impressive to see how well he followed instruction at such a young age. He didn’t talk very much during the first year but once he got to know more students and his instructor, Gabriel would not stop talking. He started constantly asking questions about Kung Fu and received the nickname “Gabby”. Gabby received his adult 1st level black sash at 15 years old.
Competing in a Saskatoon tournament, Gabriel “Gabby” St. Martin (2nd image) walked away Junior Grand Champion shortly after receiving his black sash. All of the medallions are from the one tournament looks good Gabriel (Gabby).
1st place sparring
1st place forms
1st place weapons
Gabby has now finished 4 years university majoring in computer science and is excelling. Congratulations and kudos to Gabby, one of the Fighting St. Martins.
Justine St. Martin
Showing off some of her trophy’s (top), Justine started in Kung Fu at the age of 6 and 9 years later received her adult black sash.
Justine later studied kickboxing and excelled. At a Calgary kickboxing tournament she received 1st in the men’s division due to the cancellation of the women’s kickboxing division. (Don’t mess with Justine.) Justine competed at a tournament (bottom) in Saskatoon and cleaned up in the women’s junior competition. She walked away with junior grand champion at the age of 14.
1st place Sparring
1st place forms
1st place weapons
Congratulations and Kudos Justine. One of the Fighting St. Martins.
Rochelle St. Martin
Chris trained in Kung Fu and became a very well rounded fighter. He was a very hard worker. Kudos Chris and best wishes in the future.
Marci practiced Kung Fu for 4 years and was a very tough opponent in any division fighting men in team kumite matches. Marci always did very well.
Kudos to Marci and good luck in the future.
Trent was a hard working individual who acquired his black sash in 4 years. Trent, being a world traveler, has seen martial arts all over the world. He displayed natural movement and has a natural body type for martial arts which allowed him to pick it up more quickly than the average student. Despite his obvious natural ability he always kept his humility and a cool head.
Lance worked very hard to accomplish his goals. He trained with Dave Robson and became a very good kickboxer. Later he joined the Canadian forces and did a 2 year tour in Afghanistan.