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Mízongyì (Chinese: ???; literally “Lost Track Skill”), or simply Mízong, is a style of Chinese martial art based on deception and mobility. Mizong is also known as Mízongquán (Chinese: ???; literally “Lost Track Fist” or sometimes “Labyrinthine Boxing” stressing the deceptive nature of the art) and Yanqingquan and there are many sub-branches of this style.
Mizong Lohan (Chinese: ????; pinyin: mízong luóhàn; Yale Cantonese: màih jùng lòh hon; literally “Lost Track Arhat”) is a combination of two styles: Mízongquán and Luóhànquán. Through Luóhànquán, its lineage can be traced back to the Shaolin temple during the time of the Tang Dynasty (618–907).
As an external northern Chinese style, Mizong belongs to the “Long Fist” family of martial arts, although in some traditions Mizong is taught as a precursor system to “Hsing I Ch’uan”.
As with most styles, there are many colorful stories about the legendary creation of Mizong. One of these traces the origin back to one day in the Tang Dynasty when a Shaolin monk chanced upon a troop of apes chasing each other in the mountains. He noticed that the attitude and movements of one of the dominant apes coincided with the spirit and techniques of kung fu. Enlightened by what he saw, the monk went back to the monastery and integrated his new insights with Shaolin Kung Fu to create Mizong.
Another legend takes place during the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127) when a famous and wealthy kung fu master named Lu Junyi learned Mizong from the Shaolin priests and then taught it to his student, Yan Qing. Yan Qing’s mastery of Mizong earned him fame and he joined the Outlaws of the Marsh, a “Robin Hood”-style band which robbed the rich, helped the poor, and consisted of 108 legendary martial heroes who revolted against the emperor. Everyone knew of Yan Qing’s prowess, but none could discover what style he practiced, so they called it Mizong meaning ‘Lost Track’. A variation of the tale has him fleeing in a snow storm from the emperor’s warriors. To cover his tracks, he moved backwards with his feet and spread the snow over his tracks with his hands, thus prompting the name lost track. Even to this day, practitioners in Shandong Province call their art Yanqingquan to honor him.
At the turn of the 20th century the Mizong master Huo Yuanjia made a name for himself and the style by defeating challengers both Chinese and foreign in Shanghai. In 1909, Master Huo founded the Chin Wu Athletic Association, the first public teaching association for kung fu without regard to differentiation in style.
A decade later, master Yeh Yu Teng, a great master of another branch of Mizong, also was establishing himself and his style by meeting the life and death challenges of highway bandits on his consignment caravans. In 1931, he went south to teach his art in the Shanghai Central Chin Woo Athletic Association. Then in 1933 he was transferred to Hong Kong to assume the position of head instructor of the Shaolin class in the South China Athletic Association.
The pursuit of historical facts concerning the origin of Mizong has traced the roots of many different branches of the style from several regions. The results all point to one man, master Sun Tung (??Sun Tong in Pinyin), from Tai’an in Shandong Province, as the founder of the style in the time of Emperor Yongzheng (1722–1735) of the Qing Dynasty. In his early years, he studied Kung Fu under Master Chang (Zhang in Pinyin) of Shandong and learned all he could in a few years. Tung left Shandong Province for more Kung Fu training and began his search for friends and a teacher. Eventually he met a Shaolin priest who had been a noble during the Ming Dynasty (1368—1644) but became a monk after the overthrow of the Ming by the Manchu Qing Dynasty and then became a master of Mizong Kung Fu. In the temple, Master Sung followed the Shaolin priest for more than a decade before achieving complete mastery of the style. He was sent down from the mountain by the priests and then returned to Shandong only to find that the daughter of his former teacher, Master Cheng, was not pleased with him. Wishing to avoid a challenge from his Sifu’s daughter, named Zhang Yulan (???), he first moved to Qingzhou and then settled in Cangzhou in Hebei Province and started his teaching of Mizong. Tales of his prowess and mastery of Mizong became widespread as he gained numerous followers in the northern provinces. They gave him the nicknames Almighty Hand and Iron Feet Sung Tung. All surviving branches of Mizong are the result of his teaching.
Mizong Luohan is an external style, with distinct internal influences. It draws on many aspects of the external Northern Shaolin Long Fist style, and the internal styles T’ai Chi Ch’uan , Pa Kua Chang and Hsing I Ch’uan, with which it is often taught in modern times. It is characterized by deceptive hand movements, intricate footwork, varied kicks, and high leaps. In execution, the style changes very quickly.
The emphasis on flexibility in Northern Shaolin styles is a guiding principle of Mizong, and this is evident in the versatility of its attacks and the extent to which it integrates the concepts of many internal styles. An increased emphasis on mobility often comes at the price of power, but Mizong compensates for this by providing a means for the dynamic generation of power. Mizong’s unique fa jing (discharging of force) comes from the combination of the internal corkscrew power seen in Chen style Tai Chi Chuan and the external snapping power of Shaolin Long Fist. The result is the efficient generation of force through the dynamic motion of multiple elements of the body, the mastery of which gives a Mizong practitioner the capability of generating force quickly and flexibly from any distance.
This system was presided over by Grandmaster Yeh Yu Teng in the twentieth century until his death in 1962 at the age of 70. A number of his students, among them Master Chi-Hung Marr, emigrated to the United States in the 1960s and have continued to teach this system in locations around the U.S. and Canada.
A portrait of Grandmaster Yeh Yu Teng is on display in every Mizong Luohan training hall. It is flanked by a couplet in Chinese which translates to:
The nine provinces are simmering; Tigers and monsters are waiting to be conquered by Luo Han.