Mian Quan (Cotton Style) is one of the principal styles of traditional wushu practised in Shanghai and the surrounding area. It is radically different from other Chinese traditional styles because it has no patterns or weapons training, only a fearsome reputation as an untamed fighting style. Until very recently, the style was forced underground and has remained virtually unknown, even in China.
Mian Quan has been frequently tested in challenge matches over the last two centuries and is totally focussed on fighting. Although it is a traditional style, there are no patterns. The core of the style is a unique method of generating force, drawn out though a series of martial exercises.
"The force spreading in Mian style is very strange. For example, you hear that tai chi uses other people's force against them - this style does not do that. It is neither internal or external."
Master Chen Yong Kang
Although 'strange', the method is effective. Master Chen Yong Kang, who weighs just over 180lbs, was recently measured to have a punching weight of just over 450lbs - twice his body weight channelled into the area of his fist!
This level of power generation is achieved through repetition of basic foundation exercises in which the tendons and ligaments between the joints are gradually flexed until the body becomes tough and springy, like a strong elastic cord. An explosion of force at the waist can then be conveyed through the joints to any point on the body, either as a strike or a block.
Many Mian stylists also have an incredible ability to absorb a punch, due to the way in which their training conditions their body. Unlike other styles that develop an 'Iron Shirt', Mian stylists do not hit themselves or practice impact training. Instead, the style's basic exercises are sufficient to prepare the body to take powerful strikes.
Master Chen Yong Kan
Master Chen is a leading practitioner of one of the two main branches of Mian Quan today.
At the time of the founding of the Peoples Republic of China, the style had two leading practitioners - one was a man, Meng Guan Yu, while the other was a nun, nicknamed Mother Cui. These two lineages represent the two schools of Mian style taught today in Shanghai.
Master Chen has been training in Mian style for almost twenty years under the tutelage of Wang Yan Jie, who learnt directly from Mother Cui. He has taught Mian style professionally for many years, formerly under the Shanghai Sports Bureau. He now teaches private students professionally, both Chinese and western.
Despite his unchallenged reputation in Shanghai as the leading Mian Quan practitioner, Master Chen is a good-humoured and approachable teacher with a passionate desire to propagate this style properly to ensure its survival.