Drunken Louhan Book - Review
DRUNKEN LUOHAN BOXING
by Huang Hanxun [Wong Honfan] of Shunde
as taught by Luo Guangyu of Penglai, Shandong
[published Jihai year, 6th month, 27th day (Aug 1, 1959)]
[translation by Paul Brennan, Feb, 2018]
Drunken boxing sets are famous within Chinese martial arts, although only Drunken Eight Immortals is common to both northern and southern styles. But there are also others, such as Drunken Six Falls, Drunken Wu Song Fighting Jiang Zhong the Door-God, Drunken Fight at the Eastern Sea, Drunken Luohan, Drunken Liu Tang, Drunken Monkey Palms, and Drunken Mantis, which have all gained a degree of fame in the martial arts community.
To possess this kind of skill, you must first have agility of body and hands, and stability of waist and stance, and then you will be able to give these sets a try. Otherwise even if you work at it for half a lifetime, I fear it will be not be easy for you to succeed, and it will be particularly difficult for you to develop its unique energy. If you only focus on the tricks of rolling around in order to please spectators, then you will be taking yourself away from the true meaning of drunken boxing.
In my performance below of stumbling and swaying, turning and hopping, it is meant to look like a drunk sobering up. An appearance of stumbling and then returning to stability is what you should be aiming for. For those rare individuals out there who aspire to practice this set, I hope you will repeatedly examine this point.
- Huang Hanxun at the Mantis School, Jihai year, 1st ten-day period of the 1st month of spring, [early Feb, 1959]
Inscription by former director of the Central Martial Arts Institute, Zhang Zhijiang:
“Give equal emphasis to both skill and morality.”
– [Zhang] Zhijiang
“Practicing these arts will enable the smooth flow of essence, energy, and spirit.”
– inscription by Lu Weichang for Hanxun’s books, Apr 4, 1939
This book shows a short Drunken set that appears Northern in origin. As the author states there are many different Drunken methods and both the North and South Share the Eight Immortals as inspirations. Throughout the set similarities to the Ma Drunken System I practice are plentiful as well as Northern Martial Arts in general. Many of the movements are taken almost directly from Tan Tui (Sprining leg) which is used as a foundational set in many Northern Styles including Zha Quan and Shaolin. Movements like 第六式：封手十字腿法 Posture 6: SEALING HAND, CROSSED-BODY KICK are identical to the Zha Family Tan Tui road number 2 for example.
When looking at Drunken specifically all styles share some variety of what is seen in the book “ 第九式：醉酒似退實進 Posture 9: DRUNKARD SEEMS ABOUT TO RETREAT BUT ACTUALLY ADVANCES”. In the Ma system this is known as “Steps of the Lotus” and is practiced individually when the system is being taught to an indoor student who is meant to actually gain the essence of the style. As with any old system of Chinese martial arts repetition of movements in a form bely the movements importance not only in application but in the training of skill. Lotus stepping is seen through out this form more than once and throughout all drunken systems as a “dancing” movement used in performance. While it is actually an exercise containing the essence of the control of the weight while in motion, footwork and the beginning of training for cotton belly.
第十四式：臥地雙輾腿法 Posture 14: LYING DOWN, SCISSOR LEGS also appears in the set from this book more than once showing its importance. It also appears across multiple methods of drunken both North and South as the use of the bodies weight for attacking, unbalancing and throwing is used in all the systems. This means the player will potentially end up on the ground in combat and as such needs to be able to fall properly, roll properly (第十八式：翻身大滾突圍 Posture 18: TURN OVER AND DO A FULL ROLL TO ESCAPE FROM DANGER) and fight from the ground if needed.
Ideally a falling technique in Drunken boxing is meant to drive the drunkards body weight through an enemies body in such a way that it either dislocated or breaks a joint or bone, initiates a throw where the enemy is injured from hitting the earth (in many cases head first) and lands on the enemy with a weapon being driven into the body of the enemy (like the famous posture sleeping Louhan where the player is resting on their elbow and heel, falling into an enemy and landing that elbow on their throat, face or heart can be devastating). The idea of using ones own weight as a weapon in coordination with gravity shows the use of natural forces of reality to affect fighting ability. Swim with the current of the river not against it.
第三十一式：欲起先落敬酒 Posture 31: DROPPING DOWN BEFORE RISING UP TO PROPOSE A TOAST is also a very common Northern movement across styles. Generally called “Swallow Skims the water” or “Snake creeps low” it is generally used as a method to reach under an opponent during a high attack and lift them from below in order to completely up root them and throw them to the ground. In Drunken sets most of the “offering wine” postures have this same application and strategy of low to high inside them. The Ma system offers wine to various gods (immortals) throughout the training and sets each immortal being toasted to showing the type of power, energy or application that is meant to be implied. Toasting General Guan is powerful and tall and is this same application as mentioned for “Swallow skims the water” while Taosting Guan Yin (The “goddess” of Mercy and compassion) shows instead moving backward to strike forward rather than going low to attack high. Another Yin/Yang pairing showing the necessity of equality in power, movement and thought.
The book 醉羅漢拳 DRUNKEN LUOHAN BOXING is a great find and adds to the history of Drunken systems which are generally taken only as performance art in modern day. It is refreshing to see and share it openly. It represents, in my opinion, a real capable system of Drunken Boxing, likely from Shaolin due to it’s name, likely it is related to the same Drunken system I practice from the Ma family which is also of Shaolin origins.
The document can be found at: