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Tibetan Snake Boxing


Tibetan Snake Boxing (Panxuanshe Qanji)

According to Li family oral tradition, this is one of the original arts that formed the foundation of the Daoqiquan system and was taught by the founder, Lama Zurwang in the late 1500’s.


Developed to deal with treacherous footing and the unpredictability of combat, Tibetan Snake Boxing is a ground fighting method designed as a means of both taking the enemy down and moving to and from the ground safely.


Coiling Serpent Boxers specialize in fighting while kneeling, sitting, rolling, or lying on the ground. In addition to the standard, upright footwork skills of most martial arts, manoeuvrability is developed by tumbling, leaping, and rolling. Attacks include strikes with all parts of the body, limb destructions, throws, projections, and vulnerable point strikes. Tibetan Snake Boxing is a vigorous and deadly martial art.


The Snake Boxer through tumbling, rolling and coiling controls the balance of his opponent by striking or locking vulnerable joints or striking pressure points with devastating effectiveness.

The art has three levels:
1. Standing tactics
2. Kneeling tactics
3. Reclining tactics



Anyone that completes the Kung Fu Basics course is welcome to join this class. Students who are presently taking Jiulong Baguazhang courses may, also, concurrently join this course.

Course Description

The Path of the Snake is the Li family’s method of dealing with ground fighting. It is, decidedly, not a submission wrestling method, but rather teaches the student how to use the ground as an ally, alight safely, fight on the way down to the ground, fight on the ground, and fight back up to standing, as necessary.

Li family Snake Boxing is a fully functioning, stand-alone martial art with a significant corpus of standing work. In fact, mastery of three-dimensional movement through ALL terrain is the forté of the Snake Boxer. Instantaneous and unpredictable altitude changes where the Snake Boxer goes from leaping through the air to flowing across the earth in a smooth roll are the trademarks of this style.

Throw out your comparisons to Shaolin Snake Boxing, Fanged Snake Boxing, Gracie Jujutsu, and southern China’s Dog Boxing (Gǒuquán 狗拳) also known as Earth-Skill Boxing (Dìshùquán 地术拳). While there are, of course, a few tactics that overlap, you will find a better comparison in Indonesia’s Penjak Silat methods and Burmese arts such as Naban, and Bando.

Gibbon and Snake methods are melded seamlessly together to comprise the art of the Coiling Serpent. The Gibbon is also known as the White Ape, or sometimes the Monkey, and brings all manner of leaps and tumbling skills for tactical manoeuvring into the art along with powerful smashing arm blows and unpredictable spontaneity. The Snake concept represents the King Cobra and Python and infuses the art with lightning fast strikes, lashing kicks, snake body principles, soft neutralizations, coiling and controlling actions with the ankles and wrists, deceptive movements, and joint breaking tactics.


According to Li family legend the method was allegedly created in Tibet (Xizang) over four hundred years ago by a Tibetan Lama who later taught it to Lama Zurdwang Rinpoche. Master Zurdwang then passed it down to the Li clan a Chinese family of professional bodyguards (Baobiao). Snake boxing, as we know it today is now a part of the Li family Daoqiquan Gongfu system. It is highly energetic and requires a high degree of flexibility and tumbling skills to perfect.

As to the art really originating in Tibet this seems doubtful. Most likely the method was devised by Lama Zurdwang after he entered China or a member of the Li family. Dr. Painter suspects it was named Tibetan Snake Boxing because it was a good Chinese military tactic right out Sun Tzu's "The Art of War." One way to keep the enemy nervous and on edge is to never let him know your plans and to make him believe you possess a secret weapon or skill that he cannot stand against.

Tibetans Lamas were thought to be skilled in mystical powers. They were thought to have developed their Lung (Qi / internal energy) to such a high degree that they could run for miles without becoming winded (Lung Gompa), survive in sub-freezing temperatures dressed only in thin cotton garment (Gtumo) and many other mystical feats. If it were thought that one was in command of such knowledge and there was also a secret Tibetan martial method unknown to the Chinese martial arts societies spreading such misinformation could prove a tactical advantage.

Lama Zurdwang Rinpoche is said to have also created another method used by the Li clan, Blue Heron boxing. In all probability he developed these methods after he had studied in China for many years and had embraced the Daoist way of life. All of this is conjecture based on legend. What is a reality is that the two martial arts Tibetan Snake Boxing and Tibetan Blue Heron are real martial art systems, part of the Daoqiquan arts that were passed down to John Painter from Li, Long-dao. Parts of these two systems are presently taught to students and law enforcement officers around the world. Traditional Li family Chinese martial and Qigong arts are taught at The Gompa in Arlington Texas and though our branch schools.

Write for workshop and study information.

The DVD TIBETAN SNAKE BOXING VOL 1 was professionally produced in Los Angeles by John Adams it was filmed at the House of Champions using a few of their full contact fighters as attackers. You can order it from the IAM Company.

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