Splashing Hands

“I had been diligently studying various street fighting styles for almost ten years but was searching for something more substantial. Master McNeil’s humble attitude, no-nonsense skills, and natural teaching style impressed me immediately. With Master McNeil’s help my martial and meditative arts blossomed in both power and precision.”
Dan Greenawalt

Splashing Hands is an extremely practical, no-nonsense art. It features quick shuffling footwork, similar but faster than that used by the famous Mohammed Ali, and low-focused straight leg kicks. These are combined with jabs, punches, elbows, hammer-fists, chops and finger pokes thrown with blinding, machine gun-like rapidity. Opponents have a difficult time defending against the kind of attacks carried out by a fighter trained in Splashing Hands because of the speed with which the techniques are delivered as well as the sheer number of strikes and kicks the opponent has to deal with in a short period of time.

Unlike other styles of classical martial arts, which are good for tournament fighting and other controlled sparring situations, Splashing Hands is extremely contemporary in that it is geared strictly for the streets. It is in fact a pure street-fighting system.

In reality, a streetfight should last no more than 10 to 15 seconds. Splashing Hands is structured to fit this time frame. It accomplishes its goal using lightning kicks to the knees and groin coordinated with the high speed barrage of various hand techniques. Today, many martial arts emphasize kicking to the head, chest, or other high targets.


In Splashing Hands it is an easy matter to kick to the head, chest, kidneys or anywhere else once you have chopped the opponent’s legs out from under him and he is on the ground. In terms of overall fighting strategy, a very important aspect of this system is learning how to control a fight from the outset. You make the first move and force the opponent to react to it. Too often the average person believes that a fight begins only when the first punch is thrown, ignoring the fact that in a combative situation an opponent has already begun to fight you in his mind. His intentions are expressed in his eyes or face or in the placement of his body.

In Splashing Hands training you learn that even though an opponent has not yet thrown a punch or kick, if his face twitches, or he shifts his stance, or even if the wind rustles his eyebrows, he has already made the first move and you must explode into him. In this context, students are taught how important it is to gauge the exact distance between themselves and an opponent, to judge the proper angle for any given situation and to develop precise timing. Because Splashing Hands is an infighting system, working close and sticking to the opponent is of paramount concern. Double blocks, single blocks and strikes along with the sophisticated rolling hands techniques draw the opponent into an attack and pull him dangerously off balance. When the opponent attempts to withdraw from the attacks, the Splashing Hands fighter closes the gap and sticks to him, all the while striking him with jabs, punches, elbows and uppercuts. Once the opponent goes down the fighter continues to stick to him, keeping up the attack until the opponent has been subdued.


Splashing Hands training first emphasizes basic footwork; the shuffles left and right, reverse shuffle, shuffles with kicks, 45 degree shuffle, close the gap, close the gap kick, etc. Then the hand techniques are learned and coordinated with the shuffles. The feet move rapidly as if they were on fire. The hands jab, punch, and uppercut while the feet are in motion. In order to develop the incredible speed for which this system is noted, one must be completely relaxed, applying power in the last instant at the point of contact with the opponent. Like a bullwhip, one is loose and flexible, power engages right at the end. The student is always reminded that relaxation yields speed, and speed yields power. Throughout each phase of training, whether in the foundation techniques, the series of Browns, Advanced Browns, or the forms of the 5 animals, Small Cross and Four Corners, the student learns to develop the sensitivity of touch required to fight as close as possible to the opponent. Two main drills are used regularly to refine the techniques and to sharpen the timing, and more importantly, to instill the principles underlying the system. As in the internal arts of Hsing-I, Ba Kua, Tai Chi and Hsiao Chiu-Tien, the student, while practicing alone, trains as if he were facing a highly skilled opponent. When engaged in a real fight however, he approaches the opponent as if the opponent did not exist. His mind becomes empty and his body reacts in the way it was trained to move.


Using the same techniques and principles developed at the Shaolin Temple of Northern China, Splashing Hands Kung Fu is taught today in southern California. This unbroken chain, symbolized by the counterclockwise turn of the Small Cross forms a vast and endless circle of speed, grace and power, has crossed from Northern China and continues through the teaching of Master James McNeil


Splashing Hands, developed at the Shaolin Temple in the late 1700’s, is a close in fighting system of kung-fu. It was taught to those monks who were in charge of guarding the temple gates. Splashing Hands, named for the way the hands move as if one is shaking water from them, is valued for its explosive, high-speed hand and footwork and its simultaneous offensive and defensive techniques. Historically, only a relatively small number of students learned this system. Even after Splashing Hands was introduced to fighters not associated with the Shaolin Temple, it never became a widely-practiced art. Those who knew the effectiveness of the system were reluctant to share their knowledge with others. Because of this secrecy, it is unknown whether or not Splashing Hands is still practiced today on the Chinese mainland. We do know the style was brought to Taiwan in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, where a former nationalist army general taught a selected few students.