Praying Mantis style is very famous and was said to have been developed in the 1700s by a fighter named Wang Lang. There are many legends as to its origin.
* One such legend states that supposedly developed it specifically to defeat Taoist or Buddhist monks of the Shaolin Temple. Wang Lang had been a very successful fighter who decided to test himself against the monks and failed miserably in his first fight. He then supposedly devoted years of his life to developing a fighting system with which he could defeat them. The result, we are told, is Praying Mantis style (named, it is said, the praying mantis whose defeat of a much larger cicada inspired Wang Lang to study its movements) The monks, in a pattern that was repeated many times in history, adopted the resulting style into the curriculum of the Temple.
* In a another legend, In Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Wang Lang, who had learned kung fu from the Shaolin Temple, on his way in travel when he met a man who challenged him to a fight. In three days and nights, Wang Lang could not reach his opponent, who was much taller and had longer arms. Resting against a tree, Wang Lang thought very hard for a method to win, when he saw a praying mantis. He used a piece of grass stem to play with it. When the stem touched, the praying mantis would turn its head and maneuver its body in such a way as to bypass the stem regardless of the fact that the stem was long. The two arms, with the left positioned in the front and the right behind, or the right in the front and the left behind, seemed to be hooking and attacking in a tactical manner. All of a sudden, Wang Lang realized what to do. He fought the other man again and this time defeated him.
He took the praying mantis with him back in the temple, and imitated its movements. Within only a few months, he learned all of the basic movements of the praying mantis such as hook, hold, hang, and hack. This would mark the beginning of the famous Tang Lang Quan, which would be refined countless additional times in the ensuing years. Wang Lang then became a renowned martial arts master of his era.