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Zuiquan (Chinese: 醉拳; pinyin: zuiquan), often referred to in English as drunken fist or drunken boxing, is a category of Chinese martial arts that imitate the movements of a drunkard.[1] Its origin is attributed back to the famous Buddhist and Daoist sects. The Buddhist style is traced to the Shaolin temple in the Song dynasty (960-1279 AD) while the Daoist style is based on the tale of the drunken Eight Immortals. Zuiquan has the most unusual body mechanics among all the Chinese fighting arts, making use of all,even the most unusual, parts of the body to attack and defend. Grappling, locking, dodging, and deceiving are all incorporated, including advanced aerial and ground fighting methods. Zuiquan was once considered unsuitable for women due to the traditional Chinese attitude toward female drunkenness, but today it is practiced without gender restriction.


The techniques, forms and fighting philosophy of zuiquan are based on imitating drunkenness. The postures are created by momentum and weight of the body, and imitation is generally through staggering around and fluidity in the movements. It is considered among the most difficult wushu styles to learn due to the need for powerful joints. While in fiction practitioners of zuiquan are often portrayed as being actually intoxicated, zuiquan techniques are highly acrobatic and skilled and require a great degree of balance and coordination, such that any person attempting to perform these moves while drunk would be likely to injure themselves.[2]

The main body method is known as sloshing, which refers to "Hollow Body, Wine Belly" concept, as though the body is hollow and the lower abdomen (丹田; dantian) is filled with wine, which travels through the body adding power to the movements.[3] This sloshing power or intangible heavy power is gained through training the body to be soft and agile through the drunken forms and other training. Its fighting ability hinges on the ability to create sudden power from awkward positions and that power must be from softness and heaviness. The hand gesture is to imitate holding a small cup of wine. These semi-closed, semi-open hands are used for any purpose whether attack or defense, grab or throw, lock or release, etc.

Even though the style seems irregular and off-balance, it takes the utmost balance to be successful. To excel, one must be relaxed and flow with ease from one technique to another. Swaying, drinking, and falling are used to throw off opponents. When the opponent thinks the drunken boxer is vulnerable he is usually well balanced and ready to strike. When swigging a wine cup the practitioner is really practicing grabbing and striking techniques. The waist movements trick opponents into attacking, sometimes even falling over. Falls can be used to avoid attacks but also to pin attackers to the ground while vital points are targeted.[2]


While zuiquan has a great variety of schools, the main features are similar.[4] The major categorization falls into the 2 major Buddhist and Daoist systems:

Buddhist style[edit]

The Buddhist style of zuiquan is attributed to Shaolin temple. At the beginning of the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), 13 monks from the Shaolin temple intervened in a great war to help Li Shimin against rebel forces. The role of the monks was prominent so Li Shimin, as the next emperor, appreciated the monks' help and bestowed on them officialdom, land, and wealth. In ceremony of the victory, he sent the temple a gift of meat and wine.[5](vol2,p475) Because of the emperor's permission, the monks could abandon the Buddhist rule of not consuming meat and wine. This happened around 621 AD and since then, some Shaolin monks have consumed meat and wine.

The drunken style was first introduced in the Song dynasty (960-1279 AD).[5](vol2,p476) It is said a man named Liu Qizan,[2] who had accidentally killed a person, sought refuge in Shaolin, to avoid trial and to repent. Despite his monastic vows, he still continued drinking much wine. This was not tolerable by the monks and they wanted to expel him from the temple. While completely drunk after consuming a huge amount of wine, he defied and beat the monks, some say 30 monks. The abbot, after seeing this, praised his skill. This drunken style of combat was adopted from him by the monks and refined over the generations.[5](vol2,p476)[2]

Among the most important Buddhist icons for the Shaolin monks are the Arhats, known in Chinese as Aluohan. The same holds for their drunken style, in which, the main character is the drunken Luohan. Drunken Luohan methods in Shaolin do not appear only in zuiquan; there are also several other styles in which a drunken Luohan is mentioned. Examples include Shaolin Luohanquan in which a drunken Luohan steps forward, and Shaolin mad-devil staff,[6] in which a drunken Luohan sways to the sides with disorderly steps.

As with other Shaolin systems, Shaolin zuiquan is not a complete stand-alone system but consists of a few barehanded and weapon forms which, together with other forms and styles, comprise the whole system of Shaolinquan. Every lineage of Shaolin monks may have one or two barehanded[7][8][9] and one or a few weapon forms of zuiquan. The main weapon is the drunken staff,[10][11] but other weapons such as the drunken sword are also practiced.[12] Though the technical contents are almost the same, the drunken forms of different lineages are different and their historical sources are mostly unclear.

Daoist style[edit]

The Daoist style is called Zuibaxian, literally meaning "Drunken Eight Immortals". Unlike its Buddhist counterpart, zuibaxian is a complete system itself comprising 8 forms, each representing one of the Eight Immortals.

  1. Lü Dongbin (吕洞宾), the leader of the 8 immortals, with a sword on his back that dispels evil spirits, swaying back and forth to trick the enemy.[13]
  2. Li Tieguai (李铁拐), Li, the cripple, walks with an iron cane, feigns the weakness of having just one leg, to win the fight.[14]
  3. Han Zhongli (汉钟离), the strongest immortal, who carries a large cauldron of wine, tackles the enemies with strength.[15]
  4. Lan Caihe (蓝采和), sexually ambiguous, carries a bamboo basket, attacking the enemies with rotating feminine waist, mostly feminine postures.[16]
  5. Zhang Guolao (张果老), the old man Zhang, donkey rider, with his entertaining postures on the donkey, and his donkey's lethal, advanced kicks.[17]
  6. Cao Guojiu (曹国舅), the youngest immortal, a clever, controlled fighter, he may lock and break the joints (擒拿; qin na), attacks the deadly, soft parts of the enemy body (点穴; dian xue).[18]
  7. Han Xiangzi (韩湘子), flute-playing immortal, denying and countering the enemy attacks.[19]
  8. He Xiangu (何仙姑), Miss He, flirting with the enemy to cover her short-range attacks, evading the enemy attacks with the twisting beautiful feminine body.[20]

The main weapon is the drunken sword,[21] but other weapons such as the staff are also used.


Many Chinese martial arts utilize drunken methods within forms and techniques.

  • Some lineages of Choi Lei Fat contain drunken forms which incorporate feints, explosive power generation, swaying motions and various other distraction techniques.[22][23]
  • Houquan or monkey style contains a drunken monkey set.
  • Some family styles incorporate drunken techniques. In modern times the Ma family style known as Eight Shadows Fist (BaYingQuan) has a large drunken curriculum with a long involved hand form and weapon sets including staff, spear and sword.
  • Most lineages of Hung Ga and Hung Fat contain drunken forms.
  • Modern performance wushu contains several exhibition drunken forms.[2]

In popular culture[edit]


  • Zuiquan received mainstream media attention outside of China after the premiere of the Jackie Chan film Drunken Master in 1978. Since then, Drunken Fist has featured in many books, movies, comics, games and television shows. This was followed up by the 1994 film Drunken Master II or The Legend of Drunken Master.
  • In Last Hero in China, Jet Li's character Wong Fei-Hung broke his toes when attempting to perform a No Shadow Kick on an enemy. As a last resort, he started drinking from nearby wine-jugs, and thus began to use Zuiquan, referring to it as "The Drunken Disciples of God".
  • The character of So Chan, played by Donnie Yen in the movie Hero Among Heroes, uses zuiquan to defeat the main villain.
  • Neo, in The Matrix, is taught Drunken Boxing among the martial arts uploaded to him via direct implantation into his brain.
  • In Yuen Woo Ping's film, True Legend, the main protagonist, Su Can, or "Beggar So" develops zuiquan after a drunken Immortal played by Jay Chou appears to him in a bar.
  • A rare female example, the character Lin Chin uses a drunken style of fighting in No One Can Touch Her, also known as Against the Drunken Cat Paws.
  • In The World's End, Gary King and his crew use less than graceful variants of zuiquan against the Blanks, becoming more "proficient" after each drink- the stunts were coordinated by Brad Allen, who has worked with Jackie Chan in the past.
  • Dance of the Drunk Mantis
  • Heroes of the East
  • Forbidden Kingdom


  • In the anime Dragon Ball, Jackie Chun (Master Roshi) uses the Drunken Boxing technique in the final match of the World Martial Arts Tournament against Goku. When aired on Cartoon Network, it was called the "Mad Cow" style due to censorship of alcoholic references.
  • Zuiquan was featured on an episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien, in which martial arts expert Jet Li explained this style.
  • In the television special Fight Science, Alex Huynh displayed drunken boxing in a segment on Chinese martial arts.
  • In the MTV2 television series The Final Fu one of the competitors, Jonathan Phan, used Drunken Boxing to fight against one of his opponents.
  • In the anime "Naruto", Rock Lee, an expert in taijutsu, utilizes Drunken Fist (Loopy Fist in the English dub, due to censorship of underage drinking) when he gets accidentally drunk on sake (Elixir in the English dub), which he mistakes for medicine. Rock Lee fights Kimimaro during the Sasuke retrieval saga, though his alcoholic lapses are relatively brief, and he has no memory of his actions once he has returned to his normal self.
  • In the manga and anime "Yu Yu Hakusho", the character Chu is famous for his drunken fist technique. He becomes proportionally stronger with every drink he has. While this is not censored in the English dub, it is still edited out when aired on Cartoon Network due to the censorship of alcoholic references.
  • Wentian (played by Vincent Zhao), the protagonist of the 2002 Chinese TV series Drunken Hero, masters a set of martial arts based on different styles of Drunken Fist, with each style named after a Chinese alcoholic drink.
  • In the anime OVA series History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi aka Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Li Raichi is a practitioner of the Drunken Fist of the Eight Immortals.
  • In the fourth episode of the 1990 tokusatsu series, "Chikyu Sentai Fiveman", when Remi Hoshikawa/Five Yellow was intoxicated after drinking water that was turned into alcohol by Zone's monsters, then gets herself even more drunk by drinking wine then uses Drunken Fist to buy time for her siblings to regroup. This was later applied on their giant robo whilst fighting the monster.
  • In the 1993 tokusatsu series "Gosei Sentai Dairanger", Kazu of the Heavenly Time Star (天時星・知), as the Qilin Ranger, uses drunken fist.
  • In the 2004 Tokusatsu series "Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger", the character Umeko (Deka Pink) uses drunken fist to defeat the Alienizer Ozchuian Ial after getting drunk who also uses the same style in episode 17 (Twin Cam Angel)
  • In the Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness episode "Love Stings", the main protagonist Po develops a fighting style called "Dizzy Kung Fu" which appears to be based on Zuiquan and uses it to defeat Scorpion after she poisons him. In the same episode, Monkey uses the "Drunken Monkey" fighting style while he and Po are training.
  • The character Tatane Meme from the series Soul Eater Not! is proficient zuiquan while in semi-consciousness (such as a state of half-sleep).


  • In the manga series Dragon Ball, Kame-Sen'nin uses the Sui-ken (translated as "Phony Drunk Attack" by Viz Media) in his battle against Goku in the Tenka'ichi Budōkai.[24]
  • In the manga series Naruto, the character Rock Lee is a natural-born user of the Drunken Fist. Rock Lee mistakes a bottle of sake for his medicine, and Might Guy tells the Hokage (village leader) that he witnessed Rock Lee using zuiquan at a level he had never seen before.[25] Similar to its anime counterpart, the English language manga also removed the alcoholic reference, but replaced the sake with the term "Potion" and renaming the style to "Potion Punch".
  • The folktale Swordplay Under the Moon, created by noted Yangzhou storyteller Wang Shaotang (1889-1968), tells of how the Water Margin bandit Wu Song comes to learn swordplay from Zhou Tong, the military arts teacher of Song Dynasty General Yue Fei. After Wu is sent to Kaifeng to deliver a load of gold for government officials, he retires to a local inn and, that evening, begins to practice his drunken boxing in the rear courtyard. However, his practice is interrupted when the screams of another martial artists breaks his concentration. He stands on a stool and peers over a tall wall to see Zhou performing drunken swordplay for a group of aristocrats. Zhou invites Wu over the wall and eventually takes him as his student.[26]
  • In Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Greg Heffley learns zuiquan in the future 6th book. He used it while fighting with Rowley's father, Robert.
  • In the manga series History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi Li Raichi is a practitioner of the Drunken Fist of the Eight Immortals.

Video Games[edit]

  • The character Bo' Rai Cho from Mortal Kombat uses Drunken Fist as his primary fighting style. (secondary in Deception). The name Bo' Rai Cho comes from the Spanish word "borracho", meaning drunk. Bo' Rai Cho has a love for alcoholic beverages (most notably rice wine), and is credited as being the creator of the Mortal Kombat universe's version of the style.
  • Brad Wong of Dead or Alive is a practitioner of zuiquan; as is Shun Di of Virtua Fighter series, Chin Gentsai of the King of Fighters series, Suika Ibuki of the Touhou series, Li Xiangfei (though in a very simplified, heavily toned-down form) of Fatal Fury, .
  • Lei Wulong character of Tekken features zuiquan techniques as part of his move set.
  • In the Wu-Tang Clan game Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style, the rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard used the Drunken Boxing technique.
  • In the Warcraft Universe Pandaren are known to use a combination of drunken boxing and the Shaolin fighting style.
  • In the video game Def Jam: Fight For NY, rapper Flava Flav uses Drunken Boxing.
  • In the BioWare title Jade Empire, drunken boxing is one of the fighting styles available later in the game.
  • In the Hudson Soft 1989 title China Warrior, the final boss of the final level uses Drunken Boxing.
  • In Double Dragon for Neo Geo, Cheng Fu fought using Drunken Boxing and is probably the first 2D characters in fighting games to use it.
  • In the arcade game Martial Masters there was a fighter known as the Drunken Master who used zuiquan.
  • In the MMORPG game 9Dragons, one of the four leagues, the League of Beggars, uses slightly modified techniques of the Drunken Fist as its secondary weapon.
  • The online fighting game Rumble Fighter has a fighting style named Drunken Boxing. Its Korean counterpart, Gem Fighter, has another version called 'Drunken Master' which is more complex and slightly more "drunken".
  • In the 3D beat-em-up God Hand for PlayStation 2, the main character is able to learn several Drunken Fist moves.
  • The Drunken Fist Pack DLC for Sleeping Dogs adds a Drunken Fist outfit that allows your character to use a new set of techniques in combat.


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  2. ^ a b c d e Chen, Calvin. "Drunken Kung Fu". KungFuMagazine.com. Retrieved 2013-11-13. 
  3. ^ Secrets of Drunken Boxing Volume 2 - Neil Ripski
  4. ^ Dingbo Wu (1994). Handbook Of Chinese Popular Culture. Greenwood. ISBN 0313278083. 
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  7. ^ Shi Yanbin. 醉拳一路 (video). 
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  14. ^ Drunken Kung Fu - Eight Drunken Immortals, 2nd Form: Li Tit Kwai. ikungfu.net. 
  15. ^ Drunken Kung Fu - Eight Drunken Immortals, 3rd Form: Han Zhong Li. ikungfu.net. 
  16. ^ Drunken Kung Fu - Eight Drunken Immortals, 4th Form: Lan Cai He. ikungfu.net. 
  17. ^ Drunken Kung Fu - Eight Drunken Immortals, 5th Form: Zhang Guo Lao. ikungfu.net. 
  18. ^ Drunken Kung Fu - Eight Drunken Immortals, 6th Form: Cao Guo Jiu. ikungfu.net. 
  19. ^ Drunken Kung Fu - Eight Drunken Immortals, 7th Form: Han Xiang Zi. ikungfu.net. 
  20. ^ Drunken Kung Fu - Eight Drunken Immortals, 8th Form: He Xian Gu. ikungfu.net. 
  21. ^ You Xuande. The Wudang esoteric kung fu series: Wu Dang 8 drunken immortals swordplay (video). 
  22. ^ "Choi Lei Fut Drunken Form". The Martialarm.com. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  23. ^ "Choi Lei Fut Drunken Boxing". Flying Eagle Martial Arts. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  24. ^ Toriyama, Akira (2003). "Chapter 48". Dragon Ball, Volume 4. Viz Media. 
  25. ^ Kishimoto, Masashi (2007). "Chapter 210-211". Naruto, Volume 25. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-1860-0. 
  26. ^ Børdahl, Vibeke. The Oral Traditions of Yangzhou Storytelling. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press, 1996 (ISBN 0-7007-0436-1), pp. 365-376