Zui Quan

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Drunken kung fu (Chinese: 醉拳; pinyin: zui quan) is the general name for all the styles of kung fu that use a body mechanics similar to that of a drunken human. The style is very old, so that its origins are unclear. The origin is attributed back to the famous Buddhist and Taoist sects. It is said that in Shaolin temple, since establishment of the Tang dynasty in 620s AD, monks have used drunken-like styles. The more known style is based on the Taoist tale of the drunken 8 immortals. There are numerous barehanded and weapon drunken routines in kung fu. This style uses the most unusual body mechanics among all the styles of kung fu, and includes almost all kinds of combat methods, from attacking and defending with all, even the most unusual, usable parts of the body, grappling, locking, wrestling, dodging, deceiving, and most the other methods, including advanced aerial and ground fighting methods.


Zui quan is a category of techniques, forms and fighting philosophy in Chinese kung fu that appear to imitate a drunkard's movements.[1] The postures are created by momentum and weight of the body, and imitation is generally through staggering and certain type of fluidity in the movements. It is considered to be among the most difficult wushu styles to learn due to the need for powerful joints and fingers. While in fiction practitioners of zui quan are often portrayed as being actually intoxicated, zui quan techniques are highly acrobatic and skilled and require a great degree of balance and coordination, such that any person attempting to perform zui quan techniques while intoxicated 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; dan tian) 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]

Zui Quan styles[edit]

Many kung fu styles utilize drunken methods within forms and techniques. The main categorization falls into the 2 Buddhist and Taoist sects.

Buddhist style[edit]

Creation of the Buddhist style of drunken kung fu is attributed to Shaolin temple. At the beginning of the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), 13 monks from 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 Shaolin 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. Because of Emperor's permission, the monks could abandon the Buddhist rule of not consuming meat and wine. This happened around 621 AD and is said to be the time since then Shaolin monks used drunken methods in their kung fu style.

Taoist style[edit]

The Taoist style is based on the tale of the 8 immortals.


  • Some lineages of Choi Lei Fat contain "drunken" forms and there are also "drunken" segments contained Jow-Ga Kung Fu. Choi Lei Fat drunken technique teaches feints, explosive power generation, swaying motions and various other distraction techniques.[4][5]
  • Houquan or monkey style contains a drunken monkey set.
  • Performance wushu contains several exhibition forms known as "drunken" forms, but which bear no actual connection to the forms found in traditional Chinese martial arts.[2]
  • 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 Gar and Hung Fat contain drunken forms.
  • Some teachings of Drunken Fist also refer to the zui ba xian or Drunken Eight Immortals, and use fighting techniques that are attributed to the characteristics of each one

Zui Quan in popular culture[edit]


  • Zui quan 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. Jackie Chan plays a juvenile delinquent sent by his father to learn Zui Quan from his uncle, a master in the art. This was followed up by the 1994 film Drunken Master II or The Legend of Drunken Master, in which Jackie Chan returns as Wong Fei Hung, now skilled in Zui Quan (after the first film).
  • The style is portrayed in the film, Heroes of the East.
  • 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 Zui Quan, referring to it as "The Drunken Disciples of God".
  • In The Forbidden Kingdom, Jackie Chan's character Lu Yan specializes in Zui Quan. In the middle of the fight between Lu Yan and "The silent Monk" Jet Li Li's character switches to Tanglang Quan or Praying Mantis Kung Fu[disambiguation needed] and ends up beating Chan's Zui Quan, upon which Chan's character switches to Tiger style.
  • The character of So Chan, played by Donnie Yen in the movie Hero Among Heroes, uses the style (as taught to him by his foster father) 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 the style after a drunken Immortal played by Jay Chou appears to him in a bar.
  • Dance of the Drunk Mantis
  • The Super Revengent Monk (1990 film from mainland China), also known as the Super Reverent Monk
  • In No One Can Touch Her, also known as Against the Drunken Cat Paws, the character Lin Chin uses a drunken style of fighting. (This seems to be one of the few films, if not the only film so far, where a female character uses the drunken boxing style.)
  • In Ong Bak 2 Tony Jaa's character uses this style of wushu (in ~47th minute)
  • In The World's End, Gary King and his crew use less than graceful variants of this fighting style 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.


  • 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.
  • Zui Quan 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 uses drunken fighting as his main style of fighting and is famous for his 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 does the Drunken Fist giving 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 as his fighting style.
  • In the 2004 Tokusatsu series "Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger", the character Umeko (Deka Pink) uses the style 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 Zui Quan 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 in the Zui Quan fighting style 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 martial arts tournament.[6]
  • 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 Zui Quan at a level he had never seen before.[7] 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.[8]
  • In Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Greg Heffley learns Zui Quan 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 Zui Quan; 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 Zui Quan 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.
  • A character from the videogame Ōkami seems to practice Zui Quan, as seen in the E3 2005 trailer.
  • In the Warcraft Universe Pandaren are known to use a combination of the drunken boxing technique and the Shaolin fighting style.
  • In the video game Def Jam: Fight For NY, rapper Flava Flav uses Drunken Boxing as his fighting style.
  • 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 the Drunken Boxing fighting style. Also notable is that when the boss takes a swig from his flask he regains a small portion of his health.
  • In Jet Li: Rise to Honor, there is a club manager who appears to use 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 Zui Quan.
  • 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' which mimics Zui Quan. 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 moves of the Drunken Fist style.
  • 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.
  • In the arcade game titled Martial Masters there is a character called Drunk Master. He's an old drunken style martial artist who carries a large calabash on his back presumed to be filled with wine.


  1. ^ "Six Shaolin Boxing Styles". Shaolin International Federation. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  2. ^ a b c Chen, Calvin. "Drunken Kung Fu". KungFuMagazine.com. Retrieved 2013-11-13. 
  3. ^ Secrets of Drunken Boxing Volume 2 - Neil Ripski
  4. ^ "Choi Lei Fut Drunken Form". The Martialarm.com. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  5. ^ "Choi Lei Fut Drunken Boxing". Flying Eagle Martial Arts. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  6. ^ Toriyama, Akira (2003). "Chapter 48". Dragon Ball, Volume 4. Viz Media. 
  7. ^ Kishimoto, Masashi (2007). "Chapter 210-211". Naruto, Volume 25. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-1860-0. 
  8. ^ Børdahl, Vibeke. The Oral Traditions of Yangzhou Storytelling. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press, 1996 (ISBN 0-7007-0436-1), pp. 365-376