To’a! Meet Persian Martial Arts…

Posted on March 3, 2012


Okay, to be honest I’ve been involved with martial arts myself for some time (Shotokan Karate), being an avid fan of both martial arts shows and movies, I’ve never heard of “Kung Fun To’a” – which is a persian martial art. I somehow feel a lot of people haven’t heard of it, so let’s go through a brief intro.


Kung Fu To’a is a Persian martial art, developed by Iranian Master Ibrahim Mirzaii in the 1960s. It is a unique style of Kung Fu with Yoga influences focused on a healthier mind and body. It is made up by combination of Northern and Southern styles of Shaolin Kung fu. To’a training essentially depends on mastering combative forms (khat), which are unarmed as well as armed, with particular emphasis on physical and mental health and meditation practices. Today Kung Fu To’A is the most popular martial art in Iran with about 200.000 members.

Kung Fu To’A consists of about 73.000 techniques, combinations and reactions. Dynamic wavelike movements and strong accentuation of techniques (called shock), frequently finished by a twist are characteristic for this martial art.

A new form of Kung Fu is born…while it’s creator vanishes without a trace

The Grand Master Ibrahim Mirzaii was born in Iran on 7/11/1318 (october, the 3rd,1938) according to the Persian calendar. Since he was a boy, he studied different Martial Arts and became an expert in various disciplines when he was still quite young.

The young Mirzaii began a military career in the Iranian army, becoming an officer in the Air Force. He participated in a number of courses: regular combat technique, special air force corps, free jump, advanced courses in special missions, irregular and guerilla combat tactics; instructor’s course in parachuting ( where he reached the three-star level), special course in mountains and trees, a desert operations course, information wars, surviving in harsh conditions, amphibious operations on land and see, rescue operations, and a course for “Rangers”.

His immense passion for Martial Art came to be known by the Shah Reza Pahlavi who compensated him by financing a trip to the Far East to study Martial Arts and Oriental Philosophy more deeply with the aim of creating a new martial art from his experience, one that integreted the Persian culture on physical form.

Financially supported by shah Reza Pahlavi, Mirzaii started a journey through Asia in order to learn different martial arts and to create a unique style, which should have Iranian characteristics. His journey laid the foundation of Kung Fu To’A.

Grand Master Mirzaii had an intricate knowledge of Tae Kwon Do / Karate / Southern Shaolin Kung Fu and Yoga with some Tai Chi. These were combined to create Kung Fu To’a style. The mental and physical training of Kung Fu To’a renders the body lean, flexible, fast and very powerful able to unleash an enormous amount of power within a split second. It took Mirzai about 25 years to compile his unique style.

He received a degree in philosophy, a professorship in education in the military school, and he founded the “Faculty of Body and Soul Training”, where he taught Kung.Fu Toa and the physiology of human energy. He carried out scientific and physical activities in different schools and universities. Furthermore, he worked in a physical therapy clinic in Tehran, working on patients with uncurable physical problems through his knowledge of the circulation of energy in the human body and hypnosis.

The reason why Professor Mirzaii’s hypnosis was so much effective was surely due to his great charisma. He was able to “pull” and motivate all his students (more than ten thousand in the first year of teaching), who loved him and who still love him passionately. In his teachings, he transmitted the idea of liberating oneself from false necessities, of raising the popular cultural level and creating the necessary instruments for the evolution of the lower social classes as well, and build a harmonious system where progress is related to human necessities and values, opposing a system based on fighting and the deliberate neglect of legal responsability, a system in which a few get the power and wealth and foment wars while the impotent masses can only look on.

During the revolution in Iran in 1978-1979 the shah was overthrown. The political events drastically changed Mirzaii’s life. In 1979, during some protests against the bad politics of the Shah, the Iranian revolution exploded, driven by different forces united at least in this cause. The religious movement had more force and soon Iran became the Islamic Republic of Iran. It was a dangerous period for many Iranians, who decided to leave the country. Professor Mirzaii, whose teachings had “too much” philosophical and spiritual education for his students-who were always against totalitarianism-suffered an attack a few years later: they shot him in the legs. It was considered that his thoughts were uncomfortable. He escaped to Turkey and later to Europe, and eventually all traces of him were lost.

Below is a photo gallery of Ebrahim Mirzaii. The photos are of awful quality, but this is as good as it gets.


Kung Fu is the world of motion, motion of power, motion of beauty, motion of justice and humanity, motion to a healthy society. Kung Fu is motion to pure thought, where its secret lies in the language of the soul. This means the path of heart, the (re)discovery of pure knowledge, which we already have in us.

“Kung Fu To’A” practices use the body as a “portal” to this path. By powerful motion Kung Fu teaches you strength and courage to let go of known, to reexperience who you are and to realize the whole spectrum of your soul.

Another way to achieve self-awareness is meditation. It is used for cleaning your mind, freeing from thoughts to enhance presence and to face your ego. An analogue to the path of pure heart and to the teachings of the seven forms of Kung Fu To’A can be found in Persian literature: “The Conference of the Birds” by Fariduddin Attar.

Thinking well, talking well and acting well…

The belt is of red fabric and has a broad coloured stripe in its middle. According to the student’s level the middle stripe can be white, green, brown or black. The red belt is supposed to be worn only by Grandmaster Mirzaii. A folded belt has on one side three folds of different sizes representing “Think well. Talk well. Act well.”.

“This” symbolizes “that”…

One of the most common symbols of Kung Fu To’A is a falcon with spread wings. This could be originated in a tale about the Simorgh, where he spreads with one flap the seeds of the tree of life all over the world. Furthermore falcons are considered to be extremely beady-eyed and sharp-sighted. Their eyesight, hunting abilities, grace and force at flying are outstanding characteristics.

The Seven Forms

There are mainly seven forms in Kung Fu To’A. Instead of form terms like khat or line are in common usage as well. A form is a fix motion sequence composed of many different techniques, which serve as self-defence and attacks or follows energetic aspects. Each of these forms will be examined by at least one master. If a practitioner passes an examination he gets a stripe on his right chest of the training jacket.

Beyond the physical education each of the seven forms deals with a given philosophical topic.

1. Anato’A
2. Atado
3. Soto
4. Samsamae
5. Mayana
6. Kuanna & Vest Mayana (The sixth grade of Kung Fu To’A consists of two forms: Kuanna and Vest Mayana (Vest Mayana is also called “Vest Ai”).
7. Vaymabato

Officially a green belt is given for To’A students after they passed the examination of the seventh form. When a student passes the examination for the master grade, a red jacket is handed to him. Originally further forms without weapons have been planned, based on the existing forms. Because of the given historical events (prohibition of Kung Fu To’A, attack on Mirzaii) only “Anato’A sabz” (also called green or brown Anato’A) was officially passed on.

Since these additions to the system of Kung Fu To’A starting with Anato’A sabz haven’t been completed, Vaymabato can be considered as a close. Thus, several schools already pass the black belt after the seventh form instead of the green belt.

There are, though, two additional weapon forms, which have been passed on: Sai and Rekeyma (Samurai sword).


Today, it is organised in at least ten countries in Europe, the U.S. and Middle East. Several years ago this style was legalised again in Iran and is nowadays one of the most popular martial arts there. Nevertheless, To’a is still a relatively unknown Kung Fu style in other countries.

Kung Fu To’a is teached and practiced in such countries as Brazil, Switzerland, UK, Canada, the U.S., Bulgaria, Sweden, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Italy and other countries.

Posted in: iran society