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the Animal styles of Kung Fu

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  • the Animal styles of Kung Fu

    having started some in depth research of the countless styles of Kung Fu, I wonder what the concluding view of the members here is with regards to the effectiveness/usefulness of the main animal styles (snake, white crane, praying mantis, monkey, please add any which I omit).

    I would also like for anyone to add those which do not come to the top of my mind. (I have only recently started my research)
    I think that although some of these styles look fantastic (snake for example looks great with those pulsating movements), it is a waste of years of training to do something that will not likely help in anyway whatsoever in a modern day confrontation.

    However, that being said, i am also thinking of maybe learning one or more of these styles (I believe they fall under the umbrella of Lau Gar or Hung Gar, pls correct if wrong) in a few years when I will be too old to carry on with my Boxing, Muay Thai & JJ.
    Could it be that learning such styles, in this day and age, may be more suited for the older practitioner when his/her combat sports days are pretty much over??? or are there folks who believe that these styles are actually effective methods of SD/combat??........

  • #2
    Snake, crane, praying mantis, monkey, tiger; there are hundreds if not thousands of styles. Some styles that I am familar with that are particularly powerful:

    Choy Li Fut
    Hsing Yi
    Ba Gua
    Wing Chun

    There are many more but these are some of my favorites.


    • #3
      I think what you need to do is find out what styles are available near you, and the quality of the schools.


      • #4
        Hmmm to start off their are an incredible number of animal styles you can learn but not all are trditional. And not only are their different animals their are different ranking within each animal style ( like green dragon as opposed to black or golden dragon). I dont feel like naming a bunch of different styles or the rankings of each but here are a few not mentioned: Dragon, Tiger, Eagle, Dove, 8 Animal Pa Kua, Panther(or leopard), Shaolin Bird, White ape, ect... Basically for every animal (or insect) you can find their is some form of form that has been created for it.

        As for the modern day problem, it is not really a problem the hardest thing is to get what you need from the form. every movement usually has a meaning and thought it may be hard to decipher, the art is very destuctive. For example, snake is actually one of the most destructive forms you can use but only when done right. You almost have to literally become the snake. The snake actually has low cunning and low strategy, but it has medium power incredible speed/agility and high precision. Basically a snake master who knows what he is doing should be able to move away from an attack and strike at a vital point almost as soon as the person attacks. This comes whe you realize how reactive the snake is. It stirkes before you can even touch it.
        I was watching a sifu spar one of his students in class and i heard someone say how useless snake style is. All the sudden, my sifu jumped on that guy's case and told him to watch. He proceeded to use snake style for a point sparring match (tournament sparring basically). And well to describe it, it was awesome. Every attack the other guy threw was either instantly blocked or moved around followed by a quick almost unblockable strike to the head (dont worry they had headgear on so it wouldnt hurt the guy).

        In conclusion animal styles rule all and dont pass them up if you get a chance to start learning them. And I'm 18 so i dont really think it is just for old people just smart people

        As did the immortals, we should learn to destroy so that we may preserve! It is a way of truth. The knowledge that I offer you is not an athletic training; it is a sacred trust."
        Shaolin Grandmaster Sin Kwang The'


        • #5
          Kung-Fu Animals

          Stay away from drunken cock style kung fu.

          Too many solo drills........sticky hands practice


          • #6
            I've heard that the principles from xing yi and ba gua make pretty good self defense.


            • #7
              extremely interesting replies above, thks to all of you.
              i am going to get researching some of the above mentioned styles before commenting in any depth.
              i expected all the answers to be along the normal lines of 'animal styles of kf suck' etc.
              very interesting


              • #8
                Originally posted by Tom Yum
                I've heard that the principles from xing yi and ba gua make pretty good self defense.

                Actually, pa kua or ba gua however you want to say it is excellent for defense and counter attacking while Hsing-I (xing yi) is suppose to be chi destroying. It is supposed to be the offense against pa kua and tai chi masters.


                • #9
                  Here's my two cents. I practice five animal kung fu, kenpo and traditional jiu jitsu. Five animal is my favorite. Each animal has it's own qualities that can add to a fighting system, and I have a definite order or preference. That order is leopard, tiger, snake, dragon, crane. Even though crane is furthest away from my personality type, there are situations when it is the right animal to go to. I just have to work harder at doing it right because it doesn't come natural. It is nice having all at my disposal. Having said that, there are practitioners of specific styles like Tiger Claw who do just fine staying within the "spirit" of the tiger. Can you imagine a school teacher who is a tiger stylist only. Raking the face and ripping groins are really not the best options. Certain crane techniques without the beak to the eyes are very useful here. Jiu Jitsu locks are even more useful.

                  If you want to stick to a specific animal system, find the one that best fits your personality. If you can get someone to show you the basics of various systems, it will soon become apparent which fits your personality best.


                  • #10
                    Dim Wit, could you possibly elaborate a little bit about how to assess which style fits which type of personality??, that would be very interesting.


                    • #11
                      Be glad to. I have to leave for work, but when I get back tonight, I'll give some thoughts.


                      • #12
                        thanks Dim, looking forward to reading that.


                        • #13
                          HuSanYan: I'll try to get my thoughts across without writing a dissertation.

                          Tiger: The tiger stylist is aggressive. You meet the problem head on and take it down. Finesse is not a factor. There are the basic kung fu blocks, but the tiger stylist does not fight defensively. The basic hand formation is the tiger claw, and rips to the face, groin, privates are all part of the style. The tiger stylist also uses hammer fists, toe snap kicks, arm breaks, and many other techniques, but the idea is not to pussyfoot around, and take care of the problem right now in a very vicious manner. If your have a very aggressive personality and like to attack rather than defend, this style is for you.

                          In nature the tiger is known for its great power and verocity. The attitude of the tiger is rarely defensive. It is the powerful aggessor who doesn't screw around.

                          Leopard: This is my favorite animal. The leopard is very quick and agile. It is sneaky and treacherous, and always attacks from a tactically advantageous position. It knows when to skulk, sneak away, lie in wait, and wait for the right opportunity. When it has the right opportunity, it comes in quick, hard, and low, and shows no mercy. The leopard stylist is very quick and aggressive, but he controls the circumstances rather than charging into circumstances that already exist as the tiger stylist would. The style uses the leopard's paw (half fist), leopard's mouth (web hand), leopard's claw(same as tiger claw although some would argue it is formed in a little smaller manner) quick kicks, all done in ruthless, rapid succession. Of course, many other techniques from the other animals are woven in. Most kicks go to the knee, groin, and abdomen. The leopard stylist will use more defensive techniques than the tiger. He knows how to slink away and regroup for another ruthless attack. He will move slighly to deflect a blow and quickly move in for a vicious attack. Great style if it fits your personality.

                          Snake: The snake stylist will often coil the body and explode, much like a viper. The hand formations are snake head (all finger pointed forward and slightly bent), the snake's tongue (index and middle finger out and slightly bent). Think of Moe of the Three Stooges poking Curly in the eye), and the index finger (sometimes called the snake's fang). One snake head hand will often block and deflect as the other one strikes. The palm heel strike is also used. We call it the Cobra's Head, but I'm not sure if it is called that or used in other five animal systems. Often one hand deflects while the other hand strikes simultaneously. We also incorporate the spirit of the boa into grappling techniques. This includes guillotines, triangle chokes, wing chokes, rear naked chokes, arm bars, hammer locks, chicken wings, you get the idea. Since grappling is all the rage, the kung fu stylist can adapt to the times by incorporating grappling into the snake style as constrictor movements.

                          Dragon: The dragon claw is formed in the same fashion as if you were palming a basketball. The Dragon's Tail is anything that swings and hits hard such as hammer fists, ridge hands, side kicks, roundhouse kicks, and hook punches. The claw is often used for grabbing as you do something nasty with the other hand, arm, elbow, leg. The dragon stylist will use his body to achieve leverage on joints. Joint breaks will make the true dragon very gleeful. The dragon's movements are circular and he will twist his body a lot. I am not good at the twisting part. A few years ago I could do it better. The dragon will stay out of range (just not be there) much of the time. He will also exit the area without "finishing anything off" is he chooses. If he finishes off, it can be as ruthless as the leopard. It might be interesting for you to read Revelation, Chapter 12 in the Bible. I would pay a good amount of money to see the fight with that Dragon (Lucifer). The dragon will do a lot of sweeps with the legs.

                          Crane: The crane stylist uses the crane beak. I believe some crane stylists use the thumb and first three fingers to form this, but we group all five fingers tightly to form it. It is great for going for the eyes, throat and soft tissue. The crane's head is the back of the hand attacking a target. The crane's head is used for blocking and trapping, but the dragon's claw is much better for this. The arm's are used as wings for blocking and continuing on as an attack. For examplem as one "wing" might block a left hook, the left wing would come across to attack the opponents neck. I found myself using crane blocks (parries, inside blocks, and outside blocks) using crane beaks.
                          I found myself using crane beak blocks to intervene in a fight at school one day. It was very natural. I don't enjoy it when fights break out, but on the other hand, it does break up the monotony. I guess I'm a little sick.

                          The crane is a patient bird, and doesn't really want to kill. It will peck out an eye or peck. The crane in the wild will use the wings to creat some distance between it and its adversaries. I am not a good crane stylist, but a truly good one is beautiful to watch. Yes we stand on one leg like in the Karate Kid, but I always feel silly doing it.

                          Hope this helps. I have different personalities, just short of being a little crazy. Different moods make me comfortable in different animal "spirits" at different times. Believe me, if you try out the different animal systems, you will learn what is best for you. Hopefully, these comments will bring you a little closer to a decision.

                          By the way, animal systems aren't for everyone. There are cultural aversions to quacking like ducks, and screaching and rolling like monkeys. I study, and have studied other systems, but I always come back to my first love, which are animal forms. But even no nonsense, straight forward fighters, would benefit from studying some tiger forms.

                          P.S. I'm too tired to do a spell or grammer check, so if there are mistakes, get the old red pen out.


                          • #14
                            Even modern fighters and MMAists admit that Ba Gua has the best footwork of any martial art.


                            • #15
                              No they don't.