Animal Styles Of Chinese Martial Arts
Monkey Kung Fu is a style where practitioners mimic the behaviour and movements of a monkey, including flipping backwards and forwards, springing up and down, running on all fours and walking on their hands, lunging back and forth and so on. Many kicks and strikes are included in Monkey style, mostly aimed at vulnerable areas like the knees, groin, eyes and throat. Strikes are normally slaps with an open palm or clawing motions with a half-open fist. Monkey style also has a special weapon associated with it, called hou gan (Monkey staff).
Monkey Kung Fu can be traced back to the Han dynasty. There are many different types of Monkey, including 'Drunken Monkey', where the practitioner mimics the drunken movements of a monkey, and 'Stone Monkey', which incorporates an element of iron body training.
Eagle Claw is one of the oldest systems of Northern Kung Fu. Along with extended kicks and strikes Eagle Claw also includes numerous joint locks, grappling techniques, takedowns and pressure point strikes. Practitioners of this system require strong hands and fingers.
According to history this style began in the Shaolin Temple before becoming absorbing into military training, and then to the wider public with the establishment of the Jing Wu Athletic Association.
A fluid style of Kung Fu where practitioners imitate the movements of snakes. There are Northern and Southern versions, although the two are unrelated. Snake style is said to lend itself well to the use of the jian (Chinese straight sword).
Snake concentrates on strong whipping strikes delivered up the spine and out through the fingers. As such, grounded footwork is very important, as is a strong spine and fingers. The control and application of breath is also an important factor. The strikes of Snake style generally aim for vulnerable areas on the human body such as the throat, eyes and joints.
Mantis Kung Fu is a form of Chinese martial art known for its aggressiveness, speed, complex attacks and evasive footwork. It exists in both the northern and southern regions of China, although it is not clear when it came into existence as a distinct style.
In the north the style is based around mimicking the movements of a praying mantis. Practitioners deliver long, whip-like attacks to an opponent's body, deflecting force and unbalancing them for a precise strike to a vital area. There are several styles of Mantis existing including 'Seven Star Praying Mantis Boxing' and 'Plum Blossom Praying Mantis Boxing'.
In the south Mantis Kung Fu refers to a different system of fighting that emphasizes short-range attacking and striking, with practitioners focusing on hand and arm techniques and limiting the use of kicks. There are also several different styles existing in the south, including Chow Gar and Chu Gar.
White Crane Boxing is a form of Southern Kung Fu that originated in Fujian. Creation of this style is attributed to a female martial artist, Fang Qiniang. The distinguishing features of Crane are deep stances, intricate hand techniques and close-range fighting. It is considered a popular style for women because it stresses evading an attack rather than using physical strength.
Several lineages of White Crane Boxing exist, and the style is considered a member of the 'Five Ancestors' group, which incorporates techniques and methods from five Southern styles including Monkey Kung Fu and Luohan. Crane style is also one of the 'Five Animals' group.
A Northern style that originated in Shangdong Province. Tiger is known for its extensive footwork, wide stances, low kicks, and unique fist position, where the thumb is curled in the same manner as the other fingers, rather than being wrapped around them.
This style was first created in the Shaolin Temple before passed on to outsiders in the 19th century. It is considered by many to be the most external form of all the Shaolin styles, but it still contains an element of internal training such as regulating the breath.
A style of Kung Fu relying on speed, aggressiveness and surprise attacks. It is considered one of the 'Five Animals' group of Shaolin styles (also including the Crane, Dragon, Tiger and Snake).
A practitioner of this style will focus on elbows, knees, low kicks and leopard punches (a half-opened fist where the striking surfaces are the finger ridges and the palm). Someone using leopard style will not focus overly on blocking or strong stances, but on 'hit and run' techniques.
Dragon Kung Fu is a fluid style that relies on chi cultivation in its later stages. Since the dragon is a mythical animal this style incorporates techniques and methods from the other 'Five Animals' group of styles.
A Dragon practitioner will seek to evade blows and strikes through standing at a 45 degree angle to the opponent and shifting the upper body and waist out of reach. This is a Southern style, and as such there is limited use of the legs and kicks. The focus is on arm techniques, strikes and handwork.
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