Animal styles? Are they pointless??

thetruth

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When I look at some martial art styles I really don't understand the logic behind their creation. When animals fight they do so from instinct and use their weapons in the most effiicient way possible. Why do humans develop fighting styles based on the movements of animals when we are not put together the same, we don't have the same attributes (ie strength or speed) and cannot possibly perform those moves as well as the animal. I see people rolling on the ground like a monkey and think that it is stupid. Chimps are atleast 4 times as strong as an equivalent sized human and can use their legs in a similar manner to their arms. How can a human possibly defend itself like a monkey.

Shouldn't humans be utilising skills that are best suited to their characteristics???

As for fighting like insects well it makes less sense to me as their strengths in certain body parts are in no way similar to a human.

Anyways I don't get it and think its pointless trying to copy something we are not.

Cheers
Sam:asian:
 
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thetruth

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Just to be clear I am not referring to things like the tiger claw or other descriptive terms used to describe a human movement
 

Zero

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Look, I get what you're saying. And yeah while I grew up on a lot of chop-sockey kung fu movie rubbish which I enjoyed, you gotta admit that a lot of that movie stuff is just that, rubbish for fun and entertainment.

However, just like you mention tiger claw, there are many other justifiable moves initially taken (perhaps) from viewing wildlife fighting. Praying manits and crane strikes are very damaging if done correctly. I think the key is to use what works and view it as just another effective soft tissue strike. I do think that going into a pose or fighting position that actually attempts to replicate the physiology or shape of the animal that the strike is (apparently) copied from is going a step too far though.

The strikes in these styles may be effective but to start moving around in a way that resembles a chimp rolling on the ground or to sway like a mantis, please, don't waste your energy in a fight on that. You need skill but be natural to yourself, your human self, when fighting.

I am sure that a lot of kung fu communities are going to come down on your head (and probably mine too now, thanks) - or maybe they are confident enough in their styles they don't need to respond. However, I do agree with some aspects of your comment/question. While I am nothing special I have been fighting in tournaments for almost 20 years and mma for the last 5 and have never fought against someone that adopted or importantly, when the fight started, kept to these traditional styalised movements. Outside of tournaments and on the street, aside from clean, direct strikes or responses, I do not understand the place of replicating animalistic and convoluted movements.

Just my two cents.
 

Bill Mattocks

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Outside of tournaments and on the street, aside from clean, direct strikes or responses, I do not understand the place of replicating animalistic and convoluted movements.

I'm a newb, and my style contains no animal styles (isshinryu), so please disregard anything incredibly naive or stupid I might say.

The thought occurs to me that animal styles fall into the category of 'unconventional' attacks and defenses. Part of their effectiveness is that it confuses the opponents' defenses and throws off their attacks. I doubt it would work as well over time, but in a first-time fight against someone not trained in that style, I can imagine it might really disrupt their trained responses.
 

Jade Tigress

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I agree with Zero's take on this. The animal styles can be very effective. They were derived by observing how animals defend themselves against larger prey and adapting their techniques. It's not pretending you're the animal.

For instance, a number of years ago I was watching a wildlife program. A crane was at the edge of river when a hippo approached it's territory. Obviously, hippos are much larger and stronger than cranes. The crane repeatedly darted toward the hippo and struck tender places with it's beak while evading the hippo the whole time. The hippo was determined, but so was the crane, and eventually the hippo retreated. So from this we learn that a smaller, weaker opponent can overcome a larger, stronger opponent by stressing evasion and targeting vulnerable areas. The crane wore it's opponent down.

If you look at the animal styles you will see different strategies. Crane systems are agile and yielding, they have excellent balance and disturb the balance of others. They use circular deflections (think wings). They gouge and poke (think beak).

Tiger systems focus on explosive speed and power using "tiger claws" for palm strikes, and raking, gouging, ripping, etc. techniques. It's an offensive system using low sturdy stances and fast attacks. Whereas Leopard systems are more agile and not as powerful as the Tiger. They focus on strength in a small frame and internal strikes using enormous impact.

Snake systems are deceptive. They are powerful and flexible and attack vital pressure points with fast strikes. They use restricting techniques such as choking, grappling, wrapping, and crushing.

Dragon systems use constant, loose, flowing motion, developing concentration. They use low stances and blunt power. It's a defensive system.

All of these (with the exception of the Dragon) are things that have been observed in nature.

These are just a few, obviously we have Mantis and Monkey among others. But the premise is there. Observing how animals are able to defend/attack and succeed, and applying the same strategies.
 

Xue Sheng

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Animal styles? What about them

Are they pointless?? No

Me thinks someone needs to stop watching kung fu theater movies and Shaolin and Chinese Government modern Wushu and look at real live practitioners of said animal styles.

Speaking from experience (meaning the one who lost) Southern Mantis is a pretty Damn good fighting style. As are any of the other Animal styles you find in and from China, IF they are trained correctly. THose monkey style rolls by the way are a great way to get away and surprise and further more for one to actually do a monkey style properly it takes a high degree flexibility (which I am told is good for martial arts) one which before I saw a guy do it, I did not think was humanly possible for an adult.

And it is not copying, one does not think "I am a Preying Mantis" it is observing and adapting for our use based on "OUR" Strengths and Weaknesses. And just too clear things up, as far as I know there is no form in either Northern or Southern Preying Mantis where a female practitioner bites of the head of a male practitioner which does happen with great frequency if you are talking real preying mantis. However those damn mantis strikes that southern trains hurt one whole heck of a lot.

And note; Tiger claw is an animal system and a rather nasty one to fight do to the iron palm training inherent to the system

Also note: Every single CMA style has some sort of Animal form in it and maybe it is just me but every single CMA style is not pointless.
 

KempoGuy06

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Animal styles? What about them

Are they pointless?? No

Me thinks someone needs to stop watching kung fu theater movies and Shaolin and Chinese Government modern Wushu and look at real live practitioners of said animal styles.

Speaking from experience (meaning the one who lost) Southern Mantis is a pretty Damn good fighting style. As are any of the other Animal styles you find in and from China, IF they are trained correctly. THose monkey style rolls by the way are a great way to get away and surprise and further more for one to actually do a monkey style properly it takes a high degree flexibility (which I am told is good for martial arts) one which before I saw a guy do it, I did not think was humanly possible for an adult.

And it is not copying, one does not think "I am a Preying Mantis" it is observing and adapting for our use based on "OUR" Strengths and Weaknesses. And just too clear things up, as far as I know there is no form in either Northern or Southern Preying Mantis where a female practitioner bites of the head of a male practitioner which does happen with great frequency if you are talking real preying mantis. However those damn mantis strikes that southern trains hurt one whole heck of a lot.

And note; Tiger claw is an animal system and a rather nasty one to fight do to the iron palm training inherent to the system

Also note: Every single CMA style has some sort of Animal form in it and maybe it is just me but every single CMA style is not pointless.
we use animals in our style. we dont act like the animals like the above people noted. we learn from how they move in the wild and like Xue Sheng said adapt it to ourselves

B
 

jks9199

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Humans are fascinated by animals, as totems and as powerful critters in themselves. We name our sports teams after them, they're major figures in heraldry, we look for their characteristics in ourselves, and even bring them into our families as pets. We've embodied our gods into them, and drawings and other representations of animals are some of the only things to survive from our earliest ancestors.

From this point, I'm going to focus on the 9 primary Bando animal systems, since they're the ones I have real experience with. When it comes to fighting "like an animal", we strive to embody elements of that animal's character and to show respect to the animal and it's place in the scheme of things and its powers of survival. It's not worship or adoration, and especially not imitation. It's emulation; when I practice the Boar, I'm not imitating a boar or trying to become one -- I'm bringing some of those characteristics into myself. We recognize and adopt the strategies and tactics they use. Each animal system is a collection of strategies, tools, and techniques inspired by and drawing from the animal; each animal is a complete fighting system handling all ranges, but focusing on a particular set of strategies. The Boar system embodies rushing power and aggression at close ranges, while Bull does the same at longer ranges with a different set of techniques. The Viper, Cobra, and Scorpion systems contain different types of attacks to the nervous system and vital points; the Cobra uses speed and precision, the Viper a particular sort of power strikes, and the Scorpion specializes in pinching attacks to the nerves. The Python is a specialist in locks, holds, and chokes while the Eagle attacks from sky, often using doubled hand techniques. The Tiger and Panther utilize circular, power attacks and agility. Please note that these barely qualify as summaries of the depth of these systems! And there are other animal systems that aren't currently taught for a variety of reasons.

In other words --- animal systems are far from pointless.
 
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Aiki Lee

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I trained in Shaolian tiger form for about a year, and If I hadn't have been so in love with ninjutsu at the time I would likely have stuck with it.

I would assume that a person practicing animal forms would not fight in a impractical way. I think many of the movements are for conditioning, not combat (correct me if I am wrong), but in the Tiger form I practiced there was a lot that was reliable for self defense.

I do think that there are some styles with animal names made just for show. Like frog style

although I gotta say, he sure can jump.
 
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arnisador

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I agree with Zero's take on this. The animal styles can be very effective. They were derived by observing how animals defend themselves against larger prey and adapting their techniques. It's not pretending you're the animal.

Yes, I agree. (There are exceptions--most notably some monkey kung fu practitioners.) Pretending to be a snake doesn't make sense, but the darting strikes of snake style kung fu do. They don't inject venom--they target the eyes/throat/groin. Animals can be good inspiration, but simply mimicking them wouldn't be a good idea.
 

Daniel Sullivan

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As I recall, Kwan Tai Chen was a serious bad *** in his day and he was practiced monkey kung fu. I don't ever recall seeing him rolling around like a monkey in any of his movies.

Daniel
 
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geezer

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Why do humans develop fighting styles based on the movements of animals when we are not put together the same, we don't have the same attributes (ie strength or speed) and cannot possibly perform those moves as well as the animal...

Shouldn't humans be utilising skills that are best suited to their characteristics???

Cheers
Sam:asian:

Your observations are part of an age old discussion, a debate that is probably as old as Kung-fu in China. My original Chinese Wing Tsun Sifu made exactly the same point. While Wing Tsun has roots in Fukien short-bridge boxing and does still retain movements that were originally associated with crane and snake movements, it represents a pragmatic reaction against the sort of "poetic" thinking of such animal styles. According to this Sifu, Wing Tsun movements are practical techniques built on our human capacities. Therefore we do not indulge in "poetic" names and ornate techniques. We call our techniques by just what they are. Tan sau is just "palm up arm". Fook-sau is just "bridge-on arm". Bong sau is just "Wing-arm"... er wait a minute there. Let's forget about that last example! LOL
 

Raynac

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I trained in Shaolian tiger form for about a year, and If I hadn't have been so in love with ninjutsu at the time I would likely have stuck with it.

I would assume that a person practicing animal forms would not fight in a impractical way. I think many of the movements are for conditioning, not combat (correct me if I am wrong), but in the Tiger form I practiced there was a lot that was reliable for self defense.

I do think that there are some styles with animal names made just for show. Like frog style

although I gotta say, he sure can jump.

HAHAHA I took one look at the frog style and remebered the movie kungfu hustle and couldn't take the rest of it serious for the life of me XD
 
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Ninebird8

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As a practitioner of eagle claw, southern white crane, and 9 bird Shaolin, and having sparred mantis, snake, dragon, tiger, leopard, etc classmates for years, I can tell you that the "real" animal fighting is both real and effective. The problem erupts today, in all frankness, because of the current lack of training in the patterns, the training of one's body/hands, the unwillingness to take some time to understand the applications, and because what is seen in movies or modern wushu is a fancy dance between two partners or never shown the di mak, da mak, cavity strikes, etc. that make these effective. The training I went through, though sometimes very brutal, made these "bird" styles very effective for me, especilaly being small and quick. I have seen a tiger claw or dragon claw rip clothes off and penetrate into the skin in one strike, seen the mantis index finger lock into a joint or tendon and almost rupture through the downward or jing pressure. If these were not effective systems, they would have died out as most were used during death battles in the Chinese dynasties.

The animal styles are dying out because most are not willing to go through the pain and time to get there. When one of my teachers, Jeff Bolt, had tournaments in the late 80s/early 90s, the fighting was judged on a point system like forms where you had to use your fighting system and its techniques or received a low score. Unfortunately, today, with the advent of the MMA, UFC, etc. no one wants to take the time to learn anything else but ground and pound. Very effective against one opponent.

In summary, and then I will end my rant (lol), animal styles like any other art, are only as effective as the teacher showing and the student practicing to get it right as a deadly art.
 

Franc0

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So isn't a "Snake strike" the same as fast jab or finger jab? Or a "Tiger Claw" the same as a raking hand or a clawing palm heel? When a few MA friends of mine watched the Adam Sandler movie the Waterboy, he did an eye jab that everyone laughably argued about saying it was a snake bite, or Mantis strike or Chicken beak strike, and we all laughed.
Might as well call the Three Stooges eye poke "The (insert animal name) Strike". Hoping not to offend the Animal Style practitioners out there, but I feel that over-emphasis on attributing an animals influence takes away from what Mother Nature designed best, the natural Human movements, which is TOTALLY different than animal movements. To follow this is to follow old Chinese tradition, not the attributes of the animal.

Franco
 

tellner

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They all have their specialties.

Warty Cane Toad beats Preying Mantis, 10,000 Golden Bees and Centipede style every time. But it's useless against White Crane.
 

jarrod

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my problem with animal styles is the perceived need to make them much more elaborate than the animals themselves practice them. take monkey style for instance. nobody, & i mean nobody, will carry on a fight with you once you fling poo at them.

jf
 

punisher73

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Yes, I agree. (There are exceptions--most notably some monkey kung fu practitioners.) Pretending to be a snake doesn't make sense, but the darting strikes of snake style kung fu do. They don't inject venom--they target the eyes/throat/groin. Animals can be good inspiration, but simply mimicking them wouldn't be a good idea.

There is an approach to BJJ where it really emphasizes how a python fights and traps it's prey. Again, I believe as has been stated that it is the strategy which is emphasized not mimicking (aside from modern wushu interpretations and bad kung fu movies).

Here is an example of legitimate preying mantis (not saying there aren't other styles that are legit, just that it isn't a wushu form)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1M7M7rLxcYg&feature=related
 
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FearlessFreep

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my problem with animal styles is the perceived need to make them much more elaborate than the animals themselves practice them. take monkey style for instance. nobody, & i mean nobody, will carry on a fight with you once you fling poo at them.

jf

Sounds to me, then, like it would an effective means of self-defense
 

Sukerkin

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Punisher, thanks for those links. The second one in particular was fascinating and brought back all that sense of regret that I have that my bike accident ended my kung fu progress :(.
 

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