Scratching Beneath the Surface of Animal Kung Fu

Damien

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So I've been thinking about how to frame this for a while. When a lot of people outside the kung fu sphere, or even certain styles or relative beginners think of animals and kung fu, its in terms of performance forms. There's a lot more to the references to animals within many styles though than just trying too look like the animal. Monkey Steals Peach has talked about how the whole Manits wobble thing is a modern stylistic invention for example:


I'm often frustrated by people claiming that Northern Shaolin is all about imitating animals. You see it on TV, on the websites of schools that practice animal styles etc. Yes there are performance forms, but mostly that's not what Shaolin is. It does draw inspiration from animals in the illustrative naming of techniques and principles though. The names are meant to encapsulate and help explain the idea. I don't have the same knowledge of other styles, but I expect the same is true with many.

I wanted to try and get this idea across to people, and also provide some valuable training tips, and ideas for the use of certain types of technique all in one package. After a few different ideas and rewrites, I finally came up with an angle. So, here are some ways in which Shaolin references tigers, and how you can put this stuff into use. I hope you find it interesting, and hopefully useful (if you ever suffer from dodgy knees, I can't recommend the Patrick Step enough).

 

drop bear

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So I've been thinking about how to frame this for a while. When a lot of people outside the kung fu sphere, or even certain styles or relative beginners think of animals and kung fu, its in terms of performance forms. There's a lot more to the references to animals within many styles though than just trying too look like the animal. Monkey Steals Peach has talked about how the whole Manits wobble thing is a modern stylistic invention for example:


I'm often frustrated by people claiming that Northern Shaolin is all about imitating animals. You see it on TV, on the websites of schools that practice animal styles etc. Yes there are performance forms, but mostly that's not what Shaolin is. It does draw inspiration from animals in the illustrative naming of techniques and principles though. The names are meant to encapsulate and help explain the idea. I don't have the same knowledge of other styles, but I expect the same is true with many.

I wanted to try and get this idea across to people, and also provide some valuable training tips, and ideas for the use of certain types of technique all in one package. After a few different ideas and rewrites, I finally came up with an angle. So, here are some ways in which Shaolin references tigers, and how you can put this stuff into use. I hope you find it interesting, and hopefully useful (if you ever suffer from dodgy knees, I can't recommend the Patrick Step enough).


Yeah. Hard movements make people more athletic. Which is probably going to move more towards winning a fight than technique.
 

Martial D

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Well. Thank you for coming by and setting us all straight. As nobody here has much experience with Chinese martial arts, certainly not decades or lifetimes, this will be a boon to our learning some basics.
 

Flying Crane

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From my own experience, functional animal kung fu is NOT about imitating the animal at all. There is an inspiration that comes from the animal, in terms of how to engage the body in functional movement. That creates a signature approach to training methodology. But no, I do not strive to imitate a crane. I do not stand on one foot and peck with a crane beak hand strike or flap my arms like wings.
 
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Damien

Damien

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Well. Thank you for coming by and setting us all straight. As nobody here has much experience with Chinese martial arts, certainly not decades or lifetimes, this will be a boon to our learning some basics.
You're more than welcome....

I mainly make videos for beginners/intermediate or on non kung fu topics for those trying to get healthy and fit. Not everyone on here has been training for decades (there is a beginners section after all), but I mainly post a video on the forum every now and then if I think people might find it interesting. I'm not expecting to revolutionise practice for every member, but some may find the content useful or at least entertaining.

That being said, there are people who train for years and don't get taught some of the stuff in this video, and people from many different styles of kung fu who may therefore not be familiar with concepts in another style. The post meanwhile was setting some context for the video.

Maybe consider that not every piece of content, or every post on this forum is directed at you. I didn't come in and tell you you were doing it all wrong, I merely highlighted a fairly common misconception which was one of my inspirations for making the video. If you don't want to watch a video, or you don't want to further a discussion you don't have to.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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The white ape system has

- cat jump,
- tiger attack,
- monkey dodge,
- eagle flip.

There are good footworks and good defence skills used in sparring.

Once I used the tiger attack footwork, I jumped forward with right foot landing, I then jumped forward with left foot landing while I punched out my left fist on my opponent's face. My 2 jumps could cover more than 12 feet distance. It surprised my opponent big time.

When a

- cat/tiger jumps, it covers great distance.
- tiger turns, it always turns it's head first before turning it's body.
- praying mantis attacks, it's won't back up.
- rhino attacks, it will drill a hole through your body.
- ...

Those are very important principles used in combat that human being can learn from the animal.
 
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Damien

Damien

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From my own experience, functional animal kung fu is NOT about imitating the animal at all. There is an inspiration that comes from the animal, in terms of how to engage the body in functional movement. That creates a signature approach to training methodology. But no, I do not strive to imitate a crane. I do not stand on one foot and peck with a crane beak hand strike or flap my arms like wings.
Completely agree. Inspiration and imitation are very different.

Anyone remember that National Geographic program about animal kung fu from the earl 2000's, maybe late 90's? Apparently practicing crane kung fu should give you the ability to balance just as well as a crane, or that mantis kung fu gives you the speed to catch flies.

Never mind that any athletic activity that involves balance and/or speed will lead to their improvement.

I've never heard anyone say that gymnasts were imitating particular animals!
 

Kung Fu Wang

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flap my arms like wings.
One of the "eagle flip" applications is to use both arms to block your opponent's arms upward, you then attack his body.

Brendan-eagle-flip.gif
 

Gerry Seymour

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When 2 eagles fight, their bodies lock together and rotate in the sky. Their wings move in circles (not up and down).

I think his point is that this is - as he was suggesting - more about an inspiration from animals than an attempt to mimic specific movements made by them. So perhaps someone saw two eagles fighting, saw that rotation, and started thinking about how to use that kind of rotational energy.
 

Flying Crane

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I think his point is that this is - as he was suggesting - more about an inspiration from animals than an attempt to mimic specific movements made by them. So perhaps someone saw two eagles fighting, saw that rotation, and started thinking about how to use that kind of rotational energy.
Ok, perhaps i am misunderstanding his message.
 

hoshin1600

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I incorporate animals into my traditional training. How I apply them, has almost nothing to do with the technique imitation of an animal but rather a feeling behind any technique or their spirit . So the tiger is applied when your really angry and want to hurt someone badly. Crane might be applied when your engaged in a situation with a bigger aponent and you need to keep distance and be agile. I see BJJ stuff a lot like a snake, tying people up and choking them out.
Wondering if I am alone in this concept. I got the concept from a high level karate practitioner who is also a Native people's war chief. He calls it shape shifting.
 

Yanli

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From my own experience, functional animal kung fu is NOT about imitating the animal at all. There is an inspiration that comes from the animal, in terms of how to engage the body in functional movement. That creates a signature approach to training methodology. But no, I do not strive to imitate a crane. I do not stand on one foot and peck with a crane beak hand strike or flap my arms like wings.
No, but it is so much fun getting a student to do that lol.
 

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