Scratching Beneath the Surface of Animal Kung Fu

Yanli

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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).

The tigers claw technique has many advantages, unlike what many movies show. The strengthening of the hand and fingers can greatly help with various strikes, I use the back of the hand for many strikes, my wife does not have as strong of a back hand as I do, so I have her do the tigers claw when striking with the back hand. I practiced the iron hand in my much younger years, so my back hand is very strong, for others, the hand position for tigers claw will give the proper tension on the back of your hand for a strike.
 
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Damien

Damien

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The tigers claw technique has many advantages, unlike what many movies show. The strengthening of the hand and fingers can greatly help with various strikes, I use the back of the hand for many strikes, my wife does not have as strong of a back hand as I do, so I have her do the tigers claw when striking with the back hand. I practiced the iron hand in my much younger years, so my back hand is very strong, for others, the hand position for tigers claw will give the proper tension on the back of your hand for a strike.
Interesting, never thought about using the tiger claw like that before. In Shaolin, for backhand strikes we tend to straighten the fingers and squeeze them together, almost like holding a small ball in your finger tips.
 

Yanli

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Try doing the tigers claw, but check how solid the back of your hand is when doing it, if it is not solid, try slowly moving your fingers little by little till the fingers and back of the hand is solid. This is best for when striking the chest, and it is just as good for striking the face as if you made a fist. You can actually use it for blocking as well and make your hole fighting form, keep in mind, if you have a direct line strike for the face or chest, use a horizontal fist for face and a vertical fist for chest. Do not trap or limit yourself to just the tiger claw, leave an open mind to expand yourself to what would work best. I do not know if you are practicing a specific form at a school, if so, your instructor may not like you adding a different technique, if so, do not say Shifu Yanli told you to do that lol.
 

Yanli

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Interesting, never thought about using the tiger claw like that before. In Shaolin, for backhand strikes we tend to straighten the fingers and squeeze them together, almost like holding a small ball in your finger tips.
I forgot to add, the back of the hand on the chest is when you are fighting "passive aggressive" if you are fighting "aggressive" use more of the wrist then the back of the hand, it will have more of a damaging impact. When hitting the chest, aim for between the ribs, that is the weakest spot, even on a muscle bound man.
 

Oily Dragon

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Interesting, never thought about using the tiger claw like that before. In Shaolin, for backhand strikes we tend to straighten the fingers and squeeze them together, almost like holding a small ball in your finger tips.
I don't think he means "backhand strikes", the way you're saying (hitting with the back of the fist). I think he means using the back of the hand's power and strength when striking/grabbing with the fingers or hand.

There's a connection between the palm, the back of the hand, the wrist, and the forearm in Shaolin Tiger. You're squeezing the fingers like you're holding a ball, but look at what the back of your hand is doing. That's where big muscles are. The Shaolin Tiger-based qigong (Fu Jow Gong) teaches this kind of dynamic tension, but it's also spread out over dozens of arts.
 

Oily Dragon

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I forgot to add, the back of the hand on the chest is when you are fighting "passive aggressive" if you are fighting "aggressive" use more of the wrist then the back of the hand, it will have more of a damaging impact. When hitting the chest, aim for between the ribs, that is the weakest spot, even on a muscle bound man.
This makes sense to me, but I could be wrong.

I'm trying to imagine it, but I suck at that, plus it's Friday.
 

Yanli

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I figured that he may of had a different interpretation, but I hope that everything would be come clear in time.
 

Yanli

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This makes sense to me, but I could be wrong.

I'm trying to imagine it, but I suck at that, plus it's Friday.
I am planning on doing a video in the near future touching on several issues, I will be sure to touch on those as well.
 
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