Many kung fu styles incorporate aspects of multiple animals, with specific animals
- identified with specific techniques, or entire "sets"
- taken to embody a particular of mindset and/or physical characteristics
In drawing on the animal heritage of kung fu it is helpful to learn more about the nature of the animals in question. Ways to do so include:
- Visiting a zoo for direct observation
- Watching nature documentaries and clips
- Learning about the cultural significance of the animals
And, of course, go practice and pay attention to what you find!
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In Hung Kuen chinese boxing (and other styles) the main five animals are:
- Tiger (trains bones): sheer power, prowling, connection to the Earth, ultimate predator, claws
- Crane (sinews): balance and grace, light footwork, wings, beak, little claws
- Leopard (strength): speed, unusual angles of attack, no blocking, leaping, claws
- Snake (qi): adaptability, fluidity, precise attacks, bite
- Dragon (spirit): combines aspects of the other animals, mysterious, omni-directional, powerful twisting, wings, tail, claws
|A Tiger posture|
The Five Animal Frolics is a qigong based on a different set of five animals (with tiger and crane in the overlap): bear, tiger, monkey, crane, and deer.
Other animals of note include the praying mantis, monkey, and eagle.
Xing Yi features ten to twelve animals, depending on lineage.