Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Kung Fu animals

Many styles of Chinese Boxing (aka kung fu or gong fu) have origin stories based around the observation of animal movements and fighting styles. This notion has been popularized in the Kung Fu Panda animated movie and its sequels.

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!

* * *

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.