Boddhidharma brought Kung Fu to the Shaolin Temple some 2500 years ago, and the world has been learning ever since. A hundred generations of religious fanatics perfecting themselves through fantastic, rigorous exercises. Interestingly, the five animals of Kung fu stand for a series of steps in the progression of fighting tactics and strategy. Check out the video and I’ll tell you more.
The Tiger is known for developing strength. He is a mighty animal, and he charges in aggressively when attacking. He is a diehard fighter, and the old saying is ‘If two tigers fight, one will die and the other will be maimed.’
The Leopard is known for quickness. He charges in and out, snapping his attacks with tremendous power. Thus, he is not as aggressive as a tiger, but has learned to ‘dance.’
The Crane reveals ‘True Soft,’ as that animal remains aloof, poised and waiting, evading and avoiding. Not dancing, but matching the movements and finding the precise instant to counter. And the attack is not always violent, but rather exact, often taking advantage of pressure points.
The Snake is definitely True Soft. Instead of charging, dancing, or even waiting, it is part of the motion, going with the motion, taking advantage of the movements by being them. This is not just going away from the attack, but merging with the attack, and turning it to advantage.
With the progression of Tiger to Snake we have a progression from hard to soft, from external to internal. Interestingly, this equates to a progression from learning to go against, to learning to go with. The next animal, the Dragon, is an entirely different matter.
The dragon is neither hard nor soft, it is both. It is the ability to go against or with at will. it is the ability to use all animals, as one wishes, in the middle of combat.
Thus, the five kung fu animals train the body, discipline the mind, and finally, reveal the spirit. For the dragon, as the final animal, represents imagination, the ability to have choice, and these are characteristics of a spiritual being. As the old phrases state, the Tiger strengthens the bones, the Crane resides within stillness, and the Dragon trains the spirit, and this gradient exploration of concepts definitely represents the True Shaolin Teachings.
For an excellent method of Shaolin Kung Fu which uses all the Animals, mouse on over over to Monster Martial Arts. Pick up a free Martial Arts book on the home page top left.