Martial Arts - The 5 Animals Of Kung Fu

The Five Animals of Kung Fu are known all across the world, and are some of the deadliest martial arts you can study.

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Also known as the Kung Fu fist forms, the 5 Animals of Kung Fu are known all across the world, and are some of the deadliest martial arts you can study.  There are other specific fist styles in Kung Fu, although none of them are as powerful or as well known as the 5 animal styles.  As the name implies, these forms were derived from the animals in which they got their names from.

The Dragon Claw

In Kung Fu, the Dragon Claw (long zhua) is very well known, but, this grabbing martial arts technique is sometimes confused with the Tiger Claw (hu zhua), which is more of a squeezing and tearing movement. The Chinese believe that this style comes directly from the ancient dragon itself. This style uses an open hand technique that is used for controlling the opponent by means of grabbing and throwing. Making use of an open hand technique, stylists may also use the fingers to poke as well. Dragon Claw is a very fast technique. This makes it a very hard method to defend against - and nearly impossible to predict.

The Leopard Claw

A bit different from the Dragon Claw, the Leopard Claw makes use of a half opened fist. In Leopard Claw, the ideal striking method, somewhat similar to the familiar "karate chop", is with the ridge of the hand, which is formed by folding the fingers towards the palm of the hand, with the palm creating a secondary striking method to serve as backup. This can also be used for raking or slashing the face of an opponent. Leopard Claw, like Dragon Claw, is very fast as well...and very lethal if the Kung Fu practitioner has enough skill and strength behind his or her strikes.

The Tiger Claw

Not as much a striking technique, Tiger Claw (hu zhua) uses a more open hand movement for tearing and grabbing. Tiger Claw is probably the most easily recognized form of the 5 animal system of Kung Fu. However, despite what observers may think, it is not so much simply grabbing and gripping with the hand, but, digging the fingernails deep into the skin. Once the fingernails have been embedded in the skin of an opponent, the Tiger Claw can be used to shred skin right off the bone, tearing the opponent apart. Tiger Claw is a very powerful technique - and one of the deadliest forms in the world of martial arts when put to use by a Kung Fu master.

Sensei Martial Arts MasterThe Snake Head

There are many different "snake" styles in Kung Fu, including Shaolin Snake Style, Snake Fist (She Quan), and White Snake (Bai She Tu Xin), to name a few, but they seem to have in common quick strikes without preparation and fluid movements. As you can possibly imagine, the Snake style of Kung Fu resembles the attack of a snake in combat, using an open hand technique which requires the fingers to be held together tightly, fully extended. The tips of the fingers, when placed together, form a very hard surface which is used to attack the softest and most vital areas of an opponent. In order to be most effective in attack, both hands need to be used together at the same time when using the Snake Head.

The Crane Beak

Origins of the Crane Beak Kung Fu martial arts technique are lost in history. Original sharing and training was oral, teacher to student, although some evidence points to approximately the 1700's as a "starting point" of sorts. Crane Beak requires the fingers to be pressed together tightly, forming a striking surface at the base of the stylist's fingertips. The fingers are often conditioned to a high level of strength. Most attacks using the Crane technique are focused towards the most vital areas of an opponent. This form may be somewhat familiar to those who watched the original "Karate Kid", although it's not quite the same.

The "5 animal styles of Kung Fu" are very popular, and, when properly learned and executed, very deadly. Martial artists who know any of these forms fairly well can be very deadly - and more than capable of defending themselves against anything that comes their way.


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5 Animals Kung Fu Copyright 2021 by Donovan Baldwin
Page Updated 7:30 AM Wednesday, November 24, 2021

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