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Animal Styles in Kung Fu
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Animal Styles in Kung Fu
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Spread the Kung Fu
Animal styles in Kung Fu is not what most people think –
We’ve all seen the shows of the “Kung Fu Master” jumping around imitating various animals by making noises and “claws” or “beaks” with their hands.  And it usually ends up looking something like this..  https://youtu.be/IyAJahH-WM4
The problem is that what many schools teach is not much better than what they show in the movies; and this is why Kung Fu as an art and valid form of self-defense is suffering.  If you practice a Kung Fu style, or are interested in learning one, there are two things you need to do to make learning the animals of Kung Fu useful.  Understand the Essence of the animal and do the proper Conditioning.
The Essence of the animal is the true nature of what you should be focusing on when practicing. It is the fighting strategy.   For example, the essence of the Tiger is not making fancy claws with your hands or shouting out specific sounds; it is fierceness!  The tiger represents ferocity.  This means that no matter how many tiger claws you do and no matter what sound you make, without ferocity you are not doing tiger style, you are just acting like a lame cat.  On the other hand if you are doing nothing but kicks, but you are relentless and fierce, then you have captured the essence of Tiger.  It isn’t the shape of the hand that’s important but how you use them, how you attack and evade, what type of tactics you use.  Although the Crane has powerful wings, it’s main tactic is in using elusiveness. It doesn’t use force against force, rather it uses grace to evade and wait for the right opportunity to strike.
Essence is the
true nature of animal styles in kung fu and it must be understood before you move on to the physical application.  And The physical application requires proper conditioning.
  Conditioning is the building of certain skills and physical attributes.  If you’re going to be elusive like a crane, you need to train timing against an opponent as well as develop your footwork and flexibility. If you want to fight like a tiger you need to develop your spirit and courage. Physically you need to train your shoulders arms and fingers so that you can develop the ability to grab rip and tear your opponent.  This can be done through many methods, but usually involves the strengthening of the fingers, wrists and forearms, through qigong and strength exercises.
So, remember the animals in Kung Fu came about through years of observation and training and are very useful for self-defense and health, but Only if they are understood and trained properly!   Learn the essence of the animal to gain an understanding of how it’s used and then train to build the physical skills.  It’s not easy, but it isn’t supposed to be.
Edward Tomaine


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