Shaolin Five Animal Kung Fu is one of the foundations of Shaolin Kempo Karate.  And, as one might gather from the name, is based upon the movements and strategies of five animals that were familiar to the Shaolin monks: Tiger, Leopard, Crane, Snake, and Dragon.

Powerful and tenacious.  Tiger relies on relentless frontal assault, aggression, and strength.  It moves straight in with lots of tearing and breaking actions. 

Faster and more precise than the tiger, the leopard likes to get in close with very powerful strikes, often attacking joints. It prefers to move at angles as opposed to straight towards the opponent. 

Agile, graceful and yielding, with excellent balance. Crane will avoid a force-on-force confrontation. Instead evading to fight at a distance, striking with deadly precision at vital points. 

Great endurance and patient. The snake then strikes with lightning-quick speed. With flowing and rippling movements, it attacks pressure points and vital areas such as the eyes and throat. Snake will grapple and wrap to break and crush things. 

A mythical animal, the dragon rides the wind with swinging and spinning motions. Extremely deceptive, it employs many hidden and unexpected attacks that the opponent never sees coming. 


So what does this have to do with a real fight?

These five animals represent five different types of fighters. Different in physical body type and different in attitude.

Not everyone is built the same, and not everyone has the same temperament.  The 100 pound woman will use different techniques than a 250 pound man.

So too do people have different personalities. 

  • Some people are bold and unrelenting, others calm and calculating. 
  • Some fighters like to keep their distance, others prefer to get up close, right in the face of their opponent. 
  • Some will use trickery and deception, laying traps for the opponent; others use straight forward tactics that are nonetheless brutally effective. 
  • And where one person will attack with crushing blows that smash anything that gets in the way, others will exercise pinpoint accuracy, specifically targeting an enemy’s weaknesses.

Furthermore, a martial artist can be truly effective if they learn to combine the attributes of the five animals.



© 2010, Orange County Kempo Karate, All rights reserved.