Animal Kung Fu Styles Not Just for Hollywood

More than once I have heard, “Animal styles are just for Hollywood.”  As a long time practitioner of many animal styles as well as other Kung Fu styles, I could not disagree more. Many great generals used animal styles as the armies leading self defense tactics. Emperors used body guards who only knew a certain animal style to protect them from invading armies, terrorists, thieves, and assassins. Having practiced animal styles first hand I too have reason to believe animal style techniques are useful in certain situations.

General Yue Fei who was a very prominent general of the Song Dynasty learned martial arts from a Shaolin Monk named Zhou Tong. General Yue Fei eventually created Eagle Claw Kung Fu and taught his system to help combat the invasion against the Jin dynasty, which proved to be highly successful. Later General Yue Fei’s traditional Eagle Claw was combined with Fan Zhi Quan which involves high speed punches and jumps. After the formation of modern Wushu, the General Yue Fei’s traditional eagle claw with the added Fan Zhi Quan added more aerobics and gymnastic type moves. This form of eagle claw would be what one would see on TV. Not that of General Yue Fei’s traditional eagle claw which proved to be highly effective in combat.

During the late nineteenth century, the Hung Gar system was being perfected by many Hung Gar practitioners. Many of them would easily beat other challenging martial art styles. Emperors during the late nineteenth century became aware of this and the first true bodyguards emerged. Therefore, now many bodyguards are known to be big and strong due to the training of the Hung Gar Kung Fu system. Hung Gar is a mixture of white crane and tiger system with emphasis on low stances to build strong legs, and resistance muscle training by flexing muscles using tight fists not weights. This proved to be very effective due to the fact many of the Emperors bodyguards trained in the Hung Gar system were known to knock out an opponent with a single attack.

I am a long time practitioner of Nan Quan, which is a high emphasis of the Hung Gar Kung Fu system mentioned earlier, and also a practitioner of traditional Eagle claw Kung Fu. I too have noticed some advantages in these animal systems. When grappling against modern day Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners or any other wrestling system, I have noticed the pressure points taught in Eagle Claw Kung Fu give me a good advantage over other more advanced practitioners of ground fighters. Many practitioners react to the Eagle Claw techniques as not being legal, or that it is not Jiu Jitsu. I reply and say, “Your right. It is not Jiu Jitsu I never claim to know Jiu Jitsu, I know Eagle Claw Kung Fu and apply the pressure points even on the ground and it proves to be very effective.” The Nan Quan Kung Fu I study is also, of some effect, to other challenging martial artists I have encountered. The different angles and low attacks displayed in Nan Quan have a huge effect on martial artists who attack high (towards head or face). Due to the low attacks of Nan Quan, one is able to knock down an opponent who attacks high easily, also, due to the power of the hits the attacker is not likely to rise.

As one can see, animal styles were not originally meant for Hollywood, but movies have changed certain views of the Kung Fu system. Especially with all of the “wire fu” action that is seen in many films such as crouching tiger hidden dragon etc… these movies have made the animal style or even kung fu styles appear to be fake or ineffective in combat. This is most definitely not true, due to the facts stated above. Which are the use of Eagle Claw Kung Fu in Chinese armies, Hung Gar (White Crane/Tiger) Kung Fu as the Emperors body guards leading combat techniques, as well as my own knowledge that I have obtained from practicing many animal martial arts styles. I hope everyone has the opportunity to at least try animal styles and realize their strengths and the enjoyment of practicing their styles.