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Shaolin Academy Tiger Kung Fu (Hu Chuan)


On this page you will find most of the information that you require to learn, train and pass Post Red Sash level of Shaolin Tiger Kung Fu.


Although Lions are considered in the Western Word as 'King' of the Animals, the Tiger out-weighs and out sizes the lion by almost anywhere between 50% to 100%. This only has relevance in the term of Kung Fu; to understand why Chinese Tiger Kung Fu is what it is; the King of all Kung Fu Styles. This clarification is important to the understanding of both, the Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu, Tiger Style and stand-along village and family Tiger Kung Fu styles.

The Tiger Animal

Most people know that Tigers are an endangered as a species. Of the 8 (The Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae), The South China Tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis), The Siberian Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), The Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), The Indochinese Tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti), The Javan Tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica), The Caspian Tiger (Panthera tigris virgata). The Bali Tiger (Panthera tigris balica) family's, three are now totally extinct and two are close to extension. From once being million counted there are now less than 10,000 tigers left in the world, both in the wild and in zoo's. And there is a message in that which is also seem through Sharks and Crocodiles; once your perfect there is no real further evolution and sooner or later someone, something comes along and shows you that you are a dinosaur (we'll get back to this a little later).

Introduction to Tiger Kung Fu

The Tiger is the lord of the land/realm. It is the King of the Animals, King of the mountain. The Tigers natural, easy fluidity hides it's ferocious power and dominance. Armed with deadly claws, sharp and strong jaws, the Tiger style is one of Simplicity, Directness and Power. Very simple, honest and direct, strategies and actions.

Dominating, controlling, powerful, frontal, larger than life, Tigers rely upon their size and the explosive force delivered by their short, thick muscles, clarity of mind, rightness and purity of spirit to achieve their needs and wants. The Tiger does not need to defend, it is the ultimate predator. It has no evasion techniques, no blocking or defence. In any confrontation it leaps into attack going for the quick and direct resolution of the conflict. It does not have the stamina, inclination or need for enduring and prolonged fights, hunts or teaching (cubs, other tigers) activities.

The Tiger uses any simple and direct approach. It's techniques and methods are easily understood with not a lot of strategic thinking or planning; and absolutely no preparation. The Tiger is purely reactive, instinctive and dominating. Either the world is OK or not and then the Tiger will do something immediate and sudden.

Tiger Style and History

The Tiger is one of the significant Chinese animal symbols. It is therefore not surprising that there are many historical references to a Tiger. Currently, you can find many version of history most seeking to validate ‘their style’. It is difficult almost impossible to have a definitive history of Tiger Kung Fu. At this time (2013) you can find some styles referring back only 100 years or so and others as far back as 500 years. There are though, a few less disputed facts about Tiger in Kung Fu.

Hung Gar also called Tiger and Crane is one of the styles that has been around since the 17th century and can still be found now. Well you can't have Tiger and Crane without having a Tiger only style, so we need to go back further. Looking a Shaolin Temple history we know of the 4 times of destruction; 570 CE, app 1100 CE, 1645 CE and 1927 CE. After the first destruction, it took 30 years for Shaolin to be fully functional again and there was a shift from Yoga style exercises to Kung Fu, first to a pure striking style (Shaolin 72 Fists) then expanded to a combination Striking and Pressure Point style (Shaolin 170 Moves). This remained so until the 2nd destruction of Shaolin, around the 11 Century when Buddhism became very rich and influential and the people turned against it including Shaolin. When Shaolin was re-established, we have a period in Shaolin called the time of the 100 Kung Fu styles.

First a bit of speculation; when the Shaolin Monks dispersed and there is evidence that many sought refuge in other great Temples including Wudang, Emai Shan, Kwantung and others. When, after many years they came back together to rebuild the Shaolin Temple they came with the skill and knowledge of some 20 to 50 years of exile. The monks had propagated the Shaolin 170 moves but then also incorporated their host temples style and teaching. Each of these Temples had at least one of their own styles of exercise and Kung Fu. Wudang had Crow and Snake (later Eagle and Snake) a very efficient and conserving style (along Daoists Principles), Emai Shan, a border healing temple, practiced Crane Kung Fu but was also influenced by Indian and Tibetan styles. Kwantung was the gateway to the world and the home of the Black Tiger Kung Fu (although that is more recent history). Fukien, which was the only other Shaolin Temple, was established to keep the peace during the Tang Dynasty, was never just one and the same temple but kept on changing. First because the original temple was to small Shaolin moved to another temple. Then the 2nd temple was gifted and they moved a bit further away, into the mountains and this may have been the reason that this temple full of fighting monks did not see any major destruction. There were other temples but these 4 well show the pattern for 20 to 50 years of history

Now we come to more established information, the time of the 100 Animal Styles. Around the 12th century, close to the change over to the Ming Dynasty, Shaolin seemed to be inundated with Animal Styles and Principles. Some very well know animals like Mantis, Monkey, Eagle but also some (for westerners seemingly) ludicrous style like 10,000 Bees (pressure point style), Toad (Jumping and Clenching Style), Dog (ground fighting) and others. History suggests that it took Shaolin almost 100 years to re-organize this abundance of styles into the Shaolin 5 Animal Style. And they were very clever at it by sorting all the styles into the 4 and making it a one style with 4 sides like a icosahedron. The ingenuity of the Shaolin to choose two cats and then a bird and reptile is incredibly absolutely genius. Interested why; talk to Sijo or e-mail.

The Tigers Being

The Tiger is the Biggest, Strongest most Ferocious of all the animals, almost. There are bigger, there are quicker, there are stronger but the Tiger has the ideal combination of all of these. It has a great combination of Strength, feline fluidity and a great assortment of tools (Claws and Jaws). It is the quintessential predator with no single speciality and just an all around master of their domain.

The Tiger requires to have their place/territory that it will manage for it's own needs and sustain-ability. This territory will be the size it needs to be so that it is not over hunted but also not over-large. A Tiger just takes what it needs to survive, not more or less; a master of it's domain. It does not mind other predators and life in it's kin dome as long as it is not challenged and not bothered. In such a case life is good!

Tigers will seek to avoid fighting other Tigers or encroaching on their territory if anyway possible. Only for the most important of reasons, leadership, survival or mating will the Tiger choose to fight another Tiger because Tiger to Tiger dispute are always a loose-loose situation; or as an old Chinese saying goes;

"when Two Tigers Fight, one is Killed and the other is Severely Hurt".

The Tiger Style Kung Fu

Is simple and direct, sudden and absolute. It is of simple and direct strategies and tactics, economic and quick action, final and complete solutions. There is no need for complex stepping, diverse techniques, involved tactics and absolutely no need for blocking. Tiger style relies on the users size, attitude, strength, power and singularity of purpose. Every technique is powerful and final. There are no feints, distraction or strategies. Tiger style launches directly at the most vulnerable and direct point of the attacker, the throat. If the throat is covered then the obstacle is removed and the Tiger goes for the throat; with it's size and bulk a Tiger can not afford prolonged fights as it will make them vulnerable to lesser predators.

The Shaolin Tigers Dragon Maul

The Shaolin Tigers Claw

The Tigers 3 Main Tools

We are not Tigers but we can approximate and emulate Tigers methods through three main tools;

Tiger Maul is the key technique used to capture the throat of the attacker. This is the single most important Tiger Kung Fu technique, all others, with one exception, are just in support of this one main finishing goal.
Tiger Claws is emulate using the hands both separately and together. Single handed Tiger Claws swipe and normally at blocking arms if they are protecting the attackers throat. They are also used, individually or in concert, for Grabbing, Holding and Arresting. The ability to latch onto our attacker and maintain control is also focus around the throat with either a figure 4 neck lock or the Sash Lock both from behind. The hands would be used to latch on and reposition the opponent to have access to them from behind.
Tiger Hind Claws are our Feet and the workhorse for debilitating and opponent and preparing for Tiger Maul to the throat. Powerful Tiger Front kick to the solar plexus or the Sweeping, Breaking, Corking roundhouse kick to the thigh (or in life threatening situation, knee) to stop the opponent and open the Throat.

The Tiger operates with Overwhelming Power, Tenacity, and Fearlessness. Best suited to the muscular strong and large martial artist, the Tiger Stylist is an aggressive, offensive and sometime brash fighter with the least graceful, or perhaps one should say the least subtle, eschewing pinpoint strikes for broad, sweeping movements that act as both blocks and attacks in the one movement.

The Tiger (Stylists) is a person that prefers Action rather than Words. They lead from the front and when others are still pondering the nature of the problem, Tiger Stylists are already fixing it their way when others are still researching, thinking or consulting on the matter at hand. Tiger Stylists believe that ;"Leadership is Action, not Position or Words". In emergency situations, where threat is imminent and there is Chaos, this is the best form of action; but often it is also at a cost.

The nature of a Tiger Stylist (usually) is also not to know when to quit. There are no opponents-only obstacles, no impossibilities-just other peoples incompetence, nothing that can not be done, fixed, made or destroyed; nothing impossible. A Tiger Stylist will take on any challenge with the confidence that he/she can get it done. This may cost them dearly but for the Tiger Stylist; "there is No Retreat and No Surrender" (yes a cliché but it expresses the Tiger Stylist perfectly).

You are primarily a Tiger if you.....;

Yang - Alphas/Tigers prefer immediate action and clear optimum solution, even if it may seem impossible. Planning in a minimalist way they will get to it here and now, if possible. Tigers often find that people over-talk a situation or problem. They tend to get restless when there is something to do and nothing being done. Tigers are on edge leading up to an even but not when the event starts and they can do and play; play hard, work hard love often. Tigers are naturally confident even cocky and believe that they are better at things than others (until proven wrong the hard way).

Yin - The Tigers Strength, bravado and attitude actually protects a softer, gentler and even vulnerable person inside. Tigers will be easily hurt by words, lies and innuendos; and will often not have a way of dealing with this unless they can resort to action. Else they will retreat into themselves and, if possible, ultimately, move on to greener pastures.

Some Tiger Aspects

Kicks in the Tiger form are mostly limited to high power variants, such as roundhouse, front kicks, back step side kick but rarely used as the main Tiger Kick is the Solar Plexus Front Kick. Tiger is very physically demanding, and will not back down. An aggressors attacks are smothered with viscous strikes and kicks not bothering to block but just brushing any attack aside (this is why there is rarely a winner when two tiger fight).

A straight punch becomes like a bettering ram, square punches become shredding claws and a front kick is like a shot cannonball. There is also no backward movement with the Tiger (Stylist), forward is the only way to go. The tigers main strategy is here and now and immediately. Whilst an attacker may be positioning themselves, the Tiger has already launched his counter.

As people, Tiger types are usually direct, honest, powerful, confident and the best front line leaders. They take care of their own and do not allow interference. Tigers are Kings of the physical world and have a wide spirit, are generous, family oriented, friendly to their own kind, trustworthy, predictable and playful. They are usually also 'upward' bullies. They will not bully anybody weaker but will try and bully a bully, especially if they seem stronger. This is a part of their Alpha Male dominance, that in their vicinity, no one stronger or more influential can be allowed; unless they recognize the Tigers Dominance and do not challenge it. That's the only way two Tigers can co-exist in the same area.

Sijo Robert Z is a Natural Tiger Stylist by nature


Training from this materials will not make an expert out of you, or a Champion or a Warrior; but it will give you a good grounding upon which you can choose to build, if you wish. Some have chose to enter competitions and have done well using the 72 Fists and principles; especially the movement groups. Some have had opportunity to defend themselves using 72 Fists and this has also been successful. We at the Shaolin Academy have even used our Kung Fu as action stand-ins in theater, movies, music videos and shows and when we visited China we put on a demonstration at the Shaolin Temple in Henan China, Xian Wushu School and the Beijing Wushu Institute. But mostly, we use our Kung Fu for Fun, health and Fitness!

Choose wisely the reason for your training and if you are not wise; consider the following words;

The Universe will conspire to make you thoughts come true; both what you want and what you don't; be careful on what you focus your mind.

Beyond this Point

Reading beyond this paragraph you agree to follow the instructions given on these WEB pages, in a safe and responsible way including the following rules;

  1. Do not cause harm through action or inaction if anyway possible and/or reasonable
  2. Do not break the law unless your safety is compromised or the safety of the persons in your charge
  3. Do not misuse your skills;
  4. Do not bully or intimidate
  5. Do not initiate violent, threatening or intimidating action

Only use Shaolin Kung Fu for fitness, competition, fun, development and when needed self defence. never initiate the course of violence. If you agree to this, please read the following also and only continue if you are in agreement with both this and the below.

Kung Fu At Home Program

The material provided on this page, especially that below the warning is as an addition to the Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu Academy Students and as a full structured Home Learning/Training Program established in 1994. For a comprehensive explanation of the program with Recorded materials and samples, click here.


The Shaolin Academy only makes this material available, beyond this point, under the provision that you, the user (reader, potential student, interested person, etc.), indemnify the Shaolin Academy, it's Master & Instructors; and any person or persons from any liability arising from you following, learning, using or anything else derived from any Word, Picture, Video on the Shaolin Academy WEB pages! If you can not agree to this please click here NOW.

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Overview of Shaolin Tiger Kung Fu Techniques

Yang - Round sudden punches and direct kicks; round downward clawing techniques first impacting with the base of the palm and then clawing their way downward, including the famous Tiger Claw (Hu Zhua) technique (from which whole styles have developed). The techniques are in fairly large, wide and circular motions, much like a big cat swiping. The back legs of a Tiger practitioner are powerful and lend themselves to straight direct kicks and knees.

Yin - Digging the claws into the meat and separating tendons, muscles from bones with pulls, twist, tears, or strikes. Straight inward claws, again using the base of the palm to strike and in this case bunch up the flesh. Then clamping down with the sharp claws,digging deeply into the flesh, tearing, ripping and twisting (sounds gory; but tiger style is not a gentle art!)

Assessment the Shaolin Tiger

To attempt for the Shaolin Tiger Level you need to either be qualified as a Red Sash (or senior) in Shaolin Temple Kung Fu; or be a certified Black Sash in a recognized Traditional Kung Fu Style. To succeed in this advanced level you will need to understand the way of Shaolin Kung Fu and Techniques. For this, we have an extensive Cyber Program on line for $20/y. Have a look at the Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu Academy On-line Cyber Kung Fu Program!

You will not need to formally Grade those 4 levels (the 5th is a consolidation level with only the 5 Animal Form being new) but we strongly suggest you familiarize yourself with the Shaolin Kung Fu techniques; not systems, not routines but ALL techniques.

You also have the choice of either learning the 5 Shaolin Temple Forms, Emei Shan Wood Breathing, Kwantung Hard Set, Fukien Hammer, Wudang Rapid Fist and the Lesser Shaolin 5 Animal Form; or you can choose to present only the Lesser Shaolin 5 Animal Form together with 4 Forms/Katas of your own or the style you are/have been training. contact Sijo Robert Z, Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu Academy

Curriculum Cards for Levels 1 through 5

1st Level

2nd Level

3rd Level

4th Level

5th Level

Shaolin Tiger Kung Fu

Shaolin Tiger

Aside from the Strength Exercises, you will need to demonstrate the relevant stances (as listed in the Red Curriculum Card) as well as Unicorn Stepping and Leaping. Body Checking and Jamming is best demonstrated on a partner when Assessment but if this is absolutely impossible for you, you will need to give a verbal explanation of how the techniques work and demonstrate it on a Wooden Dummy, Heavy Bag or a padded tree or some such.

The Claws function also need to be demonstrated; both in function and power. You can do the Rocky thing and use a carcass but that could be gross. Using a training bag, tough leather pillow or even a willing training partner is preferable. Claw Strength can be demonstrated on a standard Tennis Ball and the Crab Claw is perfect when it can break a Walnut Shell. A lot of these things will be demonstrated in the Training Videos below (when we get around to them). The Tiger Maul is best demonstrated on a Medicine Ball on the ground, from a Stance Horse/Dragon, striking the ball and lifting it to Chest Height.

The Punch and Kicks need to be demonstrated both in the Air (without Impact) to show control and on the Bag to show power. Tiger Tail only needs to be demonstrated in the air and with only one side, all the other items both sides. Elbows and Forearms need also be demonstrated on either a Bag or Padded Tree Trunk/Pole/Stump.

At this level you are able to split the recording into several takes but we do need the Push-ups and the Stance Horse within the one recording without undue breaks. All the other items group them into functional or logical groups of 3 to 5 items and record them for your review or Assessment. Do not bother to Grade either of the Forms until you have passed all the previous items. This means, Grade all the Techniques and submit your theory, and when all this is OK, Record the Lesser 5 Animal Form and send it to us and when this is successful, record the Hunting Tiger Form as the final item!

Shaolin Academy Essential Safety & Control

The Tiger Style Power and Ferocity does not allow for sloppy detail and inaccurate techniques. Especially with the Tiger Techniques, you need to prove that your Skill and Strength does not exceed your Control and Safety. For this purpose your Examiners will be evaluating your demonstration on the following criteria;


Safety means that it is safe for you to practice this technique without causing yourself long term harm. What this means is explained on our 1st Cyber Training Level


Shaolin is a Technical Style; show the correct technique, the correct way. Almost 1½ thousand years of development has allowed Shaolin techniques to be the most effective in the way they are taught. If you feel otherwise, get over it.


Is also along the lines of Safety, Accuracy, Correct Extension, Correct Targeting, etc. Show that you are in control of the Technique, Yourself and the Situation.


Each Shaolin technique has a specific target, it is designed that way. Although you can use them for other targets in practice and defence, for the Assessment's we expect each technique to be at the specified Target. If you can not, tell us just before demonstrating the technique why not and what your work around is (alternative target or technique.)


Tiger Techniques are all about Strength, Directness and Power. As the final Assessment criteria, you need to show us that you are using the most amount of muscles for each technique possible. We do not want you to bulk up for this; instead of using a few big muscles, learn the Shaolin techniques and how they use most all muscles possible.

The Shaolin Lesser 5 Animal Form

To appreciate the Advanced Shaolin Hunting Tiger Form you need to also have a basic understanding of the other Animal Style Forms. The Lesser 5 Animal Form, which is the last form you learn on the Temple Levels, is a good Introduction to a simple version of the Shaolin Animal Style. It is not an easy form but then again, it is not meant to be easy. It is the Introduction to the Shaolin 5 Animal Style. The Greater 5 Animal Form is a lot more involved and difficult.

When you demonstrate this form, consider the following; Tiger is Strong and Solid, Panther is Quick and Fluid, Crane is Light and Elegant and Snake is Sudden Sinuous. There needs to be a clear difference between these items, that is why we have spliced together different parts to demonstrate the form on the video recording. You may not initially notice this, but each of the Animal segments is demonstrated twice, once left and once right, so there is actually less to learn than it looks. Focus on each Animal separately before putting it together. At the end, the System of Snake Hands, just demonstrate this once through each hand.

You may have a lot of questions and should you be doing Snake style i would say ask them. But a Tiger Stylist does and then asks questions. If you want clarification on any aspect of the form, record yourself demonstrating a whole animal frame and send this to us with your questions. First show us what you understand it to be and then we will help you, if you need. Tigers are doers not askers.

Shaolin Tiger Kung Fu, Hunting Tiger Form
Not for the feint hearted but for the compassionate.


The material on this page may look simple and easy but it is not! There is a lot of skill required to learn and practice these skills. We strongly recommend that you do not attempt these unless you are part of the Shaolin Academy Cyber Program or under the guidance of a Kung Fu master!

Shaolin Tiger Kung Fu is a 'Just Do", direct action, strong and powerful type of style. But still, unless you are a Tiger you need to develop the skills to be able to do the Tiger. this means not that you go to the Gym and become stronger; this means that you learn how to use you whole body for Tiger Kung Fu, not just the obvious hips and legs but also the diagonal and lateral muscles.

Although most of what you need is explained in the Hunting Tiger Form Video, if you like some more detail you may wish to look at the 6 Sholin Tiger Kung Fu Claws/Techniques;

  1. The Tiger Claw Technique
  2. Eagle Striking Claw
  3. Phoenix Shredding Claw
  4. Crabs Teaching Claw
  5. Lions Maul Techniques
  6. Iron Manacles Technique
  7. Battering Claw Combo *

Shaolin Tiger Theory and Knowledge

As a Tiger Stylist you are not meant to be an essay writer, story teller or historian. But to pass this level you do need to show that you understand the Tiger. You will need to write a paper, one page or more, showing that you understand the Tiger Style. This can be done in several ways including;

Person Focused - Choose a person who in some form or way embodies the Spirit of the Tiger. It can be a real person or from a story; historical figure or a today person; from a real event or a movie. Just find someone and explain why you think this person embodies the spirit of the Shaolin Tiger! One such example is the Red Faced General Kwan Yu - who was physically an extremely noticeable man, being very large and powerful and having a distinct, red face (later in life). His deed led him to being the Patron Saint of traditional Chinese Martial Artists all over the world.
Event Focused - Where-by something happened and was solved by immediate and direct action. Where a disaster was averted, a defeat avoided, a victory achieved or a war decided. Most people know that Napoleon lost at Waterloo but do they know the name of the Marshal that created the right situation at the right time, that made the defeat of Napoleon and the Victory of Wellington possible? This is an example of Tiger Action.

Final Words

This will not make an expert out of you, or a Champion or a Warrior; but it gives you are good grounding that will enable you to specialize, if you wish, in a direction you care to take. Some have chose to enter competitions and have done well in All Styles Comps, Kung Fu Comps, Internationally and Nationally. Shaolin Academy students have even been used as action stand-in's in theater, movies, music videos and shows. We even put on a show at the Shaolin Temple in Henan China.

You may choose to want to use the style for Acting, Stage Work, Shows, Street Theater and such but it also applies for everyday life. Recognizing when you are confronted with a Tiger Style personality, you will know what you are up against, be it in the office, at a party, in the street or elsewhere. And the more you immerse yourself in the understanding of your Tiger, you will find that you are able to manage it within yourself better, both to restrain it when it will harm and to use it when appropriate. You will also learn the weaknesses of the each animal and relies that, for example, a Tiger can only be defeated by a Greater Tiger or by a mouse (and you need to work this out).

Level Review Application (and Certification)

Shaolin Martial Art & Self Defence Instruction & Training

Before you attempt the next level, ensure that everything you have learned in this level is correct. As you progress, many, many of the techniques that follow are based around, founded or along very similar principles as the ones from the 1st levels. Fix any problems and details now before you learn new techniques and carry through the errors thus doubling and tripling the effort to fix them later. And as an old and new wisdom stated "It is 5 times more difficult to fix a habit then it is to establish it!

Apply for a Level Review before you commence on the next level!

Tiger Kung Fu Review
Additional Info or Request
e-mail address for report

More Question, Thoughts, Ideas Proposals and/or Suggestions (QTIPS)?

In Australia call us on 0458 742 654 or e-mail sijo@shaolin.com.au!

Some links that might interest you....

Shaolin Kung Fu Home training/Online Training Program Shaolin Panther Kung Fu Information and Form Shaolin Crane Kung Fu Information and Form Shaolin Snake Kung Fu Information and Form
Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu Academy Main Page       Back to the top of this page.       Contact us for more information!