Five (5) Animal Kung Fu

Techniques, Strategies, Behaviors

On this page....

Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu is about who you are and what your preferences are. On this page you can find out what type of Animal Style You are and what that could mean in the way you look at the world, react to conflict, arguments and confrontations!


The Shaolin 5 Animal System is a metaphor for human behavior based on human development, not perceptions. It is also a representation of the most successfully team in human history. It is a personality type indicator 1000 years ahead of it's time, developed well before the current A/B model and well before the MB TI model. There is also vastly more to the 5 Animal Style system then any of the other. But then, the Shaolin 5 Animal System has had almost 1000 years to develop!

Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu Academy - Shaolin 5 Animal Style Kung Fu description of relationships.
The ludicrous representation of Animal Style Kung Fu in cinema, and many WEB sites, with weird animal sounds belittled the dignity and 1000 year old tradition of the most advanced and integrated style of martial art ever.

It is not the first Personality Model. Simpler personality models have been around for some 2500 years including; Ezekiel (Lion, Ox, Man and Eagle), Hippocrates (Cheerful, Somber, Enthusiastic and Calm) and more recently the above mentioned, Isabel Myers 1950's model of Sanguine, Melancholic, Choleric and Phlegmatic. There are many, but possibly none more wide spread and as famous than the Shaolin 5 Animal Model. Probably also, none other is as misunderstood and misrepresented as the 5 Animal System.

The reason that the Shaolin 5 Animal style has survived so well over the past ~1000 years, is probably due to the clever use of the 4 Animal symbols, and in choosing two Great Cats (Tiger and Panther) then a Bird and a Reptile. The choice of the two great cats suggests how similar these two character styles are, yet it also shows how very much difference there is, when the detail is understood. Then the addition of the Crane and the Snake to this system is pure genius! These almost totally opposing animals a bird and a reptile, appear to be very different from the two great cats. But again, the devil is in the detail. There are numerous hidden similarities. Most do not understand these clever and subtle, differences and similarities. Instead many teachers often seek to; replace, add, remove and even ignore this very clever and wise message from the ancients.

What made this 5 Animal model so much more than all the others, is the realization of the 'intangible influence' on human beings through the usage of the Dragon as the 5th metaphor, this representing the ideal and the meta-physical or spiritual component of human beings. Thus the 5 Animal Model, based on human beings having; 5 senses, 5 attachments to the body, 5 fingers, 5 elements, etc., functions much better than all the other models. And that is why it has survived so long and so well until now. This is a testament to the instinctive subconscious recognition within martial art masters and advanced practitioners, that it is about more than just the tangible or the cliché representations in the media.

Background to the development and spreading of the 5 Animal Style System

Five Dynasties

Around 907 CE, some 400 years after the founding of the Shaolin Temple, China was again in an unruly area in Chinese History. In the time of the 5 Dynasty's, anti Buddhist actions saw the Shaolin Temple destroyed. But this was not the first time such an event occurred and not the first time that Shaolin was destroyed. About 570 AD the Shaolin Temple was destroyed for the first time, for similar reasons, and needed 30 years before it was reoccupied and rebuilt. That is when the Shaolin Monks way of exercise, breathing, stretching and meditations added kung fu training. So too after 907 CE, the temple was destroyed and the Shaolin Monks sought refuge in other temples, including Wudang Mountain Temple, Fujian and others. When the Monks returned to rebuild Shaolin, they brought with them the kung fu skills they had acquired when residing in other temples.

Animal Kung Fu

About 960 CE, a new power, the Song Dynasty, reunited most of China proper. The founders of the Song Dynasty built an effective centralized bureaucracy. Some writings even suggest that the founder of the Song Dynasty was a Shaolin Graduate or Layman and was very pro martial arts, as a form of health giving exercise, as once used in the Shaolin Temple.

This became a period where Kung Fu Animal styles began to flourish. With the Song Dynasty support for martial arts, many more kung Fu styles came into existence; styles such as Rooster, Toad and Dog were not uncommon and some are still about currently. But there were also other ... unusual styles including; 10,000 bees, Mantis, Tiger, etc. Shaolin always welcomed traveling Healers, Minstrels, Historians, Philosophers... and Martial Artists as a system of learning and sharing. This was very unique in an art where secrets were paramount. They also shared and welcomed their ways with martial art masters and retired generals. They even housed many retired generals on their grounds.

Through this many of these styles found their way into Shaolin.

About 1044 CE, many Archery and Martial Art schools were recorded in China, indicating the popularity of martial arts during this period. Martial Arts styles were so popular that show Martial Artists would earn their way by providing shows and this exhibitions in fighting, wrestling, archery and strength demonstrations, traveling about or at festivals. The 'Grand Classic of Martial Arts', which included many aspects of military strategy, case histories and fighting styles was also published in this period. This became one of the first Golden Eras of Chinese martial arts. Shaolin too was caught up in this diversity of martial arts, possibly having more then 100 styles being practiced by Shaolin Monks.

As Shaolin did have its temple doors open to sharing, a martial art expert is said to have joined Shaolin to study kung fu. Eventually though, with all the abundant styles present in the temple, he took it upon himself to systemize this mess, of styles that were then in use, within the Shaolin Temple. In company of several Shaolin Monks, he traveled to the many monasteries about in search of other martial art styles to learn and evaluate. All, or most Shaolin Monks could read and write. All their learned was recorded. When they returned to the Shaolin Temple, the 100 Styles of Shaolin became the one-many-style, the Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu style.

The fact that all Shaolin Monks could read and write was important (unlike most other Chinese at the time), to the survival of this revolutionary many-one-style 5 Animal Kung Fu. Many other martial art styles lost much and changed beyond recognition due to word-of-mouth teaching. No records were ever made, or rarely. The Shaolin did record the 5 Animal Style in word and picture, and in great detail. Through this way of recording their style, Shaolin did not loose as much kung fu and style information over time as the word-of-mouth styles did. Also, the Shaolin 5 Animal Style did not have just 'one master' on which to rely but a whole monastery of teachers, masters and students. These maintained the art through records and even symbolic wall painting and statues.

Just one moment please...

If you are mostly interested about the Martial Art aspect of the Animal Kung Fu; we have dedicated Animal Kung Fu Style pages for this. Just follow the links below. This page is dedicated to the Personality Types aspect of the Animal Styles including problem solving.

Black & White

Success Focused,
Challenge Focused,
People Focused,
Wisdom Focus
(clockwise from Tiger)

Almost nothing is black and white and nothing is everything as everything is not nothing or simpler put; most everything is in shades of gray; and then there are the colors. Shaolin also follow the principles of the Dao which works with Yin and Yang, the two Opposing and Complementing Universal Principles/Forces. And this is also represented in the Animal Model as The grater Yang (Tiger) lesser Yang (Panther), Lesser Yin (Crane) and greater Yin (Snake). Although we will not delve into the Dao, we will be using it's principles to explain and show the Animal Characteristics!

The Four-Quadrant Matrix (to the left)

Using the Four Quadrant Matrix method, you will discover how the Animal Styles interrelate. In the example left/above, you can see that the Tiger and Panther are Internally Motivated (mostly, not exclusively), meaning that they are Pro-Active; whereas the Crane and Snake are Externally Motivated (mostly, not exclusively) and so, mostly Reactive.

Nature vs Nurture

We will also not be delving into the principles of the Nature versus Nurture argument. We believe that Genetics determine who you are and nurture determines how this will be expressed. If you genetics predispose you to being a 300 lb 7 foot strong female, it will be with great difficulty and effort that you will become a National Ballet Dancer; not impossible but a little difficult. On the other hand if your genetics predispose you to being a 5 foot, slender male you may find it difficult to become a Open Division World Wrestling Champion; not impossible but a bit difficult. So, your genetics play and important role in who you are as your upbringing will greatly influence how you are able to express this.

Culture, Religion, Education, Ethnicity and Quality of Life

Just to clarify,this in reality belongs into the Nurture aspect of your being. But we think it is best to make that absolutely clear and that this will also have and input into how your being will be expressed.

Ideal vs Real

All things considered, there are already a lot of Shades of gray. When we talk about these aspect we will talk about Ideal Circumstances and an Ideal World. yes, this does not exist but let's not muddy the water too much and make the relevant and key point clearly before we worry about applying them in the Real World! Keeps thins clear; Black and White so to say.

Normal Vs Challenging

Through life we have developed habits, again influenced by our upbringing and by our experiences. Without going into a great depth why, your day to day life is a testament to your ability to adapt and survive. yet, when you come to a truly challenging situation, one that brings you under stress, you may decide and act totally different to what you normally do. Often, when you are in perceived danger, a lot of your 'civilized' being can fall away and show the raw being underneath. This is not always a view of your true nature!; but it is a larger view of who you are.


So, who you are right now all depends on what you were given at birth; IQ, Size, Health, Genetics and what was done with you since then; which opportunity you had or did not have. You may have had the Heart of a Lion but may have been born into a strictly pacifist environment and culture (ie. Buddhism). This would have masked your true nature and not allowed you to develop into a full Lion. Conversely, you may be the most loving and caring person born into a war torn country where it is fight of die. You had to go against your Nature to survive and this would again have not allowed you to become the person you really are. Finally, your parents have two opposing tasks bringing you up. All you to freely develop and support your growth and stop you from killing yourself by to wild a life style. This again will stifle your true being until you can unravel who you really are and change you up-bringing (remember too, parents are not perfect just children of parents who were themselves children of parents, and so on).

The Shaolin 5 Animal System

Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu Academy - Shaolin 5 Animal Style Kung Fu description of relationships.
Although these arrows show the preferred movement direction also showing the preference for the Tiger and Panther to be attacking styles and Crane and Snake defending styles, this also shows the thinking styles of the Animals. Tiger always forward and onward; Panther every-which-way-and-loose, Crane every which way but away and Snake the straightest line away from the attack.

Congratulations for making it to here. You must really be interested in the 5 Animal Style. Well, i will try to make it as interesting as possible. Let's start with the Animal Style preferred Movement direction; graphic to the left!

Movement as a Metaphor

In the Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu each of the animal styles has a preferred, even predominate way of moving. As mentioned, it is not a limitation of the Animal Styles but a predominant preference. the Tiger like to go forward, direct, simple and immediate. The Snake likes to go back, slightly less direct but just as simple and immediate. The Panther will always evade first (mostly) and approach at a time and direction of their choosing. Where-as the Crane will evade first and mostly always and never attack. Crane Style personalities abhor violence, having to use it and being confronted by it. So, if you look at the graphic, red being for proactive movement and green for reactive movement, you have a visual representation of the 4 Character trait Preferences.

Please also note that both the Tiger and Snake prefer simple direct movement where as the Crane and Panther develop complex sometimes even convoluted style of moving. This has to do with the Power of the Styles. Both the Tiger and Snake have a large power. The Tiger bases their ability for direct and strong action on the Power of their Mind and Body where as the Snake bases their strong action on the Power of the Ability and Knowledge. Panther Types prefer to take action when they are good and ready where as Cranes will only take action when they really, really need to and then it will be as a response to an external influence. So what you ask? Good, let's use this type of movement and apply it to Thinking and Problem solving styles & Methods.

Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu Academy - Shaolin 5 Animal Style Kung Fu description of relationships.
Each of the styles has also preferences for action. Tiger likes to do and Lead, Panther likes to Plan and Guide, crane likes to Consider the Human aspects and Influence, the Snake likes to refer to History and Tradition and Inform about the right way of doing things.

Problem Solving Styles

The Tiger Style person, when confronted with a problem, will want to meet it head on! Directly frontal and immediately. No need for dilly-dallying, get it fixed and move on. Whereas the Panther Style person will first want's to understand the issue at hand, analyse it, get a feel for it and see what may be the consequences of any solution. And then, and only then, when they are ready will they take action, preferably with the most economic of efforts if possible. The Crane Personality will evade the problem, get out of the way and see if it passes. And if it doesn't it will evade the problem again; possibly talking to friends and family about the issue as if seeking advice but really looking for support, possibly a Tiger or Panther stylist to fix it for them. If all this doesn't work, they will, if still confronted by the issue, start to take little actions. Not with the aim of fixing the problem but of reducing it's effect on them and possibly derailing the issue so that it is no longer an issue. Snake Personalities do not do problems. They don't evade it thy try and totally avoid it. Get out and let someone else deal with it. Be gone problem, you weren't here yesterday and i don't want you here today and not tomorrow. If the problem persists they will, when pushed into a corner, deal with it based on research of how such a problem has been fixed in the past. Not people power like the Crane but Book and Google/Bing power seeking the best possible and permanent solution. A total solution so that it can never occur again!

Now each of these methods has it's place and then most people have a dominant problem solving style and a fall back solving style and often even another if they have a problem solving profession. But we will get to that later.

When confronted the Tiger will counter attack, the Panther ill withdraw and re-engage in a time of it's choosing, the crane will seek to find safety and evade harm where as the Snake will seek safety far away.
Immediate Danger

The Tiger Style is very good when confronted with emergencies and disasters when immediate action is needed. the house is burning, that car is careening towards you, that person is about to hit you. In these situation of immediate and fairly simple danger, the Tiger is the Style to be and do. Move, move, move. Panther Stylist my be inclined to over-think the situation or even procrastinate to the point of too-late. Both Crane and Snake Stylist will avoid the situation effectively but will do so reactively. If it is a situation that requires immediate and decisive action, The Tiger personality is best suited. Let's look at another type of Danger in the future.

Future Possible Danger

Let's imagine that you can not pay up a debt you have incurred with a Loan Shark and they have told you that they will 'deal' with you in a weeks time if the money is not paid in full plus 50%. As he has 4 thugs with him as he states this, the Tigers inclination is to counter threaten; Panther will wait and see, Crane will seek assistance and Snake will look for a way out that has worked in the past.

When danger is not imminent and there is a problem to solve; Tiger again just-do-it; Panther looks for options, Crane considers the human need and Snake the value.
Something needs doing

Just a quick reminder, these examples are archetypal and simplified. Humans are complex creatures but it is by recognizing the simplest of actions that we can understand ourselves. So, what would be the reaction of the different styles when confronted with a busted chair. The Tiger personality would go about trying to fix it then and there; if the situation was appropriate. The Panther would avoid the issue choosing an appropriate suitable and relevant question such as "does it really need fixing?"; "haven't we enough chairs?" or say "it was about time". The Crane personality would possible renumerate of the people who could fix it, uncle Charlie, the furniture restorer down the road or some such; also avoiding immediate action or responsibility. The Snake personality would question the very premise of the statement.

Tiger focus is the the tangible, whereas the Panther prefers the Ideal; the Crane seeks to consider the Human and Social aspect where as the Snake finds peace in the past and successful experiences of others.

Both the Tiger and Snake would be a "Do it Now" kinda answer where as the Tiger would "do it now" whereas the Snake Would "Go away Now". Both the Panther and the Crane would seek more something-or-other but defiantly evade any action relating to this. The Panther is more likely to come back to this problem and deal with it, some time, if it is really needed and convenient.

Yin and Yang or both Sides

The Tiger Personality is a go getter and do'er, direct, open, honorable and loyal. A great mate, quick to be friends but also quick to anger, intolerant of weakens's, faults, also a Bull in a China Shop, sometime bully, brash and inconsiderate. When problems/issues/situation need to be confronted head on; where time is more important than quality; were there is a sense of urgency and a need for a successful completion, tell a Tiger to do it but be very specific what outcome you want.

The Panther Personality is a Thinker, solver of complex problems, planner and good strategist. Seemingly a great mate to all and well liked, the Panther can spread himself far and wide. They are also procrastinators, converluted over thinkers who can be friendly to your face but other when you are not there. When there are complex problems to be solved and the time is not so much of an issue, Panther Types can do a lot with very little information and guidance but they need to be checked along the way. Let the Panther work out what needs doing but check in regularly or it will go astray.

The Crane Personality is a carer, involver of people, listener and truly nice person. They are very good with most every person, listening to your concerns and when appropriate putting something into the conversation. they are need driven and who ever has the greatest need will get their attention. The principle defect is that they are need driven and if someone else's need is greater, that will be their focus. They can loose themselves in the problems of their family or tribe, try and do right by everyone and kill themselves in the process. Cranes can tend to be Mothers and Martyrs.

The Snake Personality are the Wise order creators. They are great as Judges, Historians, Academics and most any profession where strict order is required such as a Tax Bookkeeper. Everything in their life is based on experience and order. Snakes get along with everyone but usually are not friends or mates with anyone. As long as you do not want anything from a Snake, all is well. They tend to be inflexible, prefer to go by the book and will rarely offer their own opinion choosing to either quote someone or refer to a fact or study. Although they are usually at the center of a group or a crowd they are rarely full a part of these. As mentioned above, their upbringing rather than their character makes them social and amiable.

Both Tiger and Panther Types prefer to drive themselves and choose their own direction (Tiger more) but the Crane is fairly easy going with the current breeze, but still manages to get it's own way. Snake is about what is know and is written, as long as this is not challenged the Snake Type can be easy going.

Shades of the Animal Personalities

Situations may bring out a different reaction than your usual. If a Tiger is really confronted by and overwhelming force, they can turn Snake and run. If a Snake is confronted by an impossible situation they can turn Tiger and .... If a Panther is confounded by a problem they will probably turn into a Crane for a while where as the Crane can not find a person to help them they may turn into a Panther but....! This is just one of the most likely possibilities and not the only. In a dead-end situation, when a solution is not working, a smart personality will go to the next way of doing things and if this does not work to the next and then the next. If the problem is solvable, working through this chain will solve it. Usually, often, most people have their preferred way and fall back position when this does not work. And if this also is not successful then they try the third style. It is very rare for a person be at peace using all 4 styles; unless they are older and have learned about the power of Paradigm shifting or as in this case Shifting Animal Styles. Let's use a real example, from a real person using the Broken Chair.

A Tiger personality would take the Chair into their workshop (because they would have one) and see what can be done. Let's assume there is a piece missing and they do not have the tools or resources to fix this at the time. Three possibilities arise;

This is a simple example but we know of at least one example where the Tiger personality did something very similar with a broken object. After finding that the item was not fixable they used Aunty Bing to do some research at which time they came to the conclusion to call a friend. As mentioned, most person have a main fall back position and in real difficult situations a second less favored fall back position. And this is where it get's interesting!

The green is the successful management cycle and the red the challenging management cycle. The cross arrows show the 'happy/successful' paring preference.

Ideal Personality Management

The Management Cycle is very successful if the Manager does not try to Micro Manage (control every detail) of their subordinated. The Tiger will give a clear direction and focus for the Panther to roam and do what they do best. As long as the Tiger only occasionally 'reminds' the Panther Stylist of the direction and helps them keep on track, this relationship will have great outcomes. The Panther manages the Big Picture for the Crane who manages the People and as long as the panther allows the Crane to do it their way and in their time and only (again) occasionally reminds the Crane personality to consider that what they are doing needs to be for the greater good, all is well. The Crane Manager needs a Snake Type person to keep order and the books. Crane types can loose themselves in the People and the Snake will remind them that the business is what enables the people to work and be. Finally the Snake often Provides the detailed underpinning of the Tigers push forward. The Tiger does and creates and the Snake ensures that the i's are dotted and the t's crossed.

The Tiger admires Skill and Ability in itself and others (Physical Competitive Activity). The Panther is very much a Mind type person who would appreciate great Thinkers (mental challenges both Thought and Action). Crane is Type of Understanding and reacting to feelings and emotions (Human problems and solving them). The Snake prefers hard and fast facts and those who like collecting them (Historians and Quiz Masters.

How to Manage the different Styles.

A good manager though must need be good at managing all the different types of characters both upward and downward; both their staff as well as their management.

Tiger Manager

Tiger are natural leaders but also natural Bull-in-a-China-shop. They need to focus their energies in different ways for each of the Animal Styles although there is a pattern. Give a clear directions, check that everything is all right and what help is needed; but this is a good management principle anyway. The Tiger will take achieving staff for granted which can make them loose their best staff because they are focusing on the not-so-good staff members. Tigers are best when they have a Crane deputy.

Managing a Panther requires a clear definition of the outcome with clear guidance of the process. Even with this the Panther will find ways of doing it their way; that is their thing. The Panther will need indirect control and supervision as they can totally go off the reservation. This may not be a bad thing but it can all screw everything up if not redirected in time.

Managing the Crane requires Trust and giving the Crane support when needed as well as some refocusing when the Crane get's to involved in people things. Also, learning the Cranes way of communicating will bypass many communication problems. they will understand and appreciate the Tigers directness but the Tiger needs to appreciate the Cranes need for emotive expression.

Managing the Snake is the most challenging as the Snake is managed by what is written and agreed. It is incredibly important for the Tiger to ensure that what they expect from the Snake is very clearly set out preferably in writing and agreed. Once the Snake personality runs with the task, the Tiger will need to check regularly, not because the Snake is off track but to ensure that the Tiger gave the right guidance. Changing agreements with a Snake is very traumatic for the Snake and requires a lot of effort.

Managing a Tiger for a Tiger can be easy of the Managing Tiger is really better than the Managed Tiger! As a Tiger never try and manage a greater Tiger, you will loose. You also need to maintain a dominant position with the Tiger as they will challenge you in many little ways. Unless you are a Strong, Wise, Secure or very Dominant Tiger do not try and manage a Tiger personality!

What drives each Type to their best results? Solid Outcomes, Future further Possibilities, Social Benefit, Honored Tradition.

and how would they achieve this as a manager!
Panther Manager

Panthers are planners and visionaries. The better support they have the further they fly and the greater their ambitions. But this can also see them being on the Moon when they need to be fixing the rocket that would get them there. Panthers need to have a good Snake deputy that really knows what is needed and refocuses the Panther on the needs at hand. As with all Snake types, be very clear what is needed and how it is needed and occasionally check in and appreciate their work subtly, specifically.

Managing the Tiger is best achieved if they have a very clear outcome and good support. If the Tiger is appreciated along the way using this method to also redirect their efforts, you will have a hard working and honorable person. But you must manage the Tiger like a Guided missile; make sure they are on target and help them get back on target when they go off course. If you do this in a supportive subtle way allowing the Tiger to think they are in charge (of what they are doing), then you will be appreciated, not challenged and have 150% outcome if not more. Tigers when managed well are very good work value.

Managing the Crane can be easy if you are able to give clear direction and support. The Crane will appreciate the big picture especially, if in their responsibility area you show the Crane that they are important. The crane will support your staff in way you can not imagine so the amount of real trust you give, you will get in return. But do involve the Crane in your decision process and allow them to work out what you need. Tiger can tell them but Panthers need to let them find out what is required. As Panthers often have their head in the clouds, this is a good way of managing the Crane Type.

Managing the Snake is really easy as your paths do not collide as with the Tiger and Crane. The Panther is the planner and visionary that seeks to define the future and capitalize on it. The Snake is a keeper of rules and the past and will ensure with a bit of help from the Panther that the way forward is based on a good foundation. This again is a great partnership that needs a bit of work but will Synergise to be more than the sum of it's parts.

Managing the Panther is not the easiest for a Panther. You both want to roam the realm of possibilities and what-if's. If you want to manage a Panther you better be good and have a higher IQ and can back this up with good reasoning. Should you need to employ a superior Panther, do it as a Contractor through you Snake partner.

Crane Managers

Often the feel good types that try and make the work place and environment as nice a place to work in as possible with often a lot of social benefits. If you are in the People Service industry your skills will be much appreciated but your soft heart will cause problems advantage. You need a trusted Tiger to allow you to be a good Crane or you need to tap the Tiger within-you.

Managing the Tiger is not possible so you need to get them onside and allow them to feel responsible for your success and being. Yes, it is a form of manipulation but all relationships are a form of manipulation. Again clear guidance for the Tiger and trust coupled with regular involvement in your needs not thoughts. Tiger will respect what you need not always what you want and think. If you can activate their protective nature be careful, they can turn into Big Brother and this is not good. But if you can manage this not to happen, it could be a extraordinary good relationship.

Managing the Panther needs a lot of control and effort. The Panthers big-brain will find a lot of little ways to mis-understand you and take advantage. If you want to manage a Panther type you need to use your Crane Type powers and garner support from other staff including your Tigers and Snakes. Without this help you may not be able to maintain any form of control for long unless there is some form of candy that the Panther wants and that you control! Even then they may find a way though your soft heart.

Managing the Crane is also not possible but working with them and through them is. Cranes naturally flock together and if there is a clear direction and outcome it will not be too much of a problem. But you need to be the Alpha Crane the Tiger Crane or else you will have chaos, funny, enjoyable but still chaos.

In the Shaolin Style; the Monkey is the mischief maker, the prankster. That style that you use when all else is not working and you throw everything into Chaos and disarray only to re-order into a better situation. It is that what you would do before opting for the Phoenix path; crash and burn and start again. From chaos you create order, from ashes you have to start anew.
Snake Managers

Usually Snake Types are better at managing things like numbers, money, logistics, systems and IT. They are not good at managing beings as often they will try and do it as if they were managing things. Their challenge is change and people flexibility and they need to have systems in place to ensure the long term viability of what-ever they are doing/managing.

Managing the Tiger is very difficult. The Tiger is Task focused and the Snake is process focused. It is like trying to get somewhere; the Snake will say drive down this way, turn here, left there and take this road; ie. process where as the Tiger wants the destination and the freedom to do it their way. This may seem complimentary but it is really opposing when a Snake want's to manage a Tiger. You need to work through others to achieve the best result, preferably a Crane Type. If this is not possible, you will need to be patient and subtly educate the Tiger in your way but also be open to the occasional time the Tiger finds a better way. if you don't you loose them! Not an easy relationship.

Managing the Panther is more like managing a partnership. You are the foundation and the Panther is the building on the foundation. You set the parameters of the foundation and the Panther will design the best possible structure on this foundation. As long as the limitations are clear the Panther will find the possibilities. This is a good relationship if you have other staff for the work.

Managing the Crane will be the most difficult. Again you are process based which is totally contrary to the Cranes people focus. If you have Customers or Staff you need the Crane and you need to be able to trust and support them. But you may be best working through a flexible Tiger. Managing a Tiger to manage multiple Cranes is easier than you managing the Cranes directly.

Managing Upwards

Is in principle like managing downwards but with a few cautions. Never challenge or compete with a Tiger Manager. Do not try to understand the Panther or fly as high, work around them. Support the Crane even if it seems wrong and follow the Snakes rules and they will allow you to be. Aside from this you manage them in much the same way as if you were the Manager; and in a way you are. Tog et what you want and need you need to manage the people around you, even if you are not the official manager.

Each of the Types has their highest honor that when broken is, to them, tragic. If a Tiger can not do what they think they can, the Panther can not solve a problem, a crane can not help a person and a Snake can not show the correct answer based on knowledge. Then they feel a failure.

Inner Driving Force

What makes people try that 110%, over achieve, do more than required. Often it is either fear or Pride/Honor. For the Tiger and Snake it is often fear of loosing the position, fear of external driven change. They have their station, position, mountain and anything that would threaten this is a serious threat. Panther and Cranes are less reliant on such but much more sensitive to People issues and perceptions. They would be more concerned about loosing relationships if they had to move or change jobs and what this change would mean in the eyes of the people they respect. For the Panther it would be the inconvenience of a forced change and new relationships where as the Crane would fear the loss of their social support and friends. Tigers would need to re-establish their alpha status and would be apprehensive with all that this entails and Snakes would have to adapt to a new way of doing this and this is usually not easy for them.

So Tigers and Snakes would be more Tangible consequences of Change where as Panthers and Cranes fear of loss would be less tangible. As statement like 'what are your really loosing' would be much more difficult for a Crane and Panther to answer where as the Tiger and Snake could most likely tell you exactly what the cost will be.

Where as the Tiger Types would least like to loose their position of control, the Panther Type works better with position of influence. The Crane Types would really hate to loose their social/professional network/influence where as the Snake Types would loose their Professional knowledge/control and detail of operations when changing positions or places.

Getting Older and Wiser

When you get older, you either become wiser and are better able to deal with a wider of variety of skills and problems or you have something in your life that you have not dealt with sufficiently and you go the opposite way. People who have mental illnesses and problems such as PTSD are often unable to cope with change and every change can make them draw into their shell more and more until they become very single type like. Tiger tend to become aggressive (verbal and physical), Panthers 'imaginative' (in the bad sense), Cranes withdrawn (hoarders, cat-persons) and Snakes obsessed with something tangible or not tangible (conspiracy theories, UFO's, etc)!

NOTE - that is not to say that all odd, excentric or extreme behavior is always type based; the experience leading to the behavior is often also very influential as well the the person experiences in life before this. But often, extrema trauma lead to substantial behavioral and thinking changes which; in all honest; we (At the Shaolin Academy) are not really qualified to make a definitive statement but we can use it as an empirical/observational example. So, back to that what we do know well....

Growing & Shrinking

The main feature of each of the Types, their driving force and often their weakness which can turn negative.

Gray Animal Styles tend to become broader based and be able to deal better with people unless they went down the path of stubbornness dues to some bad experience that they have not been able to deal with!

Having a bit of experience under your belt and having experienced success and failure; having been able to explore which is you and which is your upbringing; having been able to observe other people success you tend to broaden your Modus Operandi or Method of Operations. And then, somewhere along the line you will relise that you use (sort-of) all four of the methods of operating. You will find that you have;

Primary - or preferred method of first or habitual response to life, problems, communication and about most everything, but not everything; but we'll come to that later again!

Fall-back - or secondary method when your preferred way did not achieve the results you wanted.

Desperate - or 'oh shit i don't know what i am doing' way. This is when both your primary response and secondary response did not give you the required result and then you go and try what you usually do not and usually do not really get a great result but it is better than nothing; under the circumstance and at the time!

If-i-have-to - will be the method even under the most dire circumstances you are utmost reluctant almost/seemingly afraid of trying. Under extreme pressure of life and limb; if life in the universe will end and all existence cease, will you consider using it (this last might be a bit overstated)!

Example in Reality

Let's look at a real example of this. I will use myself as an example because i know me now, i think (Sijo Robert Z. Let's look at what happens when we purchase a new electronic item, say a 4K Video Camera (for example).

Each of the types would usually tend towards a form of rule; Tiger Types generally like to have clear directions from a Strong leader with the common good in sight; Panther would prefer a dynamic system where there is no clear leader as would the Crane who would allow people need to drive the system and the government would be a management system not a ruling system. Snake like the written and tangible.

My preference is doing so i will go to the store and start asking questions trying to find out which is the camera with the most options and quality and least problems and complications. If two or three different sales people tell me very similar things about a model and it is acceptable; that means i feel right about it and my intuition is not sending warning signals, i would buy it when i was younger. Now i ask uncle Google and auntie Bing for some facts about the item and figures about the price. If all is well i buy it, no problems. But what happens when i have it, is all together different!

Once the item is unpacked i immediately try and use it and get a positive result. If i can successfully record a scene and view it back i continue to play with the item trying to discover what else it can do. A bit like a kid with a new toy... ehh well actually a lot or even exactly like a kid with a new toy. As you can see this is the Tigers way, do and learn, discover and achieve. But's let say i can't get it to work; what now?

Being a fairly intelligent person (IQ 161) this is a serious circumstance! I usually am very good with working things out especially electronic and super especially new toys! So my first though is that there is something wrong with the product (never with my thinking!). If there are friends around or student i would tell them to see if they can make it work! This is my fall-back style Crane, call a friend! Except i would not call a friend or my friends could not figure it out i would very reluctantly grab the instructions if friends were not there (note how circumstance can dictate different preferred fall-back positions?!). I would then try and find that one crucial piece of information that is missing and stopping me from playing. Once found i would go back to playing with it. If all this fails, i could not work it out, my friends/colleges/family could not help and the instructions did not yield a usable result, i would put it aside allow myself time to think about it. So, Tiger, Crane, Snake and the Panther.

Now where i am older and a bit more bruised err.. wiser, i use the Panther more often. The more i use it the better it get's. I am still not really good in solving puzzles but i am good a waiting and creating the circumstances to have an insight and find a solution. I know one other person well that works not like me; my wife Dagmar!

Everyone would usually totally unpack the an item except very solid Snake types, who would just unpack it far enough to get the instructions. So, my wife unpacks the item, looks at it and then grabs the instructions without trying it. If problems arise than she gives it to me to sort out or at work she shows friends and things get worked out. But from observation she is Crane, Snake, Panther .... then Tiger.

If you left click on the image and choose view image a 4 times larger version will be displayed.

The blue line follows my problem solving path whereas the pink line follows Dagamrs method of dealing with new things

24 Options

A picture is defiantly worth a 1000+1 words in this case so have a look at the graphic to the left! As you can see, using the 4 Animal Method you come to 24 different personality Types. The Blue or Aqua line in the Tiger quadrant represents my way of approaching most any situation unless i have acquired a specific professional or personal habit. For example, with physical street confrontations i do not attack first; this is a Shaolin doctrine. Never initiate violence but i also do not back down and stand my ground. This would suggest s Panther Type response. Baring action, i will use the Snake and suggest that the consequences will not be good for either of us and depending response, i either stay with this or try Crane and to placate the situation. Should though the person attack my primary response kicks in light lightning. So in this case i have learned to tame my Tiger and defer to Panther - Snake - Crane - .... only Tiger if attacked. When i am with members or prospective new members this changes again. I listen first (Crane) and then inform them by answering their asked and unasked questions (Snake & Tiger). In this scenario, the Panther rarely comes into it unless they are senior martial artists or very unusual.

So, what i am trying to say is this. You will have a preferential way of dealing with situations and often revert to your favorite path as with me Do, Talk, Read then Think. But I have developed learned responses for particular situations to do with my profession, people and based on experience. Though most the time i feel i like my pattern of response my most successful way of getting this done, solved and arranged. But there is one more thing to show.

Cyclic Pattern

I am fairly good at organizing and systemizing work, people and systems. Even here i start first with getting everything moving (Tiger). Obviously i see the response to my directions and listen to the feedback (Crane) which then set's me of to thinking and re-thinking (Panther) before i finally start finding information or making records (Snake). I it quite possible that i then start all over again giving altered or fine tuned directions at which time i am open to feedback and problems (Crane) with which i deal with by either helping directly (Tiger), looking up information (Snake) or looking for help from somewhere. So you see aside from your path being somewhat flexible, follow-up action may not follow the original pattern But that seems to be reasonable. If everything worked the first time we wouldn't have to do anything again, would we!?

Best System of Types EVER!

Well, anyone with a system say's it's the best or they would change. But i have a compelling argument with over 3 million years of weight behind it. The most successful team composition ever is a combination of each of the Animals. Tiger as the leader; Cane as the counter to the Tiger and keeping harmony; Snakes provide us with history, knowledge and wisdom; and finally Panther create chaos, excitement, new direction and the future. We also have name for this team; Family! It is the team that has created where we are now or if you want, the dominant species on the world chose this team as the most likely to survive and thrive. So, if you ever put a team together consider to have each of the Animal Types present for a most likely success.

Try it out! WORK IN PROGRESS, need help!

This will work best if you can imagine that when given the various options that they are equally convenient for you. I will try and word it in such a way that it is but it will not always suite every type of person, every situation, every culture, every religion so just go with it!

You are with family and friends for your birthday. You have just received a new Gadget that works with your phone through an app. You have your phone and have just unpacked the package. What do you do next from the following 4 choices;

Sijo Robert Z, former Engineering & Management Development professional and a Kung Fu practitioner (since 1962).


It is a model and i relate to it better than all the others (Samples below). It is possibly the oldest but also the least know model although not the only one using Animal Metaphors (see below again). So in all fairness, depending on your Type, you may not be able to relate to a Personality Type Model that a Tiger relates to. So in the interest of completeness i have some further Personality Models below. If one of them is better for you, look it up. There are few things in life as important as getting to know yourself and others, especially if you are going to make any commitments!

- Sijo Robert Z

Information - Phone - 0458 SHAOLIN (0458 742654)