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Shaolin Academy, Animal Claws of Kung Fu

Specialist Tools for Specialized Applications.

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This page is for information and reference only and should only be tried under the supervision of an accredited and experienced Martial Art Instructor or Master; preferably with extensive Animal Kung Fu and/or Chi Kung experience as well as through experience and accreditation in modern safe teaching and training methods! Wrong usage of the information presented on this page may lead to permanent, chronic or structural damage to your body or mind.

Hi, I am Sijo Robert Z, Instructor at the Shaolin Academy and your guide through this page.

These techniques and methods are complex and involved and if not trained under the proper guidance and supervision of a qualified Kung Fu Master, may cause you and others harm and damage. I have paid the price for learning these techniques in the form of time, effort and injury; and now have chronic physical problems as a result. I have spent the time to 'alter' these techniques and the way we train them to stop you having to pay for the skill and ability of the Animal Claws with anything other than time, diligence and practice. I have never injured any of my students in any way other than bruises and pain, which are part of the training and hardening, if they wish. I do not wish you to be injured in any way so; Be Careful, Train Slowly, Practice Gently, take time Understanding and seek professional guidance for assistance even if you are well experienced with any Animal Kung Fu Styles!

Before you continue any further i suggest you have a look at the 5 minute recording on the right. Before you do any training or any type, make sure you are properly prepared and in the habit of being prepared. Being prepared is an attitude that Martial Artists should cultivate. And on that note, i suggest you learn and use the Shaolin Academy Universal Warm-up before any form a physical exercise, martial art, fitness or sports training. just click on the link and have a just do it attitude for smart Kung Fu training!

Finally, if you are not a Black Sash/Black Belt or close to it, do not have 7 to 10 years of regular (twice a week average) training experience you may want to try the Shaolin Academy Cyber Kung Fu program before you attempt any of these techniques. You can view the details of the curriculum on our Shaolin Curriculum to Black Sash.

Sijo Robert Z - Shaolin Academy

Why cause yourself pain today trying to avoid pain in the future; work smarter not harder - Sijo

Anyone wishing to study any of these techniques in any serious way, please contact Master Robert Z at the Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu Academy Australia for possible guidance in evaluating if this is the right path for you!

Prologue - Setting the Scene

In a country of over a billion people and a Landmass of 9M7 km² bordering 14 countries that at one time or another have invaded Chinese lands, we can expect that over a period of 8,000 years, a few military and defence styles have developed. As many people were not literate, most of these were lost in history, but not all.

Some have been handed down from Generation to generation and have remained intact for the most of the centuries and millennia. There are a number of such Specialists (Secret) Techniques, some of which are/were part of a Kung Fu system, where the system is not longer in living memory, but the one special technqiue has survived. But often the Master did not pass on that final one technique to their most worth students. Often this technique would die without being given to the next generation. Why? Many reasons! The technique was thought to be to violent by the master; students did not achieve competency to a level required for the technique to be given to them. Sometimes the master died by misadventure, was or just an early death. Much was lost.

Iron Palm Kung Fu Skills

Yet, there are some of these techniques that have made their way into the 20th Century where some were recorded. Styles such as 10,000 Bees which specializes in Pressure Point Activation/Disruption; Dim Mak which is said to teach the skill to kill with one strike; Poison Hand which is the skill to make someone sick and even die 3 to 10 days after the Poison Hand strike; Splashing Hands with when applied in a specific disorder can cause internal organs to explode or liquefy; Iron Palm which is said to be able to smash stone and brick in a controlled way and not just relying on brut strength.

Often, most martial art styles rely on speed, strength and power together with some well practiced core techniques. Many, many martial arts focus on competitions, be it Boxing or Muay Thai in the ring, MMA or caged fighting that also have strict rules and even weight divisions to ensure a relative safe and equal bout. But in real life and war, there are no rules and people needing to defend themselves need skills and attitudes that can deal with people that are stronger, quicker, better armed and often do not follow any rules. This is how real fighting Kung Fu techniques developed, where there are no rules, no weight divisions, no honor of one-on-one; where it was a simple matter of deal with the superior force or .... die. And this is how many of the Animal Claws came to be, as a family or village defence secret of the local master. A specific schools style or even a Generals or Warriors final line of personal defence. These Animal Claws in the original form were the last form of defence or protection for the family, village or squad.

But, Shaolin does not kill and we do not teach killing techniques. So, the 9 Claws Chosen are the non-lethal but somewhat nasty variety. Teaching so-called killing techniques requires that the teacher has killed using these techniques, else they are a fraud or in worst case a murderer. Modern army's teach killing with knife, gun and rocket so hand kills are left to 'special' forces. And these people are not allowed to share their countries secret killing techniques even though you do find some WEB site claiming different.

So, on these pages we focus on Claws, but not just any claws! Claws that are considered the worst and most nasty for various reasons; Claws that can Tare, Break, Maim, Blind and Incapacitate. Claws that should not be used or taught but that an advanced martial artists needs to know and know how to counter. Claws that some called Demon or Devil Claws but we will just call them (the forbidden) Animal Claws.

Choose One and Be Great, Choose Many and be Nothing.

Greed is no good. Although we list most of our Animal Claws on this page, it is to have them not disappear in time again. You can not really master all claws so if you want to experience the essence of tradition, choose one and master one. This will take a long time. If you are doing this for interest and health and fitness, also just choose one at a time and give each technique the dedication it deserves.

Each technique, each Claw is a stand-alone technique that is only linked to the others through this page and the fact that thy are all Animal based. They have nothing in common and for the most knowing one will not speed up the process to know any other. So, what ever similarities you may see, see the uniqueness of each and every technique and do not try to group or typecast them.

Caution - these techniques are interesting but rare; which means that a high level of skill is required to use them and an even higher level of skill to counter them. Use this material with care and remember to Learn Slowly so that you Learn Thoroughly!


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.

Conditions of Use and Training Rules for ALL

Rules allow for Freedom and Safety

The form on the right→ is information presented to all students who enter the Shaolin Academy Venue and wish to try out the training. We expect that they and you follow these rules when training or using Shaolin Academy teachings and Kung Fu!

We expect that if follow the conditions and indemnities set out on the form to the right&rarr: and that you agree to abide by these. Please read the form carefully and if you do not agree with this move on to another site and style. If there are any aspects that you do not understand or are not sure about, please write to us immediately and we will seek to understand and clarify if possible! I have a question about the indemnity conditions and details

It is the Law, the Rule of Law and Rules that allow us to be free;
Imagine driving a car down a road if there were no street rules and laws; just imagine!

In addition to the Indemnity, Blue Form, we also speak to our prospective new members and clarify the important points and rules. Please look at the following closely and again, if you disagree with any point either write to us for clarification or go away!

Safety first and Always. If you can hurt or damage yourself or someone else, do not do it!. Shaolin Kung Fu is a way of life and health, not pain and anger.

Lawful when training, at the Shaolin Academy or in the Shaolin Academy uniform fully or partially. Unless your safety is compromised or the safety of the persons in your charge stay within the bounds of the Law as you know it.

Equality means that all humans are equal even if we sometimes do not see it; treat all with respect and dignity. No, do not treat them as you would want to be treated as this assumes your wishes are everybody's wishes; treat them with respect and dignity considering their special needs if any!

Honor is the way of Shaolin and the Shaolin Academy. Our motto is "Of Word and Will" which means have the will to keep your word and speak the true word of your will; but with dignity and compassion. Be honorable.

Appropriateness means that you only use Shaolin Kung Fu for fitness, competition, fun, development and only when needed for self defence and protection. Never initiate the course of violence. Most importantly, Fun, have fun learning.

Drugs and Alcohol; can be deadly when misused or when the effects are not considered before taking any actions. No matter what type of Alcohol or Drugs, everything has a side effect, some more than others. If there is any doubt, err on the side of caution. Have a look at your eyes in the mirror. If they are blood-shot or there are very visible streaks of gray make sure you are really ready for a good workout; else make it a light session!

Sickness and Unwell-being; It's really stupid to tax your system, when it is trying to heal it self. Gentle exercise may be OK but than again, have you consciously had a 'good look at yourself' and seen how you feel? IF YOU ARE NOT CONTAGIOUS you may be able to come to training and participate in the stretching or even do some light training. But at home, by yourself, err on the side of caution!

Things going wrong Are you having one of those days? Many reason contribute to use 'not being all there'. Stress, bad night rest, oncoming sickness or simply not enough me time. But if it is such a day, again, you can join in to the warm-up but tell the instructor that it has been 'one-of-those-days' and take it easy. If you home training, take a rest and if the feeling persists, see a suitable Medical Professions

Respect the Area Please Bow in and Out of every class and training area where you train. be it with the Academy or at home. Stop before entering and Bow to the Area or to the Instructor. check that all is as it should be. Same when just leaving the training area, even for a few minutes for a bathroom break. Bow in and Out of the training area always!

Interruptions In training Stop means Stop! Or if you are training at home, if someone enters your training area, or there is any distraction, stop and attend to it before continuing training.

Energy Levels if you need to sit or lean during training, your training session is over. Perform the cool-down and call it a day. Leaning and sitting down suggests that you do not have enough (safe) energy to continue training. It is good to recognize when your energy's are down and it is good to act accordingly. If you are too tired to stay standing, then stop training and cool down!

Peace; is paramount, not only world peace but your inner peace where it all starts. Switch of any phones, noise, radio, etc. if you can and remove any distractions during training (if possible, don't throw the baby out the window!). Chatter, comments and such can be very disruptive to those who are concentrating on learning. Unless it is an essential to the technique or a requirement of training . . .shut-up; even at home. This is your Emei Shan moment.

If in any doubt about any of the above Rules, your training, a technique or anything; contact Sijo

Choose Wisely the people you listen to,
they will either raise you and make you grow or
use you so that they can raise themselves;
there are only those choices.

If you can not agree to these conditions click on this line, else continue on down to the training information.

Back to the top of the page.........

What you need to train Shaolin Academy Material at home!

To train Shaolin Kung Fu Academy training materials at home we recommended you follow the check list just below!;

Following the Instructions is best when you can see and hear them well. Place your viewing device far enough away that you do not accidentally hit it but close enough to hear and see what is being explained!

Training Area of around 2m by 2m or 7ft by 7ft without any obstacles or low over-hangs is best. Most of the training we do can be managed using this space. This size even has a traditional implications when the so called Boxers were training in secret for the Boxer Rebellion, many did so on Junkets, small wooden ships in the bay. the space their was approximately this size but the ceiling was less than 5 ft; so they did exceptionally good hose stances. This is also where we get our Kama Square Pattern.

Preparation and Warm-up is always a good habit to get into. Yes, i know the fallacious argument about not being able to prepare when defending in the street but then again, you don't get attacked as often as you train. So, prevent injury with the Shaolin Academy Warm-up; set-up your mindset by putting on a uniform and sash; have a towel and bottle of water ready and review the items you are about to learn or train.

Calm Awareness of your self and your surroundings. If you find your energy waning or you wanting to sit and rest, STOP. If a short rest in Natural Stance can not overcome the feeling, sit-down and do your cool down stretches.

Pain = No Brain Pain is a survival instinct and in times of War, Emergency and Danger, by all means ignore it. But you are an idiot if you do not listen to the messages your body sends you and understand what it needs. No, i do not mean the scratching impulse, by all means ignore irritants but not pain.

Training Aids are not essential or even greatly needed. And if you do use something, use something you have or can make yourself. That is the way of Shaolin. Yes, you can improve your quality of training by seeing yourself in a reflected surface but it can just be that and does not need to be a full length mirror wall. Other items that may be of help when the time is right is Impact Mitts and Bag and eventually full Sparring Gear.

E-mail Support from Sijo Robert Z

Everybody get's stuck and at some point demotivate and once this happens it is difficult to restart. Sijo Robert Z has been helping Cyber students with their training since the program started in 1996. He has helped many Cyber Members get over the problems and continue to successful completions and advancement in to the next level. For this we ask a small yearly contribution of USD29/y and that is for the whole year. This is a reoccurring payment that you can cancel with PayPal anytime, no hassles and no regrets. Just click on the Subscribe button below and become a member. We will contact you as soon as PayPal clears the funds.

You will never ever know, unless you give it a go!

US $29/y

You become wise by learning from your mistakes . . . but you are wise if you learn from other peoples mistakes!

To be sure, to be sure

Before, before, before anything; always, always, always prepare..... and for training you prepare with a warm-up. No arguments with Shaolin Kung Fu, no training unless the full warm-up is performed correctly and completely!

Yes, in a real situation you may not have the time and opportunity to prepare your mind and body but in day-to-day life you do not want to create the damage that an unprepared real situation could cause. The pre-training warm-up is the number one way of improving your stretching, preempting damage and accidents and testing yourself how you feel and checking how your energy level is to match it with the intensity of your training.

There is more than 30 minutes of warm-up here so there is some choice for you but initially, especially if your are not used to a complete warm-up, do it all. You will need to know it all when you wish to be graded. No advancement is possible without passing the Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu Academy Warm-up completely; unless there are special physical or mental circumstances. For this you need to contact Sijo

If you wish to improve your flexibility then you need to add stretching to the end of your routine. Before the event, the warm-up prepares the body and mind for training and loosens the tendons and muscles. This will improve you flexibility and agility but if you have areas that need special attention, say calves to achieve that good Horse Stance or you have back problems and need to loosen you Glut's, then the best time is to stretch after your workout. We also strongly recommend that you speak to a specialist if any problem areas arise in your flexibility or stretching.

If you encounter any persistent or repeating pain in your training; consult/seek the advice of a medical profession; Western, Eastern, Asian; no matter who as long as they are a professional with other clients!

10 Claws of Animal Kung Fu

Before you attempt any of these techniques, we strongly recommend that you have at least 5 years martial art experience, real martial art experience to your name. Have a look a the Shaolin Academy Requirements to learn these techniques.

Home Training Info Temple Kung Fu, the Foundation Levels Animal/Advanced Kung Fu
Shaolin Cyber Kung Fu Gray Sash White Sash Yellow Sash Orange Sash Green Sash Tiger Style
Gray Sash Level 1, Emei Shan Temple White Sash Level 2, Kwantung Temple Yellow Sash level 3, Fukien Temple Kung Fu Orange Sash Level 4, Wudang Temple Kung Fu Green Sash Level 5, Shaolin Temple 5 Animal Kung Fu Shaolin Snake Kung Fu, Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu

1 - Tigers Scraping Claw ↓

Chinese Tiger Symbolism

The Tiger is known as the king of all beasts, not only because the Chinese character wáng literally meaning "the king" is displayed on its forehead (compare the Chinese Character on the right to the Tigers Forehead also to the right), but also because it is the symbol of bravery and power. Chinese people greatly admired tigers, especially in areas such as South China and Northeast China where there were dense tiger populations. The Chinese people express their adoration, sentimental attachment, and wishes by using the image of the tiger, even placing their spiritual sustenance on the tiger. The tiger has become a very important theme in the 5,000-year history of Chinese culture and art.

According to traditional Chinese culture, the ever-victorious general, who rolls back the enemy in the battlefields, is called the Tiger General due to his martial bearing. The official, who is stanched with moral integrity in his temperament and never practices favoritism or commits malpractice, is called the Tiger Official. The kid, who studies hard with an ambitious goal, is called the Tiger Kid. The Tiger is also one of the significant Chinese animal symbols as it is one of the 12 Animals that answered Buddha call and thus is one of the 12 Animals attributed by the Chinese Zodiac.

Chinese Tiger Martial Art History

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. 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. Tiger was also one of these many Animal Styles.

The 1st Tiger Claw

This is the No1. Technique amongst the Claws as it would be befitting the No1 Animal in the No1 Animal Kung Fu Style. The essence of the technique is very Chien (Zen) like in it's application and simplicity and needs to be executed with perfection. The problem with simple techniques, is that simplicity needs a lot of work to make it work. So, do not be fooled by the fact that it is a simple technique into thinking it is an easy technique. You will make a simple fool from yourself.

The Prime Target of the Shaolin Tiger Claw is the forehead. With it's two effect function, the Tiger Claw is best used by strong direct and powerful practitioners. The Palm Strike action is best practiced under supervision on Sand filled Wall Mounted or Wooden Dummy padding. The angle of the strike is always upward and away from the base of the neck. This technique is never ever performed on someone smaller than yourself. Never.

Improving Claw Strength

As the main impact comes with the base of the Palm, Sand Bag Impact work is the classical preparation for the palms; 100 strikes a day, each hand, 6 days a week for 1000 days would be the minimum. More than 100 a day will damage you wrist, arms and dexterity. For the finger strength, chin Ups, normal and inverted are the key strength development to this claw. One you are able to do 50 normal and 50 inverted without interruption you will have achieved minimum strength requirements.

2 - Tigers Tearing/Gripping Claw ←

The 2nd Tiger Claw

Initially, the execution of the Claw is the same. You hit with the base of the palm but this time aiming at the Pectoral Muscles (each of the four large paired muscles that cover the front of the rib cage and serve to draw the fore limbs toward the chest) to have them bunch into your hand, before you clamp your fingers around the packet and then you Tare back, using your other hand for leverage in a Push-pull system.

The pectoral muscles are usually considered to be very strong and protective muscles that can take a lot of punishment before they become a liability. But this is the nature of Tiger Style, it attacks the Strengths of the opponent not their weaknesses. It is about total domination, not because of change, look or circumstance but because of Ability, Power and Attitude. You will really want to training your Finger Strength to be able to have any sort of effect with this technique. But that is really what it is about, not hurting people but developing your body. That is the Shaolin Way.

Improving Claw Strength

The same for of impact exercise as with the first Claw. The standard Iron Palm, 100 Strikes-a-day exercise for 1000 days. At the same time you use Play Doe, Putty, Plasteline or what ever other names it has. It is one of the best ways to develop your finger strength. Traditionally, practitioners developed their left hand finger strength and kept the full function of their right hand. But now we do not need to develop our fingers to such a degree that we permanently damage our hand; so, develop both your hand-finger strengths equally.

3 - Tigers (Phoenix) Shredding Claw ↙

Animal Claw Kung Fu, Phoenx Shredding

Note - In Tiger Style, the technique is called Phoenix Shredding as one of the 4 Great and One lesser Tiger Claws (Scraping, Tearing, Shredding, Mauling and Pinching [Crab] Claw). Sijo often jumps between the two names, Tiger Shredding and Phoenix Shredding, but both refer to the wilder round Meteor Fist Striking Action. Also, although it may seem that the Crab Claw is an unusual claw to have in the Tiger System, consider that having at least one relatively benign technique allows the Tiger to occasionally educate it's attackers.


The Phoenix or Feng Huang (also known as Firebird) in Chinese is one of the 4 Chinese mythical animals, the other three are unicorn (Qilin), dragon (Long) and tortoise (Guixian) although tortoise exists in Chinese Mythology it is not as huge as Guizian. The Fenghuang is also known as the 'Rooster' since the bird sometimes takes the place of the Rooster in Chinese zodiac.

Phoenix style Kung Fu has many legends but most are short on any verifiable facts. There are two predominate popular versions; one of two avenging sisters and the other of a Monastery of Female celibate Monks who took care of their own security. Both of these suggest that two women fraught as one. The Phoenix Eye Fist is a well know technique and the more benign version. Where-as the Phoenix Shredding Claw leaves marks.

So, although Phoenix like symbols can be traced back around 4000 years, a real record of a Phoenix Style Kung Fu can not be found anywhere. But the is a possible explanation as often what we call the Chinese Rooster with the long tail and very elegant was often referred to as the Firebird. Yet, there is a book that claims to have the history of Phoenix-Eye Fist Kung Fu

Understanding Shaolin Phoenix

In Shaolin, the Dragon is a benign and wise spirit. It is not about pain and strategy but about solutions, cooperation and seeking the best outcome for all; the Buddhist way. Yet, hidden behind the Dragon is the Phoenix. When a solution can not be found; when the aggressor can not be placated; when everything has been tried and the only solution is loose-loose for everyone, then the Phoenix Rises. It is about sacrifice, total commitment for an outcome larger than the people involved. For example, if you want to protect your children/loved ones against overwhelming odds, it may be necessary to sacrifice yourself so that they can get away; but only if you have tried the Dragons way first.

In Shaolin Academy Kung Fu, the Phoenix is when all else has failed and there is no way out.

The 4th Tiger Claw

The Claw Shape is the same in this claw as in the 1st and 2nd claw. The principle is also the same that the initial contact is with the base of the palm. Where this differs is that it has this round-the-world style action, picking up a lot of speed before the motion is noticed. In effect, it ends up being the same effect as the 1st Claw except the delivery method is different and your need much stronger finger strength. Also, the targeting with this claw is the chest and at a 45 degree angle. In a way, this is possible the classical claw when leaving marks after execution.

Should you ever need to defend with this technique, i suggest you use the meteor Fist version; much safer for all persons concerned.

4 - Tigers Maul Claws (aka. Lions Maul)

One of the great advantages of the Lions Mane, aside from making the Lion look really big from the front, is that it makes it almost impossible for the Lion to be taken down with a killing neck bite, the preferred killing method of land based apex predators. Aside from having the organized pack hunting, this is the big advantage that the male lion has over all other great cats. It can't be easily killed with a quick and decisive neck bite. So what has this got to do with the Lions Maul? Well i am glad you asked!

The Tigers way of 'finishing' it's opponents is to go straight for the neck. In a war or life defending situation, this is the simple and true way of the Tiger finishing it's attackers. But what do you do, when you have a Bull Necked attacker, someone who's neck is as big as your thigh. You guessed it, the Lions or Tigers Maul, a two handed technique that is meant to be used to attack the throat from the front!

We were very reluctant to include this technique in this group of Tiger Claws but for two reasons. The Tigers Maul is a signature technique in many Tiger based forms and there are 5 Tiger Claws not four and it would not be right to exclude it.

5 - Crabs Pincer

Animal Claw Kung Fu, Crabs Iron Pincer

Considering the nature of Kung Fu styles, often not being recorded but passed on verbally and not always; Crab Style may have been lost forever. It would be another fanciful invention of the 70's Hong Kong Cinema such items as the Flying Guillotine, Frog and Scorpion Kung Fu. On the other hand, Duck Boxing, Dog Style, Ram Fighting (and others) are very real Kung Fu styles, some still being still practiced. Ram Fighting is reputed to have migrated over the Japan and have developed into Sumo Wrestling. Originally, two combatants would have charged at each other like rams, wearing a rams skull as protection. This often did not end well and the migration to Sumo type wrestling is a sign of good sense. But back to Crab Style Kung Fu.

Crab techniques, as part of a multi animals has been referenced by some texts including a 1930's published book on a 12 Animal Style and another from the 1960 on a 10 Animal Form and there is a living Sifu (2002) who stated that he had trained and knows Crab Kung Fu. When contacted he verified to know a 200 move Crab Kung Fu form at a very advanced level and verified the key technique within the style using the Crab Claw. He said that he was first required to do several speciality strengthening items including Thumb Push-ups and other Finger-thumb squeezing exercises before being able to learn the form.

Using the Crabs Pincer

If you can break walnuts between your thumb and forefinger you are ready for the crabs Pincer technique. It is all about getting hold of a nipple between your Thumb and Forefinger and squeezing. Yep, that is it. Although, once you study some pressure points you will find quite a number of targets, the classical Crab Claw is to go for the Chest Nipple and either squeeze or twist-squeeze. That's it. What's it good for?

It's not just about knocking people out, it's not about smashing the face; at least not in Shaolin Kung Fu. It is about finesse, vital points, giving the attacker a chance to reconsider and just simply giving a physical warning that is more than just a fist to the face. As a martial art, it is about having variety and options and as far as the Crab Claws goes, it has prevented a few possible confrontations! This is the 5th Tiger Claw also sometimes called the Cub Adjustment technique.

6 - Panthers Claw Paw

Animal Claw Kung Fu, Panthers Paw
Prologue to the Panther Style

Before we delve into the history of Panther Kung Fu, a few words on the Shaolin Academy Panther. Traditionally, the Shaolin 5 Animal Style has Tiger, Leopard, Crane, Snake and Dragon. The Leopard Style is a style of specialization much in the same way as there is only one great cat, the Tiger, and many lesser cats like Lions, Cheetahs, Leopards, Cougars, etc. Each of these lesser cats would remain a lesser style compared to the Tiger were it not for a unique and individual specialization. We believe this specialization aspect is best represented by the all Black Leopard, Panther.

About the Animal

Whereby most animals growl, bark, shriek or sone such before they attack or fight, the Panther is exactly the opposite (most the time). It does not seek a frontal confrontation and will Growl and then evade. It is when you do not see the Panther that you need to be worried, not when you hear them.

Panthers are still spotted except the rest of their fur is a very much similar color as the sports. Panthers are still leopards except we give them a different name when a Leopard is all Black, much like Doves are a white Pigeon, Panthers are a Black Leopard. A black Panther is a misnomer.


Anything that could be found about Leopard or Panther Kung Fu seems to stem from just one source and is repeated or reworded on several sights. This seems much like the spirit of the Panther, Panther Style Kung Fu, with it's true History remaining hidden for now and all that is available being an assumption rather than any facts. Most articled acknowledge the Leopard Fist and even attribute the Phoenix Eye Fist. In Shaolin though, the Panther is know for it's 5 Fist Shapes (Panther, Leopard, Dragon, Phoenix Eye and Meteor Fists) each specializing in a specific target type or group. In addition, the Panther also uses three Claws, Panther Paw Claw, Monkey Claw and Eagle Claw. We feature all three claws here

The Way Shaolin Panther

Specializations. If you are a smaller Alpha and the direct hit and run of the Eagle is not you then you need to develop a speciality, something that you master exceedingly well and show sparingly, only at the right time, under the right circumstances and in such a way that your attacker will never forget it. Many Panther stylists like specializing in the Strategies and application of these strategies studying the works/strategies Sun Tzu, Mushashi, Julius Caesar, Rommel, Napoleon or Alexander. Some like to look at the Vagabond arts of deception, magic and misdirection. Mostly though, Panther Stylists choose a number of very clever tactics and become very proficient of applying these both in their Kung Fu and when needed in life.

As a Panther Stylist you want to be good in your martial art Kung Fu and have a few real tricks up your sleeve, so to say. Something unexpected, exceedingly good technically, but what ever, only shown when really needed. Along this line is, possibly, one of the best know speciality techniques of the Panther, the Panthers Paw.

The Panthers Claw is very similar to the Tiger except it is very different where by it does not require as much force to deliver and usually come around from the side (Tiger usually from the front or above). Whereby the Tiger hits with the base of the palm seeking to hit hard and than tear; the Panther hit's with the center of the Palm seeking to shock and then possibly Grab a limb to manipulate it in a sudden and quick hyper extension and release.

7 - Monkey Grabs (the Pearls)

Kung Fu Animal Claws, Monkey Grabs the Pearls

Monkey Kung Fu has several origins and thus several histories, some as recent as 19th Century about Kou Sze who was put into solitary confinement for 8 years and only had a troop of Monkeys that he could see from an opening in his cell, to keep him entertained. As he watched them play amongst the trees, he began to notice their reactions in life-threatening situations and as he was a Kung Fu practitioner of some repute, and he had nothing else to do he started adapting his Kung Fu to their way of reacting to threats. When he was released he was both successful in using and teaching this way of using Kung Fu.

During the Song Dynasty, Emperor Taizu, known for developing the Long Fist style of Kung Fu, is also believed to have utilized a monkey style of martial arts. It is from these early times that the Hou Quan Monkey Style of Kung Fu seemingly emerged. Monkey style appears to have been mentioned even earlier in Chinese history, as far back as 206 BCE. A silk painting called "A Bathing Monkey Calls," illustrating a type of monkey boxing, and literature describing Tan Chang-Qing, showing his skill in Monkey Kung Fu while drunk.

Yet, there are other mentions of Monkey Kung Fu even linked to Mantis Boxing. Yet, Chinese did not have a great culture of recording Martial Arts and often even today Kung Fu Masters are reluctant (or unable) to share the style secrets. The official version for this reluctance lest it be used against them. In reality, much has been lost and much has been made up to compensate; sometimes a history is created to satisfy the Chinese Tradition of having a lineage...

Understanding Shaolin Monkey Kung Fu

The Monkey style is a subset of the Shaolin Panther which is all about specialization and strategy. The Monkey subset is all about Capriciousness and about irritating the opponent. Erratic movements, inappropriate noises, verbal ridicule of the opponent linked with constant unpredictable movement keeping your distance from the attacker occasionally bounding in and doing something irritating; all-the-while probing for the opponents weakness, bad habits and seeking to unbalance then mentally and psychologically. Monkey may be the most irritating style of Kung Fu to fight against. It's like having that smart-ass school/work mate, who will do something painful and stupid for a joke (or because they can) if you ever drop your attention/guard for a milli-second. It is a form of domination and/or bullying.

8 - Eagles Talons


An animal that has inspired many meaning both physical and spiritual. Aside from the account that Eagle Claw Kung Fu originated from the 12th century based on Elephant Style, there are a number of accounts originating it in the Shaolin Temple. One of the more famous Eagle Claw practitioners Master Lily Lau has the following under the heading Eagle Claw History. 'Eagle Claw Kung Fu was invented during the "Sung" Dynasty. Its popularity however, did not come until the" Ming" Dynasty. It is said that a monk named Lai Chun, who was a famous practitioner of the Fan Tsi style developed an interest in the Eagle Claw techniques. He invested a great deal of time training and improving the techniques which he incorporated into a new set of Fan Tsi Eagle Claw Kung Fu fighting techniques.

It is also around the same time that Eagle Kung Fu was reported to be know to the Shaolin Temple but as with most of the other styles in the many-style-time of Shaolin, was all amalgamated into the Shaolin 5 Animal System.

The Shaolin Eagles Flight

There are some wonderful Eagle Systems out there, Eagle Claw seems to dominate and that can happen when you have a consistent and good proponent of the style; a bit like what Ip Man did for Wing Chung. But there is another Eagle Style from the time of the Ming Dynasty, Imperial Eagle. It was the style of the Elite Chinese Imperial Guards and was very much about sudden death techniques. The best fighters were taken and each received a special Eagle Guard Technique that they would train to perfection. The better you were (and loyal) the closer you were to the Emperors Guards. Of course, some of these guards were also used for Royal Family personal reasons but that is another story.

Using the Eagle Claw

the Neck is a very popular target for Tiger Style normally!. But as we do not do any maiming or killing techniques, the neck is off-limits for the Powerful Tiger and thus perfect for the less powerful Eagle Claw. Using the Claw, just as a Claw we can grab the neck around the side under the ear. A short, sharp pressure applied here has a wonderful effect on aggressive persons who are attacking you. Especially if you can develop good finger-claw strength, this is a technique that usually has instantaneous results.

You will also want to strengthen the three relevant fingers and for this you may want to again, squeeze wax/plasteline/putty but also do three-finger push-ups. This is meant to be used by a lighter person, so the three finger push-ups is a good measure to see if your body size is right for this technique. If you are two big you will usually not be able to do the required 20 push-ups on three fingers.

9 - Elephant Trunk

Animal Claw Kung Fu, Elephant Trunk

The first real mention of an 'Elephant' Style of Kung Fu was during a time of conflict between the southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) and the Jurchen tribes of the Jin Dynasty. General Ngok Fei, also known as General Yue Fei, was given into martial arts and weaponry training very early on in his life by his General grandfather. Ngok Fei eventually became a general and trained his soldiers in fighting techniques that he had learned over time, which were seemingly based in Elephant style, a style of heavy, fixed stances with an emphasis on long arm techniques and no kicking. These fighting techniques helped Ngok Fei's troops defeat the invading Mongolian's on several occasions. It is also said that this style, over time morphed into Eagle Claw but this is less relevant right now.

An Elephant Kung Fu Style is said to have had its origins in history even before Shaolin Animal Kung Fu. It focused on seizing, locking and breaking the extended arms of an attacker using a heavy stance around a flexible waist but lacked impacting and foot techniques. This made it too one sided and the style is believed to have all but died out although it aspects of the style may have found their way into Multiple Kung Fu Styles including (possibly) the 10 Animal Style and such as Ha Say Fu as well as the 12 Animal Style and that the White Orchid Kung Fu School uses and the Hebei Style Hsing-I Chuan style. Although the Elephant Style may no longer be in existence, the Elephants Trunk technique is a very powerful technique with usable application, again for solid people, who prefer to keep bth feet firmly on the ground and can manage taking a bit of punishment!

Understanding the Elephant Style Kung Fu

Over 90% of the worlds population was involved with food production, farming and the like before the Industrial Revelation. When a country needed some bodies for a war, Farmers and Farmers sons made the bulk of the conscripted. Often, these received just some basic, 'how not to kill yourself or your friends' training and 'point this end of the weapon towards the enemy'. But smarter leaders who also had a bit of time before the battle gave their soldiers more training. For big, mostly healthy and strong farmers something simple using their natural and acquired attributes. We can speculate that General Ngok Fei was a smarter general based on his success and that this style was developed to be simple, reliable and easy to learn. In a conflict where something is better than nothing, having some basic weaponry skills backed up but a few very strong and effective techniques would have helped soldiers to survive and win.

Using Elephant Style Kung Fu

To be an Elephant Kung Fu specialist/practitioner you would ignore minor strikes to armored areas of your body and protect your center-line with your forearms. . Strong fingers to grab an opponents arm when attacking you, to draw them in to your strong arms. Bear Hugs, Head Locks and Arm Breaks would the the simple and main forms of causing damage to an attacker. Trampling on a downed attacker to finish them off would not have been unusual.

The Elephant Trunk 'Claw'

Weight and Strong Arms are the key to Elephant Trunk success. Get in close, body ramming your attacker and as they seek to disengage a couple of swift left right Trunk Combination using the part of your arm that you usually block with. Simple, easy and effective. If against just one opponents, you would seek to wrap your arm around the attacker after the second strike and control them by capturing then from behind around the neck. When the one-two forearm combination works usually the attackers is positioned such that this is a very easy control option and a way from stopping further attacks!

Preparing the Arms

Heavy Bag lifting, wrapping your arms around the bag and squeezing, 20 seconds at a time. Ram, Wrap, Squeeze, Drop. A simple exercise, Ram with your forearms in front of your, on contact Grab, Lift Squeeze, Hold drop. Once you can do this fairly flawlessly you ad the two to three forearm round strikes; Ram, Slam one, two, Wrap, Lift, Squeeze, Hold, Dispose.

If this sounds a lot like the actual technique, it is. Although here we are focusing on the Forearm strikes, this whole Elephant Charge combination is very much integral to the technique. As an Elephant stylist you would usually not be too quick and would not always have the stamina to overcome an agile and quick attacker. once you have them.....

10 - Mantis Hook

Animal Claw Kung Fu, Mantis Claw

Mantis is another of those Animals/Symbols that has inspired Chinese. Considering the way the Mantis prays on it's food, for many Chinese the Mantis symbolizes peace, quiet and calm. In a way it is a typical patient trap-hunter and would inspire most anyone who observed it. It is not surprising then that there seems to be several versions of Mantis including the usual Northern and Southern Styles as well as Seven Star

The Northern Praying Mantis system was said to be developed by a famous martial artist called Wang Lang of Long Bao village in Ji Mo county of Shan Dong province during the Northern Song period (AD 960-1126). He was taught in the local way the Taoist style of Boxing and had a good proficiency. He chose to travel through China searching for other styles to test his skills but also to learn. He came across Shaolin and it is said he studied there for 7 years before returning to his Taoist Monastery. There he observed and played with it and developed a style based on this observations. The system was based on twelve guiding principles: zhan (contacting), nian (sticking), bang (linking), tie (pressing), lai (intruding), jiao (provoking), shun (moving along), song (sending), ti (lifting), na (grabbing), feng (blocking), bi (locking); eight hard and twelve soft techniques.

The Praying Mantis Kung-Fu Style was developed by Master (Sifu) Wang Lang over 300 years ago in Northern China. As the story is told, on one summer's day he was walking in the woods. The silence he was enjoying was broken by a hum. He looked closely and saw a Praying Mantis fighting a Cicada. With very swift movements the Praying Mantis seized its prey. Wang Lang felt sorry for the Cicada and tried to drive the Mantis away with his sword. Instead of giving up, the Praying Mantis jumped onto his sword, it seemed to complaining of his unfairness and it began to attack and defend.

Suddenly the Mantis leapt onto his arm and seemed to be attacking Wang Lang. Surprised by the tiny insect he attempted to sweep it off his arm. But the Mantis avoided his hand, swayed its forearms and made several cuts on this arm within seconds. He was very amazed at the Praying Mantis skill and agility. After capturing the insect he decided to observe it's way of fighting. After Wang Lang returned home he developed and worked hard to uncover the techniques of the Mantis. He used a straw to arouse the insect and repeatedly watched how the Mantis would avoid, approach and attack the straw from many different angles. As this style was very upper body dominated Wang Lang later incorporated the Monkey Style Footwork.

There are listings of other styles of Mantis Kung Fu but anything showing a direct lineage to a current day teacher is not used in research as past experience have shown most of these accounts to be self serving.

Understanding Shaolin Mantis

In Shaolin Academy Kung Fu, the Mantis represents a mixture of Panther and Snake; a speciality Kung Fu style that sets traps and patiently waits for the opponent to walk into an ambush. Focusing on short Grabbing and Holding techniques, the Shaolin Mantis develops a strong central position and waits to be attacked. It then decides, depending on circumstance to evade or turn the attack for it's own counter. Like the Elephant style, the Mantis uses it's legs mainly for getting around and keeps a good center of balance and posture, unlike the Elephant is very flexible, quick moving at the right moment for the exactly right amount of movement. The Shaolin Mantis Stye Practitioner may use decoy movements, feints, ruse and the like instead of attacking. it is a counter attacking, trap setting Kung Fu style.

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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).

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