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The Chinese Dragon, is strictly, a product of spiritual beliefs, listed in Buddhist text, as a supernatural animal, that can appear, or disappear at will, and make itself, any size.

According to Buddhist writings, Dragon live in oceans. Since, Dragons, live in large bodies of water, their association, with the rest of the world, is through, water.

If a Dragon wished to become visible, anyone, can see them, if not, then, only those who has reached a higher level of enlightenment, can view, this special animal. The Chinese, also believes, Dragons, produce rain, and when they do, decide to make themselves visible, they are seen on clouds.

Chinese Dragons, have Snake like bodies, covered with scales. They also, have lizard-like arms, and legs, which, end in sharp claws, and the head, resembles a serpentís head.

Since, Shaolin martial artists, are derived from the Buddhist origins, the Dragon, was perfect candidate, to represent, one of the five animals.

As with itís mythical namesake, Shaolin in Dragon-style fighting, transcends, the easily, understood real world external martial arts, and enters the spiritual world, of internal strength and power.

The Dragon, represents internal strength, although, it does have some external training benefits. Since, Dragons are not actual living beasts, many Dragons, techniques, are variation of the characteristics of other Kung-fu animals, for instance, Dragon movements are soft, and circular, similar to, but not exactly like, those of the Snake.

However, Dragon techniques, should not be confused, with those of Shaolin Snake. Although, both are lizard-like, the Snake has no legs, while, the Dragonís claws form, an important element in itís, fighting style.

While, the Shaolin Snake techniques, contains, more soft, coiling motions and fingertip strikes, Dragon techniques, are represented by soft circular movements, that terminate with sudden power. Therefore, the Snake, exhibits, only soft power, while, the Dragon, uses a force, that represents, a combination, of both hard and soft training.

Since, Chinese Dragons have claws, the Shaolin Dragon form, possesses, a claw-like technique, that is sometimes confused, with the Tiger claw version. However, the Dragon claw version, ( lung-Zhua ), is a grab, while, the Tiger claw version, is a squeezing, tearing motion, Also, unlike the Tiger variety, Dragon claw, are not downward ripping techniques.

The primary, hand technique displayed, in Dragon form, is the claw. Not all Dragon hand movements, are claw hands. There are also, palm, and fist attacks, however, the claw, is the most, often used hand technique. Dragon claw, are characteristically, flat claw hands, designed for grabbing arms, ears, and other extremities.

The Dragon form, also, contains palm strikes, similar to the striking motion, of itís, sister, the Snake form. The difference, is that the Dragon, strike, is a claw strike, not a fingertip attack, as with the Snake.

In the days, of the Shaolin temple, Dragon claw training, involved, special, hands and arm strengthening exercises, called lung-Zhua-Gong.

Five animal students, would slowly, lift and hold, heavy clay jars. They started, with empty jars, and as their strength increases, added water, until, the jars were full, then they would repeated the procedure, with sand, and finally, rocks of increasing size, and weight. The actual Dragon movements, also encourages, the student to uses his waist, to generate power, then merely their, shoulders and arms. This useful training habit comes, from an imitation, of the whip-like, action, of a Dragonís long tail.

The Dragon formís primary contribution, to Shaolin five animal training, is itís internal conditioning and training, which comes, in the form, of Chi development. Chi, is the bodies, internally, generated, energy and power. When Chi is properly developed, it can be combined, with external strength, to produce devastating results. For instance, the external, Dragon claw, is in itself, powerful and strong, but still limited by, physical strength. When the five animal practitioner, puts his Chi, into his Dragon hand, he generates power, many times, that of external strikes alone.

Several methods of developing Chi, can be utilizing, in the Dragon form. Breathing, correctly is one important method, breathing should be relaxed, using the lower body, to pull in air, rather then, just chest muscles, correct internal breathing, in the Dragon form, is not a tense dynamic breathing, but instead, is soft and relaxed. When done properly, it will help, pull the Chi down lower, into the Dan-Tian area, the location of the bodies, internal energy and strength. Correct breathing techniques, also, helps to, fill the students body, with circulating Chi. Which, makes the body, more flexible, and relaxed. The actual fighting application, of the Dragon form breathing techniques, is a type of, hard, and soft breathing, sometimes, referred to, as soft carries hard.

The five animal practitionerís breathing, is soft and relaxed, until the strike is made, when, it becomes a sharp expulsion, of breath and power, upon contact.

While, training in the Shaolin Dragon form, the student should be soft and slow, to develop his Chi, as if, he were practicing Tai-Ji-Quan. If he is to tense, his Chi, will not flow. He should emit, hard external power, only upon contact, with an object. As there is no contact involved, with form practice, he must concentration, only, upon the development of his Chi, to give him the internal strength, needed for any contact, he might come across.

Since, the Chinese Dragon, is a spiritually animal, the five animal student, should picture himself, the same way. If he feels himself to be, a Dragon-like fighter, he utilize, and take advantage of certain, Dragon characteristics. For instead, Dragon can appear, and disappear. Although, the martial artist, canít physically disappear, he can use, the Dragon spirit, to fool, his opponent into thinking, heís attacking, for one direction, when in reality, his attack, suddenly, appears form the opposite direction. He can also, put the Dragonís ability, to expand, or shrink into practice. The Dragon, practitioner, can become, large to opposition, by using his body as a weapon, or, he use his fingertips, to produce damage, to a small area, of the body.

Dragons are, reputed to move from oceans to clouds, as does the Dragon student. Dragon techniques, include both takedown ( oceans ), and throws ( clouds ). Part of the Dragonís spirit, is his limitation.

Often, eye contact is enough, to scare away, the enemy. People how are ill, can not produce Shen, which is, a by produce, only those who are healthy bodies, with well-developed Chi.

The Shaolin Dragon form, gives the student, a vehicle, with which, to combine his internal energy, with his external strenghts, to produce awesome power.

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An old Chinese saying states; "One mountain, has no room for two Tigers" Tigers are considered, so fierce that, only one can live, in peace on a mountain. Since, there are no Tigers in China, Tigers, are called the king of all land beasts.

The same is true, for the Tiger form, in the Shaolin five animals set. Shaolin monks, watched Tigers in action. They observed their strength, courage, and power, and decided the animal, had an immense value to their Kung-fu. Thus, the five animal form, reflects a strong influence, of the Tiger, inaction.

The Tiger form differ, from the other four animals, in that itís training is designed, to produce strong bones. A tiger is a fast animal, with a strong attack. His attack is a pressing action, like being run down by automobile. A Tigerís strength is a hard, forceful, external strength.

The Tiger form not only develops power, but also, conditions the necessary tendons, and bones, to harden and strengthen, the spine and neck. To exude hard external power, the neck and back must become tense and strong. The Tiger form provides, that ability.

Since, much of Kung-fuís power, comes from strong stances, and powerful waist action, the martial artist, must have a well- conditioned back. The Tiger form develops, a strong, sturdy back.

The primary technique, uses in the Tiger form, is the Tiger claw. The Tiger claw hand, is formed, by curling the fingers and thumb, into a claw position. It is a short, straight strike, with pulls, twists, tears, or pressure, upon impact.

Targets for the Tiger claw are, neck, groin, arms, or wrists. At impact, the Tiger claw is, pressed hard against the opposition, to give the five animal practitionerís fingers more gripping material. Then, he either can pull straight down, or twist, with his claw hand. The Tiger claw hand differ, from a Dragon claw, in that where the Dragon claw, is a squeezing, locking technique, the Tiger claw, is is an explosive, ripping or pressing action. When, using the Tiger claw, the whole hand is important, not just the fingers. To condition his fingers for the Tiger claw, the Tiger practitioner throws, small heavy sandbags into the air, and catches them with his fingertips. He, also works, with a sandbag, where he can practice his Tiger claw, at full speed.

In ancient China, five animal practitionerís strengthened, their fingers and arms by, lifting clay jars, filled at different levels, with gravel. This is similar to the training of the Dragon form. In the old days, the five animal student, grabbed, and squeezed, tree branches, to condition, and develop strength, in their fingers, hands arms, for their Hu-Zhuas. Nowadays, the modern martial artist, squeezes, a rubber ball,. To attain, the same effect.

Since, he uses, his whole hand to deliver an effective Hu-Zhguas, The five animal student, develops, his arms and fingers, by practicing push-up, on his fingers, instead, of his hands.

To condition, his back and neck, he practices a special type of push-up, designed to build strength in the arms, back, and legs. This push-up requires the kung-fu student, to pull his body forwards, until his chest almost touches the floor, then he reverses the action, and pulls back his body, using his back muscles, with this push-up. The motion is similar to rolling forward, and then backward, rather than, straight up than down as with regular, push-ups.

There is much more to the Tiger form, than itís Tiger claw hand, there are special breathing techniques, that help develop power and force. When a student practices, he emits certain breathing sounds, at specified times, during the form. These breathing sounds are, an important training feature, they build the Tiger stylistís stamina, by forcing him to expel carbon dioxide, and replacing, it with oxygen, necessary to deliver power, with his strikes. Yelling out the breathing sounds, also keeps the martial artist spirit high, an important factor, when moving with the speed and force, required in the Tiger form.

He expel his breath and emits a "WAK" sound, with every Hu-Zhua, in the form. Another important segment, of the Shaolin Tiger form is spirit. When the martial artist student performs the Tiger portions of five animals, He should , have a tense neck, and angry eyes, as does a Tiger, when he fights. He must thing and feel, as if he were a wild Tiger, coming down from a mountain. Power comes, often from fierceness. When, the five animal student, makes his spirit, the same as a wild Tiger. He adds extra power, to his strikes. He also, becomes less vulnerable, to any enemy attack, since, his fierce Tiger spirit prevails.


The Crane is only a bird, and yet, he is a bird, with a reputation for longevity, and an extraordinary libido. Since, such an excess of libido, denotes an abundance of energy, within the body, and since, the Crane, lives a long life, because his body contains a great amount of jing. Jing is a Chinese word, for essential energy, but also, translates to libido. The Crane develops his, jing easily, since he is a calm, quiet animal, whose power of concentration, are not easily broken. An example of the Craneís patience and concentration, is his ability, to stand for hours, on just one leg, without, shifting his weight.

Training in the Shaolin Crane form, was developed for the martial artist, holding his inside energy, and consequently, increases his strength, both internally and externally. It helps, to develop his Chi internally and, at the same time, hardens bones and muscles.

The Crane, has the same calm, quiet nature as the Snake. And, as with the Snake, all Crane movements, are useful for overthrowing and controlling, the opponentís easily, and with a minimum effort.

All Crane techniques are circular movements. They are always, soft and relaxed. However, they still explode, with quick, sudden power, upon contact with the target. There are both long and short-hand techniques. The short-hand movements are often joint locking techniques, designed to disable the opponentís limbs, while the long, reaching techniques, are often, direct strikes, to pressure points, or other vital areas, of the opponentís body.

The Crane form, is best known for, itís long outstretched

Wing-like strikes, such as, He-Yi ( Crane wing ), a long-arm, circular, sweeping technique, prevalent throughout Shaolin five animals. With the Yi technique, the arm down to, and including the fingertip is a striking weapon. He-Yi, represents the action of the Crane, spreading and opening his wings. This strike delivers, a great amount of force, since, the five animal stylist, uses his full body power, to generate energy.

Ye-He-Yi ( Crane strikes, with his wing ), is a Crane technique, intended to slice, across opponentís eyes. The Crane, has a long neck, and uses it for long, stretched-out movements.

Ye-He-Shou-Dong ( Crane guards the cave ), is a Crane head technique, that serves simultaneously, as both a defensive and offensive action. The Crane stylist, blocks upward, against an attackerís punching arm, with his Crane head wrist, striking a pressure point, on the arm. This block, carries so much power, that it simultaneously, becomes, an offensive strike, leaving the opponentís arm painfully disabled. The is also, distinctive Crane footwork, seen in Shaolin five animal form. Bai-He-Du-Li ( White Crane, standing on one leg ), is a position, in which the Crane stylist, stands on one leg, with the other, raised to avoid, an oncoming low kick.

Immediately, after dispersing, his opponentís kick, the Crane practitioner kicks, with his already raised leg. The kick is called Bai-He-Tan-Zhue ( Crane stretches his claw ), and is a front kick.

The Crane, is useful training, for stretching and strengthening arms and fingers. Practicing the Crane form, also, improves the martial artistís, balance and speed, since, the movements, are quick and active, utilizing a loose, supple waist , with light balanced footwork.

There are several special training techniques, employed to condition, and strengthen the Crane practitionerís hands. Since, this form relies upon concentrating, the strike force, into a small target area, it becomes important, that the Crane practitioner have strong well-conditioned fingertips.

Besides practicing, the special Crane form, exercises the Crane practitioner, draw upon, the training from, other animals, to help strengthen his fingertips. From the Snake, he learns to direct his Chi, into his fingertips. The Dragon and Tiger claw hands, have already, added external strength to his hands and fingers.

To develop his Crane beak, the Crane stylist, will poke at firm sandbags. When his hands are well-conditioned, from the sandbags, he switches from sandbags, to plunging his beak fist, into a bucket of course gravel. This training toughens his fingertips, making them into effective weapons, when aimed, at the right targets. To condition his wrist for He-Ding (Crane top ), the Crane stylist, practices, Crane top, blows, against a sandbags, and performs push-up, on bent wrist.

Since, he needs strong ankles, to ensure proper balance, when he performs, White Crane standing on one leg, the Shaolin Crane practitioner, often works out wearing ankle weight.

The spirit of the Crane is one of deep, relaxed concentration, which encourages, development of focus and intent, within the Shaolin Crane student.

With-in the Shaolin animals form, these are movements that usually, terminate, with a strike, by his beak. He-Zui ( Crane beak, is the most common symbol of the Crane style of fighting. HE-Zui is formed, by closing fingers and thumb, together to the point, while still maintaining, a slight bend, in the wrist

Targets, for a Crane beak is, the enemyís eyes, throat, and other vulnerable body areas.

A Crane beak technique, found in the five animal form is, Shuang-He-Tai-Tou ( Twin Cranes, raise their heads ), this is a Crane beak, performed, in opposite directions, by both hands, and aimed at two opponentís solar plexuses.

The inside of a Crane beak hand, can also, become a hook hand, called He-Jing ( Crane neck ), used to first, pull the opponentís, off balance, and then grab his neck, arms, or legs. Again, this strike is administered, with, soft relaxed force. However, speed and a snapping action, of the wrist, adds concentrated power, to the blow, Bai-He-Shou-Chao ( Crane guards, his nest ), is a technique, represents, the use of a Crane neck block.

Although, the Crane beak, is the best known representative of the Crane form, an equally useful, strike is called He-Ding ( Crane head ). With this technique, the top of the Crane practitionerís, wrist, imitates a Craneís head. Just as a fighting Crane, might strike, with the top of his head, and follow with a thrust or push with the neck, the Crane practitioner strikes, with the top, of his bent wrist, and follows, with a strong push, into his opponentís already injured body. Many times, target areas for such a blow, are the oppositionís solar plexus, jaw, or armpit. Not only does the Crane stylist, launch an attack, with the hard position, of his wrist, but he further pursues, the attack, by thrusting, his bent wrist, into the injured area, using his whole arm, as the craneís neck.



In China, the Leopard or Panther is second, only to the Tiger, in terms of ferocity and power. Although, smaller an Tiger, the Leopard is actually stronger, for his size, and faster then the larger powerful Tiger.

Tigers, rely upon their size and the explosive force, delivered by their short thick muscle mass, to overpower their adversaries, The Leopard, on the other hand, is an animal comprised of long, smooth, even-toned muscle, enclosed within a sleek, fast body frame. Leopards, depend upon lighting-fast speed and footwork, to produce their strength and power. Leopards, do emit a solid power. However, itís not a tense, forceful type of power. Instead, the Shaolin Leopardís power, is produced, from loose, relaxed whip-like techniques, which is generated, by speed and balance, coupled with limber waist, and hip-based movements.

To provide a balance, between the solid, massive strength of a Tiger, and the quick penetrating force of the Crane, Shaolin monks chose, the Leopard, as one of their five fighting animals. The Shaolin Leopard forms, provide both, the physical strength, and speed, for the five animal practitioner. This kind of penetrating strength, is called "CHI", by the Chinese, and represents, the external form of conditioning for shin, tendons, bones, and muscles.

There is little internal Chi training available, from the Leopard form, since, internal development, is promoted by slow, precise movements, which generates, and sinks the bodyís Chi lower, the quick, sharp techniques, that characterize the Leopard, are valuable, mainly, as external fighting techniques.

However, there is a definite link, between the internal training of the Dragon and Snake, and the Leopard formís external strengths. Each one needs the other, to mold together, an effective fighting style.

One illustration, that the Shaolin Leopard style, is an advanced form of fighting, is that there are few blocking or defensive movements. Rather then, block first, then counterstrike, the Leopard stylist, will merely defect, an oncoming blow with his forearm, punch, simultaneously drives in. As he defects the opposition strike, he changes the angle, of his own punch slightly, to find and attack the opponentís weak area.

Footwork for the Leopard form, involves quick, short stances designed to stabilize and produce strong, balance stances, that can change quickly, and easily, for one position to another.

There are several techniques, within the five animal form, that characterizes the Leopard. Hei-Bao-Shang-Shu ( black panther climbs the tree ) shows the speed and aggressiveness, of the Leopardís attack, this technique is a rapid-fire series of four Leopard fist punches, delivered to both, the face and torso, before he can react, against the Leopard practitionerís attack.

Jin-Bao-Xi-Qui ( Leopard plays ball ), is a combination of Leopard hand techniques and footwork. The fist is a regular closed fist, called stamping fist,, that strike down, upon the opponentís head, like a bouncing ball. At the same time that he strikes with the stamping fist, the Leopard practitioner delivers a low cross-kick to the opponentís groin.

Another Leopard technique is named Bao-Zi-Ding-Shen ( Leopard steadying his body ). This technique can be either a defensive or offensive action.

When, uses as a defensive technique, it is a solid double upwards block performed, in the form, from a square Horse stance. On the offensive side, Bao-Zi-Ding-Shen, become a double fist attack to the enemyís temple.

Leopard spirit is similar, to that of the Tiger. The Leopard student should be aggressive and fierce. The difference is, that speed is of essence, in the Leopard form, both in technique and spirit.

Overall, the Leopard form, increases, the speed of the five animal practitionerís strikes and footwork, plus strengthens his stances, while still providing him with tremendous power and force.

The Leopard formís primary fist is called Bao-Chui ( Leopard fist ), and is a punch, designed to produce trauma with a fast penetrating force, throughout the opponentís body. Bao-Chui is formed by folding the fingers, forwards to the first joint, of the four fingers, rather, than to the knuckle, as with a regular fist. The thumb is held flat, along the outside of the fist, adding stability. The streamline shape of the Leopard fist, has the effect of concentrating the power, into a small area, and increasing the overall force of the punch.

Training for Bao-Chui involves, punching firm sandbags, and practicing push-ups on the knuckles, instead of the hands. If the Leopard form stylistís knuckles are not properly conditioned, attempts to administer Bao-Chui blows, could break his knuckles.

Not only must he have strong knuckles, to produce an effective Leopard fist, but his hands, must also be conditioned, to withstand, the force behind a properly delivered Bao-Chui. To accomplish that goal, the Shaolin Leopard stylist should hold a Rubber ball with both hands, and squeeze, with all of his strength, over a hundred times each day.

The Leopard form of the Shaolin five animals, also utilizes a regular closed fist, for some techniques and several forearm and elbow strikes. The Leopard is an expert, at transferring his external Jing ( ging or power ), to the area of his body, that makes contact with his opponent. In the case of a Bao-Chui, Jing is released again, only at this point of contact, producing powerful, penetrating force.


The Snake seems an unlikely animal, to see in the Shaolin five animal form, since it lacks legs, for rapid movement, and by nature is sly and soft, rather then, aggressive and powerful. However, those are exactly the reasons, why, the Snake was included, in the Shaolin system.

The purpose of the Snake form, is to develop and cultivate the internal energy, called "CHI". CHI is the essence that gives, the five animal practitioner focus and penetrating power far superior to ordinary external strikes.

Since, the Snake has no arms or legs, the reptile, must move with a zigzagging, twisting action of his body. To be an effective fighter, the Snake must do something, to compensate for his lack of limbs: first, the Snake can coil his body, and raise, straight up , as does the Cobra, in a striking position. From that coiled position, with devastating speed and accuracy, he straightens his body, in a strike towards his prey.

The other advantage, and perhaps, even more important, than the Snakeís unique striking techniques, is the developing and releasing internal energy, with every strike, since, he is a calm, relaxed animal, the Snake possesses much more Chi, then other animals.

Therefore, when he combines, his internal, with his external striking technique, the Snake becomes a formidable and powerful adversary.

The Snake form, differs from the other five animal forms in that, through itís relaxed floating movements, it delivers a power that is both hard and soft.Most other animals styles, utilize a tense, aggressive force to strike down their adversaries. There is no fists, to be seen in the Snake form. The strikes are all penetrating palm, and fingertip attacks.

The Tiger, for instance, is the opposite of the Snake. Itís strength is strictly external. Tiger stylist, are noisy and active, often, going so far as, to make loud external sounds, with each strike to gain extra force. The Snakeís energy, is quiet and internal. The Snake makes no sound as it administers a soft penetrating blow.

Also, all Snake techniques, are of an advanced martial level, their blocks, and strikes are made simultaneously. There is no difference between offence and defense, since defense, instantly become offense, and vice-versa. Coiled or circular Snake techniques, often, have a defensive beginning that change into straight offensive strikes, making the speed of the attack, not as vital, as smoothness to the Snake stylist,

There are several types of fingertip strikes, seen in the Shaolin Snake form. One strike recreates, the tongue of the Snake, by extending the index and middle finger, while simultaneously, folding back the other fingers. This strike is called Bei-She-Tu-Xin ( White Snake throws out his tongue ), and is usually, target towards soft vital areas, such as the eyes.

Another fingertip techniques called Qing-She-Chu-Dong ( Snake coming out of his hole ), places the finger together, to form fingertip attacks, that a coiled Cobraís head. The Snake stylistís fingers, lash out from a bent elbow, to cumulate in a extended arm, in much the same manner that a Cobra would strike, at his prey.

This strike can also be employed, as an upper block that can easily converted, into a deadly blow to the throat or eyes. Shui-She-Shang-An ( water Snake swims to the surface ), is an upper fingertip strike, directed, at the pressure point, located at the armpit or throat.

The Snake gains a great power and force, from, just the momentum and twisting action, of his coiled strike.

Besides initiating fighting techniques, animal forms usually resemble the attitude, and spirit of that particular animal. Since, an animalís fighting habits are based, upon his instinctive nature. Itís important to preserve, that nature in the martial art form. Therefore, it is essential, when practicing, the Snake form, the five animal student, keep his whole body, alive and moving. Since this form, uses, both soft and hard power, it is necessary to administer soft, circular force, from the arms, and harder external power, form the hands at the moment of contact.

The most important contributions, of the Snake form, are the development of "Chi", which is obtained through relaxation and concentration. When training in the Snake form, the student should practice, being calm and soft. He will imitate, the long body, that is generating energy, with every movement, To help relax the five animal student, all Snake portions of the form, should be practiced, slowly and with concentration. If it is practiced, in this manner, each part of the body, will be relaxed and connected. Relaxation, contributes to a soft, flexible body. Concentration, leads to calmness and clear thinking, necessary attributes for any martial artist.

There is no external fingertip strengthening and development, involving, with the Snake form.

The five animal student's fingers, will have been conditioned, by the special exercises, used in connection, with Tiger, Dragon and Crane forms.

It is important, that the student practice his Snake form calmly and quickly, since, that will develop his sensation, and feeling for his opponentís next move. Actual contact made by the Snake practitionerís arms, has a similar sticky effect, as does Wing-Chunís sticky hands, and Tai-Ju-Quanís ( Tai-Chi Chuan ), push hands. When he isnít touching his opponent, there appears to be no strength, at all, which doesnít mean that, Snake strikes are merely limp, soft touches, that have a magical sting, when they connect, with a foe. Although, the form looks, soft in an actual fighting situation, the Snake practitionerís actions are, quick and forceful. Upon contact, the force of his, internal energy, creates a strength, said to be over seven times the individualís power.

The Snake has a special spirit. The five animal, student, will feel the energy, flowing from his spine, through his arms, and out his fingertips. As with a Snake, the Snake form stylist, should move slowly ( at the, of a Tai-Ju-Quan form ), and deliberately, before his strike and blocks are made. In actual use, many Snake strike, are directed, to the opponentís sensitive pressure points. These pressure points, are vital areas of the body, that, when stimulated, can cause excessive pain, unconsciousness, or even death.

After assimilating Shaolin Snake techniques, the five animal practitioner strikes, with lightening speed, and penetrating focus or intention.

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