How to Perform the 5 Animals in Shaolin Martial Arts

According to the legend, the monk, Tao Mo studied and applied to Shaolin Kung Fu, forms of 5 different animals while the monk was on a journey. The five animals that Tao Mo studied were tiger, crane, snake, dragon and leopard or panther. Each of the five animal styles corresponds to a specific fighting style used in Shaolin Kung Fu. Moreover, each animal style is designed for a specific body type. With lots of practice and coaching from a Shaolin expert, you can master these martial art forms.


  • 1

    Tiger form:

    In order to perform the tiger, use strikes, throws and forceful moves while you are in the danger zone. Strike your opponent with your hands resembling the claws of a cat or tiger. This tiger style is best for speedy and agile Shaolin fighters with large bodies.

  • 2

    Crane form:

    To perform the crane in Shaolin martial arts, lift one leg to your waist level so that you are standing on one leg. While standing in this position, press together your thumb and fingers so that your hand resembles the beak of a crane. Hook your opponent with the hand which is forming the beak and strike him down with the other hand. The crane is ideal for Shaolin fighters with a fairly long reach and extraordinary focus.

  • 3

    Snake form:

    With your knees bent outwards, bring your hands up to your chest. Place both your thumbs in your palms and bring your fingers in a position so that they are pointing outward. This position is known as snake form in Shaolin martial arts. Perform the snake by navigating around the opponent in circular motion and wait for the opponent to strike so that you can absorb your opponent’s energy and then redirect it against your opponent. If you statue is small and your speed is good, this is the ideal Shaolin move for you.

  • 4

    Dragon form:

    To perform dragon, you need to attack from the side while moving around the enemy at constantly varying angles. Face the palm of your striking hand outward and bend in the middle, ring and little fingers so that only the thumb and index finger is held out. Hold up your striking hand in this position. If you are strong in kung fu and your body stature is fairly large, this is the ideal Shaolin move for you.

  • 5

    Leopard form:

    Stand in an upright position so that your feet are shoulder-width apart from each other. Make half open fists with both your hands. Attack your opponent by striking, kicking or tripping him while constantly moving at different angles. This is the leopard form of Shaolin martial arts. If you are good at speed, strength and balance and your physical stature is fairly large, leopard form will be ideal for you.

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