On this page you will find information about the Shaolin Tiger Kung Fu style within the context of the Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu Style. The focus will be equally on the Physical nature of the art as well as the spiritual type of person you need to be and the mental nature of the style. Further down is also the complete Tiger Kung Fu training information including Video recordings of Techniques and Form; as well as the prerequisites and requirements to grade this advanced level.
It is suggested that you first read the Animal Types of Shaolin Kung Fu to gain a perspective on how the Style works within the context of the 5 Animal System. Much may not be fully appreciated without first perusing this information!
Although Lions are considered in the Western Word as 'King' of the Animals, the Tiger out-weighs and out sizes the lion by almost anywhere between 50% to 150%. This only has relevance in understanding that aside from Walt Disney Films, the rest of the world considered the Tiger traditionally to be the top of the food chain (aside from us and that is possibly why humans hunt them). To understand what Chinese Tiger Kung Fu is and why it is so important amongst all kung fu styles, you need to work within this paradigm. Your acceptance of this simple fact will aid you in the discovery of the Tiger Style and the deeper meaning of the Tiger Metaphor. It is important to reach an understanding of the Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu Tiger Style which is within the context of a system, where-as stand-alone village and family Tiger Kung Fu styles need to be everything.
Most people know that Tigers are an endangered as a species. Of the 8 known family's, the Sumatran Tiger, the South China Tiger, the Siberian Tiger, the Bengal Tiger, the Indochinese Tiger, the Javan Tiger, the Caspian Tiger, The Bali Tiger. Three are now totally extinct and two are close to extension. From once being million counted there are now less than 10,000 Tigers left in the world, both in the wild and in zoo's. And there is a message in that which is also seem through Sharks and Crocodiles; once your perfect there is no real further evolution and sooner or later someone, something comes along and shows you that you are a dinosaur (we'll get back to this a little later).
The Tiger is the lord of the land/realm. It is the King of the Animals, King of the mountain. The Tigers natural, easy fluidity hides it's ferocious power and dominance. Armed with deadly claws, sharp and strong jaws, the Tiger style is one of Simplicity, Directness and Power. Very simple, honest and direct, strategies and actions.
Dominating, controlling, powerful, frontal, larger than life, Tigers rely upon their size and the explosive force delivered by their short, thick muscles, clarity of mind, rightness and purity of spirit to achieve their needs and wants. The Tiger does not need to defend, it is the ultimate predator. It has no evasion techniques, no blocking or defence. In any confrontation it leaps into attack going for the quick and direct resolution of the conflict. It does not have the stamina, inclination or need for enduring and prolonged fights, hunts or teaching (cubs, other Tigers) activities.
The Tiger uses any simple and direct approach. It's techniques and methods are easily understood with not a lot of strategic thinking or planning; and absolutely no preparation. The Tiger is purely reactive, instinctive and dominating. Either the world is OK or not and then the Tiger will do something immediate and sudden.
The Tiger is one of the significant Chinese animal symbols. It is one of the 12 Animals that answered Buddha call and thus is one of the 12 Animals attributed by the Chinese Zodiac. But there is a lot of symbolism surrounding the Tiger and it is almost impossible now to differentiate what has historical roots and what is created history. So, let us see what we do know.
Hung Gar also called Tiger and Crane is one of the styles that has been around since the 17th century and can still be found now. Well you can't have Tiger and Crane without having a Tiger only style, so we need to go back further. Looking a Shaolin Temple history we know of the 4 times of destruction; 570 CE, app 1100 CE, 1645 CE and 1927 CE. After the first destruction, it took 30 years for Shaolin to be fully functional again and there was a shift from Yoga style exercises to Kung Fu, first to a pure striking style (Shaolin 72 Fists) then expanded to a combination Striking and Pressure Point style (Shaolin 170 Moves). This remained so until the 2nd destruction of Shaolin, around the 11 Century when Buddhism became very rich and influential and the people turned against it including Shaolin. When Shaolin was re-established, we have a period in Shaolin called the time of the 100 Kung Fu styles.
First a bit of speculation; when the Shaolin Monks dispersed and there is evidence that many sought refuge in other great Temples including Wudang, Emai Shan, Kwantung and others. When, after many years they came back together to rebuild the Shaolin Temple they came with the skill and knowledge of some 20 to 50 years of exile. The monks had propagated the Shaolin 170 moves but then also incorporated their host temples style and teaching. Each of these Temples had at least one of their own styles of exercise and Kung Fu. Wudang had Crow and Snake (later Eagle and Snake) a very efficient and conserving style (along Daoists Principles), Emai Shan, a border healing temple, practiced Crane Kung Fu but was also influenced by Indian and Tibetan styles. Kwantung was the gateway to the world and the home of the Black Tiger Kung Fu (although that is more recent history). Fukien, which was the only other Shaolin Temple, was established to keep the peace during the Tang Dynasty, was never just one and the same temple but kept on changing but no single animal symbol seems to be associated with this temple. So, all we have is the time of 100 Animal Styles in Shaolin around 1000 years ago.
Around the 12th century, close to the change over to the Ming Dynasty, Shaolin seemed to be inundated with Animal Styles and Principles. Some very well know animals like Mantis, Monkey, Eagle but also some (for westerners seemingly) ludicrous style like 10,000 Bees (pressure point style), Toad (Jumping and Clenching Style), Dog (ground fighting) and others. History suggests that it took Shaolin almost 100 years to re-organize this abundance of styles into the Shaolin 5 Animal Style. And they were very clever at it by sorting all the styles into the 4 and making it a one style with 4 sides like a icosahedron. The ingenuity of the Shaolin to choose two cats and then a bird and reptile is incredibly absolutely genius. Interested why; talk Sijo or e-mail.
The Tiger is the Biggest, Strongest most Ferocious of all the animals, almost. There are bigger, there are quicker, there are stronger but the Tiger has the ideal combination of all of these. It has a great combination of Strength, feline fluidity and a great assortment of tools (Claws and Jaws). It is the quintessential predator with no single speciality and just an all around master of their domain.
The Tiger requires to have their place/territory that it will manage for it's own needs and sustain-ability. This territory will be the size it needs to be so that it is not over hunted but also not over-large. A Tiger just takes what it needs to survive, not more or less; a master of it's domain. It does not mind other predators and life in it's kin dome as long as it is not challenged and not bothered. In such a case life is good!
Tigers will seek to avoid fighting other Tigers or encroaching on their territory if anyway possible. Only for the most important of reasons, leadership, survival or mating will the Tiger choose to fight another Tiger because Tiger to Tiger dispute are always a loose-loose situation; or as an old Chinese saying goes;"when Two Tigers Fight, one is Killed and the other is Severely Hurt".
Is simple and direct, sudden and absolute. It is of simple and direct strategies and tactics, economic and quick action, final and complete solutions. There is no need for complex stepping, diverse techniques, involved tactics and absolutely no need for blocking. Tiger style relies on the users size, attitude, strength, power and singularity of purpose. Every technique is powerful and final. There are no feints, distraction or strategies. Tiger style launches directly at the most vulnerable and direct point of the attacker, the throat. If the throat is covered then the obstacle is removed and the Tiger goes for the throat; with it's size and bulk a Tiger can not afford prolonged fights as it will make them vulnerable to lesser predators.
The Tiger operates with Overwhelming Power, Tenacity, and Fearlessness. Best suited to the muscular strong and large martial artist, the Tiger Stylist is an aggressive, offensive and sometime brash fighter with the least graceful, or perhaps one should say the least subtle, eschewing pinpoint strikes for broad, sweeping movements that act as both blocks and attacks in the one movement.
The Tiger (Stylists) is a person that prefers Action rather than Words. They lead from the front and when others are still pondering the nature of the problem, Tiger Stylists are already fixing it their way when others are still researching, thinking or consulting on the matter at hand. Tiger Stylists believe that ;"Leadership is Action, not Position or Words". In emergency situations, where threat is imminent and there is Chaos, this is the best form of action; but often it is also at a cost.
The nature of a Tiger Stylist (usually) is also not to know when to quit. There are no opponents-only obstacles, no impossibilities-just other peoples incompetence, nothing that can not be done, fixed, made or destroyed; nothing impossible. A Tiger Stylist will take on any challenge with the confidence that he/she can get it done. This may cost them dearly but for the Tiger Stylist; "there is No Retreat and No Surrender" (yes a cliché but it expresses the Tiger Stylist perfectly).
In Shaolin Kung Fu before you come to the Animal Style training you need to learn the Basics. There are quite a number of techniques you first need to learn and be able to do well before you can attempt any of the Animal Styles. There are quite a number of these techniques, some 23 Stances 17 Blocks, 15 Punches, etc. All of these techniques can and often are used in each of the Animal styles but often a little different than when originally learned. In addition to this come each of the Animal Styles speciality techniques. In Shaolin Tiger Kung Fu, the powerful style there is one specific new technique you need to learn; The Tiger Claw in two versions. Tiger Maul and Tiger Swipe.
Aside from this the Tiger Style use techniques powerfully, directly and suddenly seeking to destroy the attackers centerline whilst using it's own centerline as a source of power. Finger strength is essential to these techniques and the main stay of the Tiger Stylist. A strong, medium low stance, strong posture, powerful core and mighty legs together with a tough body able to take some punishment before finishing the encounter.
Kicks in the Tiger form are mostly limited to high power variants, such as roundhouse, front kicks, back step side kick but rarely used as the main Tiger Kick is the Solar Plexus Front Kick. Tiger is very physically demanding, and will not back down. An aggressors attacks are smothered with viscous strikes and kicks not bothering to block but just brushing any attack aside (this is why there is rarely a winner when two Tiger fight).
A straight punch becomes like a bettering ram, square punches become shredding claws and a front kick is like a shot cannonball. There is also no backward movement with the Tiger (Stylist), forward is the only way to go. The Tigers main strategy is here and now and immediately. Whilst an attacker may be positioning themselves, the Tiger has already launched his counter.
As people, Tiger types are usually direct, honest, powerful, confident and the best front line leaders. They take care of their own and do not allow interference. Tigers are Kings of the physical world and have a wide spirit, are generous, family oriented, friendly to their own kind, trustworthy, predictable and playful. They are usually also 'upward' bullies. They will not bully anybody weaker but will try and bully a bully, especially if they seem stronger. This is a part of their Alpha Male dominance, that in their vicinity, no one stronger or more influential can be allowed; unless they recognize the Tigers Dominance and do not challenge it. That's the only way two Tigers can co-exist in the same area.
Mentally, the Shaolin Tiger seeks the direct, simple, efficient and effective solution relying on superior ability of mind and body. A robust character is supported by a robust outlook on life, strong confidence and the ability to make people want to follow the Tigers lead. Spiritually, the Tiger is honorable, loyal, honest, direct and caring to their own.
Yang - Alphas/Tigers prefer immediate action and clear optimum solution, even if it may seem impossible. Planning in a minimalist way they will get to it here and now, if possible. Tigers often find that people over-talk a situation or problem. They tend to get restless when there is something to do and nothing being done. Tigers are on edge leading up to an even but not when the event starts and they can do and play; play hard, work hard love often. Tigers are naturally confident even cocky and believe that they are better at things than others (until proven wrong the hard way).
Yin - The Tigers Strength, bravado and attitude actually protects a softer, gentler and even vulnerable person inside. Tigers will be easily hurt by words, lies and innuendos; and will often not have a way of dealing with this unless they can resort to action. Else they will retreat into themselves and, if possible, ultimately, move on to greener pastures.
There is vastly more on the Tiger Personality Type on the Shaolin 5 Animal Personality Style page!
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
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
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The material provided on this page, especially that below the warning is as an addition to the Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu Academy Students and as a full structured Home Learning/Training Program established in 1994. For a comprehensive explanation of the program with Recorded materials and samples, click here.
Yang - Round sudden punches and direct kicks; round downward clawing techniques first impacting with the base of the palm and then clawing their way downward, including the famous Tiger Claw (Hu Zhua) technique (from which whole styles have developed). The techniques are in fairly large, wide and circular motions, much like a big cat swiping. The back legs of a Tiger practitioner are powerful and lend themselves to straight direct kicks and knees.
Yin - Digging the claws into the meat and separating tendons, muscles from bones with pulls, twist, tears, or strikes. Straight inward claws, again using the base of the palm to strike and in this case bunch up the flesh. Then clamping down with the sharp claws,digging deeply into the flesh, tearing, ripping and twisting (sounds gory; but Tiger style is not a gentle art!)
Test 1 - Foundation and Basic Skills
To attempt for the Shaolin Tiger Level you need to either be qualified as a Shaolin Academy Red Sash (around 4 to 5 years kung fu experience) or be a Certified Black Sash in a recognized Traditional Martial Art Style Style. Why this you ask? Well, Shaolin Tiger is an advanced level form and there is scope to hurt yourself if your body and mind is not prepared. To have a chance at succeeding safely in this advanced level you will need to understand the way of Shaolin Kung Fu and Techniques. For this, we have an extensive Cyber Program on line for $20/y. The Tiles to the right are direct links to the 5 levels and the overview page for the Shaolin Kung Fu Academy Cyber Training Program. Have a look at this first if you have not already done so. Each page will open in a new windows so when you finish reading it just close it and you will be back at this page!
Test 2 - 5 Tiger Techniques!
Although a simple style for the most, you will need to know the 5 key and usable Tiger Claws, 4 Claw Strikes and one Claw arrest.
Test 3 - Power of Will and Technique
The Shaolin Tiger is a Just do, simple, direct and powerful. To succeed in the Shaolin Tiger you need to complete some Test of Power and Strength. Following are the simple but grueling techniques for Tiger Kung Fu. Following are 9 Exercises that you need to be able to do in one sitting, without hesitation and demonstrating power and endurance;
Ten (10) Tons of Push-ups. To work out how many you need to do divide 10,000 kg by your weight. If you weigh 100 kg, that is 100 push ups. If you weight 80kg, that's about 125 push-ups. These need to be performed in one go.
One (1) Ton of Chin-ups; same as above and also in one go.
Ten Minutes of a Horse Stance with a Staff (or Tea Cups, you choice) on your thighs. A Tigers connection to the ground, his foundation needs to be the best of all the Animal Stylists. Else he/she can not apply their power effectively.
1000 Crunches or Short Sit-ups; which are a good sign of core strength which is as essential as the Tiger's Foundation.
Ten (10), five finger push-ups, in one go. The Tigers and Eagles Fingers need to be very strong, they are the No 1 tool of the Tiger Practitioner.
Tiger Claw One, 100 strikes on a Rice or Sand Bag .
Test 4 - The Shaolin Lesser 5 Animal Form
To appreciate the Advanced Shaolin Hunting Tiger Form you need to also have a basic understanding of the other Animal Style Forms. The Lesser 5 Animal Form, which is the last form you learn on the Temple Levels, is a good Introduction to a simple version of the Shaolin Animal Style. It is not an easy form but then again, it is not meant to be easy. It is the Introduction to the Shaolin 5 Animal Style. The Greater 5 Animal Form is a lot more involved and difficult.
When you demonstrate this form, consider the following; Tiger is Strong and Solid, Panther is Quick and Fluid, Crane is Light and Elegant and Snake is Sudden Sinuous. There needs to be a clear difference between these items, that is why we have spliced together different parts to demonstrate the form on the video recording. You may not initially notice this, but each of the Animal segments is demonstrated twice, once left and once right, so there is actually less to learn than it looks. Focus on each Animal separately before putting it together. At the end, the System of Snake Hands, just demonstrate this once through each hand.
You may have a lot of questions and should you be doing Snake style i would say ask them. But a Tiger Stylist does and then asks questions. If you want clarification on any aspect of the form, record yourself demonstrating a whole animal frame and send this to us with your questions. First show us what you understand it to be and then we will help you, if you need. Tigers are doers not askers.
Test 5 - Shaolin Tiger Kung Fu, Hunting Tiger Form
The Tiger Style is not a cruel animal, that could be said of the Panther Style but not the Tiger Style. The Tiger is an all or nothing type of animal, no retreat, no surrender and that makes it great for emergencies, real life threatening situations and when actions are more important than thinking or talking. Yet, the Shaolin Tiger is not a killer. No Shaolin Style, no Buddhist style can be a killer, a real hurter of living beings. So, you do need to understand the true essence of the Tiger Style and understand that in Shaolin it is an aspect of the ALL Style, the 5 Animal Style. It is not a complete stand-alone style, it can be, but it is not. it is part of the Shaolin Animal Family where each Animal aspect has it's function and place; like in a family.
So, when demonstrating this form, show powerful techniques on solid stances! Take 3 breaths between the frames but when you are moving, keep moving on solid stances with powerful techniques, until the frame's end, then 3 breaths. In the Hunting Tiger form, show Power, Focus and Foundation; show us your Tiger.
When sending us a recording of you executing the form, record the form twice, once from the front and once from the side, in a well lit space with no obstructions to the form or to us seeing you demonstrate! But most of all; The Shaolin Tiger Kung Fuis a 'Just Do", direct action, strong and powerful type of style. No hesitations, no distractions, just do. So, learn the form well before you send it to us!
The material on this page may look simple and easy but it is not! There is a lot of skill required to learn and practice these skills. We strongly recommend that you do not attempt these unless you are part of the Shaolin Academy Cyber Program or under the guidance of a Kung Fu master!
Need any help? Just e-mail us immediately and we are happy to assist, usually within 72 hours or less.
This will not make an expert out of you, or a Champion or a Warrior; but it gives you are good grounding that will enable you to specialize, if you wish, in a direction you care to take. Some have chose to enter competitions and have done well in All Styles Comps, Kung Fu Comps, Internationally and Nationally. Shaolin Academy students have even been used as action stand-in's in theater, movies, music videos and shows. We even put on a show at the Shaolin Temple in Henan China.
You may choose to want to use the style for Acting, Stage Work, Shows, Street Theater and such but it also applies for everyday life. Recognizing when you are confronted with a Tiger Style personality, you will know what you are up against, be it in the office, at a party, in the street or elsewhere. And the more you immerse yourself in the understanding of your Tiger, you will find that you are able to manage it within yourself better, both to restrain it when it will harm and to use it when appropriate. You will also learn the weaknesses of the each animal and relies that, for example, a Tiger can only be defeated by a Greater Tiger or by a mouse (and you need to work this out).
Level Review Application (and Certification)
Before you attempt the next level, ensure that everything you have learned in this level is correct. As you progress, many, many of the techniques that follow are based around, founded or along very similar principles as the ones from the 1st levels. Fix any problems and details now before you learn new techniques and carry through the errors thus doubling and tripling the effort to fix them later. And as an old and new wisdom stated "It is 5 times more difficult to fix a habit then it is to establish it!
Apply for a Level Review before you commence on the next level! When we receive the PayPal confirmation we will contact you with further instructions.
Links to other Shaolin Kung Fu Academy pages.