. . . you will find all the options of the Shaolin Academy Kwoon (Local) Student and Cyber (International) Student for specialization once they have completed the 5 temple Levels leading to Red Sash in Shaolin Academy Kung Fu.
The Shaolin 5 Animal System is a metaphor for human life; a personality type indicator 1000 years ahead of it's time. It is based on the most successful and most common team in the world today, the Family. Although, it must be mentioned that simpler personality styles have been around for some 2500 years including Ezekiel (Lion, Ox, Man and Eagle), Hippocrates (Cheerful, Somber, Enthusiastic and Calm) and of course the famous Isabel Myers 1950's model of Sanguine, Melancholic, Choleric and Phlegmatic. There are many more but none as comprehensive as the Shaolin Tiger, Panther, Crane and Snake.
The reason that the animal style has survived so well over the past 1000 year is because of it's clever use of the 4 Animal symbols and in choosing two Great Cats (Tiger and Panther) then a Bird and a Reptile. The choice of the two great cats show how similar the two are and yet how very much differently they function. Then the use of the Crane and the Snake, almost totally opposing animals yet, in many ways very similar.
But what made this model so much more than all the other is the realization of the 'intangible influence' on human beings through the usage of the Dragon as the 5th metaphor. Both symbolizing the ideal and the meta-physical or spiritual component of human beings. Thus the 5 Animal Model, based on human beings having 5 senses, 5 attachments to the body, 5 fingers, etc., works much better than all the other models. And that is why it has survived, and in a way is better know than all the other systems put together.
It is not within the scope of this Preamble to unlock the depth and detail of all the aspects of the 5 Animal personality model but to give the reader and Shaolin Academy student enough information to allow them to choose which aspect they want to explore and discover in the form of self-development and Shaolin Kung Fu. And this is best done when enough information is given to stimulate thought and reflection but not to much to make the seem closed and dogmatic. Below will be another 4 quadrant diagram with a Kung Fu focus- Sijo Robert Z
Around 907 CE, China was in an unruly area (click here for more info on Chinese Shaolin History) in the time of the 5 Dynasty's. But even before that in 845 CE China went through the "Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution/Reform" was launched by the Emperor. His reasoning was that to reduce foreign influence he needed funds for his army (which than would enforce tax law), which would be raised by stripping all Buddhist clergy of all possessions, temples, literature, properties and assets. Shaolin were either forced into into lay life or into hiding. During this time, followers of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other non Taoist beliefs were persecuted as well. The persecution lasted for twenty months when Emperor Wuzong died and was succeeded by Emperor Xuanzong. On his ascension he and put forth a policy of tolerance in 846. For a few years after this, it seemed that this had restored the Tang, yet.
But China was successfully invaded by a foreign power and succumbed to the rule of a Khan, for a while at least. Many Chinese were considered bottom of the hierarchy and were not happy with this. Although all governments and rulers have their detractors, during this period occurred an explosion of resistance. This in turn greatly increased the amount of people training 'hard martial arts'. Many 'new' styles were imported, developed, discovered or re-discovered ... practiced and used.
In 960 CE, a new power, the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD), reunited most of China proper. The founders of the Song Dynasty built an effective centralized bureaucracy staffed with civilian scholar-officials. Some writings even suggest that the founder of the Song Dynasty was a Shaolin Graduate or Layman and was very pro Wuji (martial arts) as a form of health giving exercise.
It was also in this time that Kung Fu Animal styles begun to flourish. With the Song Dynasty support for Wuji, (martial arts) many MORE Kung Fu styles came into existence; styles such as Rooster, Toad and Dog were not uncommon and some are still around. But there were also other such as 10,000 bees, Mantis, Tiger, etc. Shaolin always welcomed traveling Healers, Mistrals, Historians, Philosophers... and Martial Artists as a system of learning from travelers. Through this many of these styles found their way into Shaolin. Around 1044 was a Golden Era of Martial Arts. The "Grand Classic of Martial Arts which included many aspects of military strategy, case histories and fighting styles was published. Many Archery and martial art schools are recorded during this time. Martial Artists would earn their way by providing shows and exhibitions in fighting, wrestling, archery and strength demonstrations.
A martial art expert named Zhue Yuen is said to have joined Shaolin around this time. Much like the young noble 500 years earlier who redeveloped the 72 Fist into the 170 Movement for Shaolin, Zhue Yuen took it upon himself to systemize this mess of styles that was home in Shaolin. He traveled to many monasteries (not only Shaolin) and traveled China in search of other martial art styles to learn and evaluate. When he reached the town of Lan Zhau, it is said he met Li Sou who introduced him to Bai Yu Feng, who was another famous martial arts practitioner. Zhue Yuen was able to convince both of them to come back with him to Shaolin to develop what they had and he learned traveling around China. Together they redeveloped Shaolin Animal Kung Fu into the 5 Animal Style ( Tiger, Snake, Dragon, Leopard/Panther and Crane ), possibly even developing the 18 Hands of Lohan further into what we may call a combination of Tai Chi and Chi Kung. ((More on Shaolin History on a New Page..... As all this happened in a place of learning a temple that was also like a School and University, much of this style was recorded and handed down in an orderly and structured way of scholars (unlike village and other styles being handed down by word of mouth and training; these saw great changes from generation to generation and many were also lost.)
Below, you will see a brief accounting of what we believe was the final result of this era, the Shaolin 5 Animal Style Kung Fu. There is a brief accounting of each animal in the form of an overview but each of the sections leads to a secondary page with an extensive description as well as Shaolin Academy Training Guide and Curriculum.
They are the top of the Food Chain in the animal kingdom; they hunt almost anything and are only hunted by humans and packs of animals. In a one-on-one situation they will usually be the winner (with some notable exceptions; as it should be). So when we speak of the Tiger as a Metaphor for Shaolin Tiger Kung Fu, we only speak about the biggest, strongest and most dominant of A type personalities. Usually if you are not the biggest, strongest and most (controlled) aggressive, you may need to look at Panther Kung Fu or there are some exceptions in Tiger Like Eagle and Bear Kung Fu.
The Shaolin Tiger Style teaches the power of simplicity, directness, strength. The Tiger Kung Fu techniques are about power, dominance and right to the point. When you choose to work on Tiger Style you will need to develop your strengths, physical, core and mental. You will work on finding the simplest and most direct solution, the advantage of immediate and quick action and the power of directness.
More about Tiger Kung Fu and Shaolin Academy Tiger Kung Fu Curriculum.
There is only one king and in our case it is the Tiger. Although there may be a few species of Tiger, when we speak of Shaolin Tiger Kung Fu we speak of 'the king' of all animals in size and strength, power and attitude and such. With the Panther style though, we speak of ALL the other great cats, the lesser (not king) great cats. And there are many. The main difference between the King and them, aside from size and strength, is that they each have a key speciality. In the animal kingdom the lesser great Cats make up for their lack of size and strength by; eg. great bursts of speed like the Cheetah, superior camouflage like the Snow Leopard, positioning speciality like the Panther, Snow Leopard and Mountain Lion/Puma. The Lion has it's neck protection making it very difficult to kill quickly. The Leopard, although not as strong as the Tiger is very strong for it's size and can carry twice it's own weight. Mountain Lions are strong jumpers and can be at your throat quicker than it seems possible. All this is to say that as a Panther Stylist you need to have a good all around Strength, Speed and Intelligence coupled with a 'speciality'. This can be exceptional strength for your size, surprising speed, an unusual agility or movement style, an Strategy or another such speciality.
The Shaolin Panther Style teachers the power of Thought, Planning, Strategy and Tactics; the power of managing from a distance and specialization. Panther techniques specialize in distances other than the usual and although the Panther Stylist knows most all techniques, he will inevitably choose a surprising technique rather then the usual. With Shaolin Panther Kung Fu you learn about the power of Yin and Yang, equal partners, Mind and body, strength and thought, tactics and action.
More about Panther Kung Fu and Shaolin Academy Panther Kung Fu Curriculum.
If we consider Shaolin a Balanced Style, we need to see the balance in all things; so it is with the 3rd and 4th of the 5 Animals. Whereby the Tiger and Panther were hunting, attacking and proactive styles, the Crane and Snake are pure reactive styles. In addition the Crane style does no even initiate any techniques, it focuses on evasion.
There are people who do not want to hit other people, who, even in a life and death situation can't or will not counter attack. The Crane satisfies the need for defence without violence, confrontation (almost) without striking. The Crane style teaches superior movement, evasion and the ultimate in reaction. Seems very limiting? Yes, and so it should be as it is part of the '5' Animal system; but it is the only style that is capable of managing the Tiger Style!
More on Crane Kung Fu and Shaolin Academy Crane Kung Fu Curriculum.
What else is there? Well there is Avoidance and the Snake Stylist learns to master this art. Not the evasion of the Crane but the Avoidance of a Lazy Person who know how to avoid a situation as it develops rather than when it is already there. The Snake has the two extremes of the Snake, quick poisonous strikes or complex 'Hold and Control' submission techniques. Either way, the Snake will either strike a vital point to gain the advantage or lock a vital point to hold advantage.
In the Snake Style you will learn the skills of Vital & Pressure point attacks and defence for both striking and locking. This requires a balanced combination of a strong and wiry muscles for locking and quick and wiry muscles for lightning strikes.
More on Snake Kung Fu and Shaolin Academy Snake Kung Fu Curriculum.
Once you have completed the 4 levels you need to discover what you have learned. This is a time where you define what you learn and how you prepare for the completion of the 2nd Shaolin Cycle. What does this mean; it means that you now need to put the 4 animals together and make the sum greater than the individual parts. Telling how this happens would be taking a major part of the journey away from you.
It is enough to say that once you get there you will have help and guidance and if your are really into-it, you will experience more than can easily be imagined.
More on completing the journey.
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