For people who are not familiar with kung fu, some of the things we do can seem a bit strange… like imitating animals for example :). So today we’re going to look at the top five reasons why you should learn five animal style kung fu.
1. Animal Instinct
One of the big benefits of looking to the animal kingdom for inspiration is the amazing examples of fighting spirit we can find there. By tapping into this inspiration we can develop our own fighting spirit and determination that will help us to get through a fight or other situations in our lives.
Check out these great animal videos for some of that inspiration:
2. Physical Development
Copying different animals challenges us to develop different physical skills. The low stances and clawing motions of Tiger develop physical strength and power. The smooth flowing movements of Snake develop flexibility and sensitivity. Standing on one leg like a Crane develops balance and the wing beating movements open and develop the ribcage and back. The stepping and jumping of Leopard develops speed and agility. The turning and circling movements of dragon develop co-ordination and rhythm.
Some of these attributes you may already have naturally, but within the five animals there will be things you find difficult. By practicing all five it encourages balanced development and helps you to turn your weaknesses into strengths.
Each of the five animals has different tactics and ways of fighting. By learning each of them it gives you options in how you deal with different opponents. If you are larger and stronger than your opponent you might choose to use the powerful movements of Tiger or Dragon. If you are smaller you might use the sticking and trapping of Snake or the speed and agility of Leopard to defeat your opponent. If you prefer to keep your distance you might use the long wing beating movements, kicks and evasion of Crane to keep your opponent at bay.
Having this variety of tactics available to you gives you a greater chance of success in dealing with different challenges (and opponents) that come your way. If one set of tactics isn’t working you can try another until you find one that works.
The process of mastering a martial art can be long and arduous, and facing an opponent in combat can be scary. Using animal movements adds an element of fun to the process and helps you to not take it too seriously. It can be a lot of fun when you are fighting to challenge yourself to beat your opponent by using the movements of one animal or another… if you’ve come along to sparring enough times you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, maybe next time you spar give it a try, see if you can defeat your opponent as one animal and if that doesn’t work, try another. It will give you new insights and also help to make the experience more playful and fun.
5. The Style Factor
Last but not least, the animal styles are just plain cool. I’m sure you’ve seen the old kung fu movies and been impressed with the style and grace of the martial artist performers. There is something about the animal styles that captures the imagination. They inspire us to not just be competent fighters, but to be awesome and stylish fighters. It is part of what makes martial arts an ‘art’ and not just brutal thuggery.
If you already practice five animal style kung fu, I hope this article has helped remind why you do it, and maybe given you some inspiration for how you can get even more out of your training. If you haven’t started five animal style kung fu yet, there is no time like the present, get in touch and I hope I see you in class soon!