Welcome to Wu Xing Kung Fu and Parkour! Here you will find a brief synopsis of our “5 Animals/5 Elements” martial arts. If you are interested in Parkour, click HERE!
Wu Xing written/pronounced as “Woo H’shing”) is Chinese for “5 elements” or “5 phases” and refers to a belief that all of reality is an interconnected cycle of balance and change. The Kung Fu styles we teach reflect this and help build understanding, strength, respect, listening, acceptance and overall physical and mental health. By understanding connection and change we increase our ability to defend ourselves but also to enjoy and support life and those around us.
豹 Panther “Bào”
From the Panther we learn speed, cunning, focus, and the willpower to drive forward. Two of Hung Gar’s 5 Animals are great, predatory cats- whilst Tiger embodies the “Hsin” or Heart, Panther embodies the “Yi” or Mind/Will. It enables Striving. Internally it develops the power of Wood and supports the Liver; its outward energy follows the precepts of Air and develops the Tendons and teaches fast, precise footwork. At higher levels we learn how to develop sudden straight power by stabilizing the dual vectors of a line. The Panther glories in its skill and speed. Energetically it teaches us how to use Anger in a helpful manner. In combat it embodies Destruction and Confidence. It will appear weak if that will further its goals- the Result is paramount and it doesn’t let pride or other’s opinions influence it. Panther is the consummate expert. Swift and silent, it can be direct or hidden; Panther is known as the Ghost of the Shaolin Animals.
蛇 Snake “Shé”
Snake teaches us patience and listening with all senses. Internally it embodies Earth and tonifies the Spleen; its outward manifestation is Water. Snake style builds an extremely strong but flexible core and solid rooted footwork. It seeks to hold the center and find the level by simplifying complex problems or adding substance to clarify vague or nebulous issues. Snake is about Being; only if we honestly see a situation can we know what to do. It teaches us to be present even if it is not easy. It can help us calm excess emotions and see to the heart of a problem. A snake has no concept of Future or Past- it always inhabits and works with what it has. Energetically Snake can take in anything it must, be it bad energy or extreme loss, and not lose its identity but instead transform it to something useful. Having no concept of Pride or Loss, the Snake achieves Harmony. A Snake is a Snake, nothing more and nothing less. It uses Soft Drawing energy to combat Hard attacks and Rushing Expanding energy to combat Soft or deceptive techniques. In combat, it embodies Reserve and Constriction. The cold, implacable smothering resolve of the unflappable Snake often brings terror to its opponents.
虎 Tiger “Fu”
Tiger is the other of the great cats of Hung Gar, and it embodies the “Hsin” or Heart. Old Hung Gar was mostly comprised of Tiger style movements along with Short and Long bridge arm techniques from Shaolin Arhat (or Luohan) boxing. Wong Fei Hung later added and adopted the other animals to promote balance internally to his fighting art as well as to give more tools and approaches to his students. Tiger develops the muscles and circulatory system, especially the heart, as well as building strong, dense bones. Energetically, Tiger is about Feeling. Internally it promotes the power of cleansing Fire and is related to the Heart and Pericardium. Externally it manifests as explosive “Gong Jin”” or hard and angular force. An apex predator, the only true opponent to a Tiger is self doubt and their own failings. To that end, Tigers seek out their own demons and destroy them. They believe in strictly forging their abilities and “Crying in training, therefore laughing in combat”. Cowardice (and forethought or planning) are foreign concepts to the Tiger; larger than life, in your face and crusading for justice exemplify their drive. Courage and firm belief in their instinct allows them to not be fooled by others or slowed by problems. Tigers “Fix Things”, and not subtly. Living in the moment, vibrant with barely contained strength and energy, the Tiger is an awe-inspiring sight whether at rest or in the midst of a terrible fight. It replaces Fear with Joy, quelling opponents in their tracks and bringing heart and hope to their compatriots. It mostly specializes in the Short bridges of Hung Gar and is the progenitor of the infamous Tiger Claw (Fu Jao). In combat the Tiger embodies Dominance and Aggression. Fire Burns and Tigers Consume; the Tiger stylist gives no quarter and “eats” their opponents very will and strength with overwhelming power, intensity and instinctual use of superior fighting angles.
鶴 Crane “Hok”
Crane style teaches complexity and acumen. Internally it is related to the Lungs and develops the Air element. Externally it manifests as Wood. Crane embodies the understanding and ramifications of Change. Masters of blindingly fast and frenetic movement or long periods of extreme stillness, Cranes are alternatively highly adaptive or subtly coercive to reach their goals. Whereas Snake teaches simplicity, Crane hides itself in apparently chaotic movement and complex changes. The Crane teaches us the wisdom of letting go and non-attachment, and how to breathe for many different situations. Never over-committing and always having an out, the Crane stylist has highly developed Sho Fa (Hand Skills) and can use an almost magnetic softness to stick to their opponent. Intricate Shen Fa (Body Skills) combined with highly precise explosive piercing power of the Crane’s beak or violent vibratory power of the Crane’s wings lead their opponents to doubt themselves and lose initiative. The Drunken Fist style is related to (and in some styles directly part of) Crane, hiding strength in apparent weakness and destabilizing their enemy with odd balance and force angles. In combat the Crane embodies Chaos and Detachment (often not even looking at an opponent but judging its moves based on physical sensation and connection with its blocks and strikes) while breeding Anxiety in its enemy. It constantly preempts the opponent with many small movements, or changes easily while seeming weak when under attack. It can feed the enemies Ego by not stopping their attack but helping it along with very subtle redirection and such smoothness that they often don’t see the truth until too late.
龍 Dragon “Lóng”
The Chinese Dragon is a mythical, Chimera-like creature much different from its western counterpart- it was regarded as a twisting, slender, magical Demi-god of sorts and controlled the rivers as well as having other water related responsibilities. The Dragon practitioner inwardly tonifies the Kidneys and the Water essence. Outwardly it expresses the Earth element. Dragon is related to Change, but more to the concept of “Becoming”. The Dragon seeks to always evolve mentally, physically and spiritually. It develops the Spirit (Shen), prizing awareness and lucidity and scorning disharmony and stagnation. The Dragon is usually the last Animal form taught as it brings together all the strengths of the other animals while attempting to transcend their limitations. In combat it uses clever angles, twisting Seven Star footwork and the Dragon Claw (Long Jao). Whereas the Tiger Claw can rend, tear and crush, the Dragon Claw pierces, cleaves and pounds. It can entrain and lead the opponent’s force without actual grabbing; It is also used to pierce the opponent’s guard and awareness. In combat the Dragon embodies Wisdom, Foresight and Flow. It seeks connection to its opponent so it can understand its motivations and ability. Water can flow around obstructions or overwhelm them completely, and the Dragon follows suit, enabling the practitioner to smoothly flow around their enemies defenses or even drawing their attack to where they wish it. Using Listening Energy (Ting Jin) Dragon can feel straight into an opponent’s root– disrupting or violently breaking it and anything in its way.
For more about the 5 Elements in martial arts, please see THIS excellent excerpt. Please note that many schools of thought substitute the term “Metal” instead of “Air”. If you are curious about this nomenclature difference please speak with an Instructor at our school, as the reasoning is a little verbose for this format. 🙂
Further studies, electives and specialization –
Later we delve deeper into 5 element theory and study Tai Chi, Cha family Northern Long Fist, different Chi Gong and Nei Gong, Hubei Xing Yi, Bagua, Di Tang and the Buddha Hand (Fut Sao) style. We also study many traditional Chinese weapons (as well as weapons from other sources) to increase our focus and dexterity. Our overall focus is learning how to stretch, strengthen and connect the body to foster natural movement for health and energy. Emphasis is placed on working hard in a fun, supportive environment!
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