While animals are associated with the art of Kung Fu, many times people exaggerate or completely get the wrong impression of what these animals represent. The fact is, jumping around with hands shaped like claws or growling like a tiger isn’t the purpose of these animals in the art of Kung Fu.

Instead, when practicing Kung Fu, it is important to concentrate on the essence of the animals associated with Kung Fu instead of just trying to imitate them. What follows are the five animals associated with Kung Fu:

  1. The Tiger. The tiger is strong and agile. The strategy associated with the tiger is to charge an opponent and attract directly with brute force. It requires speed, relaxed muscles and the ability to quickly adapt.
  2. The Leopard. The leopard is strong, efficient, quick, accurate and stealth. It strikes quickly to inflict pain.
  3. The Crane. The crane is evasive, graceful and subtle. It rarely attacks. It keeps its opponent at a distance and takes advantage of the length of its arms and legs. It uses rapid hand strikes and circular movements.
  4. The Snake. The snake is accurate, agile, deceptive and fast. Always aware, the snake uses whipping toe kicks to the lower part of an opponent’s body. It uses striking and locking techniques at the same time while avoiding using its fists.
  5. The Dragon. Deceptive, smart, strong and unpredictable, the dragon uses quick snapping kicks that utilize the blade of the foot. It also uses the full fist and forearms to strike.

In order to develop the skills that these animals represent, it is crucial that you physically condition yourself in your martial arts practice toward this end. If you want to be elusive like a crane, for example, you need to develop your footwork and work on your flexibility. Fighting like a tiger means you must become courageous while also developing your upper body strength so you can grab your opponent.

The animals associated with Kung Fu are crucial for self-defense and strength. However, just acting like these animals will do no good. You need to train diligently to be able to possess the qualities these animals possess. Likewise, your opponent also may possess some of these same qualities. By recognizing what qualities an opponent possesses, you will be able to better defend yourself against your opponent.