Shoalin Kung Fu

Many martial arts find their origins in Shoalin Kung Fu. Kung Fu styles may generally be divided into three classes: Shaolin Temple styles, temple-derived non-temple styles, and family styles, or Pai. Within the Temple styles are those arts generally and consistently taught in the temples, with many having their origins in pre-Shaolin history. There are two major divisions in Shaolin Kung Fu. The southern temples are predominantly hand technique oriented, while northern temples put more emphasis on kicks and foot techniques.

The Northern Shaolin styles primarily consist of Northern Praying Mantis, Black Crane, and Black Tiger.

The Southern Shaolin styles primarily consist of White Crane, Tiger, Dragon, Leopard, Snake, and Southern Praying Mantis.

Many of the movements were representations of the behavior of animals. A system sometimes comprised the maneuvers of one specific animal and no other. All the blocks, attacks and stances were done in imitation of the bird or beast. Each system had certain aspects peculiar to it since each of the animals was designed differently by nature. However, most styles were not so rigid and limited; northern praying mantis, for example, uses mantis and tiger hand techniques, and monkey and generic northern style footwork.

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