Ready to perform the 5 Animals

The Five Animals Form, an Explanation

By Ferrel | HealthyShaolin | 7 May 2021

The animal imagery is a direct result of the Taoist influence within the Shaolin traditions. The mainstream understanding of these five animal categories is that there are different fighting styles, but actually they were different areas of knowledge. Some fighting techniques and strategies eventually became attributed to each of the animals, but they were used to identify areas of study and training. All of these techniques and strategies were considered part of the original shaolin style. They did become styles for systems of fighting when the knowledge and methods were made available so people outside of the temple, people who did not have full understanding of the shaolin tradition. The areas of study in training and some of these techniques and strategies have been noted here.



The dragon does not have to stalk or plan its attack in any way. It relies on superpower to instantly overwhelm its attacker as it moves with majesty and grace. The dragon can appear out of nowhere, and it can disappear. It can bilocate and be everywhere at once.

The dragon is the cosmic creative force of Yang. It is considered to be a Supreme divine spiritual creature, possessing the attributes of spirit (omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, love, compassion, light, joy, wisdom, peace). It is a model for spiritual development. As the masculine cosmic creative power being of creation, the dragon can be invoked for spiritual assistance.

The Tiger and dragon are considered the creative aspect of the great spirit. They correlate to the heavenly father (dragon), the masculine aspect of the creator and the divine mother (Tiger) the feminine aspect of the Creator. It is the interaction of the Tiger and Dragon that is responsible for the manifestation of creation and through this process, the cosmic sound of Om is generated.

The dragon is Yang to the Tiger.



Since the power and ability of the tiger seemed supernatural, it is considered of the realm of spirit and his superpower metaphysical. It issid courageous and powerful. The Tiger will maneuver to attack the most vulnerable position, usually the back or side. It attacks with overwhelming speed and power. These methods are used to train internal strength to develop a strong immune system, spiritual awareness and the ability to use internal energy in the delivery of martial technique the Tiger claw (fingertips) is sometimes used for striking precision targets. It is also used to grab, to take control of attackers (neutralize attacks, expose targets, deliver throws).

The Tiger represents the cosmic creative force of yen and therefore life. It represents life in all its manifestations, both pleasant and unpleasant. It is a catalyst of positive change in evolution. As the feminine cosmic creative being of creation, the Tiger can be invoked for spiritual assistance. The Tiger is Yin to the Dragon.





The Snake moves with speed and power by coordinating the use of as many muscle groups as possible as it performed each movement. It unwinds its body in a chain reaction as it develops its great speed and power. It is an expression of perfect balance since it stays so close to the ground.  It goes in low even when it attacks. It knows how to wait for the most opportune moment and is good at the ambush. When it takes its attacker down, it can wrap it up and crush hits bones.

The Snake is considered the earthly dragon, having attributes of the dragon, but in the realm of earth. The snake methods are used to develop the ability to use Chi Kung to develop spiritual awareness. The Cobra Snake symbolizes and even looks like the brain, medulla, and spinal cord. This is the cerebral spinal path used to energize the upper tan tien (the spiritual eye) and turn on the intuition. Intuition is humanity’s 6th sense, the only sense of that will provide us with an experience of spirit. The technique used to energize the upper tan tien is called the Cobra Breath. Tamo’s “Bone and Marrow Changing Methods” described how chi kung can be used to develop spiritual awareness and are the foundation of the shaolin snake methods.

The snake is  Yin to the Crane.



The Crane fights with speed, grace and agility.  It is very light on its feet, changing direction rapidly and gyrating its body with perfect coordination.  It develops power from speed and is able to deliver lighting fast, focused strikes.  The Crane will fight in close with its wings and long legs as the Shaolin Crane Methods will use fist, elbow, knee and foot techniques and in combinations.

The Crane is the symbol of Wisdom and the Crane Methods uses Chi Kung to develop physical and mental health.  Tamo’s “Muscle and Tendon Changing Methods” describe how chi kung can be used to do this and prepare the body for spiritual training.  These methods are the foundation of The Shaolin Crane Methods.

The Crane is Yang to the Snake.



This is the Tiger of the Earth realm.  Powerful, fast and agile, the Panther is the master of the stalk and economy of motion.  Every movement, even its slightest movement, has purpose.  It plans its approach in detail.  It takes into consideration everything in the situation and environment.  And can use its intellect and intuition to be novel and creative in completing its tasks.

The Panther is the model of self-discipline and objectivity (the ability to perceive truth and use knowledge to come to appropriate conclusions).  It has an acute awareness of its situation and circumstance; and is able to make the most of it.  It uses no more than what is required.  The panther assumes responsibility for its Life, thoughts and behavior; and takes control of its destiny.  It seeks to achieve harmony with what it does and its environment; and achieves balance of the Yin and Yang.

Because it is of the realm of Earth, it is born without cosmic knowledge.  But at the core of its being it knows there is more to reality than what it can see, touch and smell.  So, it compensates by purifying itself and developing its intuition; and realizes and experiences itself, and its environment, as Spirit.

It can do this because it revels in its Life and chooses to allow Love, Wisdom, and Joy to permeate its being.

The Panther is the template for holistic human development.

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I'm a Shaolin Monk who likes to share everything I have learned.


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