What are Kempos' school animals and what do they represent?

The Five Animal Forms of Shaolin Kempo are the Tiger, the Dragon, the Leopard, the Crane and the Snake.

The Tiger is noted for its courage, tenacity and power. Physically, it is the strongest of all five animals; using straight ahead attacks, ripping and tearing as it moves, always pressing. The movements of the Tiger develop strong bones and a strong back.

From the Dragon, we learn to “ride the wind” meaning the Dragon is especially noted for its flexibility even through it is the only mythological creature of the Shaolin Art, it is the only one that can fight on land, water, and in the sky. The Dragon uses rising and falling motions as well as twisting and turning movements to overcome its adversaries. The Dragon helps develop your inner strength.

The Leopard teaches us timing and speed as well as coordination and footwork. Although smaller than the Tiger, the Leopard is actually stronger for its size, because of its long smooth muscle structure and sleek body frame. The Leopard’s power is primarily produced from a loose, relaxed, whip-like action generated by speed and balance as well as limber waist and hip movements. The leopard helps conditioning of the skin, tendons and bones.

The Crane is noted for its balance, gracefulness and agility. It represents longevity and teaches us concentration and patience. With a calm, quiet nature, its movements are soft, relaxed and circular. However, they are also explosive and can be used in close or at a distance. The Crane helps develop strength in the arms, fingers, wrists, and ankles as well as overall leg conditioning.

The Snake is noted for its suppleness and rhythmic endurance. It has the most internal strength (Chi) of all five animals, and is also cunning and deceptive in its fighting. The Snake can coil, zigzag and use a rapid twisting motion to compensate for his lack of limbs. The Snake helps develop Chi or internal strengthening of the body and spirit.