Traditional Systems

Most fighting styles that are being practiced as “traditional” Chinese martial arts today, only reached its popularity in the late 1900s such as: Five Animal system (Tiger, Snake, Dragon, Leopard and Crane), Hung Gar, Dragon, Monkey, Tiger, Pak Mei, Fujian White Crane, Praying Mantis, Wing Chun, Pakua, Hsing I and Tai Chi Ch’uan, etc.

The Southern Shaolin primarily consist of White Crane, Tiger, Dragon, Leopard, Snake and Southern Praying Mantis. Whereas, the Northern counterpart, consists of the Black Crane, Black Tiger and Northern Praying Mantis styles.

There are “styles” which had links to the Shaolin Temple, such as Wing Chun and Hung Gar styles.

Shaolin Temple styles are renowned for their animal movements, designed to strike out in defence and/or attacking actions. The Shaolin Order is believed to have its roots back to about 540 A.D.


The following are underlying reasons for the use of animal movements:

Tiger: to develop the muscles, bones and tendons. Movements tend to be sharp and forceful, with emphasis on strength and dynamic tension.

Crane: developing control, character and spirit. Movements are normally light with fast footwork and evasive attacking techniques.

Dragon: created to improve alertness and concentration. Movements are usually long and flowing, with emphasis on breathing and the co-ordination of mind, body and spirit.

Snake: to improve and nurture temperament and endurance. Movements tend to be soft and harmonious.

Martial Arts Temples

It is reputed that the following temples were linked to the development of some of the Shaolin boxing styles today:

Fukien Temple: Southern Fist, Iron Palm training
Honan Temple: Monkey, Praying Mantis and Northern Fist Hua Mountain Temple: Ch’ang Ch’uan and Fist of Hua Kwantung Temple: Tiger Crane
Omei Shan Temple: White Crane and Eagle Claw
Shangtung Temple: Tan Family Leg Techniques and Black Tiger
Wu Tang Temple: Tai Chi Chuan, Pa Kua and Hsing I.

Today, it is widely accepted that the Japanese and Korean forms of fighting arts came from China. The word, Karate originally meant ‘China Hand'; and later came to have the meaning of ‘Empty Hand’. This terminology also applies to the Korean art of Tang Soo with similar implication from a popular Indian fighting art called China Adi; meaning, ‘Chinese Hitting’.

Zhuan Shu Kuan’s style of Chinese martial art (Established 1988) adopted some of the Wushu’s standardized Forms (Taolu: 套 路) and incorporates their training programme with traditional styles’ techniques from Tiger & Crane systems and modern Karate and Muay Thai training methods.