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This traditional Art was created by GrandMasters with a careful consideration of its effectiveness in real combat, real battles, and real war, armed and unarmed. Techniques were retained when they deserved it, or ruthlessly discarded if they could not justify the efforts devoted to their practice. Arts of soldiers, weapons experts, fighters from other countries were all considered, analyzed, and put to the ultimate acid test -- real combat, to the death, not one time, but over decades. Thus the Masters incorporated the Tibetan Lama Arts of Pa Chin (8 Dragon Animals), the Mongol Arts of Wu H'sing (5 Cosmic Elements), with their own Art of Wu Tang Pa Chi Jen Ch'uan (8 Immortals). This Art became more unified over the centuries and covers all areas of fighting with many specializations. The specializations include Specialized Strikes and Kicks, Ground/Grappling Fighting, Weapons Use and Defense, Hand Toughening, Warrior Meditations, Joint Locks & Controls, Throws, Nerve Attacks and Defense, Development of the Senses and Greater Awareness, and Military Strategy & Tactics.


The key to developing the enormous lethality by fighting like a Tiger, Snake, Leopard, Praying Mantis, etc., lies in their special systems of power development. Through these, a fighter receives special techniques of breath control, meditation and mind development practices, to control the mind and spirit of an assailant, and a deep, long-term commitment to a toughening system that develops weapons of terrifying effectiveness and overwhelming power far, far beyond that of normal men, and far beyond that of other Martial Arts. This is an entire Art and System, fully as big as some whole Korean and Japanese Arts. These Systems are built to "fit" the specific art that produced them over the centuries, and each are totally different in appearance, practice, results and use in combat from any other Wu Tang Animal System's techniques.

Toughening, in Wu Tang, when studied along with its appropriate Animal, takes as much as 9 years to advance in. Many types of herb medicine, striking, kicking, pulling, gouging, and tearing machines were designed to perfect one special weapon that no other training could do. Hundreds of years of knowledge is telescoped into their design. A knowledge of vital points and organ function is explored with depth, rivalling some medical schools.

Each of the animal styles listed below is a complete martial art.

There are a number of sub-styles for most major animal styles. Most of these styles are not complete martial arts.

There are five complete Martial Arts comprising Imperial Snake Kung Fu. The closest translation of these Arts names into English would mean: The Arts of the White Python, Black Cobra, Red Adder, Green Viper, and Blue Asp.

PYTHON is an Art utilizing sheer crushing power. It is defensive (this does not mean that it waits for someone else to strike the first blow), but that it amplifies the mistakes an opponent makes with terrible consequences to any attacker who is not already a highly-skilled pro. It is a system of fighting on the ground second to none. In China, once the Python fighter got you to the ground there was no hope for you. Python specializes in suffocation, strangulation, etc., just like the real snake, which means it can cause collapse, unconsciousness and even death by applying blood stoppage techniques to your body without ever touching your throat or neck.

The Python toughens hands more extensively than many other Animal styles. Bricks, wood and concrete are only some of the substances that are broken; springs, cables, and weights are needed to develop Poison Hand, Venom Hand, and Death Hand.

The Python perfects Iron Body in which blows from others do little damage or none at all. This is called Snake-Armoring.

COBRA develops single strike blows that blind or deafen, hard heavy throws, quick arm breaks - especially breaking a punching arm or kicking leg -- rather than just blocking it. The Cobra must break boards, (and later, stone) with just the two fingers of the Cobra's Fang. This is not just an attack to the eyes, but something that can hit a strong man's chest as hard as some can with a fist, and with only two fingers! The Cobra has two Iron Rods for fingers that no one can ever take away.

The hand toughening is extensive, nerve knowledge is extremely detailed. The Python toughens weapons to damage a large area on the body. The Cobra's weapons damage a much smaller (medium) area on the body, but more deeply.

The Cobra's special hiss places the Cobra in a state of self-hypnosis-like body-numbness where there is no pain during the fight. The Hiss of Doom exerts a hypnotic chill of terror on the opponent and often immobilizes and affects actions by itself alone!

A real-life ADDER's venom is not just toxic, it is an acid-like fluid that starts to digest the wound and the limb that was bitten. So to the Chinese, Adder style uses techniques of acid-mouth snakes such as the Water Moccasin, Cottonmouth, or Coral Snake.

The Adder's blows pinch, rip, tear, squeeze, so that the toughening chosen for it involves compressing steel springs with the fingers, ripping and tearing hard substances apart to get at the soft vulnerable nerves and arteries below.

Pain is not something that goes along with the successful Adder strike as a by-product of accuracy. Pain is a primary force applied to every block, strike, seizure, release, etc. The Adder uses Snake-Emotion to numb his own pain.

VIPER has single high-speed techniques designed to combat more than one opponent. The pain from the screams of one so hit has a terrifying effect on that assailant's companions! His actions look a little like both Cobra and Adder, but is short, fast, confusing, everchanging, arising out of a seemingly peaceful placid position where the Adder explodes into the enemy's face or body.

His toughening is to work on medium range. The Viper must be able to strike an opponent with substance-breaking power with a flurry of moves (3 to 5 moves in a second from the same hand, or 2 to 4 moves with both hands in a second). This is applied to multiple kicks as well. The Viper uses Viper hiss-breathing to momentarily numb pain when struck. His whole body is not toughened, but rather he learns to send his (Chi) mental force to an area for an instant to absorb and repel an attacker's strike.

ASP is like the Black Mamba or tropical ocean Sea Snake; small, fast, and the most highly poisonous of all snakes; one drop of its venom is equivalent to one hundred drops of Cobra venom. This is what the Chinese Asp Kung Fu patterns itself after. Extremely fast-moving, the asp aims to hit an opponent so fast, that his hands are often not seen by the menacing trouble-maker.

The study of nerves is deep and complex. He normally has no Iron Body techniques, but the energy that would normally be used to produce these effects is used instead to make the blow blindingly fast, with greater penetration deep within the body, and any reserve energy to make himself expert at high speed bobbing, weaving and evasive maneuvers to get into strike-range.

WILD BOAR specializes in elbows, knees, the head, shoulder and hips; his thumbs are toughened to dent metal. His techniques often don't kill because Boar Kung-Fu specializes in combat with more than one opponent. Blows are directed to single, very vulnerable areas guaranteed to instantly immobilize by organ rupturing, bone-breaking with one move so that the other lightning-like blows can put down the attackers with no delay.

His training involves running and jumping high and attacks from positions of absolute unpredictability or seeming helplessness! He uses a special muscle-tension system adapted from both Snake and Leopard to give him Iron Body for a limited period of time that is useful in absorbing chains or a combination of blows.

PRAYING MANTIS seems to be immobile. If he was standing in class, you might not see him after a time because he would be so quiet. The Mantis is both a doctor and surgeon of vital points, reaching them and then piercing them below the skin. His hand toughening stresses breaking with a single finger, but at a speed that blurs his movements. A Praying Mantis can hit so fast that his blow can be into the target before a prepared fore-warned person can block the blow and a second time after the block goes past.

He uses illusion, rather than numbness for body control. Opponents always feel that they have the target in their grasp when they strike, and always seem to stop short of it or even miss it without ever knowing why. The Mantis's actions seems so innocuous and gentle that the enemy never feels their techniques failed due to the Mantis, and they just keep kicking or striking with a little more speed and power to break through. Then they find out too late.

The Mantis's knowledge of blood-clot actions, the circulatory system of veins and arteries, the toxins a damaged gland can secrete into the body and poisoning the assailant, is second to none.

LEOPARD is king of ground-fighting and exploiting all types of terrain. His footwork is the fastest in the world! He is a kicking specialist, but he uses less variety of kicks than the Crane, but kicks as often, and usually faster. He can fight on a 6-inch wide board 6 feet off the ground. (Leopards would take challenges and duels in old China this way). He can fight in water, muddy fields, ice or snow. He can rebound from walls (practically running up them) to add power to his body. He is usually small or light, medium in size or build.

The Leopard's Iron Body numbs him to 75% of the pain (he feels only a slight ache during the fight), but has training that allows him to appear very convincingly hurt or injured, and when the assaulter follows up, punishes the attacker with many multiple blows that are devastating. In old China, fighting a Leopard, a typical loser in a combat would be missing an eye, fingers, elbow and shoulder would be broken, a leg torn or maimed, a mutilated chest and face from claw and paw marks, and multiple concussions.

Leopards don't go for power; they believe that it is better to hit 8 or 10 times to a variety of vital points, than have a single powerful blow. They will even snivel, cry, beg for mercy and do anything to get the assailant to come in to push him around or try to manhandle him for purposes of degradation, rape or robbery, and then will use a triple-paw to a "death-zone", killing the opponent in such a graphic way that gang's other assailants will never get the image of suffering out of their dreams.

Old style kung-fu movies made in China frequently show Leopards fighting in pairs as a team. This is because Leopards were famous for group battle where two or three of them could take out five to seven people in a matter of seconds!

The Leopard is acrobatic, and the most skilled in fakes and feints of all the Animals. His Leopard Paw can cut through a brick like butter. A good Leopard can cut through two bricks with a single Leopard Paw stroke. He is expert at ambushing opponents that are in a group chasing him, one at a time, without them being aware of what is going on.

CRANE is beautiful, smooth and deceptive without trying to be. A Crane Beak from an average Crane-fighter's can break a brick easily. He is the specialist in kicking. He frequently has dozens or even a hundred kicks he does well. He can fight (if he has to) with just his legs against attackers who can use anything they have in an unrestricted way.

His toughening is the most extensive of many arts'. The Crane links a certain way of meditating to all of his blows that gives them a speed and penetrating power that comes from the mind itself! His Art is the most intellectually based and highly scientific, based on geometry, optical illusions, leverage, anatomy, body dynamics and muscle kinetics. The crane's defenses mean he does not seem to have to move around much, and he has a calm, unruffled appearance.

Historically, the Crane did not have to include pain as a strategy in itself. His blows were directed scientifically against a vital point that had been shown to work in actual battles. Without emotion, he could use a strike almost invisible to the naked eye, surgically, to kill instantly, blind, paralyze, or bring down. In the old days, Crane strikes often could not be distinguished from wounds inflicted by knives, spears, and axes or even flintlock pistols!

PANTHER is a specialist against the groin, liver, and kidneys. He can deliver terrible damage to the groin by striking nerves and arteries (ganglionic plexus) not even near the groin. His attack often involves a high-speed "explosion" of charging, leaping and body ramming. He will get a person to ground in order to rise and stand over him for a quick kill. He can leap in the air through a special Art and then grab onto the head or neck, so the somersault or tumble will break the attacker's head, neck, and back, killing him. He would attack armored knights crossing a river and fall with them into the river and drown them. His arm, leg, and wrist locks often involve a jump that breaks the limb by the body-weight of a gravity-assisted fall.

He can get through any defense by appearing to go berserk, and concentrating his ripping claws and panther punches in an incredible volley! You therefore could never fight him passively because you'd get on a downhill road of groundlosing blocks that ended when you reached the head of the stairs, or crashed into a wall or fell to the ground, where you could retreat no more.

He would let you hit him hard, regardless of injury, if he knew that the pain and force of the blow would not stop the technique he would launch at a physiologically weak organ that could not survive a single attack. Therefore, you would never trade blows with a Panther! The Black Panther's willingness to get hit to win often resulted in him being the least damaged in a death-duel or war in ancient China!

A panther fighter must be able to crush a stone or a group of rocks in his grip to be considered a Panther Master. This is the strength of the Black Panther Grip, and is a requirement to have when directed against the groin, liver or kidneys. This type of weapon is so formidable that in the advanced matching our highest ranks participate in, they are forbidden to wear cup supporters. This is because the Panther Claw is so powerful it can take and crush a metal cup-supporter around the testicles and should an accident occur we could not pry it off the pulped organs.

He meditates to develop a mental attitude to completely explode into ferocious, almost uncontrolled berserk attacks when he is close enough. This "rage-growl" allows him to develop super-human power while at the same time it looks like he has crossed the borderline of sanity. He uses this same rage to absorb hurtful blows and just get more insanely furious.

EAGLE enables an expert to blind a person totally, and for all their life by attacking certain points in the arms, chest, neck or legs that are seemingly miles away from the eyes. He can time a leg strike to the second that will release a special clot to travel to the brain, blinding an adversary. This is because the Eagle is a Blinding Master, with weapons that can directly blind and go through wood obstructions and reach the eyes to do it. His blinding weapons are so toughened that missing the eye will leave holes in the cheek, pulped muscles, or broken bone fragments that blows will work into the nerves as they hit, destroying a criminal with his own needle fragments, as it were.

His system is the king of grips and controls. The Eagle style was often used by police in China to escort two or three criminals to prison. The Eagle could paralyze 5 or 6 people and leave them there while he went to get help. Only he could return functions to the paralyzed parts of the body. The Eagle toughens the fingers and grips all sorts of ways. Every grab of an Eagle paralyzed the limb or even part of the chest or back it grabbed.

He is an expert in escaping from locks, holds and throws. He is also an expert in applying locks, holds, and throws. He will often match blindfolded. Some of the highest ranks in the Imperial Guard employed Eagles as Team Commanders.

He knew what pressing every nerve in the arm, leg, hand or ribs could do. His blocks against punches could shred flesh off an attacker's wrist. His accuracy was legendary. His Iron Body applied only to special regions. By leaving some areas unprotected, the protected areas could be 4 times the normal strength Iron Body confers on these organs. His study of maneuvering in battle was profound. The training can be a test of will and endurance because it requires such intense focus of mental concentration.

TIGER is the most aggressive, dynamic of the Animals. He is an attacking Animal that uses the energy of a misapplied defense to crush his enemies. His techniques are savage and frightening. It is not easy to secure permission of a Tiger Master to study Tiger because it is not enough to learn the moves of a Tiger -- you must show that you have the character and courage to use them!

A Tiger does not just use the claw. Actually the claw is symbolic of families of claw weapons from as little as six main claws to 24 claws. He rarely defends (he usually does not need to). He has only limited kicks, as the upper body, knees, head and limbs are his primary weapons. He can place the palm of his hand on a concrete block and, forming the claw, tear furrows into the cement block! A claw as a punch can put 5 holes into the chest! As a rake he can leave five furrows, 1/3 inch deep from a person's forehead to their belly. He can break necks, twist the head off, break the spine in 3 places at once. In legend, Tiger was used by several great heroes (in literature), who only had one arm and won epic duels. He often puts Iron Body into every square inch of skin surface exposed to danger.


At Wu Tang World Headquarters, there are a number of sub-styles that form the advanced level of Master Skills attained in the systems mentioned. They are often Arts of historical personages, bequeathed to the people of the Arts at the various schools as a legacy of a particular GrandMaster of the Animal that was its parent. High mastery is needed in the Parent Animal before the other Arts can be learned, and they often share all the same basics. These are often specializations of areas already developed to a high degree and part of the fame and reputation of a certain Animal.

Imperial Snake Kung Fu

  • Python
  • Cobra
  • Adder
  • Viper
  • Asp
  • The Ghost Bat (Running Combat)
  • The Spider (Black Widow and Tarantula)
  • Centipede, Millipede and Catapillar Ground Fighting
  • Turtle, Tortoise, and Terrapin Ground and Kneeling Fighting
  • Venomous Frog Style
  • Poison Toad Style
  • Lizard Style of wall walking, hanging and climbing
  • Salamander style of strengthening

Wild Boar
  • The Golden Rat Style (Running and Leaping Combat)

Praying Mantis

No sub-styles

  • Golden Leopard: Specialization of a certain regular Leopard skill with a partner; a special two-man Art.
  • Dog Style: Ground fighting, Street fighting, and Brawling styles that grew popular in the cities such as Canton and Shanghai. Dog fighters were ferocious and had an evil reputation.

  • Blue Heron: Very specialized and odd type kicks
  • Green Heron: An art where only legs are used; never arms.
  • Black Crane: A large substyle (a combination of Crane and Snake with a little Mantis and a smattering of Boar). Black Crane fighters were ferocious and had an evil reputation.

  • Wolf: An Art like Dog, deadly, with fiercesome reputation; a Northern (Shanghai) street fighting style.

  • Hawk: An Eagle Style for short and fast people; uses more kicks than Eagle.
  • Falcon: A style that contains elements of Leopard and Eagle.

  • White Tiger: For one-armed men.
  • Black Tiger: For smaller men.
  • Bull: A specialized style often used by the Military.
  • Bear: A powerful style with Tiger "Wrestling" foremost.

Last Updated April 7,2007