The Evolution of our Martial Arts
How Yong Tai Tiger Boxing Evolved
Yong Tai Tiger Boxing Kungfu is a martial arts club that teaches several styles of traditional Southern Chinese kungfu, all from the Province of Fujian.
Our styles of kungfu use principles developed hundreds of years ago. Yong Tai Tiger Boxing Kungfu is a recognised martial arts club with direct links to China and Singapore.
In China, the tiger is the king of the beasts. It has strength, courage and power, which is why this animal’s characteristics were developed into one of the five great ancestors of Kungfu.
Tiger style was the third Shaolin style of kungfu to evolve. Tiger was preceded by the Lohon style, which itself came from Chi Kung, developed in China by an Indian Buddhist monk named Tat Moh in around 520 AD. While we train in China to learn the unique, ancient village style of tiger, Yong Tai Tiger Respect Boxing, which is taught to adults and children by our Chief and Head Instructors here in the UK, the Shaolin Tiger style went on to become part of the Tiger Crane Combination style of kungfu that we also study and teach.
Training in Tiger
Tiger develops great overall power in the practitioner with dynamic tension, solid stances and devastating medium and short range attacks. It uses a strong but mobile walking stance and as well as strikes and swipes, and a straight punch that twists prior to impact. Because of this, Shaolin Tiger can defeat the style it evolved from, Lohan style, while Yong Tai Tiger Respect Boxing is powerful and devastating, combining the Tiger with Lion (which could also be Dragon style), and Ox style, both of which have sadly disappeared so are no longer practiced independently in Yong Tai County today.
When Tiger was created, the emphasis was on generating strong bones and tendons in the practitioner. Practitioners observed tigers attacking and saw a fast and powerful animal that outpaced its victims before pressing them into the ground with the weight and strength of its body.
This hard external strength requires and develops in practitioners tough bones and tendons in order to be able to withstand such a punishing attacking technique.
The neck and back of the practitioner must also be powerful to create the external force necessary to fight like a tiger. This is because tigers use their waists and low stances to turn, twist and generate explosive power in combat. Therefore, Tiger develops a well conditioned back in the practitioner.
Additionally, the fingers, palms, arms and legs of the Tiger practitioner are important. These areas come into play in the tiger clawing movements. Similar training to strengthen these areas in Tiger was also used in Dragon style in ancient China, with practitioners lifting clay pots filled with gravel while maintaining their stance, or grabbing and squeezing trees to strengthen fingers, hands and arms.
After Tiger style in Fujian came the Monkey style, called Tai Sheng in Chinese. This playful, entertaining style evolved from Tiger. After the rolling, crouching, grabbing and plucking techniques favoured by Monkey practitioners, White Crane evolved. White Crane was the last of the five great ancestors of kungfu in Southern China. It eventually evolved into five distinct styles of White Crane, which the capital city, Fuzhou, is famous for today: Flying White Crane; Eating White Crane; Calling White Crane; Shaking White Crane; and Sleeping White Crane.
In China, the White Crane is symbolic of long life. The great bird is believed to live a long time because its body contains vast quantities of jing, which translates as essential energy, or libido. The Crane is able to create jing easily as it is a calm and contemplative bird that has great powers of concentration.
Training in White Crane
What makes White Crane hard to defeat is that it sticks. When the Crane is attacked it immediately establishes contact, which we call making a bridge. If the opponent tries to attack, the Crane deflects the blow. If the opponent withdraws, the Crane follows. It does not release its touch until it sees an opportunity to strike, and when it does, the Crane shows no mercy. There is no escape from the sticking wings of White Crane.
Training in White Crane was designed to help the practitioner develop both internal and external power. The martial artist must contain power within the body to increase strength inside and out, through internal Qi development and external bone and muscle force.
Although this sounds as vigorous as Tiger, White Crane is closer to the Snake style, in a way that it also uses techniques to overthrow and control the opponent with minimum effort. The development of concentration and focus in a White Crane student is paramount, as that is the nature of the bird.
White Crane uses circular, soft, relaxed techniques with explosive speed and tremendous power.
Short range hand techniques tend to be focused on joint locking, with long range techniques fixed on strikes to vital areas. The Crane practitioner will increase their speed and balance. This is because the Crane movements are fast and lively, using a supple, fluid waist and light, well balanced footwork. Finger tip training for White Crane’s accurate strikes, and strengthening and balancing work using ankle weights were often used in ancient China to prepare practitioners for the rigors of White Crane style kungfu.
Tiger Crane Combination
Tiger Crane Combination comes from Fujian Province in Southern China. When the Manchurians took power in China, the Fujian Shaolin Temple was burned to the ground and the majority of the monks were massacred. However, five Masters escaped. The most famous was Hung Ee Kan, a Master of Tai Chor, or Tiger style. The story goes that he eventually met and married a White Crane female Master, Tee Eng Choon. Together they developed Tiger Crane Combination, which brings together the best of both styles.