Self Defense School Of Kenpo - Tracy's Chinese Kenpo ( Fist Law - Chuan- Fa )

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Five Animals Of Kenpo


The following is a general overview of the nature and modality of the fighting styles of the Five Animals of Kenpo.  By Ted Sumner  10th Dan Tracy's Kenpo

Most effective against: The Tiger
Most vulnerable against: The Panther

The Dragon is a primarily defensive animal and the strategy of the Dragon deals with the yielding to and redirecting of force used against it. The simplest application of Dragon strategy is to move out of the way as executed in the Total Evasion discipline. A War Art application of Dragon strategy would be judicious use of critical distance. That is to position just within the range of your opponent offering an apparent target. As the attack is committed the Dragon enjoins and directs or redirects the force in a different or merely exaggerated direction increasing the intensity, angle and speed of the movement.

Most effective against: The Crane
Most vulnerable against: The Dragon

The Tiger is an intelligent powerful animal that reacts to any threat with an offensive effort. The strategy of the Tiger is to skillfully apply a superlatively balanced attack consisting of powerful kicks, hand strikes and blocks. The Tiger will move relentlessly down the center attacking the opponents most vulnerable and vital parts and prefers to meet force with greater force. The Tiger might well embrace the Kenpo credo “every block a strike, every strike a block”.

Most effective against: The Serpent
Most vulnerable against: The Tiger

The Crane, like the Dragon, is a docile animal that uses force only in cause of self defense and applies the force in a very defensive modality. The Crane will rise up and open its wings to give an illusion of greater size and then strike with the beak to a vital target as soon as the opponent is within critical distance. The Crane uses its ability to strike long range to compensate for its lack of ability to overpower it’s opponent. The use of long range kicks, such as the rear kick, rear thrust and front thrust are examples of a Crane strategy. Once its critical distance has been compromised the Crane will respond with a fusillade of strikes with the wings, claws and beak. Much like what Kenpo stylists do with fists, fingers, elbow, knee and teeth. Once the opponent is disabled, injured or put on the defensive the Crane will reacquire its critical distance.




Most effective against: The Panther
Most vulnerable against: The Crane

The Serpent, like the Tiger moves down the center and targets the most vital areas in order to accomplish the most damage to the opponent with each strike. The Serpent will, however, take hold of it’s opponent and wrap around him in order to constrict and suffocate the opponent into unconsciousness or death. The Serpent is most vulnerable once it crosses into critical distance and must close quickly with it’s opponent in order to neutralize long-range defensive strikes. Once engaged with the opponent the Serpent is fully committed to that struggle and incapable of dealing with multiple attackers.

Strongest against: The Dragon
Most vulnerable against: The Serpent

The Panther, like the Serpent, employs an offensive strategy in combat. The Panther uses it’s apparently blinding speed coupled with a continuous recombination of complimentary lines and angles to mesmerize its opponent with continuous strikes that seem to come from everywhere. Much like the Kenpo “missile attack” strategy, the Panther never relies on a single strike to necessarily settle the matter. The Panther is both ambidextrous and highly mobile, moving in and out of critical distance while striking at will. The Panther however, lacking the strength of the Tiger, does not do well once it has been taken to the ground and it’s mobility, striking skill and speed has been compromised.