I recently was afforded the great privilege to attend a Kung-Fu tournament near me as a guest judge.
Beyond the great honor of sitting with some amazing teachers and masters, I was overwhelmed by some of the events held at the tournament.
In addition to the actual fighting matches, some of which were very exciting, there were a large number of form exhibitions. These exhibitions ranged from children to mature adults, from weapons to a number of martial art styles. The exhibitions which were truly stunning, to me at least, were those a visiting group of shaolin monks. These monks visit tournaments worldwide, demonstrating the beauty of the five animal styles of shaolin Kung-Fu for attendees. Though for this type of exhibition no judging is necessary, if I was to score this group of amazing martial artists on a scale from 1-10, I would definitely have given them an 11!
First up was the monkey style practitioner. This young man put on amazing display of acrobatics and athleticism combined with the sometimes comical displays of monkey-like behavior. Beyond the laughs, to an expert eye at least, was seen the fusing of one of the natural world’s creatures and the resounding discipline of the human spirit.
After the monkey style demonstration came that of the crane style master. The crane style of shaolin Kung-Fu is one of grace and fluidity. Emphasizing wide, sweeping blocks (some of which are closely copied by mainstream Kung-Fu practitioners world-wide) and devastating kicks, this style is one of great beauty.
After the crane demonstration came the mantis style. Mantis is a style of intuitive counter attacks and nerve point striking. Much of the focus of this style is reading an opponent’s body language and moving accordingly to great effect.
Next came the snake style demo. The shaolin snake style is a rapid moving, acrobatic style which utilizes a number of combination strikes in succession to overwhelm an opponent’s defenses. The traditional exhibition form of this style shows its many serpent like movements which are both fascinating and impressive feats of athleticism.
Last came the tiger master, likely the most skilled of the group, both by relative age and excellence of form. This tiger master expertly demonstrated the tiger style’s ferocity and power. This style’s emphasis on power made it able to tear the armor from an opponent’s body in times of battle.
The beauty of the 5 animals of Shaolin are a majestic thing to behold in person. If you ever have the chance to see these amazing styles in action yourself, take it!
Additionally, after the tournament I was able to give the owner of the venue a couple of numbers of roofing contractors I know for a much needed roof repair to stop this horrendous roof leak.