Animal Style Differences
The differences amongst the animal styles help develop different skills. The Dragon's movements are geared toward the development of mental awareness and focus. The movements are dependent upon breathing through the lower abdomen to promote the unity of mind, spirit, and the body.
The Tiger style applies short, snappy, and forceful movements to develop the muscles, bones and tendons. The implementation of such movements is the complete opposite of the Dragon.
The Snake focuses on the increasing of the synch between the mind and body as well as physical endurance through gradual and graceful breathing with movements requiring an easy flow and that stresses use of the fingers.
Similar to that of the Dragon, the Crane cultivates spirit, control, and character through focus on footwork and evasion techniques that also strike the foe. A vital amount of meditation contributes to the movements of the one-legged stance.
The ranking of systems is divided amongst the "low" and "high" rank styles. The low-rank styles consisting of Tiger, Crane, Cobra, and Choy Lay Fut and the high-rank styles are of the Snake, Wing Chun, Praying Mantis, and Dragon. The deciding factors amongst the ranks of the styles are dependent upon the differences in use of chi and economy of movement.
"Kung Fu Styles @ shaolin.com." Shaolin Gung Fu Institute. Shaolin Gung Fu Institute. 28 Jul 2007 <http://shaolin.com/styles_shaolin.aspx>.