Kung Fu Tiger Claw
Chinese Martial Arts
Self Defence Moves

About the kung fu tiger claw in Chinese martial arts self defence moves, the tiger is the most powerful and graceful animal of the Shaolin Southern Style of KF. Its movement is characterised by explosive force, together with strong stances and footwork, and accompanied by powerful waist action, all of which contribute to the strength of the strikes. The breathing sounds help accentuate the ferocity and power of the tiger and the footwork is designed to provide a stable base to smash through the opponent. The tiger’s strength is strictly external, so tiger stylists are consequently active and noisy, making loud noises with each strike to gain extra power.

Kung Fu Tiger Claw Chinese Martial Arts Self Defence Moves

The Tiger Claw technique, (or “Hu Zhua”), consists of an open hand movement and a raking of the fingertips, which are used for tearing and grabbing. It can be used as a blocking, striking and scratching technique. Tiger Claw is the most well known of the five animals system, and also one of the most well known forms of Kung Fu. The tiger claw technique works well, as it doesn’t simply grab and grip with the hand, but also presses with the palm into pressure points, and digs the fingernails deep into the skin. Once the fingernails have been embedded in the opponent’s skin, the tiger claw stylist can shred the skin right off the bone, tearing the opponent apart.

The tiger claw hand is formed by bending back the wrist, and separating and curling the fingers and thumb into a claw shape. You should feel a contraction of the extensor Carpi muscles in the forearm and tiredness after holding the position for only a few minutes. It must be ensured that the thumb is tucked against the ridge of the hand and out of the way, and the elbow is not locked. As strong stances are crucial, the tiger claw technique is executed on a strong dragon stance, for maximum strength and power.

Traditionally, tiger based training is introduced at an early stage, partly because of the belief that it strengthens the bones and muscles. The emphasis is placed on developing strong dense bones with speed and strength during an attack. Training also aims to strengthen the muscles in the hands and forearms to improve the impact of the tiger claw strike. The action of a tiger can be associated with a pressing forceful, hard external action. The tiger practitioner will build up power, together with the development and conditioning of tendons and bones, which will ultimately strengthen and harden the neck and spine. This kind of training is important if the practitioner intends to exude hard external power from strong stances and a powerful waist. A tense, strong and sturdy back also assists the practitioner to project the ferocity and hard external power of the tiger.

As a self defence move, the tiger claw is an explosive technique that can be used to attack soft areas of the opponent’s body including the face, neck, sternum, ribs and genital areas, or to deflect an opponent’s blow.As a block, the tiger claw technique may be used against various attacks. For instance, a straight punch towards the chest; the tiger claw deflects the opponent’s blow with strength and power, and provides an opportunity for a counter strike.

When using the tiger claw as a strike, the objective is to thrust the palm of the hand firmly into the opponent’s pressure points (such as the throat or sternum), then to grip the area of attack firmly, before bringing the hand back while pulling, twisting, or ripping the target area. It should be understood that the whole hand is important and not just the fingers, as the palm strikes first to break up the target, and then the fingers clench to grab and tear the skin.

Upon impact, the pressing action allows the hand to grip better with the fingers, so the tiger claw can then pull in a downward motion or twist the vulnerable area. Strong, sturdy stances are also needed to deliver power.

Kung Fu Tiger Claw Training Methods

The original Shaolin training method to help develop oneself for Hu Zhua was through using small, heavy sandbags, which were thrown into the air and caught repeatedly with the fingertips at speed. Students would also use their fingers and forearms to lift clay jars with different levels of gravel within them in order to provide resistance for the arm and hand muscles. Squeezing branches was another method used to strengthen the hands.

In terms of street defence move or sparring, the kung fu tiger claw could be used in different situations as both a block and strike. For example, the opponent may attempt to attack somewhere along the midline, such as the throat, chest or genitals, in which case, the tiger claw could be used to deflect the blow and strike with a counter attack. It could be used in conjunction with cross stepping (as seen with tiger cross steps) or side-stepping. The tiger claw may be also be used to directly trap an arm or wrist, while the other hand strikes the intended area. The grabbing hand can also be used to twist the opponent’s limbs whilst initiating pain to pressure points around the joints using the fingers. Another striking action, that is useful when in a fight situation, is the use of the palm portion of the tiger claw, ideal for the rib area.

The tiger claw is a strong, solid technique that lets a martial artist gain a little insight into what it must feel like to physically be a tiger. The sheer external strength gained through tiger style training provides great power for fast, overwhelming and explosive attacks, and the tiger claw, with its strong grappling fingers and iron hard arms, is a formidable and fierce weapon, that will demonstrate both the grace and ferocity of a tiger.

Thanks to Bianca Mohan, Murrumbeena Kung Fu student, for this contribution

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