Lessons from the Chinese #2: Fu Jiao (Tiger’s Claw) Kung Fu

Recently I taught a seminar on Tiger style Kung Fu. Betcha didn’t know that “Moe knows Kung Fu”?

This is a classic pose/technique of the Tiger style, called "Tiger Catches the Lamb". The wisdom of this technique is not the capture and claw, but the part of the technique you don't see!

Funny, I have learned in my lifetime more than 10 different styles of kung fu, and the two styles I am always asked about by non-kung fu people are Bak Mei (White Eyebrow) and Fu Jiao (Tiger style). Upholding a promise to my teachers, I never teach White Eyebrow to anyone other than selected students, but I freely share Tiger style with friends. Everyone seems both surprised and disappointed that what I share is fist-oriented, rather than claw oriented. So, at this seminar I taught over the last two weekends, we covered 8 hours worth of fist-based techniques from Jow Ga’s Subduing Tiger set–a core Jow Ga pillar.


The secret to Tiger style kung fu is not in the claw, but the strategy. This, my friends, is a true Kung Fu secret. Listen good!

What makes Tiger style, Tiger style, is mimicking the method that the Tiger uses to attack his prey. Think of what makes the Tiger unique as an animal:

  • he is intimidating and has a predator’s presence–even at rest… everyone who is around him is automatically recategorized as “prey”
  • his grip (claw) and strength are mostly unrivaled (consider that the Tiger has no Lion to contend with in Asia, where these arts are from)
  • he is agile, despite being large, bulky and strong
  • he does not wound; not only does he kill, the tiger destroys and dismembers–and literally rips you apart
  • he is fast and at close distance, there is no escape
  • he is forward-moving and does not retreat. Attack him and he will overpower you and win
  • once he captures you, he pulls you in and mauls you

The fighter utilizing the Tiger style of fighting will have these attributes:

  • strong legs and fast, long-reaching attacking skills
  • powerful upper body that can generate enormous power through motion
  • the ability to attack with combinations of swinging circular punches as well as straight thrusting punches with great speed and momentum
  • skill in grabbing the opponent’s limb once you block it, before he has a chance to retract his arm. This should be an automatic, knee-jerk reaction. As natural as you blink your eye
  • speaking of “as natural as blinking your eye”, snatching the opponent’s arm, hand, shirt–whatever you can reach–every chance you get. In other words, as soon as the opponent gets close enough for you to snare him and attack, do it. Think of how a cat will snatch at a string when it gets close to him
  • utilize a combination of grabbing the opponent and striking him
  • use your blocks as more than just deflections. Block while moving forward and run your opponent over with your own attacks. Just as a Tiger would not lean back and swat an attack, or back up and block, neither should you. As soon as the opponent attacks, seize the opportunity to destroy him
  • batter and ram any part of the opponent you can reach:  punch his shoulders and neck, when he kicks–punch his thighs, kick his body with your shins, if he closes the distance–elbow him anywhere he is exposed, and if he blocks–destroy the arm that is blocking
  • use and develop the clawing attack–rip his face and his arms… punish him. Slap him, scratch him, humiliate, demean, and demoralize him. Take away his confidence and will to fight. This will empower anything you plan to do next, while taking away any power he has

I’m sorry, no descriptions of techniques here! But you can certainly adopt some of this fighting philosophy into your own, and you are truly using “Tiger-style Kung Fu”. Don’t be fooled by movies and Kenpo/Kung Fu people. True Tiger systems use Tiger claw as identifying techniques, but the secrets is that the meat of the system is in the strategy, not in forms filled with clawing techniques.

If you’d really like to learn this skill from me, write me and plan a trip to Sacramento. Give yourself at least 2 weeks to train in person; I’ll show you some stuff. Your skill will never be the same again. It will never be put on the video market, it is a skill that must be passed down teacher to student, in person.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Author: thekuntawman

full time martial arts teacher, full time martial arts philosopher, and full time martial arts critic

6 thoughts on “Lessons from the Chinese #2: Fu Jiao (Tiger’s Claw) Kung Fu”

  1. Hello guro. Loving the blog and loving the dvds just as much. I would like to say to your readers, take him up on that offer. It’s the best $200 I’ve ever spent in the martial arts (I only did 4 days) but you will see fighting as you’ve never seen it before. This is as master gatdula puts it, the real ‘stuff’! Anyone who lives close by should really make the trip and experience the art the patient, painful, gatdula way!god bless

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