The Dragon played an influential and beneficial role in Chinese culture. An amalgam of several creatures, including monitor lizards, pythons and the Chinese alligator, the polymorphic dragon was a water spirit, responsible for bringing the rains and thus ensuring the survival of crops. The dragon was symbolic guardian to the gods, and was the source of true wisdom. This latter feature most likely resulted from the observation of the living reptilian counterparts which, usually at rest, seem to be in a near constant state of contemplation.
The dragon represented two of the ancient elements, Earth and Water, endowing the creature with powers of illusion and strength. A Yin symbol, the Taoists saw the dragon as a personification of the Tao itself--"the Dragon reveals himself only to vanish." Shaolin Buddhists saw him as a vision of enlightened truth, to be felt, but never to be held. Certain very old men were called dragons, these being well versed in the life-supporting skills of herbal medicine, agriculture, and kung fu. In early China, these skills were surely a matter of life or death, and those so educated were held in high esteem.
The history of Dragon style has historically been transmitted orally rather than by text, so its origins will probably never be known in their entirety. Modern Dragon style's history can be reliably traced back to the monk Tai Yuk Sim See who was the abbot of Wa Sau Toi (White Hair) temple on Mount Luofu. No reliable records of the style's origin prior to that exist, though there is much speculation regarding the subject.
Dragon style has roots in Hakka Kuen, a combination of the local styles of the Hakka heartland in inland eastern Guangdong with the style that the monk Gee Sim Sim See taught in Guangdong and the neighboring province of Fujian in the 18th century.
North of the Dongjiang in the northwest of Bóluó (博羅) County in the prefecture of Huizhou in Guangdong Province is the sacred mountain Luófúshān. Luófúshān is the site of many temples, including Wa Sau Toi where, c. 1900, a Chan (Zen) master named Tai Yuk taught Dragon style to Lam Yiu-Kwai, who in turn passed the art on to the many students of his schools in Guangzhou.
Lam Yiu-Kwai and Cheung Lai-Chuen were good friends from their youth in the Dongjiang region of Huizhou, longtime training partners and later cousins by marriage. Lam and Cheung would open several schools together, and Dragon style and Cheung's style of Bak Mei share many similarities.
A variation of the Dragon style is taught by the Long Choo Kung Fu Society based in Penang, Malaysia and with branches in Australia. Founded by Li Ah Yu and his father near the turn of the 20th century, this association claims it is teaching a Soft / Hard Dragon style originating from Fukkien province.
Methods and Philosophy
Dragon kung fu is essentially an internal, qi (pronounced chi) cultivating method, but initial training is far more like a hard, external style than a delicate, reptilian approach. In learning the moves, the student will strike hard, block hard and stomp into each position, with the idea of learning the proper place to be once each movement is complete. Eventually, the method of transmitting power is retained, and the physically strengthened body is able to make transitions in the proper, fluid manner. In turn, this reptilian smoothness helps disguise the attack, making it extremely difficult for an adversary to effectively counter. The practitioner stands at a 45 degree angle at the opponent
Once a purely physical resemblance to flow has been mastered, the disciple incorporates the deep hissing sounds to train ch'i flow. Inhaling is silent, but exhalation is deliberate, tense and controlled. Inhaling lightens the body for aerial maneuvers, while exhaling drives power into each technique. Blocking is dispensed with, and parries or simple strikes substituted. At this point, novice and advanced student show very little in common.
On the highest level, an opponent is allowed to tire himself out, evasion becoming the Dragon's key defense. Qi control is highly developed, and the degree to which the body must be moved to redirect or avoid impact is under greater control.
The forms that constitute this system are divided by complexity into three categories, and are enumerated below:
- 16 Movements
- Passing Bridge Three Times
- Fierce Tiger Leaping Over Wall
- Rescue Master From Single Side
- Single Sword and Mount
- Press and Hit from Four Sides
- Eagle Claw
- Bridge Smashing
- Touch Bridge (introduces sticking hands)
- Venomous Snake Moves Tongue
- Hua King's Fist
- Standing Five-Form
- Cross Standing Five-Form
- Turn to Hook and Hit
- Five Horses Returning to Stable Palm
- Plum Flower Punch
- Seven Ways of Plum Flower Punch
In each form, one is taught to "ride the wind", a phrase which in large part means follow rather than lead. Provide no opening without first letting your opponent open. Unlike Crane, which also relies heavily upon evasion as a tactic, the Dragon evades primarily by rotation of upper or lower torso with little or no stance movements, while the Crane stylist hops frequently to reposition the entire body. Both styles employ pinpoint strikes to vulnerable meridian targets, but dragon also heavily uses tiger-like punches and clawing techniques, snake-like stance shifts, and leopard-like hit and run strikes to weaken a physically superior adversary. Dragon kung fu also regularly employs low sweeping techniques, but these are not unique; most senior stylists of any kung fu system use these on a weakened adversary.
The dragon stylist relies on a variety of fighting techniques that can be employed for a wide range of needs. The style uses techniques that can cripple or kill an opponent if the need arises or it can be used simply to control a minor street fighting situation.
Lung Ying (Dragon form) focuses mainly on powerful, short range attacks, as is common among southern Chinese styles of kung fu. However, the styles' use of gripping and seizing techniques as well as the extensive use of the forearms both offensively and defensively are fairly unique to the art. The style was created as an aggressive combat art and operates under the basic assumption that you are trying to either disable your opponent to the point that they are no longer a threat in battle, or kill them, though these are not by any means the only options a Lung Ying player has. As such Lung Ying employs a large number of techniques to damage the opponent's joints either through joint manipulation or direct striking; nullify the opponent's defenses either through breaking their stance or compromising their guard, and thus their ability to defend; and others. Like most southern style kung fu, it has limited kicks and jumps and consisted mainly of fist, palm and clawing techniques. Power generated from the waist using soft hard jin (see neijin and waijin).
Lung Ying training also involves an extensive amount of iron body training. Hardening the forearms especially is considered essential to the style as it makes such extensive use of them. Depending on the particular school any of a fairly large pool of traditional training methods will be used to toughen the body. Three, five and seven star conditioning drills, pea buckets, weighted ropes, sand bags, and striking poles are all common in Lung Ying schools. It really isn't possible to separate lung ying conditioning from its methods, the two work hand in hand, each needing the other to be completely effective.
The Dragon Kung Fu practitioner typically attacks with winding low yang; that is, powerful and quick movements. For example, when striking with the fist, more power can be exerted when the movement originates from the feet, is guided by the waist, flows through the body, and exits through the fist.
In Southern Dragon style, leg work is characterized by a zig-zag motion that mimics the imagined movement of the mythical Chinese dragon. This also allows one to use floating and sinking movements which are very important in generating power and stability, making your body calm and relaxed.
Though the Lung Ying footwork pool is deep, it generally centers around two basic types of stepping. The first is "Zig Zag" stepping (dragon stepping). Basically with each step forward, the rear foot moves forward and becomes the forward foot. However, the step is not taken directly forward but basically follows the angle the front foot is turned at (about 33 degrees). This has the effect of moving the LY player forward and off to an angle while offering some protection to the groin from attack. This type of stepping allows a lung ying player to press his opponent (usually used before the opponent's center has been taken) while launching attacks from angles that are difficult for the opponent to defend. The LY player seems to be constantly moving into an uncomfortable range and at an angle that forces their opponent to reposition their whole body to defend against, or else torque their torso around thus breaking their structure and disconnecting them from the power generation machinery of their lower body.
The second basic type of stepping is Bic Bo stepping, or press stepping. In this method the front foot moves forward and the rear foot drags up to get back to the basic position. This stepping generally covers less distance than the dragon stepping, and is used to press the opponent. It will frequently be used once the LY player has begun to press their attack in earnest or is exploiting some advantage. There are specific methods for stretching this footwork out addressed in various forms. One of the primary purposes of this footwork is to keep the LY player "on top of" their opponent and in attacking range. Also, this type of stepping is heavily used in various stance breaking methods.
Southern Dragon style motto
- "Control yourself, let others do what they will.
- This does not mean you are weak.
- Control your heart, obey the principles of life.
- This does not mean others are stronger."
Codes of Southern Dragon style
- The seeds were first planted from Haufeng; the essence was gained later at Haushou
- Restrain one's self and yield to others not because one is weak, but to uphold the ethical Tao and let the others have their claim.
Four rules of the Dragons
- Focus to train and condition the body.
- Be righteous and uphold your honor.
- Respect your parents, honor your teacher.
- Treat others with honesty, treat your friends with loyalty.
- Sub-Zero uses the Dragon fighting style as his secondary fighting style in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Mortal Kombat: Deception, and Mortal Kombat: Unchained.
- Jarek uses the Dragon fighting style as his primary fighting style in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon.
- Liu Kang uses the Dragon fighting style as his grapple style in Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks.
- Onaga uses a fighting style called "Dragon" in Mortal Kombat: Deception and Unchained, however it is only called such because of Onaga's status as "the Dragon King" and is not actual Dragon Kung Fu.
- Dongjiang Dragon Style (Dongjiang Lungxing). Dongjiang Dragon Style (Dongjiang Lungxing).
- Chow, David, and Richard Spangler. Kung Fu: History, Philosophy, and Technique. Hollywood, CA: Unique Publications, 1982.
- History of Southern Dragon Style Kung Fu by Steve Martin (2003) http://www.sojournpast.com/styles/dragon2.html Retrieved October 7, 2004.
- Riding the Wind: Dragon Style Kung Fu Riding the Wind: Dragon Style Kung Fu.
- Dragon Style Kung Fu by Lisa Neuweld (1999)http://www.jadedragon.com/archives/martarts/dragonkf.html Retrieved October 7, 2004.
- Lineage of Dragon Kung Fu http://www.loongying.co.uk/lineage.html Retrieved October 7, 2004.
- Information about Dragon Kung Fu http://www.dmaa.co.uk/styles/item/8-southern-dragon-style-kung-fu
- An introductory article on Dragon Kung Fu - http://www.shaolinkungfu.co.nz/dragon.php
- ↑ Steve Martin. History of Southern Dragon Style Kung Fu.
- ↑ Loong Choo Kung Fu Society. A Brief Historical Background of Loong Choo Kung Fu Society.