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Thread: Where are all the Complete Monkey Style systems?

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  1. #1
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    Where are all the Complete Monkey Style systems?

    Thru out kung fu history we hear of many Monkey boxing performances, but very few complete Monkey boxing systems.

    I do not wish to discuss TSPK in this thread.

    Basically I want to discuss the different Monkey boxing systems and why they are very few modern ones. We hear of many kung fu systems or orginizations that teach 1 or 2 Monkey forms but not a whole system. Even Bak Sil Lum ( Gu Ru Zhang lineage) has several Monkey forms in it.

    I myself catorgorize Monkey into 3 divisions:

    Opera Monkey - Strickly for performance. Used in stage performances and shows. Very little martial value.

    Wushu Monkey - Competition or performace style. Very acrobatic and dynamic. More martial in nature but many of it's partricipants are only interested in tournament performance.

    Pure Fighting Monkey - Tactics of the Monkey are used and related to human fighting situations. More of a traditional fighting style. This is what I am only interested in discussing here.

    Also, in the Mantis system there is mention of Monkey footwork brought into the system by Wang Lang. I aslo heard this was more of an Ape / Gorilla style and not the smaller Monkey style? So what system was it? Does it still exist?

    So where did all these Monkey systems go? Or were they only techniques in many systems? Why don't we see more pure Monkeys around today?

    ginosifu

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    Here is a brief history of Monkey style in general:

    From the beginning of time, man has tried to copy the survival techniques of animals. Early man sought to mimic the movements of various animals, increasing the chance that their species would endure. As man developed, self defense and fighting skills were required to stay alive. In China, animal styles of self defense evolved over time.

    Seeing how certain animals protected themselves, intrigued kung fu masters. The Tiger, Bear, Eagle etc., all of these animals have different techniques of protecting themselves. Chinese masters noticed monkeys to be shy and timid if left alone. However, monkeys were found to be savage once angered.

    The first mention of "Monkey style" kung fu was in the Han dynasty (206 B.C. - 220 A.D.). During that time a martial artist named Tan, Chang-qing gave a demonstration of a monkey style while under the influence of alcohol. Also during this period a silk painting was found entitled "a bathing monkey calls", with pictures depicting a monkey style. Another type of monkey form was found in the period. This was created by a physician named Hua Ta. He healed the sick and the weak with breathing exercises and physical movements he called the 5 animal frolics. These 5 animals were the Tiger, Bear, Crane, Deer and the Monkey.

    In the Song dynasty (960 A.D. - 1279 A.D.), Yan Ching added monkey techniques to his Mi Zhong Yi or Lost path style. The Great Emperor Tai Tsu created the Long Fist style (Northern Shaolin), and a monkey style. During the Yuan dynasty (1260 - 1380), Shaolin monk Bai, Yi-feng combined monkey style with 4 other arts to form what is still known today as Ng Chor Kuen or 5 Ancestors Fist.

    In the Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), Chinese army general Chi, Ji-guang mentioned monkey as contemporary style in his "New Book of Discipline". Another martial artist, Wang, Shi-xing wrote in his book "Journey to Song Mountain" : When I descended the mountain and returned to my lodge, the priests performed various martial arts to entertain me. Among them was a monkey style exponent who leaped and turned as though he was a real monkey. In 1564 Governor Zheng, Ruo-zengs wrote a whole chapter on the "The 36 Tactics of the Monkey style" in his book "Posting as Governor South of the Yangtze River.

    During the evolution of the monkey style, many other kung fu systems incorporated monkey techniques into their style. In the early 1700's Shaolin master Wang Lang added the agile footwork of the monkey to create his Praying Mantis style. Most all Shaolin systems have at least one monkey form. Tai Chi Chuan has monkey movements named "Step back and repulse the monkey" and "White ape presents the fruit".


    They say the Mi Zhong Yi or Lost track style has Monkey in it. What Monkey style was it? Or were they just some Monkey techniques?

    Tai Tsu created a Monkey or just practiced a Monkey style? Was it a whole system or just a form?

    The 5 Ancestors Fist has Monkey in but again, is it just a form?, just some techniques? or a whole Monkey system?

    What are these 36 tactics of Monkey that Governor Zheng, Ruo-zeng wrote about? Does anyone know them?

    What ape style did Wang Lang add to his Mantis Fist?

    ginosifu

  3. #3
    I think the animal names, styles, are part of the culture like the old Chinese "legends" and storys. Not really meant to be believed as such. Maybe they match up human characteristics with some animal they like or has historical significance and they go with it.

    Think about it...there are many "pure" dragon styles but I cant begin to tell you how the last dragon I saw may fight.

    Pure tiger....such a huge beast with masive claws and teeth.....Not sure if a human could pull off a pure tiger style.

    Crane....well that is a stretch for you.

    Snake, well, without venom and only being able to wrap around the opponent...Im not sure that would be such a great "pure" style.

    Praying Mantis, chewing someones head off is an option but....

    Monkey would be the closest thing to what a human would do. But, other than their strenth I havnt seen them do many refined techniques on each other.

    You have a very valid question.

    I think people have been making systems up for thousands of years and it continues today. It would be hard to have "pure" anything.

    Maybe it just sounds a little cooler for them to say I teach "TIGER" style than I teach "Leroy Jenkins" style.

    Not meant to be a negative post at all and as I said before it is a legit question.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by mantid1 View Post
    I think the animal names, styles, are part of the culture like the old Chinese "legends" and storys. Not really meant to be believed as such. Maybe they match up human characteristics with some animal they like or has historical significance and they go with it.

    Think about it...there are many "pure" dragon styles but I cant begin to tell you how the last dragon I saw may fight.

    Pure tiger....such a huge beast with masive claws and teeth.....Not sure if a human could pull off a pure tiger style.

    Crane....well that is a stretch for you.

    Snake, well, without venom and only being able to wrap around the opponent...Im not sure that would be such a great "pure" style.

    Praying Mantis, chewing someones head off is an option but....

    Monkey would be the closest thing to what a human would do. But, other than their strenth I havnt seen them do many refined techniques on each other.

    You have a very valid question.

    I think people have been making systems up for thousands of years and it continues today. It would be hard to have "pure" anything.

    Maybe it just sounds a little cooler for them to say I teach "TIGER" style than I teach "Leroy Jenkins" style.

    Not meant to be a negative post at all and as I said before it is a legit question.
    Hak Fu Mun or Black Tiger is supposedly a "Pure" Tiger style. The same with The White Crane system. You can almost even say that the Ying Jow or Eagle Claw system is an all Eagle mimic style. There are many other "Pure" animal mimic styles that use only tactics that resemble their perspective animal.

    So why has Monkey fallen to just Forms or Techniques within other systems?

    ginosifu

  5. #5
    maybe the Monkey isnt as "special" or "revered" by the Chinese as an Eagle or Tiger would be so they didnt name a style after it just a few techniques?

    You know, I am glad you aksed this question. The more I think about it seems to be fairly obvious that the names may be more culturally signifiant than I thought and arnt really meant to mimic the animals.

    If we wanted to find the best way for a human to fight efficiently it would be much better to put together a "human" style. Right

    Very though provoking question!

  6. #6
    i would hope that anyone familiar with such things as the story "journey to the west" is capable of acknowledging the significance of monkeys in chinese culture (as compared to other animals)...and that CMA systems are just as (if not more) apt to honor monkeys (and the monkey king) with references throughout their techniques.

    houquan is something of a dichotomy; it is at once revered by traditional practitioners, and yet it is (as stated by gino) a difficult system to find.

    it has always been my understanding that despite its reputation as a strong self-defense system amongst CMA'ists, it just never really caught or became widely popular. mostly due to the fact that it requires greater flexibility than the average practitioner is able to develop, as well as extensive agility and tumbling abilities. additionally, one must acknowledge that a system that relies on tumbling to the extent that houquan does would be more geographically limited.

    as far as i'm concerned, it has always been the difficulty of houquan (and other pure monkey styles) that has served as a barrier to entry to the system. i hope i am not overstating the obvious here, but if houquan cannot be practiced by as large of a population as hung-gar, for example, then it's obviously going to be something that is more rare to find.

    ...also let's not forget that acting like a monkey has probably worked as a deterrent for many who take themselves too seriously to do so.
    Last edited by kristcaldwell; 09-13-2011 at 01:29 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ginosifu View Post
    In 1564 Governor Zheng, Ruo-zengs wrote a whole chapter on the "The 36 Tactics of the Monkey style" in his book "Posting as Governor South of the Yangtze River.
    ginosifu
    Zheng Ruozeng(1505-1580),was involved in coastal defense against Japanese pirates. In 1562 published Chu Hai Tu Bian-A Maritime Historical Survey
    This book was reissued in 1592 & 1624 MINUS Zheng Ruozeng's name. Instead replaced with the name Hu Zongxian.

    I have not been able to uncover other information of Zheng Ruozeng's published material. Where can I find it?

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    found it

    The book is called Jiang Nan Jing Lue, I would translate that into something like Introduction to the South of the River. Jiang Nan being a common term in Chinese.

    I don't have this book in my collection. I was under the impression that it is a list of martial arts, not an explanation.

    The reference to Monkey is Hou quan 36 lu, which means 36 Roads of Monkey Fist. The choice of using the word "tactic" for "road is an interesting one.

    The list of martial arts in this book is long including such names as
    • Zhao Family Fist
      Southern Fist
      Can Family's Northern Fist
      Six Roads of Xi Family Fist
      Zhang Fei's 4 Roads of Divine Fist


    The list goes on and on.

    The most interesting being
    9 gun 18 die da zhua na- Nine Rolls and 18 Falls of Strikes beatings and siezing

    A form which existed in old Mantis though I have not found its existance in present day.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by ginosifu View Post
    Tai Tsu created a Monkey or just practiced a Monkey style? Was it a whole system or just a form?
    It is my understanding he practiced an existing system, or several of them. Sal may debate me, but I have had more than one lineage or branch of Tai Tzu tell me it had 8 core sets.

    I know Shaolin preserved one set. They didn't get it from him though. They had to go to the town he learned it form, and get it form them. I think they made the set though. It was probably just loose techniques when he did them.

    One of the Generals that was in the military before Zhao Kuang Yin was Emperor did a type of monkey style based on a Gibbon called Tong Bi Quan. Since they were freinds, many people assume this was the Monkey system he was known for. I feel that is probably correct as they were of similar rank in addition to being freinds. They would have known the same stuff.

    There are a number of Tong Bi sets preserved at Shaolin. These are supposed to be that system.

    This Gibbon based style does not 'Look' like a Monkey, or ape style. This is because it uses the body mechanics of the Gibbon, but does not imitate the way it fights or acts.

    Zhao Kuang Yin developed his Hong Quan system (Flooding Fist), which looks almost exactly like the Tong Bi of his freind to me. The two arts are also generally paired together when listed, which leads me to believe they are intimately ties together.

    If you put the forms all in the same curriculum, I cannot tell them apart actually. They look like the same system to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ginosifu View Post
    Shaolin monk Bai, Yi-feng combined monkey style with 4 other arts to form what is still known today as Ng Chor Kuen or 5 Ancestors Fist.

    The 5 Ancestors Fist has Monkey in but again, is it just a form?, just some techniques? or a whole Monkey system?

    ginosifu
    5 Ancestors include forms specific to each ancestor and we also have forms which include all 5 ancestors. Is there a complete monkey system within 5 ancestors? I don't know....

    Here is a link to one of 5 Ancestor's monkey forms
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujd1fKSnh_s

  11. #11
    Well after watching some of these "traditional" monkey sets the more I question people knowing what is going on.

    These forms seem like they imitate a monkey before and after a fight or during every day life. Great acting, that is for sure. But, just acting.

    If you were going to have a pure monkey FIGHTING system I would say that modern Judo or wrestling would be it. If you watch video that is how monkeys fight.

    These guys immitate monkeys in everyday life but not fighting.

    If I recall correctly, mooying said his forms do not immitate monkeys.....which would be correct in my opinion.

    Getting on topic for the PRAYING MANTIS forum......I dont think that a mantis master really tries to look like a mantis....tiger master like a tiger or crane master like a crane. It is more about attitude and culture. That is it.

    Praying mantis has the foot work of the monkey? Well I dont think it they really thought it was "monkey" foot work. A monkey or ape has the ability to walk up right....so that may be where it comes from. "Fast and agile footwork" would probably be the best description....its just that people do not understand things when it comes to culture....and yes I know about the "monkey king" , santa claus and wang lang.

    This is an example of a monkey fight. Why would anyone want to immitate that?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7-1p870wLw

    Gorillas in training but not actually fighing.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mov-Z...eature=related

    Watch this and tell me that Judo and wresting shouldnt be the monkey style! Single leg take downs traditional throws and escapes...good stuff! I love the way he initiates the attack at 22 seconds inthe vid!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cu_JS...eature=related

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mantid1 View Post
    Well after watching some of these "traditional" monkey sets the more I question people knowing what is going on.

    These forms seem like they imitate a monkey before and after a fight or during every day life. Great acting, that is for sure. But, just acting.

    If you were going to have a pure monkey FIGHTING system I would say that modern Judo or wrestling would be it. If you watch video that is how monkeys fight.

    These guys immitate monkeys in everyday life but not fighting.

    If I recall correctly, mooying said his forms do not immitate monkeys.....which would be correct in my opinion.

    Getting on topic for the PRAYING MANTIS forum......I dont think that a mantis master really tries to look like a mantis....tiger master like a tiger or crane master like a crane. It is more about attitude and culture. That is it.

    Praying mantis has the foot work of the monkey? Well I dont think it they really thought it was "monkey" foot work. A monkey or ape has the ability to walk up right....so that may be where it comes from. "Fast and agile footwork" would probably be the best description....its just that people do not understand things when it comes to culture....and yes I know about the "monkey king" , santa claus and wang lang.

    This is an example of a monkey fight. Why would anyone want to immitate that?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7-1p870wLw

    Gorillas in training but not actually fighing.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mov-Z...eature=related

    Watch this and tell me that Judo and wresting shouldnt be the monkey style! Single leg take downs traditional throws and escapes...good stuff! I love the way he initiates the attack at 22 seconds inthe vid!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cu_JS...eature=related
    I am a student of Mooyingmantis and teach his monkey system. Let me say that there is less monkeying around in our systems forms. However, our Monkey style does include animal (monkey) tactics.

    All traditional animal mimic styles use something that has been attributed to their animals survival skills:

    Large Monkeys such as Chimps and Gorillas use swatting or pawing techniques for punches. They also like to charge and pounce on top of smaller creatures.

    Small Monkey such as Gibbons use agility / speed / trickery to out wit or confuse their opponents. Smaller Monkeys also use quick grabbing and scratching as well as biting techniques.

    All of these animal techniques can be converted into human equations and fighting situations.

    In our Angry Monkey system we do not scratch our balls and eat fleas while in a fighting stance. However we use Monkey based techniques such as:

    Reaching over someones guard to scratch there eyes. While they block the eye scratch we kick them in the groin. etc. These are nothing new in the realm of Kung Fu, just used in a way for Monkey.

    ginosifu

  13. #13
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    Smile

    Let's not forget the "Bear style"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUcXoZTQLLA

    I think we should remember that fighting based on animal styles are usually based on context just like the Bear style fighting above.

    Animals fight for 3 reasons. Food, sex, and survival.

    Animals play fight when they are young. These play fights are actually life lessons for the 3 reasons listed.

    When they fight for food and survival, their actions are sharp and short. Simply, they don't mess about.

    Animal fighting in most cases are honorable fights or ritual fights meaning their design isn't about killing each other although it may seem so. In the case of the bear fight above, it is to attract the attention of a female bear and earn the right to mate with her.

    Fighting is either practical or ritual purposes through out the animal kingdom. So when we examine our nature and revisit our animal instinct. Please take a moment and ask yourselves what purpose does your fighting (system and techniques included) serves.

    Mantis108
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  14. #14
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    Mantid1,

    Our monkey system does include throwing and grappling, as well as striking and kicking.

    Unfortunately, these things can be very dangerous to practice at more than a slow speed.

    A few years ago I taught a throwing technique during a seminar at Gino's school. It is a very dangerous technique that works well in combat. Though we practiced the technique as cautiously and slowly as possible, one smaller student threw a larger student and caused an injury to the ribcage that could only be fixed through surgery. It was a sad reminder that combat efficient techniques can be very hard to practice safely, even with due care.
    Richard A. Tolson
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    53 years of training, 43 years of teaching and still aiming for perfection!

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    Quote Originally Posted by SergeTk View Post
    5 Ancestors include forms specific to each ancestor and we also have forms which include all 5 ancestors. Is there a complete monkey system within 5 ancestors? I don't know....

    Here is a link to one of 5 Ancestor's monkey forms
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujd1fKSnh_s
    I watched Andrew Foster (5 Ancestors Sifu) do a Monkey form similar to the one you posted. Very Southeast Asian in flavor. Are there applications to the Monkey sets? Do you fight with the Monkey style?

    ginosifu

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