The historical relationship between Eagle Claw and Xingyiquan

Golden Leopard Trains Claws, an exercise from the Eighteen Lohan Art force training set used by many Northern Shaolin kung fu systems, including Eagle Claw kung fu. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

Golden Leopard Trains Claw from the Eighteen Lohan Art set, from which internal force training in Eagle Claw kung fu is derived. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

One of my kung fu “uncles” has been on a Youtube uploading frenzy lately and recently compiled the Fifty Sequences of Eagle Claw kung fu as practiced in Shaolin Wahnam to his Youtube account: 
鷹爪五十路連拳 50 Sequences of Eagle Claw Kung Fu

Back in 2009, my sigung held an Eagle Claw kung fu course. Some videos from the course (discussing philosophy, students practicing, scenes of my sigung teaching, etc.) can be seen here. I wasn’t a part of the school back then, but I heard very good things about the course. 

The Three Body Stance is the primary form of force training for Xingyiquan. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

The Three Body Stance is the primary form of force training for Xingyiquan. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

Eagle Claw makes for an interesting contrast to Xingyiquan. Xingyiquan has five basic elemental fists and occasionally eight, ten, or twelve animal forms. Eagle Claw has fifty sequences, each with 2-5 techniques, leading to a repertoire of 200-300 techniques. Xingyiquan training is often considered internal (stance training and using energy flow to develop internal force) whereas Eagle Claw training is usually external (gripping jars, lifting poles, and tearing bark off of trees). Xingyiquan relies on deep skills with a limited number of techniques to conquer various fighting situations whereas Eagle Claw uses its huge repertoire to have a technique for every feasible situation. Xingyiquan was taught to generals while Eagle Claw was taught to soldiers. 

Hope you guys enjoy the videos! Do we have any Eagle Claw practitioners in the house? 

Sun Lu Tang, martial scholar and author of several definitive books on the martial arts, including Xingyiquan. Image taken from www.wikipedia.org

Sun Lu Tang (1860 – 1933), martial scholar and author of several definitive books on the martial arts, including Xingyiquan. Image taken from http://www.wikipedia.org

A follow-up question about the Eagle Form in Xingyiquan and Eagle Claw kung fu: Xingyiquan and Eagle Claw kung fu were both developed by the same man (Marshall Yue Fei), so it’d be logical to assume there is some definite cross-over. Perhaps the most obvious one is that most of the Eagle Claw sequences as well as the Xingyiquan sets linked above use a variation of the 4-6 (aka Stream Character) stance for their starting poise pattern (Xingyiquan fighters generally fight from the Three Body stance with open palms while the Eagle Claw sequences use a version with closed fists). 

Manny C.’s response: You’re right! I just read the Eagle Claw Chapter in Sun Lu Tang’s Book. It’s one page long, and it basically says the Eagle Style motion is the same as Pi Quan: All you do is change the palms into claws for gripping. I did notice above the use of closed fists, but i also saw the gripping claws. And you’re right, the starting position is Santi, but then the attacks are performed from full and half horse stances.

I was not aware Xing Yi and Eagle Claw were created by the same man. I had read both were martial (literally) arts. Very interesting. Now my research must go even further back in time to read about Marshall Yue Fei. Thanks 🙂

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