History of Tiger Crane Combination

This is a History of our Arts

Southern Crane Kungfu is a martial arts club that teaches three styles of traditional Southern Chinese kungfu, all from the Province of Fujian. These are Yong Tai Tiger Respect Boxing, Fujian Calling White Crane, and Tiger Crane Combination.

Our styles of kungfu use principles developed hundreds of years ago. Southern Crane Kungfu is a recognised martial arts club with direct links to China and Singapore.


In China, the tiger is the king of the beasts. It has strength, courage and power, which is why this animal’s characteristics were developed into one of the five great ancestors of Kungfu.

Tiger style was the third Shaolin style of kungfu to evolve. Tiger was preceded by the Lohon style, which itself came from Chi Kung, developed in China by an Indian Buddhist monk named Tat Moh in around 520 AD. This Shaolin Tiger style went on to become part of the Tiger Crane Combination style of kungfu we study and teach, while we also train in China to learn the unique, ancient village style of tiger, Yong Tai Tiger Respect Boxing, which is taught to adults and children by our Chief and Head Instructors here in the UK.

Training in Tiger

Tiger develops great overall power in the practitioner with dynamic tension, solid stances and devastating medium and short range attacks. It uses a strong but mobile walking stance and as well as strikes and swipes, and a straight punch that twists prior to impact. Because of this, Shaolin Tiger can defeat the style it evolved from, Lohan style, while Yong Tai Tiger Respect Boxing is powerful and devastating, combining the Tiger with Lion (which could also be Dragon style), and Ox or Cow style.

When Tiger was created, the emphasis was on generating strong bones and tendons in the practitioner. Practitioners observed tigers attacking and saw a fast and powerful animal that outpaced its victims before pressing them into the ground with the weight and strength of its body.

This hard external strength requires and develops in practitioners tough bones and tendons in order to be able to withstand such a punishing attacking technique.

The neck and back of the practitioner must also be powerful to create the external force necessary to fight like a tiger. This is because tigers use their waists and low stances to turn, twist and generate power in combat. Therefore, Tiger develops a well conditioned back in the practitioner.

Additionally, the fingers, palms, arms and legs of the Tiger practitioner are important. These areas come into play in the tiger clawing movements. Similar training to strengthen these areas in Tiger was also used in Dragon style in ancient China, with practitioners lifting clay pots filled with gravel while maintaining their stance, or grabbing and squeezing trees to strengthen fingers, hands and arms.

White Crane

After Tiger style in Fujian came the Monkey style, called Tai Sheng in Chinese. This playful, entertaining style evolved from Tiger and was therefore able to defeat it. Yet the rolling, crouching, grabbing and plucking techniques favoured by Monkey practitioners was defeated by the style that evolved from it, White Crane. White Crane was the last and most highly evolved of the five great ancestors of kungfu. It eventually evolved into five distinct styles of White Crane: Flying White Crane; Eating White Crane; Calling White Crane; Shaking White Crane; and Sleeping White Crane.

In China, the White Crane is symbolic of long life. The great bird is believed to live a long time because its body contains vast quantities of jing, which translates as essential energy, or libido. The Crane is able to create jing easily as it is a calm and contemplative bird that has great powers of concentration.

Training in White Crane

What makes White Crane invincible is that it sticks. When the Crane is attacked it immediately establishes contact, which we call making a bridge. If the opponent tries to attack, the Crane deflects the blow. If the opponent withdraws, the Crane follows. It does not release its touch until it sees an opportunity to strike, and when it does, the Crane shows no mercy. There is no escape from the sticking wings of White Crane.

Training in White Crane was designed to help the practitioner develop both internal and external power. The martial artist must contain power within the body to increase strength inside and out, through internal Qi development and external bone and muscle force.

Although this sounds as vigorous as Tiger, White Crane is closer to the Snake style, in a way that it also uses techniques to overthrow and control the opponent with minimum effort. The development of concentration and focus in a White Crane student is paramount, as that is the nature of the bird.

White Crane uses circular, soft, relaxed techniques with explosive speed and tremendous power.

Short range hand techniques tend to be focused on joint locking, with long range techniques fixed on strikes to vital areas. The Crane practitioner will increase their speed and balance. This is because the Crane movements are fast and lively, using a supple, fluid waist and light, well balanced footwork. Finger tip training for White Crane’s accurate strikes, and strengthening and balancing work using ankle weights were often used in ancient China to prepare practitioners for the rigors of White Crane style kungfu.

Tiger Crane Combination

Tiger Crane Combination comes from Fujian Province in Southern China. When the Manchurians took power in China, the Fujian Shaolin Temple was burned to the ground and the majority of the monks were massacred. However, five Masters escaped. The most famous was Hung Ee Kan, a Master of Tai Chor, or Tiger style. He eventually met and married a White Crane female Master, Tee Eng Choon. Together they developed Tiger Crane Combination, which brings together the best of both styles.