I found the following in my "look-up" file. Thought it would be a good jumping off post for this very inactive forum. (hint, hint Steve)
It is my understanding that in the late 1700's there was a compound built by the Okinawan's living in Fuchou, China to house visiting merchants, students, travelers, etc. In the early 1800's this compound created a martial arts school heavily influenced by the 18-posture style. These postures were made up of 9 animals and 9 elements. Many Okinawan martial artists visited this compound and were probably influenced by this art but at what extent is only speculation. These postures are still taught today in many systems. I learned these animal postures back in 1973 from Fred Absher, who learned them from Joseph Gorecki, who had learned them from Kosaburo Matsu who had trained in the Fuchou dojo for over 20 years ( 1899 - 1920 ). It was common in Chinese arts to have key words or postures to represent principles that any specific martial art contained. Many times these ideas were associated to movements of the animals, which could be easily understood by the student. The nine animals taught at the Fuchou dojo were the Tiger, Crane, Snake, Hawk, Dragon, Deer, Leopard, Monkey and Bear. The history, as I was told, is that around 200 ad the five animals were created for exercise and health. These were the tiger, bird, deer, monkey, and bear. Around 500 ad the animals were change to a more fighting aspect and included the tiger, crane, leopard, dragon and snake. Some styles continued to teach all nine animals and the 9 elements. As these animal postures were developed and expanded, they created two person sets and ended up with a total of 108 postures. The key elements of the nine animal postures are: Tiger - ( Tora ) external power, very aggressive attacks, never backs up. Uses koshi and kosaku dachi ( cross leg stance ). Example would be like in first move of Pai Sai where you use a cross leg stance to generate maximum power in the backfist strike. Crane - ( Tsuru ) very precise defensive and evasion techniques, known for one legged stance. Most Shorin moves where you twist to a cat stance to avoid attacker would use this principle. Snake - (Hebi) coiling and twisting actions to generate lighting fast open hand strikes to vital areas. Most shorin spear hands fall into this category. Hawk - ( Taka ) posture is done as if dropping down and crossing arms in front, represents using speed to overcome stronger opponent by darting in from oblique angle. This concept can be applied to most attacks in Shorin. Dragon - ( Ryu ) Using circular motions to generate power, such as spinning backfist, defeating your opponent by a constant barrage of circular attacks. Example would be in Pai Sai where after you do crescent kick and elbow you follow with three circular attacks to bring your opponent down Deer - ( Shika ) - Zanshin, total awareness and teaching the best defense is don't be there. The posture acts like it is going left, then goes right. Leopard - ( hyo ) The leopard is a combination of the tigers power and the speed of the hawk. Unlike the tiger, the leopard will run away only to come back and attack from another angle. Example might be in Pinan sandan where you attack with a spear hand, turn and pull away from a wrist grab, only to attack again with a hammer fist and step through punch. Monkey - ( Saru ) - cleaver and strong hands, most trapping or sticky hand techniques. Example may be first move of Chinto as you slap the attack out of the way before moving in with your own attack. Bear - ( Kuma ) Uses gravitational marriage, dropping into a techniques for power, for example pinan godan when you turn and drop to your knee.
It can only be speculated as to what influence these animals, as taught in Fochou, had on Okinawan Kempo. In my studies of the Seidokan and the Seibukan katas, there are many postures that are exactly the same in the katas as in the 18 postures taught in Kojasho Kempo. The same is true of many of the modern Chinese internal and external systems as well. I find these postures very interesting because I feel they are the missing link from China into Okinawan Kempo. Of course I recognize there are many of you that are like my son, who at 28 feels they are a waste of time, when you could be out hitting something hard. Terry Bryan