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Southern Shaolin Five 

Family Five Animal

Originally, there were five principle Southern kung fu systems. They were named after their designated families. The word "gar" means family and in this case stands for gung fu families. The five family systems were originally created as strictly fighting arts, used to battle the Ching dynasty rulers. Unlike Northern systems which were older and had evolved during peaceful times when students could study their martial arts for years before reaching higher levels, the masters of the Southern systems had to compact their training and quickly teach their students how to fight. As a result, hard power was taught first, followed by internal training. Stances were wider and lower, and Southern footwork less active than Northern, relying more on the practitioner's strength for defense. 

The Five Families

HUNG-GAR: Founded by Hung Hei Guen, it uses external strength and dynamic tension exercises and is excellent for developing muscles and strong, low stances.


LAU GAR: Founded by Lau Soam Ngan, it is a middle length hand system and is not often found in present times.


CHOY GAR: No relation to Choy-li-fut, the system was founded by Choy Gau Yee and is a long arm style.


LI GAR: Founded by Li Yao San (also one of Choy-li-fut's originators), this seldom-taught system features a strong medium-range fist.


MOK GAR: Founded by Mok Ching Giu, who was famous in Canton for his powerful kicks, this system places emphasis on short-hand techniques and strong kicks.


With the exception of hung-gar, the Southern family styles are rarely seen today in their original forms. Most of the popular Southern systems, including choy-li-fut, wing chun and white crane which all had their roots in the Shaolin temple martial system, or in other Northern styles. After escaping, revolutionaries transplanted these arts to Southern China where they adopted many of the distinguishing characteristics of the native styles. The combination of Northern and Southern elements make these kung fu systems particularly versatile and effective self defense systems.



Salute Fist (Jow Ton Kyun)

Small Cross Fist (Siu Sup Ji Kyun)

Black Bird Fist (Sil Ying Kyun)

Butterfly Fist (Wu Dip Kyun)

Combination Fist (Won Hop Kyun)

Goddess Palms (Goon Yum Jeung)


Five Animal Fist (Ng-Ying Kyun)

Tiger Fist ( Fu Ying Kyun)

Crane Fist (Hok Ying Kyun)

Leopard Fist (Pao Ying Kyun)

Snake Fist (Sare Ying Kyun)

Dragon Fist (Loong Ying Kyun)

Curriculum FiveFamily

Animal Characteristics



Tiger (Fu)

Dragon (Long)

Crane (Hok)

Leopard (Pao)

Snake (She)


Bone Strength (Gu)

Spirit (Shen)

Essence (Jing)

Muscle Strength (Li)

Energy (Chi)


Tiger: Power, Strength, Ferocity, Aggression, Straight Forward

Dragon: Aware, Whirls, Deceptive, Weaves, Whips, Rides the Wind

Crane: Balance, Softness, Elusive, Grace, Self-Control

Leopard: Speed, Power, Ferocity, Deadly, Sneaky, Stealthy

Snake: Speed, Flexibility, Patience, Grace, Deception

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