I love watching the UFC and sometimes wrestling, it’s great entertainment and you can see the shape that it gets the guys and gals into who compete. Conor McGregor is a fine example of someone who is a great MMA fighter and is also in great shape.In Kung Fu Panda, the Furious Five are a tiger, a monkey, a praying mantis, a crane, and a snake. In kung fu

You may think that’s quite an obvious statement but, you go up the weight divisions a bit and you’ll see fighters like Ben Rothwell who aren’t anywhere near as toned. The same with boxing too, Tyson Fury isn’t the most in-shape guy but he fights and fights well. Now, mixed martial arts is a fantastic sport to get involved in in terms of your fitness but there’s loads to learn and one of my favourite animated films, Kung Fu Panda has some great examples.

In Kung Fu Panda, the “Furious Five” are a tiger, a monkey, a praying mantis, a crane, and a snake. In kung fu proper, the five animal styles take inspiration from the tiger, leopard, crane, snake, and dragon. Many “animal” styles have developed over the millennia, with the underpinning principle that each creature has strengths and weaknesses and lessons to teach us about how to most effectively use our own qualities, whether we train mixed martial arts, traditional kung fu or jiu-jitsu.

Are you short or tall, flexible or stiff? Do you have long arms or other features in your build that give you an advantage in your chosen discipline? Advantages are usually paired with weaknesses you might not be aware of so, here are a few things we can learn from some of our animal friends when it comes to fighting styles.

The Tiger

Has a beefy build, yet possesses incredible speed and agility. Attacking head on, with brute force, the tiger literally shreds its opponent. A fighter with a beefy build who can quickly change from one stance to another would do well to understand this big cat, training to increase strength combined with the ability to strike with accuracy and concentrated power. But before you start relying too heavily on tigerlike qualities, look out for…

The Snake

This is an animal who will strike without warning, fast and to the point. A slim build is no hindrance when you can summon all your energy into one deadly strike. If the snake is your spirit animal, train to capitalise on your natural speed and explosiveness, but also focus on footwork and the ability to change direction quickly. You might need them if you encounter…

The Crane

That awkward-looking yet surprisingly graceful creature. Its long legs and beak keep opponents at a distance, while its long, fast neck gives it the snakelike ability to get in, grab prey, and get out in a blink. As a crane, you have a natural sense of balance and the patience to wait in stillness for the right moment to dive in. Always train to find those pierceable soft targets in an opponent. You might want to augment your natural abilities with some strength training and endurance should you encounter a tiger, and techniques to rely on when you meet up with…

The Praying Mantis

This animal has a range of tactics to counter any type of opponent at close, middle, and distant ranges. Torquing from the middle and sending energy outward, the praying mantis fighter will use hands and arms to mimic the jackknife position of the insect’s forelegs; this conscious shaping will give leverage and the ability to create hooks and deliver strikes. Footwork focuses on agility and speed to avoid sweeps and kicks at close range. But what if you meet up with a horse, or a monkey? What will your weak points be?

Out in the martial arts wilds, you will encounter many types of animals and they will all have something to teach you. Which animal are you?

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