Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

The 5 Animals


My kempo school had a version of the 5 Shaolin Animals that ended up in Jade Tiger because — hey! — I hadn’t even studied kung fu when I wrote it. Tonight, we reviewed the aspects that my current school associates with each animal, and I feel the need to put them into a chart. (Keep in mind, other kung fu and kempo schools will have other interpretations.)

White Lotus Kung Fu Villari’s Kempo
Tiger Strength Strength and Tenacity
Crane Grace and Balance Grace and Balance
Dragon Spirit “Ride the Wind”
Leopard Speed Speed and Power
Snake Evasiveness Flexibility and Endurance

So, not too different, but different in some key ways. Dragon’s “Ride the Wind” has been an important concept for me and my life, but so has “Spirit.” I’m happy with the Snake being “Evasiveness” because I have no shot at “Flexibility and Endurance” at all. And, of course, the Tiger’s “Tenacity” has been an ongoing inspiration for me. (So much so that I made it a flaw of Shan’s, my martial arts hero in Jade Tiger.)

If your school has associations for these animals, I’d love to hear them!

Also, I’m wondering what the 5 Writing Animals would be. What would they represent?

About the author

Jenn Reese


  • Sloth was the first to come into my head, too.

    How about "bull"? As in "bulldoze your way to the end of a project regardless of how it looks or feels". I've done that, too.

  • I’m waiting to be told to turn off cell phones and portable electronic devices, so I don’t have time to come up with five writing-related animals, but I wanted to say “sloth” before anyone else did.

By Jenn Reese
Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

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