Wushu Champion Xu Xiang Dong performing one of the best Eagle claw sets I've ever seen!
Eagle Claw(Ying Zaho Quan) is a Northern Shaolin style that emphasizes the use of Chin-na (locking) techniques. The hand in the shape of the claw is used to apply pressure to an opponent's joints, veins, and pressure points, thus controlling and immobilizing him. Eagle Claw is ideal for both men and women of any size because great body strength is not required to be effective in a defensive situation. Using various hand strengthening exercises the claw is developed to have a vice-like grip and a burning sensation as if hot coals were being pressed into the opponent. Eagle Claw strength is based on finger power, finger joint power, and wrist power. Without all three the claw is ineffective. A well developed claw can control an opponent without injury, causing damage only when unavoidable. In this way Eagle Claw is a highly moral system that provides very effective self-defense without unnecessary injury to an opponent.
At the core of all Eagle Claw techniques are the principles of yin and yang. Punches and palm strikes are executed relaxed, but firm, until the end when the hand and the arm are hardened. This gives the technique a snapping action that adds power without a great need for strength. Movements are fast then slow, yielding then advancing, depending on the need of the situation and the technique to be employed. The student learns to at once be strong as a mountain, and then as yielding as a blade of grass in the wind.
The Eagle Claw system includes:
25 fist forms
over 25 weapon forms
over 25 partner forms
and the 108 locking techniques.
Forms must be practiced diligently until the movements and techniques are perfected. It's in the forms that the student unlocks the secrets of Eagle Claw. Every step and hand technique in the forms have a self-defense application. Practicing the forms also develops discipline and focus in the student, advantages that become invaluable in everyday life.
Three of the forms are considered Master forms and contain the most intricate techniques of the Eagle Claw system. These forms are:
Lin Kuen (Connected Fist)
Jui Lao Tong (Eagle Claw Drunken Set)
Fuk Fu Kuen (Control the Tiger)
The Northern Eagle Claw system is ideal for both men and women of various age groups, body types, and athletic ability. Because the system relies upon subtle re-direction of an attacker's own aggressive energy, it can be used effectively regardless of the practitioner's size or strength.
The cornerstone of Northern Eagle Claw kung fu is the set of "108 fighting techniques" adapted by General Ngok Fei from a Shaolin monk named Jow Tong. These techniques make effective use of the hand fashioned as a grasping eagle's claw (Ying Jow) to deliver devastating locks and traps (often referred to broadly as "chin na" or grappling techniques).
During the time of the Ming Dynasty, a monk named Lai Chin incorporated General Ngok Fei's fighting techniques with elements of the Faan Tzi system. Faan Tzi techniques are based upon swift, open and often acrobatic movements designed to out-maneuver and dominate an opponent. The combination of Ying Jow (eagle claw) with Faan Tzi techniques yielded the system known today as Northern Eagle Claw kung fu (Ying Jow Faan Tzi Pai).