7 Circles Southern/Northern Shaolin Kung Fu
Wu-Shu, Wu-Kung, and Qigong Association

Me'je Oruka



7 Animals of Me'je Oruka

Tiger Style


Dragon Style


Crane Style


Monkey Style


Mantis Style


Snake Style


Eagle Style




This website is dedicated to the Students of Seifu A.S. Umar Sharif, MA. It is also dedicated to the promotion and propagation of the Traditional Afro-Asian Martial and Healing Arts. Our goal is to inform, educate, inspire, encourage, and motivate others to improve their lives by applying The Wisdom of the Ancients.

As your teacher and host, Seifu Sharif [aka: Xia` Xue' Gong] [aka: Tobi Alakoso] is dedicated to helping each of you to remember and nurture the Spirit of Wu-Te and the powers dormant within you.

Post 4

April 2018

The Seven Animals of Me'je Oruka, Part IV
The Crane (He Xing)

Namaste’ Students and Fellow Martial Arts Enthusiasts!

Are you fairly tall with long arms and legs?
Are you small framed, somewhere between medium build and downright skinny?
Do you tend to have a peaceful, laid back disposition, remaining calm in most circumstances?
Are you in touch with your body, awareness of where your arms and legs are in any given moment?
How’s your balance?
Can you stand on one leg and maintain good balance with control over your center of gravity?
Do you usually feel rooted to the earth but at the same time able to move very light on your feet?
Are you able to concentrate and focus, exercising good mental discipline?
Do you enjoy meditating and just spending time in quiet mode?

If your answer to most of these questions is ‘yes’ then you are a natural candidate for the Crane System of Kung Fu and can probably become very good at it. Of course, that will require putting in the time and discipline to train, train, and train some more. If your answer to most of the above questions was ‘no’, don’t worry! There is still much that anyone can take away from the Crane System even if you don’t fit the above profile. Much of what has been described above (aside from the anatomical characteristics) can be developed through the diligent study of this powerful Kung Fu System. The Crane is the third of the animals in the 7 Circles System and it is the perfect complement, supplement, and bridge between the other six animals. In order to fully understand and apply the techniques of the Crane System it is highly recommended, if not essential, that the student also study Tai Chi, Qigong, and Chin Na. Void of these internal disciplines and developments, the practitioner will be forced to use ‘Li’, physical force to exercise the techniques although the techniques really call for the use of ‘Jing’, Internal Power. Li will make the techniques stiff, thrusting, and slow, where most of the techniques should be fluid, pulsing, and fast.

A warrior is not a wrestler: he’s killed the moment his spear and shield are overpowered.” (African Proverb)

For the Crane bird, his beak is his spear and his wings are his shields. The moment these are overpowered, he is dead!

A warrior who is putting on his armor for war should not boast like a warrior who is taking it off.” (African Proverb)

The Crane bird does not assume victory prematurely. It remains keenly aware of the threat and the danger until the flight or death of the enemy is certain!

As with all of the animals in the 7 Circles System, Seifu Sharif has studied and practiced aspects of these systems and drawn out those particular principles, strategies, and techniques from the various styles of each animal system. The goal was and is to create a well balanced and integrated network of techniques that will allow the students of the 7 Circles System to instantaneously switch from one animal spirit to the other as required to meet the needs of the situation and the actions of the opponent or opponents. To be effective in this integration process the student must internalize and actualize the following principles:

  • Hard and soft must be connected!
  • Forward and backward cannot be separated!
  • Moving right and moving left must both be attached to the center!
  • Up and down depend on each other!
  • While standing still is on the outside, there is still movement on the inside!
  • The Qi must sink and return, while the Shen (Spirit of Vitality) must rise and settle!

Generally speaking, ‘system’ is used to describe the different martial arts styles that may have developed in a specific discipline or art form. For example, the 7 Circles System of Southern-Northern Kung Fu, Qigong, & Chin Na. A ‘style’ on the other hand generally refers to variations within a specific martial arts discipline. For example, there are both Northern and Southern styles of Kung Fu used within the 7 Circles System. Southern Styles refers to Chinese martial arts originating south of the Yangtze River. Southern styles tend to emphasize strong arm and hand techniques, stable stances, and fast footwork. Northern Styles by contrast refer to Chinese martial arts originating north of the Yangtze River. Northern Styles tend to emphasize fast and powerful kicks, high jumps, and fluid, rapid movements. In the 7 Circles System we like to keep our feet close to the ground so the emphasis is on Southern Style movements and techniques. Our kicks are fast and snapping or pulsing, and tend to focus on targets from the thighs down to the feet. There is some but very little practical application of jumping techniques. The Northern Shaolin styles primarily consist of Northern Praying Mantis, Black Crane, and Black Tiger. The Southern Shaolin styles primarily consist of White Crane, Tiger, Dragon, Leopard, Snake, and Southern Praying Mantis. It is important to note that these various styles are not mutually exclusive and there are many areas of overlap and similarity. Now, let’s explore more of the Crane System of Kung Fu!

The Black Crane Kung Fu System reportedly dates back to around 300 B.C.E. and was developed by Dr. Hua To in China. It is really a hybrid system that includes many techniques from the White Crane System. The White Crane System is considered to be (one of) the parent(s) of the Wing Chun System of Kung Fu. This particular style of Crane, like most, places emphasis on deflecting attacks as oppose to forceful blocking techniques, and these deflecting techniques usually also create the opening for an offensive strike to disable the opponents limb or to strike a vital area of the body. Deflecting techniques also require considerable and complex footwork. Therefore, leg strength and stance training are an important part of the students training.

Fujian White Crane System is perhaps the most popular contemporary form of White Crane Kung Fu although there are undoubtedly a host of branching styles of this system. Fang Qiniang reportedly developed Fujian White Crane System in the 18th Century, in Fujian Province China. Seifu Sharif visited this Province during his journey to China in the mid-1990s. According to the history, Madam Fang developed the White Crane System in order to exact revenge for the death of her father who was killed in a challenge match while fighting to defend her honor. Whether fact or legend, Madam Fang had a dream in which she fought a White Crane using her father’s style of Kung Fu and a stick, but the Crane was able to evade her attacks, grab the stick, and counterstrike each of her attacks. When she awoke from the dream she set about developing and perfecting the White Crane System of Kung Fu.

Her style of Crane Kung Fu emphasizes strikes to the vital areas of the body like the throat, neck, temple, behind the ears, eyes, arm pits, and other meridian or acupressure points. Vital points are specific points on the human body that, when struck, yield damage in excess of what would be expected given the seemingly light impact of the blow or strike. It is important to note that Fujian White Crane System of Kung Fu places a very high importance on good character and high moral virtue because of the deadly skills associated with the application of White Crane techniques. When we make our declaration at the beginning of each training session - (“Through humility, patience, kindness, and diligence, every day, in every way, I am getting healthier, better, stronger, and wiser.”), - we are implanting this call to high character and moral virtue deep into our training mindset.

The fact that White Crane Kung Fu was developed by a women whose goal was to exact revenge against the man who killed her father, the reason for the soft yet powerful, internal and pulsing characteristics of this system should become clear. The Crane movements were used to develop control, character, and spirit while also providing the foundation for exercising great power. Emphasis is placed on light, rapid footwork and evasive attacking techniques that you learn through the 7 Circles Stepping, Kicking, and Punching Drills. The one-legged stance is used not only for defensive and offensive movements but also for meditation practice.

The Crane is the absolute epitome of grace. One can hardly look at a Crane standing motionless on one leg without going into a trance. Its gentle, peaceful spirit nonetheless hides a warrior spirit and a dangerous adversary. The Crane likes to keep its distance from its enemy. Distance gives the Crane the advantage of being able to use its long legs (for kicks), it long wings (for blocks and strikes), its long neck (for hooking and deflecting), and its long and very hard beak (for devastating strikes). It is a very fierce fighter when called upon to do so. It can move about quickly, using its wings to move in, out, right, and left, with grace and speed. It also uses this ability to position itself to launch attacks from unanticipated angles, often catching the enemy off-guard. The Cranes wings, beak, and head are the primary striking surfaces or weapons used by this deceptively powerful creature. As with the study of Classical Tai Chi Chu’an, and the application of Jing (internal power), the Crane develops the sinews (tendons and ligaments) in order to generate relaxed power since it is not a very muscular creature. The Crane is quiet and calm, with profound powers of concentration. It is not easily distracted and can stand for hours staring as if into nothingness, yet can respond with exceptional speed when necessity or opportunity dictate.

As a student of the Crane Style Kung Fu within the 7 Circles System of Southern-Northern Shaolin Kung Fu, Qigong, and Chin Na, you can expect to develop better balance, coordination, speed, graceful movement and footwork, and relaxed body structure from head to feet, and a highly developed ability to coordinate the flow of energy from the earth (feet) and the seven gates (ankles, knees, kwa (hips, pelvis, and waist), spine, shoulders, elbows, and wrist. The result will be the ability to generate great power pulsing from your hands and fingertips.

To be continued: Monkey

Click on the Contact Us link above or below to comment or ask questions about this Post or other related topics.

It is not simply practice that makes perfect. It is perfect practice and consistent practice that makes perfect.

Enjoy the journey!

Namaste'! Live Wu-Te!


Seifu-Sharif.com© 1997 Last Revised April 15, 2020