Dragon Style Kung Fu – Traditional Martial Arts Overview

Dragon Style Kung Fu (龍形摩橋) Dragon Style Kung Fu is a unique Chinese traditional martial art system.

Fortunately, I grew up in a variety of neighborhoods in lower east side of New York City which enabled me to have a very diverse experience. In retrospect, I had spent a great deal of time in Chinatown, which offered an abundance of cultural variety, ancient heritage and exotic discoveries behind a myriad of crowded street corners.

Jam packed between ethnic street vendors peddling counterfeit wares, there was the familiar sight of daily commuters, tourists and fish market deliveries as well as the scent of traditional Chinese incense burning from Buddhist temples.

The sights, sounds and aroma were unique even for the multicultural tapestry that defines the landscape of New York City. Nevertheless, within a short walking distance was the discovery of esoteric kung fu kwoons offering anyone for a small monthly fee, authentic instruction in numerous and ancient kung fu styles. The image depicted is from the original school flier advertisement for the public.




It was first in Chinatown New York, Bayard Street to be precise, that I discovered and became a student of Wing Hong Yip’s Dragon Style Kung Fu school. Sifu Yip is the first instructor to teach Dragon Style Kung Fu publicly in New York City. Although the school moved numerous times from it’s original location, it has predominantly maintained it’s presence in Chinatown. When I was a student the school had briefly moved to Brooklyn, NY before once again returning to Chinatown.

Origins of The System

Dragon Style Kung FuHistorically Dragon Style Kung Fu is difficult to accurately identity as it’s origins were verbally transcribed. It is essentially comprised of the Hakka kuen, Shaolin and Taoist forms and the Master is universally recognized as Lam Yiu Quai. Born in 1877, in the Wai Yeung district in Guangdong province in Southern China, he studied Hakka kuen, Southern Shaolin and Taoist kung fu. As a result, he eventually synthesized all three systems into the Dragon Style.

Lam Yiu Quai was born into a family that studied and taught martial arts. His father and grandfather were proficient martial artists. As a result his initial exposure to martial arts was family oriented, learning from both his father and grandfather. Eventually, he made the decision to continue his studies at Wah Sa Tsoi temple, where the mental and spiritual aspects of his training were stressed. The monk Daai Yuk Sim Si who was the abbot of Wa Sau Toi (White Hair) temple on Mount Luofu. Lam Yiu Quai studied with the monk Wong Lee Giu who taught him the Saam Tong Gor Kiu form (“Three Ways to Cross the Bridge”) and with Ke Hing Ma who taught him Mui Fa Chut Lo (“Plum Flower Fist in Seven Sections”).

In the early 1920’s, Lam Yiu Quai went to the city of Guangzhou and eventually established several Dragon Style Schools. Some of his assistant instructors were Ma Chai, Lam Woong Gong (son), and Tsoi Yiu Cheung who all progressed to become teachers enabling the tradition to continue through the decades. In addition, Lam Yiu Quai also opened several schools with Cheung Lai Chen, a Bak-Mei master. Both styles are based on the same principles but with slight variations in the order of these principles.

Lam Yiu Quai was also one of the original members of the “Three Tigers of the East River” This martial trio included Lin Yum Tong (Mo-gar style), Cheung Li Chen (Bak-Mei style) and Lam Yiu Quai (Dragon style) In 1925, Lam Yiu Quai became famous in Guangzhou when he defeated a Russian national heavyweight world boxing champion. It was a difficult fight and the Russian was eventually defeated with a technique called “turn body pull hammer” (轉身扳槌).

In the early 1950’s, Lam Yiu Quai had a stroke. Because of his connections with the government, he was able to secure permission to move to Hong Kong for medical treatment. However, in 1965 he had another stroke and passed away in 1966 at the age of 89.

Method & Philosophy




Southern Dragon kung fu is essentially an internal, qi (pronounced chi) cultivating method, but initial training is more like a hard, external style than a delicate, reptilian approach. In learning the moves, the student will strike hard, block hard and stomp into each position, with the idea of learning the proper place to be once each movement is complete. Eventually, the method of transmitting power is retained, and the physically strengthened body is able to make transitions in the proper fluid manner.



The Dragon Stylist is both aggressive and defensive. Relying on offensive and defensive techniques applied to forward, backward and sideways movements. Following an attacker’s first sign of aggression, a dragon stylist does not hold back, but becomes an instantaneous and non-stop attacking force relying on floating and sinking movements with shoulders dropped and elbows bent.



A Dragon stylist defends himself by withdrawing or curving his body inwardly to absorb or neutralize any incoming attack. When the opponent has over-reached in his or her attack, the dragon stylist changes from soft to hard, and combines footwork with blocks as he intercepts his or her opponent. As one arm strikes forward, the other is readied back. Your arms swing in and out with power generated from the waist. The application of pressure is in the same direction as the attacker’s force.



If the opponent’s power is too great, the Dragon stylist steps off line, to counter an opponent’s open area, and to “bounce” him or her out. The Dragon stylist, keeping the above in mind, uses many large zig zag stepping movements with the practitioner constantly extending and contracting his or her body. Hands follow feet, feet follow hands. When the hands stop the feet follow, when the feet stop, the hands follow. Move left, go right, move right, go left. Up follows down, down follows up. A strike is a block, a block is a strike.

Forms/Kata of the System

The forms that constitute this system are divided by complexity into three categories, and are enumerated below:

Basic:

  • 16 Movements/Holes
  • Passing Bridge Three Times
  • Fierce Tiger Leaping Over Wall
  • Rescue Master From Single Side
  • Single Sword and Mount
  • Press and Hit from Four Sides
  • Eagle Claw
  • Bridge Smashing

Intermediate:

  • Touch Bridge (introduces sticking hands)
  • Venomous Snake Moves Tongue
  • Hua King’s Fist
  • Standing Five-Form
  • Cross Standing Five-Form
  • Turn to Hook and Hit
  • Five Horses Returning to Stable

Advanced:

  • Plum Flower Punch
  • Seven Ways of Plum Flower Punch

Dragon style focuses mainly on powerful, short range attacks. However, the styles’ use of gripping and seizing techniques as well as the extensive use of the forearms both offensively and defensively are fairly unique to the art. The style was created as an aggressive combat art and operates under the basic assumption that you are trying to disable your opponent or kill them. As such Lung Ying employs a large number of techniques to damage the opponent’s joints either through joint manipulation or direct striking; nullify the opponent’s defenses either through breaking their stance or compromising their guard, and thus their ability to defend. Like most southern style kung fu systems, it has limited kicks and jumps and consisted mainly of fist, palm and clawing techniques.




The Lion dance has close relations to Kung Fu and the performers are usually martial art members of various styles or systems. The lion dance is usually performed at many important grand occasions, including Chinese traditional, cultural and religious festivals, business opening events, birthday celebrations and wedding ceremonies in various Chinese communities. Like Southern Dragon style Kung Fu, the traditional Chinese Southern Lion dance originated from Guangdong, the homeland of the Chinese southern style lion.

In ancient China, the Dragon was a Yang force, associated with male fertility. The jade gem stone was thought to have come from the congealed semen of the dragon and represents extreme luck. Above all, the Dragon represented the fertilizing power of rain. His claws were the forks of lightning. In contrast the dragon of the West is usually characterized by a winged monster representing evil. However, for the Chinese the dragon was a fabulous creature, benevolent, life giving and worth of reverence. As a style of Kung Fu, the Dragon system was the embodiment of all such traits resulting in a highly effective fighting system.

Dragon Style Schools
(Loong Ying Mor Kiu & Lung Jop Pai)

  • Wing Hong Yip’s Dragon Style Kung Fu and Tai Chi Club
    Sifu Yip became the first instructor to teach Dragon Style Kung Fu publicly in the New York City area. He is also one of the few instructors teaching Dragon Style Kung Fu and Wu Style Tai Chi in North America.
  • Lung Jop Pai Kung Fu | Shaolin Kung fu Institute
    The Shaolin Kung fu Institute has been teaching the traditional Northern Dragon Kung fu (Lung Jop Pai) and Southern dragon (Loong Ying Mor Kiu), in the Hightstown/East Windsor, NJ area since 1972.
  • Zhong Luos Dragon House
    We teach traditional Chinese kung fu in the Bak Mei (White Eyebrow) and Lung Ying (Dragon) styles.
  • Dragon Fist Kung Fu, Norwich, Norfolk, UK
    The Norfolk Unicorn Arts Kung Fu Association is a unique union of multiple lines of authentic Hakka-based fighting arts. Lung Ying Kyun (龍形拳術; Dragon Style Kung Fu) and Pak Mei Paai (白眉派; White Brow System) form the core of our association’s curriculum.
  • ECOLE TRADITIONNELLE DU DRAGON
    L’cole du dragon (Long Yin) est affili la Cheung Kwok Tai wushu association de Hong Kong.
  • Dragon Style Lung Ying Kung Fu Australia
    Dragon Style Kung Fu and Fitness Inc is a not-for-profit club open to people from all walks of life. We are based in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta, offering Dragon Style (Lung Ying) kung fu, kickboxing and lion dance classes.
  • Chung’s Kung Fu and Tai Chi – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
    Master Andrew Chung has over 40 years of experience in Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Dragon Kung Fu ,Bak Mei Pai and more.
  • Green Dragon Kung Fu Association
    Sifu Chan escaped from the Toison region of southern China to Hong Kong. It was here that he had the opportunity to study other styles of Kung Fu. His extensive study included Southern Dragon (Lung Ying More Kiew)