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Snake is one of the archetypal Five Animals of Chinese martial arts; the other four being Crane, Tiger, Leopard, and Dragon. These five animals originally represented the five classical Chinese elements before developing into their own styles. Dragon is usually Earth, Tiger is Fire, Crane is Metal, Snake is Water, and Leopard is Wood. Since they were derived from the Five Elements, they are kept in this pattern. At this point many styles delve into more advanced animal training or actual element training.

Snake style is based on whipping power which travels up the spine to the fingers. The ability to sinuously move, essentially by compressing one's stomach/abdominal muscles, is very important. Footing is quite grounded. The stancework is fluid in order to maximize the whipping potential of any movement. This necessitates building a strong spine to contain the power and strong fingers to convey the strike. Since breath is important to any movement of the spine and ribs, snake style is considered one of the main styles which eventually led to internal training. Snake style is also known as an approach to weapons training, the Chinese straight sword and spear in particular. There are even specialty varieties of sword blades and spear points that curve back and forth down the length of the blade in imitation of the snake's body known as snake sword and snake spear.

Snake Style generally aims for weak points of the human body, such as eyes, groin and joints.

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