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The Tiger Swallow Flies to Brasil

On October 14th, 2011, my 44th birthday, I arrived in Sao Paulo Brasil for my fourth intensive teaching seminar. One of the classes I taught was for a small group of coaches. The form we worked on is well known throughout the kung fu world, called Xiao Hu Yan, Little Tiger Swallow. A form that the students of Peng Lai Brasil had been waiting to learn for years. This year I finally taught them the form, and the moves of this form did not disappoint.


Little Tiger Swallow is one of the most famous forms of Northern Chinese kung fu and has at the very least been practiced since the late '20's or early '30's. For my first class with the coaches they took me to their favorite beautiful park.

Coaches Photo after our first class

From left to right; Moraes, Jander, Andre, Luciano, Me, Luiz, Cesar, Raquel, Basilio

Why Tiger Swallow? It has been said that the only thing more dangerous than a tiger is a tiger with wings.

Years ago I was introduced to the phrase 'Ru hu tian yi-as if adding wings to a tiger' to describe making someone who is already strong even more powerful. This brings to my mind the main characters of Romance of the Three Kingdoms Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang.

Lui Bei (161-223) was a warlord and military general and later the founding emperor of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms era of the third century. Zhuge Liang (181-234) was his chancellor of state during that time and is recognized as the most accomplished strategist of China. He was nicknamed the crouching dragon (remember the movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon?) for his ability to influence events even while in seclusion.

Zhuge Liang (181-234) chancellor for Liu Bei

Lui Bei (161-223) from a 7th century scroll  


Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a semi historical novel written in the 14th century. Here is the section where Zhuge Liang is first mentioned to the opposition Cao Cao.

"Liu Bei is a famous warrior and he has lately taken to himself as his director of training Zhuge Liang. Caution is needed."

Dun replied, "Lui Pei is a mean rat. I will certainly take him prisoner."

"Do not despise him," said Xu Shu. "remember he has Zhuge Liang to help him and so he is like a tiger who has grown wings."

Cao Cao said, "Who is this Zhuge Liang?"

"He is also called Kong Ming, and has taken a Taoist cognomen of 'Sleeping Dragon.' He is a perfect genius, god and devil combined, the greatest marvel of the age. Do not despise him'

"How does he stand as compared with you?" asked Cao Cao.

"There is no comparison. I am a mere glow-worm spark. he is the glory of the full moon," replied Xu Shu.

"You are mistaken," replied Dun. "This Zhuge Liang of yours is of no account. Who would fear him? If I do not take him and his master prisoners in the first battle, then here is my head, a free gift to our lord, the minister."

"Hasten to comfort me with news of victory," said Cao Cao.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms

by Lo Kuan-Chung, Guanzhong Luo, C.H. Brewitt-Taylor, Robert E. Hegel.

Unfortunately for Dun he was outsmarted and defeated by Zhuge Liang. The idea of adding the wits and strategies of Zhuge Liang to that of Lui Bei being compared to a tiger growing wings.

Follow the Wind Sweep the Leaves

In my mind Xiao Hu Yan- Little Tiger Swallow is a form that represents a Tiger with Wings. High leaps and low squats to attack and topple the enemy. Here I have included the technique called Follow the Wind Sweep the Leaves. A move which attacks the top of the opponent yet takes their bottom.

Left sealing hand right palm strike. Marcio steps with the left foot and strikes with his right palm.

Squat with stealing hands. Without moving the feet he sinks down and turns to the right.


To finish the technique step to the left with the right foot as the hands swing above the head and the right hand chops down.

Follow the Wind Sweep the Leaves Applied

Marcio (left) and Basilio face off in closing hands posture.


Marcio flips his body over to lean his leg on Basilio's leg and applies left sealing hand right palm strike to Basilio's head


Basilio deflects the palm strike


Marcio steal Basilio's deflection with his left hand and... ...pushes Basilio's hand towards Basilio's body


Marcio pushes Basilio slightly off balance and picks his ankle.

Though the telling is long, up to this point all the moves happen in an instant. Whether Marcio can grab Basilio's wrist or not, as long as he is close to Basilio this technique can be attempted.


Marcio now can lift Basilio's foot. From this position there are several takedowns and trips that Marcio can perform.


Marcio performs "sweep the leaves with the wind," his right hand grabs Basilio's leg. Marcio lifts up Basilio, not shown (because Marcio does not want to throw Basilio to the dog walking grass) is how Marcio's left arm raises Basilio's leg as high as possible and Marcio steps forward.


Highlights in the Park


After training the form Little Tiger Swallow we grouped together to work on our two person techniques. Here are two examples.


Click to enlarge. Training in the park

Luciano tries to strike me... ...but I catch his wrist.


Jander applies collapsing strike to Andre's neck, but Andre blocks. ...and seals Jander's hand to his body.

Though I go to Brasil to teach kung fu, I can't help feel that the kung fu is just a small part of a great friendship and family that we put together with the common goals of education through dedication to Chinese Kung Fu!

Our last picture together before I returned to Florida. We all made memories that will last a lifetime during my stay in Brasil and eagerly await training together again next year

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