Animal Flavor

Back when I was in my early twenties and training all the time with George Xu he would go on theme jags for months at a time. At one point, everything we did had to have "Animal Flavor."

I know what you're thinking, and yes, this is when I decided that I was going to give up being a vegetarian. If all my movement had to have animal flavor, than so did my diet.  But I had three rationales, the first two were nutritional; 1) My joints were too flimsy for the type of training I was doing, George told me that something about eating meat thickens the joints, 2) I was prone to sinus infections, 3) I decided that the arguments for no meat were mostly local, and that most people in the world wanted more meat, not less--I wasn't going to convince very many people to join me--since meat tastes so good.

But when George used the expression Animal Flavor he wasn't talking about eating. He was talking about dynamic twisting and wrapping usually to one side or the other. During this period everything we did was twisted up to one side, ready to pounce, strike, or evade. We also watched videos of wild animals and of various martial arts masters to analyze their movements for Animal Flavor. Usually animal flavor was off center with one eye a little more open then the other.

Animal flavor is a great example of an aspect of martial arts which is equally useful for performance and fighting. Animal flavor makes movement much more interesting to watch, it's bold, disheveled, and tonic! For fighting, Animal flavor brings out a kind of 'do what needs to be done' mentality, it makes you appear more dangerous, and more serious. From a power point of view, it allows you to pull your 'bow' back a little further.

Here are some videos of Liuhe Xinyi (the style I do), performed at a high level with animal flavor: