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The movements of the Southern Dragon style (Chinese: 龍形摩橋; literally: "dragon shape rubbing bridges") of Shaolin Boxing are based on the mythical Chinese dragon. The Dragon style is an imitative-style that was developed based on the imagined characteristics of the mythical Chinese dragon.
The Dragon played an influential and beneficial role in Chinese culture. An amalgam of several creatures, including monitor lizards, pythons and the Chinese alligator, the polymorphic dragon was a water spirit, responsible for bringing the rains and thus ensuring the survival of crops. The dragon was symbolic guardian to the gods, and was the source of true wisdom. This latter feature most likely resulted from the observation of the living reptilian counterparts which, usually at rest, seem to be in a near constant state of contemplation.

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Southern Dragon kung fu is essentially an internal, qi (pronounced chi) cultivating method, but initial training is far more like a hard, external style, than the delicate approach an internal (like t'ai chi ch'uan or baguazhang) would have. 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. In turn, this dragon-like smoothness helps disguise the attack, making it extremely difficult for an adversary to effectively counter.
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