Many may know of the animal influences in Chinese Kung Fu. What many may not know is the extent to which animals of all types have become inspiration for self defense and fighting arts. Does this go so far as to include a Kung Fu style based on bats?
The rare Bat Kung Fu style is a sub-system of the animal arts of Southern Kung Fu. This means that it is a complementary style that can be studied on its own, but normally is added to other forms to supplement their offerings. Some types are said to be of Buddhist and Tibetan origin.
We will look into this and other interesting aspects like Batman and his martial arts influences. If you are curious about this niche style of Kung Fu and how the Chinese culture used animals to stylize their martial arts forms, then read on to find out more.
What Is The Bat Style Of Kung Fu?
There are many forms of Kung Fu that are based on animals that draw inspiration from not only the animal given in the name of the style, but also many other martial arts influences as well. For instance, the Bear style of Kung Fu takes influences from not only movements of bears, but also wrestling and Chin-na. So, what inspired Bat style Kung Fu?
Bat Kung Fu is a fast moving system that incorporates techniques that can be utilized while running and evading. Footwork is more important than stationary stances as distance is maintained. PaKua is a major influence on the style with circular motions and a multiple attacker defense focus.
One of the main characteristics of many animal based Kung Fu styles is multiple speed oriented strikes and techniques versus power single strike attacks. The Bat style takes this idea to a new level with running, rolling, and jumping techniques to evade, counterstrike, and balance advancing and retreating over long distances.
There are styles that focus on control and holding positions and stances in Kung Fu. Yet, many styles of the animal systems are based on fast or fluid movement. Bat Kung Fu is one of these.
Another aspect of this style is its emphasis on defending against multiple attackers. Being pinned down to one opponent or to one place can spell disaster if there are several aggressive targets. Bat Kung Fu uses movement and distance control to evade and strike as a counter or retreating measure.
This enables attacks to be directed at alternating targets in order to throw off their decision making and reaction skills. Most styles have some form of multi opponent technique, but Bat Kung Fu is a great addition to any to strengthen the strategy.
Is Bat Style A Rare Kung Fu System?
Other than the ‘Caped Crusader’ that we will discuss later, why is Bat style Kung Fu not as widely known or practiced as other styles? Though every style is effective for its original purpose if it is used for what it was designed for, is a lack of applicable situations the cause of Bat Kung Fu being rare?
Bat Kung Fu is a rare Kung Fu system because it is a sub-style art rather than a base or complete style. Its focus is on complementing specific body types and other animal systems. It is a gap closer for distance style arts, evasion for close quarter arts, and can add a multiple opponent defense.
What this system offers is unique to most martial arts and resembles many of the Filipino styles of weapons based arts. The movement is the base with passing strikes and evasion being key as practitioners practically run on many straight, circular, and angular lines.
Rare styles of Kung Fun, and especially of the animal variety, are normally derivative styles. This means that they are designed to make up for some deficiency in another style or to take advantage of its strengths more fully.
An example of this would be the different bird styles that have spun off from the Crane. The rare Duck style and the Herron style both are sub-styles of Crane Kung Fu. They are meant to focus on more specific aspects within the style, but not to entirely stand on their own.
To learn more about the great many variations of animal Kung Fu, I recommend checking out my article The Ultimate Martial Arts Animal Guide-Kung Fu, Karate, BJJ.
Is Batman Kung Fu Style Based On Bats?
With years of development and many writers creating the scenes, Batman in the comics, movies, or animated series has had many martial arts written into his character. One of the more pronounced is the Chinese Kung Fu references. What is the Batman Kung Fu style?
The Batman Kung Fu style has many elements that take influence from various animal and nonanimal systems. There are definite links to the Bat, Tiger, Dragon, Bear, Crane, and many more. He even studied under Chinese Kung Fu masters and in Tibetan monasteries.
There are two main issues here in regards to Batman’s Kung Fu influences. One is the link to an actual Bat Kung Fu and the other is to the diverse other influences from the Chinese martial arts.
Does The Batman Character Have A Link To Bat Kung Fu?
Anyone who has played a Batman (TM of DC Comics) video games, watched the movies, or enjoyed any of the animated series will attest to the huge influence that the martial arts in general has had on the Batman character. Yet, is there a link to this ‘run and gun’ style that batman portrays and the highly mobile Bat Kung Fu?
Batman has definite ties to Chinese Kung Fu and related styles like Bat Kung Fu. One of the styles of Bat Kung Fu is claimed to be Tibetan in origin. In the movie Batman Begins Bruce Wayne travels to a monastery to train in the Tibetan Himalayas. Other links are to Dragon and Tiger styles.
There is a controversy in the Chinese martial arts about Bagua or PaKua being of Buddhist and not Taoist origin. With Bat Kung Fu in some forms being claimed as Tibetan and the religion since the 8th century AD of Tibet being Buddhist, these ties point to at least a thought given to the rare style of Bat Kung Fu as part of Batman’s foundation.
We can definitely find more references to many other types of martial arts throughout the Batman franchise. What we do see are many elements of Chinese martial arts and influences in the fight scenes. Since the storyline and character has developed over many decades, it is not accurate to say there is any one influence.
Though, it is very interesting to see the writers possibly making a connection between the names and one of the origins of the character’s martial arts training.
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Other Links Between Kung Fu And Batman
There is also an animated movie that makes links between Batman’s fighting system and Chinese Kung Fu. It also supplies him with diverse companions that all have trained and mastered different aspects of these arts.
Batman: Soul Of The Dragon is a film that depicts the influence of these Chinese style martial arts on him and the different aspects or forms it can take. There are not only animal styles to be found in the systems, but there are a large number of styles that vary in focus and applicaiton.
The next time you see a Batman film, play a video game, or watch and animated show with the Dark Knight, keep an eye out for Kung Fu’s influence and even the fast moving, evasion, gorilla style combat that marks Bat Kung Fu.
The Bat Kung Fu Takeaway…
There really is a Bat Kung Fu style though not that easy to find in most cities. It is not simply a play on the DC comic character Batman either. It has a series of fast moving, distance covering techniques designed for self defense against single and multiple opponents.
That being said, there is some evidence that the writers of Batman did take some direction from the little known style and set the foundational training and formation of Bruce Wayne’s technique in a Tibetan monastery. With some forms of Bat style touted as coming from Tibet, there is a real possibility.
You may never meet a master of Bat Kung Fu in your area, but it is more likely that you will meet Kung Fu students with techniques that are either influenced by it or similar on their own.
Don’t forget to look into my article covering a great many of these Kung Fu animal styles…