The approach to Monkey Kung Fu has its own flavour and mechanics because of having such a reliance of groundwork and not allowing positioning to deter from its effectiveness.
Upper Body Attacks
When using the hands in monkey, open palm slaps are best served quick and where it will hurt. The targets are common: groin, cheeks, diaphragm, throat, etc., but then you also have points that are uncommon. One is the inside the legs as there are nerve points and arteries that are very painful when hit and debilitate the legs. Attacks to the knees inside and on the outside offset the defenders body balance and then a quick follow-up allows them to fall. Of course, this uses a low crouching stance in the monkey practitioner but that is the beauty of monkey, you can attack from the floor as well as standing. Finger jabs and pokes also work the eyes and soft areas, like under the arms, to cause much pain. A good eye poke can stop most fights. Hammer fists break the nose and clavicles.
The elbows also come into play as they set up close quarter combat. When you are trapped into body-to-body distances and quick elbow strike stops most fights, plus adding the weight and then leg sweeps to this attack, the opponents goes down very quickly to then put them into the ground-fighting arena where monkey also has an advantage.
Monkeys are famous for their legs being used as a second set of hands and this also applies to the kung fu style. The legs must be trained to be as agile and quick as the hands, so that you have four weapons immediately available for attacking or defending. There is a humorous saying that is used to highlight this, “Smart man use 4 clubs instead of 2.” From close quarters to distanced attacks, a monkey stylist should be able to kick any direction. This technique is called the four hands method. A poking kick (with the toe pointed forward) is usually used to hit soft vital areas, like the groin, throat, or inside the knee. But, a slapping instep or knee is also used. This allows any distance to be perfect for attacking and also surprising opponents as they think they’ve stolen your ability with closing the gap.
From the ground the kicking ability should be agile enough to hit the head of an attacker. They step in and then the monkey stylist quickly moves right under them delivering a kick upward to their throat, knee, groin or even head. This is called disappearing and becoming invisible as you suddenly drop from sight leaving an attack in your place. This type of confusing behavior gives an advantage since no one expects or even trains for such antics. Then from that position the legs should be used to trip and bring the opponent down to the floor for more attacks and wrapping them up in four hands.
Many times kung fu is thought to lack ground fighting or the ability to attack from that supposedly prone helpless position. When fighting, the monkey stylist uses their legs and hands constantly bombarding the opponent at any angle. You roll onto their body and then use elbows attacks and then grabbing their arms or legs to twist and break whatever comes close enough to. Choking the opponent with your legs while still hitting them with the hands simply overwhelms them into defeat.
Attacking from crouched a position is another aspect. From what looks like a crouched balled up position, as when a monkey’s rear is pressed in a sitting position and knees brought to the chest, you learn to walk and attack from this awkward attack form. Most never train to have someone attack their groin while still moving at them from a waist high stance. Again, we gain the advantage and surprise. This also sets up for roll-throughs hitting the knees or bringing an axe kick overhead for their face. While lying on your back, one should be able to kick straight up 90 degrees form the floor. This adds flexibility and power to normal standing kicks but also the advantage of using any position for attack.
Angles of Attack
As already mentioned before, the monkey attacks from any position. Drills are used to have students lying on their backs, rolling, jumping, attacking off of a tree trunk in the yard or sitting in a chair. The student’s agility and quick reflexes become more and more malleable, depending on the situation. The kicks or hand slaps should be from any body position. One could dodge to the left in a low stance and still kick upward to the face and then drop to a crouching stance to punch the knee. An attack formula called high/low represents attacking high and then dropping low to throw off their opponent’s ability to predict where the next strike will even come from. The flow of the monkey stylists attacks enter from spaces thought protected. Attacks also move into jumping on the opponent, but this is very dangerous and only done by advanced students. Your body weight adds to your attacks and you move onto the opponent forcing them down or allowing us a mounted position, while still attacking. This also grants and psychological advantage to the opponent realizing that no matter what they do this monkey will be all over me and that is enough sometimes.
Philosophy of a Monkey
The five personalities of the monkey, namely Lost Monkey, Wooden Monkey, Stone Monkey, Standing Monkey and Stone Monkey, act as the five principles that are the essence of the monkey fighting.
In addition, there are five principles of mental attitude that must be cultivated in this art. They include deviousness, elusiveness, unpredictability, sneakiness and destructiveness. Each of these is employed in each of the five monkey forms.
A student of Monkey Kung Fu needs to incorporate these principles into his own personality while training or fighting. There is no place for a “clean” fight: The monkey plays to win at all cost.