Snake-style kung fu is a style of martial arts developed by monks at the Shaolin temple in China. It is one of the oldest schools of kung fu, and it emphasizes evasion, deceptive body posture and swift strikes that can cause either superficial damage or serious disability.
A snake practitioner avoids the showy ready stances of most kung fu techniques. Instead, a snake stylist usually launches into a full attack from an innocent-looking standing posture. In the snake style, the fighter's legs remain stiff and ready to deliver low kicks to the opponent's feet, shins and knees. High kicks are avoided, as these can disrupt the practitioner's balance.
A snake stylist attacks swiftly with an emphasis on flexibility. Two styles of attack are common: viper and cobra. Viper attacks employ a characteristic split-finger striking method that aims to put pressure on important blood vessels, such as the jugular vein, and draw copious amounts of blood without necessarily causing lasting harm. Cobra is intended to be more destructive, using a fingers-forward hand posture to apply as much force as possible against key pressure points. In each style, the practitioner is expected to be able to rapidly alter the style of an attack if the initial contact is dodged or blocked.