The traditional lineage of the system begins with master Wang Zhenyuan in the late nineteenth-century; but the style was originally formed at the Shaolin Henan Temple before being transferred to Wang. The style was then passed from Wang Zhenyuan to Wang Zijiu, then to Wang Zhixiao, and finally to Su Fuyuan (Cantonese: Souw Hok Gwan).
The Black Tiger style is characterised by its extensive footwork, acrobatic kicks, low, wide stances, and unique fist position (where the thumb is curled in the same manner as the other fingers, rather than wrapped around them). According to the Shaolin grandmasters, the style is the single most external style in the Shaolin canon; the longer the stylist practices, however, the more she or he comes to rely solely on internal power. In this respect it is similar to Northern Praying Mantis.