The Tiger in Tai Chi
There is myth in the east of a Ware Tiger. If a person
is killed by this tiger it is said that it then possesses
the soul or spirit of that human and this spirit is
not released until it kills and repossess another. Hence
the fear is perpetuated.
The only tigers that I have ever seen ‘in the flesh’
so to speak have been those in zoos (good and bad),
or in theatre of some sort. … Yet I am still scared
stiff of them! All than a tiger need do to appear more
frightening than it already does - is to open its mouth.
Ultimately you don’t tell a tiger what to do. You see
what it wants to do, and you let it do it wherever it
wants to do it. Shape up or ship out.
Cheng Man-ch’ing issued the clear advice for Tai Chi
practitioners: "When you have an opponent before
you, imagine that you don’t. When you don’t have an
opponent before you, Imagine that you do!"
The most awesome adversory that a human is ever likely
to encounter is the tiger.Though their existence is
real, the adversary of the tiger has no physical presence
within the Tai Chi form and so it is visualised. Being
never ‘there’, the tiger nature of the tiger should
be ever present – in the mind.
and Return to Mountain.
This sequence repeats at the start of both parts 2
& 3 of the Yang form (see
Martial applications of Wrestle Tiger include blocking
a kick coming from behind (internal/softest styles).
The left hand then pushes the opponent over – in the
direction that he is already going [as illustrated].
Or in the case of the more external or hard styles -
grabbing and twisting some part of the opponent.
Block with left hand Push/assist with right
Each time this occurs it follows Cross Hands, the posture
that concludes each part of the form – including the
So, part one and two end with Cross Hands. Part three
also ends with cross hands. Within the form the tiger
is wrestled at the beginning of part two and three but
the whole form concludes only when the tiger is not
wrested but ridden as it is towards the end of part
three, just before the equally triumphant sequences
of Step Back and Ride Tiger.
Part of the finale of the form is one of the most dynamic
The movement that follows requires the storing of energy
prior to a 360-degree turn with various options of strike.
This all proceeds the last encounter with the tiger
within the form –
This posture does have the appearance of drawing on
a bow and it is often assumed that it is this that is
aimed to shoot the tiger. The original martial application
is actually a long way from that and far more direct
in its ultimate contact.
The right shoulder ‘pulls on’ an oncoming strike. It
does not impede it – it assists it.
The left elbow is kept as always down.
The strike is with tai chi punch fist to ‘empty’.
Little if any force or strength is used. The left
thigh and hip turns as if side on to a gale. The right
hand grasps the power of the wind going in one direction.
The other benefits the same gale force imparted in the
other direction – downward and inward.