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Characteristics of Tai Chi
origins, meanings, lineage, analyses and exploration

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


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.


wrestle tiger

video

return to mountain

Wrestle Tiger,

and Return to Mountain.

 

This sequence repeats at the start of both parts 2 & 3 of the Yang form (see Netguide)

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

 
block left hand push right hand

Each time this occurs it follows Cross Hands, the posture that concludes each part of the form – including the last.

cross hands
video

 

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.

close up step back and wrestle tiger
with aid ballsclose up from frontfrom back  

video

Part of the finale of the form is one of the most dynamic of postures:

Sweep Lotus.

sweep lotus
video

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 –

Shoot Tiger.

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.

bend bow and shoot tiger
video

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.


 
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.
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