Monday, April 15, 2013

Tiger Style


Tiger kung fu


The tiger plays a great role in Chinese history and mythology, so it is only fitting that the beast should be chosen as one from which to develop a fighting art. The ferocity, wisdom and tenacity are legendary. So it is that we study the king of the animals in order to be taught "tenacity and power".
Tiger kung fu dates back to the time of Dr. Hua T'o and constituted some of the original kung fu exercises taught for health. As a fighting art, it traces its roots to Burma and the ancient methods of bandasilat. Among the Shaolin, tiger was a necessity for study because it encompassed all aspects of armed and unarmed combat.
For the most part, tiger utilizes a hard, external approach to combat that meets force with force and is very likely to maim or kill an opponent because of the nature of the counterattack. Its primary hand weapons are the closed fist and the tiger claw while kicking maneuvers are usually low to middle range kicks of great power.
One studies tiger to develop bones, muscles and tendons. The emphasis, as befits the beast, is on strength and dynamic tension, culminated in short, hard, snappy moves. As in all styles of kung fu, one becomes the animal.
The Tiger kung fu family, although a low system, encompasses an enormous range of subsystems that span levels from low to low high. The members of the family, listed in their traditional order, are as follows:
Of these, tiger comprises 85% of the family's techniques, pa kua 1%, eagle 1%, leoaprd 5%, monkey 5%, white tiger 1%, dragon 1% and white eyebrow 1%. Hong tiger, eagle, leopard and monkey are sufficiently diverse that they may be considered independent subsystems.
Crab is now a dead system of kung fu, the remnants of which were incorporated into eagle, hong tiger and white eyebrow. Practitioners fought from a low, crouching scissors stance and used great wrist and forearm strength to attack nerves or cut off circulation with the crab pincer.
S'hu, the hong weapons kung fu style, has 3 sets dealing primarily with the spear and tiger fork.
White tiger kung fu is very effective and narrow in scope, the most interesting of the tiger systems. Swift and dynamic, it has more flow than hung gar and is faster than tiger. It is Chinese, founded by a monk who escaped with White Eyebrow, and is designed for those who study only tiger. One studies this style after mastering one's own system or, if a tiger stylist, after learning all below it. The 3rd form consists entirely of aerial kicks, one covering 360 degrees in the air. Its saber set is the most advanced form devised for that weapon. The remaining material in the style provides a lead to ruby dragon kung fu.
Pa kua is a tremendously diverse kung fu style that is similar to aikido or jiujitsu in its application. Pa kua is an internal, southern style, begun in the 19th century by Tung. Its basis is the I Ching, the 8 trigrams of which constitute the foundation of the art. Tremendous flexibility is developed in the practitioner who practices his techniques while walking in a circle to enhance ch'i. Some forms have been developed with an emphasis on tiger tactics and comprise the internal tiger of the family.
Drunken kung fu is not truly a system for the techniques are not unique to it, only their application. Deception and surprise are used, making it into a sort of elaborate pa kua. There are no forms.
Tiger also has remnants of offbeat hard styles as well as northern varieties, such as Black Tiger. Lion kung fu was an unusual style which was enveloped by tiger. Its influence can be seen in the lion dance that was traditionally taught first to tiger practitioners.
Shaolin tiger contains within it the entirety of hung gar, s'hu tiger, and hong tiger. Its weapons are spear, tiger fork and daggers. Tiger forms are as follows:
  • 5 Points of the Star (key form)
  • Tiger and Old Man: an old man studied tigers and became accepted into their society. When he and an old tiger died, they were reincarnated as a single being, a demigod in the form of a man.
  • Tiger vs Crane
  • Spear
  • 7 Pushes
  • Longbow & Arrow
  • Rain
  • Tiger Bares Its Claws
  • Tiger's Revenge

In tiger, we encounter for the first time the concept of time and system - that is, which system is best suited for when. Because of the diversity of tiger, we have systems for most occasions; it is simply a matter of experience to determine when they are best used.
Monkey and leopard are especially useful at night, when the blinding hand and foot movements are invisible. Movement is accomplished far faster than the eye can compensate for in reduced light.
Tiger is useful during daylight and on hills but is difficult on wet ground. Go back to leopard in that situation.
White eyebrow is excellent in hot weather, when frustration is easily created in an opponent. The speed and economy of movement are too much to handle under such conditions.
Tiger itself and its close relatives (hong tiger, hung gar, white tiger) are best suited to shorter, muscular men. White dragon and white eyebrow are for skilled practitioners, regardless of sex. There is something for everyone in tiger, although the women's choices will be best limited to monkey, leopard, pak mei and the dragons.
Tiger claws are used as if grabbing a bag of BBs. All fingertips strike first, then the claw grabs so that the area between the fingertips and the 1st knuckles break the target. Ch'i projection will allow you to explode a target by putting massive amounts of energy into 5 small areas.
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