In our system, we learn Self Control from the Tiger fighting style. Among the fiercest and most aggressive of the animal styles, the Tiger possesses incredible strength and power. It always advances. The tiger can be huge, powerful, and intimidating. Because of that, the Tiger also teaches us that a warrior must learn to control that great power. Establishing this balance is the lifelong journey of a martial artist.
In Kung Fu, students learn to focus, be still, breathe deeply, and center the power of each punch or kick. That takes remarkable self-control. In fact, the less self-controlled a person is, the weaker each strike becomes. It is easy to tell a white belt from a black belt just by the way they kick and punch. With training and self-control, strikes become absolutely devastating.
The Tiger in all of us
There is a bit of the Tiger inside all of us. Some students come through the door with their inner Tiger in hibernation, just waiting to wake up. Others come with the Tiger out of the cage, running amok and wreaking havoc on their lives.
Along the way to black belt, students experience a remarkable transformation. The principles of combat become principles of life. The mind and body must move as one. See your opponent, know your surroundings. Be centered. Control your emotions. Focus. Kung Fu teaches us to awaken the Tiger inside us, then guides us to tame it. That’s more than strength. That’s true power.
Some people find that kind of power intimidating. “I’m not a bully,” they’d say. “I don’t want to hurt anyone.” Good. Neither do we. And that’s not weakness. In fact, that’s what strength really is.
“Weakness…is the lack of ability to control emotions that lead to damaging yourself and others,” says Grandmaster DeMasco. “Weakness is using power or arrogance to intimidate others so that they fear you. It’s weak because true power comes from the awareness that we are all connected, not from the subjugation of those people who need us the most.” Imagine the biggest, nastiest bully-type you know – whether it is the playground thug being mean at school or the arrogant boss at work – and realize that he or she is stunningly weak.
Strength says, “Let’s do right, no matter what, and no matter who is watching.” Real strength comes through self-control. True power requires tremendous restraint and relentless courage.
We need the power of our inner Tiger. It makes us brave, it helps us take the initiative, it helps us stand for what’s right, to fight for what we believe in, and protect those we love. Properly trained, our inner Tiger helps us act with great power to do good in the world.