Since antiquity, Kung Fu and Qi Gong practitioners have looked to animals for inspiration. Animals have special and unique characteristics that allow them to survive in nature and master their environment.
Animals generally do not use tools and must rely on their own body’s ability to hunt, defend themselves and navigate the dangers of the natural world.
Humans have been extremely effective at learning and embodying lessons from just about anything that we can observe. And, in turn, utilize those lessons into practical method to advance our own cause and humanity as a whole.
Two of the most famous Kung Fu animals are the Snake and Tiger.
Both animals locate their prey and strike quickly, usually once, the snake or tiger attacks, the encounter is ended quickly.
In many ways, the Snake and Tiger seem like opposites, both different in shape and size, but on closer examination, we can see similarities.
Snakes are effective predators and are believed to have been around for approximately 100 million years!
For all time, humans have had to be weary and careful of snakes. One bite from a venomous snake can kill. Snakes are difficult to see and usually blend into their surroundings well.
Snakes are careful hunters that use a keen sense of smell to locate their prey. Snakes moves carefully and quietly around obstacles to stalk their target and place themselves in a position ready to strike.
Rather than go over an obstacle, revealing their position and becoming vulnerable to attack by raptor, snakes prefer to go around the obstacle and stay concealed.
Once in position, snakes coil their bodies and wait calmly to strike. When the moment is right, they strike with extreme speed. If the first strike fails, many strikes will follow in quick succession.
The key to the Snake’s ability to strike quickly is by coiling their entire body, and then releasing the built up tension. In this way, they are similar to the Tiger who crouches before they pounce. Snakes have very flexible spines allowing them to coil deeply and turn fully.
When we study the Snake, we learn that remaining calm and seeing yourself around obstacles can gain a great advantage. Waiting for the right moment to strike and seizing the opportunity.
By developing a flexible spine and then sinking and spiraling our bodies in our stances, we can gain the ability to strike many times with great speed and force.
Tigers are fierce and powerful animals that are able to take down prey many times their own size and weight. The Tiger explodes into action and bursts through obstructions to achieve its goal.
In all places, where there are Tigers, they are feared and respected. In addition to their enormous strength, claws and teeth, Tigers are highly intelligent and have keen senses. Taoist practitioners revered the Tiger as one of the four highly intelligent animals.
We do not have Tigers to observe locally, but do have house cats! Next time you can, observe the way a common house cat moves, then imagine a much larger version, the Tiger! If you are lucky you may get to see them stalk and hunt prey. Tigers are essentially enormous house cats.
In martial practice, the qualities of the Tiger, relate to explosive dynamic movement and pushing through barriers.
It is obvious why we would want to power through an opponent in a martial situation, to push them away, or charge through them knocking them to the ground.
But, of greater importance, is the quality of breaking through personal life barriers. Maybe the barrier is emotional or social. Tigers are not lazy. They address issues head on, summoning their inner strength and charge forward, breaking through barriers to achieve their goals.
In conclusion, although the Snake and Tiger are very different in many ways, and seem like opposites, they share a similar mode of attack.
Both animals burst into action with great force. Both animals contemplate their approach and stalk their prey using stealth. Unlike a wolf or a dog, the Tiger and the Snake are unable to pursue their prey over long distance and must end the encounter quickly.
The Tiger, being of great size and power can be more aggressive and charge from greater distance, leaping over obstructions.
While the Snake must rely on precise, calm and careful approach, slithering around obstacles that separate Snake from prey.
Both animals use the element of surprise and sudden attack.
The Tiger’s teeth and the Snake’s fangs deal the final blow.
When visualizing your Animal Power moves, study nature and achieve an advantage.