While On the Subject of Tigers (Running Into Walls)

4 03 2013

While we’re on the subject of Tigers…

Perhaps we should take this time to inform the readers that Tiger style Kung Fu has little to do with Tiger clawing and making “hwa” sounds. Sort of.

Tiger claw Kung Fu is a style of fighting in which one takes on the characteristics of a Tiger:

  • No animal in its right mind attacks a Tiger. Not even the Lion. Seriously, when was the last time you saw a Tiger fight a Lion?
  • The Tiger is indomitable
  • He is powerful
  • He is ruthless
  • He is not known for speed, except at close quarters
  • His footwork is a pouncing-style attack
  • He does not retreat
  • And, oh yeah, he has those claws

When Jow Ga refers to itself (and Jow Lung) as “Fu Pow”–Tiger and Leopard–we are referring to the combination of a fighting style that is powerful and cruel, like a Tiger, as well as quick and agile, like the Leopard. Without wanting to teach by blog, we’ll leave it at that.

In the Dean Chin school, considerable time is spend building the horse upon which the fighter stands. In other words, we build the strong and powerful legs that enable us to attack an opponent from what seems like a safe distance to the opponent. More than a kicking/leg’s distance away, but not so far that the opponent cannot be reached. The training starts by teaching the stances, and building the fighter’s ability to hold them for a long periods of time. Immediately after the fighter begins developing strength, we introduce movement–first short, basic movements, then later to more complex movements. Next, the movement with the feet will incorporate hand attacks, so that power is generated from the legs through the attacking motion of the body through the arms and hands and expelled through the destructive power of the attack.

Think of the difference between a 2 ton elephant swatting you, and a 1/2 ton Tiger rushing full speed and crashing into you. Both have power, but one is more devastating and sudden. When the elephant attacks, it has power but it is a power that one feels confident that you can escape it. However, when the Tiger attacks it is both intimidating and frightening because what is hurled at you is coming so fast even if you see it, you can’t escape it. If the Tiger has generated enough momentum, his power can feel like an elephant hit you when he lands.

And, like we stated earlier, his posture, his build, his presence is such that everyone in the room knows he’s there. It is a forceful, yet latent, presence. Can go from 0 – 60 in the blink of an eye. This kind of velocity has nothing to do with Tiger Claws. It all comes from the Horse. We must build the fighter’s physique into the personified image of a Tiger:  Strong, explosive legs, powerful upper body, and a killer instinct. There are three important tools used to accomplish this:

  • lifetime of stance training
  • weighted handwork (dumbells, brass rings, bricks, etc.)
  • plenty of impact training

Not exactly hi-tech stuff, but it’s very effective. And if you don’t want join problems, don’t look for shortcuts.

With this kind of training, we have no need to run from the opponent. In none of our Tiger forms, do we retreat. In one form–the Fu Pow Chune (Tiger and Cougar) form–there is one part that shuffles back to draw the opponent into attacking, and once the opponent does so, we capture him and tear his arm off. Just like a Tiger.

When the body rushes forward in a forward-moving attack, not only are we “shuffling” forward with the feet–we are actually attacking with our torso as well as the limbs. This way, if the opponent counters while we attack or is foolish enough to lunge forward, he will run smack into a wall. Although you may only weigh 190 lbs (like I do), the forward motion multiplies the force attacking him, and increases the damage we intended to inflict.

Wish I could tell you more, but you’ll have to hunt down a Jow Ga Sifu to learn more.

Thanks for visiting the DC Jow Ga Federation.

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