Ride the tiger

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Names in China can carry a great deal more importance than in the west and animals play an important part in Chinese martial arts both because of the moves mimicking the movements of the animals and because of the symbolism attached to the animals.  In China there are so many idioms involving the tiger:

  • Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon made Famous by the Ang Li film of the same name means: concealed talent or talented individuals in hiding.
  • To move the tiger from the mountain : to lure out an opponent by stratagem.
  • Draw a tiger using a cat as a model : to do something without understanding it.
  • To fear the wolf in front and the tiger behind : scare mongering
  • Rear a tiger, court disaster : if you are too lenient with someone they will damage you later.
  • To beat a tiger from the front door, only to have a wolf come in at the back : facing one problem after the other.
  • A new born calf has no fear of the tiger : youth is fearless.
  • To subdue a tiger : to prevail over sinister forces.

So the tiger obviously holds a special place in the heart and mind of the Chinese. Even the full Chinese name lao hu implies respect from the character lao meaning old. But why Ride the Tiger? To “Ride the Tiger” means to be in control of all your internal energies. That is; you have achieved such a level of mastery that all your energies are controlled, and that is one of my goals in practicing tai chi.

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