“The tiger’s fangs are long and his claws are sharp. He is unrelenting and stern, courageous and cunning – the ruler of earth. To become like the tiger, you must let your spirit merge with the spirit of an animal that knows no fear and can attack without hesitation.”
These are the words of Fred Absher and are the foundation for my understanding of the posture of the tiger.
One must understand that the tiger is a style of resolving conflict and a series of tactics, but more importantly it is an attitude.
The tiger knows that most real encounters are finished at close range and right away. He views long range tactics like kicking and punching that you see in tournaments, as entertaining to watch but having little value in real combat. Either you close quickly and go for the jugular or break the neck – or you simply don’t waste your time.
There is the tale of two tigers, where it is explained that two tigers in the wild never fight. The reason, it is explained, is because they know that one will die, and one will be maimed for life in any such encounter. The tiger stylist has the same attitude. He knows, that should he have to defend himself or his loved ones, he will do so with extreme prejudice and without hesitation. Simply knowing this and showing no fear is usually enough to deter most aggressors. Having nothing to prove, he walks among us without fear, and that overwhelming and confident attitude projects this intent that is immediately felt when he walks into a room. Instead of others feeling threatened when he walks in the room because of his tremendous abilities, they actually feel safer and more comfortable when he is around.
Most martial artists understand that physical courage is to make the body do what it fears to do. Slowly we learn to overcome our fears through this simple process of doing what we fear to do.
Many times, it is moral courage that is needed the most in the modern society. Moral courage is the ability not to abandon a position or belief you hold when it may not be popular. Moral courage may be standing up to bigotry, racism, unfairness and/or bullying behavior. Moral courage is
accepting the challenge of standing up for what is right without fear of personal consequences. It takes courage to do the right thing especially when everyone else is going in a different direction.
Courage is an important element in the development of martial arts mastery.