Hung Gar: Taming the Tiger set
Taming the Tiger or ‘Kung Gee Fook Fu’ is often called the first great ‘set’ or form (prearranged moments which contain the marital strategies of the system) of Hung Gar Kung-Fu. In truth Taming the Tiger can be seen as two different sets merged into one. The importance of the Taming the Tiger set to Hung Gar Kung-Fu cannot be overstated, however, neither should the first set within Taming the Tiger be underemphasized, and sadly that is precisely what often happens.
The origins of Hung Gar Kung-Fu, not perhaps historically, but spiritually are mostly lost on the modern public, and it is these spiritual origins which even more than the historical are the real drivers behind Hung Gar Kung-Fu’s shaping. Hung Gar Kung-Fu was the last martial art to be developed at Shaolin Temple. We can assume that it took from what the broad spectrum of Shaolin martial arts considered most effective and efficient in its formulation, combined with the methods developed solely by its founders. Hung Gar Kung-Fu obviously stood up to the harsh criticisms of other Shaolin Kung-Fu masters and survived the many tests to its legitimacy. As a fighting art, it is complete.
After decades of using Hung Gar Kung-Fu, as well as Baguzhang, to defend my person and my ideologies, I am no longer overly focused on direct physical confrontation as I know what I can do and what I am capable of. I was a young male during the 2001-2008 Bush presidency. I was a staunch opponent of the illegal war turned occupation of Iraq, and I openly questioned the official 9-11 story. I put many hot-headed Neo-Con Rebulicans in the hospital with broken bones and collapsed nasal cavities, many were Marines. Those assholes learned first hand that my First Amendment is protected by my Second Amendment. Now, 16 years later, I have had unfortunate reason to catastrophically harm members, mainly the leadership, of Neo-Liberal “Leftist” militant groups. They, like the Neo-Con Republican clowns before them, attempted to intimidate me (using both threats of violence and actual violence) from exercising my First Amendment right. That is an act of terrorism, and I responded in kind.
Never forget, terrorism is, “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” Be it the Bush-era Neo-Con Republicans warmongering idiots, or the present day Neo-Liberal Antifa lunatics, I will not hesitate to curb-stomp terrorists who physically attack me. I am an American who is absolutely committed to the defense of the Constitution and Bill of Rights for ALL American citizens as well as Human-Rights for ALL peoples of the world. Hung Gar Kung-Fu was developed for many of the same reasons (the protection and empowering the Chinese people against rampant corruption) and in direct response to a tyrannical Government.
Spiritually Hung Gar Kung-Fu was the “taming of the tiger”. The tiger, in Buddhist conception, is comparative to the Devil of the Abrahamic faiths. A mighty and fearsome power which lay nearly invisible in the tall grasses, waiting and watching, a presence which was felt but not seen until was too late. The physical act of being stalked by a tiger was conceptualized into spiritual and moral modalities. By extension, all negative, primal, and unchecked aspects of self, other, even societal, came to be expressed by the image of a tiger.
What happened at Shaolin transcended understanding by the majority of other spiritualities which a single image embodies all evil. The Buddhist sect of Shaolin realized just as unhealthy and insane it would be to eliminate all tigers from nature, it would be equally asinine to think one could hunt their own inner tigers to extinction. In the act of authentic courage, they sought to tame the tiger, all tigers, as well as, all the tiger had become the expression for. Beginning with the tiger which stalked each them within their own inner psychic forest.
It was through that marvelous act, the spirit of Hung Gar began to animate human flesh, and the first great set or form of Hung Gar Kung-Fu, Taming the Tiger, was born. As stated above, Taming the Tiger or Kung Gee Fook Fu, is actually comprised of two merged sets. It is the first of the two which I believe to be the most fundamentally important (not to understate the importance of the other, as it too is essential), what I credit as part of my superhuman strength and durability and core to the spiritual tenets on which Hung Gar Kung-Fu was formed.
The opening or first set of Taming the Tiger is a physical or muscular and tendon strengthening set, requiring a high degree of mental focus. The beginning section of Taming the Tiger is meant to be performed under tremendous strain through hard dynamic tension, pitting one major group against another, while maintaining full body muscular tension. This is heavily taxing on the central nervous system, and will rapidly deplete Adenosine triphosphate or ATP (ATP is the energy currency of life. A high-energy molecule found in every cell. It both stores and supplies the cell with energy).
Hard dynamic tension sets like Taming the Tiger, are a highly useful training module because they force the body and mind to become comfortable under prolonged tension (similar to the stress of combat), making the body capable of higher and higher degrees of physical output, and replenishing APT at a faster rate. A notable and ever incurring hardening, increased muscular density of the body, is one of Taming the Tiger’s many coveted results. Starting most pronouncedly in the extremities of the limbs, the hands, and forearms, the feet and calves, overtime working their respective ways up and meeting in the middle of the torso. So dense and solid a person’s body can become, breaking the hand of an attacker by deflecting or block their punch is not unheard of and is within the personal experience of the author.
The increase of a person’s physical strength can also be just as startling. Strength is produced by muscular contraction, the harder the tendon of the muscle or muscles is pulled or shortened, the harder the muscle or muscles will contract and the higher the level of strength will be. Taming the Tiger provides a calculated opportunity to continually practice and refine a person’s ability to contract their muscles harder and harder. The individual attains a strength level beyond what most would know as “strong.” Should that person also practice forms of weight manipulation (dumbbells, kettlebells, stone locks, heavy weapons, etc.) in conjunction to Taming the Tiger, their muscles will get even bigger and thereby serve as more muscle to squeeze out even greater strength.
Taming the Tiger demands sustained full body muscular contraction. The central nervous system, or CNS, is forced to keep muscles engaged, and a curious phenomenon occurs. In what is called a “Bio-Feedback loop,” under normal circumstances, the CNS monitors and regulates the level of muscular contraction we produce. Generally speaking, most people can only muster 20-30% of their muscles full potential. As the adherent practices the Taming the Tiger set, he or she will start to consciously ignore the CNS’s command to relax their muscles, and begin demanding the CNS not only sustain the current level of full body muscular contraction but squeeze the muscles even harder. The result? Greater endurance, sharper focus, more physical durability and extended periods to apply and leverage higher levels of strength against a person or object.
At this point, literally crushing the bones, rupturing the flesh, and pulverizing the organs of an attacker becomes realistic.
In tandem with the body, the mind is also placed under stiff demands to function clearly under duress. Remembering the movements of Taming the Tiger while the brain is being simultaneously tasked with actively recruiting and maintaining deployment of all muscles groups (martialing of forces) is a difficult task, especially in the beginning. However, through dedicated practice, the mind will eventually overcome the chaos being created from within the body, and raise up above foray. Like a general overseeing his or her troops, the mind will direct and maneuver the body, leading it to victory.
Because all the movements of Taming the Tiger have direct martial applications, should the need arise, you can respond with formidable power and mental clarity.
Taming the Tiger, like all genuinely difficult and comprehensive dynamic tension sets, are not only challenging but arduous. Tendon ache is worse than muscle ache, and with Taming the Tiger, you will experience both simultaneously. The central nervous system will need time to recover and adapt, and energy levels can fluctuate wildly through the first initial weeks of practice. For these reasons, your body will tell you to stop, and nearly everyone does. In effect, they met their inner tiger, the tiger comprised of all their excuses, be they personal, cultural, societal, or political. We say the tiger ate that person for lunch.
Hung Gar Kung-Fu’s Taming the Tiger set is entirely about taming your tiger! It means that you seek it out, face it down and through continuous application of effort, bring your inner tiger and all its primal force under your command. The set is called Taming the Tiger, not Tiger Tamed, thereby the process is ongoing. The practice is never completed. Mastery is never fully achieved however greater degrees of mastery are continually attained through practice. This is where the spiritual nature of Hung Gar Kung-Fu, and its Taming the Tiger set, is really apparent.
Until you firmly grasp what taming your inner tiger is, you cannot expect to tame tigers which are distinctly external to you. Real change occurs on the inside first. Only after you have brought your inner tiger under control, will external tigers around you either cease to be the tigers you thought they were or reveal themselves to be the external tigers dire in need of taming.
Tame your inner tiger. See muscular contraction as forcing evil and weakness out of your body. See sweat as internal and external purification, not just of the body but of the mind. See yourself fighting not only physical opponents in the movements but moral and spiritual ones as well. See the strength you gain as your great potential to help people and stand for what is right, for all people, not just yourself.
Do this, and I would be proud to teach you the Taming the Tiger set from my lineage of Hung Gar Kung-Fu.