The dominating philosophy behind fu jow-pai is when two tigers fight, one is dead and the other is mortally wounded. The movements
of fu jow pai (tiger claw system) mimick that of a tiger; it’s big, it’s aggressive, and there are few blocks. Tiger movements
and a tiger mentality is needed to suceed. A tiger doesn’t hesitate in the middle of a punch thinking “oh god! My bingo wings are
flapping”. Nor does a tiger care if it looks goofy or fat or too skinny.
The tiger mentality is why I’ve gone back to studying kung-fu. As an adult, many of us feel shy or embarassed by the way
We go to the gym in hopes that we’ll feel better about ourselves but some of us (myself included) just feel more awkward.
What I love the most about kung-fu is that I’ve never felt awkward or “weird” in class, even if I don’t get a certain kick
or combo done right. In any style of martial arts, grace of movement is more important than what uniform size you wear. Grace
only comes with practice–not how many miles you may run or how much you can bench or how much you weigh. There’s no plateu
when you’re aiming for getting a form just right or a kick to be powerful.
I’ll never forget my very first kung-fu lesson. I slipped into my uniform and one of the girls showed me how to tie the jacket together, right side over left. I was then led to the small practice mat where a male blackbelt showed me how to bow before the mat and how to address the instructor, Sifu Vizzio. I can clearly see myself in the mirror, pigtails bobbing as I learn the proper way to kick and punch. For the first time, I liked what I saw.
The rest of that class was a blur but I remember feeling exhausted and satisfied at the same time. The next three years that I spent with Sifu were some of the happiest for me. I learned quickly that paying attention, asking for help and strict obedience were richly rewarded. I also learned that cooperation and helping out were also vital skills to have inside and outside the studio.
I wasn’t an athletic child, but I soon learned how to control my body and have it do what I wanted it to. I rose quickly through the basic ranks and I was given the honor of leading the teen/adult classes in their stretching exercises. Here I learned that if you walk and talk with dignity and knowledge, people of all ages will listen to you. The older classmates weren’t listening to me just because Sifu said so but because I had shown that I knew what I was doing and I was prepared. It’s a lesson that has stayed with me into my adult life.