Value of Tai Chi

Tiger, Crane and Snake Form

Understanding the Concepts of Crane, Tiger and Snake in the Tai Chi Form

Based on the concept of Yin/Yang, tai chi chuan is an ancient, internal Chinese martial art practiced for both self-defense and health. Rooted in biomechanical principles, tai chi chuan is an extraordinary martial system as well as a practical and compelling wellness exercise. Yeung (Yang) Family style tai chi chuan, whose lineage can be traced to Yang Lu-Chan in the 18th century, along with nearly all tai chi styles, incorporates many animal movements in its expression, particularly the crane, tiger, and snake.

Many tai chi styles specifically promote the superiority of one animal concept over the other. Yang family style tai chi chuan, however, makes no distinction among these three powerful and efficient performers. Tai Chi Chuan reflects the skillfulness of all three creatures: the crane, the tiger and the snake. Each has separate, praiseworthy qualities in its ability to use Yin/Yang.

The crane

The crane uses Yang;it is the epitome of balance. Very upright and very light,its look distinctly focused, the crane defends itself by raising the energy of its prey through sharpness of eye, precision of beak, agility of foot and lightness of wings. The foot of the crane is so strong that the crane can pick it up and put it down into the water while barely creating a ripple. Its feet and beak together are so powerful that it can swiftly strike heavy, crippling blows. The crane’s mirror neurons disturb and upset its adversary with the message that it is ready to attack, thus raising the energy of its prey and giving the crane a momentary, but significant advantage.

Imagine what it would be like to find oneself in front of such a creature, to experience its wings rising, its eyes penetrating yours as it subtly prepares its foot or beak to strike, triggering your own mirror neurons to create a colossal effect on your emotional system.

The tiger

The tiger uses Yin;it is the epitome of heaviness. It has extraordinary peripheral vision for stalking. The strength of its back and legs is so great, it can walk toward its prey with its chest to the ground. Its incredible tunnel vision for pursuing prey is combined with startling speed, lightness and agility. Using its tiger’s tale (its coccyx) to steer itself, the tiger, skillfully maneuvering its great heaviness, can bring its quarry to the ground, efficiently inflicting a death strike. Then it reactivates its peripheral vision to guard and eat.

Again, imagine facing a creature emanating such fierceness; imagine seeing such focused eyes, and sensing such potential force. Judge what this kind of feeling would be like, how it would affect one’s emotional system via the mirror neurons.

The snake

The snake uses its coiling capacity which is the epitome of Yin/Yang or hard and soft. The snake slithers on its belly scales using its fascia to pull itself along. Its hypnotic eyes entrance its prey as it employs its coiling capacity to move closer. Then it will launch a deadly, venomous strike or move with lightness and speed to wrap itself subtly around the prey in a manner so soft that it resembles something boneless, leaving the prey unprepared for the subsequent outcome: the snake’s use of yang force to suffocate or to break bones.

Again, imagine what effect such an encounter will have on your mirror neuron system.

Judge which of these adversaries seems more efficient than the other. If the tiger were to attack the crane, or the snake were to attack the tiger, one would see that each was formidable in its own right. The outcome would not be predictable. Similarly, in martial situations, one would want to be skilled in all of these survival concepts in order to adapt to any circumstance or to any adversary.

Obviously, the crane, the tiger and the snake all use core muscle. The core generally refers to the torso. Any efficient movement is reliant on the core, and misuse of core muscles can result in injury. The major muscles of the core include: the abdomen and the mid and lower back (not the shoulders), and they also peripherally include the hips, the shoulders and the neck.

It must be noted that the tiger style was amended and promoted by Master Yeung Ching Po as suitable for all to practice. That is why it is wide-spread and well known universally. Master Yeung Sau Chung, son of Master Yeung Ching Po, followed in his father’s footsteps as do his daughters.