The Tiger Taming Form is one of my favorite in the Wudang kung fu curriculum. I learned it when I was 16 years old, and living and training on Wudang Mountain. The Tiger Taming Form wasn’t a part of the regular classes. The teacher had hand-picked a handful of students from the school, and came to teach it to us during our rest time in the afternoon or evening. He said that it was not created at Wudang Mountain. He had learned it in his hometown and decided that it would benefit his students. We liked the form very much. It is a traditional-style form, with nothing added in to make it flashy or beautiful. And it is very, very practical.
During my years as a wandering monk, in the fall of 1999, I stayed at Tai Qing Temple on Lao Mountain in Shandong Province (山东省，崂山，太清宫). There I met several other Daoist priests who are also martial artists. One of them was my friend, He Jian Wei (贺震伟). He had also practiced martial arts since childhood. He Jian Wai, myself, and the other martial artists in the temple would often practice together. They had learned different things in the past, some Shaolin, some tai chi, xingyi, and bagua. In the mornings after chanting and breakfast, we would were sent to sweep and work in the garden. The garden was to the back of the temple complex, where pilgrims and tourists never went. We would practice there. I taught them the Tiger Taming Form. We would chat about the movements, use the applications on each other, and try them against other styles. During breaks in our practice, we would picnic. There were a number of local villagers who had set up small businesses alongside the temple, selling food. We would call through the cut-out windows in the temple wall and they would pass us roasted fish and beer. If we’d been caught by the temple elders, we would have gotten in a lot of trouble! But, I was still a teenager, and wasn’t afraid of anything.
The tiger symbolizes a dangerous opponent, someone who is fierce and strong. When fighting an opponent who is stronger than you are, there are a few things you can do. First, you have to accept that you will not be strong enough to overpower them with brute force. Instead, you have to be fluid enough to dodge or redirect their strikes. Second, you must be fast. The strikes in the Tiger Taming Form are quick and explosive. Often they follow each other in rapid succession. It gets in three quick punches where normally there would be only time for one. Third, you have to use all of your resources, including elbows, kicks, and joint locks. Finally, you need endurance. My students could tell you. When first learning this form, after moving through it a few times, you have no energy left to work on anything else. Practicing the Tiger Taming Form builds fluidity, speed, resourcefulness, and endurance.
Unfortunately, no movement list for the Tiger Taming Form has been passed down. Here is a list I have created for teaching my students and preserving the form.
Tiger Taming Form Move List 伏虎拳拳谱
- 猿猴缩身 – the monkey contracts its body
- 骑马冲肋 – ride the horse, rib strike
- 上步砸拳 – step forward, smashing fist
- 反手三连捶 – reversed fist, three strikes
- 低边撩手打肋肘 – low side-kick, elbow rib strike
- 前弹后撩反蹬鹰提手 – flick forward, lift back, reverse stamp, lifting eagle strike
- 反点三连环 – reverse strike, three strikes
- 恶虎扑食双冲捶 – the tiger pounces on its prey, double rushing fist
- 后退右闪 格挡右冲捶 – step back, turn right, block, right rushing strike
- 窝心骑马冲肋捶 – smash the heart, ride the horse, strike the ribs
- 后扫上步右砸拳 – back sweep, step forward, right smashing fist
- 侧踹上步撩阴手 – side stamp, step forward, strike to the yin.
- 窝心插手反身冲拳 – smash the heart, thrusting hand, reverse the body
- 上步骑马双冲拳 – step forward, ride the horse, double thrusting fist
- 上步反身势 – step forward and reverse the body
- 右脚上步左蹦捶 – right step forward, left snapping fist
- 左脚上步连环双重锤 – left step forward, double thrusting fists
- 后退右闪左格右冲捶 – step back, turn right, left block, right thrusting fist
- 上步捞势反身左格右冲捶 – step forward, scooping hand, reverse the body, left block, right strike
- 右撩势 – right lifting hand
- 转身左钻拳 – turn the body, left drilling fist
- 上步右钻下撩势 – step forward, right drilling fist, low lifting strike
- 破膝后退左冲捶- smash the knee, step back, left strike
- 左腿后退上步分鬃势 – left kick, back right, step forward, part the horse’s mane
- 右腿后腿下砸拳 – right kick, step back, low smashing fist
- 左揣右刮反腿 – left smash, right scrape kick, reverse kick
- 上步卧虎势 – step forward, tiger lies down
- 上步撩手砸肘捶 – step forward, lifting hand, smashing elbow
- 划手后摔穿掌势 – transforming hands, throw back, threading palm
- 抱虎归山势 – carry the tiger back to the mountain
Click below to see my Tiger Taming Form: