TheFighting Rooster

Photo: chinaonlinemuseum

What does power look like?

Projecting to the world that “I’m a tough guy not to f**k with” appeals to some martial artists. But to those initiated into martial virtue (wu de) – the underlying moral and spiritual essence of the martial way – the ideal of a martial art master is different. Ultimately, It’s not about six pack abs, colored belts nor spectacular demonstrations of strength and invincibility. A true master is utterly devoid of the master persona – the belts, uniforms, trophies, demonstrations – the ultimate master simply lives the martial way in daily life.

Here is the Chinese sage Chuang Tzu’s tale of The Fighting Cock, a parable on the notion of authentic mastery from a Daoist martial art perspective.

One day, the emperor asks the trainer if his fighting rooster is ready to fight. The trainer says, “he is not ready. The bird is full of fire. Vain and confident of his strength, he is looking to pick fights.”

After ten days the emperor asked again.

“Not yet, he flares up when he hears other birds crow.”

Again, after another ten days, the trainer says: “still not ready. He gets angry and rustles his feathers.”

Finally after another ten days, the trainer says, “he’s nearly ready. His eyes don’t flicker when he hears another bird crow. He stands still and immobile. He’s a mature fighter. Just one look at him and other birds run.”

True power is quiet. In fact, for Evolving Martial Artists, a genuinely powerful master may appear to be utterly ordinary, nothing special. Natural. The master simply is. No big deal. But when push comes to shove, watch out….

Of course, we train for physical excellence and perfecting practical self defense skills – we do want to look good. Go for it! At the same time, let’s also reflect on the loftier martial philosophy to keep us balanced.

Think about it.

Keep practicing and exploring,
Lawrence Tan


Check out our Tiger Combat ebook

Tags: , , , , , ,

5 Comments on The Fighting Cock

  1. Bob Ellal says:

    Damn, Master Tan–I’ll never get to mastery in this lifetime; I just can’t keep the wisecracks from leaking out of my mouth in a continuous stream!

  2. Steve brenneman says:

    Thank you Master Tan for your videos, your postings, and your wisdom! So much of this is forgotten or considered unimportant or unnecessary today, it’s sad to see so many just wanting to be the toughest and win contests.It’s all about ego and fighting( more like brawling). You are much more of an artist than all the tough guys out there. Keep up the good work!

  3. tandao says:

    Bobwulf,

    Ahh, but you are a master of wisecracks – your personal door to the Way. Open the door!

  4. tandao says:

    Steve, Thank you for your kind words.
    What is your style?

    Master Tan

  5. Bob Ellal says:

    The Henny Youngman of the martial way? That doesn’t sound very tough. Gotta remake my image real quick!

Leave a Reply