Master Cat

Kungfu KittyA long time ago Tiger was awkward and clumsy. Lacking skill he found a great gongfu master and begged him to accept him as a student. This is how he came to study with Master Cat.

Tiger studied and practiced Master Cat's lessons with great diligence until one day, after many years, he believed he was more powerful and more skillful than Master Cat.

Tiger said to Master Cat, "Thank you Shifu, you have taught me all your greatest secrets and now my gongfu is superior to yours, now I'm going to eat you!"

In the time it took Tiger to say these words, Master Cat had scaled a tree and walked out on a branch, "Oh," said Master Cat, "There was one thing I forgot to teach you."


I like this story for its cuteness and because it plays on what we think we know about natural ability. Did the tiger really learn all his gongfu from a cat? It makes sense to me.

But the story also takes for granted the paranoid old master. I have felt that fear of giving away gongfu secrets lurking there in even the most open and generous masters.

Even as we can feel Daoist inspiration surging through the internal martial arts, nudging us to let go of fear as a driving force in our quest for power--the lingering mythic fear of the Mongols, the Qing Dynasty, the Taiping Rebellion, the Boxer Rebellion, WWII, the Purges, the Great Leap, the Re-education camps....haunts our movements and our practice.