Few of the animal forms could be as near and dear to our Shin Ho Kwan hearts than the Tiger form. It is, after all, our namesake! This form is an important part of the Shin Ho Kwan curriculum and a great example of the creative genius of the animal forms originator. As you probably know by now (if you’ve read the two other entries reviewing the animal forms), these forms are derived from the Chinese Zodiac, an ancient Asian astrological system, which uses animals rather than constellations as its foundation. There are several legends which explain how this system came into existence. The most well-known states that Buddha invited the animals to participate in a race. The prize was a coveted position on the Chinese Zodiac calendar. The first 12 animals to cross the river would appear on the Chinese Zodiac calendar in the order in which they completed the race. Another one tells of an invitation to a grand feast. All the animals were invited to join Buddha at either a birthday celebration, a New Year celebration, or a celebration for his departure from this world. Only 12 animals showed up at the festivities and that’s how they ended up being featured on the Chinese Zodiac calendar. Still another states that instead of Buddha, it was the Jade Emperor who invited the animals. But regardless of the specific version of Chinese Zodiac history to which you subscribe, the Chinese Zodiac has amazed and entertained people around the world for thousands of years.
In terms of its martial arts application, the Chinese zodiac provides the 12 animals after which each of these forms is named. Other martial arts in addition to Taekwondo, most famously Kung Fu, have used animals as inspiration for various fighting techniques and systems. This makes a lot of sense. We could imagine a person, many years ago, observing a monkey or a rat or a dog or a tiger in a confrontation with another member of its species, or perhaps stalking and killing its prey, or evading an attack from a hunter, and then recreating similar motions with his own body. “If it works in the animal kingdom, the person might have thought, shouldn’t it work in terms of my own self-defense?”
From the claw like open handed techniques, to the cat like crouched pauses, to the graceful leaps that are more for distance than height, the Tiger form represents its muse quite readily. The form also includes, at the beginning, a double slap directed at an opponent’s ears. This is an unusual technique, not seen in other Shin Ho Kwan forms, though certainly an effective one. In its execution we are reminded of a cat’s playful but instinctual and potentially deadly pawing and batting against an obstacle.
The Tiger form is required at the first dan level. It is a fun form, relatively simple in pattern but complex in execution, making it the perfect form to round out the first dan set of animal forms. Check out the video of Master Pearson performing this form, as well as a copy of the form written out, by clicking the link below!