The mind is a major part of the body and therefore one cannot improve the mind without first improving their body. The Mind and Body are the temples for which you let your spirit reside. Kung Fu teaches us to have a wise and peaceful spirit living inside a strong and healthy temple. It is not about fighting “It is actually about improving your wisdom and intelligence.” (Herbert Fingarette (1972): “Confucius —The Secular as Sacred,” New York: Harper & Row, 4-6)
Kung Fu is a philosophy that attempts to unite the Mind, Body and Spirit into one unified entity. It uses animals to personify and explain this triumvirate.
The tiger is one solid mass of muscle and power. It exemplifies the raw strength one ought to seek to gain through weight training. The leopard however, possesses speed, agility and flexibility showing that strength alone is not enough. Together these animals describe a body that is strong and ferocious ready to pounce onto any situation and tackle any problem, but it must also be graceful and malleable towards the world around it.
Bring out your inner tiger: Go to the gym and push through those difficult workouts with the tiger as your inspiration. Channel the leopard as you are stretching in your Yoga class, or as you are sprinting on the treadmill. Learn from these animals to combine strength, speed and flexibility together as one to hone perfection within the Body.
The snake is cunning and wise enough to know that poison will dampen any amount of strength one can muster. It has learned the art of camouflage and how to strike with precision when the moment is just right. It has learned that a strong defense is more useful than overt offense.
The Crane is intelligent enough to know and learn from its enemy, to see that if you attack the head of the snake its poison will not matter. The crane utilizes grace over strength and can accomplish flight with minimum effort. To master the mind you must learn from the snake to be patient and persistent and never give up. When you finally grasp that which you seek, hold on tight.
You must also learn to be like the crane and attack at the head of all problems that confront you. Learn to work smart in addition to working hard. Apply thought before every action, and fly above all things that wish to get the better of you. Learn from these animals to master your mind.
The magical and mythical Dragon is the ideal animal to describe the soul. It is whatever you make it to be. Much like the human soul, dragons can be evil and destructive towards everything around it, and anything that crosses its path. Dragons can also be bringers of peace, joy and luck.
The type of dragon depends on the person telling the myth. Our soul, likewise, depends on us to determine its nature. Are we peaceful bringers of joy and luck, or are we bringers of misery and destruction? All of our inner dragons begin life in an egg waiting to breach and take form in the temple with which we have built for it.
If we choose to never develop our body and mind; the soul will forever stay tucked away in a shell. If we cultivate a strong and healthy temple, however, our soul will manifest into a beautiful and powerful Dragon ready to set the course of our own destiny.
“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless; Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot… be water my friend.” – Bruce LeeWhen this Kung-Fu philosophy is applied to your life there is no feat that will feel out of the realm of possibility. You will be as water my friend: Adaptable to any vessel life puts you in.