I’ve often heard that we should have eyes like a tiger and walk like a cat. In addition, I’ve heard it expand even further that we should “be like a cat, ready to pounce”. Am I in that state when I train? Sometimes … I’ve seen every end of the spectrum, from people looking really tense, to people practicing with eyes glazed over in some sort of trance. What’s the best way?
In general, I’ve heard training equated to 2 cat-like faculties. The first one being the eyes, the intention, the concentration, the mind of a cat. The second one being the movement, the agility, the quick, no-hesitation-nature of a cat. How do these faculties correlate back into our own training?
I think this all relates back to the goal of training. If one’s goal is meditative, then I guess doing the form in a trance is not really that bad??? However, if one’s goal is martial then it makes sense to keep the eyes open so one can be aware of the environment. Personally, I prefer to keep my eyes open yet not really focusing on a specific point but sending my gaze “outward”.
While I am able to keep my eyes open, I must admit I am still working on the concentration aspect. Sometimes, my mind will wander a bit and think about the day or what I have to do. To combat this, I tend to keep my mind focused on elements of the form. I think about posture, alignment, qi paths, creating the shape of movement. I really have a long way to go, because if you’ve ever seen a cat “stalk”, then you’ll know how fully concentrated they are in each and every single step. The subtle weight shifts, the deliberate pauses, the total control over the body.
This leads us to the characterizes of movement. Do I move like cat? No.. Can I fully step out into my stance with complete control of the weight transition? No. Am I able to stop my movement at ANY given point and withdraw? No. Can I pounce like a cat? No, more like a fish out of water 🙂 Ok.. so I guess I answered my own questions on what I need to work on during my forms.
However, since I’ve started training on uneven grounds, this whole notion of stepping and control has been amplified. At lunch, I head to a nearby church and practice in their backyard. In the back corner is this slightly wooded area that’s pleasantly shaded. However, while there is shade, there are also sometimes rocks and uneven little plateaus that can do a number on my balance if I don’t pay attention. Just to mix things up, I’ll head over to a nearby parking lot that filled with gravel and do my form there. That’s a whole other story.. 🙂