Ferocity and Accuracy

Every Kung Fu style has its Yin and Yang attributes: open/close, light/heavy, soft and hard. But not all complementary pairs are oppositional. A good martial artist can also be both fierce and accurate—how is this accomplished?

Accuracy brings to mind a controlled, almost intellectual state of mind—that is, a state of mind, not of heart. It is cold, impersonal and, in martial arts, something to pursue.

On the other paw, ferocity is a hot emotional state, a single-minded juggernaut of determined destruction. Like that huge boulder rolling toward Indiana Jones, it starts at our source anger, far away from the target, but continues mindlessly, threatening our stable existence.

Anger and martial artistOur anger—along with compassion, fear, physical overdrive and mental frigidity—are more than the shades and measurements of crisis and revolution. Without the accurate management of these unruly cousins, we could easily starve, or fail to chase away unidentified denizens of the night. Threats both tangible and intangible, arising like a world of opposition, frighten and challenge our hand to take that one impossible shot.

Initially, the discipline demanded by accuracy must not only inspire our hand, foot or instruments, but create a sense of consistency. Honing you to a sharp edge, this persistent practice develops a fine spirit able to aim and achieve despite mistaken tosses, jumpy launches, and needless attempts to toss that playing card into the hat. Accuracy is like the ship’s lookout, the one whose vision rests on the horizon, scanning back and forth without ever losing sight or site.

With ferocity, the opposite story tells itself: tiger eyes staring out of a dark cave: a vision of pounding changes, narrowed eyes, set jaw, and promise. Its speed is phenomenal, its muscles tight, its tendons torqued, reminding us of childhood’s worst: fear without shape or reason, and attacks too fast to even recognize.

So, then, ferocity vs. accuracy? No; as a matter of fact, the reliance between them is crucial. Combining untamed ferocity with the skilled hand of accuracy—maybe obvious, but definitely not easy—is the image of this still and patient tiger in its cave.

Anger and martial artsThe breath is so light it would not disturb a blade of grass; and THAT is what makes him so dangerous. The demands of accuracy cool the temperature. There are so many animals who spend a large portion of living in the act of holding still until shooting straight. Accuracy then becomes the expression of technique, logic, precision and serenity; to make a shot “straight and true.”

And there’s the rub: the tiger is not angry but ferocious; the difference between the two being the inclusion of accuracy in the latter. Anger goes to one who gets caught in a net, but fierceness is the way out: a mask of curled brows, a flashing gaze, and a sheath of muscles adjusting beneath the skin.

Recognizing attributes such as accuracy and ferocity is necessary to being a good martial artist; (unfortunately, this task is more and more ceded to enthusiasts and observers). But recognition without understanding, and understanding without training or practice is empty. It is not enough to watch a video of the tiger pouncing and identify the qualities. We must take these questions—how to be ferocious without anger; how to incorporate ferocity with accuracy; how to be ferocious in the first place—onto the floor with us. We must play and pounce like tiger cubs, willing to be wrong, willing to miss our targets until we no longer do.


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One Response to “Ferocity and Accuracy”

  1. Jeff says:

    Real emotional content, not anger. It’s like a finger pointing to the moon.