A Cat Has No Claws
We are not instinctive creatures which is why we are so helpless as children. Within a short amount of time after birth many animals are able to fend for themselves in some capacity, but we take many years. We have no innate ability to forage for food or to hunt. It is this intrinsic ability of animals that caused the development of the animal styles of kung fu. If we could somehow develop their instincts we could then protect ourselves from our core being. When we learn anything it is initially a cognitive process; we do it with our brains and intellect. We move and condition our body as if we are in the control room that is our brain, observing what we do. From this detached vantage point we make decisions about our training and our goals. We look at our punches from a distance, mentally judging them as "good" or "bad." So we have this sense of a self, a person that is doing or controlling the punching or kicking that is apart from the act itself. There is a separation between the mind and body; there is that which observes and that which is doing the action. From this standpoint:
This is not how animals do it. A cat does not have a mind that is separate from its body. It does not objectify its body parts to know it has claws or that it is made up of different organs. It does not work on making its muscles bigger, because it has no sense of itself as a combination of parts like we do. When the cat fights, it just fights, completely and wholly engaged in the act. It did not consciously train itself to do this. It is its instinct to do what it does. It is not "Fluffy-the-Cat" that is fighting, it is just the pure act of fighting. In this sense is has no claws; it is the claws and everything simultaneously. It fights wholly committed with everything it is and without doubt. We, on the other hand, must train ourselves to make this mind/body meld. This idea of harmonizing mind and body is unique to humans; animals do not have this dilemma. The separation that our mind creates is very difficult to overcome, but it is achievable. It is what happens to anyone who has mastered their craft; they disappear and become the craft. They are unaware of what they are doing while being perfectly aware of it. The action and the actor are one in this aspect. In practicing any technique you must lose the technique to become the technique. The only way to trust in what you do is to become what you do. Your hands will not be flailing about, but will be alert and intelligently engaged. You will move from your core being and not from your mind. The Chinese often refer to this as 'reacting from your spine', in other words, your brain is not involved in it. If you do not fight from this core then you will be self aware in the fight. Besides being separate from your own body you will now be separate from the opponent’s motions. You will be in a constant mode of reacting to them rather than moving as them. You will know you are "Jack fighting Bill" and be aware of how you may get hurt. When you master technique it must dissolve into you. Your awareness will not be bound by consciousness or thought. You will move freely and completely.
The cat has no claws; it is its claws. The cat does not fight; it is fighting. We must train so that we have no fists or legs. We must have no body and no mind.
“You can only fight the way you practice”
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