Happy Lunar New Year 2022! The Year of the Water Tiger

Based on the Chinese zodiac, the new moon on February 1st signals the end of a Metal Ox year in 2021 and the beginning of a Water Tiger year in 2022.

In the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac, the tiger is the third animal of 12 (Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig). Each year’s animal is influenced by one of the five elements—wood, fire, earth, metal, and water—representing the relationship and interdependence between all things.

These zodiac symbols alone—the shift from Metal Ox to Water Tiger—intimate a significant change in energies. Like metal, 2021 felt cold and immutable—entrenched in lockdowns and unbendable restrictions. Enduring 2021 too often felt like embodying the ox, shouldering a yoke of heavy emotional burden, leaning against the weight of it to struggle forward, making little progress. How will 2022, a Water Tiger year, feel in comparison?


Embody the Tiger’s Supple Strength

In Asia, the Tiger is known as the king of beasts and a symbol of strength, courage, and the ability to triumph over evil. Tigers walk their wild terrain with sovereign independence. 

In a past newsletter, Sifu Greg discussed The Significance of the Tiger in Kung Fu. He noted that  it’s not just the Tiger’s brute strength that makes it a significant symbol in Shaolin Five Animal Kung-Fu. There are other aspects we can take from the Tiger as well. 

Tigers are:

  • Intimidating, but they only fight when necessary.
  • Masters of stealth, patient and persistent.
  • Extremely adaptable.
  • Generous with others who would be competitors.

Flow Like Water

Water flows along the path of least resistance, around the largest obstacles and through the smallest openings. Water gracefully adapts to its environment—hot spring, frozen lake; crashing ocean, still pond; raging rapids, babbling brook.

Bruce Lee’s words to “be like water”—formless and changeable—offer sound advice for 2022. Roll with the punches; ‘turn the other cheek’ and watch the fist sail through the air as the opponent who threw it teeters sideways, unbalanced. In 2022, we can find ways to quietly remain centred within our sovereignty. We can learn to ride the changing streams with formless grace.

Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

Bruce Lee

At 15:47 minutes, Interview with Canadian journalist, Pierre Berton.

How do we best begin a Water Tiger year?

New Year’s resolutions often focus around not doing something—resisting the urge to act in a certain way—to stubbornly stop doing something. They often require a rather bull-headed determination—much like our beast of burden, the ox. The word ‘resolution’ sounds harsh and inflexible, like metal. To be resolute is to be unmoving, uncompromising, unwavering—like the resolute rock worn down to sand by the unceasing waves of the ocean. Perhaps resolution—the process of reducing or separating something into its components—is based on old, Metal Ox energy. Now, with the beginning of this new cycle, we can choose to embrace a new strategy, based on new energy—Water Tiger energy. 

Rather than reducing or restricting through additional rules and lockdowns, we focus on expanding and liberating; rather than separating and segregating groups, we can choose to connect and strengthen bonds; rather than becoming distracted in measuring the smallest intervals, we see the big picture.

To me, ultimately, martial art means honestly expressing yourself.

Bruce Lee

At 11:42 minutes, Interview with Canadian journalist, Pierre Berton.

The tiger silently seeks an alternate path to avoid a confrontation and the water gently flows in a new rivulet around the tumbled boulder. We envision new solutions that work around old problems. This year, let’s embody the supple strength of the tiger and the graceful fluidity of water.

We wish you a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2022!

Read more about tiger qualities in Shaolin Five Animal Kung-Fu in the newsletter article, The Significance of the Tiger in Kung Fu >