Happy New Year!

I thought I’d start the year off with an old story I’ve heard Grandmaster Chang tell many times.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts…

The Cockerel Fight

One day, a noble man brought one of his cockerels to a professional trainer to train the cockerel to fight better.

10 days later the owner came back and asked, “how is my cockerel doing?”

“Your cockerel is physically strong and big,  but the other cockerels cackle at him. He does the same thing as the other cockerels do; he is often frightened by the shadow of other cockerels; and he is boasty and showy, strutting around thinking I am strong…so still a long to go.”

So the owner came back 10 days later and asked the same question.

“No your cockerel is strong but cackling too much; he is also afraid of his shadow….he’s a little better, but still emotionally very like other cockerels”

After another 10 days the noble man returned to see if he was ready, “not yet… just one problem still… he wants to show off, pacing around with chin up , thinking…I am strong like that”

After another 10 days the response was finally more positive – “Yes, your cockerel is ready to fight”.

“Then how has he changed?”

“Now he is very clam; other cockerels try to provoke him but your cockerel still remains calm, moving slow like that”

The owner questioned, “what do you mean by that – surely a good fighter must be strong – how come my cockerel is so gentle? How can he fight?”

“Other cockerels come near to your cockerel to provoke him, but he’s still not influenced.  After they try a few times they get scared and run away.”

[hr]The source of the fighting rooster story is Zhuangzi (“Chuang tzu”), one of the main texts of the Taoist canon (along with Laozi’s Daodejing). The original text with translation can be found here (along with texts of similar philosophical depth).


The Cockerel Fight