During my training atop Wudan, I heard whispers about the story of THE JADE TIGER.
A story reserved for the graduation of Wudan.
After 500 years of training, after 500 years of absolute obedience, Po himself would sit and recite the story for the worthy adepts.
I had once witnessed it from afar, the mannerisms, the hand movements.
It would take one full day from sunrise to sunset.
THE JADE TIGER contained the final lessons needed to make a mark upon the world.
The final study and instruction to be indestructible, as was Po himself.
The finishing education for a fully formed Wudan adept to begin a new life as a master.
This story was sacred - and Master Po himself was the only person who knew it.
The other masters in the temple who once enjoyed a rendition had been commanded to forget the story of THE JADE TIGER instantly once it had been told.
The lessons remained, but as was their absolute obedience to Po, they had wiped the story itself from their memory.
It completed them, yet they no longer knew it, they could not tell it.
ONLY Master Po could tell it.
In the coldest darkest nights, the wonder of what could possibly be told in the story of THE JADE TIGER kept me warm.
Considering the harsh lessons Master Po would SHOW to us.
I found it interesting that the final, and most difficult lessons would be TOLD to us in a story.
Over many hundreds of years, rumours of the power of THE JADE TIGER leaked outside of the temple.
People of the town spoke of it.
The 500 years of work were uninteresting to the village folk. But the STORY. Many a drunken bandit dreamed of skipping the lifetime of dedication as a Wudan adept, but to hear the story and instantly gain Po’s powers.
Bravery and groups go hand in hand, and one day a group of 100 heavily armed bandits arrived at Wudans gates as us adepts swept the courtyard.
Po calmly walked out to confront them, alone.
“Tell us the story of THE JADE TIGER!” They commanded.
The 100 bandits roared and waved their swords in the air. A threat.
With his head perfectly still, Po’s eyes moved slowly from left to right, calculating the effort required to kill all single-handedly….
Then, he smiled.
“Very well, it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed it myself. Please, take a seat.”
The bandits were surprised, and relieved, as they expected a fight. But Po was known as a man who does not lie.
Po is too honorable to trick an opponent into a state of unreadiness.
The bandits sat crossed-legged and like excited children, gave their FULL attention.
They were about to learn THE SECRETS OF WUDAN, and true to his word Po began his rendition of THE JADE TIGER.
We continued sweeping the already spotless floor from sunrise to sunset, afraid to stop without Po’s command and watched in awe as he told 100 unworthy bandits Wudan’s greatest secret.
I was angry. I couldn’t believe it. WHAT am I training for?
I swept the floor and stared into the field, watching Po’s rendition. I could see the mannerisms, the hand movements.
And exactly like the rendition I witnessed before, exactly as the sun set, Po bowed.
The story had been told.
The secret had been told.
I watched as the bandits stood up and began muttering, trying to identify the lessons in what they had just heard.
Scratching their heads. Confused. Disappointed.
The crowd slowly grew louder and angrier.
Eventually, a burly bandit drew his sword and pointed it at Po’s neck.
“THAT story was Wudan’s greatest secret?
I didn’t LEARN anything. I don’t FEEL anything! YOU TRICKED US!
TELL US THE REAL STORY”
Po, unwavering with the blade against his throat calmly replied.
“I do not lie. I told you the legend of THE JADE TIGER”
The bandit scowled and pressed the sword’s tip deeper into Po’s neck.
“WHY do students have to enslave themselves for 500 years, to hear THAT??”
Maybe I blinked at exactly the wrong time, or perhaps I was a little too far away to see Po’s arms move.
Although it seemed as if he remained perfectly still, I heard an audible gasp from the still sitting bandits.
The burly bandit’s sword was broken clear in two as he collapsed into a lifeless pile on the field.
In a final gracious act to an undeserving heathen, Po decided to answer his question.
Po slowly leaned down and whispered in the ear of the corpse.
“So they can understand”.