Working with the tiger appears everywhere in the forms, from embracing them, to striking them, bending the bow to shoot them and then eventually riding them. The Tiger is a powerful part of all martial arts, the practitioners of all of the martial arts take the Tigers spirit of courage, strength and mental agility and try emulate these factors into their arts, which is good. All arts such as these and Yoga are based on animal movements and the philosophy of animal life.
In Tai Chi, we take many of the animals philosophy of life and blend this into the Tai Chi and into our energy, we not only take the powerful aspects of the animal, but we also take the spiritual and sacred aspect of the animal into account as well. Take for example embracing the tiger and returning to the mountain, which is one of the postures in the forms, why would we and what are we embracing exactly and then returning to the mountain. It means to have understood the wisdom of the Tiger and then to return home, filled with the strength of the wisdom of animals.
In striking the Tigers, we reflect the act of survival, for at all costs animals will try to survive first, but have compassion, love and gracefulness in their movement and mind. What you have to discover in striking the Tiger, is to understand the gracefulness, straight and wisdom of the animal, and like all living being, the Tiger has its weaknesses as it knows your weaknesses. So learn to protect and evolve your own weaknesses and understand the weaknesses of the Tiger. When you able to do this, then you will understand how the tiger displays its strength and protects itself at the same time. Truly a magnificent animal.