Chuang Tzu: The Mature Fighter

Chi Hsing Tzu was a trainer of
fighting cocks for King Hsuan.
He was training a fine bird.
The king kept asking
if the bird was ready for combat.

“Not yet”, said the trainer.
“He is full of fire.
He is ready to pick a fight
with every other bird.
He is vain and confident
of his own strength.”

After ten days he answered again,
“Not yet. He flares up
when he hears another bird crow.”

After ten more days,
“Not yet. He still gets that angry look
and ruffles his feathers.”

Again ten days.
The trainer said,
“Now he is nearly ready.
When another bird crows,
his eyes don’t even flicker.
He stands immobile like a block of wood.
He is a mature fighter.
Other birds will take one look at him and run.”

~Chuang Tzu, The Fighting Cock