TIBETAN, LION'S ROAR, HOP-GAR, LAMA KUNG-FU
The Yeti Myth 雪人
In Tibetan Kung-Fu
Padmasambhava Guru Senge Dradog
"The Lion's Roar!" Guru
The legendary 'crypto-zoological' animal, the 'Yeti' 雪人, येति, or 'Abominable Snowman, स्नोवमैन is for the West, an almost ubiquitous backdrop to any consideration of Himalayan culture.
This has even found it's way into Indo-Sino-Tibetan Martial Arts, with some of the various branches of the Lion's Roar! Lama systems making claim that the 'Great Ape' (Cantonese 'Dai-Yuan') Division of the system, is the 'Yeti'. This is a legitimate statement given the narrative histories of these lineages: the authenticity of which is not in question.
In fact however, the significance of the 'Ape' (actually a Gibbon or Indian Hanuman Monkey) in broader Tibetan culture, as well as in the Lion's Roar! martial Arts is literally seminal, in that the Gibbon/Hanuman is the mythical 'Father' of the Tibetan Nation and People, as said in myth to have occurred in the Yarlung Valley of Eastern Tibet LINK: Potala Palace Martial Arts The Gibbon/Hanuman Monkey, as 'Ape' within the Lion's Roar! Totem Animal Divisions of the Art, originates in Indian pre-Buddhist (Hindu) Sanatana Dharma Martial Arts, the Simhanada Vajra-mukti, where the Ape is the Man-Ape (or Monkey) theriomorph of the deity: Haruman SEE LINKS: Potala Palace Martial Arts Haruman Monkey God and Simhanada Tantra Kaya Sakti The appropriation of the Yeti legend to the Lion's Roar! Martial Art is indeed a seductive proposition, it gives an authoritative cultural stamp to the system.
However, in Tibet itself, 'Yeti' (Meh-Teh: in Tibetan) are taken far less seriously than they are by more romantically imaginative Westerners. The Tibetan's do NOT refer to the Yeti or 'Snowman' स्नोवमैन (Kang Admi: in Tibetan) as an Ape, but as a 'Man Bear':
人熊 (Man-Bear) or 'Yeti'
"There were bears too, in the hills. We call them "man-bear" or "dog-bear" and I think they must be what foreigners call the 'Snowman'. One of them was killed while I was with the herdsmen and I was able to have a good look at it. It was covered with tawny fur and had very square - shaped feet with long sharp claws. I noticed particularly that its face was much flatter than that of the ordinary bears that we saw lower down; it was almost as flat as a man's or a monkey's. The one that was killed was a huge male, and its body was certainly more like a bear's than a man's.
There are all sorts of stories about these bears. People say that they can ride a horse or a yak; and everyone knows that if you are chased by one you must run downhill because its hair falls over its face and it can't see where its going. they can whistle like men too; I know because I have heard them. There is a story of one female that caught a trader and kept him living with her for several years. the skins of the man-bears are much sought after. I have seen them quite often used by rich monks as bedcovers. They are quite different from great-apes like gorillas and chimpanzees, which I have seen in zoos. We call those Mi-Go, which means 'wild-man' ".
Adventures Of a Tibetan Fighting Monk
Orchid Press 1986
Tashi Khedrup was a Tibetan Dob-Dop, a Warrior Monk at the famous Sera Monastery at Lhasa, near to the Potala palace - the legendary birthplace of the Lion's Roar! martial art. He was amongst the last generation of Dob-Dop before the Chinese invasion, and was fully conversant with Tibetan culture. Sadly, he died in exile on the Isle of Mann (UK) in 1986.
Interestingly, in noting Tashi Khedrup's remarks about a 'Man-Bear' in my own lineage of Lion's Roar! what is often called 'Monkey Steps' or 'Ape Steps' is referred to as 'Bear Walk' - which may be a recollection of an 'original' Tibetan (i.e. pre-Han Chinese) designtaion.
No doubt the fascination the mythical Yeti or Snowman has for Westerners will continue, and will continue to be a contemporary designation for the Ape (Gibbon)/ Man-Monkey Haruman aspects of the Lion's Roar! Martial art. Myths are very powerful and once inducted into a system, they become almost impossible to remove, even when other more rational and better documented sources give insight into the real facts.
SEE LINK: The Ape and Crane Divisions