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When choosing the Dragon Warrior, Oogway says "I sense that the Dragon Warrior is amongst us". Then he chooses Po, but it is almost like Po just gets in the way of Tigress.

In terms of movie's message, what do you think is the most reasonable explanation, that Oogway knew from the start that Po would be the Dragon Warrior or it was all something like Dao?

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  • In the script Po lands in the circle just as Oogway is choosing the Dragon Warrior. Note that his finger seems to have a mind of its own...; imsdb.com/scripts/Kung-Fu-Panda.html
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 18:53
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    Also in KFP 3, we learn that Oogway had been taught how to manipulate Chi by Panda's, and so saw potential in Po to fulfill all the important parts of the Dragon Warrior, not just an expert Kung Fu practitioner like Tigress was.
    – Majaii
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 19:19
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    Oogway wasn't making the choice. The Universe was making the choice. Oogway was just a channel. Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 2:13
  • Well, Oogway is pretty much one with the dao or some such, so there may not really be a distinction.
    – Misha R
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 6:57

4 Answers 4

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Po appeared in right place at the right moment. Just when Oogway was choosing the Dragon Warrior, he accidentally pointed at Po (instead of Tigress?). As Oogway later tells Shifu there are no accidents so appearance of Po must be planed/influenced by some other forces.

Shifu: The panda? Master, that panda is not the Dragon Warrior. He wasn't even meant to be here. It was an accident.

Oogway: There are no accidents.

Shifu: [Sighs] Yes, I know. You said that already... twice.

Oogway: Well, that was no accident either.

Shifu: ... Thrice.

As Oogway truly believed in this "accident" he sticks with his decision.

To understand Oogway's philosophy we need to consider another moment from the movie when he talks to Shifu:

Oogway: My friend, the panda will never fulfill his destiny, nor you yours, until you let go of the illusion of control. 

Shifu: Illusion? 

Oogway: Yes.  
[points at peach tree]  
Look at this tree, Shifu. I cannot make it blossom when it suits me, nor make it bear fruit before its time.  

Shifu: But there are things we can control.  
[kicks the tree so that peaches fall]  
I can control when the fruit will fall!  
[he slices a peach and throws the pit to the ground]  
I can control where to plant the seed! That is no illusion, Master!  

Oogway: Ah, yes. But no matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will get a peach.  

Shifu: But a peach cannot defeat Tai Lung!  

Oogway: [folding dirt over the peach pit] Maybe it can, if you are willing to guide it, to nurture it. To believe in it.  

Shifu: But how? How? I need your help, master!  

Oogway: No, you just need to believe. Promise me, Shifu. Promise me you will believe.  

Shifu: I... I will try. 

In both these dialogs Oogway presents his philosophy that is similar to what Aristotle said:

Aristotle made a distinction between the essential and accidental properties of a thing. For example, a chair can be made of wood or metal, but this is accidental to its being a chair: that is, it is still a chair regardless of the material from which it is made. To put this in technical terms, an accident is a property which has no necessary connection to the essence of the thing being described.

Po is a panda, it's his essence. But he could be shaped into the Dragon Warrior - accidental property.

According to Aristotle, there is always a reason for everything that happens. Your experiences are designed to shape you, define you and, hopefully, grow you into the mightiest you possible.

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  • 3
    This makes it sound like you believe Tigress should have been the Dragon Warrior, but Oogway "accidentally" picked Po instead and just stuck with it to kind of seem like he's saving face. There's no way that's correct. Am I misinterpreting your answer?
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 23:12
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    @Ellesedil I'm not sure who is Oogway pointing at but remember in the movie Tigress claims she was chosen. You understand me correctly. But I didn't said Oogway is saving his face for accidentally picking Po but he sticks with his belief that there are no accidents. I think this answer need some philosophical/religion background about accidents, fate and free will with context of Kung Fu and Asian culture.
    – janisz
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 23:28
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    Note that Kung Fu Panda 3 makes it clearer that Oogway knew exactly what he was doing.
    – deworde
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 9:45
  • Also note that in KFP3, they do learn to make plants bloom.
    – Harris
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 17:08
  • My answer is based only on KFP1&2. Hope to fix it after the weekend :)
    – janisz
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 17:11
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Oogway chose Po because he saw the future of kung fu in him.

In the past he saw the panda who could unite them both, that's why he chose him: because Po is the yin and yang. You​ can tell because he is black and white.

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    Whilst a nice find theory do you have any evidence to back this up that you could edit in?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Sep 28, 2019 at 23:01
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Given Kung Fu Panda 3's depiction of the relationship between Pandas and Oogway I think Oogway's insistence that it's not an accident makes a lot of sense. {Spoilers Alert} PS: In the movie KFP 3, we see the backstory of how Oogway and Pandas were working closely and they knew Kung Fu.

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  • But was it something Oogway knew would happen from the start or a coincidence?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 14:19
  • @Edlothiad - definitely coincidence because, don't forget, he has his eyes closed. His hand is acting like a dowsing rod in manner of speaking. If he had truly already chosen, he would have just walked out and said "it's Tigress...hey, what's this Panda doing falling from the sky?"
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 16:42
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    And what exactly is that depiction? :) If you can expand upon your answer, it will make it much better.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 17:35
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    It'd be nice if you could edit in some evidence!
    – user112267
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 11:14
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Let me put it this way: Master Oogway saw in Po the undying will to become something in what he loves to do: Kungfu (instead of making dumplings). This powerful enthusiasm outweighs any previous training that Tigeress, Mantis, or Monkey has gained. After all, it takes training to be good at something, but it takes undying enthusiasm to be REALLY good at something!

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    Just to be clear, you're saying that Master Oogway knew right from the start that Po had what's necessary to be Dragon Warrior?
    – DavidW
    Commented May 29, 2022 at 4:48
  • @DavidW Well... it is just my version of guessing what vibe the director/screenwriter was alluding to when creating this qualification event. The way it was certainly added the dramatic element of surprise and amusement. My interpretation was that Master Oogway was wise enough that he had his eyes and ears on Po when he entered the temple, or even before he entered the temple with his scouts. One could also say that Master Oogway was just too old to make the obvious choice, and he made the stupidest choice.
    – Tong Zhao
    Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 22:33

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