Evil martial artist. In a vision in the world above, we see him banish a monk from the Mountain using the Palm. Tai Lung may be in charge of Iron Mountain, or may just be policing it for his spidery master, hard to tell.
An Old Buddy Told Li Merit
Tai Lung became one of Master Zhou's students fifteen years ago. Like most of the students of the Path of the Balanced Strike, he was a Tiger. He came to the White Pagoda younger than most, the child of a pilgrim family killed in a mountain landslide - the orphan boy, who showed a great aptitude for kung fu, was raised by Master Zhou not just as a student but as a quasi-adopted son. He was a reasonably quick study, but as he did not have to earn his place in the White Pagoda with as strenuous a testing as many other students did, he felt deserving of his place, and saw himself as the obvious successor to Master Zhou and the obvious next guardian of the White Pagoda. Possibly he learned arrogance from his master, without having learned the wisdom which entitles one to arrogance.
As Tai Lung came close to his mastership tests, he began to show impatience (not uncommon among those touched by the Tiger), and an assumption that after he became a Master, then he would become Master of the White Pagoda. Mastery of the White Pagoda is conferred (it is thought) by defeating the previous master in combat, but Tai Lung either had no doubts that he would be able to beat Master Zhou once he was a Master, or assumed that Master Zhou would deliberately lose.
However, Master Zhou was unwilling to teach him the Quivering Palm, the lowest master-level shtick, saying he was not yet ready. After many months of this, Tai Lung challenged Master Zhou to combat for mastership of the White Pagoda, but was handily defeated. And again. And again. Master Zhou finally set him homework: travel to three monasteries in the Roof of the World, the Steppes, and the Taiga, and meditate upon patience at each of them, and then return.
When he returned, he challenged Master Zhou again - this time, the fight took place where none saw, even Zhou's other students - and Master Zhou emerged battered and bloody, and went in to see Quan Lo in the Green Pagoda. While he was in there (for a day and a night), Tai Lung woke up and... started rampaging around, in a particular temper and with some sneaky-type fighting shticks that weren't part of the Balanced Strike school. This part is a little unclear - reports seem to indicate that he was in a fury, but was somehow also puzzled and confused (speculations are that he was trying to get to Master Zhou but the Green Pagoda befuddled him).
Master Zhou left the Green Pagoda and went straight for the Gate of Five Elements, while the students of the Green Pagoda continued to distract and befuddle Tai Lung. Eventually, after Master Zhou had left, they stopped distracting Tai Lung and he went after Zhou, but the Green Pagoda monks did not seem to be worried that he would catch up.
That was shortly before the run.
Since the run began, Tai Lung's kung fu seems to include
- Path of the Balanced Strike shticks, including Quivering Palm and
several other high-level Tiger shticks that Master Zhou has not exhibited since,
- some Spider-ish shticks, involving poison and predicting enemy
While Tai Lung does have "Not for Amateurs", he is by the rules of kung fu not a Master, since he was not made a master of the Path of the Balanced Strike, his home school, and he has not founded a school of his own. Defeating Master Zhou would qualify him as a Master, which is probably why he is obsessed about it.