Monthly Archives: January 2010

Showing Respect to the Master


Creating the right mental frame for the best learning

By Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

Sifu Wong and Uncle Righteousness

An old photograph showing Sifu Wong (in his teens) performing a Hoong Ka kungfu set with his master, Sifu Lai Chin Wah, popularly known as Uncle Righteousness (middle behind in white T-shirt), looking on.

An art is best learnt in its culture. One remarkable difference between the culture of the East and the West is the respect shown to a master. In this connection I have little complaint because my students, from both the East and the West, generally show much respect to me. But I have met many Eastern masters commenting on the lack of respect, sometimes utter disrespect, shown to them.

Often it is because of the Western students’ ignorance of Eastern ways rather than their wilful discourtesy that their Eastern masters of chi kung or kungfu (including taijiquan) regard as disrespect. The following are some simple and helpful points both Eastern and Western students may follow to show the respect deservedly due to their masters.

Addressing the Master Correctly

Sifu Wong and Sifu Ho Fatt Nam
Sifu Wong (in his 40’s) with his master, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, the third generation successor from the Shaolin Monastery

First of all you must know how to address your master correctly, something which many Western students are ignorant of. Never, never, never call your master by his name, especially if he comes from a Eastern culture. In some Western societies it may be considered personal and desirable to call your senior or even your boss by his first name, but in chi kung or kungfu culture it is considered extremely rude.

It is worthwhile to remember that your master is not your peer or equal. Your master is at least one, but usually many levels above you, otherwise he cannot and should not be your master. The proper way to address your chi kung or kungfu master is “Sifu”, which is the Cantonese dialect of the Chinese language for “Master”. The Mandarin pronunciation is “Shifu”.

Actually if a great master answers you when you call him “Sifu”, you are, not he is, honoured; it shows he accepts you as a student. I always felt greatly honoured whenever I called my masters Lai Chin Wah and Ho Fatt Nam “Sifu”, because they were two of the greatest masters I had found.

If your master’s surname is Chen, you should call him “Sifu”, or “Master” if you want to sound Western, but strictly speaking not “Sifu Chen” or “Master Chen” for that is the address the public, not his students, would call him. If you call him “Sifu Chen” or “Master Chen” you are distancing yourself from him.

Showing Propriety

Besides showing propriety in your address, you should also show propriety in your behaviour. Do not, for example, put your hand around him, pat him on his shoulder, or hug him — leave that to his wife, which following Eastern social etiquette is also only done in private.

When you stand or sit in front of or near him, hold yourself upright. You need not stand at attention like a private in front of his sergeant major, but you should not stand sloppily, with arms akimbo or hands in your pockets. When you sit do not cross your legs with a foot pointing at him, or expose your groins to him even though they are hidden by your pants.

It is only sensible that you should listen when your master speaks, especially if he is explaining some points. Yet, it is not uncommon to find some adult students (male as well as female) lying on the floor, sometimes with their hands folded at the back of their head, their eyes close and their legs open in an inviting position! This shows not so much a disrespect to the master, but an utter lack of good manners on the part of the students.

Entering and leaving a class

It is also bad manners to arrive at your class late. In the past in the East, late students would be asked to go home, or to leave permanently if they were late habitually. The logic is simple: the master has something invaluable to offer; if you come late you tacitly show that you do not value his teaching. But if there is a valid reason for your being late, you should first greet him from the door, walk quietly but briskly to him, respectfully wait if he is pre-occupied, then explain your reason and apologize.

On the other hand, you should wait patiently if the master is late — even for hours! If you think this is unfair, you are probably not ripe for great arts. There are stories of great masters who purposely arrived late, not for hours but for days, and then passed on their secrets to the few wise, patient students. Although it seldom happens nowadays, it will reflect a splendid grasp of chi kung and kungfu culture if you and your classmates stop whatever you are doing, stand up respectfully, bow and greet your master as he comes in.

Do not leave your class half-way. But if you have to leave early for some reason, explain that to your master before-hand and politely ask his permission. At the appointed time, ask his permission again, then bow and thank him before leaving. At the end of a class, the students should leave after the master, not before he does. However, if the master stays back for a considerable length of time, such as explaining some points to some students who stay behind to ask him, other students may leave first, after bowing to the master.

In the East, it is customary for the teacher to arrive last and leave first. Interestingly, it is often the reverse in the West. The teacher, Western in culture if not in race, often arrives the earliest, sweeps the floor and prepares cookies and drinks which he will serve during recess to his students, who will joke and laugh. At the end of the class, the teacher will stand at the door, shake the students’ hands and thank them for their attendance. He will then throw away the garbage his students have left behind if he still has energy left, and check that everyone has gone home before he closes the door.

Offering a Cup of Tea

In Eastern culture it is always the students who offer drinks to the teacher. When you offer your master a cup of tea, it is preferable to do so with two hands. In Eastern societies, accepting a cup of tea and drinking it has deeper significance than merely quenching thirst.

In the past, even if someone had done you great wrong, if he or she offered you a cup of tea, usually while kneeling down and then knocking his or her head on the ground, and you, sitting down in front of other witnesses, accepted and drank it, it meant that you accepted his or her apology, were ready to forgive all the wrong, and would not take any action whatsoever in future.

The students should also offer a seat to the master, and the seat chosen is usually the best one available. If the master is not seated, the students should remain standing, unless the master asks them to sit down. If they dine together, the students would wait until the master has made his first move to eat or drink.

Don’t be Insulting

When your master is explaining or demonstrating something to you, listen attentively and respectfully. Do not bluntly say you already know what he is teaching, even if you really know. In chi kung and kungfu culture, doing so is not being straight-forward, it is being insulting — you are implying that the master does not know what he is doing.

I recall some occasions when my masters taught me something that I already had learnt quite well. Thanks to my training in Eastern culture, I followed their instructions faithfully although they appeared very simple and below my level then. Only much later did I realize that had I not follow these apparently simple instructions I would not have acquired the foundation necessary for advanced development.

Do not ever make the fatal mistake of telling a master what or how to teach you. This is not only unbecoming, it is also very foolish, for you will be denying yourself the very purpose why you need him. If he is a master, he knows best what and how to help you attain your best results; he is able to see your needs and development in ways far beyond your limited perspective.

For the Students’ Interest

Some westerners may find the above-described master-student relationship odd, just as those accustomed to Eastern culture would find the behaviour of some western students unbelievable. It may be more surprising, especially for those who think they are doing the master a favour by paying him a fee to learn, to know that all these customs of respect for the master are actually for the students’, not the master’s, interest.

Someone who teaches kungfu dance or gentle exercise for a living will probably care more for your fees than your respect, but a master whose art gives you good health, vitality, mental freshness and spiritual joy actually does not care whether you respect him more or your dog. But those students who have experienced the wonderful benefits of genuine kungfu and chi kung will understand that the respect given to the master is not only a sincere token of appreciation to the master for sharing his art, but also constitutes an ideal psychological state for the training to take place.


Cosmos Chi Kung – Cleansing at Many Levels

Cosmos Chi Kung – Cleansing at many levels
by Sifu Barry Smale – Instructor,  Shaolin Wahnam England

Cosmos Chi Kung is a high-level form of Chi Kung. One effect of this is that cleansing takes place at a number of levels – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

Recently, having been teaching a number of beginner students, I have noticed something interesting. Even though people can hear and understand the concept, they can have trouble understanding the implications.

One thing Sifu often says is that if you have an old physical injury then, when you are in chi flow, you may notice “good pain” in that area. This is the Chi moving and cleansing blockages. When I explain that to early students they are nearly always happy and reassured if any discomfort arises during their practice as they see it as a sign of cleansing.

However, they are often less happy if they notice old thoughts or emotions arise or if physical or other discomfort comes up that seems to have no origin.

Really, there is no need for surprise or disturbance. The principle at the emotional, mental or spiritual level is the same as at the physical. If there is a blockage, you may notice some “pushing through” occuring. With physical injury you may notice that at the original site. So, the same is true at the emotional, mental and spiritual levels.

If you find that things arise in chi flow – emotions of any kind (from joy through to sadness and despair), thoughts of any kind (from “good” to “bad” or “disturbing”), or any strange mind/body manifestation – then the best way of handling them is to just “let go”. Maybe even at some point be grateful an unhelpful blockage is being cleared. You don’t need to worry or intellectualise about what it is.

Many of you will have heard Sifu or your instructor say “very good, carry on”. It means what is says. You don’t need to worry or intellectualise about what arises during chi flow. I found these words to be invaluable during some stages of my practice. To be able to accept that sometimes there would be “good discomfort” during my practice but that it was doing me good. Remember, at the end of every session you come to stillnes and then get on with the rest of your day.

Obviously, if something difficult persists, or you feel cloudy or troubled at the end of practice, then check with Sifu or your instructor. But don’t be surprised if they suggest you are holding onto an unhelpful idea or unnecessary intellectualistion.

So, really a simple idea. When cleansing is taking place it might “wake up” the site of blockage/injury. That happens at the level of emotions, thought and spirit, not just physical. So, allow what comes to come, trust in the art and your teacher, and do your best to enjoy the process.

With metta,


How Has Chi Kung and Shaolin Wahnam Changed My Life – Sifu Antonio Colarusso

Antonio Colarusso

Shaolin Wahnam Instructor and President or Chief Executive Officer
of 2 International and 10 National Companies

Antonio Colarusso

Sifu Antonio Colarusso

The following testimonial is reproduced from the thread How Has Chi Kung and the Shaolin Wahnam Institute Changed my Life started in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum on 6th January 2009.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Today, while having a wonderful vacation far away from home and during a very special dinner with my family in Saint Moritz, Switzerland, I felt the need to write a letter to Sigung and to my Sifus. The urge to write came because I am feeling so happy these days. I am enjoying a special state of meditative thinking and a sense of gratitude that is covering my complete body. So I decided that instead of writing a private email, I will post a thread in our special Virtual Kwoon. This sensation of gratitude and happiness, I can only recall having felt this way once before, and that was during the iItensive Chi Kung Course in beautiful Kota Kinabalu.

It was like a film of 10 thousand pictures going 100 miles per hour in front of my eyes, seeing everything that has happened to me, to my family and to the people who work for me in my companies since I began practicing Chi Kung and Wahnam Tai Chi Chuan.

Every image on that film brought me tears of happiness to my eyes, remembering how my attitude towards life has changed, the connection I was able to reestablish with my dad and my two kids, the many projects I have created. All of these blessings came into my life because of my involvement with the SWI. I have been able to be more serene, more relaxed, happier, loving, more aware and more centered. All these conditions brought me a new sense of being in what I called the ZONE, which for me is to be able to be in FOCUS and with a clear objective to be achieved.

As I said before, I felt a need to write how I feel, to send my gratitude to Sigung, to Sifu Piti, to Sifu Rama and to all Members of the SWI Family. This incredible family who have helped me become a better human being… a better person in all senses of the word. The teachings I have received from all of you have helped me facilitate a big change in my organization. These changes have affected over 600 direct workers and more that 3,500 indirect workers. It has also allowed me to raise their standard of living in a country were more than 89% of the population are in extreme poverty.

Guan Yin Bodhisattva

Grandmaster Wong and Sifu Antonio Colarussa in Sabah under the loving care of Guan Yin Bodhisattva, Golden Boy and Jade Girl

It is through these lines that I am able to give some of the gratitude back to my Sigung and to my Sifus. They have helped me all these years and are still contributing with my development through the teachings and practice of the Shaolin Arts, that in terms have helped many people who have decided and have taken the big step to become Healthy, to have more Vitality and to experience the greatness of Spiritual Joy.

It has been more than three years now since I started practicing Chi Kung… but being able to open up a closed heart. To see and feel the suffering around me but also the happiness that is in front of my own eyes has changed my attitude towards life. The balance to grow in knowledge, compassion and power has allowed me to become free, happy and to enjoy LIFE.

I canot thank you enough; you gave me another sense, another direction, to my own life. I now enjoy having a clearer direction in my life’s goal. The decision making process is more tranquil, more serene, with less fears and distractions.

You have set you destiny in a novel cause and I will always Thank Kuan Shi Yin Pusat, Si Tai Kung Ho, Si Tai Kung Lai, all of the pasts masters, Sigung, Sifu Rama and specially Sifu Piti for allowing me become a part of this family.

With respect and gratitude

Antonio Colarusso
Shaolin Wahnam Venezuala
Thoughts create reality

Intensive Taijiquan Course, Penang 2008Sifu Piti, Dr Riccardo Salvetore, Sifu Rama, Andres and Sifu Antonio at the Intensive Taijqian Course of September 2008 in Penang

Private Classes Available

I will be offering private Kung Fu classes for 2 times every week per month, at 1 hour per class. We can arrange for a suitable venue and time as needed. The material covered will include Shaolin Wahnam Chi Kung and Kung Fu, from the basic fundamentals to intermediate level. With private instructions, I can match the course to your level of development and progress. As a prerequisite, please read the Ten Shaolin Laws. The classes will be ongoing. Within a year you should be able to have good Shaolin forms, have an understanding of its philosophy and applications, and have internal force. You can leave the private class at any time, but if you want to maximize your training it is best to attend the classes until you have reached a sufficient level.

My fees are currently at RM2,000.00 per month. The classes are ongoing training classes where you will receive personal guidance and instruction from me. You will be getting personal instructions from a practitioner of a high level, advanced art.

Why the reason for the high price? My school, Shaolin Wahnam, is proud to be one of the few remaining genuine Shaolin schools that still teach Kung Fu with a holistic approach. We know how to apply our Shaolin Kung Fu patterns and forms in combat situations. We do not use kickboxing and technics borrowed from other arts. We use our forms and patterns as taught in combat situations. The combative skills covered include:

  • Striking
  • Kicking
  • Felling
  • Gripping
  • Against Multiple Attackers
  • Weapons

At the spiritual level we aim for mind expansion and cultivation. Note that Shaolin Kung Fu is not religious and my Wahnam family includes highly skilled practitioners from many faiths.

In addition I will be sharing with you in my classes what were considered Kung Fu secrets by traditional Kung Fu masters of the past. Most of the secrets that I will be sharing are Kung Fu application related. These secrets were only passed down from Master to inner chamber disciples, but which are now open secrets because of my School’s drive to keep the essence of Kung Fu alive. In fact, just do a search on my Sifu’s website at and you will see a wealth of information available there.

Lastly, I want my students to be committed to the practise. Charge too low and some people won’t take their training seriously. In the past masters would often test a potential student’s diligence and perseverance by making him do chores and basic training for years. In this modern age, money is a poor substitute but it is sufficient to see that one is dedicated enough to the arts. Also, I do not want the arts to be passed down to gangsters and other malcontents of society. The Shaolin arts were reserved for generals, emperors and the elite in the past.

However, if you do not have the financial means but can prove that you are a dedicated and worthy student, then I can consider revising the fee.

I am also considering conducting regular classes once there is sufficient demand. If you are interested in a regular class, please send me an email.

You can contact me at