(reproduced from http://www.shaolin.org/general-2/36-strategies/strategies01.html)
The famous Tang general, Xue Ren Gui, who originated the strategy “Deceiving Heaven to Cross Sea”
It would be great to hear some of your experiences using the 36 strategies. Do you have any particularly memorable moments when you applied them, whether with patients, in work or in combat?
Answer 1 by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
Although I know the 36 strategies well, interestingly I do not consciously apply them to solve problems. A main reason is that since actively putting our Shaolin Wahnam philosophy into daily life, I do not have any problems. What other people regard as problems, I regard as opportunities for improvement, which is quoted from Emiko who mentioned this some years ago.
Another important reason is that, regardless of whether we call them problems or opportunities for improvement, I look at them with a Zen state of mind. The solution often appears immediately, without the need to think of suitable strategies.
But this does not mean that it is not useful to learn the Thirty Six Strategies. In fact, it is because I know the strategies very well that solutions appear easily to me. Just like in our kungfu and chi kung training. I have learnt so many kungfu and chi kung techniques, that now I can respond spontaneously to any attack or meet any chi kung need without having to think of what techniques to use.
Knowing these 36 strategies is also very useful in a reverse manner, i.e. you can quickly know if someone attempts to use any tricks on you.
I recall an interesting occasion many years ago when a salesman tried to sell something to me. He said he had a present for me. I told him straight away that I didn’t want the present. He was shocked. “Don’t you want a present?” he asked, “it’s free.” “No, thank you. I’m not interested in the present.” He was trying to use the trick, Deceive Heaven to Cross Sea, on me, though he probably did not know the name of the strategy. He might not even know he was using a strategy; he just followed the training he was given.
In my younger days, some masters would tell me that other masters criticized my kungfu behind my back. “What do you think of my kungfu?” I asked. “Of course, it is very good,” they said. “That is good enough for me,” I said, “I don’t have to worry about what the other masters said.” I knew they were using the strategy, Borrow Knife to Kill Another.
Yet, looking back with hindsight in my healing work I often use the strategy, Deceive Heaven to Cross Sea. The title of this strategy is not quite appropriate here as it connotes a sense of deception. It would be more appropriate to call it Admire Plum Quench Thirst, which connotes a sense of inspiration, and is actually another name for this type of strategy. When someone couldn’t stand unassisted, I told him to imagine how wonderful if would be when he could walk and run unaided.
In combat, the strategy I use often is Sound East Strike West. It is extremely effective. In the no-shadow kick, which is one of my specialties, I could kick slowly yet hit an opponent when I use this strategy effectively.
An old picture showing Grandmaster Wong demonstrating a no-shadow kick on a student
The above discussion is reproduced from the thread 10 Questions on the 36 Strategies in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.