Because I have learned from Sifu Anthony Korahais, I believe that is the proper way to address you. If not, please forgive me.
— David, USA
Thank you for your kind thoughts and proper address. An even better way for you to address me is just “Sigung”, and not “Wong Sigung” or “Sigung Wong”.
Of course you don’t mean it, but it is helpful to know that prefixing or suffixing a person’s surname by his students, like “Lau Sifu” or “Sifu Lau” instead of just “Sifu”, distant them from him. The public would call him “Lau Sifu” or “Sifu Lau”, but his students call him “Sifu”.
Your case in this e-mail is different. You mentioned “Sifu Anthony Korahais” because you wanted to indicate which of our certified instructors in our school you meant. But when you talk to him, you just address him as “Sifu”, and not “Sifu Anthony” or “Sifu Korahais”.
Because Grandmaster Wong has a long waiting list, these questions were received more than a year ago at a time when Sifu Anthony Korahais was still in Shaolin Wahnam. Sifu Anthony has since left the school, and by Sifu Anthony’s choice, Grandmaster Wong is no longer his sifu. Hence, those students who used to address Grandmaster Wong as “sigung” should now address him as “sifu” if they wish to continue learning from Grandmaster Wong. They would also continue to address Sifu Anthony as “sifu”.
Thank you very much for generously sharing your very valuable art. I am also particularly thankful for your website titled Showing Respect to the Master and the years of questions and answers you have archived.
I am glad that many of our Shaolin Wahnam students have told me that our arts have greatly enriched their lives.
Showing respect to the master is mainly for the students’ benefit. Many other people may not know this, or believe it is so. Showing respect to the master gives the students an excellent mind-set to benefit most from the master’s teaching.
Many people, both inside and outside our school, have also told me that they have benefited much from my Question-Answer Series. As there is a long waiting list, these questions and answers are often posted for public reading about a year later.
I would take this opportunity to mention an interesting point from the many questions I have received. Before looking at the name of the enquirer, I can often tell whether he is a member of our Shaolin Wahnam Family by just looking at the way he asks his questions.
There are three characteristics that differentiate our family members from members of the public, namely mental clarity, courtesy and open-mindedness.
Our family members are clear in their writing. I can easily know what they write. On the other hand, although questions by members of the public are edited for grammar and spelling before they are being posted in my Question-Answer Series, you can differentiate them if you examine closely.
Clear writing shows mental clarity. I am glad our training has resulted in mental clarity demonstrated in the e-mails our students sent to me.
Our family members are polite. Your opening paragraph is a good example. Some members of the public do not even bother to address the person they send their e-mails to. They just start asking their questions.
And some do not state their names at the end of their e-mails. If I post their questions in my Question-Answer Series, I have to guess at their names form their e-mail addresses.
Courtesy to others is an indication of self-respect. Self-respect is very important for successful living.
Our family members are open-minded. They realize and accept that other people may not agree with their views which they cherish dearly. Open-mindedness is present in your questions regarding low-level Mao Shan, and regarding talking to other people about our chi kung.
Being open-minded certainly make our life happier. It also enables us to improve ourselves.
Circle Walking in Baguazhang
Once you mentioned that the form of payment for low maoshan was to be either permanently deformed, forever poor, or without children. This disturbed me greatly. I can only imagine the payment and reward associated with high maoshan.
Why would anyone agree to any of those things? Is it black magic for unscrupulous people who desire quick and easy cultivation? I cannot imagine why someone would accept those terms when wonderful arts like Tai Chi Chuan and Shaolin Chuan exist.
There are three levels of Mao Shan, or Taoist magic, namely low level, middle level and high level, sometimes known as black Mao Shan, grey Mao Shan and white Mao Shan.
Low level Mao Shan practitioners are concerned mainly with acquiring magical powers overcoming others and causing difficulties for others, which generally result in dong harm. Middle level Mao Shan practitioners have abilities of low level Mao Shan as well as high level Mao Shan. High level Mao Shan practitioners have abilities of low and middle levels Mao Shan, and more, but are concerned with healing and helping people.
Hence, the division into low, middle and high levels Mao Shan is based mainly on the application of Taoist magic, and not on the attainment of practitioners, but the tradition and philosophy of respective schools focus on these specific levels.
A requirement for students to undergo training in low level Mao Shan is to choose one of the following three conditions — to be permanently deformed, to be unable to accumulate money, and to have no children. Normally people would not agree to any of these conditions, but some persons due to evil intention of various reasons may accept one of these conditions. A common condition chosen by these people is an inability to accumulate money or not to have children.
Someone who has no ability or desire to earn money honorably and honestly may choose the second condition. After successfully competed his training, he can invent money and use it lavishly, but the money cannot be used the following day. Someone who wants to avenge some great wrongs done to his family may sacrifice family life and choose the third condition to take revenge.
Low level Mao Shao is black magic, and can be very powerful. While many low level Mao Shan practitioners who use his magic to harm other people for no better reasons than earn money from those who pay them to do so, are unscrupulous, others are not, like those who want an easy carefree life, and those who want to avenge great wrongs. These practitioners, for example, would not use their magic on poor hawkers, or harm innocent people.
While it is true that wonderful arts like genuine Tai Chi Chuan and genuine Shaolin Chuan, or Shaolin Kungfu, exist, it is also true that these wonderful arts are very rare today. Those who have a chance to learn these arts, like students in our school, are indeed very lucky. Much of Tai Chi Chuan and Shaolin Kungfu practiced today are grossly debased.
It is also very rare today to practice Mao Shan, regardless of its level. Even when students have a chance, besides the conditions required by the teacher, the training is also very tough.
Finally, do you have any advice on speaking with other people about qigong?
From reading your question and answer series, I know that many people respond unfavorably to your talking about it. I also have tried unsuccessfully to talk with people about it without results.
Oddly, the people who stand to benefit the most seem to be the least interested. However, most of them act as though they didn’t hear me or I am obviously deceived. I am sad to be unable to share the great benefits I’ve received with others.
My advice is that you may talk about the benefits of qigong in general to all people. If they do not show interest, you need not continue. Only for those who are interested to know more and gain benefits themselves, should you spend time elaborating.
Don’t waste your time on undeserving people. This may sound harsh, but it is good advice based on my many years of experience.
While many people respond unfavorably to my talking about qigong, many other people respond favorably to it. My website, for example, is one of the top 500 most visited websites in the world. Considering that only a small proportion of the world’s people are interested in qigong and kungfu or any martial art, this is a remarkable achievement. Moreover, many of our instructors and students learned from me after hearing me talking about qigong and kungfu in my websites or books.
If you talk to people interested in qigong or who want to benefit from qigong, you will have results. If you talk to people who are not interested or do not believe in the benefits qigong can bring, they think they are doing you a favour by listening to you.
People whom you think will benefit most from your telling them of our qigong and the benefits you have gained, are undeserving of your time and effort. You would spend your time more fruitfully by taking your girlfriend out or finding one if you do not have a girlfriend yet, or spending quality time with your parents.
On the other hand, it is their right not to be interested or to believe you, though it is not very wise of them considering the benefits you have derived from your qigong practice. You need not feel sad that you are unable to share the great benefits you have received with others. It is their choice. You should feel happy that you have the opportunities to enjoy these wonderful benefits.
The internal force in Wuzuquan is more flowing than condolidated
I was curious about some of the Baguazhang training methods used in other schools, particularly the methods I learnt from my old Baguazhang sifu before learning Baguazhang from you.
His school’s fundamental set consists of Walking the Circle with the upper body held in different positions. My old sifu mentioned that doing so would train “different forms of jin” and condition the body’s strength and flexibility.
— Fredrick Chu, USA
Your old Baguazhang sifu was correct. Performing Walking the Circle using different positions will develop different forms of jin or internal force. For example when you use “Black Bear From Cave”, you develop “sinking force” at your palms. When you use “Great Roc Spreads Wings”, you develop “spreading force” at your arms.
In the Walking the Circle we learned at the UK Summer Camp 2012, we used the Eight External Palms. We could develop internal force although we used an external method because we were skilful. Indeed, we could develop internal force no matter what external kungfu sets we used.
As you are now proficient in the Eight External Palm, you can progress to using the different positions taught in your old sifu’s set when practicing Circle Walking. You will find that the internal force developed is more powerful.
I experimented a little with returning to my old sifu’s set and experimenting with Circle Walking while holding my upper body in postures from the Wahnam Baguazhang Eight Mother Palms and felt my energy flow going to different parts of the body, but didn’t know if such practice would be efficient or fruitful in the long run.
Yes, this practice will be efficient and fruitful. It is a development from using the Eight External Palms learned at the UK Summer Camp 2012 to using Eight Internal Palms of your old sifu’s set although the exact patterns may not be the same.
You should practice your old sifu’s set the way you practice Circle Walking learnt in Shaolin Wahnam though the hand and body positions may be different. Your mind must be free from thoughts and you must be relaxed. You don’t have to worry about how to develop different forms of jin. The different hand and body positions will do that.
When you use the Eight External Palms learned in our school, your energy flow goes to different parts of your body because you have generated flowing internal force. When you use the hand and body positions of your old sifu’s set, this flowing energy will consolidate into different types of internal force due to the various hand and body positions. You don’t have to worry how. The various hand and body positions will result in different types of force.
It is both safer and more effective to first develop flowing force, then consolidate the force, or just develop consolidated force. Starting with the method learnt in Shaolin Wahnam, and progressing to your old sifu’s set is an excellent approach.
The internal force in Choy-Li-Fatt Kungfu is more consolidated than flowing
I would appreciate any insight you might have on the practice of Circle Walking with the upper body held in various postures and how it might compare to other methods of force training, such as simply holding the Green Dragon posture in circle walking, using the “secret” method of Walking the Circle for internal force by holding a posture for a period of time, then taking the next step along the circle to hold a posture for a period of time, and repeating until completing the circle, and the master’s method of Baguazhang force training that you taught us at the Summer Camp.
These are various methods to develop internal force. We are able to understand and benefit from these different methods because of our breadth and depth, which extend beyond Baguazhang, and from which we can draw inspiration and practice.
These different Baguazhang methods enable us to develop internal force that can have different proportion of flowing and consolidated force. The whole range of internal force in kungfu can extend from the soft, flowing force of Yang Style Taijiquan to the hard, consolidated force of Iron Wire.
Because both these styles as well as other styles of internal force, like Flower Set and Xingyiquan, are practiced in our school, we are able to draw from these styles to enrich our Baguazahgn in a way that other Baguazhang schools may not be able to. This positive transfer of skills is enhanced by my understanding and practice of Dragon Strength.
A rough guideline showing the ratios of flowing force to consolidated force in various kungfu styles are as follows:
Yang Style Taijiquan 90 – 10
Wuzuquan 80 – 20
Chen Style Taijiquan 70 – 30
Dragon Strength 60 – 40
Wudang Taijiquan 50 – 50
Flower Set 40 – 60
Baguazhang 40 – 60
Praying Mantis 40 – 60
Tantui 40 – 60
Triple Stretch 30 – 70
Wing Choon 20 – 80
Xingyiquan 20 – 80
Eagle Claw 20 – 80
Choy-Li-Fatt 10 – 90
Iron Wire 10 – 90
Please take not that the about listing is a rough guide, and there can be variation. Some Yang Style Taijiquan practitioners, for example, may have 20% or 30% of consolidated force instead of 10%. Generally only masters may have flowing force or consolidated force. Students may use physical momentum as in Aikido, or muscular strength as in Karate, and mistake it for flowing force and consolidated force.
By itself, i.e. without transference of learning from breadth and depth, Baguazhang force is about 40& flowing and 60% consolidated. A Baguazhang practitioner who has such force is probably a master or at an advanced level.
In our school, however, even students have internal force right at the start of their Baguazhang training, and due to the advantage of breadth and depth some may vary the proportion between flowing force and consolidated force.
A comparison of the various methods of Baguazhang force training using Circle Walking is as follows.
When the upper body is held in various postures, various types of consolidated force are developed according to the postures. When only the Green Dragon posture is used in Circle Walking, flowing force is developed, especially when various palm changes are performed at the end of a circle, like what you learned at the UK Summer Camp 2012.
As mentioned earlier, it is both safer and more effective to develop flowing force before consolidated force. If a practitioner starts straight away with consolidating force, the risk of causing energy blockage is higher. If he starts with flowing force, even when he makes a same mistake, energy flow will clear away the blockage.
Before energy can be consolidated, it must be flowing. This is a fact many people may not know. Hence, our students, who start with chi flow, can develop the same amount of internal force in a month whereas other students would need a year. Understandably, other people may be angry at this statement, and call us arrogant. That is their problem, not ours.
Another fact many people may not know is that consolidated force is also flowing, but at a slow pace. If a practitioner locks up his energy, it becomes stagnant and forms muscles.
When a Baguazhang practitioner uses the secret method of Circle Walking holding the Green Dragon posture for some time, then walk the next step and hold the posture for some time until he completes the circle, he focuses on developing consolidated force, but ensures that it is also flowing. This method should be practiced only after he has developed flowing force using the mobile Circle Walking.
The master’s method taught at the UK Summer Camp 2012 is a progression form this method of Stance Training in Circle Walking. It develops different types of internal force using various Eight Internal Palms, and at the same time ensures that force is flowing. It should be practice after Stance Training in Circle Waling.
Hence an effective progression of internal force training in Baguazhang is as follows:
Mobile Circle Walking holding the Green Dragon posture.
Stance Training using the Green Dragon posture in Circle Walking.
Circle Walking using the Eight Internal Palms.
The third level may be performed at two stages — mobile circle walking with the eight internal palms, and stance training in circle walking with the eight internal palms.
In addition to developing the force for which Baguazhang is well-known, I want to sharpen the overall skill of getting to an opponent’s back to deliver a decisive strike for which Baguazhang is famous. I’ve lately been imagining an imaginary opponent coming at me with simple strikes (for example, Black Tiger Steals Heart) and then using my footwork to step to the imaginary opponent’s side and responding with one of the 64 application palms.
I’ve found in my imaginary opponent and with real sparring partners that it is very easy to get to the back of an opponent who gives me a lot of force and forward momentum, but it is more difficult with a cautious opponent. Would you be able to give me some advice on how to best train the skill of getting to an opponent’s back, especially such a cautious opponent?
You method of practicing with an imaginary opponent and then testing it on a teal opponent is excellent. It was the method past masters practiced to become combat efficient. This was the method I frequently practiced to remain unbeaten. It is also the method I ask our Shaolin Wahnam instructors and students to practice to win sparring competitions.
If you are very fluent in executing your combat sequence, which must take into account of safety first, your opponent just has no chance against you. He will be retreating trying to cover your strikes.
Occasionally, an opponent may be very skillful that he can neutralize your attack and counter attack. You make an instant modification, irrespective of whether you are attacking him from the front, side or back, and continue to subdue hum.
Of course, with a cautious opponent, it is relatively not as easy to get to his back, or to attack him from any direction. There are two effective tactics for this situation. One is called “false-false, real-real”, and the other “tricking an opponent to advance to futility”.
In “false-false, real-real”, which is pronounced in an impossible sound in Mandarin based on tonal values, “shi-shi, shi-shi”, you make one or two feint attacks, which can turn to be real if your opponent fails to respond. As he responds to your feint moves, you get to his back.
To make your victory doubly sure, you anticipate a few possible responses he is likely to make. You make the necessary modifications and subdue him. If his response is so out-landish that you have not prepared a suitable modification, let him go and wait for another opportunity.
In the tactic of “tricking an opponent to advance to futility”, which is “yin di le kong” in Mandarin Chinese, you trick you opponent to advance to attack you, but you space yourself that his attacks are futile. When he is the midst of his attacks, you slip to his side or back to strike him.
Again, to make victory doubly sure, you anticipate a few possible responses he will make in that situation, and use defeat him with appropriate modifications. If his rare response is outside your prepared modification, let him go and wait for another opportunity.
A little bit ago, I experimented with “Through the Woods” for fun. I began Circle Walking through the obstacles and using the obstacles as placeholders for the position of imaginary opponents and just spontaneously delivering various strikes in free flow. It was a very eye-opening experience. I felt as though I were training the skill to really deliver decisive strikes on the move, especially since the idea arose from the training that I had to be able to use just one pattern to strike someone down in a situation with multiple opponents.
The patterns that came out most during my experiences with “Through the Woods” were Yellow Dragon Shoots Tongue (though from the Bagua stance, not the Bow Arrow stance), Yellow Dragon Plays With Water, Heavenly King Carries Umbrella, Golden Dragon Spirals Around Pillar, Cloud Dragon Spirals Around, and Wind Strikes Brain Gate, using the names of the patterns from 64 Patterns of Baguazhang.
Are there particular patterns in Baguazhang that are more suited for fighting in a situation with multiple attackers? I noticed I was using the Bagua stance almost the entire time, not the Bow Arrow or Horse Riding stances.
This was a secret training taught to me by my sifu, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam. It was extremely effective, and I once taught it at an advanced course for instructors.
There are no particular patterns that are specially suited for this situation. You can use any suitable patterns. But as you are on the move, you have to strike down an opponent with just one decisive pattern, and simultaneously cover yourself adequately from possible attacks from others.
You can let the patterns come out in chi flow as you go through the woods. Some suitable patterns are Yellow Dragon Shoots Tongue, Pure Blade Cuts Grass and Yellow Dragon Plays with Water.
If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at email@example.com stating your name, country and e-mail address.
In the previous three combat sequences, we learned three attack techniques using hand strikes at the top, middle and lower parts of the opponent. We also learned the corresponding defence techniques. In this combat sequence, “Hang a Golden Star at a Corner”, we learn attack techniques at the sides, i.e. left and right. These four modes of attacks — top, middle, bottom and sides — represent the whole range of directions any hand strikes can come from.
If you can execute a middle attack using “Black tiger Steals Heart”, i.e. a middle thrust punch, you can also execute other forms of middle attacks by changing the hand form and the stance. For example, instead of using a thrust punch you may use a palm strike, and instead of using a bow- arrow stance you may you use a false-leg stance. Similarly by varying the hand forms and stances of the other modes of attacks, you can have an unlimited range of attack techniques.
On the ther hand, if you can defend against a middle thrust punch, you can also defend against other forms of middle attacks. In other words, if you can effectively use “Single Tiger Energes from Cave” to counter “Black Tiger Steals Heart”, you can also counter his attack even if he uses a palm jab instead of a thrust punch, and uses a unicorm step instead of a bow-arrow stance, or any other hand forms and stances. The same principle applies to the other modes of attacks. Hence, when you are efficient in defending against these four representative hand strikes, you can defend against any hand strikes.
We use “Black Tiger Steals Heart” as a representative middle hand strike, and “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave” as its representative defence. For some reasons, such as to gain technical or tactical advantages, we may use another middle attack technique instead of the “Black Tiger”. Similarly we may use another middle defend technique instead of the “Single Tiger”. But we shall leave these considerations to later lessons. At this stage, it is sufficient to focus on these four representative attacks and defence so that we can develop the necessary combat skills to apply these techniques well.
Generally, skills are more important than techniques — a fact most martial art students today are ignorant of. Another important fact they are ignorant of is that skills, as well as techniques, need to be systematically acquired — not just read from a book or a webpage. Hence, traditional kungfu masters did not allow their students to engage in free sparing unless they were ready. But due to their ignorance, present-day students rush into free sparring. Not only they do not acquire skills and techiques, they hurt themselves unnecessarily.
Briefly, the skills we have learnt include right timing, right spacing, right judgement, quick decision, instantaneous change, fluid miovement, footwork adjustment and safe coverage. If you are not sufficiently proficient in any of these skills, or worse if you do not even know what these skills mean, it is better to go back to the previous combat sequences for more training.
Two new skills are introduced in this sequence training: the skill of flowing attack and the skill of pressing attack. As your opponent sweeps at your low punch at “Precious Duck Swims through Lotus”, you flow with the opponent’s momentum and swing your attacking arm upward in a curve into a “horn punch” at his temple, simultaneously you press in a small step and guard his sweeping hand. If you do not cover his hand, he may pierce it into your side ribs or bowels. Hence, this attack movement involves three skills: the skills of flowing attack, of pressing attack, and of safe coverage.
“Hang a Golden Star” is a short range attack but involves much movement. Thus, due to this innate disadvantage it is not a commonly used attack technque. But there may be situations, such as this one, where it may be useful.
I really should have written you earlier, as I owe you many thanks for the wonderful courses you taught in Hawaii. I returned from that week feeling not only revitalized, but also a deep sense of confidence I did not have previously regarding my abilities as a Chinese medical practitioner, teacher of qigong, and overall public figure and speaker.
As the months have gone by a voice inside of me which had been unable to express itself has gotten louder and clearer, and I am very excited to finally begin my career helping others. The way to go about doing that has also revealed itself very simply and straightforwardly.
Molly’s e-mail was received soon after the Hawaii courses in July 2014, but because of a long waiting list, the questions and answers are only posted in the Question-Answer Series now. You can have a glimpse of the Hawaii courses here and here.
— Molly, USA
I am glad you have benefited much from and enjoyed the Hawaii courses. The Intensive Zen Course, the first of its kind, certainly gave participants a lot of confidence and mental clarity.
I was very impressed that every one could speak on the spot on any topic provided by the audience. This was indeed a remarkable achievement. It will certainly enable you to perform well as a Chinese medical practitioner, qigong teacher, public speaker and any other responsibilities.
I have an opportunity to teach qigong at a local clinic which treats infertility. This is an area of particular interest to me and one that I will be specializing in in my private practice.
This particular clinic has never offered qigong and my intent is to start with a 12-week session and see what sort of response I get from the patients there. I believe it will be quite positive, and that all of these women will greatly benefit from our Cosmos Qigong.
Teaching qigong at a clinic that treats fertility is a meaningful job, helping to bring lives and joy to the world. Later you may start your own clinic for this worthy purpose.
Jean, the Chief Instructor of Canada whose husband is a world-top surgeon, told me that she had 100% success in her qigong class with women who were previously infertile and wanted to have children if they practice twice a day.
Lifting the Sky
My plan for the session would be to transmit the basic skills for practice, as well as teach the basic pattern Lifting the Sky, as well as those more suitable for helping with fertility, such as Nourishing Kidneys and Carrying the Moon.
Of course I am aware that other patterns may be more suitable for some women depending upon their conditions, so I’m wondering if there are any other specific patterns you can recommend which might help with fertility.
Your teaching plan is excellent. Rotating Hips and Dancing Fairy are also useful, but these exercises need not be practiced, or only be practiced gently and occasionally, after women are pregnant.
I was reviewing the instructions for Nourishing Kidneys that you wrote in the “Art of Chi Kung” and noticed some details in the book which you never mentioned in class when teaching this exercise.
When I teach this exercise, do I need to make any mention of a gentle focus of the Yongquan or Laogong points, or qi flowing up the spine, or is it best to simply pass this on as you have taught it to me in class, without those details?
The exercises, including Nourishing Kidneys, in my book, The Art of Chi Kung, were written for those who did not have the opportunity to learn from me personally. The book was also written when my teaching skills and methodology were far below my present levels. Those who have learned from me or from our certified instructors will get the best benefits practicing the exercises the way they have been taught.
Hence, in your teaching of Nourishing Kidneys it is not necessary to mention a focus at the Yongquan or Laogong points, or qi flowing up the spine. For other qigong patterns it is also not necessary to mention details described in my book.
My other question is regarding how to proceed if any of these women do become pregnant during the course of the class. I recall you saying in a Question and Answer series that a pregnant woman with sufficient skill may practice gently until the third month of the pregnancy. Would you say that is still the correct guideline?
For precaution purposes, when a woman is pregnant she does not need to practice the way qigong has been taught to her by you. But she can induce a gentle qi flow once a day with some gentle exercises. My advice that a woman with sufficient qigong skills may practice gently until the third month of the pregnancy is still a correct guideline.
There is, nevertheless, an excellent exercise as follows that she should perform whenever she likes except around noon.
Enter into a qigong state of mind. Gently think that her baby is developing beautifully and healthily, and when the time is right, the delivery will be safe and pleasant.
If you feel I am missing any details that may be helpful for teaching a group like this, I would greatly appreciate any insight you might be willing to give.
Make your teaching and the students’ learning fun, and ensure that your teaching is beneficial to them, but without burdening them. The benefits the students get should be more than the fees they pay.
The Force Method in Triple Stretch
As for myself, my life is hectic but good. Joshua and I are still practicing kungfu regularly, are making good progress.
I had spent five months from May until October studying two to eight hours a day for all of my national Chinese medicine exams. Thanks to my kungfu and qigong practice, I was able to do that, work two jobs, go to school, and find time for my boyfriend, all without getting sick where someone else surely would have.
My lovely boyfriend and I have been together for nearly a year. We plan to get married next year, and start a family a year after that. It seems as if I’m on the brink of a new chapter of my life and I’m looking forward to it with excitement and gratitude.
You are an inspiration to all other students. Not only you are not sick for the hard work you are doing, I am sure you enjoy your work too and perform better than most other people. Our training certainly enrich our life.
Congratulations for having a boyfriend and planning to get married. To be a wife and mother, as well as to be a husband and father, are some of the happiest things in life.
In the book, “The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu”, Sigung explains that in performing One-Finger Shooting Zen, “as you move your hand out and in, tense it and visualize it as charged with internal force” and then “even though you tense your arm and finger, you must never be tensed, especially in your chest”
Editorial Note: This question was summarized from Post 5 of Questions on One-Finger Shooting Zen in the Shaolin Wahnam Institute Discussion Forum. As this and the subsequent question are topical, they are posted here ahead of a long waiting-list.
It is a good question.
Let us have some fun. In performing One-finger Shooting Zen, you should tense your arm, and not tense your arm. The confusion is due to the limitation of words. Words do not explain exactly what we want to explain.
The first “tense” in “you should tense your arm” is not the same as the second “tense” in “not tense your arm”. Although the meanings are different, I still used the same word “tense” when I wrote the book 20 years ago in 1995 because I could not find another better word.
After many years of teaching, now I use words that give a clearer meaning. Now I say, “Focus your energy at your index finger, but do not use muscular strength”, or “Consolidate your flowing energy at your arm without tensing any muscles”.
In other words, in “tense your arm”, I mean “focus or consolidate energy at your arm”. In “not tense your arm” I mean “not tense the muscles in your arm”.
When you focus or consolidate energy at your finger or arm, your energy is still flowing, but it is focused or consolidated. The consolidated energy is flowing, not locked up or stagnant. You do not tense your muscles when you let your energy flow. If you tense your muscles, the energy will be locked up and be stagnant.
Such limitation of words occurs quite frequently in chi kung and kungfu descriptions. For example, after a few repetitions of a Sinew Metamorphosis exercise, we tell students to breath out forcefully but without using force! In developing internal force, we advise students not to use strength and they will develop a lot of strength.
In the “breathing” example, breathing out forcefully means breathing out with a lot of energy going out of the mouth. Without using force means without breathing out in a forced manner.
In the “internal force” example, the first â€œstrengthâ€ means â€œmuscular strengthâ€, and the second â€œstrengthâ€ means â€œinternal forceâ€. If we use muscular strength, we have to tense our muscles. When we tense our muscles, we stop the flow of energy that constitutes internal force.
The uninitiated will not understand the meaning of the descriptions although they know the dictionary meaning of all the words used. The initiated will have no difficulty understanding the meaning because they have experience of the situations.
What are the flow method and the force method?
The flow method and the force methods are two main categories of methods to develop internal force. These terms were coined by me.
I did not invent the various force-developing methods. These various methods were used in the past. I analysed the principles in the various methods and categorised them into two main types, and call them the flow method, or xing-fa in Chinese, and the force method, or jing-fa.
In the flow method, we perform the techniques to train force in picture-perfect forms.. Then we perform the forms in a smooth flow, without beginning and without ending to generate an energy flow. When the energy flow becomes vigorous, it produces internal force. The various styles of Taijiquan are good examples of the flow method.
In the force method, we also perform the techniques to train force in picture-perfect forms. Then we consolidate energy into internal force. The consolidated energy is still flowing, but more focused and concentrated. Iron Wire and Triple Stretch are good examples of the force methods.
In studying and analysing various methods of developing internal force, I discovered that chi flow was necessary. It was increasing the chi flow or consolidating the chi flow that resulted in the flow method or the force method. This discovery tremendously sped up the process of building internal force. It is incredible but true that our students can now develop internal force in a month what I would need a year during my studentâ€™s days!
The process in the flow method is form-flow-force, and the process in the force method is form-force-flow. It is helpful to note that the crucial part of the processes of both the flow method and the force method is the middle part, and not the end part. In the flow method, we let our energy flow vigorously to develop force. In the force method, we consolidate energy into force and let it flow smoothly.
Editorial Note: An excellent answer by Sifu Leonard Lackinger can be found here
If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org stating your name, country and e-mail address.
It is a great joy to be a husband and father — an old picture showing Grandmaster Wong, his wife and their three eldest children in the garden of the house where they are still staying
You said that becoming a wife/husband and mother/father is one of the most spiritually fulfilling things in this world. But spiritual fulfillment isn’t a given if I have to sacrifice so much and the man doesn’t. A relationship is made of two people, so both should strive to be the best they can be and sacrifice all they can. Not only the women, and not only the men either. How can a relationship be wholesome if that were so?
— Fabienne, Switzerland
Ask not what your husband and children can do for you. Ask what you can do for your husband and children. You and not they practice our elite arts.
Spiritual fulfillment is not a given attainment. You have to make effort and sacrifice to attain it.
While a relationship of husband and wife is made up of two people, and ideally both should strive for family happiness, you need not wait for the other person to make this come true. As an elite person who has practiced our Shaolin Wahnam arts, you take the lead.
If your thought, speech and action are appropriate, the other will follow, and both will contribute to the family happiness. It does not matter even when the other person does little work, or not at all, but you still need him to make a rewarding relationship.
While doing further research in Buddhism and its origins, I didn’t have to look far at all to find other offending examples of women being treated like lesser beings and/or being reduced to tools of convenience and satisfaction.
Can you please tell me what you think about these examples?
My main comment is that society and customs at the time of the Buddha were vastly different from those of ours. By the standard of Buddha’s time, what the Buddha did to women was extremely generous.
My other comments follow each of your examples.
Your Example (1) The most advanced Buddhist nuns had to sit behind the most novice monks simply because their body was deemed inferior. It is our body that is able to grow and give life.
My Comment: At that time in India, no matter how accomplished women were, they were still considered inferior to males.
Your Example (2) The Buddha himself was against teaching women at first. He refused to teach his own aunt, the woman that nursed and raised him when he was but a small and defenceless child. If it weren’t for the Venerable Ananda, women probably never would’ve been taught by the Buddha himself, and I am forever grateful for that. If “not teaching women” was for the sake of monks not being distracted or tempted, then the monks were much more at fault than the nuns. Men should be able to control themselves, a sentiment which is blissfully ignored by many males in our society.
My Comment: It was a custom at the time to teach only males. The Buddha’s teaching of women was unprecedented.
Not teaching women for the sake of the monks was only one of a few reasons. The main reason for not teaching women was due to culture and custom.
If a beautiful woman temptingly stripes in front of a man, it is not easy for him to resist the temptation even when he can otherwise has good control of his sexual desires.
Xi Shi, one of the four most beautiful women of China
Past kings and emperors had multiple wives. What purpose did that serve except prestige? The beauty of women as a means of manipulation is even present in the 36 Strategies (“From Nothing is born Something”). Don’t you think that men who are easily manipulated by the beauty of women are disgraceful?
The purpose of having multiple wives was more than just prestige. A Chinese emperor was required by rites and customs to have more than a thousand wives, irrespective of whether he liked it or not, but it so happened that usually he liked it.
One important reason, besides the obvious variety of sexual pleasure an emperor could enjoy, was to ensure he had a male heir to succeed him.
There is nothing wrong to use the beauty of women in strategies. Some women, like the famous beauties of China, Xi Shi and Diao Chan, were proud to be able to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the country, and the people sincerely honoured them.
A well known strategy of the 36 Strategies is simply called “Beauty Strategy”. Many famous strategists used this strategy elegantly and successfully.
You may be pleased to know that there is a Chinese saying as follows. “Even heroes may not escape the temptations of beautiful women.” When heroes can fall to beauties, mere mortals stand little chance of survival.
I don’t think that men who are easily manipulated by the beauty of women are disgraceful. I think they are normal.
The great sage, Confucius, advises, “Food and sex are normal instincts.”
While talking to a very close friend of mine, it occurred to us that certain monastic rules and explanations of Buddhist cosmology and reincarnation state that people are born a woman because of some bad karma. Is this true? If so, that’s heart-breaking.
I try hard to be the best I can be, so I try and look at this as a blessing in disguise. As a woman, I might be better suited to clear deep-rooted, emotional or even karmic problems. According to my friend, a senior instructor in our school mentioned that women tend to be more sensitive and able to pass certain “milestones” in Kung Fu and Qigong more quickly. But still, it sucks to be told that I might be inferior.
In any case, I feel torn between righteous fury because of this caveman-ish injustice being prevalent to this day (sometimes even in Shaolin Wahnam, of all places), and grief for all the oppression and lost potential that women had to deal with ever since known history. Will it boil down to the fact that, as a woman, I have to make a very hard choice? Either reach high achievements or become a wife and mother?
It was true that in the past at a time when women’s position was inferior to men’s, many people believed that to be born a woman was due to bad karma. But this was relative. It was bad karma compared to being born as gods, or even as men. But it was good karma compared to being born an animal, or even a very beautiful female titan. Yet the very same people would probably think that being born a woman in a noble family was due to better karma than being born a male slave.
But conditions are different today. Even when Chinese culture prefers sons to daughters, many Chinese families I know prefer to have daughters than to have sons. When they are married, daughters with their husbands stay with the parents; or at least return home frequently, whereas the sons when married together with their wives are lost to their in-laws.
Hence, you should not be heart-broken, but instead take being born a woman as a blessing.
Indeed, to be born human, male or female, is a great blessing. He or she must have accumulated a lot of good karma in the past. To be born wholesome is a greater blessing. The blessing to be born in a highly civilized society like yours is even greater. And the greatest blessing is to be born human, male or female, wholesome in a civilized society and be exposed to spiritual teaching like ours in Shaolin Wahnam. We have a lot to be grateful for.
Don’t just try to be the best person you can be, do it. Don’t strive but enjoy your cultivation. While whether women are better suited than men to clear emotional and karmic problems, and pass milestones in kungfu and qigong training is debatable, there is no doubt that women today, especially in Western societies, enjoy privileges men normally don’t, like having their heavy luggage carried by men, and their food served to them first while their man friends may still mouth-water, provided that these women don’t mistake women equality to be female chauvinism.
Your righteous fury, sense of caveman-ish injustice, and grief of oppression and lost potential of women, are all the result of your imagination. Since known history, women never had such opportunities and benefits as they have today. Women in the past did not go to school or even out of their house, had no opportunities of employment, and could not choose their own husbands. Now you can reach high achievements and at the same time become a wife and mother. You should celebrate instead of groan over your opportunities.
I love my wife for who she is, not what I want her to be
Sigung, may I please know how you feel about this issue? Do you feel like females are worth less than male beings, be it animal or human? Or did I just misunderstand your intentions behind the article you wrote about becoming a good wife? Do you love your own wife so much because she manipulated you into doing what she wants (even if she did it sweetly), or because she was supportive, sincere, loving and strong?
My feeling about this issue is very clear — to myself as well as to others. Definitely I do not feel females are worth less than males, animal or human. I regard them as equal, but not the same.
During question time, for example, when both male and female students asked questions about the same time, I always practiced “lady’s first”.
During demonstration I usually chose male students or instructors. Some people mistook this gesture as my disregard for women. It was just the opposite. It was my regard for them that I chose male demonstrators. I did not want to take advantage of their feminine beauty, or let other people have this impression, especial in the West where many masters, unfortunately, exploit their female students.
These may be little gestures, but they demonstrate my high regards for women.
You misunderstood my intentions behind the article I wrote about becoming a good wife. My intentions are noble, and are aimed at helping women get the men they love. They are too many eligible, loveable but unmarried women, as well as too many unmarried men who are scared to get married, in the West.
I love my wife very much for what she is, including her many faults. She did not manipulate me into doing what she wants, even in a sweet way. If she did, I would have sufficient ways to counter it, also in a sweet way. She does not need to do so because she is appreciative, sincere, loving and strong.
She has to be very strong, bringing up five lovely children at a time when I was financially poor, not only without any complaints but also with love and devotion. Now I earn more money, I like spending it on her to make her happy, but she spends it on our children and grandchildren, and that wisely and not lavishly, and our children have to say, “Papa and mama, we have enough money to be comfortable.”
While with Shaolin Wahnam, I learned that we are all part of the same universe and that our world is an illusion, influenced by our perception. Why can’t this simple principle be applied to such a natural, sacred and simple bond as marriage, for example? Shaolin Wahnam gets so many aspects about daily life perfectly right, yet misogyny is still observable. Shouldn’t we stand above this petty differentiation?
For example, we are making the difference between hard and soft chi for the sake of understanding. We can do that with the concept of men and women, too. But only for the sake of understanding and explanation. It should flow into each other and ultimately be one. Men and women can’t be without each other in the long run (for the simple sake of continuously populating this planet), so let’s make it an equal business. Based on love and respect, not on superiority and manipulation.
You have highlighted a very important point that can bring meaning and happiness to our daily life. Our phenomenal world, which is an illusion, is much influenced by our perception. My article on Perception and Reality illustrates this very important point.
Paradoxically, your problem in this issue is due to your perception. The reality is the same, that men and women can’t be without each other, and their mutual well-being should be based on love and respect, and not on superiority and manipulation. This is the theme in my article you mentioned, How to Trap a Good Husband and be a Good Wife, as well as in the teaching of Shaolin Wahnam.
However you interpreted my article from a different perspective. I advise that to get a husband whom she has found lovable and eligible, the woman should fulfil the qualities that he wants in his wife. He wants his wife to be attractive, feminine and yielding. But you thought, wrongly, that if a woman conforms to these qualities, she would make herself inferior as well as manipulate him to marry her.
Although you may not have explicitly said it, you imply that to demonstrate your superiority, or at least your equality, you need not confirm to his likings. If you are already attractive, feminine and yielding, that is fine. You already process qualities that he likes. But, for the sake of illustration here, if you were unattractive, dominating and demanding, you need not make yourself attractive, feminine and yielding to win him. He has to accept you for what you are.
You consider, again wrongly, that if you have to make yourself attractive, feminine and yielding to win him, you will be manipulative. This is your flawed perspective. A better perspective is that you make a sacrifice to attain a greater mutual goal.
An example will make this point clearer. Suppose you are a manufacturer producing red T-shirts. A customer orders blue T-shirts. This is his likes. But you think that if you conform to his likes, you are demeaning yourself and accepting your inferiority. But if you conform to his likes, you are manipulative to win his sale. You can choose to be stubborn and clinch onto your flawed perspective, but you will lose the sale or your man whom you feel will make a good husband. Your perspective is flawed because you confuse woman equality with being dog-headedness, and confuse sacrifice with manipulation.
This principle of fulfilling the needs of the other person and making sacrifice for greater mutual benefit can be applied to marriages as well as all other aspects of life. To implement this principle successfully, you have to be clear in your vision and direction, and noble in your perspective. Marrying any man that comes your way is not being clear in your vision and direction. Being stubborn even when your views are flawed and mistaking sacrifice to be manipulation is being unclear in your perspective.
Misogyry, or hating women, is definitely not a trait in Shaolin Wahnam. We have many perfect husbands in our school. Some men in our school may not be perfect husbands, but certainly they don’t hate women. If you feel that misogyny is observable in our school, for your own sake, you really have to examine your mind-set. Ironically, it is you who need to clear yourself from this mess of petty differentiation.
Besides better understanding, differentiating between hard and soft, or men and women, also enables us to be cost effective and bring us a lot of benefits. You are the one who can’t differentiate between men and women. Although you may differentiate them by sex, you fail to differentiate them by their roles and aspirations. You seem to treat women as men.
Men and women cannot ultimately be one. A man is a man, and a woman is a woman. It is utterly unnatural if anyone of them become a man-woman, or for the female chauvinists, a woman-man. Playing their roles and fulfilling their aspirations also cannot be equal business. Whether in love making, rearing children or any other aspects of family life, men perform their roles and fulfil their aspirations as men, and women as women. In love making, for example, by instinct, a man’s aspiration is his immediate pleasure, whereas a woman’s aspiration is to have love.
Five-Animal Play — the Monkey
Sigung, you are the greatest person and teacher I have ever known and probably ever will. Your opinion matters a lot to me. This subject is very dear to my heart and highly important for my own future. I am terrified that you might push a very out-dated opinion of women and marriage onto students who won’t think twice about the wisdom you generously share and will simply accept it as fact.
I know at least three married couples in Wahnam where the wife does not adhere to your standard of what a “good wife” should be like. Yet they are all wonderfully happy. On the other hand, I see many Wahnam women with high achievements being unmarried to this day. I don’t know if that is their personal choice or simply their adapting to current circumstances.
They are all inspirations to me, yet I absolutely do wish to get married and have children one day. But not when things are still like this. The status quo scares me and makes me hold onto my personal freedom and joy and open way of expression even more.
I guess I just wish to know why these kinds of things are still happening the way they are. It breaks my heart to think that, no matter how high my achievements might be in the future, I’ll never be deemed “as good” as male students, simply because I’m a woman.
If that were the case, and knowing my passion and deep emotions, I might just become that bitter kind of “liberated” woman you said men are scared of. As of now, I am still very young, optimistic and eager to learn. I hope this issue can be resolved. If not in today’s society, then at least let it be resolved in my heart!
Thank you very much for your patience and I will be forever grateful (even more so than I already am) if you could help me break through this blockage. I also hope that my sincere, yet still somewhat critical inquiry won’t result in me not being welcome in Shaolin Wahnam anymore.
Thank you for your very kind words.
One of the proudest achievements of our school is that our teaching has enabled our family members, single or married, to enrich their daily lives. This achievement is more important than being extremely combat efficient, developing tremendous internal force, or even overcoming pain and illness and attaining good health, vitality and longevity.
Our teaching, including that of happy marriage, is successfully time-tested. You view the issue in a matter of 30 years; I view it over many centuries. Even in a short period of 30 years, your perspective has proven to be unsuccessful, resulting in many people remaining unmarried though they are eligible and lovable.
I do not push my teaching onto our students. I always encourage them to assess any teaching to the best of their understanding and experience.
You have misconceived my advice on what a good wife should be like. You wrongly think that a good wife should abandon her ability and wisdom and follow her husband blindly. I advise that a good wife should use her ability and wisdom to make her family happy.
Even if we presume that the three married couples you mentioned do not adhere to my advice on being a good wife, if they and their husbands and children are happy, I am happy for them. In fact I would advise them to carry on what they have been doing, and don’t follow what I mentioned in the article. The article is not for them. It is meant for women who want to but have not accomplished a happy family.
If those Shaolin Wahnam women with high achievements choose not to have a family they need not follow my advice in the article. If they wish to have a happy family, my advice will be very useful.
Getting married and having children is a woman’s instinct. It is also a wonderful thing to do. Never before in history have women this golden opportunity to be married and have children, and still have freedom, joy and open way of expression. You are living in this golden age but you don’t realize it.
Your problem and heart-breaking situation is the result of your own faulty imagination. Change your perspective from a negative way to the Shaolin Wahnam way and you may see the golden age you are in.
Why should you choose to be a bitter liberated woman whom men are scared of, when you can be a sweet liberated woman whom men adore? Becoming such a sweet, liberated and adorable woman is not by fancy. You have to put in a lot of hard work. Following my advice in the article you mentioned, after you have realized your previous faulty perspective, will provide a practical way to achieve your goal.
Of course you will be welcome in Shaolin Wahnam, more so after you have raised these interesting questions that will benefit many men and women.
Can children practice the Five-Animal Play?
— Konchia, Spain
Yes, they can if they have competent teachers. Nowadays, competent teachers teaching Five-Animal Play or other types of chi kung are rare. Most teachers teach chi kung techniques as gentle physical exercise, and not as chi kung.
Gentle physical exercise works on the physical body, whereas chi kung works on energy. Gentle physical exercise cannot overcome pain and illness, and cannot enable practitioners to have more energy and mental clarity, but chi kung can.
If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at email@example.com stating your name, country and e-mail address.