(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/ans15b/nov15-3.html)
Genuine Taijiquan is an internal martial art
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.
Using these different positions for Walking the Circle is similar to the Eight Internal Palms which I mentioned in the webpage, Brief Descriptions of Baguazhang Classics and Comments on Songs of Baguazhang, when answering questions raised by you.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org stating your name, country and e-mail address.