In Combat Sequence 5 all the attacking techniques are the same as in the previous four sequences, namely middle punch, low punch and horn punch. However, the right Bow-Arrow Stance, instead of the left Bow-Arrow Stance, is used in the attacks. This right-leg mode makes a difference.
Besides enjoying some other advantages, being able to use the right-leg mode efficiently enables the combatant to change or continue easily from the previous four combat sequences to other new sequences. Before this, his techniques are limited. Combat Sequence 5 marks the first step whereby he can expand his techniques remarkably.
Before this, he might move into a right-leg mode accidentally, or forced to do so to his disadvantage, often without his conscious knowing. Now he moves into a right-leg mode artfully and purposely, usually to his conscious advantage. Herein lies a crucial difference, and it is one of many points why many students may remain at the same standard after many years of free sparring, whereas you may improve tremendously after a few months of systematic training.
Once you can change artfully and purposely from a left-leg mode to a right-leg mode, and vice versa, even if you do not learn any new techniques, you have expanded your techniques two fold relative to an opponent who, often unconsciously, use only one favoured leg mode.
If you observe exponents of Western Boxing, Karate and Taekwondo spar, for example, you often will notice that they use only either the left-leg mode or the right-leg mode, but seldom both modes equally well. If, for instance, both of you have 25 techniques, now because you can use both modes well and he can’t, you will have 50 techniques whereas he still has 25.
Your advantage does not end here. Not only you can change your leg-mode, you can also change your stances to your best advantage, whereas most other martial artists pay little attention to stances. Moreover, you can change your hand forms, but most others don’t. For example, instead of striking with a level punch, you may change it into a phoenix-eye fist, a willow-leaf palm, a leopard punch or a tiger-claw, but most other martial artists seldom do so. Hence, from your basic 25 techniques, you can have literally hundreds of variations, even without learning new techniques!
But you must not rush into these hundreds of variations. They are mentioned here to remind you of the great variety and potential in store for you when you have mastered your fundamental skills. Now we still have to pay a lot of attention to skill development. If you are not skilful, knowing a lot of techniques is a liability, not an access. This is a main reason why many kungfu and wushu students, despite knowing many techniques, are no match against exponents of Karate, Taekwondo, Kickboxing and Western Boxing
Yet, from Combat Sequence 6 onwards, you are going to learn some useful combative techniques. Two attacking techniques are introduced in this sequence — a left hand palm strike in “Dark Dragon Draws Water”, and a top-diagonal palm chop in “Chop the Hua Mountain”.
“Dark Dragon Draws Water” provides a good opportunity for you to practice applying your internal force. Focus your chi at your dan tian, then “sink” down your Bow-Arrow Stance as you channel your force from your dan tian through your left palm into your opponent.
“Dark Dragon Draws Water” also provides a good opportunity to apply the principle and develop the skill of progression in techniques and speed. At first you use three moves for the attack — tiger-claw, cover elbow, and palm strike. Next, you reduce to two moves — tiger-claw cum cover elbow, and palm strike. Then you perform the same attack in one move — palm strike which includes tiger-claw to cover elbow.
A helpful way to train is to count the moves. At first you count “1 2 3” as you perform the three moves of the attack. After some time of training you count “1 2” for the two moves. Then you just count “1” as you attack. If you train this pattern 50 times a day for six months, you may be able to break the ribs of an average attacker as soon as he moves in to attack with a right punch.
Combat Sequences 1 to 4 which have been posted in previous webpages constitute one stage of combat training, and they form the kungfu set “Black Tiger Steals Heart” in the Shaolin Kungfu programme of our school. The main objective of this stage is to develop fundamental combat skills as follows:
flowing movement and force
The first two skills, right timing and right spacing, are the most fundamental. Without them the other skills, as well as all techniques and force, lose their significance. An exponent, for example, may have some fantastic techniques and tremendous force, but if his attack or defence cannot reach its target on time, all his techniques and force are quite useless.
All the principles you learn in combat training can be, and should be, transferred to our daily work and play to make our life more rewarding. This is a main reason why we devote our time and effort to kungfu training. The principles of right timing and right spacing are of utmost importance in life. You may be the best computer programmer in the world or have the most advanced marketing skills, but if these skills are not used at the right time and at the right place, they are as good as being useless.
Some people, who may actually have many talents or much knowledge, constantly complain that society or Mother Luck never gives them an opportunity to use their talents and knowledge. What they need is to develop the skills of right timing and right spacing like what we do in our combat training, and transfer these fundamental skills to daily life.
In the previous set of four combat sequences, besides the fundamental skills you also learned the basic techniques for hand attacks and defence. You should practise these four sequences in stages, as follows:
At the pre-choice stage, the initiator begins with a pre-chosen sequence, and the responder responds accordingly to complete the sequence. At the self-choice stage, the initiator may start with any sequence he likes, but the releasing of control must be gradual so that the responder can respond accordingly too and both partners can complete the sequence smoothly.
At the end-point continuation stage, after completing one sequence the initiator (or sometimes the responder) starts another sequence without retreating to poise patterns. For example, after completing Combat Sequence 1, instead of returning to poise patterns, the initiator continues by repeating Combat Sequence 1 or starting Combat Sequence 2. You should continue to the next sequence at the start of the next sequence, but later you may continue at any suitable point of the next sequence. Hence, at this stage an encounter will consist of five or six exchanges instead of three.
At the mid-point continuation stage, either one of the partner may continue with another sequence at the mid-point of the first sequence. For example, you may start with Combat Sequence 2, but at any suitable point during the sequence you or your partner may continue to Combat Sequence 3. You may enter Combat Sequence 3 at its beginning or at any suitable point of Sequence 3. Hence the exchanges are less although this stage is a progression from the previous stage. But later you may have three instead of two sequences in one encounter.
At the end-point addition stage, you or your partner may add a suitable hand-attack pattern and the other person will respond accordingly. The additional attack pattern need not be any of the patterns found in the four sequences, but it must be a hand attack. For example, instead of a level punch of the “Black Tiger”, you may use a palm strike or a phoenix-fist. You are to add only one pattern, and after the respond both will return to poise patterns.
Once you have practised these four combat sequences well, you can defend against all hand attacks — although at this level the range of techniques is limited. Hence, you will soon find that neither you nor your sparring partner can beat the other. No matter what hand attack or counter- attack one uses, the other can defend against it effectively. None has an advantage over the other because now both have the same level of skills and techniques.
To overcome this impasse, you have to find at least one advantage over your partner (or opponent in real fighting). This can be achieved by either improving your skills or expanding your techniques. In other words, although you and your partner are at the same level of techniques, if you are faster or more powerful than him, you can still beat him. Alternatively, although you and your partner are at the same level of skills, if you can use techniques which he is unfamiliar with, you will also beat him. A main objective of the next set of four combat sequences, Sequences 5 to 8, is to expand your hand techniques.
This sequence, “Fierce Tiger Speeds Through Valley”, introduces the right leg mode in attack. So far, from Combat Sequences 1 to 4 with the exception of the “Precious Duck” pattern, the left leg mode is used. The left leg mode and the right leg mode have their own strong points and weaknesses. Some martial artists, often without their own awareness, favour one mode to the other. Later when you are more skilfull and know more techniques, you can maneuver your opponent to his unaccustomed leg mode, often without him knowing, thus gaining a tactical advantage.
In the previous four combat sequences, continuing from one sequence to another was easy when you were executing Sequences 1 and 2, but you probably experienced some difficulty if you were executing Sequences 3 or 4. This was because of your leg mode. After completing Sequences 3 and 4, your right leg was in front, and you might not know how to continue your attack as your attack patterns in the right leg mode were limited.
Now this limitation can readily be overcome. For example, after defending against your partner’s Black Tiger or Green Dragon with your right Single Tiger in Sequences 3 or 4, you can “thread” with your left Golden Dragon and continue with your right Fierce Tiger as in Sequence 5. You will find a lot of attack patterns in the right leg mode in subsequent sequences.
Cleansing, building and nourishing are important functions in chi kung training
What is the difference between cleansing, building and nourishing?
— Amerigo, Switzerland
In cleansing, chi flow clears away impurities of a practitioner, resulting in him recovering from pain and illness, or makes him healthier and more lively. It is the first stage of chi kung training. It is also the most usual function of chi flow.
In building, chi flow strengthens a practitioner quantitatively, making him stronger and having more vitality. It is the second stage of chi kung training. This is the main function of internal force training.
In nourishing, chi flow strengthens a practitioner qualitatively, giving him longevity, mental clarity and spiritual joys. It is the third stage of chi kung training. This is the main function of longevity cultivation. It enables a person at an old age to be still healthy and full of vitality.
To say that cleansing, building and nourishing are at the first, second and third stage of chi kung training is a matter of emphasis. All these three functions operate at the same time in chi kung training. When a practitioner cleanses, he also builds and nourishes his energy flow, but cleansing is emphasised at the first stage, building at the second stage, and nourishing at the third stage.
If a person is sick, he should focus on cleansing. Building more energy may be harmful to a sick person. For example, if a person’s heart is weak, injecting stimulant to make his heart work harder may kill him.
A person’s meridians should be quite clear when he builds his energy. Adding more energy when it is blocked could harm him, or make him angry or depressed. Some martial artists are victims of this situation, often without their knowing.
A person should be healthy and fit before emphasising on nourishing. Nourishing without cleansing and building may result in being weak and sick at old age.
How does one directs his chi to cleanse, build or nourish? Normally he does not have to do anything special. The chi flow generated by his chi kung practice will cleanse, build and nourish in that order of emphasis. This is the concept of “wu-wei”, which is often described as not doing anything and everything will be done for you. What is not explained is the other half of the secret, the concept of “you-wei”, which is doing the right thing first, then followed by “wu-wei”.
If a practitioner is sick, for example, by practicing chi kung and without doing any thing extra, his chi flow will cleanse him, clearing away his energy blockage to restore him to good health. If a practitioner is weak, after “you-wei” where he performs appropriate chi kung exercise to generate a chi flow, “wu-wei” will take over to strengthen him. If a practitioner is healthy but not peaceful and happy, his chi flow as a result of chi kung practice will nourish him giving him a better quality of life.
However, if a practitioner is knowledgeable, he can choose certain exercises that have special emphasis on cleansing, building or nourishing. For example, Self-Manifested Chi Movement and Five-Animal Play emphasize cleansing, stance training and Eighteen-Lohan Art emphasize building, and Cosmic Shower and Cosmic Breathing emphasise nourishing.
If a practitioner is skillful, he can use his mind to direct his chi flow to cleanse, build or nourish. Nevertheless, unless the practitioner has good reasons to do otherwise, employing the concept of “wu-wei”, after having performed “you-wei”, is safer and usually more effective.
My work involves much traveling. During the long traveling in my car, I think of things in my past which make me unhappy. How do I overcome this problem?
— Bojan, Switzerland
Here are three solutions. Choose the one you think is the best.
Firstly, don’t think of your problem. Clear you mind of all thoughts and enjoy the scenery.
Secondly, don’t think of things in the past that make you unhappy. Think of what you are going to do after your travel to make your wife and your children happy.
Thirdly, make the problem of your problem, i.e. unhappy thoughts of your past, into an opportunity for improvement. Suppose that in the past you wanted to study law, but for some reasons you couldn’t realize your ambition. Think of how lucky you now are being a salesman instead of a lawyer. Instead of attending court you now can enjoy the passing scenery. Instead of worrying over how to present your case the next day, now you can enjoy the evening with your family.
Or be happy with the thought, as well as the subsequent action, that now you can realize your ambition to study law when you couldn’t in the past. One probably reason you didn’t study law was due to lack of money. Another probably reason was because of your parents’ objection. Now you have the money, and are free from your parents’ objection. Make up your mind to resign from your salesman’s job, study law and become a lawyer.
Isabella sinks her stance to neutralize Hugo’s attack
Essentially the trick he taught is this: If you can trap and tame an opponent and control their center of mass while also striking, and perhaps kicking simultaneously it is like giving your opponent the sensory illusion that he is fighting 2 or 3 opponents at once. Not only the opponent has to contend with being off balanced but he also has to contend with incoming direct attacks as well.
— David, USA
An effective counter against this illusion is to let you chi gently sink into your dan tian, and simultaneously shift your stance over to your back leg, without moving your legs. This body-movement, or shen-fa, is called “shallow” or “tun” in Chinese.
This body-movement gives you better focus and at the same time moves your target away from his attack, irrespective of whether it is single or multiple or an illusion of attack from a few persons.
This concept is frequently used in Taijiquan. After swallowing, a Taijiquan exponent shoots out to counter-attack.
Editorial Note: David’s other questions can be read in the previous issue, July 2015 Part 1
So in short I am curious, Sigung, if this is a concept and skill I should incorporate in my kung fu toolbox permanently? If so can Sigung give me advice on how to enhance it or “Wahnamize” it and make it better?
If you find it useful, you can include the concept and application into your kungfu toolbox. In fact, that was why Shaolin Kungfu is so extensive. Shaolin Kungfu is not only an inspiration for many other martial arts, it is also a receptacle for the best of other martial arts.
You don’t have to “Wahnamize” the concept and application. Just take it and use it as it is. Later, when you are fluent with the concept and the application, you may modify it to suit your combat situation. This is in line with the principle “seen hook kai seong, hou ying kai ping” which is “first learn the standard, then modify according to changes”.
As the concept and application come from Wing Choon, and Wing Choon is included in our Shaolin Wahnam teaching, it is unlikely you have to make modification so that the concept and application are in line with our Shaolin Wahnam practice and philosophy. However, if a learnt concept and application come from a martial art that is different from ours, then we may have to “Wahnamize” it.
It is important to remember that if we have to “Wahnamize” a concept or an application, it is not because we want to claim it as our own, but because the modification minimizes its weakness and improves its effectiveness.
We have to acknowledge and be grateful to the source for the new concept or application. For example, many of the take-downs and pin-downs we now practice were first taught by your sipak, Kai, at a Special Advanced Combined Course in Sungai Petani in 2005. They were new to me initially, but later I discovered that these wrestling techniques were actually found in Shaolin Kungfu. But before Kai taught them at the course, I only knew the Shaolin patterns but not their applications. Kai’s demonstration gave me an inspiration to discover their applications.
I had to make some modifications to these wrestling techniques because an exponent using them would be exposed. The exposure was alright in wrestling protected by safety rules, but they could pose serious problems in Shaolin Kungfu where fighting was free.
For example, the wrestling shoot and take-down were similar to the Shaolin patterns “Angry Bull Charges at Fence” and “Emptying Rug-Sack”, except that in the wrestling techniques the attacker could be seriously struck by an opponent, but this was not allowed in wrestling rules, whereas in the Shaolin techniques the attacker had to cover the opponent before making an attack.
Sifu Kai Uwe demonstrating a pattern known in Shaolin Kungfu as “Lohan Taking Noon Nap”
I would like to mention that I have had what could only be described as an experience with Tiger Force. It was a Tiger Spirit chi flow, I was moving through various tiger patterns with such ferocity. My stance was immovable yet flowing, Tiger Force surged through me and I felt courageous, focused, and agile.
It is important to note that “tiger spirit chi flow” here means chi flow that resembled the movements of a tiger. It does not mean that a spirit entered you and made your movements like those of a tiger.
While your use of the term “tiger force” is apt, and the term is sometimes used in Shaolin terminology, we usually call “tiger force” just internal force.
Some people could have read that amongst the Shaolin “five animals”, the dragon form trains spirit, the snake form trains energy, the tiger form trains bone, the leopard form trains strength, and the crane form trains essence. They may not understand what is meant by the tiger form trains bone, and the crane form trains essence.
“Bone” here means internal force, and “essence” means elegance of form.
My Daan and Seong Fu Jow techniques were manifesting with flowing stances and six harmonies. After this I went into what seemed to be Double Stability of Golden Bridge Flow Mode, and I felt like I was expanding and contracting. Finally when I closed the session I was left with an impression of actually being a Human-Tiger! It was very surreal.
Congratulations for the remarkable experience. It is due to your dedicated training.
But it is very important that you are in full control. In this case, you were in full control of your force and movement, as well as intention. Your single and double tiger-claws manifested in flowing force, you moved into Double Stability Golden Bridge, and you had an impression of being a human-tiger because you allowed all these to happen spontaneously.
For the sake of discussion though in reality it might not be recommended, if you intended to change your tiger-claws into open palms to be manifested in consolidated force, move into a Single-Leg Stance with your hands spread out, and felt yourself to be a flying crane, you should be able to do so.
It is like in chi kung. You may roll on the ground and make noise like a monkey because you allow these actions to happen. If, for some reason like you do not want to disturb others in a park where you have your practice, you can remain swaying while standing up and not making any loud noise. You should have full control over your force, movement and intention.
Dr Damian applies a single tiger-claw to ward off Grandmaster Wong’s thrust punch
So my question to you Sigung is whether there is such a thing as Tiger Force. Does it have any relation to Dragon Force, does every animal have a Force associated with it?
Yes, there is tiger force, and the Chinese term is “hu jing”, which means “internal force of a tiger”. However, the term is not commonly used.
Tiger force is ferocious, whereas dragon force is flowing. Dragon force, though it looks softer, is generally more powerful than tiger-force. A high-level master can change from tiger-force to dragon force or any other type of force, and vice versa. Lesser masters would not be able to do so.
Whether a practitioner develops his force into tiger force, dragon force or any other kinds of force depends on the methods of his training as well as the way he applies it. If he uses methods like jabbing beans, gripping jars, Fierce Tiger Cleanses Claws, he develops tiger force. If he uses methods like Cloud Hands, Swimming Dragon and Dragon Manifests Majesty, he develops dragon force.
It is not rigid that every animal has a force associated with it, but the type of force manifested by certain animal forms is often named after the animal for convenience. For example, the type of force manifested by a practitioner using a snake form, like White Snake Shoots Venom, is called a snake force. The force manifested by a practitioner using a leopard form, like Golden Leopard Enters Rock, is called the leopard force. The force manifested by a practitioner using a crane form, like White Crane Flaps Wings, is called the crane force.
By practicing shooting a palm at a candle flame until the flame can be extinguished from a distance, one can develop the snake force. By constantly punching a sandbag with a leopard punch, he can develop the leopard force. By practicing San Zhan, he can develop the crane force.
By practicing One-Finger Shooting Zen a practitioner can manifest his force in many different ways. By practicing Dragon Strength a practitioner develops dragon force, but he can convert his dragon force to any types of force.
Different exponents may use the same method of force training, like the Eighteen-Lohan Art. Depending on how they use the same type of force, it may be called differently. The force manifested by a practitioner using a monkey form, like Spiritual Monkey Emerges from Cave, is called the monkey force. The force manifested by a practitioner using a praying mantis form, like Seven-Star Hook Hand, is called the praying mantis force.
It is like in Taijiquan or Iron Wire where practitioners develop the same type of force, but when it is used in different ways, it is named differently. When a Taijiquan practitioner uses his force to ward off, it is called “ward-off” or “peng” force. When he uses the force to roll back, it is called “roll-back” or “lu” force. When an Iron Wire practitioner uses his force to press into an opponent, it is called “press” or “pik” force. When he uses his force to strike in a straight line, it is called “straight” or “cheit” force.
Most importantly, can you give me advice about how I can use this “Tiger Force” to better my life and my kung fu?
Tiger force is well-known for its ferocity and courage, and is most useful for business, leadership and positions of authority. These qualities should also be applied in our ordinary daily life.
In a positive way, ferocity is assertiveness. When you talk to your friends or colleague, for example, when the situations warrant it, you should be assertive, and the courage of the tiger-force will enable you to do so.
Assertiveness and courage should be tampered with wisdom and good judgment. We must also know the limits when we should be assertive and courageous, not allowing these qualities to become bullheadedness and bravado.
In kungfu the tiger force is excellent for chin-na and pressing attack. It is particularly useful where techniques of the tiger-claw are frequently used, like in the Taming Tiger Set of Hoong Ka Kungfu.
It was probably that your training of the Taming Tiger Set developed your tiger force. This tiger-force will in return enhance your application of the set.
A common problem with some of our students is that they are not ferocious in their attack. They lack an element of threat. This lack is caused by a lack of courage. Tiger-force overcomes this common weakness and enhances not just the application of the tiger-claw but any style of kungfu you may use.
But again, we must guard against ferocity and courage turning into bullheadedness and bravado. These qualities should be tampered with wisdom and good judgment.. The mental clarity you derive from your training will contribute to good judgment and wisdom — in combat and in daily life.
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.
According to chi kung philosophy all diseases can be overcome
Can you tell us more about heart to heart transmission?
— Dagmar, Germany
Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
Heart to heart transmission is self-explanatory. It means the transfer of knowledge, skills, wisdom or realization from the heart of the teacher to the heart of the student. However, like many arts such as chi kung and spiritual cultivation, the uninitiated may still not understand the meaning even when it is clearly explained.
A good example is “chi”, or energy. Students in our school do not ask what chi is because they realize its meaning through direct experience. But many chi kung practitioners still ask what chi is despite having practiced chi kung, or what they think is chi kung, for many years. It is because they do not have a direct experience of chi.
All great arts are not merely taught by a teacher to his students, but are transmitted by him to them from heart to heart. It is failing to appreciate this fact, mainly due to a lack of direct experience, that many people think, mistakenly, that they can learn great arts from books or videos, or that all teachers of these arts are the same.
It is also due to a failure to appreciate this fact that some people ask me what chi kung exercises they should practice to overcome certain illness. It is not the kind of exercises they perform, i.e. the techniques, but how they perform them, i.e. the skills, that are crucial in enabling them to overcome illness. In other words, even when they know the best techniques but lack the necessary skills, they would not overcome their illness. Skills are best acquired from a competent teacher. On the other hand, even when a person has only mediocre techniques but good skills, he may overcome his illness.
It is because of our understanding of this fact about techniques and skills, that we have become very cost-effective in our training. Indeed, we are cost-effective to a ridiculous extent, that our students can attain in one month what it takes even masters a year to attain!
Masters take a much longer time to attain similar results because they do not differentiate between techniques and skills. They practice appropriate techniques dedicatedly and develop the necessary skills unknowingly, which may happen haphazardly. Only when the necessary skills are present during their training that the desired benefits result. Hence, they do not have the great advantage of accumulated benefit even when they practice everyday, because, as they are unaware of them, the necessary skills do not occur every time they practice.
This understanding between techniques and skills constitute a crucial part of heart to heart transmission. It is skills that are transmitted from heart to heart, not techniques.
Let us take Cosmic Shower as an illustration. An excellent technique for Cosmic Shower is Carrying the Moon. Students may practice Carrying the Moon correctly and diligently, but they may not have a cosmic shower. Indeed, most of them do not have even an energy flow. They practice the technique as gentle physical exercise, not as an art of energy.
Some of these dedicated students may eventually, but without their conscious awareness, develop the skills of generating an energy flow. Next, usually after many years, a very few of these dedicated students may experience a cosmic shower after they have unknowingly developed the necessary skills.
Our students are very lucky. When they take a course on Cosmic Shower, the necessary skills are transmitted to them. By applying these skills they can have a cosmic shower in just one day! As I mentioned earlier, this is ridiculous, but true.
How do our students know that they have a cosmic shower? In principle it is the same as asking how do people know they eat an orange or drink some coffee. They know from direct experience. Our students know they have a cosmic shower as surely as those eating oranges or drinking coffee know they eat oranges or drink coffee. Those who have no experience of a cosmic shower, eating oranges or drinking coffee will not know regardless of how well the events are described to them.
The transmission must be from heart to heart, not merely giving instructions from mouth to ear. Let us take an example. A teacher may ask his students to relax, which incidentally is a very important requirement in any internal cultivation. The instruction comes from the teacher’s mouth, and enters the students’ ears. But the students may not be relaxed. No matter how well they perform the techniques, they will not get the benefit of the art.
On the other hand, when a teacher from our school asks his students to relax, it is transmitted from his heart to his students’ heart. He sincerely wants his students to relax so that his teaching is successful, and his students genuinely want to relax so that they derive the benefit of the training. When I teach a class on Cosmic Shower, I sincerely want to impart the necessary skills, and the students genuinely want to follow the instructions so as to get the desired results.