Monthly Archives: February 2017

AN UNFORGETTABLE LESSON

Grandmaster Wong Kiew KitThe Way of the Master, written by my Sifu, Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, is now officially launched.

You can order the book through Amazon or write a review.

You can also read more delightful stories, or order the special edition directly.

Please enjoy one of the memorable stories from my Sifu’s book below:

An Unforgettable Lesson

(reproduced from  http://shaolin.org/general-2/way-of-master/way02.html)

A public performance with Uncle Righteousness as the Lion Head and me as the Lion Tail in the 1960s



There was, however, one occasion in my long learning process that I deviated from my father’s advice. Our kungfu class was preparing for a charity performance at New World Amusement Park. My master himself would perform the lion head, and everyone had expected me to perform the tail. Performing the lion tail is an extremely demanding role, for the performer has to arch his back throughout the whole performance, which in those days might last longer than an hour, and to extend both his arms in a continuous wing-flapping movement to support the covering tail-cloth.

I tried to be smart. Just a few minutes before the training session began, I went out from the training hall, pretending to buy titbits for my seniors, a bluff that I could easily do because running errands was my common unofficial task. I knew my master couldn’t wait. If I could stay away for just a few minutes, I thought, some unlucky fellow would take over my job as the inevitable tail performer, even for that training session only. And true enough, when I returned after the lion dance practice had started – something that I could time easily as the loud accompanying lion dance music could be heard from far away – I found my master and my junior classmate, Ah Weng, doing the lion head and tail. “Kit Chye,” my classmates asked in bewilderment, “where on earth have you been? Uncle Righteousness was looking all over the world for you.” “What for?” I pretended to ask. “What for! To be the tail, of course.”

“Ha, ha!” I laughed inside myself. “Why pick on me all the time? Luckily I’m not stupid, and now I can have a break from this wearisome task. Now this poor Ah Weng can have a nice taste of back ache.”

But Ah Weng had the louder laugh. “Ha, ha!” He probably said to himself, “now at last I have a break into this lion dance role which I have been longing for, for so long.”

And he performed the tail so enthusiastically and so well that he was not only asked to continue in subsequent practices, but was ultimately chosen to partner my master in that charity performance, and later in other performances. Hence my monopoly as my master’s partner in lion dance was now broken – all because of my clever trick.

Ah Weng continued to learn and practise hard, and progressed tremendously, often at my expense for what my master might have taught me, he taught Ah Weng instead. Ah Weng also became one of my master’s favourite disciples, and was the one who had learned the most lion dance skills and techniques from my master. He later became a famous lion dance artist, bringing name and glory to our school. I am very proud of Ah Weng’s achievement. I also learned a very good lesson from that occasion when I tried to be too clever — a lesson that has greatly helped me in my later kungfu development. From then on, I always learn humbly and practise diligently, never be deterred by hardship or obstacles in the way.

During a charity performance in the 1960s, I went up a long pole to collect Sky Green

 


You can read more stories at our Discussion Forum. Here are details to order the special and limited edition. This edition will not be reprinted once it is sold out.

WHY IS SHAOLIN KUNG FU MORE EFFECTIVE IN COMBAT THAN OTHER MARTIAL ARTS?

(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/ans16b/dec16-1.html)

Shaolin Kungfu

Shaolin Kungfu

Question 7

Why is Shaolin Kungfu more effective in combat than other martial arts?

– Tomas, United Kingdom

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

We can derive a good answer from my own experience.

In my younger days, as now over 70 I still consider myself young, I actually went out to look for sparring opponents to test my combat efficiency. I soon discovered that when I used techniques which were also found in other martial arts, like Black Tiger Steals Heart which is a thrust punch, and Happy Bird Hops up Branch which is a side-kick, my opponents of other martial arts could defend readily. But when I used techniques not found in their martial arts, like Lohan Tames Tiger and Rising Dragon and Galloping Tiger, my opponents would have difficulty defending.

The underlying philosophy, which occurred to me not at the time of sparring but much later, was quite obvious. If techniques A, B, C, D were found in their martial arts, and you used A, B, C, D against them, they would know how to defend. If techniques P, Q, R were not found in their martial arts, and you used P, Q, R against them, they would not know how to defend.

When you attacked your opponent, you must make sure he could not attack you at the same time. This was not difficult for me because “safety first” was a cardinal principle in my kungfu training. I always covered my opponents before attacking them, and as I used attacking techniques that they did not know, I always beat them.

Skills are more important than techniques in combat. Even when your techniques are superior, but if your opponent is more skilful, like he is faster and more powerful, he will still beat you. I did not realise this important principle at first. I only differentiated between skills and techniques much later. But I overcame this problem because initially I chose opponents who were of a same level as or lower level than me. Later when my combat skills improved, but still without consciously knowing the difference between skills and techniques, my choice of opponents became more liberal.

Another very important factor in combat is force, especially internal force. When I had developed remarkable internal force, I found that I could not only defeat opponents more easily but also opponents who were younger and bigger-sized than me.

A significant factor contributing to victory in combat is the application of tactics and strategies, which are rich in Shaolin Kungfu but not frequently found in other martial arts. At first I was unaware of combat tactics and strategies, but they were already incorporated in the combat sequences I used. Later with better understanding of combat tactics and strategies, my combat efficiency improved.

Hence, the many reason why Shaolin Kungfu is more combat effective than many other martial arts are a rich range of combat techniques not found in other martial arts, the focus of developing skills in genuine Shaolin training, the development and use of internal force in combat, and the application of combat tactics and skills.

Question 8

What benefits you can find in Shaolin Kungfu that cannot be found in other martial arts?

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

An excellent answer was supplied by Kai (Sifu Kai Uwe Jettkandt, Chief Instructor of Shaolin Wahnam Germany), who was already a world known martial art master and an international all-style free sparring champion before he learned from me.

Kai told many Shaolin Wahnam members that he practiced Shaolin Kungfu because it fulfilled to a very high-level all the three attainments he looked for in any martial art — good health, combat efficiency and spiritual cultivation. Kai explained that many martial arts were good for fighting but bad for health. Some martial arts were good for health, but not effective for combat and lacked spiritual cultivation. Shaolin Kungfu has all these attainments to a very high level.

One can have these three attainments irrespective of his age. In many other martial arts, as a person ages, his health and combat efficiency are affected. But in Shaolin Kungfu, a practitioner actually becomes healthier and more combat efficient.

Many Shaolin Wahnam members told me that they were healthier and fitter at 50 than they were at 30. In many other martial arts, as a person becomes older, his strength and stamina become weaker, and therefore his combat ability is less efficient. But due to internal force which is independent of age, size and gender, and which also contributes much to his health, vitality and longevity, he becomes more combat efficient as he grows older.

Shaolin Kungfu is extremely rich in philosophy, which records the essence of centuries of past masters. Not only the combat tactics and strategies enable present Shaolin practitioners to be more combat efficient, its philosophy enriches their daily life.

Not many people may realize that Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan are the only two martial arts that originated from spiritual cultivation. All other martial arts gear towards fighting. Bodhidharma, the first patriarch of the Shaolin arts, and Zhang San Feng, the first patriarch of Taijiquan, practiced their arts to attain Zen or Tao, which in Western language means return to God the Holy Spirit.



If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at secretary@shaolin.org stating your name, country and e-mail address.

WHY SO MANY OTHER PRACTITIONERS DO NOT GET BENEFITS OF HIGH-LEVEL CHI KUNG

(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/sp-issues/benefits.html)

chi kung, qigong

A high-level chi kung class in England


Question

Why do so many other people who practice chi kung do not get the benefits you describe?

— Lin, Dubai


Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

It is because these many people actually do not practice chi kung, they practice gentle physical exercise, though they do not realize it, whereas we practice genuine high-level chi kung.

The patterns are the same, but the arts are different. Let us take an example of Lifting the Sky.

Most other people practice Lifting the Sky as gentle physical exercise but they honestly think it is chi kung.

We practice Lifting the Sky not just as chi kung but as high-level chi kung.

There are two dimensions of difference: the difference between gentle physical exercise and chi kung, and the difference between ordinary chi kung and high-level chi kung.

Firstly, we need to know the difference between gentle physical exercise and chi kung. It is the failure to know this difference that causes thousands of people waste years of practice without obtaining any chi kung benefits. There are, for example, many chi kung instructors, even masters, who have taught chi kung for more than 10 years yet are routinely sick or in pain. This shouldn’t be as a basic benefit of chi kung practice is good health, which means free from sickness and pain.

In other words if they have practiced chi kung, genuine chi kung, they would not be sick or in pain. It is understandable if they are sick or in pain once a while, but certainly not routinely. In the same way, if you eat sufficient food and drink sufficient water, you would not go hungry or thirsty.

The fact is that these chi kung practitioners and masters do not actually practice chi kung, though they may not realize it. They practice gentle physical exercise but mistake it as chi kung. Similarly many people practice external Tai Chi forms as a dance but mistake it as Tai Chi Chuan as an internal martial art.

It is easy to make this mistake because the forms of gentle physical exercise and chi kung, and the forms of Tai Chi dance and Tai Chi Chuan are the same. It is how they are practiced, i.e. the skills involved, that makes the difference.

In gentle physical exercise, one practices the forms at a physical level. In chi kung, one practices the same forms at three levels — physical, energetic and spiritual. In other words, in gentle physical exercise one works only on the physical body, like loosening muscles and joints. In chi kung one works at the physical level, the energy level and the spiritual level, like loosening muscles and joints, having more vitality, and becoming peaceful and happy.

If a practitioner does not know what working on energy and spirit is, then he is unlikely to be practicing chi kung, though he may honestly think he is. As an analogy, if you are eating an orange, you will know what an orange is. If you had not eaten an orange or even seen one, you would not know what actually an orange was even when it was clearly described to you.

Thus, thousands of people who think that they practice chi kung do not get the chi kung benefits I describe because actually they do not practice chi kung; they only practice gentle physical exercise. No matter for how long and how well they have practiced, they only get benefits of gently physical exercise like relaxation, grace and balance, which are worthy benefits by themselves, but they will not get chi kung benefits like overcoming illness, enjoying good health, vitality and longevity, and experiencing mental clarity and spiritual joys.

Secondly, it is useful to know the difference between ordinary chi kung, which is usually low-level, and high-level chi kung. The difference is that ordinary chi kung takes a long time to obtain little benefit, whereas high-level chi kung takes a short time to obtain a lot of benefit. The forms, or techniques, may be the same. It is the skills that make the difference.

Let us take the technique, Lifting the Sky, as an example. In low-level chi kung, one needs to practice Lifting the Sky for many months before he can feel a noticeable increase of his energy level. In high-level chi kung he can feel a noticeable increase after practicing for just a few days. In our case, you felt a noticeable increase of energy level after just one practice session!

If someone is sick with a serious illness like cancer or clinical depression, he may not overcome his illness by practicing low-level chi kung. If he practices high-level chi kung, not only he can overcome his illness, but also be becomes healthier than he was before.

Very few people have the chance to practice high-level chi kung. This is another reason why so many other people who practice chi kung do not get the benefits I describe.


chi kung. qigong

A high-level chi kung class in China


This article was taken from Question and Answer 1 of July 2014 Part 1 of the Selection of Questions and Answers.