Here is a quick review of what you have learnt. Combat Sequences 1 to 4 are meant to train fundamental combat skills like right timing, right spacing, flowing movements, safe coverage, foot adjustment, and instantaneous changes. The four fundamental hand attacks to the top, middle, bottom and sides, and their corresponding defences are used. The stances used are mainly in the left mode. These four sequences constitute the kungfu set “Black Tiger Steals Heart”.
Sequences 5 to 8, which constitutes the kungfu set “Fierce Tiger Speeds Through Valley” introduce the right leg mode as well as many hand techniques for attack and defence. Sequence 5 introduces the tactic of pressing attacks, where a skilful exponent may press an opponent against a wall almost irrespective of the latter’s defensive moves! Sequence 6 introduce the left palm strike, applying internal force. It also illustrates the progression from 3 movements to only I movement in apply the pattern “Dark Dragon Draws Water”.
Needless to say, all techniques, skills, tactics, principles and so on are trained progressively, not exclusively. In other words, although fundamental skills like right timing and right spacing are emphasized in Sequences 1 to 4, these skills are constantly improved in all other sequences. Although tactics like pressing attacks and “alert the east, attack the west” in Sequences 5 and 6, they can be used in any other sequences.
So far we use “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave” to defence against “Black Tiger Steals Heart”. In Sequences 1 to 4 the left “Single Tiger” is used, and in Sequences 5 and 6 the right “Single Tiger”. In this sequence, a new defence technique is used against the “Black Tiger”, namely “Bar the Big Boss“.
In this situation and if all other things were equal, “Bar the Big Boss” has a technical advantage over “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave”. In applying the “Single Tiger” you have to bring back your front right leg from the right Bow-Arrow Stance to change into the right False Leg Stance, and bring back your right hand from “Fierce Tiger Speeds through Valley” in a big arc to change into the “Single Tiger”. But in applying “Bar the Big Boss”, you merely need to shift from a Bow-Arrow Stance to a sideway Horse-Riding Stance, and change your horizontal arm to a vertical arm position, which is technically faster.
Then, why bother to learn “Single Tiger” when “Bar the Big Boss” is better? The answer is that other things are not equal. There are other situations where the “Single Tiger” is technically better than “Bar the Big Boss”. Even in this combat situation, there may be other factors which make “Single Tiger” a better choice. For example, we may not merely want to deflect the attacker’s punch, but use the tiger-claw in the “Single Tiger” to grip the attacker’s elbow or wrist.
Bar Big Boss
In the previous sequence, we learned the progression from 3 moves to just 1 move when applying “Dark Dragon Draws Water”, hence increasing our speed but without actually trying to be faster! This sequence also provides us with a good opportunity to learn and develop this skill of minimizing movements, as follows.
When you have become skilful in applying “Bar the Big Boss” followed by “White Snake Shoots Venom” as two separate patterns (with a short pause between the patterns), you can perform the two patterns continuously as if they were one pattern (i.e. without any pause between them). Gradually you will discover from your own experience that instead of first applying a vertical block as in “Bar the Big Boss”, then followed with a taming hand as part of “White Snake”, you can achieve the same effect by using a smooth curve of your right hand in one movement instead of two.
Then you will also discover that you do not even need to change from Bow-Arrow Stance to sideway Horse-Riding Stance. All you need to do is to swerve your body in a smooth curve as you apply “White Snake Shoots Venom”, even without the need to apply “Bar the Big Boss”. In other words, from the previous “Fierce Tiger Speeds through Valley”, you can proceed straight to “White Snake Shoots Venom”, thus reducing three patterns to two.
If you execute this “White Snake” well, not only you can be very fast — striking the opponent’s throat almost the same time he thinks he can hit you with his thrust punch — but you will also have “tamed” his hands in such a way that, apparently, he could not defence against your counter-attack. Yet, by withdrawing his front left leg a small step back into a front False Leg Stance, he could free his hands to counter your palm thrust with a “Golden Dragon”. This should reminds us that in real life, even when the situation appears hopeless, by taking a step back, one can often find a viable solution.
Your opponent counterattacks with a low punch. He must adjust his foot position before moving in with a low sideway Horse-Riding Stance, otherwise without you having to do anything he offers you a free advantage that you can exploit. You response to his low attack with a hand-sweep, breaking or dislocating his elbow or wrist.
As he moves his arm away to avoid your hand-sweep, you move in with a palm chop using the pattern “Chop the Hua Mountain”. Remember to cover yourself as you move in, otherwise he may jab his right palm into your ribs or abdomen.
You may notice that this is a progression or developmental lesson from “Precious Duck”. Previously, you learned that if your opponent struck your low punch with a hand-sweep, your brushed away his attack and counter-attacked with “Golden Star” or “Chop the Hua Mountain”. Now you reverse the role. If your opponent attacks you with a low punch, you strike him with a hand-sweep, but before he can counter-attack with “Golden Star” or “Chop the Hua Mountain” (like we have learned), you follow up with “Golden Star” or “Chop the Hua Mountain” instead. This is giving your opponent what he intends to give you.
Your opponent has an excellent counter — “Tame Tiger with Double Bows”. Here he applies the tactic of “no defence direct counter”, like what you did when you applied “False-Leg Hand Sweep” to his low punch. But this “Double Bows” attack is even faster. In “Hand Sweep” you counter-attack when his attack is just spent. In “Double Bows” he counter-attacks when you attack is still on its way.
Chop Hua Mountain
This “Double Bows” counter-attack provides an excellent opportunity for you to practice and develop your flexibility. To defend against this counter-attack, you move your front right leg backward from the right Bow-Arrow Stance to a right False Leg Stance, and simultaneously deflect his strike with a right tiger-claw. This movement demands much skill because you have to shift back your forward moving leg immediately it touches the ground in its forward movement.
This skill, which is essential for sound defence, has been introduced right at the start of the combat sequences. It involves the left leg mode in Sequences 1 to 4 (from “Black Tiger” to left “Single Tiger”), and the right leg mode in Sequences 5 and 6 (from “Fierce Tiger” to right “Single Tiger”). Speed was not as urgent in these combat situations because the opponent used the tactic of “first defence then counter”. Here the opponent not only uses “no defence direct counter”, but also his counter comes at a time when your attack has not even been completed. If you are trained to defend against this counter-attack well, defence in other situations will be relatively easier.
All these wonderful techniques and tactics are possible if our stances are both solid and flexible, showing how important stances are in combat even at this level, which is actually at the beginning stage of our kungfu training programme. In other words, those who prefer to bounce about, mistakenly thinking that stances are ineffective in fighting, have not been exposed to even the basics of kungfu philosophy and practice.
One of the most wonderful things that I have been gifted through our trainings and especially through Sigung’s wisdom and help is to enjoy a happy family life. It is one of the greatest gifts, I think, to love and feel loved within a family.
I would like to contribute the following question:
We are all different. We think, act and feel differently i.e. have different needs, aspirations, walk of lives etc. Apart from sharing our love and joy with our family members (family in a narrow and more wider sense), what are the skills and how can we train them to understand the other person better in order to be able to nurture them more effectively?
Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
Indeed, having a happy family life is one of the greatest gifts in life. It is also one of the values we cherish in our school. As I have said often, we do not just practice chi kung or kungfu, we apply what we have learned to enrich our life and the lives of others.
We think, act and feel differently i.e. have different needs, aspirations, and walks of lives. It is precisely important to realise this fact in order to have a happy family life.
Let us look at the needs, aspirations, walks of lives and other relevant factors of our blood family and our Shaolin Wahnam Family.
We are all different. We think, act and feel differently i.e. have different needs, aspirations, and walks of lives etc. Apart from sharing our love and joy with our family members, both in a narrow and more wider sense, what are the skills and how can we train them to understand the other person better in order to be able to nurture them more effectively?
The first skill is to realise this difference. For example, we in Shaolin Wahnam have enjoyed the benefits of our arts, and naturally we want our immediate family members to have these benefits too.
It will be foolhardy and bring a lot of unpleasantness to force our arts on them. Although they are our brothers and sisters, fathers or mothers, nieces and nephews, they live their lives differently. Let them live the lives the way they want. Do not try to force them to live their lives the way we want. It is their lives.
But we can show by examples. If you happened to have an illness and recovered by practicing our chi kung, tell them not only the effect but also the joys of your practice. Remind them that you need to put in effort. If they do not listen, that is their choice, and also their right.
You now live life healthy and happily. Tell them that it is the result of your practicing chi kung. If they want to have this health and happiness, they can practice our chi kung. They have to pay the fees for the training, and most importantly they have to practice everyday. It won’t take up too much of their time. they need to practice just about 10 minutes a session, twice a day.
If they do not spend the time practicing our chi kung, they would waste the time anyway, and probably remain sickly and unhappy. But it is their choice. Don’t pay the fees for them, or force them to practice if they do not want health and happiness. Realising this difference in choice is very important in sharing love and joy with them, or at lease avoiding dislike and unpleasantness.
An excellent way to develop this skill is mental clarity and realisation. Our arts give us mental clarity. What is needed is to realize the different needs and aspirations.. You also show by personal example. You yourself, practice our arts everyday.
Another important skill is to talk about things that they like to hear, not about things you want to talk about or you want them to hear. What you say must be truthful. Don’t lie to them to make things pleasant.
For example, your brother may want a better paying job. Don’t tell him that he has no money. It is not what he wants to hear though it is truthful. Don’t tell him he can strike a lottery. It is what he wants to hear but it is unlikely to be truthful.
Tell him that he can find a job that he likes and pays better, but he must make the effort to find it. If he just continues doing his job, it is unlikely his boss will give him more money, or a better paying job will come to him. But, if he chooses not to look for a better paying job, it is his choice. He chooses a low-paying job over putting effort to find a better paying one. Don’t nag him saying that he has no money or that there are plenty of better-paying jobs outside..
Another excellent way to share your love and joy with your family members, irrespective of whether they are in your immediate family or part of the Happy Shaolin Wahnam Family, is to have regular get-togethers. Such get-togethers may be picnics, outings or dinners.
For your immediate family, you may have to organise such get-togethers. It is easier for our extended Shaolin Wahnam Family. Your regular class is a good get-together where you can practice your skills of sharing love and happiness. You can also attend my regional courses or intensive courses to share love and happiness with other members in other countries.
It is common, especially in immediate families, that family members spend their time playing with their mobile phones instead of with other family members. You may have to suggest a rule that mobile phones are not allowed in such family gatherings. If anyone has to take an important call, he (or she) must do so briefly away from the gathering, and come back to the gathering quickly. If he does this often, he has to shut off his mobile phone. Taking calls is not as important as sharing love and happiness at a family gathering.
A better way is to lead the conversation so skilfully that other people voluntarily shut off their mobile phones. The topics of conversation must be so interesting that they involve everybody in the gathering. And you must be ready to be a good listener, not speaking most of the time.
You may, for example, start the interesting conversation by saying, “Mom, tell us how you keep our family together when we were small”, or “Dad, how ddi you spend time with our family when we were tiny children?“ If anyone is disinterested, for which you must be on the lookout, you can ask that someone what he thinks of the conversation. If his answer is short, like “Interesting”, ask him to tell the gathering what he finds interesting.
You may need to pay for the gathering to get it going. Paying some money is certainly worthwhile for you to share your love and joy with your family members. Later, you may suggest that family members pay a share of the gathering, or take turns to pay for the gathering. If any of your family member is unable to pay his share due to financial difficulty, you may secretly pay for him without others knowing so that he will not feel embarrassed.
If anyone does not attend the gathering, you can suggest a heavy fine. You may say something like “The gathering is in honour of our dad and mom who sacrificed much for our well being. It is insulting to them if you don’t attend.” Of course you dad and mom won’t be paying for the gathering.
If you follow these golden guidelines, you will make your family members more loving and caring for one another. The guidelines are:
Recognize that different people, even your family members, have different needs and aspiration. Let them live the lives they want. Do not force them to live the lives you want.
Say something pleasant and truthful in their presence. Do not say anything that may hurt their feelings or sensitivities. Organize family gatherings regularly. Mobile phones are not allowed in such gatherings. Lead the conversation so that everyone will enjoy the gathering.
But how would you develop these skills or abilities. These skills or abilities are related to mental clarity and internal force. If you have mental clarity, not only you realise the importance of having a happy family, you are also in a better position to acquire the skills or abilities for it.
You need internal force to learn the skills and carry out the abilities. If you just know that having a happy family is important, that is not enough. You must be able to make your family happy. Internal force will give you the necessary energy.
The training in our school gives us mental clarity and internal force. They will make our family happy if you carry out the suggestions mentioned above. Having a happy family life is a wonderful value to cherish. But you need to put in some effort to be successful.
Grandmaster Wong, his wife his son and daughter-inlaw and grandchildren
Kungfu is for fighting — using kungfu techniques, not kick-boxing or techniques of other martial systems
I want to learn kungfu.
— Ali, Pakistan
Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
Many people want to learn kungfu, but end up learning kungfu forms or kick-boxing instead. Learning kungfu forms or kick-boxing is fine, but it is different from learning kungfu.
Before you learn kungfu, or any art, it is wise to know what that art is. This may sound trite or unnecessary, but it will not only save you a lot of time but also prevent you from much injury.
For convenience we may classify kungfu into three types: ordinary kungfu, good kungfu, and great kungfu.
Ordinary kungfu is for self-defence. There are also other arts of self-defence, like kick-boxing, karate and taekwondo. The main difference is their forms. Kick-boxing uses kick-boxing forms, karate uses karate forms, taekwondo uses taekwondo forms, and kungfu uses kungfu forms.
There are different styles of kungfu, like Shaolin, Taijiquan, Praying Mantis and Baguzzhang. Praying Mantis kungfu forms can be very different from Baguazhang kungfu forms.
About 90% of those who say they practice kungfu only perform kungfu forms. Strictly speaking they do not practice genuine kungfu because they cannot apply their kungfu forms for fighting. Many of them may not admit this fact. Some may not even realize it.
Of those who practice only kungfu forms and cannot use their kungfu forms for fighting, 70% of them perform their kungfu forms for demonstration. Past masters referred to such demonstrative kungfu forms as â€œflowery fists embroidery kicksâ€. 30% of them use kick-boxing or other martial techniques, but not kungfu, for fighting.
I would like to clarify that personally I have nothing against them. What and how they choose to practice is their right and business. Actually many of those who practice â€œflowery fists and embroidery kicksâ€ are very nice people â€“ the type of people I would like to have tea with, though I disagree with their concept and practice of kungfu.
So, kungfu is quite rare. Kungfu is for fighting. But the great majority of those who say they practice kungfu, cannot use their kungfu for fighting, though some of them are good fighters using kick-boxing or other martial techniques.
For every 100 persons who say they practice kungfu, only about 10 can use their kungfu for fighting. In our classification, we call this ordinary kungfu.
But kungfu is not just for fighting, though combat efficiency is its most basic requirement. Good kungfu contributes to health, vitality and longevity. While the percentage of those who practice genuine kungfu is low, only about 10%, amongst those who practice genuine kungfu, the percentage of good kungfu is high, about 70%. So about 7 out of the 10 practitioners of genuine kungfu have good health. They also have high moral values.
Amongst those who practice â€œflowery fists embroidery kicksâ€, the percentage of good health is also very high, about 90%, or about 63 of 70 practitioners. But they cannot be said to practice good kungfu, not even ordinary kungfu, because they cannot use their kungfu for combat.
Why is the percentage of good health amongst â€œflowery fists embroidery kicksâ€ practitioners, 90%, higher than that of genuine kungfu practitioners, 70%? It is because genuine kungfu practitioners engage in combat where they may tense their muscles to generate mechanical strength. Those who practice kungfu forms but use kick-boxing or other martial techniques for combat do not have good health because they sustain a lot of injury which is routinely left unattended to.
Great kungfu, which is not only for combat and good health but also for spiritual cultivation, is very rare. Only 1% of those who say they practice kungfu may have a chance to practice great kungfu.
Please take note that spiritual cultivation is different from moral cultivation, though they are closely related. A morally cultivated person is kind and considerate, but he may or may not believe in his own spirit. He may think that he is only a physical body. Spiritual cultivation is the cultivation of the spirit. A spiritually cultivated person is relaxed, peaceful and happy, and at high levels may have glimpses of Cosmic Realty.
Please also take note that spiritual cultivation is non-religious. Any person of any religion or without any professed religion can cultivate spiritually. Spiritual cultivation will enable a religious person to be a better follower of his own religion because it makes his religions teaching come alive.
To sum up, kungfu is rare. Most people practice only kungfu forms, and use kick-boxing or other martial techniques when they have to fight. Genuine kungfu may be ordinary, good or great. Ordinary kungfu is for fighting. Good kungfu is for fighting and good health. Great kungfu is for fighting, good health and spiritual cultivation.
It is a golden opportunity to be able to practice great kungfu. But because kungfu today is so debased, the public generally does not have a good impression of kungfu practitioners. They think of them as rough and aggressive. In fact it is the reverse. A genuine kungfu practitioner is gentle and considerate to others, relaxed and happy to himself.
You have often said that some of the most important lessons and skills we learn in our school are taught right at the beginning.
— Sifu Tim Franklin, United Kingdoms
You are perfectly right. While many masters teach their best arts to their selected students after the students have spent many years with them, we teach every student the best arts right at the beginning. I remember clearly what my sifu, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, told me when he taught me One-finger Shooting Zen. He said, “One-Finger Zen and Tiger-Claw are two of the most advanced arts in Shaolin. They are taught to students right at the start in our school so that they can train everyday and have sufficient time to master them.” One-Finger Zen is used in “dim-mark” and “Tiger-Claw in “chin-na”, and both are found in One-finger Shooting Zen.
The very first arts we teach in any chi kung, Shaolin or Taijiquan class, and also we use to start subsequent classes, are entering into a chi kung state of mind, entering Zen or entering Tao. Without entering into a chi kung state of mind or entering Tao, a person cannot perform genuine chi kung or genuine Taijiquan, even when he uses genuine chi kung or Taijiquan techniques. He merely performs gentle physical exercise or Taiji dance.
One may be able to perform genuine kungfu without entering Zen, but his performance remains at a physical and low level. Only by entering Zen can he develop internal force and brings his Shaolin performance to a high level.
Sometimes these important lessons can be missed by some as they eagerly pursue other “more interesting” aspects of our arts. This, in our opinion, would be a mistake as the beginning teachings are not only really interesting, but also help build a strong foundation, to fully appreciate and develop the skills required for deeper practices and benefits.
More likely today is that these important first lessons are not even taught at all. Most chi kung, Shaolin and Taijiquan teachers are unaware of these important lessons.
A very small percentage of these teachers, less than 5% of the total number of people who practice chi kung, Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan, may eventually become real masters after many years of dedicated training, and have high levels of chi kung, Shaolin and Taijiquan attainments, but they are still unaware that they could reach high levels of attainment because, without their conscious knowing, they had entered a chi kung state of mind, entered Zen or entered Tao during thair training.
More likely, some students chase after novelties, like tingling sensations at their finger tips in chi kung, winning trophies in Shaolin competitions, and learning exotic sets in Taijiquan. They have forgotten the aims of practicing their arts, like enjoying good health in chi kung practice, and being able to use their arts for combat in Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan. Realizing these aims as well as other wonderful benefits are only possible if they have practiced well the initial lessons.
The ever-victorious strategy
The aims of the 2016 UK Summer camp are to ensure students/teachers not only develop these skills but also realise them as well, for if they don’t they would have missed a wonderful opportunity to experience life as a meaningful flow of energy.
It is telling that you make a difference between realizing these skills and developing them. Most practitioners neither realize the great importance of these basic skills nor develop them.
Some may realize the importance of these skills, but never develop them. They know, for example, that they have to be relaxed and not thinking of anything in order to generate an energy flow, but they never succeed in generating an energy flow.
On the other hand, some may have developed their skills, but they never realize what these skills are. They may have developed internal force through years of dedicated training, for example, but they never realize that they need to be in a Zen or Tao state of mind for the internal force development. Many chi kung and kungfu practitioners have missed the wonderful opportunity to experience life as a meaningful flow of energy. Indeed, many of them may not really understand what the expression means although they know the dictionary meaning of all the words used.
Those who realize its meaning and experience life as a meaningful flow of energy will have good health, vitality and longevity besides other benefits. But many who practice chi kung are weak and sick, and many who practiced Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan are stressful and injured, though the arts they practice are supposed to enhance their flow of energy.
We have already discussed the aims of the 5 day Foundations of Kung Fu course, for which we are very much looking forward to.
It is beneficial to elaborate on the benefits of the kungfu course at the coming UK Summer Camp.
I have often mentioned an ever-victorious strategy against other kungfu styles or other martial arts, which is to apply a combat sequence relentlessly but taking great care of our own safety, against an opponent in free sparring.
Though I used this strategy in my own free sparring in my younger days and remained undefeated, it will be the first time I teach instructors and students in our school to put this philosophy into practice at the kungfu course during the coming UK Summer Camp.
Barry suggested that I devised 4 combat sequences, and course participants would choose one. I have done that and shall post the 4 combat sequences on my website later on for participants to choose.
If we apply any one of the 4 combat sequences flowingly and forcefully, our opponents would have no chance to fight back. They would be overwhelmed by our flow and force. Even if they could match our flow and force, they have no techniques in their repertoire to defend against our pressing attack. they will be pressed back against a wall.
However, if an opponent is very skillful, he may escape our pressing attack, and counter attack with typical techniques from his art. We shall learn to counter these typical techniques and continue to press him back against a wall.
While attaining this specific objective of winning free sparring, which will make our kungfu training meaningful, we shall also place much focus on our general aims of attaining good health, vitality, longevity, mental clarity and spiritual joys.
To most other martial artists, to attain good health, which includes being free from stress and injuries, is antagonistic to free sparring. Many other martial artists are stressful and injured in free sparring. But we are elite. Not only we will be relaxed, but we learn to be unhurt in free sparring.
The course will even attain more than this, Not only we shall be relaxed and unhurt in free sparring, the free sparring will contribute to our good health, vitality, longevity, mental clarity and spiritual joys! It is hard for others to believe, even to comprehend. One has to experience the course to find out.
Five-Animal Play in Barcelona
We would also like to explore and share with you our understanding of the foundations of Chi Kung, our ideas for a series of Chi Kung courses and how this fits in with the Kung Fu.
Referring back to your Q&A in 1998 regarding intensive courses we understand the foundation skills of Chi Kung can be narrowed to two things:
We had a chat about how people could use these skills and agreed that someone would need to be able to do the following:
Enter a Chi Kung state of mind
Maintain a Chi Kung state of mind
Generate a smooth flow of energy
Maintain a smooth flow of energy
Apply a smooth flow of energy
All of these skills are on a continuum. Some students are more skillful than others. We think at the highest level a master would be able to do these things under any circumstances in their:
chi kung practice
kung fu practice
sparring under pressure
fighting for real
any aspect of their daily life, whatever the outside pressures.
The foundations can be taken and used at any level. Shaolin Wahnam students can aspire to the highest levels, if they realise thatâ€™s what they can aim for.
Your description is excellent. It clearly describes in a systematic manner what we do in our school, which you have nicely summed as circulating energy and building energy. Indeed, these are the two aspects of any genuine chi kung training, described in Chinese as “xing qi” and “yang qi”, which literally means “circulate energy” and “nourish energy”.
I am glad that all our instructors and students can circulate and nourish energy in their chi kung and kungfu practice, most can do so in sparring under pressure. Real fighting is, fortunately, rare in our modern societies, but I believe many of our instructors and students can do so. I also believe that they can circulate and nourish energy in their daily life where they are under pressure. In other words, due to their training in our school, they can remain relaxed and be able to think and react accordingly even in difficult situations.
If you like, we may create simulated situations during our chi kung courses at the UK Summer Camp for our students to apply their chi kung training in difficult situations. You may, for example, suddenly rush into the training hall and announce that there is a fire to see how our students react. It is best that such simulated situations are to be created when I am not in the hall.
I am nervous and stressful. I find it hard to relax. How do I enter into a chi kung state of mind?
— Koncha, Spain
Editorial Note: Asked in class by a beginning student in Grandmaster Wong’s basic Five-Animal Play course.
Just follow my instructions as best as you comfortably can. In half an hourâ€™s time you will find you are able to relax. By the end of the course today, you will be able to relax easily.
This is a practical answer, and the best answer. You can assess whether what I say is true in half an hour, and again by the end of the course. You donâ€™t have to wait for three months to find out.
(Editorial Note: in half an hour after the practice session, Koncha found out from her own experience she could relax. By the end of the course she found out she could relax easily._
But I shall also give you an academic answer, which some people like to hear but is not as useful as the practical answer.
Your problem of not being able to relax is very common. In my early years of teaching, many people who first learned from me told me the same problem. Gradually less and less people told me this problem. Now very few people mention this problem.
If you donâ€™t do anything, you will be relaxed physically and mentally. In practical terms, if you do not tense your muscles, you will be able to relax physically. If you do not intellectualise, you will be able to relax mentally.
Most people cannot relax because they close their mouth and tense their muscles, usually unknowingly. They have been so conditioned to closing their mouth and tensing their muscles that they do not consciously realise it. They are stressful because myriad thoughts come to their head. Again, they have been so conditioned to having countless thoughts that they are no conscious of it.
They also do not know, although it is actually quite simple but may not be easy to those who are habitually tensed and stressful, that if they make an effort not to tense their muscles and not to think of any thoughts, they can relax. Not doing something is simpler than doing something. Not tensing their muscles and not thinking of anything is simpler than tensing their muscles and thinking of something.
Having picture-perfect form is important in kungfu
Can we have a shower before or after our practice?
— Camilia, Spain
Yes, we can.
Our art is powerful, so we can enjoy such privileges. Other practitioners may not have such privileges. They have to wait for half an hour before or after a practice session before taking a shower.
In the same way, if we made some mistakes during our practice, we donâ€™t have to worry. Our chi flow will erase whatever harm the mistakes might have caused. Other practitioners do not have this privilege. If they made some mistakes, the harm would remain as they did not have any chi flow to flush away the harm.
In my book, â€œChi Kung for Health and Vitalityâ€, I mentioned 10 doâ€™s and 10 donâ€™ts. One of the donâ€™ts is not to have a shower immediately before or after we practice. This book as well as the doâ€™s and donâ€™ts mentioned in it, are meant for readers who do not have an opportunity to learn from me personally. Their result learning from a book, even when they have practiced perfectly, is far less than those who learn from me personally. Hence, for them, they have to wait for at least half and hour before and after practice for a shower.
Moreover, the book was written about 20 years ago at a time when my teaching was not as high level as it is now. Now students learning personally from me have more powerful result, and enjoy the privilege of having a shower immediately before or after a practice.
Why is it important for us to perform the form correctly in a kungfu set?
— Omar. United Kingdom
It is important to perform the form of a kungfu set, like San Feng Wudang Set, correctly necause the success of its combat application depends on its correct form. If the form of a kungfu pattern is not correct, not only it looses its combat effectiveness, it may also offer opportunities for opponents to counter-attack.
Let us take a simple example. An opponent executes a middle thrust punch, like Black Tiger Steals Heart. An exponent responds with Shift Horse Ask Way from the San Feng Wudang Set. This response is excellent when the form is performed correctly. It minimizes the opponentâ€™s force, and places the exponent in a favourable position to counter-attack without little opening for the opponent.
However, if the form is incorrect, not only the same response does not give the exponents these advantages, but also it offers the opponent opportunities to defeat the exponent. If the exponent does not rotate his waist, for example, he will not be able to minimize the opponentâ€™s force. If he does not sink back in his stance, he may too close for the opponentâ€™s attack. If he does not position his legs correctly, he exposes his groin for the opponent to attack. If he leans backward or foreard, his balance is unfavourable for him.
The wrong form places the exponent in an awkward position. Even if the opponent may not be successful in his initial attack, the awkward position of the exponent makes it easy for the opponent to continue, and makes it difficult for the exponent to respond.
Hence, picture-perfect form is very important in kungfu, even for beginners. If beginners have their form correct right at the start, they donâ€™t have to spend much time and effort relearning it later on.
However, you may notice that I am not particular about form for beginners in chi kung. In fact, for beginners if their form is not perfect, though not incorrect, I usually ignore it. The main reason, for ignoring minor mistakes as well as for not particular on picture-perfect form, is that I want beginning students to get on to energy flow as fast as possible.
If I pay too much attention to picture-perfect form, beginning students will be unduly worried about their form, get out from the chi kung state of mind which if often induce, and perform the chi kung technique as gentle physical exercise. Even with imperfect form, so long as the students relax and do not intellectualize, they can generate an energy flow.
As students progress, we pay more attention on form. When students have reached an advanced level, they could have picture-perfect form. Hence, I often mention in class when teaching a new technique that beginning students need not worry about details but just get the general picture right, whereas advanced practitioners can focus on finer points, like picture-perfect form.
However, we have come full-circle. We have become so cost-effective that sometimes I tell advanced practitioners to purposely get their form wrong, to tense their muscles , or to intellectualize sometimes so that they may not have too powerful result from their practice to prevent over-training! This is a big job to other people.
Nevertheless, instructors whether in chi kung or kungfu, whether they teach beginners or advanced students, must have picture-perfect form. It is because they are models for their students to follow when practicing any kungfu or chi kung techniques.
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.