Sifu Wong Kiew Kit receiving the “Qigong Master of the Year” award from Professor Steven K. H. Aung at the Second World Congress on Qigong in November 1997. Looking on is the Chairperson of the Congress, Dr Effie Chow
What is chi kung (or qigong)?
Chi kung, spelt as “qigong” in Romanized Chinese, is the art of developing energy, particularly for health, vitality, longevity, mind expansion and spiritual cultivation, irrespective of race, culture and religion.
The term “chi kung” is Chinese, but arts of energy have been practised by different peoples, especially in the past when they were kept as top secrets. The Indians call their energy art “yoga”, the Tibetans “wisdom art”, whereas the ancient Egyptians and ancient Greeks called it “the mystery art”.
Because of cultural and historical reasons, there may be some differences in the methods and emphasis in these different energy arts of different peoples, but they all deal with developing energy, and they all aim at promoting physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health, irrespective of one’s religion.
Various types of chi kung
There are literally hundreds of types of chi kung, because the term “chi kung” is actually a collective name for various arts of energy training.
For example, in the history of chi kung in China, physicians developed energy for healing, kungfu exponents for enhancing combat efficiency, Confucian scholars for mind expansion, and Taoist and Buddhist cultivators for spiritual growth.
Nevertheless, there are large, comprehensive schools of chi kung, such as Shaolin Chi Kung and Taijiquan Chi Kung, where the various different health, martial, mental and spiritual needs are fulfilled.
Different levels of chi kung attainment
Not only there are various types of chi kung serving different needs, there are also different levels of attainment within the same type of chi kung.
Numerous variables that determine the level of attainment include the appropriateness of the methods chosen, the competency of the teacher, as well as the dedication of the student. Obviously, assuming other factors being equal, a superior method, an experienced teacher or a student who practises regularly will produce better result than someone without these advantages.
But what is not so obvious to many people, including most chi kung practitioners today, is the operational level at which one practises chi kung. Chi kung training can be operated at the form level, the energy level or the mind level.
Form, energy and mind in chi kung training
Sifu Anthony Spinicchia of the United States enjoying Standing Zen, which is a high level chi kung bringing mind expansion and spiritual joy.
Although there are thousands of chi kung exercises, they all involve three elements, namely form, energy and mind. These three elements are also the “three treasures” of a person.
In other words, every human has form, energy and mind. Chi kung training develops all these three essential elements of a person.
However, due to various reasons, the great majority of chi kung practitioners today, including in China, practise only the form aspect of chi kung, neglecting the energy and the mind aspects.
Strictly speaking, this is not chi kung; it is only chi kung form, and in terms of giving health benefits I believe it is less effective than conventional physical exercise like swimming, playing field games and working out in a gym.
For convenience, I call this level of chi kung which pays attention only to form, low-level chi kung.
In my opinion, the least a practitioner should have is the energy aspect in order to justify calling his exercise chi kung, i.e. energy training. This is middle-level chi kung, and the practitioner makes a conscious, purposeful effort to influence his energy flow, such as clearing energy blockage and increasing energy level.
In terms of health benefits, middle-level chi kung is far superior to conventional physical exercise, as the benefits are a direct result of its practice, whereas in conventional physical exercise the health benefits come as a bonus.
High-level chi kung is where the mind is involved. After entering into what is known as “a chi kung state of mind”, which is a heightened state of consciousness, the practitioner can manipulate energy the way he wants, like tapping energy from the cosmos and directing it to whatever parts of his body.
At this level, it is beyond comparison with conventional physical exercise. Not only so-called “incurable” diseases can be cured, some masters may accomplish feats which ordinary people would regard as miracles — or fakery.
What disease can practising chi kung overcome?
Low-level chi kung may provide some gentle exercise for better blood circulation, muscle loosening and relaxation, but may not be strong enough to overcome diseases.
Middle-level chi kung may overcome diseases like asthma, tuberculosis, rheumatism, bodily pains, gastritis, insomnia, anxiety and nervousness, and effectively prevents common colds and fevers.
High-level chi kung can cure any diseases, including ulcers, cardiovascular disorders, diabetes and cancer. This is not an exaggerated claim; personally I have helped many people to be relieved of their so-called incurable diseases.
There is also sound medical explanation for the cure. According to Chinese medical philosophy, illness occurs if there is insufficient vital energy to work the natural systems of the body (and mind), or if the flow of vital energy is disrupted.
The forte of chi kung is to increase energy level and to clear energy blockage, thus overcoming the illness, irrespective of what labels may be used to describe its symptoms.
Sifu Wong Chun Nga breaking a brick with internal force almost 30 years ago when he was only 11 years old
At the “Secrets of Internal Force” course at the UK Summer Camp, I took notes that only about 5% of Kung Fu practitioners today were able to develop internal force, while in the past about 70% could. In Shaolin Wahnam we are happy that 100% of our practitioners are able to do so.
— Sifu Leonard Lackinger, Austria
You are right that very, very few kungfu practitioners today, including masters, have internal force. Most other martial artists do not believe in internal force.
It is simply ridiculous that not only 100% of our practitioners have internal force, but also they make good use of it to enrich their life. This is something even masters in the past could not do. Many well known masters in the past, like the famous Taijiquan master, Yang Deng Fu, and the famous Xingyiquan master, Kuo Yun Sheng, led miserable lives.
I might have forgotten but I can’t remember saying that 70% of kungfu practitioners in the past had internal force. If we take kungfu practitioners in the past in general, not just in the Shaolin Temples, I think less than 30% of them had internal force.
This 30% is a generous estimate. If we consider only kungfu students, leaving masters asides, I believe those with internal force would be less than 10%. Most kungfu styles were (and still are) considered “external”.
Only those who practiced internal styles for a long time, like Taijiquan, Xingyiquan and Baguazhang, had internal force. On the other hand, external kungfu masters who had practiced their arts, like Hoong Ka, Wing Choon, Choy-Li-Fatt, Praying Mantis and Eagle Claw, for a long time might have internal force, usually without their own realization.
My question refers to the “70%”. Does this estimation refer to practitioners at the Shaolin Temples only?
Given that my interpretation of the 70% refers to practitioners at the Shaolin Temples is correct, what would be your estimation, in percentage, of successful internal force practitioners outside of the Shaolin temples in the past?
Yes, if I had said that 70% of kungfu practitioners in the past had internal force, I would be referring to practitioners at the Shaolin Temples only.
Even at the Shaolin Temples, Shaolin Kungfu was often referred to as external, different from the flowing force, for example, of practitioners practicing Taijiquan at the Chen Village. Even the Shaolin monks used “external” methods, like hitting sandbags and carrying water, when they had internal force.
Apart from the Shaolin Temples at Henan, Quanzhou and on the Nine-Lotus Mountain, my estimate of kungfu practitioners in the past with internal force is less than 30%. The situation today is worse. Less than 5% of kungfu practitioners now have internal force.
Shaolin Kungfu, usually considered external by most people, is practiced as an internal art in our school
Also, from what I learned from you, I would say that even practitioners who had the rare chance of learning from an internal master would only be taught internal methods after showing their worth by years of external training first.
After learning the methods many still could not produce internal force consistently, because they did not know the secrets and underlying philosophy we have today.
I believe that internal training was always hard to find, be it today or in ancient China.
Both Northern and Southern Shaolin were (and still are) considered external. We are freaks to practice them as internal arts, which they really are, especially at an advanced level, though our students now could practice them as internal arts right at the beginning.
Indeed, internal training was, and is, very hard to find, today or in classical China. Your siheng, Kai, for example, spent a few years traveling to the East to seek for internal force, but to no avail.
My estimate of practitioners outside the Shaolin Temple in the past, and outside of Shaolin Wahnam now, who had or have internal force is less than 10% in general, which is a generous estimate. Base on my own experience, those with internal force is probably around 3%, and none of them know how to use it consciously to enrich their life. Because of their internal force, these rare masters may be more effective in their work, and more rewarding in their life, but they do not consciously apply it as we do.
We sound boastful, but we are merely stating the truth.
Thoughts come to my mind all the time. How do I clear my mind of all thoughts?
— Alexei, Russia
Just do it.
In other words, if you want to clear your mind of all thoughts, just clear your mind of all thoughts, instead of thinking of how to clear your mind of all thoughts, or why or when or what is it to clear your mind of all thoughts.
The same method is applicable in daily life, which will make life more pleasant for you.
For example, if you want to find a new job, go for a holiday, or buy a present for your wife, just do it, i.e. find a new job, go for a holiday, or buy a present for your wife.
Instead of just doing what they want to do, many people intellectualize, and make themselves stressful. They intellectualise, for example, why they should find a new job, where they should go for a holiday, and how they should buy a present for their wife. They may intellectualize for a long time, but never get to do what they want to do.
In principle it is like standing up from the chair you are sitting on. Just do it. Just stand up. But instead of just doing it, i.e. just standing up, you start to intellectualize why you should stand up, how you can stand up, and whether you should stand up or remain sitting on the chair.
Students in our school are able to generate a chi flow on the very first day of their learning chi kung from us
Why do many chi kung practitioners not have any chi flow despite practicing chi kung for many years, whereas we have a chi flow on the very first day we learn chi kung?
— June, Singapore
There are a few ways to answer this question, though all these different ways eventually refer to the same truth.
Many chi kung practitioners do not have any chi flow despite practicing chi kung for many years, whereas you have a chi flow on the very first day you learn chi kung because the many practitioners do not have the skills to generate a chi flow although they use correct or even the same techniques, but you can generate a chi flow on the very first day because you have the necessary skills.
Suppose a wealthy person gives a car to people who do not have the skills of driving. Although they may have the car for many years, they still cannot drive it. But if you have the skills of driving, you can drive the car on the very first day it is given to you.
Another way to answer the question is that many chi kung practitioners do not realise that they need special skills to generate a chi flow. They may not even know what a chi flow is. They think, wrongly, that if they perform chi kung techniques, they will have the benefits of chi kung. It is also not complimentary to them that they they do not realise this fact, that they do not get the benefits of practicing chi kung. Many chi kung practitioners are still weak and sick despite many years of practice.
On the other hand, you know the difference between skills and techniques, as this has been clearly explained to you. You also know that chi flow is the essence of chi kung, and that it is chi flow that gives the benefits of chi kung, not the chi kung techniques. In other words, even when practitioners practice chi kung techniques correctly, but do not experience any chi flow, they will not have chi kung benefits like overcoming pain and illness, and enjoying good health and vitality.
Most importantly, besides the important knowledge, you are transmitted the skills from heart to heart at the course so that you can use the skills to perform the techniques to generate a chi flow on the very first day you learn chi kung. Once the skills are transmitted to you, especially when you practice these skills during the course, they are yours, and you can use the skills to generate a chi flow when you perform chi kung techniques.
A third way to answer the question is that you entered into a chi kung state of mind, and performed chi kung in a chi kung state of mind. Hence, even on the very first day you learned chi kung, you could generate a chi flow. Other practitioners do not know how to enter into a chi kung state of mind, and do not perform their chi kung techniques in a chi kung state of mind. They may not even know what the term is. Hence, they may have practiced chi kung techniques for many years, but still are unable to generate a chi flow.
All these are different ways to answer the same question. Having the necessary chi kung stills, differentiating between techniques and skills, and entering into a chi kung state of mind, refer to the same situation — the situation of generating a chi flow on the very first day you learn chi kung, or the situation of other practitioners not generating a chi flow despite having practicing chi kung for many years. Strictly speaking, these other practitioners do not practice chi kung; they merely perform chi kung forms, in the same way that many Taiji practitioners today do not practice Taijiquan, which is an internal, martial art; they merely perform external Taiji forms.
Although my explanation is clear, the uninitiated may not understand what I have explained although they may know the dictionary meaning of all the words used. They do not understand that it is necessary to have the right skills to generate a chi flow, that chi flow is the essence of chi kung, the difference between skills and techniques, and entering into a chi kung state of mind.
Despite my explanation, they still think that all they need to do is to practice chi kung techniques correctly and diligently, and eventually they will have the benefits of chi kung. Less than 20% of them if they practice for many years may eventually acquire the necessary skills and enjoy the benefits of chi kung, but usually they are unaware of the skills. The great majority merely practice chi kung forms.
What can we do when we loose trust in someone or someone looses trust in us? Irrespective of who is wrong or has a wrong perception. I have had two occasions now where this is an issue for me.
— Binia, Switzerland
Different people may react differently when they loose trust in someone or when someone looses trust in them. Many people will feel angry because they only see things their way, and presume the other party is wrong. The other party will also feel angry and presume these people are wrong.
If these people are weaker, in ability or status, they feel disappointed or dejected. Sometimes they rebel.
Often, both sides are right, but they see things from different perspective. The failure to understand and appreciate this fact leads to quarrels and fights, including amongst nations with much destruction.
We in Shaolin Wahnam see the issue the Shaolin Wahnam way. We realize that the same issue can be viewed from different perspective, and not that any side is right or wrong. We are able to differentiate opinions from facts, and realize that often opinions are more important.
Let us take an example. .Suppose a student thinks Boxing is more effective for combat than Shaolin Kungfu, This is his opinion.
It is not a fact that Boxing is more effective in combat than Shaolin Kungfu, although in his particular case at this particular time, if he uses Boxing he is more effective in combat than if he uses Shaolin Kungfu. But the fact is different for me. I am more effective in combat when I use Shaolin Kungfu than when I use Boxing.
With this understanding, I shall explain to him.that at present his Boxing is better than his Shaolin Kungfu because he has not practiced sufficiently to be skillful in Shaolin Kungfu. More importantly I shall explain to him the fact, not an opinion, that practicing Shaolin Kungfu the way we do in our school contributes to his good health, vitality, longevity and daily peak performance, whereas practicing Boxing would not. But if he persists in thinking that Boxing is better, I would not want to waste my time and would ask him to leave my class for his own benefit, and wish him well, as he does not have trust in my teaching.
Many kungfu practitioners find Boxing more effective for combat, but we in Shaolin Wahnam find kungfu more effective
Trying to solve the problem with having a good conversation was somehow also no more possible. I tried to practice “forgiveness” as you suggested to me in another matter and indeed this helped me a lot beyond my imagination. But somehow here with forgiveness I don’t seem to find the path. I would very much appreciate if you would share some of your wisdom with me.
Being able to forgive contribute to good health. The one who beneifts the most is the person who forgives, not the one forgiven. I have discovered from my many years of experience in healing that holding grudges insidiously leads to serious illness. Once a person can forgive, he (or she) lets go of the grudges, and allows chi flow to overcome the illness.
Forgiving and finding a solution to a problem are two different issues. Forgiving enables you to be calm and clear, and therefore you are in a better position to find a solution to your problem. But you still have to find a solution.
The Zen course you took some time ago gives you very useful tools to solve problems. Firstly, clear your mind of all thoughts. With mental clarity, you can effectively define your problem. Many people are constantly burdened with problems not because there are no solutions, but often without their own awareness, they do not know what their problems are.
Once, you have defined your problem, solutions often offer themselves readily. Choose the solution that is simple, direct and effective.
How do I handle the problem of trust regarding my parents and myself?
Handling the problem of gaining trust in your parents or your parents having trust is you is quite different from the example I gave earlier though the main principles are the same. The main principles are to differentiate opinions from facts, and to realize that different people have different opinions.
There are two main differences. In the example, being his teacher I am in a superior position. Secondly I do not have to waste time on a student who has no trust in my teaching; I prefer teaching other deserving students.
In your case, your parents are in a superior position. Secondly, you have only one father and one mother. You need to have trust in them and have to win their trust in you.
Having trust in your parents is easy. Just realize that they protected you and brought you up from a time when you were totally helpless to now when you are independent. Now you may (or may not) be better educated than them and earn more money than they did, but this should not negate your trust in them.
Winning trust in ones parents is also not difficult, though many young people today lack this skill as well as are ignorant of some facts.
First the facts. It is a fact, not an opinion, that parents are superior in status to children. A person may become the president of a country, but his parents are still his parents.
It is also a fact that there is a generation gap which results in difference of opinions. Many parents, for example, are not in favour of sex before marriage, but many young people today think that sex before marriage is a norm. Please note that here having sex before marriage is a fact, considering it undesirable or normal is an opinion.
We should be grateful to our parents. The third point is actually an opinion, but it has become so established and has been taught by so many great teachers that it has been considered as a fact by many people. The Buddha, known for his immense wisdom irrespective of one’s religion, has taught that even if a person carries his invalid father or mother on his shoulders everyday for 50 years of his life, and does this for 500 lifetimes, he still has not repaid the debt he owes to his parents.
Of course, another person may have a different opinion. He may think that it is stupid to respect ones parents. He may step on his parents or spit on them.
Irrespective of whether it is a fact or an opinion, it is good to respect ones parents, and evil to disrespect them. Good is whatever that brings benefit, and evil is whatever that brings harm. One who disrespect his parents will result in harm — to himself, to his parents or to other people. Realizing this fact, i.e. it is good to respect one’s parents, will make it easier to accept their different opinions.
But winning trust in ones parents is not just accepting their different opinions. More importantly, it is spending time with them and be kind to them. Parents actually do not care whether their children are wealthy or famous — a misconception that many young people have — but they do care that their children spend time with them and are kind to them.
If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at email@example.com stating your name, country and e-mail address.
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.
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.
On another topic, can you please elaborate on good pain and bad pain. Some students, without proper understanding, give up training chi kung when they experience pain.
— Sifu Sippe Douma, New Zealand
Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
For convenience, pain may be described as good or bad. Good pain is beneficial, and bad pain is harmful.
When a practitioner has generated a vigorous chi flow, the chi flow will break through blockage. In the progress, good pain may result. On the other hand, bad pain is due to illness or injury, or to wrong practice.
Good pain is mild, and is actually quite pleasant, though it is painful. Bad pain is severe, and is unpleasant. This is an academic description, and may not be meaningful to those who have no experience of good and bad pain. A better way to differentiate between good pain and bad pain is though direct experience.
Initially a practitioner may not differentiate good pain from bad pain easily, but with increased experience he will have no difficulty.
An analogy is the sour taste of an orange. An orange can taste sour because it is good, or because it is bad. Like good pain and bad pain, good sour taste and bad sour taste are actually different, but because of the limitation of words we still use the same terms, “pain” and “sour taste”.
A person who had not tasted an orange before would be unable to tell whether the sour taste of an orange was due to an orange being good or bad. But with experience of tasting some oranges, he would have no difficulty telling the difference.
What should a practitioner do when he feels good pain. He continues his training. When the blockage is cleared as he recovers from his illness or injury, the pain will disappear. But if the pain is bad, he should slow down or stop training until the situation improves.
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.
Grandmaster has often said that he remained unbeaten in his early days not because he was combat efficient but because he was smart; he spent a lot of time preparing for his upcoming free sparring
Sigung, you were unbeaten in sparring in your young days. Can you please share your secret with us?
— Peter, Ireland
I used to say “in my young days”, but Douglas, my most senior student in Europe, reminded me at the time when I was about 50 that I was still young, so I have changed the expression to “my younger days”. Even now when I am over 70 and still feel young, I use the expression “in my younger days”.
In my younger days, especially between about 20 to 40 years of age, I spent a lot of time looking for sparring partners. At first I could beat them not because I was good but because I was smart. I chose opponents whom I had confidence of beating.
I made my victory doubly sure by doing a lot of homework, i.e. by practicing over and over again sequences which I used in the sparring. I devised the sequences from the way I expected my opponents would fight. This was not difficult because most of my opponents then were Taekwondo and Karate exponents, with some Boxing and Judo practitioners, and the way they fought was quite stereotyped.
For example, if I had to spar with a Taekwondo black-belt, I knew that he would probably start with some jabbing or side kicks, then round-house kicks, and eventually reverse round-house. So I would avoid his initial jabbing and side kicks, slant my body backward to avoid his round-house kicks, and when he executed a reverse round-house I would swiftly move forward with a coup de grace. I would practice this sequence many, many times, sometimes with modifications. When the actual situation occured during sparring, and this planned scenario almost always happened, I could use my practiced sequence to defeat my opponent easily. I always gently tapped my opponents; I never hurt them.
Having learnt from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, my combat efficiency, including my internal force, improved tremendously. But initially I still used the same strategy. I chose sparring opponents whom I had confidence in beating, and I did a lot of homework. But gradually I did not have to do much homework as I could respond spontaneously and correctly to opponents’ attacks. As I became confident of my combat efficiency, I did not go out to look for sparring opponents.
I always used kungfu, including good stances, in my sparring. I never used Kick-Boxing, Muay Thai or any other martial arts, although I sparred with opponents from all styles. The difference was that in my earlier years of sparring I used simple punches and kicks, whereas in my later years my techniques were more sophisticated, like felling and chin-na. I discovered that when I used sophisticated kungfu techniques, my opponents just did not know how to defend against them.
So, if I have to give a secret for my unbeaten sparring record, I would say that I used a superior fighting art against opponents whose fighting arts were inferior to mine. Presuming that the skill levels were about equal, if I used simple punches and kicks, my opponents would have no difficulty defending against them. But if I used sophisticated techniques, like subtle felling and chin-na attacks, together with tactics and strategies that created situations for me to apply these attacks, my opponents had no techniques in their repertoire to defend.
What are the effects of over-training?
— Sascha, Switzerland
For convenience, over-training may be divided into three stages.
At the most serious level, a practitioner who has over-trained becomes very weak and sick, or may even die. It is unlikely that practitioners who have over-trained will arrive at this serious stage, certainly not in our school.
But in my younger days, before I started Shaolin Wahnam Institute, I met a well-known kungfu master, who was a daughter-in-law of a kungfu patriarch, who either had over-trained or had practiced wrongly. As I knew him previously he was strong and full of vitality. When I last saw him, he was extremely weak and sickly. I regretted that I did not know chi kung healing them, or else I would have helped him recover.
The intermediate stage of over-training was when over-cleansing was clearly noticeable. Over-cleansing is the result of over-training, but practitioners are often confused over both these conditions. The symptoms are pain, tiredness, sleepiness and feeling of nauseousness. The practitioner who has over-trained feels unpleasant and uncomfortable, and is sometimes sick.
At the beginning stage of over-training, the practitioner feels tired and sleepy after his chi kung training, instead of feeling energised and fresh. The symptoms of cleansing are mild and may not be noticeable. Many practitioners over-train mildly at one time or another, and he will soon adjust to the excess energy from his training even without doing anything special.
What a typical Shaolin Wahnam student achieves in one day, it took Grandmaster Wong more than a month to achieve in his student’s days. Hence, it is important to guard against over-training.
In a chi kung class, people had different diseases but they overcame their diseases by practicing the same exercises you taught. How did chi kung know which disease to cure?
— Roberto, Spain
In the chi kung perspective, which is also the traditional Chinese medical perspective, all diseases are caused by energy blockage. Western medical perspective uses different names for the different types of energy blockage.
In Western terms, if energy is blocked from inhibiting harmful micro-organisms from attacking a person, he is said to suffer from an infectious disease. If energy is blocked from working an organ normally, the patient is said to suffer from an organic disorder. If energy is blocked from flushing out negative emotions, he is said to suffer from psychological problems.
Chi kung works at the root cause, which is energy blockage. Other Chinese therapeutic methods, like herbalism and acupuncture, which also deal with energy blockage, work at higher hierarchical order. An acupuncturist or a herbalist will find out where the energy is blocked, and applies acupuncture or herbs to clear the blockage accordingly. Hence, in other Chinese therapeutic methods, correct diagnosis is very important.
It may sound ridiculous to those not familiar with chi kung philosophy that diagnosis is not necessary in chi kung healing! This is because chi kung deals with the root cause. Once the energy blockage is cleared, the patient recovers as a matter of course.
Different students in a same class might suffer from different diseases, like rheumatism, diabetes, cancer, chronic infection, and depression. But regardless of what the disease was, the root cause was energy blockage. Once the energy blockage was cleared, the patients recovered.
How did practicing chi kung clear energy blockage? It was through chi flow. The chi flow generated by chi kung practice cleared the energy blockage.
How did the chi flow know where the energy blockage was? Or, how did chi kung know which disease to cure?
It was a natural characteristic of chi flow to flow from high energy level to low energy level. Disease areas were areas of low energy level where there was insufficient energy to perform natural physiological and psychological functions to maintain normal good health. The energy generated by practicing genuine chi kung would naturally flow to these low energy areas to clear the blockage. When the blockage was cleared, the students would recover, regardless of what diseases Western medicine might call them, as their energy flowed to these areas to resume natural physiological and psychological functioning to restore good health.
Can we transmit chi to friends to clear their blockage and help them recover?
You can but you may not. In other words, it is within your ability to do it, but you should not do it. In fact, every person has the natural ability to transmit chi, or energy, to another person. Mothers do this to their babies when the mothers comfort them. When your girlfriend is cold, if you hug her you transmit chi to her to warm her.
But unless you are trained, the chi you transmit to friends to help them clear their blockage is unlikely to work. You may harm them and harm yourself.
If your friends’ energy is blocked, which is the reason why they are sick, adding more chi to them will aggravate their blockage causing more harm. Their sick chi may back-flow to you making you sick too.
Transmitting chi to patients to clear their blockage and help them recover is an important part of chi kung healing. A chi kung healer must be properly trained. Chi kung healing is not something any person can play about with.
Many people may find it hard to believe, but practicing high-level chi kung can overcome any illness
Some schools pay much attention to visualisation. Can you please tell us more about visualisation in chi kung training?
— Dimitry, Switzerland
Chi kung operates at three levels — the levels of form, energy and mind. The proportions of benefit by practicing chi kung at these three respective levels are 1, 3 and 6. In other words, if all other things were equal,. practitioners operating at the form level may obtain 10% of the benefit of the chi kung training, those operating at the energy level obtain 30%, and those operating at the mind level obtain 60%.
As most chi kung practitioners practicing genuine chi kung operate at the form level, where they perform many chi kung techniques for a long time and get some chi flow, whereas we practice chi kung at all the three levels of form, energy and mind, our benefit is 10 times more than what most other practitioners get.
A common misconception among some people is that when a practitioner operates at the mind level, he has to visualise. This is not true. Operating at the mind level, the practitioner may or may not visualise, but he must be in a chi kung state of mind, or at a heightened level of consciousness.
Many practitioners, especially those who learn from books and videos, confuse visualisation with intellectualisation. They think they visualise when they actually intellectualise.
Even if they visualise, it is still different from visualisation in the mind level of chi kung. These practitioners visualise while in their ordinary state of mind, whereas visualisation in chi kung must be performed in a chi kung state of mind. It is actually having a gentle thought rather than visualisation.
We do not need to employ visualisation at the elementary level of our chi kung exercises, but we still operate at the level of mind (even without visualization). Hence, our students get more benefits practicing our elementary chi kung exercises than other practitioners practicing advanced exercises. Many people may not believe it, and some may become angry at this statement, but it is a fact. Some examples of our elementary chi kung exercises are 5-Animal Play, 18 Jewels, and 18 Lohan Hands.
We use visualisation for some of our intermediate chi kung exercises, and do not use visualisations for other intermediate chi kung exercises. Some example of our intermediate chi kung exercises where visualisation is needed are Cosmic Shower and Abdominal Breathing, and some examples where visualisation is not needed are stance training and 18-Lohan Art.
We generally use visualisation in our advanced chi kung exercises, though they are some exceptions. Two remarkable exception are Sinew Metamorphosis and Cosmic Breathing which are very powerful. Examples of advanced exercises where visualization is needed include Bone Marrow Cleansing and Expanding into the Cosmos.
What, in your opinion, will Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiuan be in a hundred years from now?
In my opinion in a hundred years from now more people will practice genuine Shaolin Kungfu and genuine Taijiquan, instead of practicing Shaolin forms for demonstration or for free exchange of blows, and Taiji dance. The total number of people who practice the genuine arts will still be small, but it will be bigger than the number now where most people, despite their good intention, cannot differentiate the genuine from the bogus.
Genuine Shaolin Kungfu and genuine Taijiquan give practitioners wonderful benefits. Besides being able to defend themselves when needed, these genuine arts provide practitioners with good health, vitality and longevity, as well as mental clarity and spiritual joys. Masters who teach bogus Shaolin Kungfu and bogus Taijiquan also say that their arts give good health, vitality and longevity as well as mental clarity and spiritual joys, but their students never attain these benefits, and they don’t realize it. By the time they realise this fact, they are too proud to change to genuine arts even if they have the opportunities, but usually they may not have the opportunities as genuine Shaolin Kungfu and genuine Taijiquan are very rare nowadays.
It is precisely to preserve genuine Shaolin Kungfu, and later genuine Taijiquan, that I established Shaolin Wahnam Association in the early 1980s, which later evolved to our school, Shaolin Wahnam Institute, in the middle 1990s. We have progressed very well. We now have more than 60,000 students spread over more than 35 countries in the world. Even if I were to retire tomorrow, our Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan as well as chi kung will continue to spread as we have very good instructors.
It is legitimate to ask what justification we have to claim that our Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan are genuine. The benefits our students get correspond exactly with what genuine Shaolin Kungfu and genuine Taijiquan will give. Besides being able to defend ourselves using our arts, our students have good health, vitality, longevity, mental clarity and spiritual joys.
Internal force is not only used for combat; more importantly it is used to enrich our daily life
What is the difference between chi kung and nei gong?
Chi kung means “energy art”, and nei gong means “internal art”. In this case, “chi kung” is in English spelling, and “nei gong” is in Romanced Chinese spelling.
In Romanized Chinese spelling, chi kung is “qi gong”, and in English spelling hei gong is “nei kung”. Because we are used to English spelling, we may think that Romanize Chinese spelling is funny. Actually it is English spelling that is funny. “Bus”, for example, is pronounced as /bas/, not /bus/, and “phone” is pronounced as /fon/, not /phone/.
The two terms, “chi kung” and “nei gong”, can be used interchangeably, i.e. they have similar meaning though the connotation may be different. Chi kung is a modern term, nei gong is more classical.
For example, 18 Lohan Hands and Sinew Metamorphosis can be called chi kung or nei gong. Calling some exercises as chi kung gives a connotation that they are modern and are practiced to maintain some general well-being. Calling them as nei gong gives a connotation that they are classical inheritance practiced for martial art purposes.
In this connection, most of our chi kung exercises are more aptly described as nei gong than as chi kung, especially when chi kung has today degraded into gentle physical exercise, or “ti cao” (pronounced as t’i c’ao) which is bodily exercise. But we still call them chi kung exercises because the term “chi kung” has been established.
We develop a lot of internal force in our chi kung or nei gong exercises. What are we to do with the internal force?
It is like asking what we are to do with money when we have earned a lot of money. Use it, force or money, wisely.
There are three main functions we can put internal force to use:
To maintain life.
To enhance life.
To enable us to have better results no matter what we do.
Maintaining life is the most important function of internal force. It is also the function that many people with internal force, including genuine masters, fail to realize. The force that changes the breakfast you ate into blood and flesh as well as vital energy is internal force.
The second function of internal force is to enhance life. It is similar to but not the same as the first function. Enhancing life can be manifested in many ways. Having zest in your work and joy in spending time with your family are some of the manifestations of enhancing life.
The third function is to enable those with internal force to have better results than when they did not have internal force, in whatever they do, including martial arts, intellectual work, sports and playing games. Take a few seconds to reflect on this tremendous benefit. No matter what you do, because you have internal force you will do better than when you did not have internal force!
If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at email@example.com stating your name, country and e-mail address.
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.
Sifu, chi flow is a hallmark of our school. Can you tell us who you learned chi flow from? Was it from Uncle Righteousness or Sigung Ho Fatt Nam?
Sifu Mark Appleford, Chief Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam UK
Yes, you are right. Chi flow is the hallmark of our school. In fact, Tim (Sifu Tim Franklin of UK) mentioned that 500 years from now when people pointed to our school, the most prominent feature they noticed would be chi flow.
Chi flow has enabled us to help many people overcome so-called incurable diseases. For those who train internal force (which is practically everyone in our school), it frees them the concern of deviated training. Hence, we have the luxury of “Don’t Worry” being the first golden rule of our practice.
It speeds up our progress unbelievably. Even for me, when I took one or two years to experience internal force in a particular force-training exercise, our students now can experience internal force in the same exercise in a matter of days! It is just unbelievable but true.
I did not learn chi flow from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam or Uncle Righteousness. Uncle Righteousness did not talk about chi flow. Although there was some gentle chi flow in Sifu Ho Fatt Nam’s school, he did not encourage vigorous chi flow.
Chi flow developed in the long process of my own training and teaching. I heard of and read about chi and its importance in internal force development. There is a kungfu saying as follows: “The essence of internal force is chi”.
My first experience of chi flow was when practicing One-Finger Shooting Zen learnt from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam. But I did not know it was chi flow then, neither did my sifu tell me so. Like any good student in a traditional kungfu context, I just practiced what my sifu asked me to, without understanding its underlying philosophy.
Yet, I was different from other traditional good students. I read a lot of kungfu classics, and had frequent discussion with my sifu on kungfu philosophy. I read about a kind of chi kung developed by the great Chinese physician, Hua Tou, called Five-Animal Play where practitioners moved about in what we would now call self-manifested chi movement.
Years later when I set up Shaolin Wahanm Association and Shaolin Wahnam Chi Kung Clinic in Sungai Petani , I was quite well-known and respected. A kungfu and chi kung master from another city came to me for help, which I rendered him. (Later he betrayed me, and instigated some of my senior students against me.)
I learned that he taught Flying Crane Chi Kung which has self-manifested chi movement as its main approach. I was interested and he invited me to visit his classes. His students performed about 30 different exercises, then went into vigorous chi flow.
He also volunteered to induce self-manifested chi movement in me. He tried to transmit chi to me via my ming meng vital point (located at the back along the waist), but my chi flow was so powerful that he was repelled away.
Later I tried to induce self-manifested chi movement myself. I opened my bai-hui vital point (at the crown of the head) and massage my qi-hai vital point (at the abdominal dan tian), like what this master taught his students. And performed the 30 odd Frying Crane Chi Kung exercises in a chi kung state of mind.
Before I could complete about half of the intended exercises, I was already in a vigorous chi flow. The chi flow was so powerful that I went round and round my living room quite uncontrollably. It was my first time experiencing a very vigorous self-manifested chi movement and I did not know how to stop.
I had an idea. I threw myself on a sofa to stop the vigorous chi movement. I did stop going round and round, but it was a very unpleasant feeling. Now I know that if a practitioner has this problem when stopping suddenly, he just has to go into some gentle chi flow, then think of his dan tian to let his flowing chi settle down. But I did not know this technique then.
I researched the many chi kung classics that I had and learned a lot about self-manifested chi movement. I learned various techniques to induce a vigorous chi flow, like stimulating energy points, performing gentle movements faster and faster, and feeling like drifting peacefully in heaven.
When my students in my various Eighteen Lohan Hands classes (which lasted for 6 months at that time) started to experience some chi movement, I encouraged them to go on. But at that time, I was new to self-manifested chi movement, so I was very careful, following and monitoring each student at a time as he (or she) enjoyed his more than average chi flow, asking him to slow down when the movement became too vigorous. Now I know that self-manifested chi movement is very safe, and I can go for a drink, leaving students to run and jump like monkeys and kangaroos on their own, provided, of course, the practice place is safe.
I explained the philosophy of self-manifested chi movement, which I learned from chi kung classics, to my classes. I explained, for example, that chi from different internal organs manifested in characteristic ways, which are symbolized by the bird which relates to the heart, the deer which relates to the liver, the monkey which relates to the spleen, and the bear which relates to the kidneys.
I noticed that students who recovered from serious illness, like asthma, diabetes, cancer, cardio-vascular disorders and kidney stones, usually had sessions of vigorous self-manifested chi movement prior to their recovery. Looking back with hindsight, this laid the seed of my conclusion now that it is chi flow, not the chi kung exercises themselves, that brings benefits of good health, vitality and longevity.
I reckoned that as self-manifested chi movement was so useful, I could devise appropriate exercises to induce it, instead of letting it develop gradually from Eighteen Lohan Hands. So I composed two sets of chi kung exercises specially to induce self-manifested chi movement.
The first set consisted of Push Mountain Lift Sky, Double Dragons and Fish Flip. This was meant to induce a vigorous forward-backward flow. The second set consisted of Dancing Fairy, Bear Walk and Swinging Hips. This was meant to induce a sideway or a circular flow.
These two sets of self-manifested chi movement exercises were very effective. By then I had reduced the Eighteen Lohan Hands course from six months to three months. These two sets of exercises could enable students to have a vigorous chi flow in a few days instead of a few months. Those of you who learned from me in my early years of world-wide travels, like in Spain, Portugal and Germany, would have learnt these self-manifested chi movement exercises.
Chi flow has helped us tremendously in internal force development. I remember the first time I taught Lifting Water to a student in Australia, Ken, who was a Tai Chi instructor. After lifting our hands about a dozen times, we felt tremendous force in our hands. On hindsight, it was due to chi flow.
Lately I was investigating why our students could develop internal force in a matter of days when masters in the past, including myself, took years. A main reason was that we differentiated between skills and techniques. And the principal skill was our ability to generate chi flow.
I had a historic confirmation when teaching Iron Wire in Barcelona last year (2011). First I taught them the force-method, which is the orthodox method for Iron Wire. Then I taught them the flow-method. I asked the students to compare the two methods and tell me from their direct experience which method was more powerful. I was actually quite surprised when all of them told me the flow-method.
Having found that the flow-method produces better result, when I taught Iron Wire in Killarney in 2011, I mainly used the flow-method though I also introduced the force-method in passing. What was most outstanding about the Ireland Iron Wire Course was mental clarity, besides tremendous internal force. I have no doubt that the flow-method contributed much to the attainment of mental clarity, but I have not found out the philosophical explanation yet.
I had another confirmation recently in Frankfurt (September 2012). After teaching the force-method the first two days to develop internal force in the Triple Stretch, which produced a lot of force, I taught the students the flow-method on the third day. I asked them to compare the two methods and tell me from their direct experience which method produced more force. This time I was not surprised that 10 of them told me the flow-method and 2 said they were not sure.