I did not realize that Cosmic Shower was more advanced than Bone Marrow Cleansing.
— Sifu Angel Perez Oliveras, Puerto Rico
There are five levels in Bone Marrow Cleansing, so it takes two courses, Part 1 and Part 2, to complete the programme. These five levels range from basic to advanced levels. I can adjust the level I want to teach.
When I first taught Bone Marrow Cleansing, I taught its highest level, the level of cleansing nerves, which was higher than Cosmic Shower when the latter was initially taught. I have since lowered the level of cleansing nerves.
Meanwhile, the level of Cosmic Shower, which initially was just cosmic energy showering down the body, has been raised due to improvement of my teaching methodology. Now I teach Cosmic Shower for strengthening too, strengthening at all levels, i.e. the physical,. emotional, mental and spiritual. As a result, in general Cosmic Shower is now of a higher level than Bone Marrow Cleansing.
Nevertheless, this is relative because we can vary the level on which to operate the art we are practicing. In other words, not only I myself can vary the level of the exercise we practice, I also teach students how to do so. This is a master’s ability. Actually even many masters cannot do so. These masters practice the art at the level when they first learned it from their teachers. They may become more skillful at their level, but they do not go beyond the level of the exercise they learned it.
As an analogy, if a student learns and relearns his secondary school material, he may be very good at his secondary school material, far better than other secondary school students, but he won’t be able to deal with university material.
But our students are different. They are taught how to use their secondary school level at university level. They not only learn that Puerto Rico is part of the United States, which secondary school students learn, but also how this relationship can benefit both Peurto Rico and continental United States, material that university students would discuss.
In Cosmic Shower, which actually is university material in chi kung as not many chi kung practitioners have a chance to learn such a skill even when they may have practiced for many years, our students not only learn how to let cosmic energy flow through their body, but also how and why the cosmic flow can clear their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual blockage to enrich their daily lives in all aspects.
Is it alright for beginning students to take Bone Marrow Cleansing after Generating Energy Flow, and skip Cosmic Shower and Cosmic Breathing? Can they take all the chi kung courses offered if they want to?
Yes, students who are fresh beginners can take the Bone Marrow Cleansing course after taking the Generating Chi Flow course, and skip Cosmic Shower and Cosmic Breathing.
In fact they can take all the qigong courses as long as they have taken the Generating Energy Flow course. The Generating Energy Flow course is fundamental, which means not only basic but also very important.
It is basic because without generating an energy flow, one is not practicing chi kung even when he performs chi kung techniques. He performs the chi kung techniques as gentle physical exercise, and may not realize the fact. More than 80% of all chi kung practitioners in the world fall under this category.
Some people may be angry at this statement, and that is their business. But if those in this category take heed of the advice and do something about it, but not necessarily learning from us, they will start to get chi kung benefits which they have missed despite all those years of dedicated training.
Our chi kung programme where even fresh beginners can take all the chi kung courses offered is actually quite ridiculous — in a good sense. Students progress form a fresh beginners’ level to a masters’ level in just two days.
Even genuine masters, who are rare and have dedicated their lives to practicing chi kung for more than 20 years, may not have the skills of Bone Marrow Cleansing, Cosmic Shower or Cosmic Breathing. They are masters of the art they practice, which, honestly without being disrespectful to them, are relatively of a low level, consisting of repeating chi kung techniques many, many times to generate some energy flow.
Most other masters are, strictly speaking, not even genuine chi kung practitioners because they perform chi kung techniques not as energy exercise but as gentle physical exercise. They cannot generate an energy flow. But we still call them “masters” out of respect.
Isn’t it ridiculous that fresh beginners at our chi kung courses can learn not only techniques but more importantly skills that even masters may not learn? But our students do not become masters in two days. They still need time to practice their techniques and skills to master them.
But our students do not need 20 years to become masters, they need only 2 years. Why do our students need only one-tenth the time? It is because we understand the underlying philosophy and our training is systematic and progressive.
Generating Energy Flow is sufficient to fulfill the needs of most people
What advice should I give the students?
Some good advice to tell beginning students is for them to focus on Generating Energy Flow, and to practice the more advanced exercises like Bone Marrow Cleansing, Cosmic Shower and Cosmic Breathing only occasionally to maintain the skills and techniques. They may practice these more advanced exercises later on when they have become more proficient in chi kung.
For people who want to overcome pain and illness and to maintain well-being, it is not necessary to learn the more advanced exercises. Generating Energy Flow is more than enough to fulfill the needs of most people.
But “not necessary” does not mean “not beneficial”. As an analogy, if one is prepared to walk, it is not necessary to own a bicycle, a car or take a flight on an aeroplane. If he is to see a friend on the next street, it would be easier to walk.
But he has to walk, if he remains in his house he would not see his friend. In the same way, if he wants to overcome pain and illness, he has to practice Generating Energy Flow. If he does not practice, he will not get well.
If he has to go to a faraway place, it would be faster and more comfortable to take a car or an aeroplane. The car and the plane are not necessary, though very beneficial. The Polynesian people, for example, reached the East Indies before cars and planes were invented, though their journey took much longer time and was less comfortable, besides being more risky.
So, although the more advanced chi kung courses are not necessary, they are very beneficial. Indeed, it would be unwise if beginning students do not make full use of this opportunity to learn these courses, as the present plan is that I visit Puerto Rico only once in two years to teach the techniques and transmit the skills of these courses. This will be good advice to them, i.e. don’t miss the opportunity when it is available.
In the pattern, “Immortal Emerges from Cave”, which part of the hand should make contact with an opponent’s arm?
I normally use the outer edge of the palm and sometimes the base of the palm.
— Sifu Leonard Lackinger, Austria
In “Immortal Emerges from Cave” the outer edge of the palm should make contact with an opponent’s elbow or forearm. This may result in dislocating the opponent’s elbow or fracturing his forearm. It is a strike, and not a block.
However, if you wish to be merciful, you can use the base of your palm to stop his attack, instead of dislocating his elbow or fracturing his forearm.
Editorial Note: Sifu Leonard Lackinger’s other questions are found at August 2015 Part 2 issue of the Question-Answer Series.
A well executed “Immortal Emerges from Cave” can dislocate an opponent’s elbow or break his arm in just one move
Would you regard this pattern as a direct counter or only as a floating defence movement?
This pattern can be used as a no-defence-direct-counter, or as a floating movement.
The reason why I ask is because it is one of the hardest of the basic patterns, causing much damage on the opponent’s arm if done with some force.
The harder an opponent attacks you, the easier it will be for you to dislocate his elbow or break his arm. If you do not want to hurt him, you can float his attacking movement.
Grandmaster Wong demonstrating “Fierce Tiger Cleanses Claws”
Thank you for providing the ranking of chi kung techniques in your great 10 Questions Series on the Five-Animal Play.
As the art of Bone Marrow Cleansing consists of 5 levels, I tried to put them into the list separately.
Self-Manifested Chi Movement
5 Animal Play
18 Lohan Hands
18 Shaolin Wahnam Chi Kung Techniques
Bone Marrow Cleansing – Skin Level
Grasping Sparrow’s Tail
18 Lohan Art
Bone Marrow Cleansing – Flesh Level
One Finger Shooting Zen
Bone Marrow Cleansing – Meridian Level
Bone Marrow Cleansing – Organ Level
Bone Marrow Cleansing – Bone Marrow Level
Phenomenal Big Universe
Cosmic Breathing (Transcendental Big Universe)
Merging with the Cosmos (Transcendental Big Universe)
Would you regard that list as correct?
The listing is subjective, and may vary according to some factors, like different practitioners, different times even for the same practitioner, state of mind, level of focus and relaxation, and developmental stage.
Generally your list is correct.
Provided they suit to this list, where would you put Iron Wire, Fierce Tiger Cleanses Claws and Forceful Big Windmill?
I would place Iron Wire after Golden Bridge, Fierce Tiger Cleanses Claws after Bone Marrow Cleansing Organ Level, and Forceful Big Windmill after Bone Marrow Cleansing Flesh Level.
I know that it’s mainly a mind play and that the true ranking depends on the skill and focus of the practitioner, but the list is a good guideline for selecting the program for current and future advanced chi kung classes.
You are right. The mind set, skill and focus of the practitioner are very important.
One main reason why we have remarkable result is because we operate at the mind level. This explains why past masters mentioned that the greatest kungfu was at the mind.
Operating at the mind level does not mean visualization, as some people wrongly imagine, though visualization is sometimes employed. In fact, one can obtain tremendous result by keeping the mind clear, i.e. without any visualization.
Operating at the mind level generally means how deeply a practitioner enters into a meditative state of mind while practicing his art.
Skill is of course very important too. It is another main reason why we can obtain remarkable result.
Most people, including many masters, think that by practicing the right technique they can get the desired result. In my earlier years, I thought in this way too.
But it is so clear that this is not so, though most people fail to realize it. But once we realize it, it can become quite shocking. More than 80% of chi kung practitioners do not derive chi kung benefits although the chi kung techniques they employ are correct. More than 90% of kungfu practitioners cannot use their kungfu for combat although their kungfu techniques are correct. The reason is that they do not have the required skills.
Focus is related to mind, though it is possible to be focused yet not in a meditative or chi kung state of mind. Of course, when one is in a chi kung state of mind, he is focused.
Being focused is not the same as being concentrated in a stressful manner. Due to the limitation of language, some people may have this misconception. That is why they wonder, wrongly, how one could be focused and relaxed at the same time.
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.
How You May Avoid a Heavy Object Crashing into You
After you have developed some reasonable skills in correct timing and correct spacing — two of the most fundamental skills in combat application — you can proceed to developing the skills for fast judgment, quick decision and instantaneous change. This combat sequence, White Snake Shoots Venom, is effective for developing these three skills.
In the previous combat sequence, “Black Tiger Steals Heart”, you are used to defending against the opponent’s middle strike. Suddenly he changes his attack to a top strike. You have to judge correctly, make a quick decision and apply the appropriate defence.
In this sequence, the attack is purposely reduced to only two choices, a middle hand strike or a top hand strike. If there are too many choices, as in free sparring, it would be difficult for the defender to judge, thus defeating the purpose of developing the skill of judgment.
Before this, there is no need to make any judgment because there is only one pre-arranged mode of attack. Now only one of many controlled factors is released, marking the first step in judging and decision making — to judge whether the attack is aimed at the top or at the middle and to decide what response to make. Only very gradually, the control is released. If too many controlled factors are released suddenly, the training would become brawling, not developing skills.
The two skills of judging and decision are closely related. At this stage the decision is premeditated, i.e. it has already been made for you (basing on the rich experience of centuries of past Shaolin masters) so that you can focus on right judgment and right response. In other words, if you judge the attack aims at your top, you respond straightaway with “Golden Dragon”, if it aims at your middle, you respond straightaway with “Single Tiger”.
Later, when you are more skilful and have a greater range of techniques, you may insert decision making before your response. For example, when you have judged that the attack is aiming at your top, you may decide which of a number of alternatives you will respond, depending on what advantages or situations you wish to create.
Suppose your opponent makes a top attack but you misjudge it to be a middle attack. So you respond with “Single Tiger Steals Heart” instead of “Golden Dragon Plays with Water”. It is a mistake, and in a real fight the opponent’s attack may have pierced into your throat or eye. But, of course, in training your partner would stop a few inches before target.
Untrained persons would just freeze, not knowing what to do. But you don’t. You just tilt your body slightly forward to your side, and simultaneously change your tiger-claw into a dragon-form and “thread” it upward, deflecting the attack. Your partner would have stopped his attack momentarily for you to implement the belated move.
Initially you would be hesitant. There would be a gap of a few seconds between realizing your wrong judgment and making the appropriate changes. But gradually you would reduce the gap until eventually the change would be instantaneous. You would have developed the skill of instantaneous change.
These skills are, of course, very useful in our everyday life. In the business world, for example, there is a saying that a bad decision is better than no decision. So, if your host asks whether you prefer chicken curry or beef steak, don’t say you don’t know. Make a decision.
Shaolin students are trained not just to make decisions fast but also correctly. But if we make a wrong decision, we do not just remain frozen, and blame others or ourselves; we make correction immediately.
Suppose a heavy object is crashing onto a person. Often, taken by surprise he remains motionless. But you would have jumped aside elegantly. What makes the difference? You have undergone systematic training but he hasn’t.
In the first combat sequence in our combat training programme, “Black tiger Steals Heart”, you developed two fundamental combat skills, namely right timing and right spacing. These two are fundamental skills, meaning very important skills that form the foundation of future development.
The third fundamental skill is appropriate force, which is developed in our force training programme like “Golden Bridge” and “One-Finger Shooting Zen”, and which we apply in our combat sequences. It is important that the force must be flowing, and not mechanical or staccato.
Without these three fundamental skills, a person cannot be combat efficient, even if he knows a lot of techniques. This is a common fault with many kungfu students — they think mistakenly that they can be more combat efficient by learning more techniques.
Skills have to be developed methodically, not merely learnt from a book or even from a master. A master provides you the method, and shows you how to do it, but you have to practice and practice to so that the skills become second-nature to you.
Free sparring is not a method to develop skills; it is a method to test whether you have developed the necessary skills to apply appropriate techniques in combat. This is a common fault with most martial art students today — they mistakenly think they can be combat efficient by practicing free sparring.
In this combat sequence, “Precious Duck Swims through Lotus”, you consolidate and improve upon the combat skills you have learnt, namely right timing, right spacing, right judgment and instantaneous change. We also have increased the choice of attack and defence from two to three alternatives.
In the first combat sequence, there is only one choice, which is actually no choice. The initiator attacks with “Black Tiger Steals Heart” and the responder defends with “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave”. Both the initiator and the responder know what the movements will be. The movements are pre-arranged so that being free from worrying what to move next, they can better focus on developing the skills of right timing, right spacing and appropriate force.
In the second combat sequence, the initiator has two choices — he can attack with “Black Tiger Steals Heart” or “White Snake Shoots Venom” — and the responder has to react accordingly. In this third combat sequence, the choice is increased to three, with the addition of “Precious Duck Swims through Lotus”. If the responder makes a wrong judgment, his instantaneous change is more difficult. In the previous two combat sequences, if he judges wrongly, he can still defend against the coming attack — his “Golden Dragon” can still defend against the ”Black Tiger”, and his ”Single Tiger” can still defend against the “White Snake”. But here he has to change his “Golden Dragon” or “Single Tiger” into a “Hand Sweep”.
Two new skills are introduced in this sequence. One is adjusting footwork. This skill is a development of right spacing. After defending your partner’s “White Snake” with your “Golden Dragon”, you have to bring back your front left leg a small step before moving forward a big step with your right leg for your counter-attack with “Precious Duck Swims through Lotus”. If you do not adjust your footwork, you would give your opponent a free advantage, i.e. an advantage he gains without having to do anything. You would have made it easy for him to strike you or fell you to the ground.
The second skill is covering yourself in your attack. You can do this by “taming” his front left hand, i.e. pushing it aside or “floating” it upward, with your left palm maintaining contact with his left arm, while you strike his side ribs with your right punch. Covering yourself is extremely important in any attack. This is what many other martial artists never do, exposing themselves to serious counter-strikes.
In the previous two combat sequences, the counter-attack mode is “first defend then counter”. Here the mode is “no defend direct counter”. As an opponent attacks you with “Precious Duck”, you need not block or ward off the attack first, then counter-attack. While moving your front left leg backward into a left false-leg stance, you directly strike his attacking arm with your hand-sweep.
“No defend” is a misnomer. It is not ignoring your own safety and go all out to attack, which would be foolish. Here, the defence is already incorporated in your counter-attack. As you move into your false leg stance for your counter-attack, you already have moved your body away from his attack.