(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/ans15b/jul15-2.html)
Some training in Shaolin Kungfu provides an excellent foundation to learn any other martial art
Sifu told me that the best complementary force training for the Drunken Eight Immortals was Wuzuquan, after that Tai Chi Chuan and then One Finger Shooting Zen.
I was reading about Grandmaster Yang Lu Chan and I read he attained high levels by “stealing” Tai Chi Chuan and practising by himself. As I had some experience of Tai Chi Chuan in chi flow, I wanted to emulate Yang Lu Chan and become good at the style and complement my Drunken Eight Immortals with it. I decided to learn Flowing Water Floating Clouds from the videos.
I have been training Tai Chi Chuan now for about a month. The results are (for my level) quite amazing.
— Tim, Belgium
Yang Lu Chan could attain very high levels in Tai Chi Chuan even when he “stole” it and trained on his own without the personal supervision of a master because he was already well trained in Shaolin Kungfu. And Shaolin Kungfu was the best preparation to learn or “steal” any other arts because all other arts were also found in Shaolin Kungfu. Had Yang Lu Chan been trained in other arts, like Eagle Claw or Fujian White Crane, his attainment could be different.
Not many people know these two facts — that Yang Lu Chan was already well trained in Shaolin Kungfu before he worked as a servant in Chen Zhang Qing’s family, and that Shaolin Kungfu prepared well for him, or any person, to learn any other art. Many people thought that Yang Lu Chan started straight away with Tai Chi Chuan. Many people did not know that all that was found in Tai Chi Chuan was already found in Shaolin Kungfu.
You have the same two advantages Yang Lu Chan had. In fact you have an extra advantage. You can ask your seniors or me whenever you have any problems concerning your Tai Chi Chuan training. Yang Lu Chan had no one to ask. No one knew about him secretly practicing Tai Chi Chuan, and to a very high leve, until he defeated a challenger who came to challenge his master.
So, you should do well in your Tai Chi Chuan.
I guide myself through Tai Chi Chuan practise. This time it is not with the usual Chinese dialect, it’s a form of Japanese. It is a strong deep voice, not at all what one would expect from a soft Tai Chi Chuan master, but a deep fierce voice is guiding my forms and speaking through me.
This is either my own sub-consciousness or a master comes teach and merge with myself. Or I am tapping into the cosmos.
Tai Chi dancers are soft, but genuine Tai Chi Chuan masters are not soft, though they can be gentle.
But what is important is that you must be in control of yourself, not directed by a spirit, even when it is divine and has good intentions. This is very important.
It may not be a spirit but you own sub-consciousness. But for this purpose of regaining conscious control for yourself, you need not worry or intellectualize whether it is a spirit or your sub-consciousness, or something else. So, in the following description, I shall refer to a spirit. You follow the same procedure if it is actually your sub-consciousness or something else.
You should do the following for some time until you regain control. Suppose the spirit asks you to move forward with a powerful strike. Even if this is what you yourself intend to do, don’t do it. Gently thank the spirit but do something else, like moving to your left, without breaking the momentum of your chi flow, and execute a kick instead.
Repeat the procedure for some time until you are fully confident that you have complete conscious control of your own movements and intentions.
We must always be in full conscious control no matter what we are training in
I experienced this a lot of times before as I mentioned in previous emails, but this time I really become one with it. I believe I’m growing up in our arts and at my level now I can let it happen at will, going deep and just going with the flow guiding myself in our arts.
Becoming one with the Cosmos is growing in our arts. When you become one with the Cosmos, you are becoming yourself at the most supreme level where there is no differentiation at all.
Becoming one with another spirit is not growing in our arts. It is a serious deviation.
I may or may not be right in my presumption that you may become one with another spirit. But either way, i.e. irrespective of whether the force directing you is another spirit or is your own sub-consciousness, following my advice is for your benefit.
If it is a spirit, even a good one, you should not be directed by it and become its slave. You may listen to its advice if it is good, but you have a free choice to accept the advice or reject it.
If it is your sub-consciousness, you also should not be blindly directed by it. You should have your conscious control, based on wisdom and courage.
It is a big mistake if you think that you would lose a great opportunity if you do not follow a powerful spirit. Even without any guidance from any spirit, you can be very powerful by just practicing our arts.
In fact, you already have become powerful. Compare, for example, what you are now with what you were when you first attended a UK Summer Camp. You were such a weakling then that when you were chosen for demonstration, Robin was genuinely concerned that I could pull off your arm.
Why do we train internal force or gain benefits from our practice? It is not for their own sake but to enrich our lives and the lives of other people. We must not forget this, otherwise we may become a slave to our arts instead of becoming masters.
I’ve learned the Cloud Hands set in chi flow: I perform palm strike sequences, and snake hands, with cloud hands in between. Sometimes I spread a strong flowing force to my palms or finger tips. I also do fa-jing.
Tai Chi Chuan has a lot of snake influence. Cloud Hands seems to be my own internal flow, merging with energy from around me.
I just want to check up with Sifu if what I’m doing is correct.
What you are doing is excellent.
Even some world-known Tai Chi masters may not be able to do what you have done. Many of them cannot perform Cloud Hands in chi flow, cannot spread a strong flowing force to their palms or fingers, and cannot merge themselves with the energy around them. All these are indications of high-level Tai Chi Chuan. Indeed, many Tai Chi masters today have no internal force and do not know any Tai Chi Chuan combat application.
These attainments should not make us proud, or belittle others, but they indicate that you have been training very well.
Chi flow movement, poetically described as “flowing water floating clouds” or “cloud hands” for short, was the source of Tai Chi Chuan
I wish to have strong stances in my chi flow. Sometimes, when it becomes too light, I refuse to let go into chi flow. I think I need to be grounded more, and have a solid foundation in my stance.
You should aim at yin-yang harmony. Not only you are solid, you are also agile.
When you, your stances or your chi flow have become light, instead of holding yourself up, you should let go and enjoy the agility generated.
Editorial Note: Tim’s questions will be continued at July 2015 Part 3 issue of the Question-Answer Series.
I learned the art from two of your direct students, Sifus Chris and Christina Didyk this year. I had purchased your book, “Chi Kung for Health and Vitality”, and found it to be a marvelous resource and well-written piece of literature.
— Aaron, USA
Chris and Christina are very good teachers. If you learn from them, you are in good hands. If you learn from Chris, you will address me as Sitaigung. If you learn from Christina, you will address me as Sigung.
In our school we carefully follow the tradition of correct address. Although those who are unfamiliar with chi kung culture and the importance of mind set in advance chi kung training may think we are fastidious, this is actually for the benefit of the students. You may experience the truth yourself later on as you progress in your training.
Thank you for your kind words about my book, “Chi Kung for Health and Vitality”. If you find any difference in training methods, follow the instructions given by your teachers, and not the book. Your teacher observe your personally and give instructions according to your progress. My book is written for those who do not have the advantage of learning personally from a competent teacher. Generally you will find the instructions from your teachers are simpler, yet produce better results.
Carrying the Moon
Sifu Christina taught me Lifting the Sky and demonstrated Pushing Mountains for me, but she also mentioned that if I have any desire to learn any of the other exercises from your book I should not be afraid to practice them.
I am currently performing Chi Kung to rid myself of general disease but also to remove my Crohn’s disease from my body. It is an illness that affects the colon area via an autoimmune response.
I read that performing Lifting the Sky, Pushing Mountain, and Carrying the Moon in sequence helps stimulate good chi flow to rid the body of illness, but I was wondering if you had any other advice as to what exercise or exercises would be better for targeting that particular area of the body.
If all other things were equal, performing Lifting the Sky, Pushing Mountain, and Carrying the Moon in this sequence produces the best chi flow to rid the body of any disease in general.
If all other things were equal, if a person has a disease at his colon, Plucking Stars will be the best exercise. Another excellent exercise is Merry-Go-Round.
But in real life other things are not equal. Suppose we have two persons, A and B, suffering from the same disease affecting their colon. A is relaxed and performs Lifting the Sky. B is tensed and performs Plucking Stars. A will have better result than B even when B has chosen a better exercise.
You have advantages many other people do not have. You learn personally from two excellent chi kung teachers. If they ask you to perform exercises other than Plucking Stars and Merry-Go-Round, it is because of some relevant reasons which you may not know.
My next question is more of a philosophical/scientific one. I understand that Shaolin Wanham Chi Kung in general provides the body with more energy by drawing it in from the cosmos or other outside sources. So performing chi kung is a way to feel less tired throughout the day if you perform it at the start of the day.
Sleep also does the same thing, and I can see many parallels between sleep and chi kung. Both relax the body to a great degree. Both activate certain areas of the brain that are not normally active. Both energize the body to their own degree, and both are responsible for the growth and healing of the physical body.
Now modern science has not been able to find any conclusive evidence as to why the physical body needs sleep other than we just need to sleep. Is it possible that sleep is a natural (although inferior) form of chi kung that we are inherently born with?
In other words, do our bodies naturally know how to perform chi kung even without us being conscious of the fact or am I way off in my thoughts and reasoning?
Yours is an example of unnecessary intellectualizing. Your teachers may have told you our three golden rules of practice, which are as follows:
Enjoy your practice.