Category Archives: Shaolin Wahnam Insight

IS CHI KUNG AGAINST OTHER RELIGIONS?

(reproduced from http://www.shaolin.org/discussion-2/chikung-religion.html)

Qigong Hidayah

Qigong Hidayah. Pictiure reproduced from http://www.alhidayah-medic.com/qigong-hidayah.html


Dr Damian Kissey

Senior Disciple of Grandmaster Wong
Shaolin Wahnam Sabah

1st October 2011

Chi Kung and Religion

Greetings to Tuan Zakaria Zain,

Is Chi Kung (or Qigong) allowed in Islam? Thank you for this good question.

Everything good is allowed in any religion, including Islam as long as it does not contradict the Quran .

The Islamic National Fatwa Council of Malaysia (Majlis Fatwa Kebangsaan) has never ruled that chi kung is not allowed in Islam .

The Founding President of Guolin Qigong Association of Malaysia is a senior Malay Muslim medical specialist, Dr. Amir Farid Isahak (MBBS -Australia, MMED, Singapore, MRCOG, UK)
http://www.superqigong.com/aboutus.htm

An Islamic Medical Centre (Pusat Rawatan Islam Al-Hidayah Selangor) near Kuala Lumpur is licensed by the Malaysian Government, and their treatment includes chi kung (Qigong Hidayah)
http://www.alhidayah-medic.com/qigong-hidayah.html

The Islamic Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) pronounced: “Seek knowledge even as far as China”. Muslims take great pride in citing the above hadith as it points to the importance of seeking knowledge, even if it meant travelling as far away as China, especially as at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), China was considered the most developed civilization of the period. “Tuntutlah ilmu sampai ke negeri China, karena sesungguhnya menuntut ilmu sangatlah wajib atas setiap orang muslim”.

The Founder of Waitankung (a famous form of chi kung was a Chinese Muslim Chi Kung and Kungfu Grandmaster Tuan Haji Ali Chang Chih-Tung .

The world famous Admiral Zheng Muhammad He (Laksamana Cheng Ho aka Haji Muhd Shamsuddin) was a chi kung-kungfu master during the Ming Dynasty who visited the Malacca Sultanate in present Malaysia .

See how cheerful, healthy and strong are these gentlemen Chinese Muslim Hajis who are chikung-kungfu masters
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GZjClgxnaU&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=pzfeozkD0FI .

Seeking chi kung knowledge to get good health is a good thing. Our Shaolin chi kung originate from China. Our professional school teaches Chi Kung and Kung Fu as a holistic program to achieve good physical, emotional and mental health to all good students regardless of race or religion. We have students from almost all continents in the world, from various racial and religious background, including good Arab Muslims from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates .

I am sorry to hear of your ill health but you can regain good health by putting in good effort in a good program, for example by practising chi kung. In our chi kung practise, we are against and not interested to communicate with evil spirits or jin and we do not recite any mantra. Actually it is God who help us to help ourselves to get rid of illness and regain good health. Logically, evil spirits bring evil health — that is why we are not interested in them .

Learning chi kung, like learning computer science or learning car driving, is good for practitioners of any religion but a good student should learn from a good teacher teaching a good art. If a student does not follow instructions or if s teacher is not qualified or if the art is corrupted, then the student will get bad result, for example the student does not know how to send emails after 1 year learning computer or does not know how to reverse a car after 1 year driving lesson or gets anxiety after learning chi kung wrongly. Actually learning chi kung is safer then driving a car. In our school we have very good teachers, very good chi kung programs and good deserving students ….. so we get good results .

Our students are obliged to respect the laws of the country and to practise high moral values (which are taught by all religions). Having achieved good health through chi kung, we become a better persons, better children to our parents, ourselves become better parents, become better citizens of a country and become better Muslims/religious persons. Connecting with the Cosmos, at a lower level, means we breath chi/air in and out of our body in continuous harmonious exchange with the atmosphere/cosmos. At a higher level, connecting with God means creating human beings with reduced imperfections. Through chi kung practise one can connect better with the Creator who is 100% perfect. So the power implied is non other than your natural birth right given to you by God ….. only that you have to put in good thoughts, good words and good actions to regain it .

I believe you are a good and sincere man. Pray to God for guidance. If you still feel uncomfortable with chi kung, it is OK. i am certain that God will lead you in the necessary direction. I wish you all the best in your life’s journey.

Sincerely,
Damian
__________________
Damian Kissey
Shaolin Wahnam Sabah, Malaysia
www.shaolinwahnamsabah.com

Muslim girls practicing wushu

A group of Muslim girls practicing wushu. Picture reproduced from http://www.zawaj.com/askbilqis/can-i-keep-my-name/

The above discussion is reproduced from the thread Is Chi Kung Not Against Other Religion? Give Some Clarification in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.

IT IS HARD TO FIND REAL KUNGFU NOWADAYS

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

Shaolin Kungfu

Sifu Andrew Barnett and his son, Bjoem, demonstrating Shaolin Kungfu in combat application

Question

I have participated in a few of the local schools and can not find one to my liking. I have received a black belt in Kung fu and at this time I do not feel like I deserve it due to my lack of practice and not improving myself in my skills. Can you please send me any information that you may have?

— Joe, USA

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

At all times in all places real kungfu masters are rare. In China in the past there were many kungfu masters but very few of them would accept students. Today many people teach kungfu, or what they call kungfu, but finding a genuine master is more difficult than finding a gem in a hay stack. Refer to Qualities of a Good Master for details.

What is taught all over the world today, including in China, is either a modernized form for demonstration or a debased traditional form that uses karate, taekwondo or kickboxing techniques for combat. In my opinion neither is genuine kungfu.

This does not necessarily mean that these demonstrative or debased forms are not without their benefits. They are magnificient to watch and is an excellent way to keep the exponents agile and fit, but they are not the same as the kind of kungfu traditionally taught in the past.

In my opinion, the bottom line to decide whether one is trained in genuine kungfu is whether he (or she) can use the kungfu forms he has learnt for some decent self defence. If he can fight well but uses other martial art forms instead of kungfu forms, he does not qualify to have practised genuine kungfu.

The bottom line of my definition is that the kungfu he has learnt must be capable of being used for fighting, even if he loses the fight. The crucial point is that his kungfu forms are more than sufficient for his self defence; he needs not borrow or “steal” other martial art forms, and he should be able to defend himself in a typical kungfu manner. Bouncing about as in boxing and kicking high as in taekwondo, for example, are not typical manners in kungfu fighting.

Good kungfu goes beyond mere fighting. One characteristic feature of good kungfu is the training of internal force for good health as well as combat efficiency. If you ask what internal force is, it is unlikely you have any experience in its training. It is like someone who has not eaten an orange, asking what the taste of an orange is.

As far as I know, this internal force training is not found in most other martial arts. Western boxing and wrestling, for example, pay much attention to external strength and physical mass, and their exponents train in ways which typical kungfu masters would consider detrimental to health.

Some Eastern martial arts like aikido and karate mention about internal aspects like chi (or ki in Japanese), but their exponents do not spend as much time or go as deeply as typical kungfu exponents do in these internal aspects. A typical traditional kungfu exponent, for example, may actually spend more time practising Abdominal Breathing or Stance Standing (zhan zhuang) than practising patterns or sets — a practice that is not normally found in most other martial arts or modern demonstrative, debased kungfu forms.

The best kungfu, like Shaolin and Taijiquan, goes beyond the physical and leads to spiritual cultivation irrespective of race, culture and religion. The onus of spiritual cultivation is direct experience, not mere talking or book learning, and is practised according to the students’ developmental levels.

For those who have so far wasted their time in unwholesome activities, or those who feel empty and lost despite abundant material wealth, turning to a happy, rewarding life here and now is a remarkable spiritual achievement; at the other scale, the spiritually advanced aim for the highest attainment known variously as return to God, unity with the Cosmos, enlightenment or in Zen terms simply going home.

modern wushu

A magnificient demonstration of modern wushu, which is different from traditional kungfu

LINKS

Reproduced from Questions 1 in Selection of Questions and Answers March 1998

KARATE-LIKE KUNGFU

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

High Kicks

Using high kicks like this kick-boxer does is not encouraged in the type of Shaolin Kungfu practiced in our school. The picture above is reproduced from http://www.prokick.com/archive/news/2007/Sept/Pictures&Results.html

Question

The teacher has had a lot of karate experience and it seems a little karate-like in its nature. For instance in your book you say that kicks in kung fu rarely go above the waist. I have been taught kicks that go above the waist to the head.

— Iain, Scotland

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

In the last thirty years or so, there were many kungfu masters who could not use kungfu to fight, and therefore they incorporated karate into their kungfu sparring. Often they invented a new name for their kungfu styles which frequently ended in the word “do” (or “tao” in Chinese), taking inspiration from the “do” in karate-do and taekwondo.

Some of these masters were sincere in their effort. They lamented on the inability of kungfu for combat and they tried their best to do something about it. (Here I am using the words “kungfu” and “masters” in the way the public generally uses it.)

Such kungfu-do was (and still is) superior to kungfu dance, and many kungfu dance practitioners held kungfu-do practitioners in awe. In sparring, one who has practised kungfu dance for many years is no match at all against another who has practised kungfu-do for only a few months.

This is actually no surprise. If you only learn how to dance or demonstrate to audience, you will only be able to dance or demonstrate; you will never know how to spar no matter for how long you have danced. On the other hand, if you learn sparring you will be able to spar after a few months, even though you may not spar very well.

Kungfu-do inventors thought they had improved kungfu, but paradoxically they had further debased it. Because of their insufficient understanding, they used (from genuine kungfu perspective) third-class techniques, thinking they were first-class. Instead of attaining good health, their students often sustained internal injury routinely left unattended to.

And there was little or no internal force training or spiritual cultivation. I recall my master, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, often commented that kungfu-do was turning kungfu into “sei pat jeong”, a Chinese colloquial way of saying “turning a cow into a horse, or a horse into a cow”.

Often kungfu-do practitioners are better at sparring than karate practitioners, but they find it difficult to defend against taekwondo practitioners. The reason generally is that kungfu-do practitioners have more hand techniques than karate practitioners have, but they do not know how to counter against the various kicks of taekwondo. Some people even thought (mistakenly) that there were no kicks in kungfu.

Consequently kicks, especially high kicks, were incorporated into kungfu-do. In fact at one time the general opinion seemed to be that the higher one could kick, the better he was in combat. Jumping up to break with his toes a tile held some distance above his head, or spinning round and round to slap the face of an opponent countless times with the sole or instep of his foot, became popular in martial art demonstrations and movie entertainment.

This is an illuminating example showing the huge gap between public opinion and genuine knowledge. Any master who has used kungfu for real fighting will know that such above-head kicks and spinning kicks are both useless and risky. If a master demonstrates such kicks, it is meant to show his leg flexibility, and not meant for combat.

On the other hand there were also instructors who were basically trained in karate or taekwondo but learned some kungfu. They incorporated kungfu techniques into their karate or taekwondo teaching, and invented new names for their styles, or sometimes they call their art kungfu or kungfu-do. But even if they wear kungfu uniforms, practise with some kungfu weapons, and talk in kungfu terms, their arts are still basically karate or taekwondo.

Saolin Kicks

Shaolin kicks are generally low, as demonstrated here by Bjoern in a sparring practice with his father, Sifu Andrew Barnett

LINKS

Reproduced from Questions 8 in the December 1999 Part 1 issue of the Question-Answer Series.

SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS MAY 2015 PART 3 BY GRANDMASTER WONG KIEW KIT

(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/ans15a/may15-3.html)

combat efficiency

The goal of all martial arts is combat efficiency

Question 1

I understand that the goal of all martial arts is combat efficiency. If this is the case, and all martial arts have the same goal, and can all be made to work for fighting, how do I choose which one to do?

— James, USA

Answer

Yes, the goal of all martial art is combat efficiency. But you and many other people may be surprised at the fact that more than 80% of martial artists of any style today, including advanced practitioners like black-belts and masters, have no combat efficiency, though many of them are good at punching and kicking others and enduring punches and kicks from others!

If they were combat efficient they would not be so randomly punched and kicked. Indeed, to be punched and kicked in free sparring is so common today that some instructors sometimes ask their students how they could learn a martial art if they could not stand some punches and kicks. This is ridiculous. The very fact of learning any martial art is not to be punched and kicked at all! Yet, many people submit themselves to be routinely punched and kicked, while they punch and kick their friends, when learning what they think is a martial art as a hobby, which is meant to give them pleasure, not pain and injury.

Genuine martial arts where practitioners can defend themselves are rare today. Even amongst these rare martial arts, there are different ways of attack and defence. You may, for example, strike your opponent with your hand, or kick him, or throw him onto the floor, or hold him in a lock. Hence, different types of martial art developed, such as Karate, Taekwondo, Judo and Aikido.

There are also different ways of using the same kind of attack. In striking an opponent, for example, you may use a level fist as in Karate, or a phoenix-eye fist or a palm as in some styles of kungfu. When kicking an opponent, you may kick high at his face, not caring that you expose your groin, or cover his hands and kick at his groin with the in-step of your foot often without him knowing where the kick comes from as in Shaolin Kungfu. Hence, different types of martial art evolved.

On the other hand, there are also different ways to respond to the same attack. When an opponent kicks at your middle level, for example, you may block the kick with your hand and move in to strike him with your punch as in Karate. Or you may, without moving your feet, shift your body slightly backward to avoid the kick, and simultaneously grip his kicking leg and dislocate his ankle as in Taijiquan.

This difference leads to the development of different martial arts which serve different purposes in combat. A woman or a physically weaker person, for example, would be at a disadvantage if she blocks a kicking leg, but there is no disadvantage in the second response where she avoids the kicks and simultaneously grips the leg. The blocking response is also more risky.

The two different responses show a different development of skills. The first response is crude, whereas the second response is sophisticated. Herein is another reason why there are different martial arts. Initially fighting techniques were straightforward and crude, but over time they became refined and sophisticated.

While all martial arts are meant for effective fighting, this is not the only function of some martial arts. Depending on their functions, martial arts may be divided into three classes.

Third class martial arts are those that are meant only for fighting. Their training is sometimes detrimental to health. To avoid hurting the sensitivities of their practitioners, I would refrain form giving examples of these martial arts.

Second class martial arts are those that are meant for fighting as well as for improving health. I would leave you to figure out some examples.

First class martial arts are those that are meant for effective fighting, health promotion and spiritual cultivation. Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan are two outstanding examples.

Of course I refer to genuine Shaolin Kungfu and genuine Taijiquan, which are rare today. If you practice Shaolin or Taijiquan forms for demonstration, and do not know how to apply them for combat, you do not even practice a martial art, you practice “flowery fists and embroidery kicks”. If you practice Shaolin and Taijiquan forms but use kick-boxing or other martial systems for fighting, then yours is a third-class martial art.

Some practitioners of third class martial arts may say that their arts promote health and contribute to spiritual cultivation. This shows their blind loyalty or ignorance, or both. They are so blindly loyal to their arts that they claim benefits when these benefits are not present. They are ignorant that the more they train their art, the more unhealthy they become.

They are also ignorant of what spiritual cultivation means. It means cultivating their spirit. If they remain, or worse still become, stressful, angry, agitated, nervous or depressed, they have not cultivated their spirit.

The explanation here not only shows that all martial arts are not the same, but also provides you with a sound philosophical understand to make a good choice if you wish to practice a martial art. Without this explanation, it is likely that you may fail to practice a martial art though you think you do, because you can only punch and kick each other if you practice free sparring, but cannot defend yourself.

Question 2

I did not return for a second year to the Shaolin wushu academy in China. On the positive side, I did do a lot of exercise and trained diligently by myself in meditation. I learned many forms, including Da Luohan Chuan, Pao Chuan, Taizu Chang Chuan, Nine Palaces Ba Gua, Da Tong Bei Cuan, Qi Xing Chuan, Basic Five-Step Form, Little Idea Form (Wing Chun), Xiao Hong Quan, Da Hong Quan, a staff form and a broadsword form. I finished with half of a Tiger form, but was not taught the rest.

— Namir, USA

Editorial Note: Namir’s other questions are found at May 2015 Part 2 issue of the Question-Answer Series.

Answer

These forms you mentioned are famous Shaolin kungfu sets. When you have learned how to develop internal force and use kungfu forms for combat, these kungfu sets will be very useful.

These forms will not only help you to be combat efficient but, more importantly, to enhance your daily life.

To us, meditation is not just seated in a lotus position, but a training of mind or spirit. All our training is meditation, i.e. a training of mind.

Daluohanquan

Our Shaolin Wahnam version of Daluohanquan, or Big Lohan Fist

Question 3

Thank you for reading what I have to say and guiding me concerning your webpages. I truly needed to tell someone this because recently I emailed my old teacher, the headmaster of the school, and asked about these things, including the behavior of the students and the Kung Fu sparring, and I was given as usual an angry and defensive reply. This is due to his training I know now.

Answer

Congratulations for your sharp observation, which not many people may realize and benefit from. Yes, the way he replied to your e-mail was due to his training.

Not only his training lacked critical thinking and applying kungfu techniques for combat, his dogmatic and stressful training also conditioned the way he responded to daily situations. It will be interesting to compare the way he replied to questions to the way Shaolin Wahnam members replied to questions in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.

Question 4

Now I am a student without a teacher. I am lost! I cannot learn the Shaolin arts without a true teacher. You are the only Shaolin Kung Fu teacher that I am aware of that teaches Kung Fu sparring. Do you have some sort of school available whereby I may attend and train for a long period of time, that I may learn intricacies of Kung Fu sparring and gain Shaolin force and skills?

Answer

Thank you for you kind comments.

While we are proud (in a good way), we are also sad that we are the only school we know that teaches kungfu sparring systematically, considering that there are so many kungfu schools in the world and that kungfu is actually an effective martial art.

But what makes us the proudest is not that we teach kungfu sparring, but that we teach our students to apply their training to enrich their daily life, and we are very glad of the result we have.

We have instructors in many places. Please see our List of Certified Instructors.

Good Life

We practice our art to enrich our lives

Question 5

Right now I am training by myself. I train my fingers, and I learn new things by researching. I am even climbing trees everyday like a monkey – I call it Monkey Gong. And I train my vision diligently. I am training night-time vision – Owl Gong, if you will. I am also training uprooting a tree and many other exercises, including fitness exercises.

Answer

Monkey-gong and owl-gong are interesting, and uprooting a tree is impressive. But these are not our priorities in our training. Our priorities are to have good health, vitality, longevity, mental freshness and spiritual joys.

We walk our talk. We do not just mention the purpose of our training for other people but do not check results for ourselves. Recently I had dinner with 6 students who learned Shaolin Kungfu from me more than 30 years ago. I asked them whether they had ever been sick. None of them had!

Question 6

I am a good student, and I train hard. I would love to be your Kung Fu student and ultimately learn sparring methodically so that I may actually have true fighting skill.

Answer

Being a good student is very important in any art. It is simple, but not easy. Basically it is practicing the art according to what the teacher teaches, and not according to what the student thinks the art should be practiced, which is actually the case many people do although they may not realize it.

But before becoming a good student, you must ascertain that the art is worthy of your time and effort, and that your teacher is competent. If you practice a low-level art, no matter how good a student you are, and how competent your teacher is, your results are necessarily limited by the depth and scope of the art. A competent teacher is not only a living example of the art he teaches, but also live his daily life with high moral values.

Although we place much importance on combat efficiency, as we do not want to make a mockery of our practicing a martial art, it is not our top priority. We dedicate ourselves to practice our art diligently because it enriches our lifes and the lives of other people.

Taijiquan

Taijiquan is an internal martial art

Question 7

I hope you enjoyed Hawaii, as I saw on your website you must be in Hawaii. I thought I’d follow up on my previous email. I was thinking that perhaps you could guide me as to a training plan that is right for me. I would like to reimburse you for teaching me as well.

Editorial Note : These questions were asked during the time of the Hawaii courses in July 2014. But because of a long waiting list, they are released only now.

Answer

I enjoyed myself tremendously in Hawaii. The courses were also very rewarding. For example, in a Zen course, using techniques and skills I taught them, students could immediately give a short talk on any topic supplied on the spot by the class, often drawing interest and laughter from the audience.

A good plan is for you to learn the basic 16 Shaolin Combat Sequences from any certified Shaolin Wahnam instructor or from my website, and then attend my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course. I offer such courses only once or twice a year Please see my website for availability.

You need not pay me for such advice. It is great to share useful information with deserving people.

Question 8

I am willing to make it to Malaysia and study with you intensely, and especially study kung fu sparring. However it may not be for some months due to some circumstances that I will be able to go there (that is, if you have a place for me). In the mean time I would like your guidance.

Answer

Staying in Malaysia to learn from me in an extended period is not necessary. It is most cost-effective to attend my intensive courses.

Most people, understandably, may wonder what they can learn in a few days of an intensive course. The truth is that they can learn and benefit a lot, usually beyond what they can even imagine. These intensive courses are life-changing for many people. Some of them, by just practicing what they had learnt at the course, became masters themselves and brought life-changing benefits to their own students

Question 9

I recently purchased “The Complete Book of Shaolin” and have been doing exercises from it. My main problem is I lack a sparring partner.

Answer

Many people have kindly reported to me that “The Complete Book of Shaolin” is the best book they have read on Shaolin. They have benefited not just in sparring efficiency but in many aspects of their life.

You and many other people may be surprised that a sparring partner, while helpful, is not a necessary requirement for combat efficiency.

Look at those who spar frequently with sparring partners. Can they defend themselves? Be ready for a big surprise. No, they can’t, otherwise they would not be routinely kicked and punched, which, ironically, some may even take for granted!

You can train on your own without a sparring partner to become combat efficient using genuine Shaolin Kungfu techniques. In fact, training on your own, and not with a training partner, is a very important part of becoming combat efficient. It is the way how masters are made.

A good approach is to use the Shaolin 16 combat sequences. The webpage here shows 3 examples of how these 16 combat sequences are performed.

First you need to learn the basic stances, footwork and basic patterns. These are reviewed at the start of my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Courses, such as at the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in Sabah shown here.

Then you practice the Shaolin 16 basic sequences. You can learn all the required techniques from my webpages. However you need to develop the necessary skills, which you have to acquire at an Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course. This is the main reason why many people do not have the desired result even when they know the techniques in kungfu, chi kung or any art.

Many chi kung students, for example, know and can perform chi kung techniques very well but they are still weak and unhealthy. This is because they do not have the skills to perform the techniques as an energy art, which is chi kung.

An analogy is useful. Many people all over the world can perform Taijiquan techniques beautifully, but they do not know how to use the same techniques as an internal martial art, which is Taijiquan. Similarly many people, like those students and instructors you have mentioned, can perform Shaolin techniques artistically, but they do not know how to apply these techniques in sparring or to enhance their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health, which is the purpose of practicing a high-level martial art like Shaolin Kungfu.

The main difference here is in techniques and skills. Many people learn techniques, but they do not acquire skills. You may learn techniques from books and videos or even from an e-mail, but unless you are already skilful, you need to learn skills from a competent teacher.

THE MEANING AND PURPOSE OF SHAOLIN KUNGFU

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

Shaolin Kungfu

While combat efficiency is important, Shaolin Kungfu is not just a fighting art but a complete programme of personal development

Question

What does Shaolin Kungfu represent? What is the purpose of learning this style?

— Juan, Mexico

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

Shaolin Kungfu is the style of martial art first developed at the Shaolin Monastery in China, and is now practised by many people in various parts of the world irrespective of race, culture and religion.

Many kungfu styles branched out from Shaolin Kungfu, and some examples include Eagle Claw Kungfu, Praying Mantis Kungfu, Hoong Ka Kungfu, Choy-Li-Fatt Kungfu and Wing Choon Kungfu.

In my opinion, shared by many other people, Shaolin Kungfu represents the pinnacle of martial art development. Indeed, as early as the Tang Dynasty in China more than a thousand years ago, the saying “Shaolin Kungfu is the foremost martial art beneath heaven” was already popular.

The main purpose of learning Shaolin Kungfu is to have a complete programme of personal development from the most basic to the most advanced levels. At the physical level, Shaolin Kungfu provides health, fitness, agility and vitality, besides the ability to defend ourselves. At the emotional level, Shaolin Kungfu gives us joy and tranquillity.

Shaolin Kungfu trains us to be mentally focused, and enables us to expand our mind. At its highest level, Shaolin Kungfu leads to spiritual fulfillment, irrespective of religion. Obviously, Shaolin Kungfu is not just a fighting art.

It is also significant to note that an important aspect of the Shaolin teaching is direct experience, which in this case means that a Shaolin disciple does not merely talk about good health and mind expansion, or just read up on spirituality, but actually experience these benefits. If he does not experience, according to his developmental stage, the appropriate results Shaolin Kungfu is purported to give, he should seriously review his training.

direct experience

An important aspect of Shaolin teaching is direct experience. Shaolin practitioners do not merely talk about spiritual cultivation but actually experience it.

LINKS

Reproduced from Questions 2 in the first of the Question-Answer Series September-October 1997

MARTIAL DUTIES AND KUNGFU TRAINING

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

Shaolin Kungfu

Practicing genuine kungfu is an excellent way to enhance vitality, including sexual vitality

Question

I am getting married in a few months time. I am also practising Taijiquan. I’m concerned about my ‘marital duties’ being affected by not wanting to lose jing.

Wan, Singapore

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

Your concern is unnecessary and built upon wrong concepts. For you and your needs, as for most normal people, it is not only unharmful to lose “jing” or semen in the course of carrying out your marital duties, which fortunately are pleasurable to carry out, it is actually natural, beneficial and the right thing to do. As a husband it is your duty to love and care for your wife, which includes providing semen to fertilize her ovum so that she can fulfill her role as a mother. All great teachings, including Taoism, advocate this.

In the provision of semen you should do so in a most loving and joyful way, caring for her well being, and not selfishly worrying whether you would lose energy. If you have the urge and ability to make love, Mother Nature has ensured you have sufficient energy for this purpose. Indeed, the reverse can be harmful. Withholding ejaculation when Nature wants you to release, is unnatural.

There is also nothing in Taijiquan that advocates withholding ejaculation. Throughout history Taijiquan and other kungfu masters have had many children — fathered by the masters themselves. There has been no mentioned at all that fathering a child, evidence of ejaculation, would make a martial artist less healthy or less efficient.

Tai Chi Chuan

Throughout history Taijiquan and other kungfu masters have had many children — fathered by the masters themselves

LINKS

Reproduced from Questions 2 in the September 2001 Part 1 issue of the Question-Answer Series.

CLEARING THE CONFUSSION OVER KUNGFU, WUSHU AND SELF-DEFENCE

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

Modern Wushu

A modern wushu pattern demonstrated by a wushu champion. The picture is reproduced from http://martialarts.com.my/community/modules/news/article.php?storyid=1834

Question

I live in a small city where there are not any very good instructors who teach martial arts. In my kungfu school, which is the only one that teaches wushu in my city, we never really spar. We do mostly forms and drills. Do you think this is the proper way to learn kungfu and learn how to defend myself?

Jeff, Canada

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

There has been quite a lot of confusion between kungfu and wushu, and the main reasons are as follows. In the Chinese language, the current technical term for martial art is “wushu”, although many Chinese, especially overseas Chinese, colloquially call it “kungfu”, which is also the term commonly used in the West.

Secondly, since the 1970s, the Chinese government has promoted wushu as a sport and not a martial art. Today there are many wushu teachers, Chinese as well as non-Chinese, teaching this sport all over the world.

Thirdly, some kungfu schools which have existed outside China before modern wushu was invented in China, now also teach modern wushu besides traditional kungfu. The standard of traditional kungfu in these schools is generally low, usually without training in internal force or sparring. In essence, in these schools there is not much difference between “kungfu” and “wushu”. The difference is in appearance, and is easily noticeable. By “kungfu” they usually mean traditional kungfu forms, by “wushu” they mean modern forms invented since 1970s.

Apart from these three points, there is another aspect which is more subtle or subjective, and can be quite sensitive. To me, kungfu is a martial art. So, if someone practices traditional kungfu forms, as distinct from modern wushu forms, but does not know how to use his art for combat, I would not call it kungfu. This is a minority opinion. The majority still call it “kungfu” even if it is devoid of any martial application.

Sometimes I use the term “genuine kungfu” or “real kungfu” to differentiate kungfu that is capable of combat application from “kungfu” that is devoid of combat application. I also use terms like “external kungfu forms” or “kungfu gymnastics” to refer to the latter. These terms are not ideal and sometimes cause resentment but I could not think of better terms.

Modern Wushu

A traditional kungfu pattern demonstrated by a kungfu master. The picture is reproduced from http://www.ycwong-italy.com/forms.htm

This background information explained above, can help to overcome much confusion and help to solve many arguments over kungfu and wushu. For example, one person may argue that all kungfu is wushu, and another person may vehemently oppose. Both persons are right from their own different pers;pectives. The first person argues from the perspective that the Chinese word for kungfu is “wushu”, whereas the second person argues from the perspective that kungfu is a martial art but wushu is a sport.

Reversely, one person may argue that what he practices is kungfu, whereas another may argue that it is wushu. The first person argues from the perspective that his forms are traditional, whereas the second argues that although the forms are different in appearance from modern wushu forms, they are practiced not as a martial art but as a sport and therefore in essence is modern wushu.

Today many schools only practice forms and drills, and never spar — irrespective of whether they teach only traditional kungfu forms, or only modern wushu forms, or both traditional kungfu and modern wushu forms together. This is the norm.

Those schools that teach only traditional kungfu forms, as well as those that teach both traditional kungfu and modern wusshu forms are usually called kungfu schools, whereas those that teach modern wushu forms are usually called wushu schools — if we refer to them in English.

If we refer to them in Chinese, all of them are usually called “wushu” schools, including those that practice traditional kungfu forms, and even if they use genuine kungfu for sparring. This is the de-facto situation, and sometimes causes confusion. My school, for example, is “Shaolin Wahnam Kungfu Institute” in English, but “Shao Lin Hua Nan Wu Shu Guan” (Cantonese: “Siu Lam Wah Nam Mo Shert Kwoon”) in Chinese.

If you mostly practice forms and drills, no matter how long you may practice them and how beautiful your solo performance may be, and irrespective of whether they are traditional kungfu forms and drills or modern wushu forms and drills, you will not be able to defend yourself if you have never learnt sparring methodically. Although this is the norm, in my opinion it is certainly not the correct way to learn kungfu (as a martial art) and learn how to defend yourself.

Anyone, master or novice, who has never learnt to spar, will be unable to spar or fight effectively. This is only logical. This is as logical as anyone who has never learnt how to speak Spanish (although he may know the meanings of written Spanish words) will be unable to speak Spanish, or anyone who has never learnt how to drive a car (although he may have read many driving manuals) will be unable to drive a car.

Shaolin Kungfu in combat

Irrespetive of whether you practice traditional kungfu or modern wushu, unless you also learn combat application systematically, you would not be able to use it to fight

LINKS

Reproduced from Questions 11 in the January 2003 Part 1 issue of the Question-Answer Series.

QUALITIES OF A GOOD MASTER

(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/general/qualities.html)

Sifu Lai Chin Wah demonstrating the Kwan Tou

A priceless photograph showing Sifu Lai Chin Wah demonstrating the Kwan Tou. Sifu Lai Chin Wah was Sifu Wong’s first kungfu teacher. Sifu Lai was better known in kungfu circles as Uncle Righteousness.

Having a good master is definitely a tremendous blessing in kungfu, taijiquan and chi kung training. As mediocre instructors are socommon nowadays – some even start to teach after having attended only a few week-end seminars – finding a great master is like finding a gem in a hay stack. Here are some guidelines to help you find one.

A living example

A good master must be a living example of what he teaches. A kungfu master must be able to defend himself, a taijiquan master must have some internal force, and a qigong master must exhibit radiant health, as these are the basic qualities these arts are meant to develop.

A master of kungfu, taijiquan or qigong does not enjoy the luxury of many coaches in modern sports like football and athletics who often cannot dribble a ball or run a race half as well as the students they teach. There are also some kungfu, taijiquan or qigong instructors today who cannot perform half as well as their average students, but they are certainly not masters, although as a form of courtesy they may be addressed as such by their students, or the general public.

Understanding Dimension and Depth

Besides being skillful, a good master should preferably be knowledgeable. He should have a sound understanding of the dimension and depth of the art he is teaching, and be able to answer basic questions his students may have concerning the what, why and how of their practice. Without this knowledge, a master will be limited in helping his students to derive the greatest potential benefits in their training.

However, especially in the East, some masters may be very skillful, but may not be knowledgeable. This is acceptable if we take the term “master” to mean someone who has attained a very high level in his art, but who may not be a teacher.

The reverse is unacceptable, i.e. someone who is very knowledgeable, but not skillful – a situation quite common in the West. A person may have read a lot about kungfu, taijiquan or qigong, and have written a few books on it, but has little kungfu, taijiquan or qigong skills. We may call him a scholar, but certainly not a master.

Sifu Ho Fatt Nam

Sifu Ho Fatt Nam demonstrating “One-Finger Shooting Zen”, a fundamental internal force training method in Shaolin Kungfu. Sifu Ho was the other Shaolin master whose teaching on Sifu Wong was decisive. To honour his two masters, Sifu Wong name his school Shaolin Wahnam.

Systematic and Generous

The third quality of a master as a good teacher is that he must be both systematic and generous in his teaching. Someone who is very skillful and knowledgeable, but teaches haphazardly or withholds much of his advance art, is an expert or scholar but not a good master.

On the other hand, it is significant to note that a good master teaches according to the needs and attainment of his students. If his students have not attained the required standard, he would not teach them beyond their ability (although secretly he might long to), for doing so is usually not to the students’ best interest. In such a situation he may often be mistaken as withholding secrets.

Radiates Inspiration

The fourth quality, a quality that transforms a good master into a great master, is that he radiates inspiration. It is a joy to learn from a great master even though his training is tough.

He makes complicated concepts easy to understand, implicitly provides assurance that should anything goes wrong he is able and ready to rectify it, and spurs his students to do their best, even beyond the level that he himself has attained.

High Moral Values

The most important quality of a great master is that he teaches and exhibits in his daily living high moral values. Hence, the best world fighter who brutally wounds his opponents, or the best teacher of any art who does not practise what he preaches, cannot qualify to be called a great master.

A great master is tolerant, compassionate, courageous, righteous and shows a great love and respect for life. Great masters are understandably rare; they are more than worth their weight in gold.

RISKS OF SELF-LEARNING AND UNQUALIFIED TEACHING

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

chi kung

Many people wrongly and unknowingly think that chi kung is just gentle physical exercise

Question

I am a teacher at a senor citizens’ home. After reading your book, “The Art of Chi Kung”, I decided to try it myself. I tried both the Moon and one of the other momvements to induce chi. I found nothing happening. The only thing that happened was that I started to fall forward as if I was loosing my balance. After two or three times like this I finally started to sway. I am not sure if I consciously started to sway or it was from the movement.

Larry, USA

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

It is difficult to tell from an e-mail description whether your reaction was due to induced chi flow, or due to your loss of balance, or due to your conscious attempt to sway. But even if your sway was due to chi flow, it did not necessarily mean you were practising chi kung. Chi kung is not merely swaying.


Question

I decided to try it in my class of 8. I had the class close their eyes and I said to them if they started to sway they were to go with it. (in accordance with the instructions in your book). Out of the 8 only one started to sway. Is this sway something that is consciously brought on, or is it just supposed to happen?
Answer

Yours is a typical example of how little knowledge and respect many Westerners have of chi kung. Many Westerners (and modern Easterners) think that they can just read from a book, try some exercises on their own, and then start teaching others. Especially if they are unemployed, they may continue teaching so-caled chi kung for a living, and after a few years they may call themselves, or others may call them, masters.

You have done yourself, your students and the art a great dis-service. You have not learnt or practised chi kung properly, yet you have started to teach others. This is unprofessional. You do not understand the effect chi flow has on your students, and despite my warning in my books that incorrect practice may lead to serious harmful effects, you have decided to try it on others. This is unehical.

The sway may or may not be brought on consciously. Whether it should or should not happen, depends on numerous factors. But swaying itself is not chi kung


Question

Also, I am very interested in your intensive courses on healing incurable diseases. However, financially it is impossible for me to travel to Malaysia. Are you planning by any chance to bring your classes to the United States, or can someone learn what you teach through a video? And do you have such videos available?
Answer

Merely being interested is far from sufficient. Before you think of becoming a healer or a teacher, be a student first. The large number of people, especially in the West, who imagine that they can become healers or masters, without having to make the minimum effort to learn and practise the art first, really amazes me.

I sometimes teach in the United States.

People may learn external forms from videos, but these are actually not what I teach in my chi kung or kungfu classes. What I actually teach in my chi kung classes are skills to manage energy, and in my kungfu classes skills for combat efficiency, internal force development and spiritual cultivation. Anyone who thinks that such skills can be learnt via videos do not know what chi kung or kungfu really is. Hence, I have not produced videos for the purpose of self-instructio


Question

I also had a lady whose heart started to beat fast after the exercises in your book. Does this have any significance, as she was starting to get a little nervous?
Answer

Luckily she did not collapse. Your unprofessional teaching could have killed her.

The heart starting to beat fast during a chi kung exercise may or may not be good. It depends on various factors. In my teachng, many students with serious heart problems had their heart beating very fast during their practice under my supervision. I had to be extremely careful, and observe them and their reactions closely.

On one occasion I was about to ask a student to slow down and stop when she exclaimed how wonderful she felt. She as well as the other students soon recovered from their illness. But a less experienced instructor might have killed them in similar situatons.

Teaching chi kung to those with heart problems must be done by a master. Even trained instructors may not be competent enough to handle students with serious heart problems. In such cases, it is best for the instructors not to teach these students.

responsibility of chi kung teacher

To be a chi kung teacher calls for great responsibility

LINKS

The question and answer are reproduced from Questions 11 to 14 of the January 2000 Part 1 issue of the Question-Answer Series.

SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS MAY 2015 PART 2 – GRANDMASTER WONG KIEW KIT

(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/ans15a/may15-2.html)

All answers by my Sifu, Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

northern Shaolin Temple

The northern Shaolin Temple. Picture taken from http://english.eastday.com/e/voy1/u1a4043498.html

Question 1

I have read your book, “The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu”, numerous times, reading parts of it before attending a Shaolin wushu academy in China and rereading the whole book numerous times while I stayed there.

Namir, USA

Answer

Many people have kindly commented that my book, “The Art of Shaolin Kung Ku”, greatly inspired them in their practice. The book will show you, amongst other benefits, the philosophy and purpose of practicing Shaolin Kungfu, but you need to learn from competent teachers the skills of applying the techniques mentioned in the book to get desirable results.

Question 2

I should have heeded your warning with more tenacity, that if a Shaolin master gets angry easily, he is not a true Shaolin master; and that if a Shaolin master is reluctant to teach genuine kung fu sparring and instructs to use gloves during sparring (we only sparred during Sanda class), and if he focuses only on performing forms instead of applying them, then he is not a true and genuine master.

Answer

Your observation is exact. The three suggestions I gave — namely, not getting angry easily, using kungfu techniques in sparring, applying forms and not just performing them — provide an excellent way to tell whether an instructor is teaching genuine Shaolin Kungfu.

southern Shaolin Temple

The southern Shaolin Temple. Picture taken from http://www.chinauniquetour.com/arts.asp?id=1343

Question 3

My first thoughts were whether they were really Shaolin monks?

Answer

Honestly, I don’t like to state it publicly, but despite my dislike, when faced with a sincere seeker asking me for an answer, I choose to tell the truth. Many of the so-called Shaolin “monks” were accomplished wushu practitioners recruited by a clever German entrepreneur to act as Shaolin monks by shaving their hair and putting on a monk’s robe to tour the West to demonstrate wushu as Shaolin Kungfu. Many of these “monks” remained in the West to teach wushu as Shaolin Kungfu.

We must be fair to these “monks”. They never claimed to teach traditional Shaolin Kungfu, though some of them claimed to be successors to the Shaolin Temple, which I find misleading. They may, or may not, have learnt Zen or other Buddhist teachings from a genuine Shaolin monk (who probably did not practice traditional Shaolin Kungfu), but to imply that the wushu they teach is a succession of traditional Shaolin Kungfu in the past is grossly misleading.

Some Shaolin “monks” may not know the following historical facts. The Shaolin Temple in Henan, which these “monks” claimed lineage from, was not burnt by the Qing army. This northern Shaolin Temple remained throughout the Qing Dynasty, and was burnt only in 1928, i.e. 17 years after the Chinese Republic had overthrown the Qing Dynasty, by rival warlords using guns and cannons, with nothing to do with kungfu fighting. Before this burning, including during the later part of the Qing Dynasty for about a hundred years, the northern Shaolin Temple in Henan was deserted, with no kungfu or chi kung practiced there.

The burning of the Shaolin Temple, which is well known in kungfu circles, occurred in the southern Shaolin Temple. Not many people know that there were two southern Shaolin Temples, and both were burnt to the ground by the Qing army in the 1850s.

During the Ming Dynasty, which existed before the Qing Dynasty, an emperor built another Shaolin Temple in the south in the city of Quanzhou in Fujian Province, and moved the status of imperial temple from the northern to the southern Temple. When the Qing Dynasty replaced the Mong Dynasty, some Ming generals retreated to the southern Shaolin Temple at Quanzhou and plotted to overthrow the Qing.

The Qing emperor, Yong Cheng, who infiltrated into the Temple as a monk, ordered the burning of the Shaolin Temple at Quanzhou with the help of Lama experts from Tibet with their infamous flying guillotines.

The Venerable Chee Seen escaped to the Nine-Lotus Mountain, also in Fujian Province, and built a second southern Shaolin Temple. Unlike in the earlier Shaolin Temples, most of Chee Seen’s disciples were laypersons, like Hoong Hei Koon, Lok Ah Choy and Fong Sai Yoke. This southern Shaolin Temple on Nine-Lotus Mountain was also burnt to the ground by the Qing army, led by Pak Mei.

Question 4

Then I proceeded to learn fitness exercises and always asked when were we going to learn to use the moves we learned in forms?

Answer

Wushu practitioners pay much attention to fitness exercises similar to Western gymnastic exercises. This is quite different from traditional Shaolin training which pay attention to energy exercises based on chi or energy flow.

Unfortunately, these fitness exercises make practitioners fit, but may not be healthy. There is a saying amongst wushu practitioners that they have to win trophies before 20. After 20 they have endured so much injury that they have to become coaches.

Question 5

Communication with my teacher there was next to impossible. With or without a translator, I could not discuss my training with him.

To tell you the truth, I feel very wronged that I spent a year in China and my teacher has probably never been taught how to kung fu spar himself, and therefore he could not teach me. I was naive and thought that if they are from the Shaolin Temple then they know Kung Fu comprehensively.

Answer

Lack of communication is actually a norm, even with genuine masters. Not only there is a language problem, they also believe in a doctrine of no questions. Students only practice what they are told to. We in Shaolin Wahnam is a rare exception.

You time in China is not wasted. You have learnt genuine Shaolin forms, but as wushu and not as traditional Shaolin Kungfu. The forms are similar. When you learn internal force and combat application from us in Shaolin Wahnam, you will be able to convert your wushu to traditional Shaolin Kungfu.

Question 6

While I was there, I made the most of it. Your book inspired me to train Ma Bu. When I arrived the students did three minutes of Ma Bu twice per week. I thought that was a joke. And you say in your book five minutes is the minimum. So drawing inspiration from your book when I did not get any from the teacher, I trained Ma Bu all year, and could hold it for 80 minutes at the end. I still train it

Answer

Mabu, or stance training, is the foundation of kungfu, expecially building internal force.

But it is not easy to practice stance training correctly. Many people practice it as an endurance exercise, which is a big mistake. Its secret, which I discovered after more than 30 years, is relaxation.

Remaining at a stance for 80 minutes, regardless of whether you have practiced it correctly or wrongly, is a remarkable achievement. Even if you had practiced wrongly, it is a testimony to your diligence and endurance. If you have practiced correctly, though not necessarily perfectly, you would have developed tremendous internal force.

Lifting the Sky

Lifting the Sky

Question 7

You book discussed the spiritual aspects of Shaolin Kung Fu; I was very attracted to that, but after spending time amongst these supposedly temple-trained monks, I got less spiritual. I felt more dull training with gloves. The students at the school grow more and more troublesome, angry, and stupid instead of less as your book suggested proper training should do.

Answer

It is worthwhile to note that “spiritual” is not the same as “religious”. Shaolin Kungfu and any kungfu are spiritual, but not religious. Practitioners develop their spirit besides their physical body, i.e. they become peaceful, happy and mentally fresh besides being healthy and full of vitality. You are right: becoming troublesome, angry and dull are certainly becoming less spiritual.
Editorial Note: Namir’s other questions will be continued at May 2015 Part 3 issue of the Question-Answer Series.

Question 8

Recently I started practicing the pushing sky qigong exercise from your book and have gotten good results. Thank you very much for sharing these wonderful arts.

Although I practiced qigong for several years, the chi sensations were more localized in certain parts of my body. The pushing sky exercise produces soothing chi sensations that lasts throughout the day and is more spread out on the entire body.

I have applied for and will be attending your Intensive Chi Kung exercise in December to properly learn the skills.

Meanwhile, I do have a question and seek you advice:

Currently I am training for a fitness test, one of which requires me to run 2.4 km in a certain amount of time (13 minutes is the passing mark for my age group)

Although I had been able to pass the running test in past years, it had always been very straining. As i get older, it has become harder and always at the risk of injuries or becoming sick due to over-training.

I realize that this is not the way to train long-term, but am at a loss on how to approach it. When I try to run within comfortable limits, the timing is often not fast enough to pass the test. I wonder if you could advise on how to systematically train to run faster with endurance, without over-exerting myself?

Gabriel, Singapore

Answer

Congratulations for having good results with “Lifting the Sky”. I am glad you will attend the Intensive Chi Kung Course in December. Many people are amazed at the wonderful results of the course though it is only for a few days.

Applying chi kung for running or any activity without panting for breath and without feeling tired will be one of these benefits. But meanwhile you can try the following exercise.

Performing “Lifting the Sky” about 20 to 30 times. Then stand upright and be relaxed. If the chi starts to flow, relax and enjoy the flow. If there is no chi flow, it does not matter. After a short period (about 3 to 5 minutes) of enjoying your chi flow or standing still, start running, first slowly then quite fast. Do not tense your muscles in you running, but let your chi flow, which may or may not manifested outwardly, do the running for you. You don’t have to know how your chi flow do the running, but just have a gentle thought that it does the running for you.

Do not worry about your breathing, just breathe normally. In case your breathing starts to become fast, breathe out gently and keep your breathing slow. In this way you will find that you can complete your fitness test quick easily.