This novelette, still unpublished, was written about 40 years ago by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit in the 1980s. Those attending the Valentine Kungfu Courses 2018 on the Shaolin Pakua Set will find the novelette particularly interesting as there are accounts of combat sequences from the Pakua Set.
As Yang Shao Ming entered the reception chamber, Commissioner Chin was already waiting. The room was spacious and luxurious, with expensive paintings on walls and precious porcelains vases on artistically carved selves. Everything about the room was delicate and exquisite, just like the Commissioner himself.
The Commissioner, in his early thirties, was comfortably seated at a table, laid over with a fine, red silk table-cloth, and on the table were delicious food and excellent wine. Yang Shao Ming could easily tell the superb quality of the wine by its gentle, fragrant aroma.
Commissioner Chin was alone. Even his bodyguards and the pretty maidens who habitually surrounded and pampered him were conspicuously absent.
“My dear Yang,” the Commissioner said as his young friend entered, “fine food and wine wait on our appetite.”
“I suppose you’re going to ask favours from me again.” Yang smiled but was straight to the point without any pretensions, as he eyed the delicious food and excellent wine on the table. “They say the best way to a person’s favour is through his stomach!”
“Let’s enjoy this Persian Scarlet,” Chin replied as he poured a cupful of the best quality wine for his friend. “You can’t buy such wine with any amount of money. The King of Persia sent three barrels to our Emperor as tribute, and His Majesty is so graceful and generous to give me one.”
“And you’re so graceful and generous to let me share it.”
“What is a barrel of wine compared with the company of good friends. I must say that even if I had achieved nothing in this short life, I would leave this world without any regrets because I have you as a good friend.”
That was quite true. Any one of Yang’s friends would agree that was true. Yang Shao Ming was only in his late twenties, but he was so skillful in martial arts that many people considered him one of the best kungfu exponents the famous Shaolin Monastery had ever produced. But, of course, it was not merely because of his Shaolin kungfu that his friends adored him.
“You certainly have achieved a lot in life, my dear Commissioner, and you certainly understand the pleasures of life.”
“Unfortunately I am not drinking for my own pleasure this very moment!” The Commissioner frowned. And he said this so naturally and spontaneously that his friend was not sure whether he was joking.
But Yang Shao Ming retorted in jest, “Ha, ha! As if you’re drinking for my pleasure then!”
“Three cupfuls to drown my worries,” Chin sighed as he gobbled down his first cupful of scarlet wine.
Yang almost burst out laughing.
“You should know my worries, my two pertinent worries,” Chin said with half closed eyes.
Yang could not laugh now. He wanted to know the two pertinent worries, yet he dared not ask. He knew too well that as soon as he foolishly opened his mouth, Chin would talk him into doing favours again. He had done enough favours for the Commissioner in solving crimes, and this time Yang was determined not to be used again. He sat back, like his friend, half closing his eyes, and tried to enjoy the succulent Persian wine.
Wine, Songs and Women: these were the pleasures of men – at least of most men. But now Yang did not find the wine pleasurable. Two pertinent worries? Yang thought.
Many problems or misunderstanding arise because of confusion between facts and opinions. Logically, if you can differentiate between facts and opinions, you will be able to avoid or overcome many of these problems and misunderstanding.
What is even more important is that often opinion, or perception, is more influential than fact, or reality, in shaping our future. This does not mean we can ignore facts, but we must realize that a person’s perception of reality rather than the reality itself is more potent in determining the outcome of an event. Failure to appreciate this often results in problems and misunderstandings which can be avoided or overcome if we have clear perception.
Let us start with a story. A sifu asked a student to practice “One-Finger Shooting Zen”. A week passed, a month passed, two years passed, and the student was still practicing “One-Finger Shooting Zen” daily, while his sifu hardly taught him anything else.
This was a real story, the story of my sifu, Ho Fatt Nam, when he learned from my sigung, Yeong Fatt Khun. The daily practice of “One-Finger Shooting Zen” enabled my sifu to develop tremendous force not only for Dim Mak (an advanced kungfu art of dotting vital points) but also to heal people.
My sifu had a good perception. He promised himself that if he met a great master, he would do exactly what the master taught. Most other students would drop out. They had different perceptions. They probably thought that the master was fooling them. The reality was the same, a sifu asking his student to practice “One-Finger Shooting Zen” and hardly teaching him anything else, but due to different perceptions the results could be vastly different.
You can see the same principle operating in daily life though many people may not realize it. You are given a difficult job by your boss. Because you are a Shaolin Wahnam student and view everything the Shaolin Wahnam way (instead of the negative way), you perceive your difficult job as an interesting challenge and do your best. As a result you later gain a promotion – by your boss or by yourself becoming your own boss after having gone through challenging training.
Most other people in the same situation would have different perceptions. Some would try to pass the job to someone else, like you, knowing that they would still get the same pay. Others might do the job grudgingly and produce mediocre or poor result. The reality is the same – a difficult job to be done – but due to different perceptions of the same reality, the outcome can be very different.
Can the perception be always positive? Can there be any events, persons or beliefs that are so negative that you can’t have any positive perception of them?
One-Finger Shooting Zen is a treasure of Shaolin Wahnam
Yes, perception can always be positive if you choose to. It is your choice.
No, there are no events, persons or beliefs which are by themselves so negative that you can’t have a positive perception of. We are talking about perception, not the reality itself. In reality the event, person or belief can be negative, but you still can have a positive perception of it.
Suppose you have lost a lot of money in a bad investment. This is reality. No matter how you perceive it, you cannot change the fact that you have lost a lot of money. But your perception of this negative event will certainly and strongly affect what and how your future will enfold.
We may broadly generalize your possible perceptions into three categories: negative, neutral and positive.
You may perceive yourself as stupid, and you become depressed. You may perceive that the fault actually lies with your wife, who nags you, and you become angry. These are negative perceptions. And it is not difficult to see how miserable these negative perceptions will make you.
You may perceive it as a way of life, sometimes you lose, sometimes you gain. Or you may perceive that losing money is a price everyone pays to learn about investment. These are neutral perceptions. You may be down for awhile, but eventually you can get over it.
You may perceive it philosophically, regarding it a blessing in disguise. It is a wake-up call: you lose money in investment, not in drugs or gambling, which may make you addicted and is far worse. Or you may perceive it as a drastic learning opportunity. You promise yourself that eventually you will make back many times that money in an honest, wholesome way. These are positive perceptions that will lead to eventual success. Indeed, many people owe their success, spiritual or financial, to some initial setbacks.
If we just think of good things, are we just dreaming? No, we are not just dreaming. We dare to dream, but we are ready and capable of putting in effort to make our dreams come true. Our Shaolin Wahnam training gives us mental clarity that enables us to have noble perceptions, and tremendous energy that enables us to put in the necessary effort.
Thoughts create reality. This is a great cosmic truth taught by ancient masters and confirmed by modern scientists. An electron is a particle or a wave depending on how the investigating scientist thinks about it. The Buddha teaches that karma, which means cause and effect, is the result of thoughts, speech and deeds in that order of importance.
So, whatever events, persons, beliefs, problems or difficulties you interact with, always have positive perceptions of them. Try it out for a month, and examine the result yourself. If you find it beneficial use this New Year gift for this year and every year.
Kungfu practitioners do not have internal force and cannot apply their kungfu for combat not because they do not know the technique but because they do not have the skill
When I first learned the Horse-Riding Stance, it was at the form level. This is the normal introduction to kungfu for almost all kungfu practitioners. In other words, when people first start to learn kungfu, almost all of them would start with kungfu form. Only a few, because of various reasons, may start with skill, application or philosophy.
For example, after being amazed by a master’s vitality despite his age, a person may ask, “Sifu, you are so full of vitality. Can you please teach me how to have half your vitality, or even a quarter?”
If the master is generous, he may teach him the Three-Circle Stance, and then say, “Practise this every day for a year.”
If this person, unlike 90% of other people who may ask a similar question, practises the Three-Circle Stance every day for a year, he may have a quarter of the master’s vitality. In this case, this student starts his introduction to kungfu through skill, though he still needs form to develop his skill, and he may not realise that he is taught kungfu.
Our Shaolin Wahnam students are an exception. When they start to learn kungfu or chi kung from us, they are introduced to all the four dimensions of form, skill, application and philosophy. When our students learn kungfu, they do not just learn the form, but also the skill of right spacing and right timing, applying the kungfu patterns for attack and defence, and how their kungfu training can enrich their daily life. When our students learn chi kung, they do not just learn the form, they also generate an energy flow, feel fresh and energetic, and know why chi flow contributes to their good health, vitality and longevity.
Not only kungfu and chi kung, but all arts, ranging from the simple art of asking your secretary to write a letter to sending a ship into space, may be classified into the four dimensions of form, skill, application and philosophy. Understanding these four dimensions and putting them into practice will enhance any art we practise, and more significantly our daily life.
Most kungfu practitioners focus only on form, neglecting the other three dimensions. If these four dimensions are of equal importance, they can at best have only 25% of the potential benefits. But in reality, these dimensions are not of equal importance. Form constitutes technique, and is generally less important than skill and application. Philosophy provides a map showing the routes and destinations.
A salesperson earning $2000 a month and another earning $20,000 a month use the same form, or technique, but their skill level is vastly different. More important in making their life meaningful is how they apply their earning. Whether they use the $2000 or $20,000 for liquor and gambling, or for making their family happy depends much on their philosophy.
Failing to differentiate between skill and technique is a main reason why most kungfu practitioners today cannot apply their kungfu for combat, and why many chi kung practitioners are not healthy and full of vitality. It is also a main reason why in my book, “The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan”, I mention that more than 90% of Tai Chi Chuan practitioners today are getting less than 10% of its potential benefits.
While Shaolin Wahnam students have all the dimensions introduced to them when they first learn kungfu or chi kung, it took me more than 20 years since first learning kungfu to realise these dimensions. Considering that most kungfu and chi kung practitioners do not realise this useful classification at all, 20 years is a short time.
This useful classification did not happen all at once. It was evolved, and it is rewarding to trace its evolution historically.
A section of my library of kungfu, chi kung and other books which provided me with a sound understanding of their philosophy