When you practice genuine chi kung you can eat whatever food you like
Is it necessary to abstain from any food when practicing chi kung?
— Jochen, Germany
No, it is not necessary. Whatever you had been eating or doing without any harm to yourself and others before you started practicing chi kung, like cake and sugar, coke and coffee, yoga and lifting weight, making love and party-going, you can carry on eating or doing them with better satisfaction and result after you have started practicing chi kung. This is only logical, as practicing chi kung enhances our daily life.
However, some “masters” advise otherwise. Actually we call them “masters” out of respect. Strictly speaking they are not even genuine chi kung practitioners, as they teach only gentle physical exercise though they use genuine chi kung forms. These “masters” advise their students not to take sugar, considering it as white poison, and not to have sex, even for those who have willing partners and find it pleasurable. And the irony is that with these unnecessary limitations, the students are not healthier or happier.
When I first taught in Spain, many students were shocked to see me adding two or three sachets of sugar to my coffee, and enjoying jarmon. They taught, wrongly of course, that chi kung masters should drink only pure water and eat vegetable.
In fact, when you practice genuine chi kung which increases your energy and life performance, whatever you have been doing without harm to yourself and others, you can continue enjoying these activities with more satisfaction and better bre
Do we practice chi kung before or after gym work?
You can practice chi kung before or after gym work. If you practice it before, you add energy to your gym work. If you practice it after, you replenish your energy.
It is even better if you perform your chi kung during gym work. This does not mean that you do your chi kung exercise while performing your gym workout. It means that employ chi kung skills, like being relaxed and not tensing your muscles, during gym work.
Practicing chi kung alone is sufficient for your needs for good health, vitality and longevity. It is not necessary to supplement chi kung with vitamins and physical exercise. But if you enjoy eating vitamin and performing physical exercise, like working in a gym, you can do so with better result
An interesting question arose this morning after training from a senior Kung Fu student. He asked when doing Golden Bridge for about 30 minutes, “should I simply count the breaths gently or should I just be aware of the breathing”. I answered “for myself I just stay at my dan tian and gently count”. I would love to hear what your advise is.
— Sifu Mark, Ireland
All the three methods are correct.
The main purpose is to keep the mind one pointed. Of course it is also very important to be relaxed.
There are many methods to keep the mind one-pointed. The three methods mentioned by you are excellent examples.
Another method, which is more advanced, is to keep the mind free from all thoughts.
There are many methods, but all the methods can be generalized into two categories, attaining a one-pointed mind, or attaining no-mind which is all mind. In mathematical terms, it is arriving at one or at zero.
Arriving at zero is the most advanced. It brings the practitioner beyond the phenomenal realm. Arriving at one is still in the phenomenal realm.
I am used to practicing 1-4 hours a day of the qi gong I was taught locally by a Chinese master, and I am still not well.
— Elizabeth, USA
Honestly without meaning to be disrespectful to the master, you have been practicing gentle physical exercise using genuine qigong forms. Gentle physical exercise cannot overcome any illness regardless of how long you have been practicing it. It also does not have the other wonderful benefits of qigong, like vitality, longevity, mental freshness and spiritual joys.
How is it that you have been practicing gentle physical exercise when you have been performing genuine qigong forms? It is because you lack qigong skills. It is the skills and not the techniques that enable practitioners to get the benefits of the art they practice. You can learn piano techniques or even surgery techniques from some good books or videos, but you can’t play the piano or perform surgery if you lack the necessary skills.
Thousands of thousands of practitioners of martial arts today are doing precisely this. Thousands of Taijiquan practitioners are doing Taiji dance, and not genuine Taijiquan as an internal martial art that it really is. Thousands of other martial artists are performing genuine martial art techniques as gymnastics and hurting themselves in generous exchange of blows in sparring. They cannot defend themselves, which is the first purpose of practicing any martial art.
You are, of course, not alone. More than 80% of qigong practitioners all over the world today are practicing qigong techniques as gentle physical exercise, and usually they are unaware of it.
You will find out the glaring difference in the first 15 minutes when you attend my Intensive Chi Kung Course. It is not for no good reasons that I charge 1000 euros for three days (it will be 1200 euros next year) when many qigong teachers charge only 50 euros for a month.
Editorial Note: The question was asked in 2014 when the fee for an Intensive Chi Kung Course was 1000 euros.
In Shaolin Wahnam chi kung, you need to practice only about 15 minutes a session
Can my father do this even if he cannot stand or walk well? If he did not somehow receive immediate benefits in the workshop in mobility, arm movement, etc, because of his concentration issues, I do not think he could even do the exercises in his imagination. In fact, as of now, I know he could not. I want to be clear on his level of impairment. Do people with sever things like Alzheimer’s need someone to help them even remember to do the exercises?
Your father or anybody can still perform the qigong exercise even if he cannot stand or walk well, but he has to make some effort. I want to be very clear on this point. The student himself (or herself) must make a lot of effort if he wants to benefit from qigong practice. I won’t, and I can’t, do the exercises for him. I can only teach him the way that has helped many people like him overcome his problems.
In the past people with special problems like your father attended a personalized course, where I only taught that student. The fee, of course, was more expensive. But now I do not offer personalized courses. If you come for the Intensive Chi Kung Course in Penang and ask the staff of the hotel you will be staying, they may tell you that an elderly gentleman over 70 came to my last personalized course in a wheelchair with his wife, and they took a taxi to town, without the wheelchair, for shopping the next day!
I just give an offer to help your father to recover. He has to make the choice to attend the course or not. I would also like to mention that the course won’t be easy for him if he has difficulty standing and walking. He won’t be pampered. In fact he may find me a slave-driver, asking him to do things he may not want to, like swinging his arms about and running round the hall without others’ help.
Incidentally the wife of the gentleman mentioned above suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease a few years earlier. She could not remember the exercise I just taught her. Obviously she recovered. She could remember her husband, and accompanied him back from town to the hotel after shopping, although it was, I believe, the first time they were in Penang.
For your father, it would be recommended that you attend the course with him together. Not only you will learn how to overcome your Lyme Disease which you have suffered from for about 30 years, you can also remind your father of the qigong techniques that he has to practice.
But remember it is not the techniques that will help you and your father to regain good health. It is qigong skills which I shall transmit to you and your father during the course.
I am wondering, given the high cost of studying with you, if I do wish to continue my qigong studies, would I be able to pursue studying with them in addition to doing your 30 minutes of practice per day? And could I keep practicing the past chi kung that feels good to me?
You can continue to pursue chi kung with me or other certified instructors in our school. Of course you can also continue to practice the chi kung you learned elsewhere before.
You will find that you can raise your former chi kung by one or more levels. Honestly, I don’t mean to be presumptuous or arrogant, I just state the truth of what many students like you who learned other types of chi kung elsewhere, have reported to me.
Better still, if you are permitted to teach other types of chi kung you have learned elsewhere, if you find the chi kung skills learned from me are useful, you can incorporate these skills into the other types of chi kung, without having to mention that you have learned these skills from me. If you face any difficulty concerning our chi kung skills, you can write to me in private.
We are sincere in wanting other chi kung practitioners benefit from their practice. We do not mind if they do not credit the skills to us.
I would like to mention two important points. It is strictly for your and other people’s benefit.
If you incorporate our chi kung skills into the chi kung techniques of other schools you teach, please do so discretely. Make very certain that this would not offend the teachers and the seniors of these other schools.
Secondly, teach only simple and basic skills, like being relaxed, not thinking of irrelevant thoughts, and generating an energy flow. For the sake of your students, don’t teach advanced skills, like directing energy to various parts of the body, building internal force, and expanding beyond your physical body. These advanced skills are taught during the Intensive Chi Kung Course. But an instructor teaching these advanced skills need to be trainied and such training is not provided at the course.
If you teach these advanced skills without proper training on how to teach the skills, even though you may have these skills, you are likely to cause harm to your students. As an analogy, a patient may undergo surgery himself, but this does not qualify him to perform surgery on others.
Depending on one’s perspective, my course fee can be considered very expensive or very cheap. Many students have told me they would gladly pay ten times the fee to learn from me.
The three golden rules of chi kung practice are not to worry, not to intellectualize, and to enjoy the practice
I find it difficult to follow the Three Golden Rules consistently. For example, during training I will stop intellectualising, but then a moment later I will begin again, or I will intellectualise about saying to myself the Third Golden Rule, “just enjoy”.
— Chris, Australia
Our Three Golden Rules of Practice are actually simple. They are as follows.
Enjoy your practice
There are not like asking you to do press-up a hundred times or climb up a high coconut tree.
If you wish to have good results, you have to follow the three golden rules, just like if you wish to be safe on a road, you have to follow safety rules. If you choose not to follow the rules, you do so at your own peril.
Although the rules are simple, they may not be easy for you and many other people. This is because you have been conditioned to worrying and intellectualizing. If you suddenly stop worrying or intellectualizing, it can be difficult due to your bad habit.
But it can be done, and many people with the same problem have done so successfully. You overcome your problem progressively. Suppose you worry 50 times in 5 minutes. You don’t stop worrying totally the very first day you start your programme to overcome your problem. You worry less. Suppose you are able to cut down your worrying by 3 times, which means that in 5 minutes you worry 47 times.
You practice this programme everyday. Suppose the second day you can further cut down your worrying by 2 more times, which means you worry 45 times. The third day could be worse. Suppose you cut down your worrying by only 4 times in total, which means you worry 46 times. So there may be up and down on individual days, but on the whole there should be gradual progress. Eventually you will be able to cut down your worrying from 50 times in 5 minutes to just 2 or 3 times, which will be good result.
How long you take to achieve this result depends on various factors, and may range from a week to a year. But most people can attain the result in a hundred days.
There are two important requirements. You must persevere. You have to practice everyday. The second requirement is gradual progress. You cut down your worrying a few times each day. Eventually you hardly worry at all.
The same method is used to cut down intellectualizing.
I have also searched your Q & A series using the term “intellectualize” and read through many of your wonderful answers, which have helped immensely.
But still I would like to humbly ask for your advice. If I find that I can’t apply the Three Golden Rules before or during my practice, should I simply stop and wait to train again at a later time if possible?
Stop worrying and stop intellectualizing. Enjoy your practice. Just do it.
If you can’t follow these three golden rules, stop your practice and train at a later time.
Don’t do something is certainly easier than doing something. Don’t worry is certainly easier than to worry. Don’t intellectualize is certainly easier than to intellectualize.
Suppose you want to cross a road but a car is coming fast. Just don’t cross the road. It is certainly easier than crossing the road and be hit by the car.
Or suppose you are at a beach watching people swimming, but you can’t swim. Don’t go into the water. It is certainly easier than going into the water and be drown.
If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at email@example.com stating your name, country and e-mail address.
We in Shaolin Wahnam are very proud of our lineage which can be traced back directly to the two southern Shaolin Temples, as illustrated in the chart above.
Not many people realize that there were two southern Shaolin Temples, one in the City of Quanzhou, and the other on the Nine-Lotus Mountain, both located in Fujian Province of South China.
During the Ming Dynasty (14th to 17th century) a Ming emperor built a southern Shaolin Temple in the City of Quanzhou in Fujian Province as an imperial temple to replace the northern Shaolin Temple in Henan Province. This temple was burnt by the Qing Army around 1850s led by the crown prince Yong Cheng with the help of Lama kungfu experts from Tibet.
The Venerable Chee Seen escaped and built a secret southern Shaolin Temple on the Nine-Lotus Mountain, also in Fujian Province. This temple was also soon burnt by the Qing Army, this time led by Pak Mei who was a classmate of Chee Seen in the southern Shaolin Temple in Quanzhou.
The northern Shaolin Temple on Song Shan or Song Mountain in Henan Province remained throughout the Qing Dynasty. In fact, the Chinese characters, “Shao Lin Si” which means “Shaolin Temple” at the Main Gate of the Temple were written by the Qing Emperor, Qian Long. This temple was burnt only in 1928, 17 years after the fall of the Qing Dynasty, by rival Chinese warlords. Its burning was by cannon fire and had nothing to do with kungfu.
Our Grandmaster, Sifu Wong Kiew Kit, learned from four sifus, or teachers. Grandmaster Wong’s first sifu was Sifu Lai Chin Wah, more widely known by his honorable nick-name as Uncle Righteousness. His second sifu was Sifu Chee Kim Thong, regarded as the living treasure of the People’s Republic of China during his time. Grandmaster Wong’s third sifu was Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, the third generation successor from the southern Shaolin Temple at Quanzhou. His fourth sifu was Sifu Choe Hoong Choy, the patriarch of Choe Family Wing Choon.
It was no co-incidence that all Grandmaster Wong’s sifus were patriarchs of their respective styles because Grandmaster Wong sought for the best available teachers. Our school, Wahnam, is named after Sifu Lai Chin Wah and Sifu Ho Fatt Nam as much of our instructional material came from them.
The Shaolin Temple. The name itself spells magic to millions of people all over the world. For a thousand years, the Shaolin Temple has been glorified in sagas, parables, literature, and legends. Today, the legend is still glorified across the globe in movies and on television
Since it was founded in 495 A.D., emperors of every succeeding Chinese dynasty have consecrated the Shaolin Temple as their Imperial Temple. This was where emperors prayed on behalf of their people. It was also the birthplace of Zen Buddhism. Today, every Zen school in the world traces its lineage back to the Shaolin Temple in China.
Over the years, the Shaolin Temple became a haven for China’s elite: generals, martial arts masters, classical poets and painters, famous calligraphers, scholars, and spiritualists. At its height, there were over 2000 monks staying in the Temple in Songhshan province. These monks were classified into four categories: administrators, scholars, workers, and warriors.
Hundreds of years later, a second Shaolin Temple was built in Fujian province in the south of China. Though it was smaller than its big brother in Songshan province, this Southern Temple played an important role in the development and spread of Shaolin Kung Fu.
The End of Shaolin
A monk outside one of the Shaolin halls
The Qing Dynasty in China (1644-1911) was a period of great turmoil, especially during the 19th century when governmental control was weakened. Prosperity declined. China suffered serious social and economic problems in addition a population explosion. Millions of people were dissatisfied with the government.
Although rebellions occurred all over China, the Southern Shaolin Temple had a reputation for being a revolutionary center. In an effort to crush the growing rebellion, the Qing army attacked and burned the Southern Shaolin Monastery during middle of the 19th century. Only the most skilled Shaolin Monks escaped the attack.
Our Shaolin Wahnam school traces its lineage back to two of these monks: the Venerable Zhi Shan (Gee Sin) and the Venerable Jiang Nan (Kong Nam). The lineages of these two monks remained separate for over 100 years until they were reunited again in my Sifu, Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit.
The Venerable Zhi Shan
The famous Shaolin Pagoda Forest
The story of the Venerable (a title of respect given to monks) Zhi Shan is well known in many Kung Fu schools. It has been depicted in hundreds of stories and dozens of movies. The Venerable Zhi Shan was the founder and abbot of the southern Shaolin Temple.
The Venerable Zhi Shan was a revolutionary. His main objective was to overthrow the corrupt Qing Dynasty in order to restore the previous Ming government. His teachings were fast and secretive, with emphasis on kung fu that was hard and combative. Although internal force training was certainly a part of his kung fu, many of his disciples focused on external force training.
Pak Mei (Bai Mei) was a former Shaolin disciple who later betrayed his masters by revolting against the Temple. It was Pak Mei who led the Qing Dynasty army to the Southern Shaolin Temple. Together, they razed the Temple to the ground. The Venerable Zhi Shan died defending the temple that he built.
Several monks and secular disciples managed to escape. Many of these masters are now legendary (even in Hollywood): The Venerable Herng Yein, the Venerable Sam Tak, Hung Heigun, Lok Ah Choi, and Fong Sai Yuk. Years later, two of Hung Heigun’s disciples tracked down and killed Pak Mei in order to avenge the Venerable Zhi Shan.
The Venerable Zhi Shan is often regarded as the First Patriarch of Southern Shaolin Kung Fu. The disciples of the Venerable Zhi Shan spread Shaolin Kung Fu to Guangdong province. Eventually, these arts spread throughout the world. Most Southern Shaolin styles today, like Hung Gar, Lau Gar, and Choy Li Fut, come from the Venerable Zhi Shan. From the Venerable Zhi Shan, the art passed to the Venerable Herng Yein, then to Chan Fook, then to Ng Yew Loong, then to Lai Chin Wah, then to my Sifu, Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit.
The Venerable Jiang Nan
A priceless old picture of Yang Fatt Khun with a young Ho Fatt Nam
Another monk who managed to escape the burning of the Temple was a young master named the Venerable Jiang Nan. This monk fled south with the Qing army in pursuit. His original name is lost to us. In an effort to hide from his enemy, he changed his name. After crossing a river that marked the edge of China, he chose the name Jiang Nan, which means “South of the River”. It was south of this river that he would spend the rest of his life.
For 50 years, the Venerable Jiang Nan wandered further and further south with only one mission in life: to pass on his art to a worthy successor. One night, near the border between present-day Thailand and Malaysia, he encountered a young medicine-man who was demonstrating Kung Fu to attract customers to his mobile roadside stall. The monk observed the young man every night for 6 nights. On the 7th night, after the crowd had dispersed, the monk approached the young man. Without any aggression in his voice, the monk said, “Not bad. But despite all the applause, what you showed was not real kung fu.”
The young man was shocked. As a traveling medicine-man, he relied on his kung fu to ward off bandits and thugs who would frequently challenge him. And yet this old monk was telling him that his kung fu was useless!
The monk continued. “Don’t take my word for it. If you like, we can put it to the test with some friendly sparring.”
Ho Fatt Nam (left), sparring with a student
The young man agreed, eager to prove himself. But to his amazement, the 80-year-old monk beat him easily. Even when the young man stopped pulling his punches and attacked full force, the monk handled him as if playing with a child. Recognizing the signs of true mastery, the young man knelt before the monk and begged to be accepted as a student.
With a smile, the Venerable Jiang Nan said, “Yes, on one condition.” The young man bowed lower and said that he would do anything. Raising the young man’s head and looking into his eyes with a smile, the monk said simply, “Start from scratch.”
That young man was named Yang Fatt Khun.
When master Yang Fatt Khun was in his 70s, he accepted a young man as a student. This man was already well trained in the martial arts and earned his living as a professional Muay Thai fighter. That man was named Ho Fatt Nam.
At first, master Yang rejected the young Ho’s requests to become a student. But one night, with the help of one of master Yang’s students, the young Ho snuck into the secret training hall. Prostrating before master Yang with the traditional gifts, he begged to be accepted. Taking the gifts and placing them on the altar, master Yang said, “This is Heaven’s Will.”
Each year, master Yang held a grand sparring competition amongst his students in order to choose his top ten disciples. From an unranked position, Ho Fatt Nam gradually rose to a top position. When master Yang announced his retirement, he named Ho Fatt Nam as his successor.
A young Wong Kiew Kit was one of the last students to learn from master Ho. When he first begged to be accepted as a student, master Ho had only one request: “Start from scratch.”
Lai Chin Wah (left) & Ho Fatt Nam (right)
The name “Wahnam” consists of meaningful Chinese characters from the names of Grandmaster Wong’s two masters: Lai Chin Wah and Ho Fatt Nam. The name “Shaolin Wahnam” was chosen to honor these two masters as well as all of the past masters in the Shaolin tradition.
After over a hundred years of secrecy and exile, these two lineages, one from the Venerable Zhi Shan and the other from the Venerable Jiang Nan, were reunited in my Sifu, Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit. This reunion is meaningful to us because we now inherit the best of two Shaolin traditions.
The Venerable Zhi Shan was a revolutionary; his objective was to overthrow the Qing Dynasty. His teaching was fast and secretive, with emphasis on kung fu that was hard and combative.
The Venerable Jiang Nan was a missionary. His main aim was to preserve the original Shaolin arts, with little intention to fight the Qing Dynasty. While the Venerable Zhi Shan quickly rebuilt a second southern Shaolin Temple after its destruction and taught many disciples, the Venerable Jiang Nan took 50 years to search for a deserving successor in order to teach him holistically and slowly. The Venerable Jiang Nan’s teaching emphasized internal development and spiritual cultivation. The Shaolin Kungfu from his lineage is comparatively soft and internal.