(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/ans15b/nov15-3.html)
Genuine Taijiquan is an internal martial art
Because I have learned from Sifu Anthony Korahais, I believe that is the proper way to address you. If not, please forgive me.
— David, USA
Thank you for your kind thoughts and proper address. An even better way for you to address me is just “Sigung”, and not “Wong Sigung” or “Sigung Wong”.
Of course you don’t mean it, but it is helpful to know that prefixing or suffixing a person’s surname by his students, like “Lau Sifu” or “Sifu Lau” instead of just “Sifu”, distant them from him. The public would call him “Lau Sifu” or “Sifu Lau”, but his students call him “Sifu”.
Your case in this e-mail is different. You mentioned “Sifu Anthony Korahais” because you wanted to indicate which of our certified instructors in our school you meant. But when you talk to him, you just address him as “Sifu”, and not “Sifu Anthony” or “Sifu Korahais”.
Because Grandmaster Wong has a long waiting list, these questions were received more than a year ago at a time when Sifu Anthony Korahais was still in Shaolin Wahnam. Sifu Anthony has since left the school, and by Sifu Anthony’s choice, Grandmaster Wong is no longer his sifu. Hence, those students who used to address Grandmaster Wong as “sigung” should now address him as “sifu” if they wish to continue learning from Grandmaster Wong. They would also continue to address Sifu Anthony as “sifu”.
Thank you very much for generously sharing your very valuable art. I am also particularly thankful for your website titled Showing Respect to the Master and the years of questions and answers you have archived.
I am glad that many of our Shaolin Wahnam students have told me that our arts have greatly enriched their lives.
Showing respect to the master is mainly for the students’ benefit. Many other people may not know this, or believe it is so. Showing respect to the master gives the students an excellent mind-set to benefit most from the master’s teaching.
Many people, both inside and outside our school, have also told me that they have benefited much from my Question-Answer Series. As there is a long waiting list, these questions and answers are often posted for public reading about a year later.
I would take this opportunity to mention an interesting point from the many questions I have received. Before looking at the name of the enquirer, I can often tell whether he is a member of our Shaolin Wahnam Family by just looking at the way he asks his questions.
There are three characteristics that differentiate our family members from members of the public, namely mental clarity, courtesy and open-mindedness.
Our family members are clear in their writing. I can easily know what they write. On the other hand, although questions by members of the public are edited for grammar and spelling before they are being posted in my Question-Answer Series, you can differentiate them if you examine closely.
Clear writing shows mental clarity. I am glad our training has resulted in mental clarity demonstrated in the e-mails our students sent to me.
Our family members are polite. Your opening paragraph is a good example. Some members of the public do not even bother to address the person they send their e-mails to. They just start asking their questions.
And some do not state their names at the end of their e-mails. If I post their questions in my Question-Answer Series, I have to guess at their names form their e-mail addresses.
Courtesy to others is an indication of self-respect. Self-respect is very important for successful living.
Our family members are open-minded. They realize and accept that other people may not agree with their views which they cherish dearly. Open-mindedness is present in your questions regarding low-level Mao Shan, and regarding talking to other people about our chi kung.
Being open-minded certainly make our life happier. It also enables us to improve ourselves.
Circle Walking in Baguazhang
Once you mentioned that the form of payment for low maoshan was to be either permanently deformed, forever poor, or without children. This disturbed me greatly. I can only imagine the payment and reward associated with high maoshan.
Why would anyone agree to any of those things? Is it black magic for unscrupulous people who desire quick and easy cultivation? I cannot imagine why someone would accept those terms when wonderful arts like Tai Chi Chuan and Shaolin Chuan exist.
There are three levels of Mao Shan, or Taoist magic, namely low level, middle level and high level, sometimes known as black Mao Shan, grey Mao Shan and white Mao Shan.
Low level Mao Shan practitioners are concerned mainly with acquiring magical powers overcoming others and causing difficulties for others, which generally result in dong harm. Middle level Mao Shan practitioners have abilities of low level Mao Shan as well as high level Mao Shan. High level Mao Shan practitioners have abilities of low and middle levels Mao Shan, and more, but are concerned with healing and helping people.
Hence, the division into low, middle and high levels Mao Shan is based mainly on the application of Taoist magic, and not on the attainment of practitioners, but the tradition and philosophy of respective schools focus on these specific levels.
A requirement for students to undergo training in low level Mao Shan is to choose one of the following three conditions — to be permanently deformed, to be unable to accumulate money, and to have no children. Normally people would not agree to any of these conditions, but some persons due to evil intention of various reasons may accept one of these conditions. A common condition chosen by these people is an inability to accumulate money or not to have children.
Someone who has no ability or desire to earn money honorably and honestly may choose the second condition. After successfully competed his training, he can invent money and use it lavishly, but the money cannot be used the following day. Someone who wants to avenge some great wrongs done to his family may sacrifice family life and choose the third condition to take revenge.
Low level Mao Shao is black magic, and can be very powerful. While many low level Mao Shan practitioners who use his magic to harm other people for no better reasons than earn money from those who pay them to do so, are unscrupulous, others are not, like those who want an easy carefree life, and those who want to avenge great wrongs. These practitioners, for example, would not use their magic on poor hawkers, or harm innocent people.
While it is true that wonderful arts like genuine Tai Chi Chuan and genuine Shaolin Chuan, or Shaolin Kungfu, exist, it is also true that these wonderful arts are very rare today. Those who have a chance to learn these arts, like students in our school, are indeed very lucky. Much of Tai Chi Chuan and Shaolin Kungfu practiced today are grossly debased.
It is also very rare today to practice Mao Shan, regardless of its level. Even when students have a chance, besides the conditions required by the teacher, the training is also very tough.
Finally, do you have any advice on speaking with other people about qigong?
From reading your question and answer series, I know that many people respond unfavorably to your talking about it. I also have tried unsuccessfully to talk with people about it without results.
Oddly, the people who stand to benefit the most seem to be the least interested. However, most of them act as though they didn’t hear me or I am obviously deceived. I am sad to be unable to share the great benefits I’ve received with others.
My advice is that you may talk about the benefits of qigong in general to all people. If they do not show interest, you need not continue. Only for those who are interested to know more and gain benefits themselves, should you spend time elaborating.
Don’t waste your time on undeserving people. This may sound harsh, but it is good advice based on my many years of experience.
While many people respond unfavorably to my talking about qigong, many other people respond favorably to it. My website, for example, is one of the top 500 most visited websites in the world. Considering that only a small proportion of the world’s people are interested in qigong and kungfu or any martial art, this is a remarkable achievement. Moreover, many of our instructors and students learned from me after hearing me talking about qigong and kungfu in my websites or books.
If you talk to people interested in qigong or who want to benefit from qigong, you will have results. If you talk to people who are not interested or do not believe in the benefits qigong can bring, they think they are doing you a favour by listening to you.
People whom you think will benefit most from your telling them of our qigong and the benefits you have gained, are undeserving of your time and effort. You would spend your time more fruitfully by taking your girlfriend out or finding one if you do not have a girlfriend yet, or spending quality time with your parents.
On the other hand, it is their right not to be interested or to believe you, though it is not very wise of them considering the benefits you have derived from your qigong practice. You need not feel sad that you are unable to share the great benefits you have received with others. It is their choice. You should feel happy that you have the opportunities to enjoy these wonderful benefits.
The internal force in Wuzuquan is more flowing than condolidated
I was curious about some of the Baguazhang training methods used in other schools, particularly the methods I learnt from my old Baguazhang sifu before learning Baguazhang from you.
His school’s fundamental set consists of Walking the Circle with the upper body held in different positions. My old sifu mentioned that doing so would train “different forms of jin” and condition the body’s strength and flexibility.
— Fredrick Chu, USA
Your old Baguazhang sifu was correct. Performing Walking the Circle using different positions will develop different forms of jin or internal force. For example when you use “Black Bear From Cave”, you develop “sinking force” at your palms. When you use “Great Roc Spreads Wings”, you develop “spreading force” at your arms.
Using these different positions for Walking the Circle is similar to the Eight Internal Palms which I mentioned in the webpage, Brief Descriptions of Baguazhang Classics and Comments on Songs of Baguazhang, when answering questions raised by you.
In the Walking the Circle we learned at the UK Summer Camp 2012, we used the Eight External Palms. We could develop internal force although we used an external method because we were skilful. Indeed, we could develop internal force no matter what external kungfu sets we used.
As you are now proficient in the Eight External Palm, you can progress to using the different positions taught in your old sifu’s set when practicing Circle Walking. You will find that the internal force developed is more powerful.
I experimented a little with returning to my old sifu’s set and experimenting with Circle Walking while holding my upper body in postures from the Wahnam Baguazhang Eight Mother Palms and felt my energy flow going to different parts of the body, but didn’t know if such practice would be efficient or fruitful in the long run.
Yes, this practice will be efficient and fruitful. It is a development from using the Eight External Palms learned at the UK Summer Camp 2012 to using Eight Internal Palms of your old sifu’s set although the exact patterns may not be the same.
You should practice your old sifu’s set the way you practice Circle Walking learnt in Shaolin Wahnam though the hand and body positions may be different. Your mind must be free from thoughts and you must be relaxed. You don’t have to worry about how to develop different forms of jin. The different hand and body positions will do that.
When you use the Eight External Palms learned in our school, your energy flow goes to different parts of your body because you have generated flowing internal force. When you use the hand and body positions of your old sifu’s set, this flowing energy will consolidate into different types of internal force due to the various hand and body positions. You don’t have to worry how. The various hand and body positions will result in different types of force.
It is both safer and more effective to first develop flowing force, then consolidate the force, or just develop consolidated force. Starting with the method learnt in Shaolin Wahnam, and progressing to your old sifu’s set is an excellent approach.
The internal force in Choy-Li-Fatt Kungfu is more consolidated than flowing
I would appreciate any insight you might have on the practice of Circle Walking with the upper body held in various postures and how it might compare to other methods of force training, such as simply holding the Green Dragon posture in circle walking, using the “secret” method of Walking the Circle for internal force by holding a posture for a period of time, then taking the next step along the circle to hold a posture for a period of time, and repeating until completing the circle, and the master’s method of Baguazhang force training that you taught us at the Summer Camp.
These are various methods to develop internal force. We are able to understand and benefit from these different methods because of our breadth and depth, which extend beyond Baguazhang, and from which we can draw inspiration and practice.
These different Baguazhang methods enable us to develop internal force that can have different proportion of flowing and consolidated force. The whole range of internal force in kungfu can extend from the soft, flowing force of Yang Style Taijiquan to the hard, consolidated force of Iron Wire.
Because both these styles as well as other styles of internal force, like Flower Set and Xingyiquan, are practiced in our school, we are able to draw from these styles to enrich our Baguazahgn in a way that other Baguazhang schools may not be able to. This positive transfer of skills is enhanced by my understanding and practice of Dragon Strength.
A rough guideline showing the ratios of flowing force to consolidated force in various kungfu styles are as follows:
Yang Style Taijiquan 90 – 10
Wuzuquan 80 – 20
Chen Style Taijiquan 70 – 30
Dragon Strength 60 – 40
Wudang Taijiquan 50 – 50
Flower Set 40 – 60
Baguazhang 40 – 60
Praying Mantis 40 – 60
Tantui 40 – 60
Triple Stretch 30 – 70
Wing Choon 20 – 80
Xingyiquan 20 – 80
Eagle Claw 20 – 80
Choy-Li-Fatt 10 – 90
Iron Wire 10 – 90
Please take not that the about listing is a rough guide, and there can be variation. Some Yang Style Taijiquan practitioners, for example, may have 20% or 30% of consolidated force instead of 10%. Generally only masters may have flowing force or consolidated force. Students may use physical momentum as in Aikido, or muscular strength as in Karate, and mistake it for flowing force and consolidated force.
By itself, i.e. without transference of learning from breadth and depth, Baguazhang force is about 40& flowing and 60% consolidated. A Baguazhang practitioner who has such force is probably a master or at an advanced level.
In our school, however, even students have internal force right at the start of their Baguazhang training, and due to the advantage of breadth and depth some may vary the proportion between flowing force and consolidated force.
A comparison of the various methods of Baguazhang force training using Circle Walking is as follows.
When the upper body is held in various postures, various types of consolidated force are developed according to the postures. When only the Green Dragon posture is used in Circle Walking, flowing force is developed, especially when various palm changes are performed at the end of a circle, like what you learned at the UK Summer Camp 2012.
As mentioned earlier, it is both safer and more effective to develop flowing force before consolidated force. If a practitioner starts straight away with consolidating force, the risk of causing energy blockage is higher. If he starts with flowing force, even when he makes a same mistake, energy flow will clear away the blockage.
Before energy can be consolidated, it must be flowing. This is a fact many people may not know. Hence, our students, who start with chi flow, can develop the same amount of internal force in a month whereas other students would need a year. Understandably, other people may be angry at this statement, and call us arrogant. That is their problem, not ours.
Another fact many people may not know is that consolidated force is also flowing, but at a slow pace. If a practitioner locks up his energy, it becomes stagnant and forms muscles.
When a Baguazhang practitioner uses the secret method of Circle Walking holding the Green Dragon posture for some time, then walk the next step and hold the posture for some time until he completes the circle, he focuses on developing consolidated force, but ensures that it is also flowing. This method should be practiced only after he has developed flowing force using the mobile Circle Walking.
The master’s method taught at the UK Summer Camp 2012 is a progression form this method of Stance Training in Circle Walking. It develops different types of internal force using various Eight Internal Palms, and at the same time ensures that force is flowing. It should be practice after Stance Training in Circle Waling.
Hence an effective progression of internal force training in Baguazhang is as follows:
Mobile Circle Walking holding the Green Dragon posture.
Stance Training using the Green Dragon posture in Circle Walking.
Circle Walking using the Eight Internal Palms.
The third level may be performed at two stages — mobile circle walking with the eight internal palms, and stance training in circle walking with the eight internal palms.
In addition to developing the force for which Baguazhang is well-known, I want to sharpen the overall skill of getting to an opponent’s back to deliver a decisive strike for which Baguazhang is famous. I’ve lately been imagining an imaginary opponent coming at me with simple strikes (for example, Black Tiger Steals Heart) and then using my footwork to step to the imaginary opponent’s side and responding with one of the 64 application palms.
I’ve found in my imaginary opponent and with real sparring partners that it is very easy to get to the back of an opponent who gives me a lot of force and forward momentum, but it is more difficult with a cautious opponent. Would you be able to give me some advice on how to best train the skill of getting to an opponent’s back, especially such a cautious opponent?
You method of practicing with an imaginary opponent and then testing it on a teal opponent is excellent. It was the method past masters practiced to become combat efficient. This was the method I frequently practiced to remain unbeaten. It is also the method I ask our Shaolin Wahnam instructors and students to practice to win sparring competitions.
If you are very fluent in executing your combat sequence, which must take into account of safety first, your opponent just has no chance against you. He will be retreating trying to cover your strikes.
Occasionally, an opponent may be very skillful that he can neutralize your attack and counter attack. You make an instant modification, irrespective of whether you are attacking him from the front, side or back, and continue to subdue hum.
Of course, with a cautious opponent, it is relatively not as easy to get to his back, or to attack him from any direction. There are two effective tactics for this situation. One is called “false-false, real-real”, and the other “tricking an opponent to advance to futility”.
In “false-false, real-real”, which is pronounced in an impossible sound in Mandarin based on tonal values, “shi-shi, shi-shi”, you make one or two feint attacks, which can turn to be real if your opponent fails to respond. As he responds to your feint moves, you get to his back.
To make your victory doubly sure, you anticipate a few possible responses he is likely to make. You make the necessary modifications and subdue him. If his response is so out-landish that you have not prepared a suitable modification, let him go and wait for another opportunity.
In the tactic of “tricking an opponent to advance to futility”, which is “yin di le kong” in Mandarin Chinese, you trick you opponent to advance to attack you, but you space yourself that his attacks are futile. When he is the midst of his attacks, you slip to his side or back to strike him.
Again, to make victory doubly sure, you anticipate a few possible responses he will make in that situation, and use defeat him with appropriate modifications. If his rare response is outside your prepared modification, let him go and wait for another opportunity.
A little bit ago, I experimented with “Through the Woods” for fun. I began Circle Walking through the obstacles and using the obstacles as placeholders for the position of imaginary opponents and just spontaneously delivering various strikes in free flow. It was a very eye-opening experience. I felt as though I were training the skill to really deliver decisive strikes on the move, especially since the idea arose from the training that I had to be able to use just one pattern to strike someone down in a situation with multiple opponents.
The patterns that came out most during my experiences with “Through the Woods” were Yellow Dragon Shoots Tongue (though from the Bagua stance, not the Bow Arrow stance), Yellow Dragon Plays With Water, Heavenly King Carries Umbrella, Golden Dragon Spirals Around Pillar, Cloud Dragon Spirals Around, and Wind Strikes Brain Gate, using the names of the patterns from 64 Patterns of Baguazhang.
Are there particular patterns in Baguazhang that are more suited for fighting in a situation with multiple attackers? I noticed I was using the Bagua stance almost the entire time, not the Bow Arrow or Horse Riding stances.
This was a secret training taught to me by my sifu, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam. It was extremely effective, and I once taught it at an advanced course for instructors.
There are no particular patterns that are specially suited for this situation. You can use any suitable patterns. But as you are on the move, you have to strike down an opponent with just one decisive pattern, and simultaneously cover yourself adequately from possible attacks from others.
You can let the patterns come out in chi flow as you go through the woods. Some suitable patterns are Yellow Dragon Shoots Tongue, Pure Blade Cuts Grass and Yellow Dragon Plays with Water.
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.
(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/ans15b/aug15-1.html)
India is full of sounds and colours
I am a managing director of a large company, but I had a difficult past and had little money in the past.
Before my children were born, I was drinking a lot of alcohol and feeling very depressed. I made a commitment to improve myself and my future family. I was quite successful. I stopped drinking and managed to do well at work, despite often feeling frightened or desperate.
However, I realize now I was partly holding on. I found it difficult to socialize and maintain friendships.
However, things seemed to turn out well, which were associated with my wife and me working hard and making good decisions at important times. When things didn’t go so well we dealt with them, and we made a commitment to my children who depended on us.
— Edward, England
Not only you overcame your difficulties of your past, you have done extremely well in the present. Your success in overcoming your past problems would be a great inspiration not only for others but also for yourself.
You need not socialize with others if you don’t want to. You have your own family to look after and live with.
But if you want to extend your sphere of socialization, you can socialize with your friends and other company directors. You don’t have to prove to yourself or to them that you can socialize, you do so simply because you like it. You will then find that you can let go, and not holding on.
Recently I find old patterns returning. I notice thoughts of fears of loneliness, worries about financial security, unhappiness and strong feelings of lack of motivation and pointlessness.
Our past always remains with us, no matter how successful we may be in the present. But you don’t have to recall it. If it returns to you on its own, just breathe it away, like you breathe out stale air, if you do not want it. Or, occasionally if you like, you can indulge in some nostalgia but without letting it bothers you.
In my case, for example, I had some very painful experiences when my own students whom I selflessly nurtured, and people whom I literally saved from dying, betrayed me. But I never let my past troubled me.
If the painful memories cropped up on their own, I just breathed them away. If, on rare occasions when I wanted some nostalgia, I recalled those painful memories fondly, being thankful that they were actually opportunities for my improvement.
Without those betrayals I would not be what I am now, traveling the world enjoying the best food and the best scenery, while giving health and happiness to people irrespective of race, culture and religion. I never allowed those bad memories to hold me up; in fact I am more active now than before in nurturing students and saving lives
By practicing chi kung we control our thoughts and emotions, not let our thoughts and emotions control us
I also think of people in under-developed countries where life is cheap, with problems of corrupt politicians putting their own interests before the people. This can leave me feeling hopeless for the future of the world.
It is noble of you to think of the social and political problems in under-developed countries. But the fact is that these people may not be suffering the way you imagine them to be. In fact they might be happier than many people in England.
A few years ago I was in Toronto. A shop dedicated a portion of its profit to people in Africa, and the shop owner told me how miserable the Africans were, so she thought. I thought differently. I thought that although the economic level of the African people was nothing like that in Canada, most Africans would be happier than most Canadians.
My experience in India was illuminating. The people were very poor, and their living conditions in slums were simply unimaginable to most Europeans. Many people as well as organizations in Europe were very noble in raising funds for them. But from my direct observation, I believe the people in India were generally happier than the people in Europe.
One of our instructors in England mentioned that many English people felt shameful of themselves because the English colonized many countries in the past. I contented that the English should change this perspective.
While the English gained a lot from their colonization, they also gave a lot to the indigenous people. Even everyday things we now take for granted, like pipe water and electricity, were the direct result of colonization. It is well known that expatriate companies look after the welfare of their employees very well. Indigenous companies tend to exploit their workers.
This general feeling of shame amongst the English could be a subconscious cause of your unhappiness. You need to make a paradigm shift. Be proud of what your forefathers did. Be proud of being English. Be aware that the English did bring a lot of benefits to many people in many places. The English Empire, like the Spanish Empire, was where the sun never set.
I am even worrying now that I have been a less good father and husband than I had planned or hoped to be.
The fact that you made a commitment to provide well for your children, and that you and your wife worked hard to build up your company shows that you have been a responsible father and husband.
There may still be some things you would like to do as a father and husband, but you certainly have been a better father and husband than most people anywhere in the world. Don’t be unkind to yourself.
Practicing genuine chi kung can overcome any health problem as well as homosexuality
As I write I realize there are a few problems:
I find it difficult to take joy in the world and everyday life.
I am frightened about the future as it seems my mind is telling me things will turn out badly whatever I do or try.
I feel shame about these feelings
I have no focus on what I want to do or achieve with whatever life is left to me
Whether one is joyful depends not on social, economical and geographical factors but on his mind set. The happy Indians in their slum areas are an inspiration.
If you stop worrying and stop intellectualizing, you will find it easier to take joy in the world and everyday life.
If you realize that you have a good family, are the managing director of a large company, and live in a highly civilized country, and be grateful for all these blessings, your joy in the world and everyday life will be assured.
Don’t let your mind control you. Control your mind. Things are turning out very well for you. In fact, for people living in England, things are turning out well even for the homeless and unemployed. It is the affluents who make themselves unhappy with their unnecessary intellectualization.
Make a paradigm shift. Be proud of being English. Be proud that you overcame past problems and are now a managing director of a large company. Be proud that you are wealthy, and have a happy family.
You don’t have to achieve more and join the mad, rat race. Make your life meaningful everyday. Find joy and beauty in simple things, like seeing your customers happy with your products, and your workers well paid for their job.
You have achieved much in this world. Your workers would like to exchange their life with yours, but you may not want to exchange your life with the Queen.
Feel proud instead of shameful, feel satisfied instead of being unrest.
This seems somewhat self-pitying as I am fairly wealthy and am probably in the top few percent of income in the world. I am scared because I thought these issues had passed.
All these issues had passed. You just made them up in your imagination.
From drinking a lot of alcohol, you have now overcome the problem. From being very depressed, you have become caring for people in under-developed countries. From having no family, now you have a wife and children. From having little money, you are now in the top few percent of income in the world. Count your blessings and enjoy life wholesomely.
This is Xingyiquan. Would you call it Shaolin or Wudang Kungfu?
Back to my first question, in your view is homosexuality wrong?
— Jussi, USA
I don’t think homosexuality is wrong, but it is certainly unnatural. As an analogy, to be sick is not wrong, but it is unnatural. It is natural to be healthy.
If a person is sick, he can get well, irrespective of the illness, including so-called incurable disease, because it is natural to be healthy. Practicing genuine chi kung is an excellent way to help a sick person become healthy.
If a person is homosexual, regardless that some experts say it is due to biological reasons, he can become heterosexual again, because for humans it is natural to be heterosexual. Practicing genuine chi kung is an excellent way to help a homosexual person become heterosexual again.
How does practicing genuine chi kung help a homosexual person become heterosexual again if it is presumably true that the cause of his homosexuality is due to biological reasons? It is because genuine chi kung will help him regain yin-yang harmony. In everyday language it means that practicing genuine chi kung will help him to adjust himself accordingly to changing conditions both inside and outside his body so that he regains his normal, healthy condition.
This is the same as overcoming diseases. A person is sick due to biological reasons. Some parts in his body is not adjusting accordingly to changing conditions inside or outside his body. For example, if his own systems cannot adjust to viruses, he may have a viral infection. Practicing genuine chi kung will help him make the appropriate adjustment, and he will overcome the viruses and be healthy again.
If the cause of his homosexuality is not biological, but due to other reasons like social, environmental or other factors, practicing genuine chi kung will also help him overcome the problem. It is the same as overcoming illness. Some diseases are due to stress or environmental changes, but practicing genuine chi kung can overcome these factors and enable the patients to be healthy again.
It is important to practice genuine chi kung. Much of chi kung practice today is actually gentle physical exercise, and gentle physical exercise, though it may give benefits like loosening muscles and socialization, cannot overcome homosexuality or illness. Many students in our school have overcome illness, and some have overcome homosexuality.
I read from your webpage that Xingyiquan was invented by Yue Fei who was a Shaolin master. This means Xingyiquan belongs to Shaolin Kungfu.
But I also have read that Xingyiquan is Wudang Kungfu. Wudang Kungfu is described as the opposite of Shaolin. Wudang Kungfu is soft and internal, Shaolin Kungfu is hard and external.
Can you please explain?
— Marc, Germany
Many people, including many kungfu practitioners, even some masters, classify all styles of kungfu into Shaolin and Wudang. According to this classification, Shaolin Kungfu is hard and external, whereas Wudang Kungfu is soft and internal. Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan are internal arts, and they belong to the Wudang group. All other kungfu styles belong to the Shaolin group.
This classification was originated by a Chinese scholar in the 20th century who wrote a treatise on “A Study of Shaolin and Wudang”. I have a copy of this treatise. This classification is incorrect, but has been established and is popularly used by many people, often without understanding its meaning.
A few Chinese terms that have been well established belong to this situation. They are incorrect, but have been established as if they were facts. Two infamous examples are “Yin-Yang” and “Five Elements”.
It is commonly said, even by otherwise authorities, that yin and yang are two primordial forces of the universe. Yin and Yang are not primordial, and they are not forces. They are just symbols representing two complementary aspects of any thing. A woman, for example, is referred to as yin, when she is compared with a man, and the comparison is usually not openly stated; it is understood. If we compare the strength of a woman who is strong, with a man who is week, the woman would be yang and the man yin.
It is commonly said that the Chinese regard all things in the world to be made up of five elements. This is incorrect, and the mistake is due to a wrong translation which has become established. The Chinese realize that there are countless processes in the world, and all these countless processes can be classified into five archetypes called “wu xing”, which means â€œfive movementsâ€ or “five processes”, but the term has been wrongly translated as “five elements”.
Of the three internal arts, Xingyiquan is the one that has no connection with Wudang. It is also the one that is directly developed from Shaolin Kungfu by the great Song marshal, Yue Fe, in the 12th century.
Taijiquan was evolved from Shaolin Kungfu by Zhang San Feng, who developed the art on Wudang Mountain. It was initially called Wudang Shaolin Kungfu, but later shortened to Wudang Kungfu.
It is generally accepted that the First Patriarch of Baguazhang was Dong Hai Chuan who lived in the 19th century. He was well versed in Shaolin Kungfu and developed Baguazhang after learning from two unnamed Taoist saints on Hua Mountain. There was no connection with the Wudang Mountain. But a lot of Baguazhang philosophy is described in Taoist terms, and Wudang Mountain is famous for Taoist cultivation.
It is also incorrect to say that Shaolin Kungfu is hard and external, though this concept is popularly adopted by most people, and that most of Shaolin Kungfu shown to the public is hard and external. Advanced Shaolin Kungfu, which is rarely seen in public, is soft and internal.
While it is internal, Xingyiquan is relatively hard. It does not resemble the soft image of Wudang Kungfu many people have in this mistaken classification. If Xingyiquan were to be performed to a group of people, without telling them it was Xingyiquan and they were asked to guess whether it was Shaolin or Wudang Kungfu, it was likely that many would call it Shaolin, which is correct. In fact, the term “Shaolin” is sometimes prefixed to “Xingyiquan”, calling it Shaolin Xingyiquan, but never Wudang Xingyiquan.
(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/ans15a/jun15-2.html)
Holistic Health Cultivation Center
Sifu I am still unclear about the harm that could be brought by over training or the training is too powerful.
— Dr Foong, Director of Holistic Health Cultivation Centre, Kuala Lumpur
Your question, or comment, is illuminating, and I would like to give a more detailed answer.
Over-training is a unique problem in our school. By “unique” I don’t mean that no one in the past over-trained. What I mean is that no school as a whole in the past and at present over-train at a scale and depth as we do.
Our over-training is closely related to our unbelievable cost-effectiveness. Our student can attain in one month what most other students would attain in one year — if they are lucky enough to practice genuine chi kung or genuine kungfu.
Most people, understandably, may consider us boastful over this statement, and some may become angry. They may concede that our school is twice better than most schools, or may be even three times better, which is a lot.
When I was a school teacher many years ago, I earned $2000 a month. When a colleague earned $4000 a month, that was a lot. If another colleague earned $6000 per month, that was incredible. (I was, of course, happy for them.)
But most people would not believe that we are more than 10 times more cost-effective than others, just as most teachers would not believe that a teacher could earn more than $20,000 a month.
Yet our typical student is more than 10 times more cost-effective than most other students, just as some rare teachers, not necessarily teaching in public schools, earn more than $20,000, though this is a small sum for some high-income earners like doctors and businessmen.
My conclusion that our typical students gain more than 10 times the benefits gained by other students is not made out of imagination, but based on facts.
Our typical students have internal force after practicing for three months. How many other kungfu practitioners have internal force after practicing for three years? Our typical students can use our kungfu for combat after practicing for six months. How many other kungfu practitioners can use their kungfu for combat after practicing for six years.
Your Holistic Health Cultivation Centre has helped many people suffering from so-called incurable diseases, including cancer, to recover after undergoing healing sessions for a few months. How many patients of so-called incurable diseases overcome their illness after treatment elsewhere after many years?
These examples are facts, not opinions. Anyone can find out whether the statements are true.
Hence, when our typical student gets 10 times the result of what other students get in other school, our students are over-training. Over-training means the benefits one receives from his training is too much or too fast for his body to adjust to, resulting in unpleasantness, tiredness, pain or other adverse effects. These adverse effects are a sigh to tell the practitioner to slow down his training so as to allow the body more time for adjustment.
There are two main ways to slow down one’s training — by reducing the time of training or reducing the intensity of training.
When one trains an hour a day, he can reduce the training by training for 15 minutes. But if he trains for only 15 minutes a day, like what our students do, there is not much time for him to reduce, though now, because of our increased efficiency, I advise our students to train for only 10 minutes.
We can also reduce the time of training by reducing its regularity. If a student trains for 10 minutes a day everyday, and still finds himself over-training, he can train once in two days, or once in three days. If he is advanced and powerful and still finds himself over-training, he can train just once a week.
But most of our students enjoy their training. They may not be happy training just once a week. An excellent approach to prevent over-training is to reduce its intensity. This is very effective for our instructors and advanced students who over-train.
An excellent way to reduce the intensity is not to go too deeply into a chi kung state of mind. In fact it is precisely because we enter into a deep chi kung state of mind that we have excellent result.
In theory it is simple, but in practice it may be difficult, even for our students. Here are some suggestions. Don’t take too long, like a minute, to be relaxed and clear the mind of all thoughts, and remain in this heightened level of consciousness. Take just a second or two. Relaxed, clear your mind and perform your exercise.
You can also focus on your form. If you are a beginner, get the outward form correct as best as you can. If you are advanced, aim for picture=perfect form. When you focus on your outward form, you perform the chi kung exercise more on the physical level and less on the mind level. Your result will be less, but it is still a lot compared to what other practitioners get, and minimize the possibility of you over-training.
You may notice that when students begin to learn form me, I ask them to not worry about their form. This is to get them onto the mind level and generate a chi flow. As they become more advanced, they pay more attention to their form.
Another suggestion which is negative but can prevent over-training is to purposely intellectualize and purposely tense your muscles once awhile. Tensing your muscles is not advisable, unless for specific reasons, but thinking of good thoughts while practicing is permissible. The intellectualizing will get you out of or to a shallower level of a chi kung state of mind, thus producing less result and preventing onver-training.
Purposely tensing our muscles can be useful in specific situations. When I sparred with somebody and accidentally hit him, and I sensed that my internal force was going into him, I purposely tense my muscle to prevent the flow of internal force hurting him. When you have over-trained but for some reason you still want to train, you can tense your muscles to prevent a lot of force developing. It can be uncomfortable. You have to do a gentle chi flow to clear the blockage.
Performing physical activities like practicing kungfu sets at a physical level, sparring with classmates, or going out with your family or friends, is a good way to expend energy, thus reducing over-cleansing due to over-training.
Remember that practicing chi kung is to enrich our life and the lives of others, and not to enslave ourselves to it. If you can get benefits in 10 minutes, you don’t have to practice for an hour. Use the time to enjoy other wholesome activities.
Over-training is very important in healing, i.e. teaching patients at a level much higher than they can absorb, or enabling them to recover faster then they can cope with. I shall deal with this topic in the next question you ask.
A healer told me that too powerful chi kung would not harm a patient. I told him that it would be harmful. The healer said that he was already an expert in chi kung healing. What is your comment, Sifu?
You are right and the healer wrong.
Too powerful chi kung is not only harmful to sick people, it is also harmful to healthy persons. It is like asking someone to run a marathon or lift heavy weights.
Even when he is healthy, if he is untrained, running a marathon or lifting weights will be harmful to him. If he is sick, it will aggravate his illness or may even kill him.
It is like taking medication. If a doctor asks a patient to take two pills, the patient must take two pills. If he takes 10 pills, he may be killed.
As you know very well, chi kung for healing is the lowest level of chi kung. The other levels in ascending order are chi kung fro health, chi kung for scholars, chi kung for warriors, and chi kung for spiritual cultivation. Although it is at the lowest level, chi kung for healing is the most useful today. This is because many people today, unlike in the past, practice chi kung to overcome their pain and illness.
If a healer teaches chi kung for warriors to sick people , he may kill them. It is like putting an engine of an aeroplane in a small car.
That healer may be an expert if he knows a lot about chi kung healing, but he may not be a master healer. A master healer is determined not by how much he knows but how well he helps patients overcome their illness.
One way to prevent over-training is not to enter deeply into a chi kung state of mind
Someone told me that as long as a person spent one hundred thousand hours on an art, he became a genius. I don’t agree because there are many other factors involved for one to become a genius or a real expert. What is your opinion, Sifu?
I agree with you, and disagree with the person who said that if one practiced an art one hundred thousand hours he would become a genius. If his practice is wrong, he becomes a big fool. Not only he has waste his time and effort, he has harmed himself, often seriously and unnecessarily.
This is the case with many martial artists today. They practice a martial art so as to become healthy and be able to defend themselves. But the more they practice the more unhealthy they become, and they cannot defend themselves. They merely exchange blows and kicks with their sparring partners in free sparring, and their injuries are usually unattended to.
Here is a list of factors a student may work on to get the best benefits from the practice of any art.
Have a sound philosophical understanding of the art.
Define his aims and objectives in pursuing the art.
Find the best available teacher according to his (the student’s) resources.
Practice the art according to the way the teacher teaches, and not according to the way the student thinks the art should be practiced.
Periodically access his result according to his set aims and objectives.
The same guidelines can also be applied to a patient seeking to overcome his illness and attain good health, vitality and longevity.
Have a philosophical understanding of his illness and healing.
Set aims and objectives, like overcoming his illness, and attaining good health, vitality and longevity.
Seek the best healer according to his resources.
Practice the healing procedure according to what the healer prescribes and not according to what the patient thinks to be done.
Periodically access his result according to his set aims and objectives.
I’ve been reviewing some videos to further increase my knowledge of what the world thinks about Baguazhang and recently saw a few Baguazhang weapons videos.
— Fredrick Chu, USA
What you are doing will contribute much to your understanding and attainment in Baguazhang. But it is important to know that what the world thinks of Baguazhang and what videos show on Baguazhang weapons may not be what Baguazzhang and Baguazhang weapons really are. This awareness is even more important in many other styles of kungfu, chi kung and spiritual cultivation.
Indeed, it is shocking how much kungfu, chi kung and spiritual cultivation have deviated from their original purposes and practice as shown in what the world thinks of these arts, and in what videos, even by well known world masters, show these arts to be.
What the world thinks of kungfu is often represented by Bruce Lee, despite the fact that Bruce Lee rejected both kungfu philosophy and methodology. For example, Bruce Lee thought that stance training, which forms the foundation of all kungfu, was ineffective, and his training methods were precisely what traditional kingfu masters warned against.
If you examine videos showing free sparring amongst kungfu practitioners, with the exception of those from Shaolin Wahnam, virtually all of them use boxing and kick-boxing, with hardly any kungfu techniques. If you watch videos on kungfu weapons, again with the exception of those from Shaolin Wahnam, there are hardly any on using kungfu weapons in combat, which is precisely the reason why the weapons are for.
If you watch videos on the demonstration of a Guandao, or the Knife of Guan, which is a long, heavy weapon, you will see that the controlling hand of most demonstrators holds the weapon just below its blade, and that the blade of the weapon is flimsy, which negate its advantage of being a long weapon, and a heavy weapon. Holding the weapon just below its blade would not enable its practitioner to use it on horseback or to cut it through the armour of an opponent, which were precisely what a Guandao was for.
A Small Universe Course where participants attain a “real break-through”
One of the weapons that many people mention when discussing Baguazhang is the Deer Horn Knife (I’ve also heard them called the Meridian Knives and the Mandarin Duck Knives). I have to admit, the weapons look rather spectacular, having many cutting edges and sharp points.
I was wondering what are the special characteristics of the Deer Horn Knives? How do they enhance Baguazhang practice? Are certain weapons more conducive to enhancing or bringing out the best of Baguazhang, such as the straight sword, the single knife, or the huge “Bagua dadao”?
The Dear Horn Knives are so named because diagrammatically they resemble the antlers of a stag. They are also called Meridian Knives and Mandarin Duck Knives because they are always used in pair.
Indeed, they look spectacular. The weapons are just sharp edges and points.
The special characteristics of the Dear Horn Knives are its sharp blades and points, which make them highly destructive. It is almost impossible for an opponent to dislodge the weapons from the exponent. The horns of the weapons can be used to lock or capture an opponent’s weapon.
Any hit of the weapons will cause bloodshed. The main techniques are cutting, slicing and piercing.
Interestingly, while the Deer Horn Knives are closely associated with Baguazhang, their training does not enhance Baguazhang practice. Circulating the hands round the body is a special feature of Baguazhang, but the sharp blades and points of the Deer Horn Knives do not facilitate this feature. But the agility of Baguazhmg contributes to an effective application of these weapons, so long as the exponent does not circulate the weapons round his body and cut himself.
The straight sword is the most conducive in bringing out the best in Baguazhang, and vice versa. In both the sword and Baguazhang, agility and flowing movement are of utmost importance. The swordsman, however, must not use his sword to circulate round his body like what a Baguazhang exponent does with his hands.
The Single Knife, or sabre, is also conducive in bringing out the qualities in Baguazhang, and vice versa. Circulating the sabre or the arms round the body is a frequently used skill in sabre and Baguazhang performance and application.
The huge Bagua Dadao is a large sabre that is quite out of size. Because of its huge size, it is good for training internal force or mechanical strength for those who have no internal force. Personally, I do not favour it because its excessive large size distract its application as a sabre
About a week or two ago, I felt the “false breakthrough” of the Small Universe during Baguazhang Circle Walking. It was the first time that I’ve clearly felt energy flowing through meridians (normally, my energy feels more diffuse or like waves passing across my body). I was walking the circle and my posture aligned in such a way that I began clearly feeling pockets of energy flowing along the Small Universe circuit.
I was wondering if Baguazhang, or any other particular martial arts, particularly well known for achieving the Small Universe and Big Universe?
Congratulations for your break-through of the Small Universe, even though it is “false” or apparent, and not “real” or permanent. A “false break-through” does not mean it is only an illusion and that there is really no break-through.
The term “false” is used relative to “real”. A “false break-through” does not mean there is no break-through. It occurs when a bubble of energy goes round the Ren and Du Meridians, and the defilements that block the meridians are being pushed through by the bubble of energy, but they may resume their blockage after the bubble has gone through.
A “real break-through” occurs when the Du and Ren Meridians are fully filled with energy flowing continuously and harmoniously round the meridians. A real break-through of the Small Universe enables practitioners to live beyond a hundred years.
Baguazhang being an internal art is more suitable than many other kungfu styles for attaining a Small Universe. But only Baguashang masters who have practiced for many years may have this attainment. It will be faster if they learn the art of Small Universe separately. But Baguashang practitioners who practice only the external aspects of Baguazhang will never attain the Small Universe.
If all other things were equal, Wudang Taijiquan and Dragon Strength would be more effective than Baguazhang to attain the Small Universe. This is because the internal force in these two arts is more flowing than that in Baguazhang.
Your attaining a break-through of the Small Universe, even a “false” one, is remarkable. Congratulations. Such an attainment is not likely to happen in most other schools.
A historical Baguazhang course at the UK Summer Camp 2012
Also, I remember hearing from my Sifu that Reverse Breathing is an important part of Small Universe training. I do know that at some point I would like to open the Small Universe, thanks to you, Sigung, and my Sifu’s writing about its amazing benefits.
I learnt Reverse Breathing at Goat Stance from my old Taijiquan sifu, and I had some good benefits like beginning to build and store energy at my dan tian, but I haven’t practiced it in a long time (mostly because shortly thereafter, I learnt from you and my Sifu in Florida).
Would it be worthwhile for me to begin practicing Reverse Breathing at Goat Stance if I wanted to further pursue the Small Universe, or should I wait until I’m able to spend a fair amount of time with you or my Sifu (for example, at a Small Universe course) to learn how to attain the Small Universe?
Reverse Breathing is an advanced art. It should be learnt from a competent teacher as wrong practice can cause serious problems.
When I was learning the Small Universe from my sifu, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, I made a mistake unknowingly while practicing Reverse Breathing. My chi accumulated about an inch on one side of my dan tian (I can’t remember now whether it was on the left side or the right side). It took me about three months of remedial exercise to correct it.
Many people mistake Reverse Breathing as Chest Breathing. They are different, though they look alike. In both cases, a practitioner’s chest rises as he breaths in. It rises more in Chest Breathing than in Reverse Breathing.
But in Chest Breathing it is air that goes into the chest. In Reverse Breathing it is energy, not air, that goes into the dan tian, or flows in a small universal circuit.
You should not attempt Reverse Breathing on your own. You can learn it from your sifu if you spend a fair amount of time with him, or learn it from me at a Small Universe course.
I was talking with Sifu recently and he told me that at my level I really needed to begin practicing regularly with other people to further refine my sparring and fighting skills. Funnily enough, shortly after the Legacy of Wong Fei Hoong Summer Camp (which I was unfortunately unable to attend), I was lucky enough to find a good school of Hoong Ka Kung Fu.
One of the things I liked immediately was the fact that the school does a lot of Asking Bridge in preparation for free sparring. Even though I haven’t had more than a handful of opportunities to train with and spar with people in the past two years, my stances, footwork, and internal force served me very well; I was routinely driving back and out-flanking people who had been in this school for about four or five years. The sifu complimented me on my solid stances and how my footwork always seemed to cut off my partner’s avenues of escape. I wanted to thank you again for teaching me those skills in Baguazhang, they are coming in handy a lot here!
This is no surprise because we pay a lot of attention on stances and footwork, but many other schools don’t. And Baguazhang is well known for footwork.
I did have a question about Asking Bridge and “bridging” in general. I noticed that this school and many others (which I’ve seen mostly in documentaries and on YouTube) use the One Finger Zen hand-form (which they call “Bridge Hand”) and their forearms for initially contacting with an opponent’s arms, especially during or immediately after defending against a strike.
What is it about this hand-form that makes it so popular in Hoong Ka schools compared to, say, the thread hand, Tiger Claws, or open palms? I personally feel more comfortable and sensitive with the thread-hand and open palms, but that may just be my Baguazhang background.
“Bridge Hand” or “kiew sau” in Chinese (Cantonese) refers to the forearm, not the One-Finger Zen hand form. The forearm is called a “bridge” because it is the part that is usually in contact with an opponent.
The term “Bridge Hand” is usually used in Hoong Ka Kungfu, and other styles derived from Southern Shaolin. It is seldom used in internal arts like Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan, or styles derived from Northern Shaolin like Praying Mantis, Tantui and Wuzuquan.
Besides in our school, the One-Finger Zen hand form, which is different from “Bridge Hand”, is now found mainly in Hoong Ka Kungfu, and rarely in other kungfu styles. It is mainly used to develop internal force, and at advanced levels for dim mark, i.e. dotting energy points. However, I suspect that most students today just perform the external form of One-Finger Zen hand form without knowing its inner significance.
I once asked my sifu, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, why the One-Finger Zen hand form was used to develop internal force. He told me that it activated the lung meridian. I followed up asking why was the lung meridian in particular activated in developing internal force. He said, in Cantonese, “fai wei hei zi fu”, which in Englsih means the lungs are the organs for energy. As developing internal force needs flowing energy, activating the lung meridians using One-Finger Zen is a very cost-effective hand form
In Hoong Ka Kungfu the One-Finger Zen hand form is used to develop internal force, though many Hoong Ka practitioners may not know how to do so, or may not even realize it. They perform the hand form because it is found in their sets, just as most kungfu practitioners of any style today perform their patterns because the patterns are found in their style, but they do not know the significance of these patterns.
In combat or even in solo performance, the thread hand using the dragon hand form, the tiger claw and the open palm are equally popular. In fact, when deflecting an opponent’s attack, like a thrust punch, Hoong Ka practitioners seldom use the One-Finger Zen hand form; they use the thread hand, the tiger claw or the open palm.
As an analogy, the Horse-Riding Stance is usually employed when developing internal force. But in combat it is seldom used.
Why is the One-Finger Zen hand form found in Hoong Ka and not in other styles. This was probably because the One-Finger Zen hand form was widely used in developing internal force in Southern Shaolin, and Hoong Ka Kungfu was the moist typical of Southern Shaolin. In fact, Hoong Ka patriarchs like Wong Fei Hoong and Lam Sai Weng called their kungfu Shaolin, and not Hoong Ka.
Then why is the One-Finger Zen hand form not found in other Southern Shaolin styles like Wing Choon and Choy-Li-Fatt. This was probably because the first patriarchs of these styles used other methods of force training. Yim Wing Choon, for example, used Siu Lin Tou which did not have the One-Finger Zen hand form. Chan Harng, the founder of Choy-Li-Fatt used a wooden man.
Editorial Note: Fredericks other questions will be continued at June 2015 Part 3 issue of the Question-Answer Series.
(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/video-clips-8/baguazhang/glimpse/chris.html)
What a great course. I’ve had the pleasure of attending the past few summer camps and again Si Tai Gung has taken his teaching to a new level.
As my brothers have said on day one alone we learnt enough content to take away for at least the next six months. This included the Eight Mother Palms, Circle Walking, and force building.
In the context of the course there are always simple instructions to follow, simple but with deep meaning. If these are followed and taken home our Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Baguazhang will greatly improve.
Si Tai Gung mentioned a number of times picture perfect form and highlighted its importance
Question: Why do we use the patterns and techniques we practice in our training?
Answer: Because of the advantage they give us in combat not only to help us win but also to help us in not handing defeat to our opponent.
When you have picture perfect form the chi flows correctly and this is how Kung Fu practitioners can spar for long periods of time. Not only will they not get tired but actually have more energy than when they started. This is so true today.
We had two great sessions going over and over in detail the form of the combat applications in the Baguazhang set. I have never felt so charged at the end of a full day training.
At one point after having a small chi flow we were ask to go through the patterns we had just practiced. I was so focused from this set that it actually felt as if rather than having two eyes I had one single point of focus, the force and flow were amazing word just don’t do it justice.
I know there are many points that I will take home and would like others to share. Take the time to make sure your form is perfect, slow down you training to make sure pattern by pattern its 100% correct then add the pieces together say three at a time then as you build your set make sure no form is lost, then when the form is correct and you know the set well move to the next level.
Take out the false stops and flow between movements. Again start with just three patterns and build up. if you find that the form is not picture perfect, stop and go back to get it right, then move to flow again. When you have perfect form and correct flow only then add in some force.
Using these methods will give you the best results and deliver Kung Fu that can be used for combat/competitions while also working on many other levels like good health and vitality. If this course is held again make sure you’re on it I can’t wait or day three!!
19th June 2012
The above is reproduced from the thread Baguazhang at UK Summer Camp in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum