Many people were very kind to regard me as a kungfu genius. Only a few people knew that I was called a child prodigy long before that. I knew how to read Chinese even at the age of three due to my father’s and mother’s informal coaching.
One day, soon after my recovery from my long illness after falling into a huge monsoon drain, my parents took me to see my father’s friend who was a restaurant stall owner at the New Life Plaza at Cintra Street in Penang. The New Life Plaza has now given way to residential flats, but in the 1940s and 1950s, it was busy with hawker stalls.
My father was talking with his friend who was chopping barbequed meat for his customers. I couldn’t recollect what their conversation was, but I could remember my father saying I could read Chinese, which is a formidable feat even for adult learners as the Chinese written language does not have an alphabet and readers have to recognise each one by itself of at least a few hundred characters.
“What, a small boy of three can read Chinese!” The restaurant owner found it hard to believe.
“Yes, that’s true,” my father replied.
“I can’t believe it!”
“You can test my son.”
“Well, boy,” my father’s friend looked at me kindly. “Can you tell me these characters?” He pointed to a row of big Chinese characters on his signboard.
“Yeit ting ho fan tim (一定好饭店).” I read each Chinese character loudly and slowly. They meant “Certainly-Good Restaurant”.
The man was astounded.
“Just three years old, and you can read Chinese characters! A real child prodigy!”
He promptly cut a large piece of “char siew”, which literally means “fork-barbeque”, i.e. a piece of meat that was being forked to be barbequed, hanging in a showcase in front of his restaurant, and passed it to me.
“Child prodigy, please enjoy this piece of char siew,” he graciously said.
Years later, when I told my wife this old story, she went to town and on her return, she gave me a nice piece of barbequed meat.
“Child prodigy,” my wife said, “Please enjoy this piece of char siew.”
My father and mother, myself and my wife, my sister and her husband, and my three eldest children in the 1980s
Wei Foong, Peter, Attilio, my wife and Siew Foong at the Italian Riviera with the Mediterranean Sea behind
Back in Italy in Attilio’s hotel after some chi kung courses, Pio, an elderly aristocrat who has attended all my chi kung courses in Finale Ligure every year, invited me and Attilio to his huge mansion in the countryside near Siena.
“Sifu,” Pio said, “We shall also go to San Gimignano to have the best ice-cream in the world.”
Every Italian would say Italian ice-cream was the best, I thought to myself.
Attilio and I went to San Gimignano to wait for Pio to take us to his mansion. San Gimignano was a pretty ancient town with two famous ice-cream parlours reputed to sell the best ice-cream in the world. We sat waiting for Pio at an old village well at the centre of the village square.
Attilio was pacing up and down, deep in thoughts. Then he turned to me.
“Sifu, while waiting we may have some ice-cream.”
“That’s an excellent idea,” I told Attilio.
Attilio got me and himself a cone each with three gigantic scoops of ice-cream. I had eaten a lot of ice-cream all over the world coming in different containers, from sticks and cones to cups and boxes. But this was really the best ice-cream I had taken, without any doubt it was more delicious than any other by a big margin. I really enjoyed every lick of it.
After finishing the delicious ice-cream, we waited and waited, but Pio did not turn up. Attilio was again pacing about at the village well, deep in thoughts.
Eventually he said to me, “Sifu, what about another helping?”
Although I love ice-cream, the three scoops were so big that normally they would be enough. But they were so mouth-watering that I did not hesitate to say, “Yes! We must have another helping.”
Again, Attilio got me and himself each another three gigantic scoops of ice-cream, and we slowly enjoyed every lick of them.
But Pio still had not arrived. Again, Attilio was pacing up and down near the well, deep in thoughts. He could not hold himself any longer. At last he said to me, “Sifu, I think we should have a third helping.”
“Yes, you’re perfectly right! We should have a third helping,” I quickly added.
My wife in the ancient town of Finale Ligure in Italy
Tim Franklin jumping high for a flying kick in Xingyiquan
Barry is dedicated to developing internal force. Once during a course in 2008, I asked some students to punch him really hard, and he just stood there and smiled.
Barry remarked that the most surprising Golden Bell moment for him was at the Healing Course in Malaysia when I asked someone to punch Barry, and he didn’t feel anything. Then I asked someone to hit Barry with a stick of sugar cane. Mark Appleford did the hitting. Again, Barry didn’t feel anything and Mark said the stick exploded in his hand with bits of it flying off around the room.
The intriguing part was that Barry had not undergone any formal training of Golden Bell, but had derived the ability to take punches without sustaining injury from our regular internal force training. Many of our instructors have this ability, some without their own knowing. They don’t have to practise stance training for eight hours daily with saliva flowing from their mouth.
It is like breaking bricks. Our instructors and senior students did not specifically train to break bricks. But when they were asked to, they could do so effectively, often to their initial surprise. Breaking bricks and being able to take punches without sustaining injury are an incidental result of, not the initial reason for, our normal training.
It is important to note that our ability to withstand punches and to break bricks is an incidental result of our internal force derived from our training. In other words, we do not purposely train to withstand punches and to break bricks. We train to have good health, vitality, longevity, mental freshness and spiritual joy.
Barry performing a majestic pattern of White Crane Flaps Wings
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.
An unforgettable incident, which had much effect in my healing of other people years later, happened one night when I was alone, as my usual friends for some reasons or others were not around to play. I went out of the New World Park and looked around at a hawker selling a variety of fruits. I had twenty cents in my pocket, given to me by my father. Twenty cents was quite a lot of money at that time, especially for a small boy of eight. One could buy a bowl of noodles, which could fill up one’s stomach as lunch or dinner, with twenty cents.
Although my mother did not know much about science, she was to my young boy’s mind quite a dietician. Like most Chinese, she conveniently classified food into two types – hot food and cold food. Hot food was her favourite, and cold food was strictly forbidden.
“Mama,” sometimes I would beseech, “Can I have a slice of orange, just a slice?”
“Oh no, my dear,” my mother would sweetly persuaded, “Oranges are too cold for you.”
“How about a banana, mama?”
“Bananas are cold too. Fruits are cold food. They will make you sick.”
It is enthralling that now, sixty years later, I can eat bananas like a monkey and drink fresh orange juice like a horse, and become healthier.
So that night I was just curious, besides being tempted to have a taste of the forbidden fruit to find out whether bananas could make me sick. I saw a long, big banana known locally as an elephant’s tusk in a transparent ice box. It was quite expensive, costing 10 cents per banana, compared to a bowl of noodles costing only 20 cents.
Well, ten cents for a taste of a forbidden fruit, I thought, was quite a bargain. So I paid ten cents and had the banana.
It was exquisite and delicious, sweet and fragrant in every bite. It was not only the first time I ate such a sweet and fragrant elephant tusk, it was the first time I ate any fruit. I was discreet enough not to mention this to my parents.
But my secret did not last long. Soon after midnight, I started to have stomach ache. At first, the pain was mild but it quickly became terrible, causing me to roll wildly in bed. I had no choice but to tell my parents about me eating a forbidden fruit. My parents were very caring and loving. Instead of scolding me, they were decisive and acted immediately to ease my pain.
There was no time to take me to see a doctor or to the hospital. Even if they had time, it might not be a right choice. Their method was extraordinary – at least to Westerners, though it was a folk practice amongst the traditional Chinese. My parents had me lie comfortably in bed. Then my mother placed a 20 cents coin on my naval, dropped some wax of a burning candle on the coin, and stood the candle on the flat coin. Then they inverted a small glass over the candle.
My sister, my mother, my father and me in the 1960s
1989 was a very important year that I proved distant chi transmission was real. But the most important event of the year was the birth of my youngest child, Wong Chun Yian (黄俊贤), who brought love and happiness to the family. “Chun Yian” means “Handsome and Wise”.
I honestly believe that my youngest daughter, Wong Siew Foong born in 1987, and my youngest son, Wong Chun Yian, born in 1989, were our children sent to my wife and me from the Divine for the good deeds we had done. They brought to our family, including my parents and my three elder children, a lot of joy and love.
We did not hope for any rewards when we were blessed to perform some good deeds, but it is a universal truth that goodness always brings goodness. I dearly remember my mother telling me once that it is a greater blessing to give than to receive. Indeed, we are very blessed.
When my wife was carrying Chun Yian, she was a bit apprehensive because she was already over forty years of age. It was said that women giving birth after forty may result in children who were not so intelligent. But Chun Yian, I believe, is a divine-sent child, and he was, and still is, very intelligent.
When my wife and I took our two youngest children for car rides, which we often did, and our other three elder children were at an age when they would prefer to spend time with their friends, Chun Yian would compose songs of his own which he would sing to entertain us.
One of the songs he often sang was as follows:
Grilled chicken wings, grilled chicken wings We shall have something to eat Get two or three cups of fragrant wine To go along with the feast
Sometimes, he would compose words for our private use. For example, instead of saying, “Please pass me some tissue paper to wipe my hands”, he would say, “Please pass me some ti-boys”.
“Why do you call tissue paper ti-boys?” Once I asked him.
“Ti is a short form for tissue. As the tissue paper is small, I call it ti-boy,” he explained.
We certainly had a lot of fun.
I attributed his high intelligence to his practice of chi kung, but he attributed it to his secretion of “brain-juice” by sleeping before ten o’clock every night.
So, while other parents might have difficulty coaxing their children to go to bed early, my wife and I did not have this problem with Chun Yian.
In fact, on occasions when we were out late at night, by Chun Yian’s standard, he would say, “Papa, can we go back early? I want to produce brain-juice.”
Siew Foong, my wife, Chun Yian and me at Chun Yian’s graduation