The Buddha has taught that we can never repay the debt owed to our parents
My relationship with my father has always been tense. But since a couple of years, my father has tried to get closer to me, my brothers and sisters and our children. Last week, my boys and I went to my father’s house. We had a tremendous time.
— Nikita, Russia
It is great to know of your improving relationship with your father. Not only you should make full use of this opportunity, you should also subtly encourage your other brothers and sisters to do so. It is a wonderful blessings you must not miss.
You must do so subtly, certainly not overtly. For example, whenever topics of conversations touch on your father, and he is not physically present, or on anybody’s father, mention that one must be grateful to his parents even when the parents might not have been caring to the children.
The Buddha teaches that even when someone carries his invalid father or mother on his back and takes him or her about everyday for 500 lifetimes, he has not repaid the debt he owes to his parents. What a blessing you have when your father is still healthy. Your relationship with your father should be such that when the time comes for him to leave this phenomenal world, you can with satisfaction say to yourself that you have been kind to your father.
On another issue, my daughter is in love with a man who is extremely abusive, emotionally and physically to my daughter. A couple of days ago I had the chance to talk to a very good friend who has the ability of clairvoyance and she told me she could see that my daughter was under a black spell of voodoo. She said she could see black candles and some black strings attached to her.
Her advice was to wake next morning at sunrise and perform some form of ceremcny with a sword to cut off those strings, which I did. Can you please advice how I can continue helping my daughter from these very bad influences?
It is an excellent idea to use a sword to cut off the invisible strings that tie your daughter. You can also extinguish the black candles with the sword or by blowing with your mouth.
You can also do the following. If you can, chant some blessings onto some clean water, and sprinkle it around her room and house. As you sprinkle the sanctified water, say a mantra, any suitable mantra like Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodh Satt, and ask in a firm way whatever bad spirits or influences to leave your daughter, your family and the house, and bless the bad spirits or influences. You can perform this holy ritual three times.
If the above is not feasible, you can do the same thing in any suitable place you can find. Enter into a meditative state of mind, and visualize you are performing the ritual in your daughter’s house.
Sifu Tim Frankklin and Grandmaster Wong demonstrating Shaolin Kungfu
I was very afraid of attacks because I experienced a childhood with physical violence . I took some classes in T’ang Soo Do but also quickly found your book “The Art Of Shaolin Kung Fu”.
I did the exercises especially ones producing spontaneous chi movements. I found the exercises tamazing. Within one year I had given up alcohol and cigarettes. My body was becoming fit and strong and my mind was getting clear.
Unfortunately, something happened to me around that time. Suddenly my body could no longer do the stretches needed for high kicks and I stiffened up and became full of pain. Naturally that was very frustrating as I had decided on martial arts as my life path
I became sad, angry and depressed I tried to talk to many doctors, including Chinese medical doctors. I tried to find helpful teachers but I met only men who loved fighting and violent harm. I could not find someone like you who I knew understood what he was talking about and understood the Way.
— Ciaran, Ireland
Congratulations for your success in learning from my book. I am also sorry to hear of your later happenings.
From your description, I am sure you can overcome your problems. I suggest that you leave aside martial arts for the time being, and return to it later when you have become healthy and strong. Meanwhile you should practice chi kung to heal yourself.
I would strongly recommend that you attend my Intensive Chi Kung Course Please see my Website for information.
Many people may wonder what one can learn in just a few days. I can say from experience that you will learn a lot, in fact, more than what you need at present, and you will be able to practice on your own when you return home. Please apply to my secretary for registration.
Practicing on your own at home is important. In a few months, you will be well enough to resume your martial art. I would suggest you give Shaolin Kungfu taught by me a try.
I would like to know how is the Instructor Training for the Shaolin Wahnam Institute. I have been reading in the website and I found the regional and intensive courses. But no reference for a long term training to become an instructor. If there is one, could you please indicate how many forms, weapons, style, cost, place for the training?
— Reyes, USA
In our school, potential instructors are chosen from our students who have been training with us for some time, and are not open to application from the public. The choice is based on the following factors:
They have attended at least once but often a few times, my intensive courses they are going to teach, as these courses provide the basic philosophy, techniques and skills practitioners of the relevant arts should know.
Seniority is also an important consideration in our choice of instructors.
Interestingly, the factors you have mentioned, like how many forms, weapons, and styles they know are not important in our consideration, although our potential instructors normally know many forms or kungfu sets, a few weapons and a few kungfu styles.
The cost students have spent before they become instructors, and the places they have had their training vary. But all our instructors have expressed, openly or tacitly, that the benefits they get from our training are many times more than the money and effort
One must become a good student first, before thinking of becoming an instructor
Can we eat our breakfast before chi kung practice?
— Melanie, Spain
Many masters recommend that practitioners should abstain from eating a meal half an hour before and after chi kung practice. It is because the food in the stomach may interfere with chi flow.
However, as our chi flow is powerful, we need not follow this instruction. In fact, my Intensive Chi Kung Course is held at 8 o’clock in the morning. Students usually have their breakfast just before the course.
In my book, “Chi Kung for Health and Vitality”, one of the dont’s is not to take a meal about half an hour before and after a chi kung session. The book was written about 20 years ago in 1997 when my chi kung attainment was of a much lower level than now. Moreover it was written for people who might not have a change to learn from me personally. But now, those who learn from me personally, and hence their chi kung attainment is higher, have the luxury of enjoying a meal before or after chi kung.
It is the same with having a shower. Many masters advise against taking a shower about half an hour before and after chi kung practice. But as our chi kung is powerful, we may not follow this instruction. We can have a shower before and after chi kung.
I attended a course with Sifu in England a few years back. I experienced tremendous joy after the final stage of Bone Marrow Cleansing.
I have been practicing “Lifting the Sky” for depression and anxiety. Should I include Bone Marrow Cleansing in my routine? If so, how often should I do it?
— Jussi, Finland
You should practice “Lifting the Sky” most of the time, about 8 out of 10 days. You practice Bone-Marrow Cleansing only once a while, about once or twice out of 10 days.
Follow the three golden rules: don’t worry, don’t intellectualize, and enjoy your practice. Depression can be overcome quite easily with our chi kung.
Dr Daniel of Belgium performing “Lifting the Sky” during a kungfu course
How many cigarettes in a day do you consider to be too much? I am struggling with depression and smoke about 20 in a day.
For me, even one cigarette a day is too much.
For you, I suggest 5 cigarettes a day. Within 3 months, you cut down to zero cigarettes a day. Note the phrase “within 3 months”. You may accomplish the task in 1 month.
Whenever you feel like having a cigarette more than the number you have allotted yourself to, practice “Lifting the Sky” followed by chi flow. The total time of your practice should just be about 5 minutes, not 10 minutes as in a regular practice session.
If you really want to eliminate your cigarette smoking and depression, just follow this plan. You will succeed.
After you have quitted smoking, if you wish to enjoy a cigarette, you can do so any time. By then, you smoke because you enjoy it, not because you are addicted. .
You told me once that my depression could be cured in three months of chi kung practice. How can you be so sure? Can you see to the future?
I am very sure because overcoming depression with our chi kung is actually easy. Many people have done that. If you follow my plan you will succeed.
My plan is simple, and is as follows. Practice “Lifting the Sky”, or any chi kung exercise, followed by chi flow, three times a day — once in the morning, once in the evening, and once at night. Each session should just be about 10 minutes. During your practice, don’t worry, don’t intellectualize, and just enjoy your practice.
I mentioned that you would overcome your depression in three months. This means any time within 3 months. You may accomplish the task in just 2 weeks.
Sometimes I can see into the future. But the future is not fixed. It depends on some variables.
In your xase, for example, I can see that in a month you can quit smoking and in 2 weeks you are free from depression if you really want to. But if you don’t want to, though you may say you do, you will be unable to quit smoking and overcome your depression.
If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org stating your name, country and e-mail address.
Practicing chi kung will give us good health, vitality and longevity as a matter of course
I fear progressing in my practice of chi kung, because I don’t know where I shall be on the way.
— Franz, Russia
Your fear is not only unnecessary but also unfounded. Just practice your chi kung following the three golden rules of practice, which are not to worry, not to intellectualize, and to enjoy your practice, and you will have good health, vitality and longevity.
The first rule, “not to worry”, means you need not worry whether you are on the way. The second rule, “not to intellectualize”, means you need not intellectualize whether you are on the way, or where the way will lead you to. But I shall still tell you where the way will lead you to. It will lead you to good health, vitality and longevity.
The third rule, “enjoy your practice”, is self-explanatory. If you don’t enjoy your practice, or if you are indifferent to your practice, you are not following the three golden rules.
Why will the way lead you to good health, vitality and longevity? That is because that is the way chi kung is. As an analogy, when you are hungry, eating some food will satisfy your hunger. If you are driving along a road to Moscow, you will eventually reach Moscow.
Why will eating some food satisfy your hunger, or driving along the road to Moscow will enable you to reach Moscow? It is because that is the way eating some food and driving to Moscow is.
If you practice chi kung and don’t have good health, vitality and longevity, it is because of some other factors, like you stop practicing, or you practice wrongly, or what you practice is not genuine chi kung. So, don’t fear practicing genuine chi kung, and stop worrying and intellectualizing. Just enjoy your chi kung practice
My mind thinks around trying to understand the experiences of meditation and compare my thinking with life. For the most part, I just can’t. For example, a human is just another animal living on a basis of stimulus-response without having a real choice because there is no one who can make it, and emotions and thoughts arise spontaneously. This makes me depressed. Can you please give me advice?
The reason you do not think well is that your thinking is wrong. The reason you are depressed is that, regardless of whether your thinking is right or wrong, you do not enjoy your thinking.
Your thinking is wrong because a human is not just another animal. The human is also not living on a basic of stimulus-response. It is also wrong to think that he has no real choice. Fourthly it is wrong to think that no one can make it, i.e. making a choice based on stimulus-response. It is also wrong to think that emotions and thoughts arise spontaneously.
I am quite sure you are a human. So, let us take you as an example. You are not just another animal. No animals, for example, can write an e-mail to me and ask me questions. In fact, you are unique. No other humans, and certainly no other animals, are like you.
You do not live on a basic of stimulus-response. If someone rings a bell, like the case of Pavlov’s dogs for example, you do not necessarily eat the food provided. You have many choices. Regarding the food, you can throw it away, throw it to the provider, go out to buy the type of food you like to eat, and so on.
You also can make it. If food is provided, you can eat it. If for any reason you do not want to eat the food, you also can make it, i.e. you do not eat the food.
Emotions and thoughts may arise in you spontaneously, or they may not. I believe your thoughts of these questions did not arise spontaneously. You made some effort to think of these questions. They did not arise by themselves.
If the ideas you think make you depressed, then don’t think of these ideas. Think of ideas that make you happy.
As a human, it is not difficult to think of happy ideas, irrespective of whether these ideas will become real. It also does not need high intelligence to do so, unless you choose to think of intelligent ideas.
The goal of practicing the Shaolin arts in our school is to enrich our life in this phenomenal world
Isn’t enlightenment the goal of the Shaolin arts as well?
Attaining Enlightenment was the goal of the Shaolin arts at the Shaolin Monastery in the past. But in Shaolin Wahnam today, attaining Enlightenment is not the goal of our Shaolin arts. Enlightenment here means perfect transcendentality where there is no differentiation into myriad identities.
The goal of our Shaolin arts is to have good health, vitality, longevity, poak performance and spiritual joys in our phenomenal world. Many of our Shaolin Wahnam members have experiences of spiritual awakening, or a glimpse of Enlightenment, but we are not ready for Enlightenment yet.
During standing meditation, when I am not thinking of anything, when I smile from the heart and am physically relaxed as best as I can, I am not actively doing anything but am in the moment. I mean that I am perceiving or noticing things, but in a greater quantity and quality than during normal daily life, which is just like during Vipassana meditation. Then I remember your advice about stopping sitting meditation, and I don’t know if I should do that and let the observation happen, which I feel like practicing Vipassana unintentionally. Can you please give me advice?
Yes, I can give you advice, and my advice is always based on the interest of the person who asks me for advice.
But whether you, or anybody, follow my advice is your choice and your right. It is also not my business to ensure that you, or anybody else, follow my advice.
My advice for you to stop Vipassana mediation was because it was making you dull and depressed. I also make it very clear that it was not because Vipassana meditation was not good, but because it was not suitable for you at the time when I gave you the advice, and also now when you ask me for more advice. Similsrly, if our chi kung brings you harm instead of benefit, I would also ask you to stop practicing our chi kung.
Vipassana meditation is good for Theravada monks who have renounced family life to cultivate for Enlightenment. If you were in such a situation, when you became a Theravada monk and had renounced family life to cultivate for Enlightenment, though I would not recommend you to do this, Vipassana meditation would be suitable for you.
Our standing meditation and smiling from the heart are different form Vipassana meditation, though some of the benefits may be similar. Practicing our chi kung is also very different from practicing Vipassana meditation, even unintentionally.
Editorial Note: Franz’ other questions can be found in the following issued, July 2017 Part 3, of the Question-Answer Series.
Sifu, you said that being free from irrelevant thoughts is a necessary condition for performing chi kung. I have hundreds of thoughts crossing my mind How do I eliminate them?
— Elizabeth, USA
Yours is a common problem among many people. They complain that they are troubled by hundreds of thoughts in their daily life, specially when they are not performing any specific tasks.
But once they have learned from our school they overcome their problem. You also have done well. In the chi kung session just now, you had a beautiful chi flow. If you had hundreds of thoughts crossing your mind, you would not have any chi flow.
Being free from irrelevant thoughts is a necessary condition for practicing chi kung, and chi flow is the essence. The other condition is to be relaxed. In other words, if a person has hundreds of thoughts crossing his mind, or he is tensed, he would not be practicing chi kung; he practices gentle physical exercise using chi kung techniques.
A sure way to eliminate irrelevant thoughts is to stop each thought as soon as it arises. You may not stop all the thoughts at once; you would need time to do so.
Suppose you have 500 thoughts in 10 minutes. For the first day you succeed in stopping 5 thoughts. So you have 495 thoughts for that day instead of 500.
The second day you do better. You can stop 8 thoughts, leaving you 483 thoughts. But on the third day, for whatever reasons, you do not perform as well. 3 extra thoughts creep into your mind, resulting in you having 486 thoughts.
There may be rise and fall in the number of thoughts in your mind, but generally the trend is that your thoughts become less and less. If you persists doing this every day, in about 3 months you will have eliminate most of your thoughts.
This method is simple, though it needs perseverance. If you want to succeed, you must continue performing this method every day for a few months.
Why, then, many people have many thoughts troubling their mind? There are two reasons. One, they do not know of this method. Two, they do not persist enough. They attempt this method every day for a few days, then stop practicing.
Sifu, Sinew Metamorphosis develops tremendous amount of internal force in a very short time. There is also no visualization and no special breathing methods involved. What mechanics are involved to make Sinew Metamorphosis so very powerful?
— Sifu Leonard Lackinger, Austria
This is an excellent question. In fact, I have been waiting for such a question. Many people have expressed amazement at the tremendous force developed from Sinew Metamorphosis in just a minute or two but so far no one has asked me how.
There are three dimensions in any internal force development, namely form, energy and mind. The division into these three dimension is for easy understanding. Actually all the dimensions are involved in any internal force development, or in any chi kung exercise.
For example, the most basic method of developing internal force is the Horse-Riding Stance or the Three-Circle Stance in Taijiquan today. These stances are usually regarded as the form dimension. But the energy and the mind dimensions are also involved. A practitioner lets his breathing be nautral, which is the energy dimension. His mind is focused at his dan tian or at nothingness, which is the mind dimension. If his breathing is forced, or his mind wandering, his result will be greatly hampered.
To illustrate the operation of these three dimensions in force training, let us take Lifting Water as an example. If we only perform the form of Lifting Water in a relaxed manner we can develop some internal force. This is the form dimension.
If we regulate our breath while performing Lifting Water in a relaxed manner, we can develop more internal force. We breathe in gently through the nose when lifting up our hands, and breathe our gently through the mouth when lowering the hands.
If we are deeply involved in performing Lifting Water, even without regulating our breath, we produce the most internal force. This is the mind dimension. We enter into a chi kung state of mind, or enter Tao in Taijiquan context, or enter Zen in Shaolin context.
Outwardly the mind dimension may appear to be similar to the form dimension. But the difference is that in the form dimension we do not enter deeply into a chi kung state of mind, whereas we do so in the mind dimension.
All this information provides the background which is useful to understand the answer thoroughly. Now is the answer to your question.
A rough estimate of the internal force a practitioner can obtain from the form, energy and mind dimensions is 1, 3 and 6 respectvely. If he works only at the form level, he gets 10% of the internal force; if he works only at the energy level he gets 30%; and at the mind level, 60%.
The internal force generated in Sinew Metamorphosis practiced by us in our school is 100%, which is 10 times more than what others get at the form level. Why is it at 100% and not at 60%? It is because our practice also includes internal force derived at the form level and the energy level, although we do not regulate our breathing nor perform any visualization.
The form level is obvious. In fact, this is what most other students do if they perform Sinew Metamorphosis correctly, and not merely perform the external forms of Sinew Metamorphosis. This was what I did when I practiced Sinew Metamorphosis as a student. I had to perform each exercise 49 times, and there were 12 exercises. It took me about an hour to complete the Sinew Metamorphosis training.
Yet the internal force I developed from my one-hour Sinew Metamorphosis training was just about one-tenth of the internal force our students now develop in performing just 1 exercise 6 times in 5 minutes. It is mind-blowing but true, and of course I am very happy for our students.
Why was my internal force from Sinew Metamorphosis in 1 hour only one-tenth that of our students now in 5 minutes? The reason is that I performed Sinew Metamorphosis at the form level, whereas our students perform Sinew Metamorphosis at the mind level, which includes the form level and the energy level, and which also takes less time.
What mechanics are involved to make Sinew Metamorphosis in our school so very powerful and in such a very short time?
Let us take “Flicking Fingers”, or “Golden Dragons Tap on Ground”, as an example. At the ready position, our fingers are bent to the fullest. Thus, when we flick our fingers, it is not just physical movement though we actually do it, but we channel energy to flow up the 3 hand yang meridians.
These three hand yang meridians activate energy flow along the three leg yang meridians down the whole body to the toes. At the toes, the three leg yang meridians activate the flow of the three leg yin meridians up the leg and into the body, where they activate the three hand yin meridians to flow to the inner side of the arms to continue at the fingers with the three hand yang meridians.
Hence, by just flicking the fingers, without regulating the breath, energy flows through all the twelve primary meridians, completing the phenomenal big universal energy flow. This vigorous energy flow throughout all the twelve primary meridians not only generate a lot of internal force but also give us good health, vitality and longevity.
This phenomenal big universal energy flow is enhanced many times when we are deep in Zen, or a chi kung state of mind. It is a common misconception that one operates at the mind level by visualization. This is not so, as is exhibited in “Flicking fingers” or any of the Sinew Metamorphosis exercises. The deeper a practitioner is in Zen or a chi kung state of mind, the greater is the amount of internal force generated. Sinew Metamorphosis is an excellent example showing that a tremendous amount of internal force is generated without using any visualization or breathing methods.
Entering into a chi kung state of mind is a necessary condition for practicing chi kung
How do we enter into a chi kung state of mind?
— Lucca, Italy
Like many things in our school, it is easier done than said, whereas to many other people it is easier said than done. All students who have attended our courses can enter into a chi kung state of mind easily, otherwise they cannot perform chi kung; they only perform gentle physical exercise using chi kung techniques.
You too, entered into a chi kung state of mind just now. You had a good chi flow. If you did not enter into a chi kung state of mind, you would be unable to enjoy a chi flow.
Nevertheless, I shall give you an academic answer here. Just do two things, and you shall enter into a chi kung state of mind. Relax and don’t think of anything. If you are relaxed and your mind free of irrelevant thoughts, you will be in a chi kung state of mind.
If you are relaxed and free of irrelevant thoughts long enough, your chi will naturally flow. If you follow the chi flow movement, you will enjoy a good chi flow.
It is worthy of note that entering a chi kung state of mind does not necessary mean you will have a chi flow. One has to be in a chi kung state of mind to have a chi flow, but being in a chi kung state of mind does not necessary mean a chi flow. Similarly, one has to open his moth to eat something, but opening his mouth does not necessary mean he will eat something.
If chi kung is so good, why aren’t a lot of people rushing to learn it?
There are three main reasons. Firstly, chi kung in the past was exclusive. It was a rare opportunity to practice chi kung. Hence, very few people today practice genuine chi kung, and fewer still teach it. We are indeed very fortunate to inherit this rare art from the Shaolin Monastery.
Secondly, most people who practice chi kung today do not have good results. Even many chi kung instructors today take medication on a routine basic, and most of them do not exhibit the kind of vitality chi kung is meant to give.
Why is it that they become chi kung instructors when they themselves do not practice genuine chi kung that gives the results of good health, vitality and longevity? A main reason is that they only learn external chi kung forms. Their techniques are genuine, but they lack the skills to perform their chi kung techniques to generate energy flow to have good health, vitality and longevity. Hence, they teach external chi kung forms without energy flow to their students, and both the instructors and students do not realize this fact.
It is the energy flow that gives good health, vitality and longevity; not the techniques. As an analogy, many people perform genuine Taijiquan techniques, but they lack the skills to use the techniques to develop internal force and to defend themselves.
The third reason is that people do not believe the great benefits of chi kung. This is mainly because of the second reason that what is practiced as chi kung today is mostly gentle physical exercise, and not an energy art. Gentle physical exercise does not enable practitioners to overcome illness, have good health, vitality and longevity. If some practitioners overcome their illness, have good health, vitality and longevity, it is due to other factors, and not due to the gentle physical exercise they practice.
Thus, although chi kung can overcome so-called incurable diseases, most people do not think it is true. Practitioners who practice genuine chi kung daily need not be sick at all, and they have vitality and longevity, but most people do not believe this fact, mainly because they see that others who practice gentle exercise, mistaken as chi kung, are still sick and weak.
It is understandable if they are doubtful of the claims of chi kung, but it is shocking that they do not even take some effort to find out, especially those who suffer from so-called incurable diseases. As I have mentioned many times, that is their problem, not ours. If they wish to learn from us, even when they are skeptical, we shall teach as best as we can, but if they do not believe in what we say, it is not our business to convince them.
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.
Why do so many other people who practice chi kung do not get the benefits you describe?
— Lin, Dubai
Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
It is because these many people actually do not practice chi kung, they practice gentle physical exercise, though they do not realize it, whereas we practice genuine high-level chi kung.
The patterns are the same, but the arts are different. Let us take an example of Lifting the Sky.
Most other people practice Lifting the Sky as gentle physical exercise but they honestly think it is chi kung.
We practice Lifting the Sky not just as chi kung but as high-level chi kung.
There are two dimensions of difference: the difference between gentle physical exercise and chi kung, and the difference between ordinary chi kung and high-level chi kung.
Firstly, we need to know the difference between gentle physical exercise and chi kung. It is the failure to know this difference that causes thousands of people waste years of practice without obtaining any chi kung benefits. There are, for example, many chi kung instructors, even masters, who have taught chi kung for more than 10 years yet are routinely sick or in pain. This shouldn’t be as a basic benefit of chi kung practice is good health, which means free from sickness and pain.
In other words if they have practiced chi kung, genuine chi kung, they would not be sick or in pain. It is understandable if they are sick or in pain once a while, but certainly not routinely. In the same way, if you eat sufficient food and drink sufficient water, you would not go hungry or thirsty.
The fact is that these chi kung practitioners and masters do not actually practice chi kung, though they may not realize it. They practice gentle physical exercise but mistake it as chi kung. Similarly many people practice external Tai Chi forms as a dance but mistake it as Tai Chi Chuan as an internal martial art.
It is easy to make this mistake because the forms of gentle physical exercise and chi kung, and the forms of Tai Chi dance and Tai Chi Chuan are the same. It is how they are practiced, i.e. the skills involved, that makes the difference.
In gentle physical exercise, one practices the forms at a physical level. In chi kung, one practices the same forms at three levels — physical, energetic and spiritual. In other words, in gentle physical exercise one works only on the physical body, like loosening muscles and joints. In chi kung one works at the physical level, the energy level and the spiritual level, like loosening muscles and joints, having more vitality, and becoming peaceful and happy.
If a practitioner does not know what working on energy and spirit is, then he is unlikely to be practicing chi kung, though he may honestly think he is. As an analogy, if you are eating an orange, you will know what an orange is. If you had not eaten an orange or even seen one, you would not know what actually an orange was even when it was clearly described to you.
Thus, thousands of people who think that they practice chi kung do not get the chi kung benefits I describe because actually they do not practice chi kung; they only practice gentle physical exercise. No matter for how long and how well they have practiced, they only get benefits of gently physical exercise like relaxation, grace and balance, which are worthy benefits by themselves, but they will not get chi kung benefits like overcoming illness, enjoying good health, vitality and longevity, and experiencing mental clarity and spiritual joys.
Secondly, it is useful to know the difference between ordinary chi kung, which is usually low-level, and high-level chi kung. The difference is that ordinary chi kung takes a long time to obtain little benefit, whereas high-level chi kung takes a short time to obtain a lot of benefit. The forms, or techniques, may be the same. It is the skills that make the difference.
Let us take the technique, Lifting the Sky, as an example. In low-level chi kung, one needs to practice Lifting the Sky for many months before he can feel a noticeable increase of his energy level. In high-level chi kung he can feel a noticeable increase after practicing for just a few days. In our case, you felt a noticeable increase of energy level after just one practice session!
If someone is sick with a serious illness like cancer or clinical depression, he may not overcome his illness by practicing low-level chi kung. If he practices high-level chi kung, not only he can overcome his illness, but also he becomes healthier than he was before.
Very few people have the chance to practice high-level chi kung. This is another reason why so many other people who practice chi kung do not get the benefits I describe.
A high-level chi kung class in China
This article was taken from Question and Answer 1 of July 2014 Part 1 of the Selection of Questions and Answers.
Sifu Wong Kiew Kit receiving the “Qigong Master of the Year” award from Professor Steven K. H. Aung at the Second World Congress on Qigong in November 1997. Looking on is the Chairperson of the Congress, Dr Effie Chow
What is chi kung (or qigong)?
Chi kung, spelt as “qigong” in Romanized Chinese, is the art of developing energy, particularly for health, vitality, longevity, mind expansion and spiritual cultivation, irrespective of race, culture and religion.
The term “chi kung” is Chinese, but arts of energy have been practised by different peoples, especially in the past when they were kept as top secrets. The Indians call their energy art “yoga”, the Tibetans “wisdom art”, whereas the ancient Egyptians and ancient Greeks called it “the mystery art”.
Because of cultural and historical reasons, there may be some differences in the methods and emphasis in these different energy arts of different peoples, but they all deal with developing energy, and they all aim at promoting physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health, irrespective of one’s religion.
Various types of chi kung
There are literally hundreds of types of chi kung, because the term “chi kung” is actually a collective name for various arts of energy training.
For example, in the history of chi kung in China, physicians developed energy for healing, kungfu exponents for enhancing combat efficiency, Confucian scholars for mind expansion, and Taoist and Buddhist cultivators for spiritual growth.
Nevertheless, there are large, comprehensive schools of chi kung, such as Shaolin Chi Kung and Taijiquan Chi Kung, where the various different health, martial, mental and spiritual needs are fulfilled.
Different levels of chi kung attainment
Not only there are various types of chi kung serving different needs, there are also different levels of attainment within the same type of chi kung.
Numerous variables that determine the level of attainment include the appropriateness of the methods chosen, the competency of the teacher, as well as the dedication of the student. Obviously, assuming other factors being equal, a superior method, an experienced teacher or a student who practises regularly will produce better result than someone without these advantages.
But what is not so obvious to many people, including most chi kung practitioners today, is the operational level at which one practises chi kung. Chi kung training can be operated at the form level, the energy level or the mind level.
Form, energy and mind in chi kung training
Sifu Anthony Spinicchia of the United States enjoying Standing Zen, which is a high level chi kung bringing mind expansion and spiritual joy.
Although there are thousands of chi kung exercises, they all involve three elements, namely form, energy and mind. These three elements are also the “three treasures” of a person.
In other words, every human has form, energy and mind. Chi kung training develops all these three essential elements of a person.
However, due to various reasons, the great majority of chi kung practitioners today, including in China, practise only the form aspect of chi kung, neglecting the energy and the mind aspects.
Strictly speaking, this is not chi kung; it is only chi kung form, and in terms of giving health benefits I believe it is less effective than conventional physical exercise like swimming, playing field games and working out in a gym.
For convenience, I call this level of chi kung which pays attention only to form, low-level chi kung.
In my opinion, the least a practitioner should have is the energy aspect in order to justify calling his exercise chi kung, i.e. energy training. This is middle-level chi kung, and the practitioner makes a conscious, purposeful effort to influence his energy flow, such as clearing energy blockage and increasing energy level.
In terms of health benefits, middle-level chi kung is far superior to conventional physical exercise, as the benefits are a direct result of its practice, whereas in conventional physical exercise the health benefits come as a bonus.
High-level chi kung is where the mind is involved. After entering into what is known as “a chi kung state of mind”, which is a heightened state of consciousness, the practitioner can manipulate energy the way he wants, like tapping energy from the cosmos and directing it to whatever parts of his body.
At this level, it is beyond comparison with conventional physical exercise. Not only so-called “incurable” diseases can be cured, some masters may accomplish feats which ordinary people would regard as miracles — or fakery.
What disease can practising chi kung overcome?
Low-level chi kung may provide some gentle exercise for better blood circulation, muscle loosening and relaxation, but may not be strong enough to overcome diseases.
Middle-level chi kung may overcome diseases like asthma, tuberculosis, rheumatism, bodily pains, gastritis, insomnia, anxiety and nervousness, and effectively prevents common colds and fevers.
High-level chi kung can cure any diseases, including ulcers, cardiovascular disorders, diabetes and cancer. This is not an exaggerated claim; personally I have helped many people to be relieved of their so-called incurable diseases.
There is also sound medical explanation for the cure. According to Chinese medical philosophy, illness occurs if there is insufficient vital energy to work the natural systems of the body (and mind), or if the flow of vital energy is disrupted.
The forte of chi kung is to increase energy level and to clear energy blockage, thus overcoming the illness, irrespective of what labels may be used to describe its symptoms.
Sifu Wong Chun Nga breaking a brick with internal force almost 30 years ago when he was only 11 years old
At the “Secrets of Internal Force” course at the UK Summer Camp, I took notes that only about 5% of Kung Fu practitioners today were able to develop internal force, while in the past about 70% could. In Shaolin Wahnam we are happy that 100% of our practitioners are able to do so.
— Sifu Leonard Lackinger, Austria
You are right that very, very few kungfu practitioners today, including masters, have internal force. Most other martial artists do not believe in internal force.
It is simply ridiculous that not only 100% of our practitioners have internal force, but also they make good use of it to enrich their life. This is something even masters in the past could not do. Many well known masters in the past, like the famous Taijiquan master, Yang Deng Fu, and the famous Xingyiquan master, Kuo Yun Sheng, led miserable lives.
I might have forgotten but I can’t remember saying that 70% of kungfu practitioners in the past had internal force. If we take kungfu practitioners in the past in general, not just in the Shaolin Temples, I think less than 30% of them had internal force.
This 30% is a generous estimate. If we consider only kungfu students, leaving masters asides, I believe those with internal force would be less than 10%. Most kungfu styles were (and still are) considered “external”.
Only those who practiced internal styles for a long time, like Taijiquan, Xingyiquan and Baguazhang, had internal force. On the other hand, external kungfu masters who had practiced their arts, like Hoong Ka, Wing Choon, Choy-Li-Fatt, Praying Mantis and Eagle Claw, for a long time might have internal force, usually without their own realization.
My question refers to the “70%”. Does this estimation refer to practitioners at the Shaolin Temples only?
Given that my interpretation of the 70% refers to practitioners at the Shaolin Temples is correct, what would be your estimation, in percentage, of successful internal force practitioners outside of the Shaolin temples in the past?
Yes, if I had said that 70% of kungfu practitioners in the past had internal force, I would be referring to practitioners at the Shaolin Temples only.
Even at the Shaolin Temples, Shaolin Kungfu was often referred to as external, different from the flowing force, for example, of practitioners practicing Taijiquan at the Chen Village. Even the Shaolin monks used “external” methods, like hitting sandbags and carrying water, when they had internal force.
Apart from the Shaolin Temples at Henan, Quanzhou and on the Nine-Lotus Mountain, my estimate of kungfu practitioners in the past with internal force is less than 30%. The situation today is worse. Less than 5% of kungfu practitioners now have internal force.
Shaolin Kungfu, usually considered external by most people, is practiced as an internal art in our school
Also, from what I learned from you, I would say that even practitioners who had the rare chance of learning from an internal master would only be taught internal methods after showing their worth by years of external training first.
After learning the methods many still could not produce internal force consistently, because they did not know the secrets and underlying philosophy we have today.
I believe that internal training was always hard to find, be it today or in ancient China.
Both Northern and Southern Shaolin were (and still are) considered external. We are freaks to practice them as internal arts, which they really are, especially at an advanced level, though our students now could practice them as internal arts right at the beginning.
Indeed, internal training was, and is, very hard to find, today or in classical China. Your siheng, Kai, for example, spent a few years traveling to the East to seek for internal force, but to no avail.
My estimate of practitioners outside the Shaolin Temple in the past, and outside of Shaolin Wahnam now, who had or have internal force is less than 10% in general, which is a generous estimate. Base on my own experience, those with internal force is probably around 3%, and none of them know how to use it consciously to enrich their life. Because of their internal force, these rare masters may be more effective in their work, and more rewarding in their life, but they do not consciously apply it as we do.
We sound boastful, but we are merely stating the truth.
Thoughts come to my mind all the time. How do I clear my mind of all thoughts?
— Alexei, Russia
Just do it.
In other words, if you want to clear your mind of all thoughts, just clear your mind of all thoughts, instead of thinking of how to clear your mind of all thoughts, or why or when or what is it to clear your mind of all thoughts.
The same method is applicable in daily life, which will make life more pleasant for you.
For example, if you want to find a new job, go for a holiday, or buy a present for your wife, just do it, i.e. find a new job, go for a holiday, or buy a present for your wife.
Instead of just doing what they want to do, many people intellectualize, and make themselves stressful. They intellectualise, for example, why they should find a new job, where they should go for a holiday, and how they should buy a present for their wife. They may intellectualize for a long time, but never get to do what they want to do.
In principle it is like standing up from the chair you are sitting on. Just do it. Just stand up. But instead of just doing it, i.e. just standing up, you start to intellectualize why you should stand up, how you can stand up, and whether you should stand up or remain sitting on the chair.
Students in our school are able to generate a chi flow on the very first day of their learning chi kung from us
Why do many chi kung practitioners not have any chi flow despite practicing chi kung for many years, whereas we have a chi flow on the very first day we learn chi kung?
— June, Singapore
There are a few ways to answer this question, though all these different ways eventually refer to the same truth.
Many chi kung practitioners do not have any chi flow despite practicing chi kung for many years, whereas you have a chi flow on the very first day you learn chi kung because the many practitioners do not have the skills to generate a chi flow although they use correct or even the same techniques, but you can generate a chi flow on the very first day because you have the necessary skills.
Suppose a wealthy person gives a car to people who do not have the skills of driving. Although they may have the car for many years, they still cannot drive it. But if you have the skills of driving, you can drive the car on the very first day it is given to you.
Another way to answer the question is that many chi kung practitioners do not realise that they need special skills to generate a chi flow. They may not even know what a chi flow is. They think, wrongly, that if they perform chi kung techniques, they will have the benefits of chi kung. It is also not complimentary to them that they they do not realise this fact, that they do not get the benefits of practicing chi kung. Many chi kung practitioners are still weak and sick despite many years of practice.
On the other hand, you know the difference between skills and techniques, as this has been clearly explained to you. You also know that chi flow is the essence of chi kung, and that it is chi flow that gives the benefits of chi kung, not the chi kung techniques. In other words, even when practitioners practice chi kung techniques correctly, but do not experience any chi flow, they will not have chi kung benefits like overcoming pain and illness, and enjoying good health and vitality.
Most importantly, besides the important knowledge, you are transmitted the skills from heart to heart at the course so that you can use the skills to perform the techniques to generate a chi flow on the very first day you learn chi kung. Once the skills are transmitted to you, especially when you practice these skills during the course, they are yours, and you can use the skills to generate a chi flow when you perform chi kung techniques.
A third way to answer the question is that you entered into a chi kung state of mind, and performed chi kung in a chi kung state of mind. Hence, even on the very first day you learned chi kung, you could generate a chi flow. Other practitioners do not know how to enter into a chi kung state of mind, and do not perform their chi kung techniques in a chi kung state of mind. They may not even know what the term is. Hence, they may have practiced chi kung techniques for many years, but still are unable to generate a chi flow.
All these are different ways to answer the same question. Having the necessary chi kung stills, differentiating between techniques and skills, and entering into a chi kung state of mind, refer to the same situation — the situation of generating a chi flow on the very first day you learn chi kung, or the situation of other practitioners not generating a chi flow despite having practicing chi kung for many years. Strictly speaking, these other practitioners do not practice chi kung; they merely perform chi kung forms, in the same way that many Taiji practitioners today do not practice Taijiquan, which is an internal, martial art; they merely perform external Taiji forms.
Although my explanation is clear, the uninitiated may not understand what I have explained although they may know the dictionary meaning of all the words used. They do not understand that it is necessary to have the right skills to generate a chi flow, that chi flow is the essence of chi kung, the difference between skills and techniques, and entering into a chi kung state of mind.
Despite my explanation, they still think that all they need to do is to practice chi kung techniques correctly and diligently, and eventually they will have the benefits of chi kung. Less than 20% of them if they practice for many years may eventually acquire the necessary skills and enjoy the benefits of chi kung, but usually they are unaware of the skills. The great majority merely practice chi kung forms.
What can we do when we loose trust in someone or someone looses trust in us? Irrespective of who is wrong or has a wrong perception. I have had two occasions now where this is an issue for me.
— Binia, Switzerland
Different people may react differently when they loose trust in someone or when someone looses trust in them. Many people will feel angry because they only see things their way, and presume the other party is wrong. The other party will also feel angry and presume these people are wrong.
If these people are weaker, in ability or status, they feel disappointed or dejected. Sometimes they rebel.
Often, both sides are right, but they see things from different perspective. The failure to understand and appreciate this fact leads to quarrels and fights, including amongst nations with much destruction.
We in Shaolin Wahnam see the issue the Shaolin Wahnam way. We realize that the same issue can be viewed from different perspective, and not that any side is right or wrong. We are able to differentiate opinions from facts, and realize that often opinions are more important.
Let us take an example. .Suppose a student thinks Boxing is more effective for combat than Shaolin Kungfu, This is his opinion.
It is not a fact that Boxing is more effective in combat than Shaolin Kungfu, although in his particular case at this particular time, if he uses Boxing he is more effective in combat than if he uses Shaolin Kungfu. But the fact is different for me. I am more effective in combat when I use Shaolin Kungfu than when I use Boxing.
With this understanding, I shall explain to him.that at present his Boxing is better than his Shaolin Kungfu because he has not practiced sufficiently to be skillful in Shaolin Kungfu. More importantly I shall explain to him the fact, not an opinion, that practicing Shaolin Kungfu the way we do in our school contributes to his good health, vitality, longevity and daily peak performance, whereas practicing Boxing would not. But if he persists in thinking that Boxing is better, I would not want to waste my time and would ask him to leave my class for his own benefit, and wish him well, as he does not have trust in my teaching.
Many kungfu practitioners find Boxing more effective for combat, but we in Shaolin Wahnam find kungfu more effective
Trying to solve the problem with having a good conversation was somehow also no more possible. I tried to practice “forgiveness” as you suggested to me in another matter and indeed this helped me a lot beyond my imagination. But somehow here with forgiveness I don’t seem to find the path. I would very much appreciate if you would share some of your wisdom with me.
Being able to forgive contribute to good health. The one who beneifts the most is the person who forgives, not the one forgiven. I have discovered from my many years of experience in healing that holding grudges insidiously leads to serious illness. Once a person can forgive, he (or she) lets go of the grudges, and allows chi flow to overcome the illness.
Forgiving and finding a solution to a problem are two different issues. Forgiving enables you to be calm and clear, and therefore you are in a better position to find a solution to your problem. But you still have to find a solution.
The Zen course you took some time ago gives you very useful tools to solve problems. Firstly, clear your mind of all thoughts. With mental clarity, you can effectively define your problem. Many people are constantly burdened with problems not because there are no solutions, but often without their own awareness, they do not know what their problems are.
Once, you have defined your problem, solutions often offer themselves readily. Choose the solution that is simple, direct and effective.
How do I handle the problem of trust regarding my parents and myself?
Handling the problem of gaining trust in your parents or your parents having trust is you is quite different from the example I gave earlier though the main principles are the same. The main principles are to differentiate opinions from facts, and to realize that different people have different opinions.
There are two main differences. In the example, being his teacher I am in a superior position. Secondly I do not have to waste time on a student who has no trust in my teaching; I prefer teaching other deserving students.
In your case, your parents are in a superior position. Secondly, you have only one father and one mother. You need to have trust in them and have to win their trust in you.
Having trust in your parents is easy. Just realize that they protected you and brought you up from a time when you were totally helpless to now when you are independent. Now you may (or may not) be better educated than them and earn more money than they did, but this should not negate your trust in them.
Winning trust in ones parents is also not difficult, though many young people today lack this skill as well as are ignorant of some facts.
First the facts. It is a fact, not an opinion, that parents are superior in status to children. A person may become the president of a country, but his parents are still his parents.
It is also a fact that there is a generation gap which results in difference of opinions. Many parents, for example, are not in favour of sex before marriage, but many young people today think that sex before marriage is a norm. Please note that here having sex before marriage is a fact, considering it undesirable or normal is an opinion.
We should be grateful to our parents. The third point is actually an opinion, but it has become so established and has been taught by so many great teachers that it has been considered as a fact by many people. The Buddha, known for his immense wisdom irrespective of one’s religion, has taught that even if a person carries his invalid father or mother on his shoulders everyday for 50 years of his life, and does this for 500 lifetimes, he still has not repaid the debt he owes to his parents.
Of course, another person may have a different opinion. He may think that it is stupid to respect ones parents. He may step on his parents or spit on them.
Irrespective of whether it is a fact or an opinion, it is good to respect ones parents, and evil to disrespect them. Good is whatever that brings benefit, and evil is whatever that brings harm. One who disrespect his parents will result in harm — to himself, to his parents or to other people. Realizing this fact, i.e. it is good to respect one’s parents, will make it easier to accept their different opinions.
But winning trust in ones parents is not just accepting their different opinions. More importantly, it is spending time with them and be kind to them. Parents actually do not care whether their children are wealthy or famous — a misconception that many young people have — but they do care that their children spend time with them and are kind to them.
If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org stating your name, country and e-mail address.
On another topic, can you please elaborate on good pain and bad pain. Some students, without proper understanding, give up training chi kung when they experience pain.
— Sifu Sippe Douma, New Zealand
Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
For convenience, pain may be described as good or bad. Good pain is beneficial, and bad pain is harmful.
When a practitioner has generated a vigorous chi flow, the chi flow will break through blockage. In the progress, good pain may result. On the other hand, bad pain is due to illness or injury, or to wrong practice.
Good pain is mild, and is actually quite pleasant, though it is painful. Bad pain is severe, and is unpleasant. This is an academic description, and may not be meaningful to those who have no experience of good and bad pain. A better way to differentiate between good pain and bad pain is though direct experience.
Initially a practitioner may not differentiate good pain from bad pain easily, but with increased experience he will have no difficulty.
An analogy is the sour taste of an orange. An orange can taste sour because it is good, or because it is bad. Like good pain and bad pain, good sour taste and bad sour taste are actually different, but because of the limitation of words we still use the same terms, “pain” and “sour taste”.
A person who had not tasted an orange before would be unable to tell whether the sour taste of an orange was due to an orange being good or bad. But with experience of tasting some oranges, he would have no difficulty telling the difference.
What should a practitioner do when he feels good pain. He continues his training. When the blockage is cleared as he recovers from his illness or injury, the pain will disappear. But if the pain is bad, he should slow down or stop training until the situation improves.
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.
Grandmaster has often said that he remained unbeaten in his early days not because he was combat efficient but because he was smart; he spent a lot of time preparing for his upcoming free sparring
Sigung, you were unbeaten in sparring in your young days. Can you please share your secret with us?
— Peter, Ireland
I used to say “in my young days”, but Douglas, my most senior student in Europe, reminded me at the time when I was about 50 that I was still young, so I have changed the expression to “my younger days”. Even now when I am over 70 and still feel young, I use the expression “in my younger days”.
In my younger days, especially between about 20 to 40 years of age, I spent a lot of time looking for sparring partners. At first I could beat them not because I was good but because I was smart. I chose opponents whom I had confidence of beating.
I made my victory doubly sure by doing a lot of homework, i.e. by practicing over and over again sequences which I used in the sparring. I devised the sequences from the way I expected my opponents would fight. This was not difficult because most of my opponents then were Taekwondo and Karate exponents, with some Boxing and Judo practitioners, and the way they fought was quite stereotyped.
For example, if I had to spar with a Taekwondo black-belt, I knew that he would probably start with some jabbing or side kicks, then round-house kicks, and eventually reverse round-house. So I would avoid his initial jabbing and side kicks, slant my body backward to avoid his round-house kicks, and when he executed a reverse round-house I would swiftly move forward with a coup de grace. I would practice this sequence many, many times, sometimes with modifications. When the actual situation occured during sparring, and this planned scenario almost always happened, I could use my practiced sequence to defeat my opponent easily. I always gently tapped my opponents; I never hurt them.
Having learnt from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, my combat efficiency, including my internal force, improved tremendously. But initially I still used the same strategy. I chose sparring opponents whom I had confidence in beating, and I did a lot of homework. But gradually I did not have to do much homework as I could respond spontaneously and correctly to opponents’ attacks. As I became confident of my combat efficiency, I did not go out to look for sparring opponents.
I always used kungfu, including good stances, in my sparring. I never used Kick-Boxing, Muay Thai or any other martial arts, although I sparred with opponents from all styles. The difference was that in my earlier years of sparring I used simple punches and kicks, whereas in my later years my techniques were more sophisticated, like felling and chin-na. I discovered that when I used sophisticated kungfu techniques, my opponents just did not know how to defend against them.
So, if I have to give a secret for my unbeaten sparring record, I would say that I used a superior fighting art against opponents whose fighting arts were inferior to mine. Presuming that the skill levels were about equal, if I used simple punches and kicks, my opponents would have no difficulty defending against them. But if I used sophisticated techniques, like subtle felling and chin-na attacks, together with tactics and strategies that created situations for me to apply these attacks, my opponents had no techniques in their repertoire to defend.
What are the effects of over-training?
— Sascha, Switzerland
For convenience, over-training may be divided into three stages.
At the most serious level, a practitioner who has over-trained becomes very weak and sick, or may even die. It is unlikely that practitioners who have over-trained will arrive at this serious stage, certainly not in our school.
But in my younger days, before I started Shaolin Wahnam Institute, I met a well-known kungfu master, who was a daughter-in-law of a kungfu patriarch, who either had over-trained or had practiced wrongly. As I knew him previously he was strong and full of vitality. When I last saw him, he was extremely weak and sickly. I regretted that I did not know chi kung healing them, or else I would have helped him recover.
The intermediate stage of over-training was when over-cleansing was clearly noticeable. Over-cleansing is the result of over-training, but practitioners are often confused over both these conditions. The symptoms are pain, tiredness, sleepiness and feeling of nauseousness. The practitioner who has over-trained feels unpleasant and uncomfortable, and is sometimes sick.
At the beginning stage of over-training, the practitioner feels tired and sleepy after his chi kung training, instead of feeling energised and fresh. The symptoms of cleansing are mild and may not be noticeable. Many practitioners over-train mildly at one time or another, and he will soon adjust to the excess energy from his training even without doing anything special.
What a typical Shaolin Wahnam student achieves in one day, it took Grandmaster Wong more than a month to achieve in his student’s days. Hence, it is important to guard against over-training.
In a chi kung class, people had different diseases but they overcame their diseases by practicing the same exercises you taught. How did chi kung know which disease to cure?
— Roberto, Spain
In the chi kung perspective, which is also the traditional Chinese medical perspective, all diseases are caused by energy blockage. Western medical perspective uses different names for the different types of energy blockage.
In Western terms, if energy is blocked from inhibiting harmful micro-organisms from attacking a person, he is said to suffer from an infectious disease. If energy is blocked from working an organ normally, the patient is said to suffer from an organic disorder. If energy is blocked from flushing out negative emotions, he is said to suffer from psychological problems.
Chi kung works at the root cause, which is energy blockage. Other Chinese therapeutic methods, like herbalism and acupuncture, which also deal with energy blockage, work at higher hierarchical order. An acupuncturist or a herbalist will find out where the energy is blocked, and applies acupuncture or herbs to clear the blockage accordingly. Hence, in other Chinese therapeutic methods, correct diagnosis is very important.
It may sound ridiculous to those not familiar with chi kung philosophy that diagnosis is not necessary in chi kung healing! This is because chi kung deals with the root cause. Once the energy blockage is cleared, the patient recovers as a matter of course.
Different students in a same class might suffer from different diseases, like rheumatism, diabetes, cancer, chronic infection, and depression. But regardless of what the disease was, the root cause was energy blockage. Once the energy blockage was cleared, the patients recovered.
How did practicing chi kung clear energy blockage? It was through chi flow. The chi flow generated by chi kung practice cleared the energy blockage.
How did the chi flow know where the energy blockage was? Or, how did chi kung know which disease to cure?
It was a natural characteristic of chi flow to flow from high energy level to low energy level. Disease areas were areas of low energy level where there was insufficient energy to perform natural physiological and psychological functions to maintain normal good health. The energy generated by practicing genuine chi kung would naturally flow to these low energy areas to clear the blockage. When the blockage was cleared, the students would recover, regardless of what diseases Western medicine might call them, as their energy flowed to these areas to resume natural physiological and psychological functioning to restore good health.
Can we transmit chi to friends to clear their blockage and help them recover?
You can but you may not. In other words, it is within your ability to do it, but you should not do it. In fact, every person has the natural ability to transmit chi, or energy, to another person. Mothers do this to their babies when the mothers comfort them. When your girlfriend is cold, if you hug her you transmit chi to her to warm her.
But unless you are trained, the chi you transmit to friends to help them clear their blockage is unlikely to work. You may harm them and harm yourself.
If your friends’ energy is blocked, which is the reason why they are sick, adding more chi to them will aggravate their blockage causing more harm. Their sick chi may back-flow to you making you sick too.
Transmitting chi to patients to clear their blockage and help them recover is an important part of chi kung healing. A chi kung healer must be properly trained. Chi kung healing is not something any person can play about with.
Many people may find it hard to believe, but practicing high-level chi kung can overcome any illness
Some schools pay much attention to visualisation. Can you please tell us more about visualisation in chi kung training?
— Dimitry, Switzerland
Chi kung operates at three levels — the levels of form, energy and mind. The proportions of benefit by practicing chi kung at these three respective levels are 1, 3 and 6. In other words, if all other things were equal,. practitioners operating at the form level may obtain 10% of the benefit of the chi kung training, those operating at the energy level obtain 30%, and those operating at the mind level obtain 60%.
As most chi kung practitioners practicing genuine chi kung operate at the form level, where they perform many chi kung techniques for a long time and get some chi flow, whereas we practice chi kung at all the three levels of form, energy and mind, our benefit is 10 times more than what most other practitioners get.
A common misconception among some people is that when a practitioner operates at the mind level, he has to visualise. This is not true. Operating at the mind level, the practitioner may or may not visualise, but he must be in a chi kung state of mind, or at a heightened level of consciousness.
Many practitioners, especially those who learn from books and videos, confuse visualisation with intellectualisation. They think they visualise when they actually intellectualise.
Even if they visualise, it is still different from visualisation in the mind level of chi kung. These practitioners visualise while in their ordinary state of mind, whereas visualisation in chi kung must be performed in a chi kung state of mind. It is actually having a gentle thought rather than visualisation.
We do not need to employ visualisation at the elementary level of our chi kung exercises, but we still operate at the level of mind (even without visualization). Hence, our students get more benefits practicing our elementary chi kung exercises than other practitioners practicing advanced exercises. Many people may not believe it, and some may become angry at this statement, but it is a fact. Some examples of our elementary chi kung exercises are 5-Animal Play, 18 Jewels, and 18 Lohan Hands.
We use visualisation for some of our intermediate chi kung exercises, and do not use visualisations for other intermediate chi kung exercises. Some example of our intermediate chi kung exercises where visualisation is needed are Cosmic Shower and Abdominal Breathing, and some examples where visualisation is not needed are stance training and 18-Lohan Art.
We generally use visualisation in our advanced chi kung exercises, though they are some exceptions. Two remarkable exception are Sinew Metamorphosis and Cosmic Breathing which are very powerful. Examples of advanced exercises where visualization is needed include Bone Marrow Cleansing and Expanding into the Cosmos.
What, in your opinion, will Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiuan be in a hundred years from now?
In my opinion in a hundred years from now more people will practice genuine Shaolin Kungfu and genuine Taijiquan, instead of practicing Shaolin forms for demonstration or for free exchange of blows, and Taiji dance. The total number of people who practice the genuine arts will still be small, but it will be bigger than the number now where most people, despite their good intention, cannot differentiate the genuine from the bogus.
Genuine Shaolin Kungfu and genuine Taijiquan give practitioners wonderful benefits. Besides being able to defend themselves when needed, these genuine arts provide practitioners with good health, vitality and longevity, as well as mental clarity and spiritual joys. Masters who teach bogus Shaolin Kungfu and bogus Taijiquan also say that their arts give good health, vitality and longevity as well as mental clarity and spiritual joys, but their students never attain these benefits, and they don’t realize it. By the time they realise this fact, they are too proud to change to genuine arts even if they have the opportunities, but usually they may not have the opportunities as genuine Shaolin Kungfu and genuine Taijiquan are very rare nowadays.
It is precisely to preserve genuine Shaolin Kungfu, and later genuine Taijiquan, that I established Shaolin Wahnam Association in the early 1980s, which later evolved to our school, Shaolin Wahnam Institute, in the middle 1990s. We have progressed very well. We now have more than 60,000 students spread over more than 35 countries in the world. Even if I were to retire tomorrow, our Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan as well as chi kung will continue to spread as we have very good instructors.
It is legitimate to ask what justification we have to claim that our Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan are genuine. The benefits our students get correspond exactly with what genuine Shaolin Kungfu and genuine Taijiquan will give. Besides being able to defend ourselves using our arts, our students have good health, vitality, longevity, mental clarity and spiritual joys.
Internal force is not only used for combat; more importantly it is used to enrich our daily life
What is the difference between chi kung and nei gong?
Chi kung means “energy art”, and nei gong means “internal art”. In this case, “chi kung” is in English spelling, and “nei gong” is in Romanced Chinese spelling.
In Romanized Chinese spelling, chi kung is “qi gong”, and in English spelling hei gong is “nei kung”. Because we are used to English spelling, we may think that Romanize Chinese spelling is funny. Actually it is English spelling that is funny. “Bus”, for example, is pronounced as /bas/, not /bus/, and “phone” is pronounced as /fon/, not /phone/.
The two terms, “chi kung” and “nei gong”, can be used interchangeably, i.e. they have similar meaning though the connotation may be different. Chi kung is a modern term, nei gong is more classical.
For example, 18 Lohan Hands and Sinew Metamorphosis can be called chi kung or nei gong. Calling some exercises as chi kung gives a connotation that they are modern and are practiced to maintain some general well-being. Calling them as nei gong gives a connotation that they are classical inheritance practiced for martial art purposes.
In this connection, most of our chi kung exercises are more aptly described as nei gong than as chi kung, especially when chi kung has today degraded into gentle physical exercise, or “ti cao” (pronounced as t’i c’ao) which is bodily exercise. But we still call them chi kung exercises because the term “chi kung” has been established.
We develop a lot of internal force in our chi kung or nei gong exercises. What are we to do with the internal force?
It is like asking what we are to do with money when we have earned a lot of money. Use it, force or money, wisely.
There are three main functions we can put internal force to use:
To maintain life.
To enhance life.
To enable us to have better results no matter what we do.
Maintaining life is the most important function of internal force. It is also the function that many people with internal force, including genuine masters, fail to realize. The force that changes the breakfast you ate into blood and flesh as well as vital energy is internal force.
The second function of internal force is to enhance life. It is similar to but not the same as the first function. Enhancing life can be manifested in many ways. Having zest in your work and joy in spending time with your family are some of the manifestations of enhancing life.
The third function is to enable those with internal force to have better results than when they did not have internal force, in whatever they do, including martial arts, intellectual work, sports and playing games. Take a few seconds to reflect on this tremendous benefit. No matter what you do, because you have internal force you will do better than when you did not have internal force!
If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org stating your name, country and e-mail address.
Cleansing, building and nourishing are important functions in chi kung training
What is the difference between cleansing, building and nourishing?
— Amerigo, Switzerland
In cleansing, chi flow clears away impurities of a practitioner, resulting in him recovering from pain and illness, or makes him healthier and more lively. It is the first stage of chi kung training. It is also the most usual function of chi flow.
In building, chi flow strengthens a practitioner quantitatively, making him stronger and having more vitality. It is the second stage of chi kung training. This is the main function of internal force training.
In nourishing, chi flow strengthens a practitioner qualitatively, giving him longevity, mental clarity and spiritual joys. It is the third stage of chi kung training. This is the main function of longevity cultivation. It enables a person at an old age to be still healthy and full of vitality.
To say that cleansing, building and nourishing are at the first, second and third stage of chi kung training is a matter of emphasis. All these three functions operate at the same time in chi kung training. When a practitioner cleanses, he also builds and nourishes his energy flow, but cleansing is emphasised at the first stage, building at the second stage, and nourishing at the third stage.
If a person is sick, he should focus on cleansing. Building more energy may be harmful to a sick person. For example, if a person’s heart is weak, injecting stimulant to make his heart work harder may kill him.
A person’s meridians should be quite clear when he builds his energy. Adding more energy when it is blocked could harm him, or make him angry or depressed. Some martial artists are victims of this situation, often without their knowing.
A person should be healthy and fit before emphasising on nourishing. Nourishing without cleansing and building may result in being weak and sick at old age.
How does one directs his chi to cleanse, build or nourish? Normally he does not have to do anything special. The chi flow generated by his chi kung practice will cleanse, build and nourish in that order of emphasis. This is the concept of “wu-wei”, which is often described as not doing anything and everything will be done for you. What is not explained is the other half of the secret, the concept of “you-wei”, which is doing the right thing first, then followed by “wu-wei”.
If a practitioner is sick, for example, by practicing chi kung and without doing any thing extra, his chi flow will cleanse him, clearing away his energy blockage to restore him to good health. If a practitioner is weak, after “you-wei” where he performs appropriate chi kung exercise to generate a chi flow, “wu-wei” will take over to strengthen him. If a practitioner is healthy but not peaceful and happy, his chi flow as a result of chi kung practice will nourish him giving him a better quality of life.
However, if a practitioner is knowledgeable, he can choose certain exercises that have special emphasis on cleansing, building or nourishing. For example, Self-Manifested Chi Movement and Five-Animal Play emphasize cleansing, stance training and Eighteen-Lohan Art emphasize building, and Cosmic Shower and Cosmic Breathing emphasise nourishing.
If a practitioner is skillful, he can use his mind to direct his chi flow to cleanse, build or nourish. Nevertheless, unless the practitioner has good reasons to do otherwise, employing the concept of “wu-wei”, after having performed “you-wei”, is safer and usually more effective.
My work involves much traveling. During the long traveling in my car, I think of things in my past which make me unhappy. How do I overcome this problem?
— Bojan, Switzerland
Here are three solutions. Choose the one you think is the best.
Firstly, don’t think of your problem. Clear you mind of all thoughts and enjoy the scenery.
Secondly, don’t think of things in the past that make you unhappy. Think of what you are going to do after your travel to make your wife and your children happy.
Thirdly, make the problem of your problem, i.e. unhappy thoughts of your past, into an opportunity for improvement. Suppose that in the past you wanted to study law, but for some reasons you couldn’t realize your ambition. Think of how lucky you now are being a salesman instead of a lawyer. Instead of attending court you now can enjoy the passing scenery. Instead of worrying over how to present your case the next day, now you can enjoy the evening with your family.
Or be happy with the thought, as well as the subsequent action, that now you can realize your ambition to study law when you couldn’t in the past. One probably reason you didn’t study law was due to lack of money. Another probably reason was because of your parents’ objection. Now you have the money, and are free from your parents’ objection. Make up your mind to resign from your salesman’s job, study law and become a lawyer.
Isabella sinks her stance to neutralize Hugo’s attack
Essentially the trick he taught is this: If you can trap and tame an opponent and control their center of mass while also striking, and perhaps kicking simultaneously it is like giving your opponent the sensory illusion that he is fighting 2 or 3 opponents at once. Not only the opponent has to contend with being off balanced but he also has to contend with incoming direct attacks as well.
— David, USA
An effective counter against this illusion is to let you chi gently sink into your dan tian, and simultaneously shift your stance over to your back leg, without moving your legs. This body-movement, or shen-fa, is called “shallow” or “tun” in Chinese.
This body-movement gives you better focus and at the same time moves your target away from his attack, irrespective of whether it is single or multiple or an illusion of attack from a few persons.
This concept is frequently used in Taijiquan. After swallowing, a Taijiquan exponent shoots out to counter-attack.
Editorial Note: David’s other questions can be read in the previous issue, July 2015 Part 1
So in short I am curious, Sigung, if this is a concept and skill I should incorporate in my kung fu toolbox permanently? If so can Sigung give me advice on how to enhance it or “Wahnamize” it and make it better?
If you find it useful, you can include the concept and application into your kungfu toolbox. In fact, that was why Shaolin Kungfu is so extensive. Shaolin Kungfu is not only an inspiration for many other martial arts, it is also a receptacle for the best of other martial arts.
You don’t have to “Wahnamize” the concept and application. Just take it and use it as it is. Later, when you are fluent with the concept and the application, you may modify it to suit your combat situation. This is in line with the principle “seen hook kai seong, hou ying kai ping” which is “first learn the standard, then modify according to changes”.
As the concept and application come from Wing Choon, and Wing Choon is included in our Shaolin Wahnam teaching, it is unlikely you have to make modification so that the concept and application are in line with our Shaolin Wahnam practice and philosophy. However, if a learnt concept and application come from a martial art that is different from ours, then we may have to “Wahnamize” it.
It is important to remember that if we have to “Wahnamize” a concept or an application, it is not because we want to claim it as our own, but because the modification minimizes its weakness and improves its effectiveness.
We have to acknowledge and be grateful to the source for the new concept or application. For example, many of the take-downs and pin-downs we now practice were first taught by your sipak, Kai, at a Special Advanced Combined Course in Sungai Petani in 2005. They were new to me initially, but later I discovered that these wrestling techniques were actually found in Shaolin Kungfu. But before Kai taught them at the course, I only knew the Shaolin patterns but not their applications. Kai’s demonstration gave me an inspiration to discover their applications.
I had to make some modifications to these wrestling techniques because an exponent using them would be exposed. The exposure was alright in wrestling protected by safety rules, but they could pose serious problems in Shaolin Kungfu where fighting was free.
For example, the wrestling shoot and take-down were similar to the Shaolin patterns “Angry Bull Charges at Fence” and “Emptying Rug-Sack”, except that in the wrestling techniques the attacker could be seriously struck by an opponent, but this was not allowed in wrestling rules, whereas in the Shaolin techniques the attacker had to cover the opponent before making an attack.
Sifu Kai Uwe demonstrating a pattern known in Shaolin Kungfu as “Lohan Taking Noon Nap”
I would like to mention that I have had what could only be described as an experience with Tiger Force. It was a Tiger Spirit chi flow, I was moving through various tiger patterns with such ferocity. My stance was immovable yet flowing, Tiger Force surged through me and I felt courageous, focused, and agile.
It is important to note that “tiger spirit chi flow” here means chi flow that resembled the movements of a tiger. It does not mean that a spirit entered you and made your movements like those of a tiger.
While your use of the term “tiger force” is apt, and the term is sometimes used in Shaolin terminology, we usually call “tiger force” just internal force.
Some people could have read that amongst the Shaolin “five animals”, the dragon form trains spirit, the snake form trains energy, the tiger form trains bone, the leopard form trains strength, and the crane form trains essence. They may not understand what is meant by the tiger form trains bone, and the crane form trains essence.
“Bone” here means internal force, and “essence” means elegance of form.
My Daan and Seong Fu Jow techniques were manifesting with flowing stances and six harmonies. After this I went into what seemed to be Double Stability of Golden Bridge Flow Mode, and I felt like I was expanding and contracting. Finally when I closed the session I was left with an impression of actually being a Human-Tiger! It was very surreal.
Congratulations for the remarkable experience. It is due to your dedicated training.
But it is very important that you are in full control. In this case, you were in full control of your force and movement, as well as intention. Your single and double tiger-claws manifested in flowing force, you moved into Double Stability Golden Bridge, and you had an impression of being a human-tiger because you allowed all these to happen spontaneously.
For the sake of discussion though in reality it might not be recommended, if you intended to change your tiger-claws into open palms to be manifested in consolidated force, move into a Single-Leg Stance with your hands spread out, and felt yourself to be a flying crane, you should be able to do so.
It is like in chi kung. You may roll on the ground and make noise like a monkey because you allow these actions to happen. If, for some reason like you do not want to disturb others in a park where you have your practice, you can remain swaying while standing up and not making any loud noise. You should have full control over your force, movement and intention.
Dr Damian applies a single tiger-claw to ward off Grandmaster Wong’s thrust punch
So my question to you Sigung is whether there is such a thing as Tiger Force. Does it have any relation to Dragon Force, does every animal have a Force associated with it?
Yes, there is tiger force, and the Chinese term is “hu jing”, which means “internal force of a tiger”. However, the term is not commonly used.
Tiger force is ferocious, whereas dragon force is flowing. Dragon force, though it looks softer, is generally more powerful than tiger-force. A high-level master can change from tiger-force to dragon force or any other type of force, and vice versa. Lesser masters would not be able to do so.
Whether a practitioner develops his force into tiger force, dragon force or any other kinds of force depends on the methods of his training as well as the way he applies it. If he uses methods like jabbing beans, gripping jars, Fierce Tiger Cleanses Claws, he develops tiger force. If he uses methods like Cloud Hands, Swimming Dragon and Dragon Manifests Majesty, he develops dragon force.
It is not rigid that every animal has a force associated with it, but the type of force manifested by certain animal forms is often named after the animal for convenience. For example, the type of force manifested by a practitioner using a snake form, like White Snake Shoots Venom, is called a snake force. The force manifested by a practitioner using a leopard form, like Golden Leopard Enters Rock, is called the leopard force. The force manifested by a practitioner using a crane form, like White Crane Flaps Wings, is called the crane force.
By practicing shooting a palm at a candle flame until the flame can be extinguished from a distance, one can develop the snake force. By constantly punching a sandbag with a leopard punch, he can develop the leopard force. By practicing San Zhan, he can develop the crane force.
By practicing One-Finger Shooting Zen a practitioner can manifest his force in many different ways. By practicing Dragon Strength a practitioner develops dragon force, but he can convert his dragon force to any types of force.
Different exponents may use the same method of force training, like the Eighteen-Lohan Art. Depending on how they use the same type of force, it may be called differently. The force manifested by a practitioner using a monkey form, like Spiritual Monkey Emerges from Cave, is called the monkey force. The force manifested by a practitioner using a praying mantis form, like Seven-Star Hook Hand, is called the praying mantis force.
It is like in Taijiquan or Iron Wire where practitioners develop the same type of force, but when it is used in different ways, it is named differently. When a Taijiquan practitioner uses his force to ward off, it is called “ward-off” or “peng” force. When he uses the force to roll back, it is called “roll-back” or “lu” force. When an Iron Wire practitioner uses his force to press into an opponent, it is called “press” or “pik” force. When he uses his force to strike in a straight line, it is called “straight” or “cheit” force.
Most importantly, can you give me advice about how I can use this “Tiger Force” to better my life and my kung fu?
Tiger force is well-known for its ferocity and courage, and is most useful for business, leadership and positions of authority. These qualities should also be applied in our ordinary daily life.
In a positive way, ferocity is assertiveness. When you talk to your friends or colleague, for example, when the situations warrant it, you should be assertive, and the courage of the tiger-force will enable you to do so.
Assertiveness and courage should be tampered with wisdom and good judgment. We must also know the limits when we should be assertive and courageous, not allowing these qualities to become bullheadedness and bravado.
In kungfu the tiger force is excellent for chin-na and pressing attack. It is particularly useful where techniques of the tiger-claw are frequently used, like in the Taming Tiger Set of Hoong Ka Kungfu.
It was probably that your training of the Taming Tiger Set developed your tiger force. This tiger-force will in return enhance your application of the set.
A common problem with some of our students is that they are not ferocious in their attack. They lack an element of threat. This lack is caused by a lack of courage. Tiger-force overcomes this common weakness and enhances not just the application of the tiger-claw but any style of kungfu you may use.
But again, we must guard against ferocity and courage turning into bullheadedness and bravado. These qualities should be tampered with wisdom and good judgment.. The mental clarity you derive from your training will contribute to good judgment and wisdom — in combat and in daily life.
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.
Sifu, chi flow is a hallmark of our school. Can you tell us who you learned chi flow from? Was it from Uncle Righteousness or Sigung Ho Fatt Nam?
Sifu Mark Appleford, Chief Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam UK
Yes, you are right. Chi flow is the hallmark of our school. In fact, Tim (Sifu Tim Franklin of UK) mentioned that 500 years from now when people pointed to our school, the most prominent feature they noticed would be chi flow.
Chi flow has enabled us to help many people overcome so-called incurable diseases. For those who train internal force (which is practically everyone in our school), it frees them the concern of deviated training. Hence, we have the luxury of “Don’t Worry” being the first golden rule of our practice.
It speeds up our progress unbelievably. Even for me, when I took one or two years to experience internal force in a particular force-training exercise, our students now can experience internal force in the same exercise in a matter of days! It is just unbelievable but true.
I did not learn chi flow from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam or Uncle Righteousness. Uncle Righteousness did not talk about chi flow. Although there was some gentle chi flow in Sifu Ho Fatt Nam’s school, he did not encourage vigorous chi flow.
Chi flow developed in the long process of my own training and teaching. I heard of and read about chi and its importance in internal force development. There is a kungfu saying as follows: “The essence of internal force is chi”.
My first experience of chi flow was when practicing One-Finger Shooting Zen learnt from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam. But I did not know it was chi flow then, neither did my sifu tell me so. Like any good student in a traditional kungfu context, I just practiced what my sifu asked me to, without understanding its underlying philosophy.
Yet, I was different from other traditional good students. I read a lot of kungfu classics, and had frequent discussion with my sifu on kungfu philosophy. I read about a kind of chi kung developed by the great Chinese physician, Hua Tou, called Five-Animal Play where practitioners moved about in what we would now call self-manifested chi movement.
Years later when I set up Shaolin Wahanm Association and Shaolin Wahnam Chi Kung Clinic in Sungai Petani , I was quite well-known and respected. A kungfu and chi kung master from another city came to me for help, which I rendered him. (Later he betrayed me, and instigated some of my senior students against me.)
I learned that he taught Flying Crane Chi Kung which has self-manifested chi movement as its main approach. I was interested and he invited me to visit his classes. His students performed about 30 different exercises, then went into vigorous chi flow.
He also volunteered to induce self-manifested chi movement in me. He tried to transmit chi to me via my ming meng vital point (located at the back along the waist), but my chi flow was so powerful that he was repelled away.
Later I tried to induce self-manifested chi movement myself. I opened my bai-hui vital point (at the crown of the head) and massage my qi-hai vital point (at the abdominal dan tian), like what this master taught his students. And performed the 30 odd Frying Crane Chi Kung exercises in a chi kung state of mind.
Before I could complete about half of the intended exercises, I was already in a vigorous chi flow. The chi flow was so powerful that I went round and round my living room quite uncontrollably. It was my first time experiencing a very vigorous self-manifested chi movement and I did not know how to stop.
I had an idea. I threw myself on a sofa to stop the vigorous chi movement. I did stop going round and round, but it was a very unpleasant feeling. Now I know that if a practitioner has this problem when stopping suddenly, he just has to go into some gentle chi flow, then think of his dan tian to let his flowing chi settle down. But I did not know this technique then.
I researched the many chi kung classics that I had and learned a lot about self-manifested chi movement. I learned various techniques to induce a vigorous chi flow, like stimulating energy points, performing gentle movements faster and faster, and feeling like drifting peacefully in heaven.
When my students in my various Eighteen Lohan Hands classes (which lasted for 6 months at that time) started to experience some chi movement, I encouraged them to go on. But at that time, I was new to self-manifested chi movement, so I was very careful, following and monitoring each student at a time as he (or she) enjoyed his more than average chi flow, asking him to slow down when the movement became too vigorous. Now I know that self-manifested chi movement is very safe, and I can go for a drink, leaving students to run and jump like monkeys and kangaroos on their own, provided, of course, the practice place is safe.
I explained the philosophy of self-manifested chi movement, which I learned from chi kung classics, to my classes. I explained, for example, that chi from different internal organs manifested in characteristic ways, which are symbolized by the bird which relates to the heart, the deer which relates to the liver, the monkey which relates to the spleen, and the bear which relates to the kidneys.
I noticed that students who recovered from serious illness, like asthma, diabetes, cancer, cardio-vascular disorders and kidney stones, usually had sessions of vigorous self-manifested chi movement prior to their recovery. Looking back with hindsight, this laid the seed of my conclusion now that it is chi flow, not the chi kung exercises themselves, that brings benefits of good health, vitality and longevity.
I reckoned that as self-manifested chi movement was so useful, I could devise appropriate exercises to induce it, instead of letting it develop gradually from Eighteen Lohan Hands. So I composed two sets of chi kung exercises specially to induce self-manifested chi movement.
The first set consisted of Push Mountain Lift Sky, Double Dragons and Fish Flip. This was meant to induce a vigorous forward-backward flow. The second set consisted of Dancing Fairy, Bear Walk and Swinging Hips. This was meant to induce a sideway or a circular flow.
These two sets of self-manifested chi movement exercises were very effective. By then I had reduced the Eighteen Lohan Hands course from six months to three months. These two sets of exercises could enable students to have a vigorous chi flow in a few days instead of a few months. Those of you who learned from me in my early years of world-wide travels, like in Spain, Portugal and Germany, would have learnt these self-manifested chi movement exercises.
Chi flow has helped us tremendously in internal force development. I remember the first time I taught Lifting Water to a student in Australia, Ken, who was a Tai Chi instructor. After lifting our hands about a dozen times, we felt tremendous force in our hands. On hindsight, it was due to chi flow.
Lately I was investigating why our students could develop internal force in a matter of days when masters in the past, including myself, took years. A main reason was that we differentiated between skills and techniques. And the principal skill was our ability to generate chi flow.
I had a historic confirmation when teaching Iron Wire in Barcelona last year (2011). First I taught them the force-method, which is the orthodox method for Iron Wire. Then I taught them the flow-method. I asked the students to compare the two methods and tell me from their direct experience which method was more powerful. I was actually quite surprised when all of them told me the flow-method.
Having found that the flow-method produces better result, when I taught Iron Wire in Killarney in 2011, I mainly used the flow-method though I also introduced the force-method in passing. What was most outstanding about the Ireland Iron Wire Course was mental clarity, besides tremendous internal force. I have no doubt that the flow-method contributed much to the attainment of mental clarity, but I have not found out the philosophical explanation yet.
I had another confirmation recently in Frankfurt (September 2012). After teaching the force-method the first two days to develop internal force in the Triple Stretch, which produced a lot of force, I taught the students the flow-method on the third day. I asked them to compare the two methods and tell me from their direct experience which method produced more force. This time I was not surprised that 10 of them told me the flow-method and 2 said they were not sure.
An important aspect in Grandmaster Ho Fatt Nam’s school is force training
Can Sifu please tell us more about how training in Sigung’s school was? How many students did Sigung teach and how many people trained together in a class?
When I met Sisook, Sigungs’s eldest son, recently in Penang he told us that a minimum requirement for beginners was to sit in the Horse-Riding Stance for a whole hour. Can Sifu please tell us more about the training procedure and the progression of the students during this initial phase? How does the outcome of this approach compare to our comparatively short, but powerful stance training sessions in regards to immediate and long-term effects?
We also learned about a technique that Sisook called “sleeping” which is lying between two chairs. Can Sifu tell us more about this technique?
Sifu Leonard Lackinger
Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
Recalling my days training under my sifu, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, is both nostalgic and memorable. They were some of the happiest days of my life, and I am eternally grateful to my sifu for his kindness and teaching.
Much of the time at my initial stage of training, I trained alone. There were no other students, and my sifu was often not present. I went to my sifu’s house, which also acted as a temple, every afternoon to train. These were sessions of training, not learning.
Sometimes when my sifu was at home, he would watched me, nodded and then walked away. Sometimes he would say, “Very good, carry on!” Occasionally he would teach me a technique or two, and I would practice and practice it to become skilful.
At my sifu’s house there was a big altar where many statues of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Taoist gods were worshipped. Students voluntarily offered a joss stick — just one joss stick — at a main incense burner. Initially, due to my ignorance and arrogance, I never did that. I remember telling myself that I went there to learn kungfu, not religion. But after an intimate conversation with Immortal Li, for whom I am also eternally grateful, I always offered a joss stick before I started training.
Later I requested to train at my sifu’s house at night where some of my seniors also trained. There were not many of them, usually just three or four. My sifu was very selective in accepting students, though I was quite surprised that he accepted me quite readily. I was not only the youngest in kungfu age but also the weakest. My seniors literally handled me in sparring like a small boy, though later due to my dedicated training I could put up some semblance of defence.
It may be of interest to note that before I joined my sifu’s class I could beat all other martial artists in free sparring. But then I chose my sparring partners carefully, and I did a lot of homework before I sparred. With hindsight, this was the seed of my 30-opponent programme.
With foresight, this may inspire our family members in Shaolin Wahnam of the tremendous depth of kungfu. It was not without good reasons, and certainly not due to vanity but with much frustration, when I said that it was not difficult to beat other martial artists in free sparring — if our family members confidently used kungfu, and put in a bit of free sparring practice.
All my four sifus, who were patriarchs in their arts, placed a lot of importance on the Horse-Riding Stance. Some of my seniors came to class just to practice the stance. Indeed, most of the time of training of my seniors was either force training or combat application. There was not much time spent on set practice.
However, I did not have to spend much time on stance training with Sifu Ho Fatt Nam. This was probably because my stances were already good. My sifu asked me to show him the stances. He said they were good, and he moved on to other aspects of kungfu training. In fact he taught me Lifting the Sky before even asking me to show him the stances. After seeing my stances, he taught me One-Finger Shooting Zen. I still remember very well what he told me right at the start.
“One-Finger Shooting Zen is very important in Shaolin training,” he said. “It developed two of the most important of the Shaolin arts, dim mak and tiger-claw. Here we teach the best right at the beginning so that you have sufficient time to practice. Practice it every day. “
Right at the beginning of my kungfu career with Uncle Righteousness, I knew the Horse-Riding Stance was very important. “People in the past practiced only the Horse-riding Stance for at least a year or two,” I was often told, even by people who themselves did not know kungfu. But I did not know in details why was stance training so important. I only knew that the stances formed the foundation of kungfu, but did not know why.
Later I discovered that stance training sunk our chi to our dan tian. All kungfu movements were built upon stances. It developed internal force. Much later I discovered that it also developed mental clarity.
The Horse-Riding Stance in Sifu Ho Fatt Nam’s school was different from that in most other kungfu schools, like the one I learned from Uncle Righteousness. Sifu Ho Fatt Nam’s Horse-Riding Stance was higher and narrower, and was pyramid shaped. Uncle Righteousness’ Horse-Riding Stance was lower and wider, and was box-shaped.
Interestingly, the Horse-Riding Stance I learned from my other two sifus, Sifu Chee Kim Thong and Sifu Choy Hoong Choy, was also high and narrow. But at that time I thought of them as a particular Horse-Riding Stance for Wuzuquan and a particular Horse-Riding Stance for Wing Choon Kungfu, and not as Horse-Riding Stance in general. I associate the Horse-Riding Stance in general with the one I learned from Uncle Righteousness, as most other kungfu schools, especially Hoong Ka, also performed the stance in this way.
Thus, I was initially surprised why Sifu Ho Fatt Nam’s Horse-Riding Stance was quite high. But as a good student, I just followed what my sifu taught me.
Another important aspect in Grandmaster Ho Fatt Nam’s school is combat application
The higher and narrower Horse-Riding Stance was certainly more comfortable. It was later after I had started teaching that I discovered that the higher and narrow Horse-Riding Stance, which gave it a pyramid-shape, better facilitated cosmic energy to be accumulated at the dan tian, thus building internal force.
Students at Sifu Ho Fatt Nam’s school practiced individually, not in a group, i.e. each student practiced his kungfu on his own, though often they paired for sequence training or free sparring. They also arrived at and left the school at their own convenience, though they might leave at the same time to end the night session.
Students usually started their training with stances and One-Finger Shooting Zen. This was how I usually started my practice too, though my sifu did not spent time formally teaching me the stances. Next they practiced their own kungfu set, or part of it. Often they started with Four Gates, the fundamental set, or part of it. Then they got a partner to practice combat sequences or free sparring, or practiced force training on their own, like rubbing their arms against hard edges of pillars and Iron Palm.
Students seldom practiced a whole kungfu set, but go over again and again some sequences in the set. Hence, sequence sparring came naturally to us. Weapon training was seldom. The weapon most frequently practiced was the Ho Family Flowing Water Staff.
The training procedure I went through was “ku lian”, or “bitter-training”. Ku-lian i.e. enduring long hours of training before one could get a little benefit, is also the approach of most kungfu practitioners in the past as well as today, including those who practice kungfu forms for demonstration or bounce about in free exchange of blows. But my ku-lian certainly gave me more benefits than to most other practitioners.
In contrast, the training procedure of our students in Shaolin Wahnam is a big joke. We tell our students not to train too hard, least they over-train. We tell our students that achieving just 30% of what they achieved while learning in courses taught by me is sufficient to meet their needs. We tell our students to enjoy themselves — and we really mean it.
Yet, despite such enjoyment and less time in training, our students get more benefit than I got when I was a student. And by extension, as I was a very good student with a high level of attainment, our students have more benefits in less time than most other practitioners. Indeed, as some of our instructors have rightly commented, many of our students do not realise how very lucky they are.
Our approach is simply ridiculous in regard to both immediate and long-term effects. Students who practice stance training in my courses experienced internal force discernibly immediately after the training session. In my student’s days in Sifu Ho Fatt Nam’s school I would need about 3 months to experience similar internal force. With Uncle Righteousness who was famous for his fighting, and with Sifu Chee Kim Thong who was famous for his internal force, I did not feel any internal force after training the Horse-Riding Stance for many years!
Students who attended my courses would experience a chi flow on the very first day of their training. It took me more than a year training with Sifu Ho Fatt Nam for me to experience a chi flow, and it was nothing like what our typical students now experience. I did not have any chi flow training with my other sighs.
Internal force is the essence of good kungfu. Chi flow is the essence of any chi kung.
The long-term effects of our students are marvellous. After training in our school for a year, internal force enables our students to attain peak performance, chi flow enables our students to overcome illness, and to have good health, vitality and longevity.
Until I trained with Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, I did not experience any internal force earlier although I underwent stance training delicately. Hence, I cannot say that internal force contributed to my peak performance in my earlier years.
When I was sick in my earlier years, which was actually seldom, I had to take medication. I did not know that chi flow could overcome illness. More importantly I did not know that chi flow could prevent illness.
Once when I was injured by my siheng in free sparring, my sifu, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, who was an excellent traumatologist, applied medication on me for six months. If I had a chi flow immediately, I could have flushed out the injury in less than half an hour!
More significantly, chi flow gives our students good health, vitality and longevity. I have no doubt that my kungfu training, despite without chi flow in my earlier years, has contributed greatly to my good health, vitality and longevity, but I did not know the philosophy of how it worked as our students know it now. I also did not know in my student’s days how to transfer the benefits of my kungfu training to enrich my daily life, although it must have done so unknowingly, as our students now do.
The technique of lying between two chairs is called “tit pan kiew” in Cantonese or “tie ban jiao” in Mandarin, which means “iron-plank-bridge” in English. It is a very powerful internal force training method. My sifu taught me this method secretly. I don’t know whether he also taught other students.
When I accidentally placed my arm or leg on my wife, she complained that it was very heavy though I did not intentionally apply any force. This gave an idea how powerful “iron-plank-bridge” was.
Actually I almost forgot about this training method, though at the time when I learned from my sifu, I practiced it diligently every night. One reason is that we now have so many effective force training methods which are certainly more comfortable.