(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/ans17a/jan17-3.html)
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.
(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/ans16a/apr16-1.html)
Entering into a chi kung state of mind
You have often said that some of the most important lessons and skills we learn in our school are taught right at the beginning.
— Sifu Tim Franklin, United Kingdoms
You are perfectly right. While many masters teach their best arts to their selected students after the students have spent many years with them, we teach every student the best arts right at the beginning. I remember clearly what my sifu, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, told me when he taught me One-finger Shooting Zen. He said, “One-Finger Zen and Tiger-Claw are two of the most advanced arts in Shaolin. They are taught to students right at the start in our school so that they can train everyday and have sufficient time to master them.” One-Finger Zen is used in “dim-mark” and “Tiger-Claw in “chin-na”, and both are found in One-finger Shooting Zen.
The very first arts we teach in any chi kung, Shaolin or Taijiquan class, and also we use to start subsequent classes, are entering into a chi kung state of mind, entering Zen or entering Tao. Without entering into a chi kung state of mind or entering Tao, a person cannot perform genuine chi kung or genuine Taijiquan, even when he uses genuine chi kung or Taijiquan techniques. He merely performs gentle physical exercise or Taiji dance.
One may be able to perform genuine kungfu without entering Zen, but his performance remains at a physical and low level. Only by entering Zen can he develop internal force and brings his Shaolin performance to a high level.
Sometimes these important lessons can be missed by some as they eagerly pursue other “more interesting” aspects of our arts. This, in our opinion, would be a mistake as the beginning teachings are not only really interesting, but also help build a strong foundation, to fully appreciate and develop the skills required for deeper practices and benefits.
More likely today is that these important first lessons are not even taught at all. Most chi kung, Shaolin and Taijiquan teachers are unaware of these important lessons.
A very small percentage of these teachers, less than 5% of the total number of people who practice chi kung, Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan, may eventually become real masters after many years of dedicated training, and have high levels of chi kung, Shaolin and Taijiquan attainments, but they are still unaware that they could reach high levels of attainment because, without their conscious knowing, they had entered a chi kung state of mind, entered Zen or entered Tao during thair training.
More likely, some students chase after novelties, like tingling sensations at their finger tips in chi kung, winning trophies in Shaolin competitions, and learning exotic sets in Taijiquan. They have forgotten the aims of practicing their arts, like enjoying good health in chi kung practice, and being able to use their arts for combat in Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan. Realizing these aims as well as other wonderful benefits are only possible if they have practiced well the initial lessons.
The ever-victorious strategy
The aims of the 2016 UK Summer camp are to ensure students/teachers not only develop these skills but also realise them as well, for if they don’t they would have missed a wonderful opportunity to experience life as a meaningful flow of energy.
It is telling that you make a difference between realizing these skills and developing them. Most practitioners neither realize the great importance of these basic skills nor develop them.
Some may realize the importance of these skills, but never develop them. They know, for example, that they have to be relaxed and not thinking of anything in order to generate an energy flow, but they never succeed in generating an energy flow.
On the other hand, some may have developed their skills, but they never realize what these skills are. They may have developed internal force through years of dedicated training, for example, but they never realize that they need to be in a Zen or Tao state of mind for the internal force development. Many chi kung and kungfu practitioners have missed the wonderful opportunity to experience life as a meaningful flow of energy. Indeed, many of them may not really understand what the expression means although they know the dictionary meaning of all the words used.
Those who realize its meaning and experience life as a meaningful flow of energy will have good health, vitality and longevity besides other benefits. But many who practice chi kung are weak and sick, and many who practiced Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan are stressful and injured, though the arts they practice are supposed to enhance their flow of energy.
We have already discussed the aims of the 5 day Foundations of Kung Fu course, for which we are very much looking forward to.
It is beneficial to elaborate on the benefits of the kungfu course at the coming UK Summer Camp.
I have often mentioned an ever-victorious strategy against other kungfu styles or other martial arts, which is to apply a combat sequence relentlessly but taking great care of our own safety, against an opponent in free sparring.
Though I used this strategy in my own free sparring in my younger days and remained undefeated, it will be the first time I teach instructors and students in our school to put this philosophy into practice at the kungfu course during the coming UK Summer Camp.
Barry suggested that I devised 4 combat sequences, and course participants would choose one. I have done that and shall post the 4 combat sequences on my website later on for participants to choose.
If we apply any one of the 4 combat sequences flowingly and forcefully, our opponents would have no chance to fight back. They would be overwhelmed by our flow and force. Even if they could match our flow and force, they have no techniques in their repertoire to defend against our pressing attack. they will be pressed back against a wall.
However, if an opponent is very skillful, he may escape our pressing attack, and counter attack with typical techniques from his art. We shall learn to counter these typical techniques and continue to press him back against a wall.
While attaining this specific objective of winning free sparring, which will make our kungfu training meaningful, we shall also place much focus on our general aims of attaining good health, vitality, longevity, mental clarity and spiritual joys.
To most other martial artists, to attain good health, which includes being free from stress and injuries, is antagonistic to free sparring. Many other martial artists are stressful and injured in free sparring. But we are elite. Not only we will be relaxed, but we learn to be unhurt in free sparring.
The course will even attain more than this, Not only we shall be relaxed and unhurt in free sparring, the free sparring will contribute to our good health, vitality, longevity, mental clarity and spiritual joys! It is hard for others to believe, even to comprehend. One has to experience the course to find out.
Five-Animal Play in Barcelona
We would also like to explore and share with you our understanding of the foundations of Chi Kung, our ideas for a series of Chi Kung courses and how this fits in with the Kung Fu.
Referring back to your Q&A in 1998 regarding intensive courses we understand the foundation skills of Chi Kung can be narrowed to two things:
We had a chat about how people could use these skills and agreed that someone would need to be able to do the following:
Enter a Chi Kung state of mind
Maintain a Chi Kung state of mind
Generate a smooth flow of energy
Maintain a smooth flow of energy
Apply a smooth flow of energy
All of these skills are on a continuum. Some students are more skillful than others. We think at the highest level a master would be able to do these things under any circumstances in their:
chi kung practice
kung fu practice
sparring under pressure
fighting for real
any aspect of their daily life, whatever the outside pressures.
The foundations can be taken and used at any level. Shaolin Wahnam students can aspire to the highest levels, if they realise thatâ€™s what they can aim for.
Your description is excellent. It clearly describes in a systematic manner what we do in our school, which you have nicely summed as circulating energy and building energy. Indeed, these are the two aspects of any genuine chi kung training, described in Chinese as “xing qi” and “yang qi”, which literally means “circulate energy” and “nourish energy”.
I am glad that all our instructors and students can circulate and nourish energy in their chi kung and kungfu practice, most can do so in sparring under pressure. Real fighting is, fortunately, rare in our modern societies, but I believe many of our instructors and students can do so. I also believe that they can circulate and nourish energy in their daily life where they are under pressure. In other words, due to their training in our school, they can remain relaxed and be able to think and react accordingly even in difficult situations.
If you like, we may create simulated situations during our chi kung courses at the UK Summer Camp for our students to apply their chi kung training in difficult situations. You may, for example, suddenly rush into the training hall and announce that there is a fire to see how our students react. It is best that such simulated situations are to be created when I am not in the hall.
I am nervous and stressful. I find it hard to relax. How do I enter into a chi kung state of mind?
— Koncha, Spain
Editorial Note: Asked in class by a beginning student in Grandmaster Wong’s basic Five-Animal Play course.
Just follow my instructions as best as you comfortably can. In half an hourâ€™s time you will find you are able to relax. By the end of the course today, you will be able to relax easily.
This is a practical answer, and the best answer. You can assess whether what I say is true in half an hour, and again by the end of the course. You donâ€™t have to wait for three months to find out.
(Editorial Note: in half an hour after the practice session, Koncha found out from her own experience she could relax. By the end of the course she found out she could relax easily._
But I shall also give you an academic answer, which some people like to hear but is not as useful as the practical answer.
Your problem of not being able to relax is very common. In my early years of teaching, many people who first learned from me told me the same problem. Gradually less and less people told me this problem. Now very few people mention this problem.
If you donâ€™t do anything, you will be relaxed physically and mentally. In practical terms, if you do not tense your muscles, you will be able to relax physically. If you do not intellectualise, you will be able to relax mentally.
Most people cannot relax because they close their mouth and tense their muscles, usually unknowingly. They have been so conditioned to closing their mouth and tensing their muscles that they do not consciously realise it. They are stressful because myriad thoughts come to their head. Again, they have been so conditioned to having countless thoughts that they are no conscious of it.
They also do not know, although it is actually quite simple but may not be easy to those who are habitually tensed and stressful, that if they make an effort not to tense their muscles and not to think of any thoughts, they can relax. Not doing something is simpler than doing something. Not tensing their muscles and not thinking of anything is simpler than tensing their muscles and thinking of something.
Having picture-perfect form is important in kungfu
Can we have a shower before or after our practice?
— Camilia, Spain
Yes, we can.
Our art is powerful, so we can enjoy such privileges. Other practitioners may not have such privileges. They have to wait for half an hour before or after a practice session before taking a shower.
In the same way, if we made some mistakes during our practice, we donâ€™t have to worry. Our chi flow will erase whatever harm the mistakes might have caused. Other practitioners do not have this privilege. If they made some mistakes, the harm would remain as they did not have any chi flow to flush away the harm.
In my book, â€œChi Kung for Health and Vitalityâ€, I mentioned 10 doâ€™s and 10 donâ€™ts. One of the donâ€™ts is not to have a shower immediately before or after we practice. This book as well as the doâ€™s and donâ€™ts mentioned in it, are meant for readers who do not have an opportunity to learn from me personally. Their result learning from a book, even when they have practiced perfectly, is far less than those who learn from me personally. Hence, for them, they have to wait for at least half and hour before and after practice for a shower.
Moreover, the book was written about 20 years ago at a time when my teaching was not as high level as it is now. Now students learning personally from me have more powerful result, and enjoy the privilege of having a shower immediately before or after a practice.
Why is it important for us to perform the form correctly in a kungfu set?
— Omar. United Kingdom
It is important to perform the form of a kungfu set, like San Feng Wudang Set, correctly necause the success of its combat application depends on its correct form. If the form of a kungfu pattern is not correct, not only it looses its combat effectiveness, it may also offer opportunities for opponents to counter-attack.
Let us take a simple example. An opponent executes a middle thrust punch, like Black Tiger Steals Heart. An exponent responds with Shift Horse Ask Way from the San Feng Wudang Set. This response is excellent when the form is performed correctly. It minimizes the opponentâ€™s force, and places the exponent in a favourable position to counter-attack without little opening for the opponent.
However, if the form is incorrect, not only the same response does not give the exponents these advantages, but also it offers the opponent opportunities to defeat the exponent. If the exponent does not rotate his waist, for example, he will not be able to minimize the opponentâ€™s force. If he does not sink back in his stance, he may too close for the opponentâ€™s attack. If he does not position his legs correctly, he exposes his groin for the opponent to attack. If he leans backward or foreard, his balance is unfavourable for him.
The wrong form places the exponent in an awkward position. Even if the opponent may not be successful in his initial attack, the awkward position of the exponent makes it easy for the opponent to continue, and makes it difficult for the exponent to respond.
Hence, picture-perfect form is very important in kungfu, even for beginners. If beginners have their form correct right at the start, they donâ€™t have to spend much time and effort relearning it later on.
However, you may notice that I am not particular about form for beginners in chi kung. In fact, for beginners if their form is not perfect, though not incorrect, I usually ignore it. The main reason, for ignoring minor mistakes as well as for not particular on picture-perfect form, is that I want beginning students to get on to energy flow as fast as possible.
If I pay too much attention to picture-perfect form, beginning students will be unduly worried about their form, get out from the chi kung state of mind which if often induce, and perform the chi kung technique as gentle physical exercise. Even with imperfect form, so long as the students relax and do not intellectualize, they can generate an energy flow.
As students progress, we pay more attention on form. When students have reached an advanced level, they could have picture-perfect form. Hence, I often mention in class when teaching a new technique that beginning students need not worry about details but just get the general picture right, whereas advanced practitioners can focus on finer points, like picture-perfect form.
However, we have come full-circle. We have become so cost-effective that sometimes I tell advanced practitioners to purposely get their form wrong, to tense their muscles , or to intellectualize sometimes so that they may not have too powerful result from their practice to prevent over-training! This is a big job to other people.
Nevertheless, instructors whether in chi kung or kungfu, whether they teach beginners or advanced students, must have picture-perfect form. It is because they are models for their students to follow when practicing any kungfu or chi kung techniques.
If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at email@example.com stating your name, country and e-mail address.
(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/ans16b/aug16-1.html)
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.