(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/ans16a/mar16-1.html)
Grandmaster Wong performing a Taijiquan pattern, “White Crane Flaps Wings”
I will be taking part of the next Intensive Taijiquan Course in Sabah. It is the course I have been waiting for since I asked to be accepted as a student in 2009.
— Sifu Angel Perez Oliveras, Puerto Rico
The Intensive Taijiquan Course in Sabah from 25th to 31st March 2016 is excellent for you. It is a course that you must not miss. You will find that not only your martial art will be brought to a new wonderful level, but more importantly your life will be a joy everyday. It is indeed difficult for those doing Taiji dance to realize what they have missed in daily life.
You were already an international sparring champion. But when you apply Taijiquan on your opponents, who may be half or one-third your age, you will find them like children!. There is simply nowhere your opponents can counter your attack. I mentioned this before a few times, and I also realized that some people thought I was boastful, though I never meant to be, but I am merely stating the truth.
But, of course, another truth is that very, very few Taiji practitioners today, including many so-called masters, know Taijiquan combat. But Taijiquan combat is easy for you; you only have to change your Taekwondo techniques into Taijiquan techniques in sparring.
Yet, the best benefit of the Intensive Taijiquan Course is not combat efficiency. Combat efficiency is secondary, only a bonus, something some course participants may not even pay much attention to. One of the greatest benefits of the course is that you will be healthy, fit, fast and powerful, physically and mentally, even beyond 70. I am happy I can speak from personal experience.
I remember very well your advice then. It was during a Sinew Metamorphosis course in Las Vegas. I asked what to do in order to improve my Taiji dance, though I was not fully aware I was doing Taiji dancing at that time, but I could sense something wasn’t right.
Your advice was to incorporate what I had learned during the course with my Taiji practice — to enter the qigong state of mind, generate qi flow and perform my sets in qi flow. As expected my practice became alive!. I am very excited that I will finally be able to take part in an Intensive Taijiquan Course.
What you have done with your qigong training on Taijiquan, before you attend the Intensive Taijiquan Course, is excellent.
For those who have been doing Taiji dance and may not have the opportunity to attend an Intensive Taijiquan Course but have the opportunity to learn qigong from us, should follow you example and draw inspiration from your results.
When they perform their Taiji dance, they should enter into a qigong state of mind, generate a qi flow and perform their Taiji sets in qi flow. Their Taiji dance will come alive, it will become an internal art, no more just an external dance-like form.
But for the martial aspect of Taijiquan, they have to learn from our Taijiquan instructors or attend my Intensive Taijiquan Course.
We are incredibly generous with our Intensive Taijiquan Course. Even those who are not our Shaolin Wahnam students but have practiced Taiji dance for some time, can still join our course.
They have heard that by practicing genuine Taijiquan they can be fit and healthy as well as combat efficient even at old age. But if they do not believe in our claims, that is their business, not ours.
In fact, I am now thinking of offering the Intensive Taijiquan Course as well as the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course only to our Family members, and not open to the public. We need not be generous to the point of casing pearls before swines.
“Shift Horse Ask Way” from San Feng Wudang Set
I experienced some breakthroughs performing the 24-Pattern Set, which I had been practicing following your first advice. But since I was able to finally perform Dragon Strength Circulation Chi Set completely, I feel that the rest of my training had gone to a complete new dimension.
I cannot even imagine what will happen when I could assimilate and incorporate the full scope of what you will transmit in Sabah. I want to be as best prepared as possible, so I am training daily for the Intensive Taijiquan Course. I have been doing my stance training for quite some time now, learning and perfecting the 12 basic combat sequences, the four basic sets and of course the 24 Pattern Set
It is no surprise to me that you have some breakthroughs with the 24-Pattern Taijiquan Set. Although it is called a simplified set, it has wonderful benefits, especially when you practice it with the skills you have learned in our school
The Dragon Strength Circulation Chi Set is incredible, It is the pinnacle of my kiungfu development. Having attended the course, you will enhance whatever kungfu you practice, as well as whatever you do in your daily life.
You are preparing very well for the Intensive Taijiquan Course. You already have much internal force from your qigong training, but at the course we shall further learn the skills and techniques of developing internal force using Taijiquan methods. Most Taiji dancers have the techniques, but they don’t have the skills, and they don’t realize it.
Would now be a good time to ask what discoveries and ‘ah ha’ moments you have experienced while composing the San Feng Wudang Set?
— Sifu Tim Franklin, UK /p>
Editorial Note: This question was asked before the UK Simmer Camp 2015, but because of a long waiting list the answer is released here only now.
The discoveries and aha experiences occurred mostly not during the composition of the San Feng Wudang Set, not even during the reconstruction of Wudang Taijiquan from which the San Feng Set derived, but from the time I first practiced Taijiquan.
When I composed the San Feng Wudang Set, it was mainly shortening Wudang Taijiquan to a manageable length, while maintaining the spirit, principles and benefits of Wudang Taijiquan.
When I reconstructed Wudang Taijiquan from classical sources, I already have practiced and benefited from Taijiquan for quite some time. But what struck me impressively was that the Wudang Taijiquan Set was more like a Shaolin set than what many Taijiquan practitioners conceptualized Taijiquan to be.
Even the patterns from the Wudang Taijiquan Set were like Shaolin patterns, and their names were poetic like Shaolin pattern names, and not technical like many Yang Style Taijiquan patterns and some Chen Style Taijiquan patterns.
There were many discoveries and aha experiences when I first practiced Taijiquan, which was Yang Style Taijiquan at that time. I discovered that if I performed a Taijiquan set fast, it looked like Shaolin Kungfu, and if I performed a Shaolin set slowly it looked like Taijiquan.
Even at this early age I knew that Taijiquan had to be performed fast if it had to be used for combat. This was not a problem for me, I just performed it like Shaolin Kungfu. I was able to apply all Taijiquan patterns for combat because of my training in Shaolin combat application. This was quite an aha experience as most Taijiquan practitioners did not know the martial aspect of Taijiquan.
I was quite good at Taijiquan but did not teach it despite many requests. I considered my best to be Shaolin Kungfu, and I wanted to teach my best. It was Rama who rightly commented to me that although my best was Shaolin Kungfu, many people preferred Taijiquan for some legitimate reasons, and it would be a great pity if I did not teach them, that I changed my mind.
When I taught in Australia in the 1980s, before my regular travels to teach in the West in the 1990s, Ken, a Taijiquan instructor in Bendigo, requested me to show him some Taijiquan. I taught him how to develop internal force using Lifting Water. Not only he could develop internal force in just that session when he only heard about internal force before that, I myself was amazed at the tremendous amount of internal force I developed after lifting my arms only a few times.
With hindsight I later realized that I entered in a deep chi kung state of mind, and I also led Ken into a chi kung state of mind. I concluded that if I used the same methods but different Taijiquan patterns, I could also develop internal force.
This was a discovery and aha experience. If a practitioner performs his Taijiquan set or part of it slowly and gracefully, without intellectualizing and without tensing his muscles, he could develop internal force without having to perform other internal force training methods.
It also led to my discovery and aha experience that Taijiquan itself was chi kung, and that it was unnecessary to incorporate other chi kung methods from elsewhere, like Lifting the Sky and Carrying the Moon from Eighteen Lohan Hands, into Taijiquan to develop internal force.
This discovery had far-reaching effects, and later contributed to the flow method and the otherwise ridiculous concept that making any movements, including comical or odd movements, in a chi kung state of mind, we could generate a chi flow or develop internal force! This was indeed amazing, considering that many masters had spent years chasing after internal force but to no avail.
I also discovered and had aha experiences how Taijiquan could enrich Shaolin Kungfu. If a student was rigid in his movement, by practicing his Shaolin sequences as if he was perfroming Taijiquan, he could not only overcome his rigid problem but make his movements flowing.
I discovered two important reasons why a small-sized Taijiquan exponent could defeat a bigger-sized opponent. One reason was internal force. The other reason was Taijiquan mechanics, and the core of Taijiquan mechanics was waist rotation. By rotating the waist, many Shaolin techniques that were otherwise difficult to perform, became easy.
Waist rotation led to fa-jing, or exploding force. The Taijiquan principle of “starting from the back leg, rotating the waist and ending at the hand” became very useful. By applying the principle of rotating the waist, I could help Shaolin students not only to explode spiral force in “Black tiger Steals Heart”, but make their palm strikes powerful, realizing the Shaolin principle that the palm was more powerful than the fist.
Waist rotation and exploding force were also found in Shaolin Kungfu, but were emphasized in Taijiquan. My discoveries and aha experiences in Taijiquan enriched my practice and teaching of Shaolin Kungfu.
The Complete Book of Shaolin
Can we apply this positive attitude in our everyday life even when situations are negative?
— Raphael, Austria
Yes, we can. There are countless attitude one can adopt in any situation, but all these attitudes can be divided into two broad categories, the negative way which most people adopt, and the positive way which is the Shaolin Wahnam way.
This positive attitude, or the Shaolin Wahnam way, can be applied to all situations, including negative situations. Suppose a person is very sick and he consults a doctor. After examining the patient, the doctor can adopt a negative attitude, like telling the patient that he is going to die, or adopt a positive attitude, telling the patient that he has a chance to recover.
It is important to note that in both cases the doctor is not telling a lie. The patient will die one day, regardless of whether it will happen in a few months’ time or after fifty years. It is also possible that the patient will recover even when he suffers form a so-called incurable disease.
The doctor’s attitude is very important, not only to the patient but also to himself. Whether his attitude is negative or positive will not change the present reality; irrespective of what the doctor thinks, the patient is still sick with a serious illness. But it will greatly affect how the future will unfold. It will not only bring grief or joy to the patient, but also affect what his treatment will be like.
The patient’s reaction can also be negative or positive irrespective of other people’s opinion. If the doctor told hem that he would die, he could reply that the doctor was wrong and he would live. If the doctor told him that he had a chance to recover, he could say that it was not just a chance but he would certainly recover, and return to thank the doctor with a bunch of flowers.
What is the most important character trait for a Shaolin practitioner to have to take his art to the highest level?
— Jinne, Canada
The main character trait for a Shaolin practitioner to have to take his art to the highest level is gratitude. This may be a surprise to some people who may think it is determination or intelligence or something else, but from my many years of experience both as a student and a teacher, it is gratitude. In fact, gratitude is needed at all levels.
At a beginning level, a student needs to have gratitude to learn effectively from his teacher If he lacks gratitude, like if he practices according to what he thinks is correct and not according to what his teacher asks him to do, which many students do often without their realizing, he will miss the essence of the art right at the beginning.
If a student lacks gratitude at the intermediate level, he will not progress to the advanced level. Compared to other students he may have accomplished much, especially when kungfu and chi kung today have degraded beyond recognition. where students hurt themselves with free exchange of blows instead of learning to defend themselves in kungfu, or perform outward forms as gentle exercise without any experience of energy flow in chi kung. But he will be stagnant at this level. But if he is grateful that he has an opportunity to learn an esoteric art, he will follow his master’s teaching and progress.
It is often at the advanced level where students would one day become masters themselves that these students fail. As they have attained abilities not available to most other practitioners, they become disrespectful and arrogant, thinking that there is no much they can get from their masters. If they have gratitude, they can overcome this hurdle. As they are arrogant they will also not benefit from other masters or other sources.
One-Finger Shooting Zen
Besides the books you have written, what other books you would recommend?
I read many books in my younger days, especially when I was at university, ranging from science to religion, from literature to medicine, and many of them were wonderful. I would mention a few that come readily to mind. Most of which were published many years ago.
The Limits of Science by Pierre Rousseau
Frontiers by Isaac Asimov
Mathematics for the Million by Lancelot Hogben
Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Daniken
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
I also read many kungfu and other martial art books in English, but generally I was not impressed except Tai Chi Chin Na by Dr Yang Jwing Ming which was outstandinig.
Of course I read many kungfu and chi kung classics in Chinese. Three of the classics I cherished much are
Classic of Shaolin Kungfu — a rare collection of 40 volumes compilled by the Venerable Fu Ju in the year 901 in the Song Dynasty
Internal Cultivation of Zhang San Feng
Shaolin Internal Arts
The classic that has a great impact on my spiritual cultivation is “Awakening of Faith in Mahayana”, written by Asvaghosha in Sanskrit in the 2nd century Before the Common Era, and translated into Chinese by Paramartha in the 6th century of the Common Era. The Chinese text was very concise and short, but has very profound significance.
It inspired me to write a long translation, interpretation and commentary of the work. The manuscript, written many years ago and entitled “In Quest of Cosmic Reality”, is still unpublished, but I consider it to be one of my best writings.
Many people kindly wrote to tell me that they had enjoyed and benefitted much from my published books, and some said that they had found my books the best they had read on the respective subjects.
Of these books, the one I like best is my autobiography, “The Way of the Master”. It contains many interesting stories, and reveals many secrets.
Other recommendable books include:
The Complete Book of Zen
The Art of Chi Kung
The Complete Book of Shaolin
The Complete Book of Chinese Medicine
The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan
In writing these books, I ensured that even if readers were not interested in the subject matter, they would enjoy reading them.
If you could choose one stance or move to train to the highest level, what would it be?
If I would choose just one stance or move to train to the highest level, it would be “One-Finger Shooting Zen” in kungfu and “Lifting the Sky” in chi kung.
“One-Finger Shooting Zen” provides tremendous internal force and mental clarity, which enhance not only all aspects of kungfu but also all aspects of daily life.
The benefits of “Lifing the Sky” range from the very basic to the very advanced and everything in between. At the very basic level, “Lifting the Sky” enables a practitioner to be relaxed. At the most advanced level, it enables a practitioner to merge with Cosmic Reality, called variously as returning to God the Holy Spirit, attaining Enlightenment or merging with the Great Void. “Lifting the Sky” both circulates and builds energy, satisfying the two essential dimensions of all chi kung training.
Of course, a practitioner must perform “One-Finger Shooting Zen” and “Lifting the Sky” correctly as internal arts. Unfortunately, most practitioners today perform “One-Finger Shooting Zen” as gymnastics and “Lifting the Sky” as gentle physical exercise, missing their essence and wonderful benefits.
These two wonderful exercises have great sentimental values for me. They were the first exercises I learned tom my sifu, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam.
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/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 firstname.lastname@example.org stating your name, country and e-mail address.
(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/sp-issues/benefits.html)
A high-level chi kung class in England
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 be 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.
The Way of the Master, written by my Sifu, Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, is now officially launched.
You can also read more delightful stories, or order the special edition directly.
Please enjoy one of the memorable stories from my Sifu’s book below:
A CHILD PRODIGY
(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/general-2/way-of-master/way27.html)
Myself in the 1940s
Many people were very kind to regard me as a kungfu genius. Only a few people knew that I was called a child prodigy long before that. I knew how to read Chinese even at the age of three due to my father’s and mother’s informal coaching.
One day, soon after my recovery from my long illness after falling into a huge monsoon drain, my parents took me to see my father’s friend who was a restaurant stall owner at the New Life Plaza at Cintra Street in Penang. The New Life Plaza has now given way to residential flats, but in the 1940s and 1950s, it was busy with hawker stalls.
My father was talking with his friend who was chopping barbequed meat for his customers. I couldn’t recollect what their conversation was, but I could remember my father saying I could read Chinese, which is a formidable feat even for adult learners as the Chinese written language does not have an alphabet and readers have to recognise each one by itself of at least a few hundred characters.
“What, a small boy of three can read Chinese!” The restaurant owner found it hard to believe.
“Yes, that’s true,” my father replied.
“I can’t believe it!”
“You can test my son.”
“Well, boy,” my father’s friend looked at me kindly. “Can you tell me these characters?” He pointed to a row of big Chinese characters on his signboard.
“Yeit ting ho fan tim (一定好饭店).” I read each Chinese character loudly and slowly. They meant “Certainly-Good Restaurant”.
The man was astounded.
“Just three years old, and you can read Chinese characters! A real child prodigy!”
He promptly cut a large piece of “char siew”, which literally means “fork-barbeque”, i.e. a piece of meat that was being forked to be barbequed, hanging in a showcase in front of his restaurant, and passed it to me.
“Child prodigy, please enjoy this piece of char siew,” he graciously said.
Years later, when I told my wife this old story, she went to town and on her return, she gave me a nice piece of barbequed meat.
“Child prodigy,” my wife said, “Please enjoy this piece of char siew.”
My father and mother, myself and my wife, my sister and her husband, and my three eldest children in the 1980s
You can read more stories at our Discussion Forum. Here are details to order the special and limited edition. This edition will not be reprinted once it is sold out.
(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/ans16b/dec16-1.html)
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.
(reproduced from http://shaolin.org)
I made a mistake regarding addressing family members, and of course it is not late to correct it. Chee Seen’s students, like Hoong Hei Koon and Lok Ah Choy, addressed Ng Mui, who was Chee Seen’s sijia (elder kungfu sister) as sipak (elder kungfu uncle) and not as siguma (elder sister of father).
Hence, you should address the senior female kungfu sister of your sifu (kungfu teacher) as sipak, and the junior female kungfu sister of your sifu as sisook, and not as siguma and sigujie as we have been doing. For example, the students of Leo (Sifu Leonard Lackinger) would address Joan (Sifu Joan Browne) as sipak. Joan’s students would, of course, address Joan as sifu.
We are proud (in a good way) that we are one of the very few kungfu and chi kung schools today that keep this tradition, which, amongst other benefits, contributes to our effectiveness in learning and in everyday life. It is rude to call your sifu by name, whether talking to him or her personally, or talking to other people. Your sifu, who has brought you good health and happiness, is always addressed, with a sense of pride and gratitude, as “Sifu” when talking to him or her, and as “my Sifu” when talking to others.
Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
1st December 2016