Tom applying what he has just learnt in the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in June 2007 against a Boxer posed by Chris in free sparring
Is it really possible to teach the combat applications of Shaolin and Taiji in an intensive course? I know many people have asked the same question on the Qigong (Chi Kung) course, and you have replied that “Its purpose is to equip you with fundamental skills and techniques so that you can competently practice on your own after the course. You need to practice for at least a few months before you can have lasting good results”.
— Kaiwan, Singapore
Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
Yes, it is really possible, and it has been amply confirmed by practical experience of those who have attended my course. In the first place if I myself have doubt whether the course participants will get the benefits as promised in the course objectives, I would not offer the course.
For example, many people have requested me to offer an intensive course on the “Small Universe”, but as I am still unsure whether I could help the course participants to acquire the benefits of the “Small Universe” — not just the techniques — within the time frame of an intensive course, I have refrained from offering it. I am making progress in the methodology of teaching the “Small Universe”, and when I am sure of the result, I may offer the course in the future.
( Editorial Note: This was written in April 2004.)
What I have said about the Intensive Chi Kung Course concerning fundamental skills and practicing on their own, also applies to the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course and the Intensive Taijiquan Course. If course participants practice on their own for a few months what they have learnt in the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course and the Intensive Taijiquan Course, they can apply their techniques and skills effectively in combat. Even when they spar with their friends or students immediately after their return from the course, the latter will be amazed at their rapid improvement within such a short time. After a year, the latter would have no match at all.
There is nothing mysterious or mythical about it. It all boils down to vision, direction and systematic training . Both my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course and my Intensive Taijiquan Course focus on internal force training and combat application. A course participant has about 6 hours of systematic sparring a day, which means he has about 30 hours of systematic combat training from the course.
Most kungfu students do not have any systematic combat training at all. Many may have engaged in free sparring, but free sparring is not systematic combat training. In fact, the way they approach free sparring is counter-productive. Not only they sustain a lot of internal injuries, they condition themselves to fight in a way where they never apply their kungfu techniques and skills effectively. In principle, it is like training in football but playing hockey instead.
Let us take a scenario. Suppose you are trained in a way of a typical kungfu school today. To learn fighting, you and a partner practice free sparring. You stand in a typical kungfu stance using a typical kungfu pattern. Your partner charges at you and rains blows on you. You start to think to yourself: “Now what kungfu pattern should I use to defend against these blows?” Before you could even finish running your thought in your mind, a few blows have landed on your face and body.
After some time (which can be a few seconds, days or weeks later) you become smarter. As your sparring partner charges at you, you start to move back to avoid his blows. But because you stand at a deep kungfu stance, your retreat is slow, and your partner still rains blows on your face and body.
After some time, you discover that if you abandon your kungfu stances and bounce about, you can move faster, but your partner also charges in fast and rains blows on you. Soon you discover that you have no time to think of which kungfu techniques to use, so you just block his blows instinctively. You also discover that you can also rain blows on him.
Your sparring partner has become smarter too. He discovers that he can kick you or grab you or throw you onto the ground. He also learns that he may use some tricks. For example, he may pretend to strike you with a blow, but as you block or dodge the feign move, he kicks at you. Such free sparring may go on for years.
If you are tough like a buffalo and didn’t chicken out even after receiving a few broken jaws and broken bones from the blows and kicks, over the years of free sparring you may discover some special ways of counter-attacking. For example, when your partner strikes you with a blow, instead of blocking or bouncing away, you may move to his side and strike his ribs before he has time to pull back his attacking hand. You may also discover that if you are skilful enough, you can apply this counter-attack even if his initial blow is a feign.
An invaluable photograph showing two combatants in an annual grand free sparring competition of Grandmaster Ho Fatt Nam about 40 years ago, following the tradition of the southern Shaolin Temple. Notice that they used typical Shaolin kungfu patterns, which were the same as what our Shaolin Wahnam kungfu students use today, and which were also the same as those used by Shaolin disciples in real fighting a few hundred years ago, as revealed in written records and illustrations.
In a year of free sparring, there may be many occasions when you can use this counter-attack. But these occasions occur so fast that you are usually unprepared for them. Hence, in practical terms you may actually use such a counter-attack a few times in a year of free sparring, and you may be successful only once or twice. Most of the time you would only say to yourself, “Oh, I could use that special counter-attack”, but your hands and legs are too slow for your intent.
Why are you too slow? And why can’t you use the kungfu techniques that you perform in solo forms? The reason is that your free sparring has been haphazard and unmethodical.After 10 years of free sparring you may not be more efficient than when you were in your first year!
Now, take another scenario. You stand at a typical kungfu stance using a typical kungfu pattern. Your training partner rushes at you to rain blows. But he couldn’t. As soon as he makes his first move, irrespective of whether it is real or feign, you intercept it with a tiger-claw, using a tactic called “one closes two”, in such a way that he cannot continue his other hand attack without making an adjustment. But before he can make the adjustment, you drive a palm strike with your other hand into his ribs to fracture them, had you wanted to, using a Shaolin pattern called “Dark Dragon Draws Water”. But of course you stop just short of target with your trained control.
Will this scenario happen? It never will, if your “training” is haphazard. It surely will, if your training is methodological and systematic.
At first your partner does not rush at you. He moves in at a comfortable speed for you to execute your counter-attack. How did you discover this counter-attack? You didn’t. It was evolved from centuries of actual fighting, and is taught to you by your master who has inherited this technique. You and your partner would have to practice just this sequence of attack and counter-attack 50 times a day. In three months, you and your partner would have practiced it a few thousand times, compared to only a few times in 10 years had you been doing haphazard free sparring.
Students enjoying using Shaolin Kungfu for sparring at the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in Sabah in March 2007
By practicing systematically a few thousand times, you partner will be able to attack you with more force and speed, and you will be able to counter-attack more efficiently than others who perform similar attacks and counter-attacks haphazardly a few times in 10 years. In other words, although you have trained for only three months, if someone rushes at you to rain blows at you, you will be able to handle this combat situation more efficiently than a kungfu student who has done haphazard free sparring for 10 years.
What would you do if your partner makes an adjustment successfully and executes a side kick at you as you attempt to counter-attack with a palm strike? Spontaneously you withdraw your front leg to avoid his kicking attack, and simultaneously strike his kicking leg with your arm, using a Shaolin pattern called “Lohan Strikes a Drum”.
You can do this effectively because your master has the vision to foresee that as you counter-attack with a palm strike, your opponent may respond in a number of preferred moves. He also has the direction to train you systematically to respond to these moves. Had you been performing haphazard free sparring, you would have to respond on the spur of the moment, which is another way of saying your respond will be artless and impromptu.
Of course your opponent may attack you in other ways besides charging at you with blows. Your master has the vision to predict the numerous ways an opponent would attack, and provides the direction of your systematic training.
Students could generate an energy flow within the first hour of my Intensive Chi Kung Course
Over-training has become a serious issue in our school. It is important to recognise it and to know what to do when it occurs.
Firstly, it is helpful to understand our working definitions of these terms.
Over-training means a practitioner has trained correctly according to how an exercise should be practiced, but the benefit is too powerful for his physical body to bear.
In this sense, overtraining is different from wrong training. Wrong training is when a practitioner has not practiced an exercise according to how it should be practiced. Hence, he has no benefit or he has adverse result.
Strictly speaking, or to split hair, if a practitioner has no benefit, we can cali it incorrect training. The training is not wrong, but incorrect. Therefore he has no benefit. This is the case of most chi kung practitioners.
If a practitioner has adverse result, it is wrong practice. It is not only incorrect, it is wrong. Therefore he has adverse result. This is the case of many kungfu practitioners who sustain internal injury in their sparring.
To split hair further, we can refer to over-training as wrong training. But for our purpose here, we shall differentiate the two. The remedy is different. To overcome over-training, we reduce the training. To overcome wrong training, we correct the training.
Hence, we have four types of training — correct training, incorrect training, wrong training and over-training.
Over-training may result in over-cleansing. The former is the cause, and the latter is the effect. As an analogy, you may earn a lot of money, then you become wealthy. Earning a lot of money is the cause, becoming wealthy is the effect.
Over-training may also result in over-building and over-nourishing, but these are not explained here so as not to confuse you.
How do you know you have over-trained. One good way is that you experience over-cleansing. Before this happened, you might experience strong benefits. Then you feel tired and sleepy. Sometimes you may feel anxious, fearful or angry. This happens when your negative emotions are flushed out of your body faster than you find tolerable. Sometimes you have rashes, pimples or are smelly.
There are a few ways to reduce over-training, which will in turn reduce over-cleansing. Please take note that there may be a time-lapse between the two.
Reduce the time of training.
Reduce the intensity of training.
Expend your energy in wholesome activities.
Stop training for some time.
Perform negative actions.
If you train for half an hour a day, reduce it to 15 minutes. If you train everyday, reduce it to once in two days. But as our training time is short, and we enjoy our training, a more useful method is to reduce the intensity of our training.
An excellent way to reduce the intensity of training is not to enter deeply into a chi kung state of mind. Please take note that even when we do not want to enter deeply into a chi kung state of mind, because of our habitual training, we will still be in a deep chi kung state of mind compared to most other practitioners.
Another way is to focus on your form, or purposely think of your form. This will distract you from your mind level.
Spend time on wholesome activities. Go hiking or swimming. Play football or enjoy music. Roll about on the ground and jump about in the sky. Perform kungfu sets or sequences, focusing on form, not on chi flow, internal force or mind power. If you haven’t got a girlfriend (or boyfriend). get one, and focus on making her happy on a date.
Stop training for a few days, or even longer. Use your training session to spend quality time with your parents. Read some good books, like “The Way of the Master”.
You may even perform negative actions, like tensing your muscles or intellectualising during your training. But perform some gentle energy flow at the end of the training session to clear out negative effects.
It is worthwhile to know that over-training is relative. What is normal correct training to a healthy person, may be over-training to someone who is sick. What is normal correct training to a master may be over-training to a student.
It may also not be easy for some of you to realise how effective we have become in our training. The following facts may help you in the realisation. They are facts, not opinions.
If a practitioner in another school can generate a chi flow after 6 months, it is good result. (I took more than 17 years.) Students who attended my Intensive Chi Kung Course took less than an hour. Roughly this means our students are about 180 times more effective.
If a practitioner in another school can develop internal force after 6 months, it is good result. (I also took more than 17 years, and I was already known as a kungfu genius.) Students who attended my regional courses like 18-Lohan Art and Bone-Marrow Cleansing experienced internal force in a few hours. This means our students were about 180 times effective.
Many people outside our school may concede that we are more effective. They may think we are 2 times or even 3 times more effective. Translated into income, if they earn 2000 dollars or euros a month, they think you earn 4000 or 6000. They will not imagine we are 180 times more effective. If it is just 10 times, you will earn 20,000 when they earn 2000.
To have an idea of how much one should train so as not to over-train, I have suggested that he can get just 30% of what he got at an intensive or regional course with me. That would be enough for his purpose of overcoming illness or contributing to good health, vitality and longevity. In case you think that 30% is too little, let us work out how much benefit it is. If an average person earns 2000 euros a month, as you are 180 times more efficient, you will earn 38,000 euros. If you get 30% of that, you will earn 11,400 euros a month. Translated into chi kung benefits, if an average person practicing chi kung gets 2000 units of benefit a month, you will get 11,400 units, which is a lot of benefit.
Wong Kiew Kit
16th January 2016
Students at a 18-Lohan Art course performing Double Hooks