Tag Archives: Lessons


Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

Grandmaster Wong in picturesque Switzerland


You teach so many people, have written books, taught other masters, attained such a high level of awakening, what is your greatest wisdom from all your knowledge and experience? What would your fundamental message be to our readers?


Thank you for your compliments.

Once I asked my teacher, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, what he considered the highest attainment in our training. He thought for a while, then replied.

“Sum seong si seng.”

This is Cantonese, the language my teacher and I used. Word by word the phrase means “heart thinks events materialize”. What your future is going to be is what you conceptualize it to be!

Although I was not matured enough then to grasp the deep meaning and full significance, even at that young age I could see this great wisdom rightly described all important aspects of my life.

When I was a small boy in primary (elementary) school, I heard of a great secondary (high) school called Penang Free School, described by its headmaster as the best school east of Suez. I was so fascinated that with a friend of my age we took a bus to have a look at this school, which in my boyish mind seemed so far, far away from my house.

I was not outstanding in my studies then and there was nowhere I could be admitted to this prestigious school. But I made up my mind to study there. Just before an important common examination for all primary schools, I was sick with influenza, which was uncommon for me since practicing Shaolin Kungfu two years ago from my first teacher, Uncle Righteousness.

So I could not attend kungfu classes, which I loved, nor go out to play. I was confined to my bed. But I could study my school lessons, which I hardly did before. Miraculously, what I studied came out in the important examination and I was graded to be among the top students of the state, and thus gained admission to the fabulous Penang Free School.

Although I was not studious in school, I had a very happy and colourful school life. So I wanted to be a teacher. While I was undergoing teachers’ training at the Malayan Teachers’ College in Kuala Lumpur, I met an exceptionally brilliant student who became my good friend at the college.

I knew my limitations, knowing that there was no doubt my friend would be the best student of the collage, I wanted to be the second best. And it turned out to be. When the final examination results were out, my friend and I were the first and second topping the list of all students.

Later when I continued my studies at university, while my university mates studied very hard, I spend most of my time playing Chinese chess, reading on books not related to my university studies and helping a childhood friend, who was then a famous kungfu master in Kuala Lumpur, teaching kungfu and Lion Dance. But I still want to do well in my university examination. I scored all As in my results. Heart thinks and events materialize.

I wanted to have a good and beautiful wife, a lot of lovely children and a happy family. I did – of course, I still do and will always do. Heart thinks and events materialize.

When I found that kungfu had deteriorated to a ridiculous level, I wanted to preserve its glory and greatness and spread its wonderful benefits to deserving students all over the world irrespective of their race, culture and religion. I made this wish at a time when it seemed impossible to do so. Now I am glad and grateful that I have succeeded.

Traditionally high-level chi kung, or nei kung which means internal art, is taught only to selected kungfu students who have proven their worthiness after many years with the master. I found that this traditional manner of teaching could not help those in need of it to overcome their so-called incurable diseases.

I wished to help these people, irrespective of their race, culture and religion, to regain good health. So I did the unthinkable, much to the opposition and chargin of many traditional masters. I opened high-level chi kung to the public and unlocked its secrets. Today, countless people have overcome their so-called incurable diseases after learning from our school, Shaolin Wahnam.

All these events illustrate the great wisdom taught to me by my teacher, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam – heart thinks, events materialize.

This great wisdom is also taught by ancient great teachers, and confirmed by the latest science.

The Buddha, for example, teaches that the most important cause of karma is thought. In other words, what your future will turn out to be is most influenced by what you think. In fact, the phenomenal world is the result of thought. Not only your future is the result of your thought, the phenomenal world itself is the result of what people think it to be.

This great truth is confirmed by the latest science. A famous scientist puts it in an interesting way. If you put a cat into a box with deadly poison, and close the lid of the box, whether the cat is alive or dead depends on whether you think the cat is alive or dead.

Another famous scientist asserts that when you see the moon in the sky, it is because you conceptualize the moon in the sky; if you do not think of it, there is no moon in the sky.

Scientists have confirmed that an electron is where it is because we conceptualize it to be where it is. Otherwise it is nowhere or everywhere – again depending on how we conceptualize it.

This great wisdom points to a greater wisdom. As heart thinks, events materialize, it is of utmost importance to think only of noble thoughts. This is not just for altruism, it is for your own sake.

When one thinks of bad things, bad things will happen to him. When he thinks of good things, good things will happen to him. When he thinks of evil, be becomes evil. When he thinks nobly, he becomes noble.

This is not superstition, and has nothing to do with religion. It is karma, which means cause and effect. Goodness will always result in goodness, evilness will always result in evilness, and the most important cause is thought.

This wisdom has been validated throughout centuries, and is now confirmed by science. If you want good things to happen to you, think of good things. If one has bad thoughts, even when he does not want bad things to happen to him, they will happen. It is not that he is punished by God or whatever term he calls the Supreme, but he gets the result of his evil mind. After all, the whole world is a result of mind.

This is the greatest wisdom from all my knowledge and experience – that the phenomenal, including the world we live in and various heavens many people aspire to go to in their afterlife, is a function of mind. The Supreme Cosmic Realtiy is undifferentiated, infinite and eternal, called by different peoples by different names, such as God, Brahman, Tao, Suchness, Original Face or the collapse of particles into universal energy.

But “greatest” is relative. What is greatest to some, may not be greatest to others. For those who want to live a happy, healthy, long life, which in practical terms means all people except fools and saints, the greatest wisdom is always to have noble thoughts for themselves and other people.

Evil or bad is what brings harm. Noble or good is what brings benefit.

When a friend is sick, for example, if you think, or worse, tell him that he has to resign himself to a life of taking medication, it is having evil thought. If you tell him that he can recover, it is having noble thoughts.

Please note that you are not telling him a lie. It is true that he can get well. A lot of people suffering from so-called incurable diseases and are supposed to die, have recovered and now lead healthy lives after learning chi kung from me or my certified instructors or chi kung healers.

Please also note that telling a person that he can recover does not necessarily mean he will certainly recover. In the same principle, everyone in our modern society can become a millionaire, but not everyone will certainly become a millionaire.

If you are not as happy as you feel you should be in your workplace or family life, and think it is your destiny, it is having an evil thought. If you think that your boss or your spouse, and not you, should improve your work or family life, it is also having an evil thought. If you think you can have a happier workplace or family life, and you, not your boss or spouse, are going to do something about it, it is having noble thoughts.

This is the fundamental message I would like to share with our readers. Regardless of whether we are a pauper or a king, living in a desert or a crowded city, just coming out of school or entering retirement, we have a choice. We can choose to have good thoughts or bad thoughts. Good thoughts will result in good things happening to us, bad thoughts will result in bad things. The choice is yours.

The above extract is reproduced from “Your True Nature: Wisdom of Living Masters” by Natalie Deane and Damian Lafont.



(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/discussion/taijiquan2008/taijiquan2008-04.html)

Students will find the below discussion useful for reviewing Moving in Stances in our Shaolin Wahnam Kung Fu Level 1 syllabus.

Adrea and Sifu Jeffrey Segal

Intensive Taijiquan Tai Chi Chuan

Grandmaster Wong explaining the various factors one can consider when moving in stances

The following discussion is reproduced from the thread Intensive Taijiquan in Malaysia September 2008 started in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum on 14th September 2008.

Shaolin Wahnam Switzerland
21st September 2008

Dear Jeffrey Sipak,

Originally Posted by Jeffrey Segal
What are the five factors to take into consideration when we are training moving in stances?

A big thank you for posting these question. There was so much material on the course, I probably would not have gone back to these points any time soon. And while doing so I realized how much of a treasure, they will be for my practice.

Why? Because one of the difficulties I had when practicing “moving in stances” was that I “ran out of ideas” where and how to move. These factors and the way Sigung taught them, make it easy to first select where I want to be at the end of the move and how I will be moving. Amazing . I will definitely spend time practicing moving in stances over the next few weeks. But first let’s see if I did get the 5 factors correctly. Here is my answer:

  1. Directions : as given away by Hubert Sisook on his post above. Thank you.
  2. Leg mode : Left to Right, Left to Left, Right to Left, Right to Right (I just saw Ade Sisook added this one allready while I was writing this post)
  3. Reference point : Front leg, mid point, back leg.
  4. Yin-Yang approach to leg movement: Inside-out (Yin approach), outside-in (Yang approach) or straight
  5. Body movement : Clockwise or anti-clockwise

Are they correct? If so I feel confident about 4 of the 5 factors. The one I am still not very sure I understand correctly is the reference point. My understanding is that whatever we choose as the reference point is where the movement is started. If we turn to another direction this is also the rotation point. Is it? I think what confuses me is my understand of a reference point as a “fixed point” – i.e the point that does not move, while here it is the point that moves first.

If my understanding as explained above is correct, what does it mean for the mid point? Is it just the “rotation” point? Where does the movement start? I tried to review the video about this part (MOV05870 disk1) but however hard I try, I fail to see the link between the mid point and the movement sigh . I would be very grateful for any comment and help.

Warm regards from cold little Switzerland (4 degrees C yesterday in the morning)

“If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.
If you let go completely, you will have complete peace.” (Venerable Ajahn Chah Subhatto)

Intensive Taijiquan Tai Chi Chuan

Grandmaster Wong demonstrating how to use end-point reference when changing directions

Sifu Jeffrey Segal
Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Australia
21st September 2008
Jeffrey Segal

Excellent answer, Andrea!

I agree that the scope of this exercise is enormous

One way of understanding the reference point is that this is where the back leg will be when you have arrived at your new stance. In other words, the reference point is where you need to get to with your new back leg before you can correctly move into your new position. Where there is a rotation, it’s the point about which you rotate. It’s also worth noting that when we talk about the point of reference, we’re talking about the stance we’re in before we move, not the position we’re moving to! Here are some examples to illustrate what I mean.

Let’s say we’re training Bow Arrow Stance and that we’re starting in right mode facing north. Please note that this is the starting point for each of the examples i.e. they are not continuous. For now, let’s just concern ourselves with the first three factors which are direction, leg mode and point of reference . You’ll notice that I just write “Left” or “Right” for the second factor. Thus, if we are starting in Right mode, “Left” means “Right-Left” and “Right” means “Right-Right”.

North, Left, Front means that we’ll take a full step forward into Left Bow Arrow.

North, Right, Front means we would roll forward with the left leg and then advance the right leg (so we’d still be in Right Bow Arrow).

East, Right, Front means we would roll forward with the left leg and then turn to the right and advance the right leg into Right Bow Arrow (facing east). In this case, the point of reference is also the point of rotation.

East, Right, Back means we would roll back with the right leg and then turn right and advance the right leg into Right Bow Arrow. Here again, the point of reference is the point of rotation

West, Right, Middle means we would roll forward a half step with the left leg and turning to the left, advance the right leg into Right Bow Arrow (facing west) Here, the mid point of our original Right Bow Arrow has become the point of rotation and the place where are (left) back leg belongs.

And one slightly trickier example

South, Left, Back means we’d turn around and roll forward with the right leg before advancing the left leg into Left Bow Arrow. Alternatively, we could roll back with the right leg and then turn and advance the left leg into left bow arrow facing south.

Please let me know if that’s clear.

Greetings from Melbourne
Jeffrey Segal
Shaolin Wahnam Australia


(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/sp-issues/future-world.html)

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

There is more than enough land to support a much bigger population


In the end as a whole I am wondering what Master Wong sees for the future and what his ideas in general are for what will be held in store. Does he see the future as a bright or dark one.

— Yaroslav, Canada

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

Due to our training, we in Shaolin Wahnam see the future world as bright and hopeful, even better and more comfortable than our present world.

We believe that the concern for the depletion of resources, not only of energy but also of food, water and land, is due to negative perceptions as a result of faulty presumptions. Many times in history men (and, of course, this includes women) worried about over-population. They were seriously worried whether there was enough food and land to feed and house the increasing population.

Population not only increased, but exploded. Yet, we have much more food now than any time in the past. There may be famine in some parts of our present world, but it is not caused by lack of food due to increasing population, but caused by poor management of availbale resources. There was a time when there were few people on our planet; that was also the time when food was scarce.

Many people are worried that if the world population continues to increase, there will be shortage of water. This again is a perception, not a reality. A different perception is that the supply of water is infinite. Water that has been used by humans flows to the world oceans where it evaporates, becomes clouds and drops as rain to become pure water again. This cycle goes on infinitum.

So we have two perceptions. Which one is correct? As an optimist, of course I choose the perception that the water cycle provides us with an infinite supply of water. Based on facts about water today, this perception is more reasonable. Those who are worried about our water supply would be happy to know the following facts.

Only 3 percent of the world’s water is fresh water, 97 percent is found in the oceans. About 70 percent of this 3 percent of fresh water, i.e. about 2 percent of the world’s water, is locked in ice as glaciers and at the ice-capped poles. Of the remaining 1 percent, 0.7 percent is underground. In other words, all the water in all our great lakes, rivers and stream forms only 0.3 percent of the world’s supply of water. And we use only a small portion of this 0.3 percent, which is renewable by our water-cycle.

This does not mean that we can waste water or be careless in our consumption. But these facts show that any negative perception about water being depleted is unfounded. The perception that the bulk of the world’s water in the ocean is unuseable is also unfounded. Even now man has the technology to turn ocean water to fresh water. Then why is this not done on a large scale? The reason is that we still have a lot of untouched fresh water, and it is easier and cheaper to use this source though at present it is not necessary.

Another factor that causes concern to some people is the scacity of land. This is also a faulty perception. Your country, Canada, is well known for having a lot of land and too few people. Even in Europe, where the population densities are high, or in China, which houses a quarter of humankind, if you take a ride in the countryside, you will be impressed with the fact that there is actually still a lot of land presently avaliable for people to live in.

It is true that unlike water which is renewable, land is finite. In other words, in theory there will come a time when all land on our planet will be used up if the world population comtinues expanding ad infinitum. But in practice if that ever happens it surely will be a long, long, long time away — too far way in the infinite future for us to justify concern when your neigbours utilize more land or your friends produce more babies.

Instead of worrying over what you perceive may happen but actually may not happen in the forseeable future, you should wholesomely enjoy your present and be grateful for the wonderful benefits the world today has given you. You will be in a better position to do so if you practice high-level arts that purify body, intellect and soul.

There is still a lot of water in the world



(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/zen/zen10.html)

thinking nothing doing nothing

Sif Anthony Spinicchia — Thinking Nothin Doing Nothing


What is the difference from a Zen perspective between “Thinking nothing and doing nothing”, and “Smiling from the heart”?

Sifu Adam Bailey

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

From the Zen perspective, which is another way of saying from the viewpoint of seeing and describing things simply, directly and effectively, “thinking nothing and doing nothing” is thinking nothing and doing nothing, and “Smiling from the heart” is smiling from the heart.

The difference is self-evident. It is like asking what the difference between a cat and a dog is. From the perspective of seeing and saying things simply, directly and effectively, a cat is a cat, and a dog is a dog. The different is self-evident. If you look at a cat, you know it is a cat, and is different from a dog.

From the intellectual perspective, which is another way of saying from the perspective of using words for academic pleasure, if not for confusion, we may logically argue that a cat is a dog, and we may also logically argue that a cat is different from a dog.

For example, we can argue that a cat has four legs and a tail. A dog also has four legs and a tail. Therefore, a cat is a dog.

On the other hand, your neighbour, John, has only two legs and does not have a tail (though he may have a tail-bone). So John is neither a cat nor a dog.

On the other hand, we may also argue that a cat meows and a dog barks. Meowing is different from barking. Therefore, a cat is not a dog. But John, if he wants to, can meow and bark. Therefore, he is a cat and he is also a dog.

Although the argument is logical, we can easily see the fallacy of the argument because we are familiar with cats and dogs. But many people may not understand why thinking nothing doing nothing and smiling from the heart is the same or different because they are not familiar with them. Yet, the principles are the same.

The logic involved is as follows:

If A is B,
and B is C,
therefore, A is C.

The logic is flawed. Many people suffer unnecessarily because of their flawed logic, and they do not realize it. Some common examples in daily life are as follows.

I practice chi kung. Chi kung does not cure my illness. Therefore chi kung does not cure illness.

Many people practice kungfu. When they fight, they use Kick-Boxing. Therefore, kungfu practitioners use Kick-Boxing for fighting.

A friend helps another in need. Mary does help me when I am in need. Therefore, Mary is not a friend.

The logic is flawed because in the examples above, A is not B, though A may have some features of B. And B is not C, though B may have some features of C. Therefore, A may or may not be C

In the case of cats and dogs, cats and dogs are sets, whereas having four legs and a tail is a sub-set. Different sets may have the same sub-sets, like cats and dogs having four legs and a tail, but they also have different sub-sets, like cats meowing and dogs barking, which make the sets different.

Practicing chi kung, practicing kungfu and having friends are sets. In each sets there are different sub-sets. In the set of people practicing chi kung, for example, there is a sub-set of practitioners not having their illness cured, and there is also a sub-set of practitioners who have their illness cured. Using a sub-set to represent a set is flawed.

When we practice Zen, we would not make this mistake. In the spirit of Zen, we would perceive those who practice chi kung but their illness is not cured as those who practice chi kung but their illness is not cured. We would not make a flawed conclusion that practicing chi kung does not cure illness. In other words, we call a spade a spade.

Hence, thinking nothing doing nothing is thinking nothing doing nothing. Smiling from the heart is smiling from the heart.

But these two skills can have similar benefits, besides having different benefits. In the same way, cats and dogs can have similar features, besides having different features.

In both thinking nothing doing nothing and smiling from the heart, you are relaxed, peaceful and happy, and are tuned into Cosmic Reality.

But their benefits can also be different, both in nature and in degree. For example, when thinking nothing doing nothing you are free from intellectualization and activities. In smiling from the heart, you may intellectualize if you want to though you normally don’t, and you are involved in some activity. These are differences in nature.

Although both thinking nothing doing nothing and smiling from the heart result in mental clarity and happiness, the degree of mental clarity and happiness is not the same. Usually thinking nothing doing nothing gives you more mental clarity, whereas smiling from the heart gives you more happiness. These are differences in degree.

Smiling from the Heart

Grandmaster Wong and Sifu Anthony Spinicchia — Smiling from the Heart

For information about the Zen course, please contact Sifu Roland Mastel

The above is reproduced from the thread 10 Questions to the Grandmaster about Zen in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum


(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/general-2/way-of-master/way02.html)

This is a little taste of what’s in store in Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit’s book, The Way of the Master

A public performance with Uncle Righteousness as the Lion Head and me as the Lion Tail in the 1960s

There was, however, one occasion in my long learning process that I deviated from my father’s advice. Our kungfu class was preparing for a charity performance at New World Amusement Park. My master himself would perform the lion head, and everyone had expected me to perform the tail. Performing the lion tail is an extremely demanding role, for the performer has to arch his back throughout the whole performance, which in those days might last longer than an hour, and to extend both his arms in a continuous wing-flapping movement to support the covering tail-cloth.

I tried to be smart. Just a few minutes before the training session began, I went out from the training hall, pretending to buy titbits for my seniors, a bluff that I could easily do because running errands was my common unofficial task. I knew my master couldn’t wait. If I could stay away for just a few minutes, I thought, some unlucky fellow would take over my job as the inevitable tail performer, even for that training session only. And true enough, when I returned after the lion dance practice had started – something that I could time easily as the loud accompanying lion dance music could be heard from far away – I found my master and my junior classmate, Ah Weng, doing the lion head and tail. “Kit Chye,” my classmates asked in bewilderment, “where on earth have you been? Uncle Righteousness was looking all over the world for you.” “What for?” I pretended to ask. “What for! To be the tail, of course.”

“Ha, ha!” I laughed inside myself. “Why pick on me all the time? Luckily I’m not stupid, and now I can have a break from this wearisome task. Now this poor Ah Weng can have a nice taste of back ache.”

But Ah Weng had the louder laugh. “Ha, ha!” He probably said to himself, “now at last I have a break into this lion dance role which I have been longing for, for so long.”

And he performed the tail so enthusiastically and so well that he was not only asked to continue in subsequent practices, but was ultimately chosen to partner my master in that charity performance, and later in other performances. Hence my monopoly as my master’s partner in lion dance was now broken – all because of my clever trick.

Ah Weng continued to learn and practise hard, and progressed tremendously, often at my expense for what my master might have taught me, he taught Ah Weng instead. Ah Weng also became one of my master’s favourite disciples, and was the one who had learned the most lion dance skills and techniques from my master. He later became a famous lion dance artist, bringing name and glory to our school. I am very proud of Ah Weng’s achievement. I also learned a very good lesson from that occasion when I tried to be too clever — a lesson that has greatly helped me in my later kungfu development. From then on, I always learn humbly and practise diligently, never be deterred by hardship or obstacles in the way.

During a charity performance in the 1960s, I went up a long pole to collect Sky Green

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(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/sp-issues/practicing-performance.html)

Art of Shaolin Kung Fu

One can learn a lot about kungfu by reading good kungfu books


I have recently started to learn kung fu, but I feel sometimes that I am not learning as much as I could. But I have nothing to compare with.

— Edward, UK

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

Some people may think it is a matter of semantics, but actually the difference in the choice of words here is crucial. I clearly remember that in my early days with Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, my sifu told me, “One does not learn kungfu, he practises kungfu.”

That was good advice from a great master. When you learn kungfu, you add techniques, or worse still you add theoretical information. When you practise kungfu, you go over and over again what you already know, without adding something new.

Most people want to learn kungfu; they would be bored practising kungfu. When you learn kungfu, even if you keep on learning for many years, you remain a learner, or at best a scholar. When you practise kungfu, if you keep on practising for many years, you may become a master.

Another crucial difference is that when you learn kungfu, your emphasis is on information, whereas when you practise kungfu, your emphasis is on performance. When your emphasis is on information, you may know a lot about kungfu, such as various techniques to develop internal force and to defend yourself, but still you have no internal force and cannot defend yourself.

Perhaps for this reason, some people cynically say that “those who cannot, teach; those who can, do.” But this cynical statement does not apply to genuine kungfu, because the emphasis is on performance. A good kungfu exponent is one who is healthy and can efficiently defend himself, not one who knows a lot about kungfu information.

This, of course, does not necessarily mean that information is useless in kungfu. Information is very useful, but it should be geared towards practical results.

There are two sets of criteria you can compare your training with. One, you can compare with what kungfu is reputed to produce, such as good health and combat efficiency. Has your training made you healthy and combat efficient?

Of course, you must be fair. You cannot expect to have good results after just a few months of training. But if you have been practising for a few years, and yet you are still sickly and defenceless, you would have wasted your time even though you might have accumulated a lot of kungfu knowledge.

Two, you can compare with the purposes for which you want to practise kungfu. For example, if your purposes are to learn some graceful kungfu movements to loosen your limbs and joints, as well as to demonstrate to friends, you would have achieved your purposes.

Shaolin Kung Fu

To attain good kungfu performance, one needs to practice correctly and diligently


Reproduced from Questions 3 in Selection of Questions and Answers — August 2001 Part 2

You can visit the Facebook Page for Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit’s books (Cosmos Internet Sdn Bhd).

You can also visit the website for Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit’s books at Cosmos Internet.


(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/general/qualities.html)

Sifu Lai Chin Wah demonstrating the Kwan Tou

A priceless photograph showing Sifu Lai Chin Wah demonstrating the Kwan Tou. Sifu Lai Chin Wah was Sifu Wong’s first kungfu teacher. Sifu Lai was better known in kungfu circles as Uncle Righteousness.

Having a good master is definitely a tremendous blessing in kungfu, taijiquan and chi kung training. As mediocre instructors are socommon nowadays – some even start to teach after having attended only a few week-end seminars – finding a great master is like finding a gem in a hay stack. Here are some guidelines to help you find one.

A living example

A good master must be a living example of what he teaches. A kungfu master must be able to defend himself, a taijiquan master must have some internal force, and a qigong master must exhibit radiant health, as these are the basic qualities these arts are meant to develop.

A master of kungfu, taijiquan or qigong does not enjoy the luxury of many coaches in modern sports like football and athletics who often cannot dribble a ball or run a race half as well as the students they teach. There are also some kungfu, taijiquan or qigong instructors today who cannot perform half as well as their average students, but they are certainly not masters, although as a form of courtesy they may be addressed as such by their students, or the general public.

Understanding Dimension and Depth

Besides being skillful, a good master should preferably be knowledgeable. He should have a sound understanding of the dimension and depth of the art he is teaching, and be able to answer basic questions his students may have concerning the what, why and how of their practice. Without this knowledge, a master will be limited in helping his students to derive the greatest potential benefits in their training.

However, especially in the East, some masters may be very skillful, but may not be knowledgeable. This is acceptable if we take the term “master” to mean someone who has attained a very high level in his art, but who may not be a teacher.

The reverse is unacceptable, i.e. someone who is very knowledgeable, but not skillful – a situation quite common in the West. A person may have read a lot about kungfu, taijiquan or qigong, and have written a few books on it, but has little kungfu, taijiquan or qigong skills. We may call him a scholar, but certainly not a master.

Sifu Ho Fatt Nam

Sifu Ho Fatt Nam demonstrating “One-Finger Shooting Zen”, a fundamental internal force training method in Shaolin Kungfu. Sifu Ho was the other Shaolin master whose teaching on Sifu Wong was decisive. To honour his two masters, Sifu Wong name his school Shaolin Wahnam.

Systematic and Generous

The third quality of a master as a good teacher is that he must be both systematic and generous in his teaching. Someone who is very skillful and knowledgeable, but teaches haphazardly or withholds much of his advance art, is an expert or scholar but not a good master.

On the other hand, it is significant to note that a good master teaches according to the needs and attainment of his students. If his students have not attained the required standard, he would not teach them beyond their ability (although secretly he might long to), for doing so is usually not to the students’ best interest. In such a situation he may often be mistaken as withholding secrets.

Radiates Inspiration

The fourth quality, a quality that transforms a good master into a great master, is that he radiates inspiration. It is a joy to learn from a great master even though his training is tough.

He makes complicated concepts easy to understand, implicitly provides assurance that should anything goes wrong he is able and ready to rectify it, and spurs his students to do their best, even beyond the level that he himself has attained.

High Moral Values

The most important quality of a great master is that he teaches and exhibits in his daily living high moral values. Hence, the best world fighter who brutally wounds his opponents, or the best teacher of any art who does not practise what he preaches, cannot qualify to be called a great master.

A great master is tolerant, compassionate, courageous, righteous and shows a great love and respect for life. Great masters are understandably rare; they are more than worth their weight in gold.