Tag Archives: Shaolin Wahnam

A CHILD WHO COMPOSED HIS OWN SONGS AND LANGUAGE

Grandmaster Wong Kiew KitThe Way of the Master, written by my Sifu, Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, is now officially launched.

You can order the book through Amazon or write a review.

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 WHO COMPOSED HIS OWN SONGS AND LANGUAGE

(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/general-2/way-of-master/way25.html)

Wong Chun Yian

My youngest son, Wong Chun Yian, when small



1989 was a very important year that I proved distant chi transmission was real. But the most important event of the year was the birth of my youngest child, Wong Chun Yian (黄俊贤), who brought love and happiness to the family. “Chun Yian” means “Handsome and Wise”.

I honestly believe that my youngest daughter, Wong Siew Foong born in 1987, and my youngest son, Wong Chun Yian, born in 1989, were our children sent to my wife and me from the Divine for the good deeds we had done. They brought to our family, including my parents and my three elder children, a lot of joy and love.

We did not hope for any rewards when we were blessed to perform some good deeds, but it is a universal truth that goodness always brings goodness. I dearly remember my mother telling me once that it is a greater blessing to give than to receive. Indeed, we are very blessed.

When my wife was carrying Chun Yian, she was a bit apprehensive because she was already over forty years of age. It was said that women giving birth after forty may result in children who were not so intelligent. But Chun Yian, I believe, is a divine-sent child, and he was, and still is, very intelligent.

When my wife and I took our two youngest children for car rides, which we often did, and our other three elder children were at an age when they would prefer to spend time with their friends, Chun Yian would compose songs of his own which he would sing to entertain us.

One of the songs he often sang was as follows:

Grilled chicken wings, grilled chicken wings We shall have something to eat Get two or three cups of fragrant wine To go along with the feast

Sometimes, he would compose words for our private use. For example, instead of saying, “Please pass me some tissue paper to wipe my hands”, he would say, “Please pass me some ti-boys”.

“Why do you call tissue paper ti-boys?” Once I asked him.

“Ti is a short form for tissue. As the tissue paper is small, I call it ti-boy,” he explained.

We certainly had a lot of fun.

I attributed his high intelligence to his practice of chi kung, but he attributed it to his secretion of “brain-juice” by sleeping before ten o’clock every night.

So, while other parents might have difficulty coaxing their children to go to bed early, my wife and I did not have this problem with Chun Yian.

In fact, on occasions when we were out late at night, by Chun Yian’s standard, he would say, “Papa, can we go back early? I want to produce brain-juice.”

Wong Chun Yian

Siew Foong, my wife, Chun Yian and me at Chun Yian’s graduation


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.

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TWO REQUIREMENTS FOR A GOOD BOOK

Grandmaster Wong Kiew KitThe Way of the Master, written by my Sifu, Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, is now officially launched.

You can order the book through Amazon or write a review.

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:

TWO REQUIREMENTS FOR A GOOD BOOK

(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/general-2/way-of-master/way28.html)

Introduction to Shaolin Kungfu

The first kungfu book written by me — Introduction to Shaolin Kungfu, published in 1981



Most of the kungfu books in English I found only described kungfu forms. They lacked depth. Douglas, my most senior student from Europe, once told me that when one opened a kungfu book written in English, he would find pictures showing how to perform kungfu sets from the first page to the last page of the book.

In the many kungfu books I wrote, I attempted to overcome this common problem. My student, Kai (Sifu Kai Uwe Jettkandt), who was already an international free sparring champion before he learned from me, and is the Chief Instructor of Shaolin Wahnam Germany, told me that he was surprised at the secrets I revealed in my first kungfu book, “Introduction to Shaolin Kungfu”.

In writing my books, I consciously aimed at two accomplishments. One, I wanted my books to be readable. I was inspired by reading an editor who said that she had no interest in the topic of a book she was reviewing but it was so well-written that she couldn’t put it down.

One important factor that makes a book readable is clarity. An author presents his materials clearly that readers can understand it. Many books are boring because readers do not know what the authors are saying. Sometimes, the authors themselves do not know what they say.

Another important factor is pleasure. Readers will enjoy reading a book if there is humour. The book is also a pleasure to read when the reading materials are presented from a fresh, and sometimes surprising, perspective.

The second aim I wished to accomplish when writing my books, besides readability, was that readers must gain benefits from reading them. Many readers kindly told me that they had gained from my books more than they ever thought possible from the arts they were pursuing. Some, who had not pursued the arts before, told me they had been inspired to start practising the arts.

For example, readers can benefit from the beginning of this chapter, knowing the difficulties involved in reading kungfu and chi kung classics, or by extension any classics. Those who practise any form of force training, even from living instructors, will benefit knowing that preparation and remedial work are necessary.

Indeed, a lot of martial artists today have harmed themselves because they have not prepared themselves well for their training, and they do not have remedial treatment for the injuries they unwittingly, and sometimes even knowingly, sustain. An obvious example is free sparring.

Many martial artists have not learned how to spar. They just go into free sparring straightaway and hurt themselves and their sparring partners. They also routinely leave their injuries unattended to, bringing insidious harm to their health and vitality.

Classic of Shaolin Kungfu

The Classic of Shaolin Kungfu in 8 volumes


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.

FREE SEMINAR FOR THE SUPER RICH

Grandmaster Woing

Why should the super-rich practice chi kung? It is simple — so that not only they will be guaranteed not to suffer from so-called incurable diseases, but also they enjoy everyday of their life.

The free seminar is from 10.00 am to 12.00 noon on 23rd September 2017 at the Holistic Health Cultivation Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Please contact Dr Foong at drfoong@ogm.com.my or phone 012 606 6028 to reserve a place.

FIVE FACTORS FOR CONSIDERATION WHEN MOVING IN STANCES

(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.


Andrea
Shaolin Wahnam Switzerland
21st September 2008
Andrea

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)

Andrea
__________________
“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
www.wahnamaustralia.com

WHY CAN’T KUNGFU PRACTITIONERS USE KUNGFU FOR COMBAT?

(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/sp-issues/kungfu-combat.html)

Kungfu Combat

In Shaolin Wahnam we use kungfu patterns, not kick-boxing, for combat

Question

I have read from your posts in the answers section that genuine Kung Fu is not only learning Kung Fu forms but being able to apply them in combat situations. However, I have found out from personal experience training in Shaolin Kung Fu as well as from your website that the norm today is to revert to bouncing about like kids and using Kickboxing techniques while sparring. Why is this the norm? Is there a reason why it is common place to use Kickboxing techniques while sparring instead of learning how to apply Kung Fu forms?

— Ricky, USA

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

You have touched on a very urgent point in kungfu training today. Yes, it is a norm today that most kungfu practitioners, including many masters, use Kickboxing or other martial art techniques in sparring or fighting. They do not know how to use kungfu techniques for combat though some of them are formidable fighters using Kickboxing or other techniques.

This is a delicate issue, but it is urgent. If this issue is not resolved, the ability to use kungfu for combat may just disappear from the world! Hence, we in Shaolin Wahnam are very serious in doing our part in preventing this happening, even at the risks of being ridiculed and criticized.

Why are most kungfu practitioners today unable to use their kungfu for combat? It is because they have not been taught to do so. Why haven’t their schools or systems taught them kungfu combat? It is because somewhere in their generation line they have lost their sparring methodology. Hence, the majority of kungfu practitioners today — students as well as masters — either do not spar at all, or if they ever spar they use other martial art techniques.

Why is it that they can use other martial art techniques like Kickboxing or Karate in sparring even when they have not learnt these arts, but they cannot use kungfu techniques in sparring when they can perform kungfu techniques in solo practice? It is because Kickboxing and Karate are closer to instinctive or free-style fighting, whereas kungfu is more elaborated.

In other words, even if you have not learnt any martial art, if you fight instinctively, the way you fight looks like Kickboxing and Karate. And if you have seen how Kickboxers and Karate exponents spar, you can more easily imitate their ways of sparring.

On the other hand, even if you have learnt kungfu forms in solo performance but have not learnt how to use them in sparring, you would have great difficulty using them to spar because these kungfu forms involve elaborated stances and movements. Indeed, if you are not trained in kungfu combat, using these forms in sparring would be a liability instead of an asset. Thus, you would discard them for instinctive fighting, which is bouncing about and punching and kicking wildly. When you fight in this way, your movements resemble more like Kickboxing and Karate than kungfu.

Why was sparring methodology lost in most kungfu lineages? There were many reasons. The burning of the Shaolin Temple in the mid 19th century was a crucial factor. In the past the Shaolin Temple was regarded as the pinnacle of kungfu, and acted as a standard of reference. Without this reference point, kungfu as a fighting art deteriorated rapidly.

One important reason for its deterioration as a fighting art was the emergence of firearms which rendered kungfu a hobby instead of a need for survival as in the past.

Another reason was a change of teaching mode. In the past disciples learned from and served a master. If they did not train diligently they might not have their meals. In the 20th century, rich landlords employed kungfu instructors to teach their children and followers. Rich children were not the type who would train diligently, and if they didn’t train, the instructor might not have his meals. So he taught them kungfu forms instead of insisting on force training and drilling them in combat application. When there were gatherings or celebrations, these children would give demonstrations of beautiful kungfu forms, receiving loud applaud, and the landlord, the instructor, the students and all present would be very happy.

In its early years the present Chinese government discouraged traditional arts, including kungfu and chi kung. During the period of the Cultural Revolution in China, practicing kungfu or any traditional art was a cardinal crime. Later, after a change of national policy, kungfu known in Chinese as wushu was re-introduced — not as a fighting art but as a sport.

The various kungfu styles in the past were classified into seven categories, namely Long Fist, Southern Fist, Taijiquan, Knife Techniques, Sword Techniques, Staff Techniques and Spear Techniques. Henceforth, kungfu or wushu was not practiced as Praying Mantis, Eagle Claw, White Crane, Lohan, Monkey, Hoong Ka, Wing Choon, Choy-Li-Fatt, Black Tiger, Lau Ka, Bagua, Hsing Yi, etc, but as the seven categories. There were no sparring and force training, only forms.

Later, probably embarrassed by their inability to defend themselves, kungfu or wushu practitioners attempted free sparring. But they had no methodology. So they imitated sparring in other martial arts. At first they borrowed (or stole) techniques from Karate, then Taekwondo. Now they borrow from Kickboxing.

Not only it has become a norm that the great majority of kungfu (and wushu) practitioners use Kickboxing and Karate in their sparring and fighting, the situation has become ridiculous and pathetic. Many kungfu students and some masters, including world known ones, even claim that kungfu techniques cannot be used for fighting!

Kungfu Combat

Our students fight the same way as they practice

LINKS

Reproduced from Questions 1 in Selection of Questions and Answers — June 2007 Part 2

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF PRACTICING KUNGFU

(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/general/kungfu-aims.html)

Sifu Wong

Sifu Wong in a Shaolin kungfu pattern called “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave”



Find out what you need to know about aims and objectives before you begin your Shaolin Kungfu or Taijiquan training


Why do You Practise Kungfu?

One important reason why the standard of kungfu today is generally low is that many people practice kungfu without being aware of their aims and objectives.

If you ask someone who has practiced kungfu for many years why he has done so, it is not uncommon for him to have difficulty finding the real answers.

He may say he practices kungfu for self-defence, for health or for keeping alive a worthy tradition, but on deeper examination he often finds that those are not the real reasons.

This is evident from the fact that despite many years’ training, he cannot defend himself with the kungfu he has learnt, is not as healthy and fit as a typical kungfu exponent recorded in classical kungfu literature, and knows little about kungfu tradition.

The truth is that he has practiced kungfu without any clear set aims and objectives.


kungfu combat

Sifu Wong and Goh Kok Hin in combat-ready poses. Sifu Wong attacks with a thrust punch and Goh Kok Hin responds with a tiger-claw


Making Your Training More Rewarding

Obviously, if we are clear about our aims and objectives, our training will be more rewarding. Not only we shall not waste time over unnecessary training, we shall also have a higher level of attainment.

For our purpose here, aims refer to general and long term aspirations, and objectives to measurable and more immediate needs.

There are three aims in all kungfu training:

  1. Combat efficiency.

  2. Health and fitness.

  3. Character development.

For great kungfu like Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan, there are two further aims:

  1. Mind expansion.

  2. Spiritual cultivation.


kungfu combat

The punch is a feign. As soon as Goh Kok Hin defends, Sifu Wong changes into a snap kick. As Goh Kok Hin strikes the attacking leg with a hand-sweep, Sifu Wong withdraws the leg and executes a side-kick with the other leg


Self Defence, Health and Fitness

Combat efficiency is the first and foremost aim of all kungfu training. The term kungfu, especially as used in the West, means martial art.

It is ironical, therefore, if you practice kungfu (including taijiquan) but do not know how to defend yourself with what you have learnt.

The second aim of kungfu training is health and fitness. Indeed, in our modern societies where fighting seldom happens, this benefit of being healthy and fit is more immediate and important than being able to fight.

But the crucial point is that you will derive the radiant health a typical kungfu exponent of classical kungfu literature manifests, only if you practice kungfu as a martial art. If you practice kungfu dance, you will only get the type of health benefit that a dance can give.


Lifting Water

”Lifting Water”, which is an important force training method in Taijiquan, develops tolerance and perseverance as well as mental clarity

Character Development and Spiritual Cultivation

Kungfu training itself is a process of character development.

Qualities like tolerance, endurance and perseverance are developed if you practice kungfu the way past masters did, such as practicing “Golden Bridge”, “Small Universe” or “Lifting Water” everyday for years. Qualities like mental freshness and calmness are pre-requisite if you wish to be a good kungfu fighter.

Great kungfu like Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan is more than a mere fighting art. Both Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan expand the mind and leads ultimately to spiritual fulfillment.

Meditation, known as chan (zen) in Shaolin Kungfu and jing-zhou (silent-sitting) in Taijiquan, is an essential aspect in all levels of these two arts, although it is emphasized at the advanced levels, and although not many people today may be aware of this fact. Actually, the original aim of Bodhidharma and of Zhang San Feng, the First Patriarch of Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan respectively, when they first initiated the arts, was spiritual cultivation.


Taijiquan combat

Taijiquan is an internal art excellent for combat as well as spiritual cultivation. Here Goh Kok Hin grips Sifu Wong’s arm.


Setting Measurable Objectives

Besides being clear of our general aims and consciously strive to achieve them, it is helpful to set measurable objectives for more immediate needs.

In order to attain the general aim of combat efficiency, we may set objectives like developing powerful arms and agile footwork, and mastering defence techniques against common attacks.

We may, for example, set aside one year to practise how to counter the various kicking attacks typically executed by Taekwondo and Siamese Boxing exponents.

To attain good health and fitness, we may train the Shaolin art of ‘One-Finger Shooting Zen’ or the Taijiquan art of ‘Three-Circle Stance’ everyday for six months as our set objectives.

After the six month period we can assess whether we have been successful in meeting our objectives by using measurable tests like checking whether we are now comparatively free from cold and fever which we used to have, and whether we can comfortably block our seniors’ attacks in sparring practice when previously we could do so only with difficulty.

Taijiquan combat

Sifu Wong applies the Taijiquan technique “Cross-Hands Thrust Kick” which not only releases the opponent’s grip but also counter-attacks him at the same time.


Enriching our Lives

Setting objectives like increasing our endurance and perseverance levels from a minute to five minutes over a period of six months in zhang-zhuang (stance-standing) training can be readily combined with the objectives of developing internal force.

It will be useful to check whether we have also transferred these qualities to our daily life, such as examining ourselves to see whether our disciplined kungfu training has made us more tolerable to other people and more capable of facing demanding tasks.

The various meditation methods in Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan enhances our mind and spirit. (In eastern philosophy the mind and spirit are often regarded as one.) We may, for instance, set objectives like enhancing our mental clarity so that we can comprehend a problem in five minutes when it took half an hour in the past.

Hence, if we are clear about what we intend to achieve in our kungfu training by setting aims and objectives, we can not only get more benefits from our practice in shorter time, but also enrich our as well as other people’s lives.

GETTING THE BEST BENEFITS FROM YOUR TRAINING

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

Sifu Wong

Sifu Wong at the International Congress for the Unity of Science in Seoul in 2000

Five Steps to Maximum Results

Why can some people attain in six months what others may not attain in six years? This is not an exaggeration; indeed, many of my students have reported that they have benefitted in a few months what they could only read about in books but never experienced although they had previously practiced the art in question for many years. Chi kung and kungfu (including Taijiquan) provide some glaring, if not disturbing, examples.

It is not uncommon today to find practitioners who have been in chi kung or kungfu for many years, some of whom are even instructors themselves, but who have no experience whatsoever of energy flow or any ability of self defence. Yet, the very fundamental of chi kung is energy flow, and that of kungfu is self defence. It is even more disturbing when some people, irrespective of whether their intention is good or selfish, start to teach chi kung or Taijiquan, which is actually a very effective form of martial art, after they have learnt some chi kung or Taijiquan movements for a few weeks, some even for a few days!

If you learn from such self-taught “masters” you are not going to get good results even if you practice for a whole lifetime. On the other hand, if you learn form a genuine master, you will get better results in a much shorter time. Nevertheless, while learning from a genuine master, or at least a competent instructor, is important, there are other contributing factors too, and they are generalized into the following Five Steps to Deriving the Best Benefits from Your Training:

  • Have a sound knowledge of the philosophy, scope and depth of the art you practice.

  • Define your aims and objectives clearly.

  • Seek a master for the best available methods to attain your aims and objectives.

  • Practice, practice and practice.

  • Assess your progress or otherwise with direct reference to your set aims and objectivs.

Philosophy, Scope and Depth

Understanding the philosophy, scope and depth of your chosen art is the essential first step if you want good result. Such an understanding acts like a map; it not only shows you the way and how to get there, but also the potential result at the destination.

Without this understanding, many people not only waste a lot of time and are often lost along the way, but also they do not actually know what they are working at. If they understand, for example, that to practice chi kung or Taijiquan, actually means to work on energy flow or to train for combat efficiency, far less people would have wasted their time over exercises that at best are gymnastics or dance.

If they further understand that the scope and depth of chi kung are much more than just energy flow, though working on energy flow is its essential foundation; and that the scope and depth of great kungfu like Shaolin and Taijiquan ae not just combat efficiency, though combat efficiency is the basic starting point, they would go beyond the foundation and basic to greater heights like vitality, longevity, mind expansion and spiritual fulfilment.

Where can you obtain knowledge on the philosophy, scope and depth of your chosen art? There are two main sources: living masters and established classics. Obviously if you hear it from a self-styled scholar who himself has not experienced what he says, or read it from a book which merely repeats cliches, you are unlikely to benefit much. Living masters were rare even in the past; they are rarer nowadays.

If you are so lucky to meet one, treat him with the respect as you would treat a living treasure. Showing Respect to the Master suggests the minimum you should do when meeting a living treasure. If you politely ask him relevant questions, he would answer them. If he gives excuses like the answers are too complicated for you to comprehend, or they involve secrets that you should not know (unless they really are secrets, which are not frequent in general questions), you are justified in suspecting whether he is a real master.

Established classics were also rare in the past, but they are more readily available today. You need to overcome two obstacles to understand the classics. One, you need to know classical Chinese; and two, you need to have some background knowledge. Most people, especially in the West, have neither of these two conditions. Their alternative is modern, easy-to-read books clearly written and well illustrated by practicing masters. Therefore, in chosing a book for your prior reading, you should decide on the following three factors: whether the book is dull or interesting, whether it is written in jargon or simple language, and whether the author and his material are authentic.

Defining Aims and Objectives

The Complete Book of Shaolin

The Complete Book of Shaolin” provides a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of the Shaolin arts

It is so evident that without aims and objectives much of the learning or training is usually unfruitful, that mentioning this fact may become trite. Yet, most people practice chi kung or kungfu without set aims and objectives! Try asking some practitioners why do they practice chi kung or kungfu, and many of them will start searching for their aims or objectives after, not before, they have heard your question. Even if they have prior aims and objectives, often they are merely fashionable slogans, rather than real definitions to remind them of the direction of their training.

For our purpose here, aims are general in their definition, and long-term in their attainment; whereas objectives are specific and short-term. For example, to be able to defend yourself is a general aim in your Taijiquan training, whereas to be able to release yourself from some particular locks and holds constitutes an objective. You should also set a time frame within which to accomplish your aims or objectives. Needless to say, you have to be realistic and reasonable when setting your time. For someone who has been suffering from an illness for years, for instance, it would be unreasonable to expect the disease to be overcome by just practicing certain chi kung exercises for only a few weeks.

For convenience, objectives may be classified into personal objectives and course objectives. The choice of personal objectives depends on the needs and abilities of the person in question, and sometimes on his whims and fancy. Developing the art of tiger-claw, and performing well the Five Animals kungfu set are examples of personal objectives in Shaolin Kungfu training.

Course objectives are related to the particular set of chi kung or kungfu exercises you intend to train for a period of time. For example, you may wish to spend six months on Golden Bridge training in Shaolin Kungfu, or on the Three Circles Stance in Taijiquan. In either case, developing powerful arms and solid stances is an appropriate course objective.

To define your aims and objectives wisely (please read the webpage Aims and Objectives of Practicing Kung Fu), it is necessary to have some sound knowledge of the philosophy, scope and depth of the art in question. For example, if you do not understand that chi kung also promotes mind expansion and spiritual cultivation, you will be in no position to touch on the mind and spirit while you define your aims and objectives. If you think (mistakenly) that Taijiquan is merely moving your body, arms and legs gracefully, the aims and objectives you set for your Taijiquan training, no matter for how long you may practice, are necessarily limited by your narrow perspective.

Seeking a Master for the Best Available Methods

Sifu Wong and Sigung Ho

Sifu Wong posting with his teacher, Sigong Ho Fatt Nam, many years ago

Having set your aims and objectives, the next logical step is to seek a master to help you realize your aims and objectives. Good masters are hard to find; you have to spend some time seeking them, but it is worth all your time and effort. The webpage Qualities of a Good Master will give you some ideas what to look for in your search. Remember it is you who seek the master; he may have neither the need nor the obligation to teach you. It is simply amazing why some people presume that just because they want to learn, a master is duty-bound to teach them. It is also illogical to presume that a master would not charge any fee for his teaching, that he could live on sunshine and water. The right attitude, which often turns out to be the best approach to a master, is for you to prove yourself to be a worthy student.

If you cannot find a master, at least look for a competent instructor, who must qualify in the following two conditions. One, he must be professional, i.e. he knows what he is teaching. Someone who teaches a profund art like chi kung or kungfu, after having learnt it for a few months, literally does not know what he is teaching. He does not know, for instance, that he is teaching chi kung-like or kungfu-like dance or gymnastics and not real chi kung or kungfu. The second condition is that he must be ethical, i.e. he ensures what he teaches is beneficial, and if his students develop adverse side-effects he knows about them and is capable of rectifying them.

A good master will choose the best available methods for you to achieve your aims and objectives. The selection will depend on numerous variables, such as your needs and abilities, the master’s repertoire as well as environmental factors and supportive resources. You may sometimes wonder if the choice made is a good one, but if he is a good master and has accepted you as his student, it is almost always certain that he will choose the best method and procedure for you.

Alternatively, you may have known from your reading or elsewhere some useful methods to accomplish your aims and objectives. Your task, therefore, is to seek for a master who can teach you your selected methods. However, if he advises you to make any changes — such as in your aims or objectives, your previously selected methods, or the procedure of training — it is again almost always certain that with his wider perspective and experience, he knows your needs and how to fulfill them better than you do. It is not without justification for the saying that real masters are worth more than their weight in gold.

Practice, Practice and Practice

The fourth step is the most important and takes the most time. It is significant to note that this step is “practice, practice and practice”, and not “learn, learn and learn”. In fact, frequently in chi kung and kungfu, especially at this stage, the more you learn the less you accomplish! This does not mean that learning is detrimental; in fact, learning about the philosophy, scope and depth of chi kung or kungfu is the first essential step to obtaining the best result in your training. But if your training is geared towards chi kung or kungfu proficiency, it is detrimental merely to learn, learn and learn.

There are some crucial differences between practicing and learning. Practicing is practical and experiential; learning is theoretical and intellectual. Practicing deals with what has been known; its purpose is to develop and consolidate skills, force or ability. Learning deals with what is to be known; its purpose is to obtain new knowledge.

Masters are made through practice, scholars through learning. Masters perform, and directly experience what they profess. Chi kung or kungfu masters, for example, can demonstrate internal force, and experience vitality and mental freshness. Scholars merely talk, but often have no direct experience of what they know. Nowadays there are many chi kung and kungfu scholars, especially in the West, but there are very few masters, even in the East.

If you want to become a master, or just to be proficient, in chi kung or kungfu, you simply cannot escape this long process of practice, practice and practice. You do not practice just three times, or for three months, but preferably at least for three years. There is a saying that “three years of practice will bring a small success; ten years a big success”. What you practice may be simple, and usually consists of only one or a few techniques!

Actually it does not really matter what you practice, so long as you practice, practice and practice long enough, you will become a master of what you practice — even if your chosen method is inferior. If you continuously strike your palms onto a sand bag, or strike your leg against a coconut tree every day for three years — methods which are considered “inferior” in our Shaolin Wahnam School of Chi Kung and Kungfu — you will become a master of iron palm or iron leg, and may have the power to kill a person with just one strike. Unless you are particularly fond of showing off your brute strength, breaking bricks or someone’s bones with your palm or leg is normally not a rewarding thing to do. Hence, if you have acquired a good philosophical background in your first step, you will be in a better position to choose a “superior” method to practice in this fourth step for more rewarding results.

Assessing Progress According to Aims and Objectives

Shaolin Kungfu

Combat Application of Shaolin Kungfu

You should access your progress, or otherwise, according to your set aims and objectives. You must, of course, follow your master’s advice and the conditions required by the method of training. If your master asks you to breathe slowly and gently, it is sheer folly to attempt to be smarter than the teacher by breathing fast or forcefully. If the method requires you to practice daily for six months, it is a waste of your time and your teacher’s effort if you discontinue your training after three weeks because you have not experienced any effect.

If you follow your master’s advice and practice according to the requirements of the established method, you will obtain the results that method is reputed to give. For example, Self-Manifested Chi Movement is reputed to clear energy blockage and balance energy level, and the pattern Grasping Sparrow’s Tail in Yang Style Taijiquan is reputed to be an effective counter against all modes of attack. If you have practiced them correctly and adequately, you will have your energy blockage cleared, and be able to defend against all attacks. Why is this so? It is because the methods are established, which means they have been time tested for centuries to produce the expected results.

If you do not derive the expected results, which may sometimes happen, the fault is usually traceable to one or more of the following three causes:

  • the practice is incorrect or insufficient

  • the teacher is incompetent

  • the student is inadequate

Rectify the fault and the expected results will follow as a matter of course.

Your assessment is made not only at the completion of the training but also regularly during the course itself. Of course modifications, but not complete changes, are made when necessary, but they should be done with the master’s approval and supervision.

These Five Steps to Maximun Results may enable you not only to obtain remarkable results in shorter time, but also to approach the full potential your training can offer. For example, students who do not have the benefit of these five steps may be quite contented in their chi kung or kungfu training once they can cure their illness or attain combat efficiency, thinking that is all what chi kung and kungfu can do. Others who follow the five steps will understand a wider scope and greater depth of their art, and will therefore in a position to derive other benefits like mental clarity and spiritual joy.

The Five Steps show not only the procedure to follow but also the relevant dimensions to cover, involving all the three essentials in any training, namely the method, the teacher and the student. Hence, with this understanding one can appreciate that to get the best results in any training, be it chi kung, Taijiquan, Shaolin Kungfu, playing the piano or painting, merely having good techniques is not enough, he (or she) must also have a good teacher and himself be a good student. With such advantages and foresight, it is not surprising you can achieve in six months what others may not be able to do so in six years.