Tag Archives: spiritual cultivation

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.

SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FEBRUARY 2016 PART 2 BY GRANDMASTER WONG KIEW KIT

(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/ans16a/feb16-2.html)

Shaolin Kung Fu

The big irony is that many martial artists are unhealthy and are unable to defend themselves. Here Evelyn and Sifu Leonard apply Shaolin Kungfu in combat.

Question 1

“The big irony is that many martial artists are unhealthy and are unable to defend themselves despite spending many years training a martial art! Not only they injure themselves in free sparring and their injuries are routinely left unattended to, the way they train is usually detrimental to both their physical, emotional and spiritual health. Many people may be surprised at my statements that many martial artists today cannot defend themselves. If they can, they accept being hit and kicked for granted as part of their training.” — Quoted from Grandmaster Wong’s answer.

May I ask, sifu, should one avoid being hit altogether? How? What about in the sense of blocking? I suppose it is better to avoid contact than to have to block? When I practice blocks with my friend my arms are often sore/ bruised but we figured this would toughen us. I am grateful for your instruction Sifu,

— Lee, USA

Answer

Of course one should avoid being hit altogether. That is the main purpose of practicing an art of self-defence. That is also the main reason why I said people who freely exchanged blows in free sparring were not learning a martial art though they thought they did.

How does one avoid being hit? That is what he learns in a martial art, any martial art. Thee are two categories to accomplish this.

One category is to ward off the attack. There are many ways of warding off. Blocking an attack as described by you where your arm become sore or bruised is third-class. In first-class warding off you use minimum force to overcome maximum strength.

The second category of avoiding hit is to dodge the attack. There are also many ways of dodging.

You will learn these first-class responses to avoid being hit in the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course or the Intensive Taijiquan Course.

Having your arms sored or bruised from blocking is a poor way to toughen your arms. It is more likely to weaken your arms than to toughen them. A sore or bruised arm is painful and injured. Pain and injry weaken a person, not just his arms.

There are many excellent methods in our school for strengthening arms. Some examples are One-Finger Shooting Zen, Golden Bridge, Separating Water, and even Grasping Sparrow’s Tail. The uninitiated may wonder how these exercises, especially Grasping Sparrow’s Tail, can strengthen arms. Not only they do, they are excellent – if practiced correctly.

Please take note that toughening, in the sense of conditioning, may not necessary be strengthening. If you punch your fist onto a wall, for example, you may toughen or condition your knuckles, but may not necessary add power to your punch. Hence, when we practice Thirty Punches, which is an exercise to increase power of the punch, we punch into empty space, and not onto a sandbag.

Question 2

I would like to continue to strengthen my stances. I can see the difference between someone who knows many forms but wobbles on their legs and someone who has powerful stances but few forms.

What would be the you-wei and the wu-wei of horse stance? Right now I try to imagine my self relaxing and letting my chi sink to my feet. I can tell when I get tense that it rises up to my torso and chest but if I relax I can sink it down and hold the floor with my toes better.

Answer

Stances are very important in kungfu, and their benefits are transferred to daily life. Stances develop internal force and mental clarity.

The “you-wei” part of stance training consists of two steps. The first step is to get the poise correct. In the Horse-Riding Stance, for example, ensure that you are upright. The second step is to relax, relax and relax.

The “wu-wei” part is to be spontaneous. Don’t think of anything, including not imagining yourself relaxing and letting your chi sink to your feet. Just spontaneously remain upright and relaxed in your stance.

Stances are very important in kungfu training. Grandmaster Wong showed the importance of waist rotation in a Bow-Arrow Stance during a kungfu class in Madrid.

Question 3

My wonderful girlfriend told me that she wanted to fast during Ramadan this year. She told me it was all about discipline and being spiritual. My initial thought and feeling was concern when I heard this. Personally I know little about Ramadan but I don’t see the spiritual side to forcing oneself to stay off food. Of course I could be wrong. Should I be concerned here? I always want to support her in whatever she wishes to do but I also want her to be safe as this is my natural instinct to protect her.

— Sifu Mark Hartnett, Ireland

Answer

Rituals of any religion help practitioners to practice their faith and thus purify their spirit. If a practitioner has strong spiritual roots, like a Zen monk, he may not need rituals yet attain high spiritual levels.

Fasting during the month of Ramadan also purifies the body, which contributes to purification of the spirit. If your girlfriend understands these deeper meaning, fasting during Ramadan is good for her. On the other hand, there are religious fanatics who follow religious rituals but act in a way God or whatever term the Supreme Reality is addressed asks his followers not to do.

If your girlfriend wishes to fast, ask her to prepare herself if it is the first time she attempts it. Her body needs time to adjust to fasting.

Fasting demands discipline, and is spiritual as it purifies both the body and the spirit. It is natural that you are concerned for her. A good approach is to tell her the significance of fasting and let her make her choice. As she is not a Muslim, she needs not fast the whole month of Ramadan, or during part of it. She can fasts for any day or two to make some adjustment and preparation.

Question 4

I have been very lucky to spend time with a Hoong Ka master, and he emphasizes a lot of Asking Bridge to develop sensing skills for sparring. Whenever I spar with him and some of his senior students, their sensing skills are such that he is often able to simply “slip” out of my attempts to tame or close his hands unless I have superior force and chin-na.

— Frederick, USA

Answer

The Hoong Ka master defeated you because of skills and not because of techniques. Even if you use other techniques, he will still be able to defeat you.

This does not mean that techniques are not important. When he slips away, you can strike his retreating arm, or kick his leg.

You can also improve your skills of “bridging gap” and “follow-through”. When he tries to escape from your taming or closing hand, you “follow-through” with your taming or closing hand, and bridge the gap of his retreat. You should spend some time practicing on your own before applying the skills on your opponents.

You can also increase your internal force and learn some sophisticated chin-na techniques. You can find a lot of chin-na techniques at http://www.shaolin.org/video-clips-3/chin-na/sequences/overview.html . As you did not attend the Special Chin-Na Course in Sabah, you should attempt only one or two of the simpler techniques.

Shaolin Kungfu

Grandmaster Wong employs a pattern from Hoong Ka Kungfu, called Southern Shaolin in our school, in combat application

Question 5

My attempts to simply close someone with a taming or pressing palm are generally defeated by my sparring partner simply turning their body into the Unicorn Stance or retreating if they have superior footwork to me. Is there an aspect of taming/closing an opponent that I miss, or should all attempts to tame or close an opponent use chin-na to “confirm” the taming/closing?

Answer

No, you have not missed the basic techniques of taming and closing, though you may not have learned sophisticated techniques of following through, like using chin-na to subdue your opponents.

But you attended the Baguazhang course at the UK Summer Camp. There are a lot of techniques and tactics you can use from the Baguazhang course to defeat your opponent when he turns aside into a Unicorn Step or when he retreats.

When he turns aside into a Unicron Step, for example, you can employ your Baguazhang footwork to follow his turning and strike him, or you can go to the other side and fell him from behind. When he retreats, you can rush forward, but taking care of your own safety, and push him off the arena, or you can jump forward with “Wild Crane Kicks Leg”.

It is not necessary to use chin-na to confirm taming or closing, but for one trained in chin-na, it is an excellent way to subdue opponents. When a chin-na master wishes to apply a chin-na grip on his opponent, it is unlikely the opponent could escape.

Question 6

How would you recommend approaching sparring with someone who has superior sensitivity skills? I have had some success with using the “disappearing” that I discussed with you last year in sparring, which sometimes gives me opportunities, but I know that there are certain people I have met who can always notice me, so I do not want to rely too much on such an ability; I would personally rather have more solid fundamentals than rely on such a “trick.”

Answer

There are two main approaches. One is to avoid his sensing skills. Using kicks, for example, is a good tactic. Instead of having arm contact, you can kick at him.

The other approach indicates the hallmark of a master. Change his sensing skills, which are his strong points, to his weakness. Chin-na and dim mak are excellent in this respect.

Baguazhang, Pakua Chang

Sifu Tim uses his leg to neutralize a groin attack from Frederick in a Baguazhang combat application

Question 7

Another situation that I run across in sparring is sparring partners who have a lot of muscular strength. My usual tactic is to “borrow” my sparring partner’s force and use soft counters to conserve my energy and to guide their force away into emptiness so that I can set up a decisive strike, mainly using Baguazhang strategies and movements from the Swimming Dragon set and adding a Baguazhang “flavor” to the Hoong Ka I am learning here.

Answer

Dim mark is excellent for overcoming opponents with a lot of muscular strength, but you need to learn dim mak at a course from a master willing to teach you.

Many kungfu styles are well-known for the smaller-sized to defeat the bigger and stronger, and Baguazahgn is one of them. You can use Baguazhang techniques and tactics to get to an opponent’s side or back to strike him.

Question 8

Sometimes, however, my sparring partners will “lock up” with a lot of tension and will not “give” me any force to work with, and I find that very difficult to handle. I can handle the situation usually with a combination of superior agility (getting to their sides or back, or simply feinting and striking a different body part) and stamina (simply outlasting their muscular tension), but I do not know if there is a better way to approach this sort of situation.

Answer

Don’t use force against force if your opponent is physically stronger.

All the methods you mentioned are excellent.

You can get to your opponent’s back to fell him. Don’t fell him with brutal strength. Off-balance him, and he falls easily.

You can also strike his vital spots, like his eyes, throat and sexual organ. But of course you stop an inch from target.



If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at secretary@shaolin.org stating your name, country and e-mail address.

WHY IS SHAOLIN KUNG FU MORE EFFECTIVE IN COMBAT THAN OTHER MARTIAL ARTS?

(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/ans16b/dec16-1.html)

Shaolin Kungfu

Shaolin Kungfu

Question 7

Why is Shaolin Kungfu more effective in combat than other martial arts?

– Tomas, United Kingdom

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

We can derive a good answer from my own experience.

In my younger days, as now over 70 I still consider myself young, I actually went out to look for sparring opponents to test my combat efficiency. I soon discovered that when I used techniques which were also found in other martial arts, like Black Tiger Steals Heart which is a thrust punch, and Happy Bird Hops up Branch which is a side-kick, my opponents of other martial arts could defend readily. But when I used techniques not found in their martial arts, like Lohan Tames Tiger and Rising Dragon and Galloping Tiger, my opponents would have difficulty defending.

The underlying philosophy, which occurred to me not at the time of sparring but much later, was quite obvious. If techniques A, B, C, D were found in their martial arts, and you used A, B, C, D against them, they would know how to defend. If techniques P, Q, R were not found in their martial arts, and you used P, Q, R against them, they would not know how to defend.

When you attacked your opponent, you must make sure he could not attack you at the same time. This was not difficult for me because “safety first” was a cardinal principle in my kungfu training. I always covered my opponents before attacking them, and as I used attacking techniques that they did not know, I always beat them.

Skills are more important than techniques in combat. Even when your techniques are superior, but if your opponent is more skilful, like he is faster and more powerful, he will still beat you. I did not realise this important principle at first. I only differentiated between skills and techniques much later. But I overcame this problem because initially I chose opponents who were of a same level as or lower level than me. Later when my combat skills improved, but still without consciously knowing the difference between skills and techniques, my choice of opponents became more liberal.

Another very important factor in combat is force, especially internal force. When I had developed remarkable internal force, I found that I could not only defeat opponents more easily but also opponents who were younger and bigger-sized than me.

A significant factor contributing to victory in combat is the application of tactics and strategies, which are rich in Shaolin Kungfu but not frequently found in other martial arts. At first I was unaware of combat tactics and strategies, but they were already incorporated in the combat sequences I used. Later with better understanding of combat tactics and strategies, my combat efficiency improved.

Hence, the many reason why Shaolin Kungfu is more combat effective than many other martial arts are a rich range of combat techniques not found in other martial arts, the focus of developing skills in genuine Shaolin training, the development and use of internal force in combat, and the application of combat tactics and skills.

Question 8

What benefits you can find in Shaolin Kungfu that cannot be found in other martial arts?

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

An excellent answer was supplied by Kai (Sifu Kai Uwe Jettkandt, Chief Instructor of Shaolin Wahnam Germany), who was already a world known martial art master and an international all-style free sparring champion before he learned from me.

Kai told many Shaolin Wahnam members that he practiced Shaolin Kungfu because it fulfilled to a very high-level all the three attainments he looked for in any martial art — good health, combat efficiency and spiritual cultivation. Kai explained that many martial arts were good for fighting but bad for health. Some martial arts were good for health, but not effective for combat and lacked spiritual cultivation. Shaolin Kungfu has all these attainments to a very high level.

One can have these three attainments irrespective of his age. In many other martial arts, as a person ages, his health and combat efficiency are affected. But in Shaolin Kungfu, a practitioner actually becomes healthier and more combat efficient.

Many Shaolin Wahnam members told me that they were healthier and fitter at 50 than they were at 30. In many other martial arts, as a person becomes older, his strength and stamina become weaker, and therefore his combat ability is less efficient. But due to internal force which is independent of age, size and gender, and which also contributes much to his health, vitality and longevity, he becomes more combat efficient as he grows older.

Shaolin Kungfu is extremely rich in philosophy, which records the essence of centuries of past masters. Not only the combat tactics and strategies enable present Shaolin practitioners to be more combat efficient, its philosophy enriches their daily life.

Not many people may realize that Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan are the only two martial arts that originated from spiritual cultivation. All other martial arts gear towards fighting. Bodhidharma, the first patriarch of the Shaolin arts, and Zhang San Feng, the first patriarch of Taijiquan, practiced their arts to attain Zen or Tao, which in Western language means return to God the Holy Spirit.



If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at secretary@shaolin.org stating your name, country and e-mail address.

SPIRITUAL CULTIVATION, MORALITY AND RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/ans16b/dec16-2.html)

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit in Florida

Question 1

What is the difference between spiritual cultivation and morality, and between spiritual cultivation and religious education?

— Abram, New Zealand

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

Spiritual cultivation is cultivating the spirit. Morality is practicing high moral values. Religious education is being knowledgeable in religions matters.

They are all different, though related; just as an orange is different from an apple, and an apple is different from a pear, though they are all fruit. Many people, however, do not realise the difference between spiritual cultivation, morality and religious education, though they can tell the difference amongst an orange, an apple and a pear.

Some people may be highly cultivated in spirit, but lack morality and may not believe in a religion. Black magicians are examples of highly cultivated in spirit but lack morality, and even if they believe in a religion they do not practice it, as all religions teach people to do good. Asuaras, who are powerful supernatural beings, are highly cultivated in spirit but lacking in morality and do not practice the good teaching of religion.

Some people with high moral values, like they are compassionate and caring, but may not be spiritually cultivated. For example, they are afraid of ghosts, which show that their spirit is week. They are usually religions, from whose teaching they develop high morals, but some may not believe in any religion.

Some who know a lot about religion may not be spiritually cultivated. They are depressed, for example, which shows that their spirit is not high. Some may use religion to cause harm to society.

Nevertheless, highly spiritually cultivated persons usually have high morals. Not only they know much about religion, they celebrate with followers of other religions.



If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at secretary@shaolin.org stating your name, country and e-mail address.

WE ARE NOW LIVING IN A GOLDEN AGE

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

Wong Wei Foong

The beautiful smile of our Shaolin Wahnam Secretary reflects the joy with which our Shaolin Wahnam Family members look at the world today, and the hope we have for the world in the future

Question

This question is a broad one and may not be responded to if it is considered superfluous. My question is simply what does Master Wong Kiew Kit see for the future of this entire planet and how does he think that his life and life for people in the future will be.

— Yaroslav, Canada

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

Your questions are interesting and important for the future of humanity.

Our training has made me and those in our school very optimistic. Not only we wholesomely enjoy the present, we forgive the wrongs that others may have done to us in the past and look towards the future with hopes and aspirations. If we feel we have wronged ourselves, we forgive ourselves

It is not that we are irresponsible with our past, licentious with our present or uncaring with our future. In fact we hold high moral values, as guided by our Ten Shaolin Laws, and cultivate spiritually every time we train, and we train conscientiously every day.

The wonderful benefits that we get are not just extrinsic, due to verbal or written teaching. More significantly they are intrinsic, due to our dedicated training that results in a purification of our body, intellect and soul. It is pertinent to mention that these are no empty words. These words accurately describe the benefits our students are getting.

Many schools also say that their training purifies the body, intellect and soul. Even some schools teaching the most brutal form of martial art where students seem to take pride in causing hurt to their opponents or sparring partners also say that their training is spiritual. But an intelligent observation of the students’ results will tell whether the claims of the schools are true.

If the students become more unhealthy as a result of their training, then it is obviously not true that their training purifies the body. If the students do not even realize that they are not getting the benefits their arts are purported to give despite having trained for a long time, it is obvious their training does not purify their intellect.

If the students become more dull and depressed, it is obvious their training does not purify their soul. These conclusions are obvious, yet it is shocking that thousands of students all over the world are getting unhealthier and depressed as a result of their training, and are unaware of it.

How do we justify our claim that our training purifies the body, the intellect and the soul. After practicing for some time our students overcome their pain and illness and attain good health. This justifies our claim that our training purifies our body, as a pure body is naturally healthy. When the body is chocked with impurities, like toxic waste, viruses and locked emotions, it fails in its natural functions and become sick or in pain.

After practicing for some time our students have much mental clarity. They are clear about the aims and objectives of their training, and how well their training helps them to attain their aims and objectives. If you examine how and what they write in our Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum, their mental clarity is quite obvious. This justifies our claim that our training purifies the intellect, as a purified intellect results in mental clarity.

The writings of our students in our Discussion Forum also show that they are happy and peaceful with themselves and with other people. In fact, many of our students often expressed how grateful they are for having practiced our arts which make them find life and the world so beautiful. This shows that their practice has purified their soul, for a purified soul will find beauty in life and the world.

What has this explanation of purifying the body, intellect and soul to do with your question. It has everything to do with the question. Firstly, it explains how members of our Shaolin Wahnam Family and I look at the world now and in the future. We are grateful for the many good things in our world now. And we are confident that the world in future will be even better.

We are living in a golden age. Many people may be surprised at this statement. They think the golden age was a few hundred years ago. No, a few hundred years ago you didn’t even have electricity or tap water, things that we take for granted now but forget how important they are in making life comfortable. A few hundred years ago most people did not have a chance to go to school. Now you can assess amazing information via the internet at the tips of your fingers!

More significantly the above explanation will affect how you and many other people see our world in future — whether you will see it as a beautiful home or a doomed place where resources run out. This will become clear as I answer your other questions.

Grandmaster Wong and Sifu Riccardo

Despite over 60, Grandmaster Wong and Dr Riccardo Salvetore examplify good health, mental clarity and spirtual joy as a result of purifying body, intellect and soul

LINKS

Reproduced from Questions 1 in Selection of Questions and Answers September 2010 Part 1

Another of Yaroslav’a question is answered here

IT IS HARD TO FIND REAL KUNGFU NOWADAYS

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

Shaolin Kungfu

Sifu Andrew Barnett and his son, Bjoem, demonstrating Shaolin Kungfu in combat application

Question

I have participated in a few of the local schools and can not find one to my liking. I have received a black belt in Kung fu and at this time I do not feel like I deserve it due to my lack of practice and not improving myself in my skills. Can you please send me any information that you may have?

— Joe, USA

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

At all times in all places real kungfu masters are rare. In China in the past there were many kungfu masters but very few of them would accept students. Today many people teach kungfu, or what they call kungfu, but finding a genuine master is more difficult than finding a gem in a hay stack. Refer to Qualities of a Good Master for details.

What is taught all over the world today, including in China, is either a modernized form for demonstration or a debased traditional form that uses karate, taekwondo or kickboxing techniques for combat. In my opinion neither is genuine kungfu.

This does not necessarily mean that these demonstrative or debased forms are not without their benefits. They are magnificient to watch and is an excellent way to keep the exponents agile and fit, but they are not the same as the kind of kungfu traditionally taught in the past.

In my opinion, the bottom line to decide whether one is trained in genuine kungfu is whether he (or she) can use the kungfu forms he has learnt for some decent self defence. If he can fight well but uses other martial art forms instead of kungfu forms, he does not qualify to have practised genuine kungfu.

The bottom line of my definition is that the kungfu he has learnt must be capable of being used for fighting, even if he loses the fight. The crucial point is that his kungfu forms are more than sufficient for his self defence; he needs not borrow or “steal” other martial art forms, and he should be able to defend himself in a typical kungfu manner. Bouncing about as in boxing and kicking high as in taekwondo, for example, are not typical manners in kungfu fighting.

Good kungfu goes beyond mere fighting. One characteristic feature of good kungfu is the training of internal force for good health as well as combat efficiency. If you ask what internal force is, it is unlikely you have any experience in its training. It is like someone who has not eaten an orange, asking what the taste of an orange is.

As far as I know, this internal force training is not found in most other martial arts. Western boxing and wrestling, for example, pay much attention to external strength and physical mass, and their exponents train in ways which typical kungfu masters would consider detrimental to health.

Some Eastern martial arts like aikido and karate mention about internal aspects like chi (or ki in Japanese), but their exponents do not spend as much time or go as deeply as typical kungfu exponents do in these internal aspects. A typical traditional kungfu exponent, for example, may actually spend more time practising Abdominal Breathing or Stance Standing (zhan zhuang) than practising patterns or sets — a practice that is not normally found in most other martial arts or modern demonstrative, debased kungfu forms.

The best kungfu, like Shaolin and Taijiquan, goes beyond the physical and leads to spiritual cultivation irrespective of race, culture and religion. The onus of spiritual cultivation is direct experience, not mere talking or book learning, and is practised according to the students’ developmental levels.

For those who have so far wasted their time in unwholesome activities, or those who feel empty and lost despite abundant material wealth, turning to a happy, rewarding life here and now is a remarkable spiritual achievement; at the other scale, the spiritually advanced aim for the highest attainment known variously as return to God, unity with the Cosmos, enlightenment or in Zen terms simply going home.

modern wushu

A magnificient demonstration of modern wushu, which is different from traditional kungfu

LINKS

Reproduced from Questions 1 in Selection of Questions and Answers March 1998

THE MEANING AND PURPOSE OF SHAOLIN KUNGFU

(reproduced from http://www.shaolin.org/answers/sp-issues/meaning.html)

Shaolin Kungfu

While combat efficiency is important, Shaolin Kungfu is not just a fighting art but a complete programme of personal development

Question

What does Shaolin Kungfu represent? What is the purpose of learning this style?

— Juan, Mexico

Answer

Shaolin Kungfu is the style of martial art first developed at the Shaolin Monastery in China, and is now practised by many people in various parts of the world irrespective of race, culture and religion.

Many kungfu styles branched out from Shaolin Kungfu, and some examples include Eagle Claw Kungfu, Praying Mantis Kungfu, Hoong Ka Kungfu, Choy-Li-Fatt Kungfu and Wing Choon Kungfu.

In my opinion, shared by many other people, Shaolin Kungfu represents the pinnacle of martial art development. Indeed, as early as the Tang Dynasty in China more than a thousand years ago, the saying “Shaolin Kungfu is the foremost martial art beneath heaven” was already popular.

The main purpose of learning Shaolin Kungfu is to have a complete programme of personal development from the most basic to the most advanced levels. At the physical level, Shaolin Kungfu provides health, fitness, agility and vitality, besides the ability to defend ourselves. At the emotional level, Shaolin Kungfu gives us joy and tranquillity.

Shaolin Kungfu trains us to be mentally focused, and enables us to expand our mind. At its highest level, Shaolin Kungfu leads to spiritual fulfillment, irrespective of religion. Obviously, Shaolin Kungfu is not just a fighting art.

It is also significant to note that an important aspect of the Shaolin teaching is direct experience, which in this case means that a Shaolin disciple does not merely talk about good health and mind expansion, or just read up on spirituality, but actually experience these benefits. If he does not experience, according to his developmental stage, the appropriate results Shaolin Kungfu is purported to give, he should seriously review his training.

direct experienceAn important aspect of Shaolin teaching is direct experience. Shaolin practitioners do not merely talk about spiritual cultivation but actually experience it.