Tag Archives: 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.



(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/ans15b/oct15-1.html)


Bone-Marrow Cleansing

Question 1

Past masters took many years to attain energy flowing at the five levels, but we can attain this in just four hours! How is it possible?

— Lukas, Germany


This is ridiculous but true.

There are two main reasons.

Past masters did not differentiate between techniques and skills, whereas we do. They practiced any techniques they were taught when they were students. When conditions were ideal, they developed the necessary skills, often without their conscious knowing. These ideal conditions happened infrequently even when they practice every day. Over a long period, like after many years, they accumulated enough results, which happened haphazardly, to feel energy flowing at these five levels.

Let us take an analogy. In this course, many students come from other countries, like from England, Austria and Holland. If they do not have the right techniques, like a car or a train, and do not have the right skills, like traveling along the correct routes, but just travel haphazardly even they travel everyday they will take many years to arrive at Frankfurt if they ever do. But they took only a few hours to arrive because they have the right techniques and the right skills, i.e. they drove a car or took a train, and travelled along the right routes.

Secondly, instead of developing the necessary skills on their own, which would take at least few months, I transmitted the skills to them so that they could get the benefits immediately.

Question 2

Is there any difference between Golden Bridge and Bone Marrow Cleansing at Muscle Level in developing internal force?


Yes, there is some difference. The force developed in Golden Bridge is colsolidated, whereas the force developed in Bone Marrow Cleansing at Muscle Level is relatively more flowing.

It is significant to note that the comparison is relative. Bone Marrow Cleansing at Muscle Level is more consolidated than many other methods of force training, but compared to Golden Bridge it is more flowing.

As a rough guide the proportions of consolidating and flowing are as follows in the following force training methods.

  1. Golden Bridge 90-10

  2. Bone Marrow Cleansing at Muscle Level 85-15

  3. Iron Wire 80-20

  4. Flower Set 50-50

  5. 108-Pattern Yang Style Taijiquan 10-90

This list is flexible and serves as a rough guide. It varies according to many factors, like the mood, knowledge and ability of a practitioner. In our chase, we can vary the proportion according to our wish. We may, for example, practice Iron Wire with a proportion of 20% consolidating and 80% flowing.

There is also a difference between the time needed between Golden Bridge and Bone Marrow Cleansing at Muscle Level to develop internal force.

If one takes 15 minutes to develop a certain amount of internal force in Golden Bridge, he takes only 10 minutes to develop the same amount in Bone Marrow Cleansing at Muscle Level. This again is only a rough guide, and may vary due to different factors.

Nevertheless, as revealed just now by practitioners who had trained in both methods (during a Bone Marrow Cleansing Course in Germany in Sept 2014) that although they found Bone Marrow Cleansing at Muscle Level more forceful, they still preferred Golden Bridge. The important lesson is that being better and preference are not necessary the same, and this important lesson is applicable in daily life.

Some men may find other women more beautiful than their wives, but they still prefer their wives. Some women know that other men earn more money than their husbands, but they still prefer their husbands.

Golden Bridge

Grandmaster Wong’s youngest son, Wong Chun Yian, performing the Golden Bridge

Question 3

Is our Bone Marrow Cleansing the same as Bone Marrow Cleansing taught by Bodhidharma?


It is not the same. But we still use the term “Bone Marrow Cleansing” in honour of Bodhidharma.

Bodhisharma’s Bone Marrow Cleansing referred to four levels of his teaching on spiritual development. Our Bone Marrow Cleansing refers to five levels of energy flow in energy development.

In other words, by following Bodhidharma’s teaching, practitioners developed their spirit at four levels, figuratively described as the levels of the skin, the flesh, the bone and the bone marrow. The legend of Hui Ke receiving Bodhidharma’s teaching describes this development. By following our teaching in the Bone Marrow Course, practitioners develop their energy flow at five levels, more literally described as the levels of the skin, the muscles, the meridians, the internal organs and the bone marrow.

Why do we use five levels of energy flow and not four or any other number? It is because past masters discovered through the ages that there were five levels of energy flow. When people practiced chi kung successfully — genuine chi kung and not gentle physical exercise as is mostly practiced nowadays — after some time, which might range from a year to a few years, they found energy flowing at their skin level. After Some time, the energy flowed at their muscle level, then at their meridian level. After some time the energy flowing at their meridian level entered their internal organs. Eventually the energy flowed at their bone marrow level.

Depending on various factors, from the time they started practicing chi kung to the time the energy flowed at their bone marrow level might ranged from five to twenty years. This happened only to those who succeeded in their training, and they formed a minority. Most practitioners would not have progressed this far, even when they practice genuine chi kung.

In our case, the term “Bone Marrow Cleansing at Muscle Level” can be misleading. It may be more exact to call it “Developing Internal Force at Muscle Level” as this actually describes the skill and the result. Or we may call it “Consolidating Energy at Muscle Level”, as a lot of energy is consolidated at the muscles though it is still flowing. Nevertheless, we call it “Bone Marrow Cleansing at Muscle Level” as it is the second level of our Bone Marrow Cleansing Course.

Question 4

Can we practice different levels in the same session of Bone Marrow Cleansing?


Yes, you can although generally you will get better results by practicing just one level per session.

If you practice more than one level, you need not repeat the techniques for the subsequent levels. You only need the gentle visualization. Secondly you can practice the various levels in any order, not necessary in ascending order.

Let’s say you wish to practice Bone Marrow Cleansing at the levels of the meridians and the skin. You can start with Pushing Mountain, and direct your energy to flow along the meridians. When you are satisfied with this level of energy flow, you just direct energy to flow along your skin. You need not perform Lifting the Sky to generate energy flow at the skin level, you just use your visualization when you are in a chi kung state of mind. If you wish to perform Lifting the Sky, you can also do do.

Kung fu sparring

The nature of training is different in kungfu and chi kung. Hence, one may train longer in kungfu and not be over-trained though its training methods are more powerful

Question 5

You recommend only 15 minutes in chi kung training but an hour in kungfu training. Can you please elaborate?


The force training in kungfu is usually more powerful than the force training in chi kung. So, will you be over-training if you practice kungfu for an hour, whereas it is recommended that you practice only for 15 minutes in chi kung?

No, it is because the nature of kungfu training is different from that in chi kung training. In kungfu training, besides developing force you also perform a lot of mobile activities like set practice and combat application. These mobile activities spread your force so that you will not be over-trained, even when you have more energy at the end of the training session than before.

But if you just perform force training in kungfu for more than 15 minutes, like just practice zhan zhuang, One-finger Shooting Zen and Lifting Water, unless you have spent some time in the training to progress gradually so that you body can take the extra energy, you will be over-training.

In chi kung training, you only perform force development. Practicing more than 15 minutes of force development may be over-training as your physical body is not ready to take the extra energy.

Question 6

Can we practice the Three-Circle Stance in the Horse-Riding Stance instead of the Goat Stance, and practice the Golden Bridge in the Goat Stance instead of the Horse-Riding Stance?

— Oliver, France


Yes, you can.

Indeed, in the past many Taijiquan practitioners performed carrying the Cosmos, which was the hand form in the Three-Circle Stance, in the Horse-Riding Stance instead of the Goat Stance.

Some practitioners perform Golden Bridge in the Goat Stance instead of the Horse-Riding Stance.

The effects are different. Carrying the Cosmos in the Horse-Riding Stance produces more internal force than in the Goat Stance. Practicing Golden Bridge in the Goat Stance is more relaxing than in the Horse-Riding Stance.

Three-Circle Stance

Three-Circle Stance

Question 7

I am troubled by a neurosis. Whenever, for example, I’m about to sit down or settle somewhere, I always have to check that there are no visible life forms present, like bugs, so that I won’t crush them. I base this on the principle that all lives are equal. But is this the truth? Can I safely sit down without always checking, or do I have to try my best to avoid killing anything?

— Jussi, USA


No, it is not true that all lives are equal. The lifespan of a bug, for example, is only a few months, whereas the lifespan of a human is many years. A bug does not have the opportunity to practice chi kung, whereas a human has. If he practices chi kung, i.e. genuine chi kung, and not merely gentle physical exercise which many people mistake for chi kung, he will live longer, healthier and with more vitality.

It is also not necessary true that you will crush a bug when you sit down. I actually don’t know how bugs feel, but I reckon that a bug would feel warm and comfortable when the soft part of your body rests on it. So sit down comfortably whenever you want to.

Your problem is not just crushing a bug or warming it. Your problem is certainly more series. I would strongly recommend you to attend my Intensive Chi Kung Course. Please see my website at http://www.shaolin.org for more details, and apply to my secretary at secretary@shaolin.org for registration.

I usually asked people with such problems to practice genuine chi kung, but from experience I have found that many of them end up with gentle physical exercise that does not overcome their problems. To save you time and effort, I ask you straightaway to attend my Intensive Chi Kung Course. You will not only overcome your neurosis and other health problems if you have, you will also find life more joyful and meaningful.

Question 8

Do you recommend physical exercise or is Chi Kung enough for overcoming depression and anxiety? If so, what kind of exercise would be the best?


Just practicing high-level chi kung is enough for overcoming depression and anxiety. It is not necessary to practice physical exercise or take food supplement.

Please take note of two important points: it must be genuine chi kung, and it must be of a high level. Genuine high-level chi kung is of course very rare nowadays.

It is not what chi kung techniques one should practice, but how he practices them that is important. The same chi kung techniques can be practiced as low-level chi kung, or as gentle physical exercise which is not chi kung at all.

Not many people can actually understand the above two statements even when they understand the dictionary meaning of all the words. An analogy may make the two statements clearer.

It is not what swimming techniques or surgery techniques one performs, but how well or badly he performs them that is important. The same techniques can be performed as low-level swimming or surgery, or not swimming or surgery at all.

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.