September 2001 (Part 3)

SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Pushing Hands

Javier of Spain and Ricarrdo of Italy engaged in Pushing Hands. To many Taiji students, Pushing Hands is a boring ritual that is hurriedly done with. But to the initiated it is an amazing training approach which not only develops combative skills but also brings much fun. But what could you do to improve your Pushing Hands skills if you have no one to practise with? One way is to practise zhan zhuang.

Question 1

You mentioned about sex in Question 1 of June 2001 Part 1 . I have read a few Taoist qigong types which advocate refraining from ejaculation to prevent loss of jing and then circulate it around the Ren/Du channels. I find it confusing as your books do not mention this. What is the correct way?

— Wan, Singapore

Answer

The correct way or ways are relative to different persons with different needs. To a Taoist employing the “human” approach in his cultivation, having sex with a young girl without ejaculation but sucking her sex juice is his “correct” way, but to me from the perspective of my Shaolin training it is an immoral way. It is immoral because he is wilfully increasing his vitality and longevity at the expense of the girl, who will pine away.

Our Shaolin teaching dictates that we should never build our benefits on others' suffering. You have missed my mentioning of this in my book, “The Art of Chi Kung”. On pages 63-4 I give a detailed description of this method known poetically as “Drawing Jade Juice from Golden Pond” but strongly discourage its application as immoral. Great Taoist masters regard this method as deviated.

Question 2

I am getting married in a few months time. I am also practising Taijiquan. I'm concerned about my 'marital duties' being affected by not wanting to lose jing.

Answer

Your concern is unnecessary and built upon wrong concepts. For you and your needs, as for most normal people, it is not only unharmful to lose “jing” or semen in the course of carrying out your marital duties, which fortunately are pleasurable to carry out, it is actually natural, beneficial and the right thing to do. As a husband it is your duty to love and care for your wife, which includes providing semen to fertilize her ovum so that she can fulfill her role as a mother. All great teachings, including Taoism, advocate this.

In the provision of semen you should do so in a most loving and joyful way, caring for her well being, and not selfishly worrying whether you would lose energy. If you have the urge and ability to make love, Mother Nature has ensured you have sufficient energy for this purpose. Indeed, the reverse can be harmful. Withholding ejaculation when Nature wants you to release, is unnatural.

There is also nothing in Taijiquan that advocates withholding ejaculation. Throughout history Taijiquan and other kungfu masters have had many children — fathered by the masters themselves. There has been no mentioned at all that fathering a child, evidence of ejaculation, would make a martial artist less healthy or less efficient.

Question 3

With reference to your Pushing Hands Series, currently I push hands only in class, outside class I have no partner to practise with. I'd like to ask how I can improve my pushing hands skills on my own.

Answer

Here are two sure ways you can practise on your own to improve your proficiency in Pushing Hands with others.

  1. Ensure your form is perfect, especially the pattern “Grasping Sparrow's Tail”. Practise this pattern over and over again at least 50 times a day. Pay particular attention to your stance, balance and fluidity of movement.
  2. Practise zhan-zhuang, especially the Three-Circle Stance.

Question 4

Is it possible to substitute sleep for training? I find it difficult to train beyond one hour each day due to various commitments like work, family etc. I have been looking for ways to not need so much sleep so that I can spend more time training.

Answer

Yes, it is not only possible to substitute sleep for training, many lazy people do that. Instead of training, they sleep.

I reckon what you mean is to substitute training for sleep. You can but it is not advisable to do so. Wanting to sleep is Nature's way of telling you to rest, which is necessary in any training. If you train without sufficient rest, you are likely to hurt yourself — often seriously.

Masters need less sleep not because they train to substitute sleep, but because their training enables them to sleep less. In other words, they do not purposely sleep less so that they can train more. Sleeping less is a bonus, the result that comes after training. It is not an objective, the intention that comes before.

Pushing Hands

Zhan zhuang, or stance training, is another crucial aspect of Taijiquan. Many different stances can be used in zhan zhuang. In Taijiqua, the Three-Circle Stance is frequently used. Zhan zhuang using the Three-Circle Stance, as shown in the picture above, not only develops mental clarity and nternal force, but also brings forth subtle joys if you know how to train correctly.

Question 5

I have tried sleeping less but I always feel tired and difficult to concentrate the next day.

Answer

This is because you lack sleep, or you over train, or both. The remedy is simple: sleep adequately, train less, or do both. You will get more benefits if you follow my advice. Sleeping less than required, and training more than you are capable of, are two serious mistakes that may bring serious harm.

Question 6

I have heard of masters who sleep very little. Can you tell me what I can do to need less sleep so as to train more?

Answer

Masters sleep little compared to ordinary people, say 5 hours compared to the usual 8 hours because 5 hours of sleep is adequate for their need. It is not a case where they need 8 hours but sleep for 5 hours. So they sleep little (because they need little sleep) but not less (less than what they require).

Why do masters need little sleep? It is because they get sufficient energy from their training, particularly chi kung training, so that they need not obtain the energy from sleep as ordinary people do. Also, because they are more relaxed even in their sleep, they are able to get energy more effectively from sleep than ordinary people do.

When we sleep we do some important things. One essential task is to obtain energy from the cosmos. But you are not energized all the time you sleep. This energizing process usually occurs for about 15 to 30 minutes around five or six at dawn when your body and mind are perfectly relaxed.

Another important task of sleep is to let your body rest. Still another task is to let your body regenerate. For young children sleeping allows them to grow.

Now you may understand why it is foolish trying to sleep less so as to train more, which is harming your body and mind both ways — denying yourself the benefits from sleep and pushing yourself beyond your capacity.

One hour of training a day, if the training is proper, is more than enough for most people. My chi kung students need to train only 15 minutes a day, without having to do any other exercises or to take any food supplement, and they are healthy and fit. If one has to train chi kung for two or three hours a day, that chi kung is of a very low level.

My kungfu students need to train about an hour a day, and in three years they can attain a reasonably high standard. In our modern world if one has to train kungfu for four or five hours a day he would have little time to do other important things in life.

So instead of sleeping less and training more, you should spend time seeking a good master so that your training will be cost effective. You would then sleep little, if you want to, not because you force yourself to sleep less but because your require little sleep as you can obtain the energy you need from your training instead of solely from your sleep. Hence, you have more time (which you gain both from your sleeping less and from your cost-effective training) and more energy (from your high level training) for your daily work and play.

This is possible if your training includes genuine chi kung. If you practise physical exercise, you would expend energy instead of building energy in your training, which means you would need more sleep to compensate for the energy loss.

But if you are unwilling to pay the price for training with a master, or unwilling to spend time find him, you have to be contented with low level kungfu or chi kung, in which case you have to both sleep more and train for longer hours.

Question 7

I am a student at a kung-fu temple in Orlando, but I now visit the one in Altamonte. It seems that no matter what I do, I can't attend classes very much due to transportational problems.

— Shawn, USA

Answer

Let us look at some simple logic. Let us say you want to accomplish goal X. To do so you have to satisfy condition A.

Now let X be entering a university, and A be scoring high marks. Logically if you do not score high marks you cannot enter the university.

Now let X be buying a house, and A be paying the price of the house. Logically if you do not pay the price of the house, you cannot buy it.

In your case, X is attending classes, and A is solving transportational problems. Logically if you are unable, or more probably unwilling, to solve the transportational problems, you cannot attend classes. This is straight-forward logic, and it shows your belief that no matter what you do you cannot attend classes, is not true.

In the three examples above, if you wish to satisfy the necessary conditions so that you can attain your original goals, the conditions become second level goals

To score high marks, which is now X in our straight-forward logic, you have to study hard, which is now A. Logically if you do not study hard you cannot score high marks.

To solve your transportational problems, you have to satisfy condition A, which may have many options. Depending on how far you are from your classes and how you wish to travel, you may walk, hitch hike, take a bus or a train, drive your car or your father's car or your friend's car, or you may take a plane. This is simple logic. It is illogical and unreasonable to expect instructors from the classes to come to you and teach you free.

Question 8

But I do study as much as possible, and even at work, instead of going on a lunch break, I practice the limited kung-fu and basic qi-gong exercises that I have learned. I will probably not keep up my contract with the school, though I wish to. The issue is money.

Answer

You are being illogical and unwise. When it is time for lunch break, you enjoy your lunch even if it consists of a common hamburger. If it is time to work, you work as best as you can even if the pay is less than what you wish.

You may change to a better paying job, or quit it if you are dis-satisfied with the pay, but as long as you are on your job you should do it as best as you can. This is more for your sake than for your boss'. If you wish to practise your kungfu or chi kung, do so at an appropriate time.

It is not just attending classes, but almost whatever you do the issue is usually money. You are at your present job because of money. If you change to another job it is usually also because of money. You wanted to learn kungfu in China but could not; it was also because of money.

Money is neither good nor evil. It is a convenient medium accepted by all people in the world to measure quantitatively how much you are willing to sacrifice in order to satisfy your needs, as well as how much you wish to be compensated for the sacrifice you make for other people.

For example if you take a taxi to attend your kungfu classes, you have to pay a fare to the taxi driver. The money you pay as fare measure the amount of sacrifice you make to satisfy your need of transportation, and the money the driver receives measures the amount of compensation he gets for his sacrifice of taking you to your destination.

Money makes the transaction convenient. You need not, for example, barter with the driver what type of service you would render him in return. He can use your fare (together with other fares) to buy whatever services or goods he desires — services and goods different from what you can ever produce.

Shaolin Kung Fu

If you wish to learn basic kungfu forms, like the one above, it is safe to learn from books or videos. But if you wish to learn the training of energy and mind, which are also basics in genuine kungfu training, you may harm yourself if you learn incorrectly.

Question 9

Here is my dilemma. I wish to find a sifu who teaches for the sake of teaching. I have recently searched online for instructors in China, as I am willing to travel. Yet I can only find very, very few options that are expensive. Perhaps you can help me by giving me pointers on seeking a sifu that will help me reach my goals in kung-fu and to help my spiritual growth.

Answer

I have received many requests like yours. As in their case, yours is not a dilemma, but being selfish, i.e. thinking only of your own self interest and totally disregarding the interest of the sifu you wish to seek.

Can you think of just one good reason in his interest why he should teach you, someone he has never known before and probably coming from a culture so alien to him? You expect him not merely to teach you but devote himself to make you reach your goals, like becoming a master yourself and attaining enlightenment. Probably you expect him to house and feed you too, without you having to pay any fees.

I do not know of any real masters who teach for the sake of teaching. Even if you offer to pay the master a lot of money, he may not teach you. But I know a lot of bogus teachers who teach for free, also not for the sake of teaching but for the sake of having students so that he can satisfy his ego of calling himself a master.

It is high time people like you wake up from their illusion, the illusion that if you wish to learn a master will teach you for free. Even if there were a master to teach you free, I doubt you could last a week of his training, despite your honest but mis-guided belief that learning kungfu is all you want in life. If you cannot make some effort to overcome a comparatively simple problem like transportation to attend kungfu classes, you do not have the perseverance and endurance for real kungfu training.

Question 10

As I am a Taoist and Orlando is blind to such things, please help me if you can. Your book has enlightened me with the knowledge that i am currently seeking on not just Shaolin but something to up-grade my skills.

Answer

I do not know why you call yourself a Taoist. A Taoist is one who follows the Tao, the natural way. When it is time to eat, you eat; when it is time to work, you work. That is following the natural way.

When it is time to eat, you practise kungfu. When it is time to practise kungfu, you think of transportation problems. That is being unnatural.

Taoism or any great spiritual tradition can be practised anywhere, including in Orlando. My book shows you the way. I have made it very clear that if you wish to have the best benefits you have to learn from a master and train diligently.

You may think my reply is harsh, especially when you have written to me respectfully, but actually it is kind. If you think over my answers and follow my advice you will save a lot of time and frustration.

Make the best of what you have at present. If you are dis-satisfied with your pay in your present job, find a better job, or better still work for yourself. When you are ready, which means not only you have the financial means but also basic kungfu forms, attend my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in Malaysia.

Question 11

I only know a few fundamental basics of Karate, which I picked up from my friends. I would like to know the basic requirements necessary before trying to learn from your websites.

— Anil, India

Answer

My websites cover a lot of information with a wide range of depth. There is material on chi kung, Shaolin Kungfu, Taijiquan and Zen for fresh beginners as well as for masters. There is advice on how to get the best from your training, methods of force training, techniques for combat application as well as philosophy and history.

Hence there is much information in my websites where one can learn without prior experience. There is also a lot of information suitable only for advanced practitioners.

Nevertheless the main aim of my websites is to provide information, and not meant to give instructions for self-learning. Visitors to my websites are advised to learn personally from living instructors.

Question 12

I also have a doubt: is it safe to learn online Tai Chi Chuan or kung-fu, especially when I am not very sound in my basics? If so, Sifu, can you please let me have some details in learning the basics thoroughly?

Answer

It depends on what you mean by basics. If you are refering to learning basic kungfu patterns, including Tai Chi Chuan patterns, it is safe to learn on line, although you may miss many fine points.

If you are refering to basic training of energy and mind, such as energy flow and meditation, which are also basics in kungfu, especially in Tai Chi Chuan, you may harm yourself by learning incorrectly.

There are three dimensions in all kungfu (including Tai Chi Chuan) training, namely “jing”, “qi” and “shen” which means “physical form”, “energy” and “mind”. Most teachers today teach only the physical dimension, and miss the energy and mind.

Generally speaking, learning physical forms is safe, even when you make mistake provided the mistakes are not severe like breaking your bones or neck. Learning the energy and the mind dimensions on line, or from videos and books, can be risky, especially if you ignore the master's advice, like breathing gently and not thinking of anything.

One piece of advice that has come down the centuries from masters to ensure your training is safe is as follows. Be natural, relaxed and gentle. Another good advice is to progress gradually; never be hasty in your training.

Question 13

Could you also let me know the minimum grade required for anyone to join your training programme?

Answer

One needs not have any prior experience to join my Intensive Chi Kung Course, yet he can attain very high standard after taking the five-day course.

If he wishes to join my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course or my Intensive Taijiquan Course, he should have at least three years' relevant experience.

LINKS

Overview of the Questions-Answers Series

Courses and Classes