December 2002 (Part 3)

SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Sifu Wong

Sifu Wong demonstrating a Crane pattern from Shaolin Kungfu


MERRY CHRISTMAS

Question 1

Sifu, a few people in some discussion forums have expressed doubt about your Taijiquan lineage.

— Dan, England

Answer

All my senior Taijiquan disciples whom I hope will preserve and spread genuine Taijiquan to posterity, like Javier, Roberto, Inaki, Gorge, Laura and Jeffrey, know that I do not have any Taijiquan lineage. Most of those who have attended my Intensive Taijiquan courses, some of whom have taught Taijiquan for many years and some have learnt from famous masters of established lineage, also know this fact as I have never kept as secret how I learned Taijiquan.

I mentioned this fact in my book, “The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan”, and also in one of my question-answer series. Indeed a few students, some irritated by this lineage issue, others amused by it, suggested that we called our Taijiquan “Wahnam Taijiquan” or “Wong Style Taijiquan”. But I have declined their suggestion.

Not a single person of those who have learnt Taijiquan from me complains about my lack of a Taijiquan lineage. In fact, no one seems to care about this lineage issue. On the other hand, they are satisfied that what they have learnt from me is very close to the kind of Taijiquan practiced by masters in the past. Some of them have thanked me repeatedly for the opportunity to experience what they had been earnestly searching for for years, and which they had only previously read in books.

How do we know that what we practice today is close to what Taijiquan masters did in the past? I am lucky to have access to a large collection of Taijiquan classics which describe what Taijiquan masters did in the past, such as differentiating yin and yang, movement from the waist, fluidity of movement, using intention instead of strength, exploiting the opponent's strength, emphasis on internal force training and combat application, and training of energy and mind. We did exactly what the past masters taught.

Comparing with what past masters had said Taijiquan should achieve, we are very happy with our result. For example, we are still energetic and mentally fresh even after a few hours of continuous training, we use Taijiquan techniques to spar exactly the way past masters described them in the classics, we have developed reasonably good internal force, enabling for example small-size women to throw hefty men around or to effectively handle black belts from other martial arts, and most significantly we experience inner peace and joy from our training, manifesting that Taijiquan is fundamentally for spiritual cultivation.

Question 2

They also said that you disdained at learning from books, but you wrote a book on Taijiquan to teach people.

Answer

Although I have not mentioned this before in public, many of our Taijiquan students know my immediate reason for writing “The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan”. Many years ago I was excited when someone showed me a video of a famous Taijiquan grandmaster demonstrating combat application. But after viewing it I was very disappointed and sad.

The grandmaster was bouncing about as in Taekwondo and pushing away his assailants clumsily. This was not an impromptu shooting, but a premeditated video specially made to show Taijiquan combat application. It was obvious and shocking to me that this Taijiquan grandmasters not only did not use Taijiquan techniques in his pre-arranged combat application, but also did not understand basic Taijiquan principles!

For example, the way he bounced about indicated his disregard for the importance of stances in traditional Taijiquan, and the way he pushed his assailants indicated his starting his movement with his hands and ending at his feet instead of starting from the back foot and ending at the hands, as advocated by past Taijiquan masters.

This prompted me to put my thoughts and practice of Taijiquan into a comprehensive book so that I could share the wisdom of past Taijiquan masters with the public. The result was “The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan”.

It is not true that I disdain at learning Taijiquan or any martial art from books. I myself have read and benefited a lot from reading kungfu and chi kung books and classics.

What I often say in my question-answer series may be tabulated as follows

  1. It is very difficult, if not impossible, for a beginner to learn kungfu (including Taijiquan) from a book. (This is different from reading a book to know more about kungfu.)
  2. It is likely that a reader will learn only the external forms, and it is easy for him to mistake the external forms for kungfu, thereby debasing the art.
  3. If one wishes to get the best benefits he should learn personally from a master.

More than 20 years ago I discussed this topic of learning kungfu from a book in my manuscript on Wing Choon Kungfu. I did not offer this manuscript to any publisher, but I hope to do so in the near future.

How well or badly one learns kungfu from a book, depends on an interplay of three factors, namely the reader, the author, and the kind of kungfu involved. If the reader is a beginner, the author writes in an arcane manner, and the kungfu involves advanced skills, it will be impossible for the reader to learn anything. On the other hand of the scale, if the reader is a master, the author presents his material systematically, and the kungfu involves simple techniques, it will be easy.

Question 3

Some also said that our Shaolin lineage was not authentic, and that our lineage was outside the Temple, whereas theirs was directly from the Shaolin monks. Would you like to comment on this, Sifu?

Answer

All my four Shaolin masters were patriarchs of their respective styles. This was no co-incidence because, except for my first master, I earnestly searched for them. My lineage from my four masters is as follows.

The Venerable Chee Seen, The Venerable Jiang Nan and Yim Wing Choon were the first patriarchs in our respective styles. Regarding Wuzu Kungfu, I could only trace my line of teachers to Lim Yit Liang, who, if I am not mistaken, was a woman and who was a senior classmate of Lim Yian. I could not say comfortably that I am of this Wuzu lineage because due to my short time in this style (about two years) I have learnt only a little, but I would be disrespectful if I had not listed my line of Wuzu teachers.

Only the up-line teachers of my own teachers are mentioned in the lineages above. While Sifu Choe Hoong Choy learned from only one teacher (he told me that one good teacher was enough for one's lifetime learning), my other teachers learned from many. Uncle Righteousness had three teachers, Sifu Chee Kim Thong also had three, and Sifu Ho Fatt Nam had seven.

While the Venerable Chee Seen and Yim Wing Choon are well known today due to the popularization of Shaolin stories since the 1960s and after Bruce Lee became famous in the 1970s, they were unknown at the time I learned Southern Shaolin Kungfu and Wing Choon Kungfu from Uncle Righteousness and Sifu Choe Hoong Choy. We honoured them as the first patriarchs in our respective styles (at a time when most martial artists had not heard of them then) simply because they were our first patriarchs. Similarly we honour the Venerable Jiang Nan as our first patriarch, even though he is relatively unknown today.

You have correctly stated in a discussion forum that all Shaolin lineages today are “outside” the Temple because there has been no Shaolin Kungfu in any one of the three Shaolin Temples since the separate burning of the two southern Shaolin Temples about 150 years ago. Shaolin Kungfu was absent in the first Shaolin Temple, the northern one at Henan, for even a longer time.

The northern Shaolin Temple was burnt not by the Qing Army but by warlords in 1928, seventeen years after the Chinese Republic had replaced the Qing Dynasty. During the Qing Dynasty, Qing emperors still patronized the northern Shaolin Temple as the imperial temple, but Shaolin Kungfu was no longer practiced there. In fact the name “Shaolin Temple” which is still hung at the Main Gate of the restored northern temple, was written by the Qing emperor, Kang Xi.

During the Qing Dynasty, the Shaolin tradition was carried on first at the publicly known southern Shaolin Temple at Quanzhou in Fujian Province, later at the underground southern Shaolin Temple at Nine-Lotus Mountain also in Fujian Province.

The first southern temple was built during the previous Ming Dynasty by imperial decree, and the second during the Qing Dynasty by the Venerable Chee Seen. Both southern Shaolin Temples were burnt by the Qing Army because they became centres for revolutionaries. Lama fighters from Tibet aided the Qing Army during the first burning, and the Qing Army was led by Pak Mei and his top disciple, Ko Chun Choong, during the second burning.

The northern Shaolin Temple was restored by the present Chinese government in the 1970s. When a Japanese master commented correctly that Shaolin Kungfu was no longer found in the Shaolin Temple in China but existed as Shourinji Kempo in Japan, the Venerable Hai Deng volunteered to teach Shaolin Kungfu in the Shaolin Temple.

Although the Venerable Hai Deng was a great Shaolin master and teacher to the great chi kung master, Sifu Yan Xin, the standard of kungfu practiced at the Shaolin Temple at this time was low. There were about 20 monks learning Northern Shaolin Kungfu, and the emphasis was on forms, like Lian Huan Quan (Continuous Fist), Xiao Hung Quan (Little Turbulent Fist) and Da Hung Quan (Big Turbulent Fist), and on weapon sets, like the staff, the spear and the crescent- moon spade. There was little or no emphasis on force training and combat application, the two hallmarks of traditional Shaolin Kungfu.

This low standard of kungfu was not the fault of the Venerable Hai Deng. The reason, I believe, was insufficient time because probably due to policy differences with the temple authority or the government, the Venerable Hai Deng soon stopped teaching at the Shaolin Temple. One main point of difference was that while the Venerable Hai Deng taught kungfu, the policy of the Chinese government was to promote wushu.

Soon wushu became very popular, especially after the resounding success of the film “Shaolin Temple” starred by Jet Li. Wushu schools mushroomed around the Shaolin Temple. Wushu was not taught inside the Shaolin Temple (which has become a top tourist attraction with thousands of visitors everyday), but Shaolin “monks” (many of whom eat meat and some have their own families) taught at many of these wushu schools.

Many people, native Chinese as well as foreigners, mistaking wushu for kungfu, learned wushu at these wushu schools, but claimed that they learned Shaolin Kungfu at the Shaolin Temple. Their claim was doubly untrue — they did not learn Shaolin Kungfu, and they did not learn at the Shaolin Temple.

With this background information, you would be in a better position to understand the three points you have raised — whether our lineage was authentic, that our lineage was outside the Temple, and direct lineage from modern Shaolin “monks”.

Briefly my comments are as follows. Whether our lineage is authentic or not is our business, not theirs. My students learned from me, just as I learned from my masters, not because of the teachers' lineage but because we were satisfied with their teaching. We remember our lineage not because we wish to impress others but because we want to honour our teachers. Notwithstanding this, someone with a distinguished lineage may not necessarily be an expert exponent. His own teacher may be a great kungfu master, but if he has not trained well or sufficiently he himself would be a bad exponent.

Except for the Venerable Jiang Nan, the Venerable Chee Seen, the Venerable Harng Yein and Chan Fook, none of the masters in my various lineages learned in a Shaolin Temple. Indeed, since the burning of the second southern Shaolin Temple and except for a very short period during Hai Deng's teaching, any person saying that he learned Shaolin Kungfu in a Shaolin Temple, is a liar. There has never been any kungfu taught in a Shaolin Temple since then.

Shaolin “monks” today teach wushu, not kungfu. Incidentally, in my opinion as well as judging from competition winners, the highest standard of wushu in China today is found not in the wushu schools around the Shaolin Temple in Henan, but in Bejing and Shanghai.

Of course, those who learn from Shaolin “monks” are directly in the lineage of the “monks”, just as those who learn from A or B or C, are in the lineage of A or B or C. That is their business, and I don't see what has that to do with our lineage.

But if they imply that because they learn from Shaolin “monks”, their kungfu is genuinely Shaolin whereas ours is false, and that theirs is “inside” the Temple whereas ours is “outside”, then they are grossly mistaken. Theirs is a lineage of wushu, not of Shaolin Kungfu, and their wushu lineage dates back to the 1970s at the most. Hence whether their kungfu is genuine or false is irrelevant. Their lineage is also “outside” the Temple. Even their teachers, the Shaolin “monks”, did not learn their wushu inside the Temple.

Until the end of the Cultural Revolution spearheaded by the Red Guards in the 1960s, no one in modern China dared to practice kungfu or any traditional arts, for doing so would be considered counter-revolutionary, the most serious crime in China at that time. Indeed there was a clean break of traditional kungfu, chi kung and spiritual cultivation in China for about a hundred years. Only when modern far-sighted Chinese leaders, following the impetus set by the great Deng Xiao Peng, reopened China to the world, did Chinese traditional arts experience a renaissance.

You would recall I told you my first wish in London during my recent visit with my family was to visit the British Museum. When my family visited the imperial palaces in Bejing a few years ago, the most obvious and lasting impression was their pathetic lack of treasures. What we saw were some pieces of worn-out furniture reputed to have been used by emperors.

Before coming to London, we visited the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. We saw what would make any Chinese proud, compensating for the miserable feeling of being Chinese in Bejing. While most other ancient civilizations exhibited broken earthen pots and beads or at best some marble statues, ancient Chinese civilization showed of its jade figurines, porcelain, huge wall murals and gigantic statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the Tang Dynasty.

Learning that we would visit the British Museum to see what we didn't see in the Forbidden City in Bejing, my disciple in Holland, Liang Hoo, told me a touching story. Seeing exhibits of Chinese treasures in the British Museum, a Chinese man cried. They should be in China, he demonstrated. Another Chinese man came near to console him. We should be grateful they are in the British Museum, he said. If these treasures had not been taken out of China before the Cultural Revolution, they would have disappeared from the world.

Many of our students, having experienced the difference between what they have learnt from our school and what they had learnt elsewhere, have expressed similar feelings. If our first patriarch, the great Jiang Nan, had not taken our Shaolin arts out of China, these wonderful arts might be lost to the world. Instead of wasting our time attempting to prove our lineage or the benefits of our arts to sceptics, we should spend our time enhancing our arts and teaching them to deserving people so that we can pass on these wonderful arts to posterity. That was the aim of the Venerable Jiang Nan, and earlier of Bodhidharma Bodhisattva.

Inaki Rivero Urdiain

Dr Inaki Rivero Urdiain, a Shaolin

Question 4

Some people say that there is no such a thing as chi or internal force, and that what you claim is false.

Answer

These people may be divided into two broad categories. One, they are ignorant and are sincere to find out. Two, they are just stubborn, refusing to believe irrespective of the evidence.

We shall help the first group. We will speak from a position of strength and authority, because we are giving them freely and in a quick, convenient manner experience and wisdom that we have taken years to develop and attain.

They may or may not accept or even believe our answer. That is their right and privilege, but we will not entertain any argument. We will tell them firmly and politely as follows. You ask for our advice. Here it is, given in good faith and sincerity. But if you do not like it or want it, it doesn't matter. Just throw it away.

If they are stubborn, then don't waste your time on them. You and Anthony have been very kind. You offered to pay the air tickets for sceptics to fly to Malaysia to learn from me so that they could directly experience chi and internal force themselves within the few days of the course, and if they were unhappy with the course they needed not pay any fee.

What more do they want? Most people, including masters of other styles, would be very happy if they could experience chi and develop internal force in three years. I myself took more than ten years. Yet, they are now given an opportunity to attain these in a few days!

It is understandable, even expected, if they do not believe you or me. It is just too good to be true, but it is true. But, as you said, there is no risk. Everything is paid for. If they achieved nothing, they would have a holiday and return with ammunition to debunk us.

I would say — in a good natured manner — you were a fool to offer such a trial. It is our policy that those who seek to learn from us must be deserving. We need not prove to anyone. It is the reverse. Those who wish to learn from us must prove that they are deserving to benefit from a wonderful art, and the most fundamental requirement is that they accept and practice our Ten Shaolin Laws. The first law is to respect the master. If they distrust the master and attend his course to test if what he said was true, this is disrespectful.

Like you, Anthony was a fool, spending invaluable time and effort to explain to stubborn sceptics, yet they sneeringly answered that what masters demonstrated could be easily done by their girlfriends or grandmothers! But, of course, Anthony's effort is not wasted. He gave some excellent answers in discussion forums which will benefit many other readers.

But what makes me proud of him, and similarly of you and other Shaolin Wahanm disciples, is the way you handle situations. Although other people were rude and unreasonable, you remained calm and courteous, and gave your views or explanation clearly and honestly.

Like you and Anthony, I was a fool too, a much bigger one for that matter. Not only I taught some of my best arts for free, I gave money to needy students. Yet these students, including some whose lives I actually saved, later betrayed me for some petty self interest.

But it is not without benefit to be fools. We learn from our foolishness, and emerge to be much wiser. This is part of the developmental task in becoming a master. Indeed, I have to thank those who betrayed me, for without their betrayal I might not have left Malaysia to teach overseas.

As you know very well, the proof that chi or internal force exists is amply found in every chi kung, Shaolin or Taijiquan course I have conducted. Almost everyone experiences chi and internal force on the very first day of any course! But there is also no need to ask sceptics to attend my courses. Even if they apply, I may or may not accept them. This is our right and privilege. You know that some people waited for longer than a year before I could find time to teach them. Let us give time instead to such deserving people.

Question 5

Do Shaolin patterns emulate animals? Are these patterns practical and comfortable for combat?

— Chris, Australia

Answer

Shaolin practitioners do not practice their patterns to emulate animals! In other words, Shaolin practitioners do not hope that they can be more ferocious than animals, or can react more quickly and instinctively than animals do. They also do not want to fight like animals, or better than animals — although some martial artists actually demonstrate this wish, consciously or unconsciously, in their attitude and performance!

The major goals of practicing Shaolin Kungfu may be classified into three broad levels. At the basic level the goal is to be able to defend oneself, and he does so as a human, and not as an animal. If someone hits him, for example, a Shaolin practitioner would not instinctively hit back or run away, as animals do, but assess the situation in a split second and give the best response according to his training and judgement as a trained, intelligent human.

At the next level, a Shaolin practitioner practices kungfu for good health, vitality and longevity. I do not believe animals do that, so there is nothing for him to emulate. At the highest level, he practices kungfu for spiritual cultivation. According to Buddhist and also Taoist beliefs, some animals also cultivate spiritually, and may attain very high levels. Here, it is animals that emulate humans, rather than the other way round.

The most famous example in Chinese culture is the Monkey God, Sun Wu Kong (pronounced like “Soon Wu Khoong”:), who protected the great Buddhist monk Xuan Zang to journey to the West (i.e. India) to bring back Buddhist sutras to China during the Tang Dynasty. Eventually both Xuan Zang and the Monkey God were enlightened and became Buddhas. The Monkey God is worshipped by many Chinese today.

Nevertheless, there are many patterns in, as well as many styles of Shaolin Kungfu that are named after animals. The most famous animals used to name Shaolin patterns are the dragon, the snake, the tiger, the leopard, and the crane. The most famous Shaolin styles named after animals are Eagle-Claw Kungfu, Praying Mantis Kungfu, Monkey Style Kungfu, Black Tiger Kungfu, and White Crane Kungfu.

Why are Shaolin patterns and styles named after animals? There are two explanations, and both are valid.

Shaolin masters observed that certain characteristics or qualities of animals were particularly effective for combat or other aspects of kungfu training. Wang Lang, for example, found that the movements of praying mantis and footwork of monkeys were very effective, so he incorporated them into his Shaolin Kungfu, which later came to be called Shaolin Praying Mantis Kungfu. For lack of a better term, we may call this process “from animal to pattern or style”.

Some masters found that by using certain hand forms to manifest certain force or skills, they could achieve excellent effects in combat. For example, by holding their hands in the form of claws they could use internal force to subdue opponents. The masters used the tiger to symbolize both the hand form and the force, thus calling this art the tiger-claw. This process is “from pattern or style to animal”.

Notice that in the tiger-claw, it was not a case of masters imitating tigers using their paws, as some people may imagine. The process was reversed. The pattern came first, then the masters used the term “tiger-claw” to describe it. Actually the way as well as the purpose a master uses his tiger-claw are vastly different from a tiger using his paws.

Of course, these “animal patterns” are practical and comfortable for combat. It is precisely due to their practicality and comfortablity that these “animal patters” — such as tiger-claw, leopard punch, phoenix fist and cockerel kick — were evolved and used by Shaolin masters. You could have a pattern called “elephant step” where you stamp hard on your opponent's foot, but you would not have a pattern like “elephant trunk” where you use your nose to lift your opponent's leg, like an elephant using his trunk to uproot a tree, simply because such a pattern would not be practical and comfortable.

Question 6

Do you believe real Shaolin Kungfu is more combat effective than every other style of kungfu,and if yes, why ?

Answer

Yes, I believe that real Shaolin Kungfu is more combat effective than every other style of kungfu and other martial arts. This, of course, is my opinion. Other people may have different opinions.

The following are my reasons for my opinion.

Most other styles of kungfu and other martial arts operate only at the level of techniques. Real Shaolin Kungfu goes beyond techniques; it talks about tactics and strategies, which other martial artists may not even be aware of. For example, when an opponent executes a kick, most martial artists would consider what techniques to use to counter the kick. This is technical consideration.

Besides considering what techniques to use, a real Shaolin exponent would also consider why he uses them. For example, he would consider why striking the kicking leg is preferred in one situation, but letting the leg go without striking it is preferred in another situation. This is tactical consideration.

Besides the what and why, a real Shaolin exponent also considers the when and how. For example, he would consider whether he should strike the opponent's leg each time he kicks, or he should tempt him to kick a few times, then strike him when the opponent least expects it. He would also consider how he could manoeuvre his opponent so that, without him realizing it, the opponent would fight according to a general plan he had tricked him into. This is strategic consideration.

Even at the level of techniques alone, a real Shaolin exponent has such a wide range of techniques to choose from. While other martial artists have only one or two ways to strike an opponent's leg, a Shaolin exponent has a dozen. While the others use only one or two stances, or no stances at all, to implement his techniques, a Shaolin exponent chooses the best stance for the purpose from a range of half a dozen.

More significant than techniques is force. While most martial artists use muscular strength, depend on size, and are limited by age, a real Shaolin exponent uses internal force, and is not limited by size and age. While many martial artists become short of breath and dazed after sparring for ten minutes, a real Shaolin exponent can spar for an hour or more, yet is still energetic and mentally fresh.

Shaolin Kungfu has a rich and extensive philosophy. Techniques, tactics and strategies as well as training and application of energy and mind are recorded often in poetry. By tapping into this rich source, present Shaolin exponents can benefit from the accumulated wisdom of past masters over many centuries for combat as well as non-combat purposes. Many other martial artists do not have such facilities.

Question 7

Could you please tell me while performing “Lifting the Sky. while pushing my hands up, should my knees remain slightly bent or should they straighten?

— Peter, England

Answer

Your knees can be slightly bent, or you can straighten them. Either way is correct. Straightening your legs is better, but you must do so gently. If you tense your legs or lock your knees while straightening them, it is incorrect, and may be harmful.

You need not be over concerned with your form as long as it is within reasonable limits. The given instruction is that you should stand upright and be relaxed. If you bend your knees (too much), or tense your body, then you are not following instructions.

But how far are you allowed to bend your knees so that you do not lock them and be tensed? Can you bend your knees by 5 degrees, or 10 degrees? How do you know you are not locking your knees? Don't worry about such questions or their answer. Just stand upright and be relaxed as best as you comfortably can.

Taijiquan Sparring

Sean and Heather using Taijiquan in free sparring

Question 8

I recently bought your book entitled "Shaolin, Taijiquan, etc”. I am currently taking classes in karate: I believe what is taught in you book could also be applied for karate to enhance power on overall basis. Please comment.

Answer

The book is entitled “The Shaolin Arts”, which I believe may not be appropriate. A better title would be “The Master Answers”, as it contains a selection of questions and answers from my webpages over a few years. I hope that we can change the title when the book goes to reprints.

Yes, many of the questions and answers given in the book are very helpful to practitioners of karate and other arts. Besides on enhancing power, there is also a lot of information on many other topics, like what you should do if you suspect you have hurt yourself in wrong practice, how you can derive the best benefits from your training, and why your training is relevant to our law-abiding society today.

Question 9

I am interested to learn Chinese kungfu, chi kung and Taijiquan. However, I noticed that all the masters' addresses stated in your book are in Kedah. Would you happen to know of any masters in my location — Setiawan, Perak?

Answer

There are also masters' addresses in Penang and Perak, as well as in many countries all over the world. Master Yong Peng Wah is in Taiping, Perak, which is near Setiawan.

It is not enough to be merely interested. If you wish to learn from a master to get the best benefits, you have to make some effort to go to him.

Question 10

I was born with asthma and was a weak child. However, for the last ten years I have been fighting back this problem by exercising extensively, i.e. bodybuilding, running, swimming and now martial art. I believe my latest discovery in martial art is the best exercise that I should have taken long way back.

Answer

You have mistaken ideas about health, exercising extensively and martial art. Like most people, especially those who are western educated, you think you can have good health by exercising extensively, or intensively. This is confusing cause and effect. Good health is the cause of exercising extensively, not its effect. In other words, you should have good health first, then you may exercise extensively, but not the other way round.

If your health is poor, such as suffering from asthma and being weak, exercising extensively will further weaken you. Bodybuilding and running are vigorous exercise; they may overburden your vital organs like your heart, lungs and kidneys.

The basic purpose of practicing a martial art is for self defence, and you should think of self defence after you have good health. Many people mistakenly think that practicing a martial art will promote health. This is true of great martial arts like Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan, but untrue for most other martial arts, especially aggressive ones like karate, taekwondo and kickboxing. These aggressive martial arts actually are detrimental to health, both physically and emotionally. Many black belts endure bodily pain and internal injury for years, and some are tensed and stressful.

Question 11

Even though I could now manage or control my asthma better I still feel weak ortired most of the time. I believe chi kung could help. However, I am a Christian and believe one should develop mind, body and soul to be a better person, whereas chi kung and meditation seem to divert more into Buddhism. Do you think I could still learn and practice chi kung and meditation and benefit from them without mixing both religions?

Answer

If you have asthma and feel weak most of the time, the right thing to do is to overcome your health problems by practicing genuine chi kung, and not to fight back with vigorous exercise like bodybuilding, running and karate.

Chi kung is spiritual, but non-religious. This means when you practice chi kung, especially high level chi kung, you cultivate your spirit, irrespective of whether you are a Christian, a Buddhist, a follower of any other religion, or who claims to profess no religion. People in different cultures may call the spirit, the soul or the mind.

Yes, you should practice chi kung, which includes meditation, and benefit from it without interfering with your religious beliefs. In fact you will become a better Christian. Amongst many benefits, you may experience a connection with God.

I would recommend you to attend my Intensive Chi Kung Course. Your hometown, Setiawan, is very close to Sungai Petani, where my chi kung courses are held. Compared to other people who come to my courses from all over the world, you are just a hop away. The fee, US$1000, is much cheaper than what you have paid for ten years of extensive exercise. Check up the dates for my next course at http://shaolin.org and apply to my secretary.

LINKS

Overview of the Questions-Answers Series

Courses and Classes