June 2004 (Part 2)

SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Hua Yuan Jia

The great master of Mizhongyi, or Kungfu of Deceptive Moves, Hua Yuan Jia (“Fok Yun Kap” in Cantonese pronumciation), who was also known as the Yellow-Face Tiger. To promote kungfu as well as scholarship, Hua Yuan Jia founded the Ching Woo Athletic Association, but sadly his followers could not live up to his high noble aims.

Question 1

Thank you for your generosity in sharing many of the secrets of traditional kungfu via your websites and books (I bought all of them). I am especially grateful for your detailed exposition of the principles and training methodology for practising Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan as martial arts, especially the importance of zhan zhuang as the primary means of developing internal force. It is heartwarming to know that not all the traditional Chinese martial arts are in danger of extinction.

— Leong, Australia

Answer

Thank you for your kind words. One main reason why I wrote my books, answer questions on my website, travel around the world to teach chi kung, Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan (I'm now, March 2004, in Peru), and miss my family for more than six months a year, is my real concern that these traditional Chinese arts may be lost to the world within two generations. This will be a great tragedy as these arts bring wonderful benefits.

The possibility of these arts disappearing from the earth is real. Today, world known Shaolin masters whom the world look up to as authority, teach Boxing and Kickboxing for combat, and world known Taijiquan masters publicly declare that there is no such a thing as internal force, and they advocate fighting like animals. One can easily confirm these facts by surfing the internet.

The great majority of the leaders as well as ordinary members of national and international organizations of these arts practice them as external exercises devoid of their essence. When governmental bodies or the interested public wish to have information of these arts, they will understandably approach these organizations for advice and direction.

Right now I have an example of such a situation. One of my Taijiquan disciples, Attilio from Italy, joins me here in Peru to visit Machu Picchu (one of the seven wonders of the world) as well as to further his Taijiquan training. He just told me that a doctor in Italy was teaching Taijiquan to patients as an official treatment programme encouraged and paid by his hospital. This is welcoming news. An authorized medical establishment is exploiting the possibilities of using Taijiquan as a means to overcome so-called incurable diseases.

But what he teaches is external Taiji dance, and even this, according to reports Attilio has received, is not done well. Attilio told me that he had meet many of such patients (Attilio is a well known figure in his community) but not a single person was satisfied with the doctor's teaching.

This doctor recently gave a public seminar to promote Taijiquan. When members of the audience asked him about other schools of Taijiquan, his response was that he learned from a professor in a prestigious university in China where Taijiquan was part of the university curriculum, and that his Taijiquan was the standard, and he advised the audience to be careful with teachers who charge fees for their teaching. (The irony is that although his teaching in the hospital is free, he also charges fees for his teaching elsewhere.) It is easy for the audience to accept his views as authoritative.

Attilio invited this doctor and Taijiquan teacher to my seminars in Italy, but he declined. Attilio's opinion is that he is afraid to find out what he is teaching is a far cry from genuine traditional Taijiquan (as practiced by past masters and explained in Taijiquan classics), as this may upset his connection with the prestigious university in China and the confidence the hospital has established in him. What many people do not realize is that Taijiquan is officially promoted in modern China as a sport, and not as an internal martial art. It is one of the seven categories in modernized wushu.

Gu Ru Zhang

The great Northern Shaolin master, Gu Ru Zhang (“Ku Yu Cheong” in Cantonese pronunciation), famous for his Iron Palm. A Russian martial artist brought a wild horse into China and insulted the Chinese, saying that they were not even fit to fight a horse. Gu Ru Zhang gave an apparently gentle tap on the horse, which collapsed and died on the spot, without leaving any external marks.

Question 2

Prior to my arrival in Australia, I learned the movements of “Lian Bu Chuan”,”Six-Road Tan Tui”, Xingyiquan and another style of Baguazhang in Singapore but have little idea of their princples and applications as martial arts.

Answer

You may have learnt these kungfu sets from the Ching Woo Athletic Association or from a teacher connected with it. The Ching Woo Athletic Association founded by the great kungfu master, Hoa Yuan Jia, in Shanghai, China during the early years of the Chinese Republics, started with noble aims of providing training in martial arts as well as traditional culture.

In the past, kungfu masters were conservative in their philosophy. They would not train, nor allow their students to train in any other arts besides their own. Hoa Yuan Jia attempted to change this philosophy. Although his own kungfu style was Mizhongyi, or the Art of Deceptive Moves, he encouraged other kungfu styles to be taught in his Association. From Shanghai, Ching Woo spread to other places, especially South East Asia.

The popular kungfu styles in the various branches of Ching Woo were Northern Shaolin, Eagle Claw, Praying Mantis, Taijiquan and Xingyiquan. Baguazhang was popular in the Singapore branch of Ching Woo, but not in other branches.

Unfortunately, subsequent leaders of Ching Woo could not sustain the noble aims of its founder. Gradually, training in Ching Woo was focused on set practice, with little or no training in internal force and combat application.

In my opinion, this was inevitable due to two main reasons. One, Ching Woo was an association, run by an executive committee elected by its members. Many, if not most, of its members and elected leaders were not martial artists but ordinary people and rich businessmen who were generous to contribute to the maintenance of the association. Two, as there were many styles there were too many kungfu sets in the Ching Woo curriculum, leaving the students little time to focus on internal force and combat application. Besides, the general trend in kungfu learning at this time was learning forms.

Irrespective of what styles Ching Woo exponents may wish to specialize later on, the fundamental kungfu set which every Ching Woo member must first learn is Tan Tui (pronounced like Th'an Th'ui), or Spring-Kick Kungfu. There are twelve sequences of Tan Tui, or Twelve-Road Tan Tui, incorporating twelve combat sequences of Northern Shaolin kicking attacks.

These twelve fundamental sequences of kicks of Tan Tui, or Spring-Kick Kungfu are

  1. Thrust Punch, which involves a “nail-kick”.
  2. Kick-Strike, which involves a snap kick.
  3. Chop-Tie, which involves a low kick to the shin.
  4. Palm-Trim, which involves a “stamp-kick”.
  5. Side-Punch, which involves a “shadow-kick”.
  6. Single Stretch, which involves a combined punch-cum-kick.
  7. Double Stretch, which also involves a combined punch-cum-kick.
  8. Retreat-Sit, which involves thrust kicks.
  9. Hard-Lock, which invloves a “step-kick”.
  10. Arrow-Spring, which involves jumping kicks.
  11. Top-Middle-Bottom, which involves inward and outward sweeps.
  12. Side-Sweep, which involves double kicks.

In my oppinion, the kicking attacks of other martial systems like Taekwondo and Kickboxing are shallow by comparision. Unfortunately, most people who practice these sequences today do not know their combat applications, and merely perform the sequences for demonstration. Even if they know the martial functions theoretically, they lack the comnbat skills to apply them effectively. Indeed, if someone can apply just these twelve sequences well, he can become a formidable fighter.

If I am not mistaken, “Lian Bu Chuan” or “Continuous-Step Kungfu” is a legacy from the great Northern Shaolin master, Gu Ru Zhiang, famous for his Iron Palm. Issued from “Lian Bu Chuan” are “Da Zhan”, “Tuo Zhan” and “Wu Zhan”. “Da Zhan” or “Big Battle” is a sparring set where techniques from “Lian Bu Chuan” are applied in combat. “Tua Zhan” or “Escapes from Battle” teaches gripping techniques in holds and locks and their counters. “Wu Zhan” or “Battle against Five” teaches how one can fight against multiple attackers. Unfortunately, not many people know these sets nowadays, and even amongst those who know, they merely practice the sets for demonstration.

Iron Palm

This is a famous picture showing Gu Ru Zhang breaking a pile of bricks with his Iron Palm. Someone thinking that the bricks brought in by the organizers for the demonstration were faked, changed the original bricks the night before. All the same, without realizing the bricks had been changed, Gu Ru Zhang broke them with one apparently gentle slap.

Question 3

My teacher in Singapore could fight using traditional kungfu but chose to emphasize the health aspects of martial practice. Hence, I was shown only one or two applications of the various arts he taught. My recurring knee injury, schoolwork, national service and work commitments precluded regular attendance and training with my teacher. As a result, I could only manage to train sporadically for ten years.

Answer

Interestingly, Ching Woo members are fond of saying, “We practice kungfu for health, not for fighting.” From my experience, Ching Woo members, like Taiji practitioners, are nice, gentle and cultured people. Of course, they have a right to their opinion. But my philosophy is different.

Basically, we in Shaolin Wahnam believe that for any art to be called kungfu, it must be capable of combat application, and we always back our beliefs with practice. In other words, we do not merely say that kungfu is a martial art, we practice it as a martial art.

It may be pertinent to point out that we in Shaolin Wahnam are also nice, gentle and cultured people. We do not practice kungfu with the purpose of looking out for fights. Besides health, we practice kungfu for vitality, mental freshness and spiritual joy. We believe that the highest level of victory is winning without physical fighting, but if we have to fight, we will fight well, with due respect for our opponents.

Like many other people, you may not be aware that knowing the applications of kungfu techniques is vastly different from being able to apply these techniques effectively in fighting or even in friendly sparring. The crucial factor in combat is not techniques but skills.

This is a main reason why practitioners of most other martial arts — Karate, Taekwondo, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Western Boxing, Wrestling, Jujitsu, Hapkido, but probably not Judo and Aikido — typically beat kungfu practitioners in free sparring. These kungfu practitioners have more techniques and often know the application — theoretically. They do not have the skills to apply them effectively. The other practitioners have little techniques but sufficient skills.

Another point to note is your recurring knee injury. Have you heard of the kungfu tenet, “mei fong sun, sin keong sun” (in Cantonese pronunciation)? It means that in kungfu training, even before you can talk about combat, you must be healthy and fit. This is in contrast with training in the other martial arts which apparently practice “mei fong sun, sin seong sun”, which is “before they start to train for combat, they already have injured themselves”.

How do they injure themselves before they engage in free sparring? By tensing their muscles in solo practice, by grimacing their face to look and feel aggressive, and by instilling in themselves the thought of winning at all cost, preferably punishing their opponents severely with no regard for their own safety.

Thus, if you have a recurring knee injury, something is wrong in your training or your philosophy. If you practice genuine traditional kungfu, which of course is rare today, not only you should not be sick or injured, you should be radiant with health and vitality — physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Learning the combat applications of kungfu techniques is easy. If you have the opportunity, come and see me together with a friend who practices the same arts as you do. In a day I can show you all the important applications of your favorite kungfu sets, some of which you may not have dreamt to be possible. The two of you can practice them at home. I shall be glad to do so, without charges, to help you preserve the martial applications of your arts. But to acquire the combat skills to apply the techniques in free sparring or real fights is more difficult. This requires practicing systematically with a master's guidance.

Question 4

Recently, I received a shoulder injury while training with friends who accidentally used just a little too much force. Initially even letting my left arm dangle from the shoulder caused considerable pain. The funny thing was that despite the injury I decided to start daily practice of the Horse and Santi stances, wearing a sling for support, to help relax and take my mind off the pain.

Instead of forcing myself to get into a low stance and turn it into an endurance contest (like I used to do), all I was concerned about was relaxing and keeping my hips tucked under and the spine as comfortably upright as possible. As the posture gets more comfortable, I let the posture naturally lower a little.

As soon as the posture starts to get unbearable, I continue for another two or three breaths before getting up from the stance. Then I relax and think of nothing while standing upright with my feet together. Immediately, I feel more lucid and “whole” after standing practice than before, which allows me to better cope with the shoulder pain.

In three weeks, I was no longer bothered by the cold spell that Melbourne was having. I have more energy than before and my “circle walking” improved. My knee pain disappeared and climbing stairs ceased to be a source of annoyance.

I can now comfortably stand in Horse Stance for about two minutes, and about three and a half minutes in Santi each side. While this is a far cry from the one hour Horse Stance or Santi, I am grateful that standing practice is now a source of joy and energy rather than trial and pain. Thank you very much.

— Note from Sifu Wong:

Answer

What you have described is a good approach to zhan zhuang or stance training. Your description of relaxing and letting go instead of turning the stance training into an endurance contest will be helpful advice to other people. Tensing themselves to endure staying at the stance for longer periods is a very common mistake many people make, and it is harmful.

I am going to give you an advice which you may find to be most wonderful. After you have completed the stances, bring your feet together, drop your hands, think of nothing, remain still and enjoy the stillness. After some time (which refers both to after some days or weeks of training, as well as to after some seconds or minutes of remaining still), you will feel chi flowing inside your body. This is a manifestation of the principle “extreme stillness generates movement”.

Let go and enjoy the chi flow. Your body may sway slightly, and as you progress the movement may become vigorous and sometimes comical. But as you are practicing without a master's supervision, it is advisable not to let your movement become too vigorous. This can be done quite easily. As your movement becomes fast, just gently tell yourself (i.e. your chi flow and your physical movement) to slow down. You will be pleasantly surprise that you are exercising your innate ability of mind over energy and matter.

What I have just described was a secret kept by masters in the past for their selected disciples. But I am glad to share it with you and others who read this question-answer series. Because the standard of kungfu has been debased to such a ridiculous level today, many people understandably think that what past masters recorded in kungfu classics were just myths. But if you have a chance to practice genuine traditional kungfu, you will discover to your delight that all the masters have said are true.

The gentle sway is poetically known as “yew foong pai lau”, or “flowing breeze and swaying willows”. As the movement becomes more vigorous, it is known as “lau sheui harng wan”, or “flowing water and floating clouds”. The pronunciation is in Cantonese, the Chinese dialect in which I learned the skills and the terms. In the past, “flowing breeze and swaying willows” was practiced by advanced Shaolin exponents, and “flowing water and floating clouds” by advanced Taijiquan practitioners.

Your energy flow is an ingredient as well as a manifestation of internal force. It indicates you have successfully developed internal force in your stance training. The most important functions of internal force are not to withstand punches and kicks and to break somebody's bones, but to maintain life and then to enhance life. This is in accordance with the kungfu tenet that “before one talks about combat, he should first of all be healthy and fit”.

Maintaining life includes overcoming illness and pain. Hence, the energy flow you have generated from your stance training will naturally — that is, without any conscious effort on your part — flow to your injured shoulder and knee to clear the injuries. If the energy does not flow to your injured shoulder or knee (yet), it means there are other injuries or illnesses in your body which you yourself may not be aware of, but which demand more urgent attention.

It is a wonderful characteristic of chi flow that chi will flow to the most urgent spot first, then the next, and so on. It is this reason — or secret — that enables me to help many people overcome so-called incurable diseases. Conventional doctors cannot cure diseases like asthma, diabetes, chronic pain, depression and anxiety because they do not really know where exactly the problem spots are.

I, too, do not know where my students' problem spots are. But chi knows. As long as I can help my students generate their chi flow — and this I can do very effectively — and as long as the students continue their practice regularly and persistently enough for chi to reach their problem spots — unfortunately many people don't do this because, for some odd reasons, they value laziness more than their health — overcoming illness, any illness, is a matter of course, unless the illness has degenerated beyond a threshold.

As chi works on your injuries, you may feel some pain. This pain, which we call “good pain”, is different from the pain due to the injuries, which we call “bad pain”. It is difficult to describe the difference between “good pain” and “bad pain”, but you can usually tell the difference from direct experience, just as you can tell the sour taste of the orange you are eating is due to its goodness or its rottenness. When your injuries are cleared, both the “good pain” and the “bad pain” will disappear.

After ensuring that life goes on smoothly (which of course includes being pain and illness free), the internal force from your training will enhance your life. This is manifested in countless ways, including feeling wholesome and being able to cope with Melbourne's “four seasons in a day”. If you examine yourself, you will find yourself more cheerful and relaxed than before.

Thirdly, your internal force will enable you to do better anything you do. For example, you can do better in both your doctorate thesis and your martial art training. Indeed, this is a main reason why we in Shaolin Wahnam are dedicated to our training. As my disciple, Dan from England, once said, “Training an hour a day just to become a good fighter, is a poor use of time.” We train daily because it enriches our life here and now.

Tan Tui

Emiko Hsuen of Canada, who was an international wushu gold medalist before learning Shaolin Kungfu from Sifu Wong, demonstrated a jumping kick from Tan Tui.

Question 5

Despite the improvement with my knees and energy, I still have difficulty moving my arm past shoulder height without pain. I am concerned that it could hamper both my academic and martial studies.

You have recommended “Lifting the Sky” as an exercise for clearing away blockages caused by injuries. In this case, I have a little trouble raising my left arm beyond shoulder's height without considerable pain. I've seen doctors and physiotherapists and am doing some remedial exercises. Other than “Zheng Gu Shui” and lots of rest, what would you recommend I do to treat the shoulder?

Answer

Conventional doctors and physiotherapists may give you some temporary relieve, but will not be able to overcome your shoulder pain. It is because yours is an energy disorder, not a physical disorder. Conventional doctors and physiotherapists work at the physical level, energy is still not in their conceptual framework.

Literally “Zheng Gu Shui” means “Correcting-Bone-Solution”. It is a medicinal solution for external injuries. “Gu” here does not refer only to “gu”, or bones, but is a shortened form for “jin, gu, pi”, which are “tendons, bones, flesh”. “Zheng Gu Shui” may help to relieve some pain, but is insufficient to thoroughly overcome your shoulder problem.

As yours is an energy problem, the best therapeutic approach is via chi kung exercises. This is attacking your problem at its roots. “Flowing Breeze and Swaying Willows” described above is excellent for this purpose. “Lifting the Sky” is also excellent, but as you may not be able to lift your arms due to your shoulder injury, it may not be practical. A practical exercise to clear your energy problem at your shoulder is “Big Wind Mill”, which uses a thematic approach to chi flow, in contrast to the holistic approach of “Flowing Breeze and Swaying Willows”.

Before I describe the exercise, I would like to give a brief idea of the traditional Chinese medical concept of injuries.

In traditional Chinese medicine, injuries (shang) are differentiated from illness (bin). The specialized branch of Chinese medicine dealing with injuries is called “shang ke” (pronounced like “shang ker” and not “shang ki”), which I refer to in my book, “The Complete Book of Chinese Medicine”, as “traumatology” or colloquially as “kungfu medicine”.

Injuries are of two main categories, internal injuries and external injuries. Internal injuries are injuries to “jing”, “shen” and “qi”, whereas external injuries are injuries to “jin”, “gu” and “bi”.

Here, “jing” does not refer to “sperm” or “essence”. You probably would have read my explanation of “jing” as “essence” or sub-atomic particles in an earlier issue of my question-answer series. Here “jing” refers to blood and internal organs. (In deeper meaning, it also refers to the “essence” or sub-atomic particles of blood and internal organs.)

“Shen” refers to mind or spirit, and “qi” (“chi”) to energy. Damage to an internal organ, distortion of energy flow, and shattering of a person's spirit are examples of internal injuries.

“Jin”, “gu” and “pi” refer to tendons (and muscles), bones and flesh. Sprained muscles, dislocation of joints, and concussion are examples of external injuries.

The division into internal and external injuries is for convenience. A person is an integrated organism. Even a simple external injury like a bruise has internal implications, and vice visa. A traumatologist, or any Chinese physician, treats a patient as a whole person, not just his injuries or illness.

Basically your shoulder pain is due to an energy blockage caused by your sparring partners. Initially there might be some related minor external injuries like twisted muscles or bruises, but over time these minor injuries have been corrected by application of “Zheng Gu Shui” as well by your own self-curative and regenerative abilities. But the energy blockage remains, thus causing you pain.

You can overcome the problem by practicing “Big Wind Mill” twice or three times a day as follows. Stand upright and relax. Smile from your heart. Lift your injured arm forward and upward in an arc as high as you comfortably can, simultaneously breathing in gently through your nose. Then complete the circle by bringing your arm downward and backward in an arc, simultaneously breathing out loudly but in a gentle manner through your fairly opened mouth. Gently drop your arm at your side and pause for a second or two. Repeat the procedure about 20 times.

For balance, practice the same procedure for the other non-injured arm, but for only half the number of times. Start with the non-injured arm, say for ten times. Then practice for the injured arm for twenty times. At first you may only make a small circle with your injured arm as you have difficulty lifting it high. Gradually increase the height until eventually you can make a full circle without feeling any pain.

After you have performed the “Big Wind Mill” with your injured arm for about twenty times, drop the arm effortlessly on your side, stand upright and be totally relaxed. You will find your chi flowing and your body swaying. This is “Flowing Breeze and Swaying Willows”, and is a crucial part of your healing. You may feel some “good pain” as the chi clears your injury. After some time, think gently of your dan tian, keep still for a short while and complete the session by massaging your face. You can find a description of the “Big Wind Mill” in my book, “Chi Kung for Health and Vitality”.

Leong kindly wrote to Sifu Wong on 18th June as follows.“Thank you so much for your generous advice. My shoulder is almost fully recovered after doing the Big Windmill and especially ”flowing breeze andswaying willows".(Sifu Wong's advice was given to Leong in March.)

Tan Tui

David Ko, who was also an international gold medalist from Canada, demonstrated another Tan Tui pattern involving a snap kick during a Special Shaolin Kungfu Course with Sifu Wong in Toronto in April 2004.

Question 6

I recently bought your book “The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu” and I have been sitting inthe Horse Riding stance. I want very much to learn everything about Shaolin Kung Fu (the philosophy as well as the combat training) and I know that a book can't teach me everything.

However, I live in a small town in the U.S. that is far from any big citiesand I can't find a teacher who lives near me. I would like toask if you have any ideas about how I can learn mare of this art withthis certain disadvantage.

— Dane, USA

Answer

Yours is a very common question many people have asked me. The answer here, therefore, applies not just to you but also to many others.

If you have read my book carefully, you should have realized that Shaolin Kungfu is so deep and so wide that it is simply impossible for any one person, no matter how intelligent and diligent he is, to learn everything there is in Shaolin Kungfu. It is also not necessary. A more realistic wish is to become a Shaolin master.

First, you need to know what really is Shaolin Kungfu. My books as well as my webpages will give you a good idea. Especially you need to differentiate between genuine traditional Shaolin Kungfu and merely external Shaolin forms.

Today many people practice only traditional Shaolin forms or modernized wushu forms, without the ability to apply the forms for combat or they use other martial art techniques for combat. They would call it Shaolin Kungfu, but I don't.

There are different levels of Shaolin Kungfu, and different people have different means of classification. Mine is as follows.

The lowest level of genuine traditional Shaolin Kungfu is where the practitioner can effectively apply typical Shaolin forms for combat, but there is no internal force training and no spiritual cultivation. The middle level is where there is internal force training for both effective combat as well as for enhancing daily living, but no spiritual cultivation. The highest level is where all the three dimension of combat efficiency, internal force training and spiritual cultivation are present. You would also have to decide at which level you wish to accomplish.

Next, you need to ask yourself honestly how serious is your wish to become a Shaolin master. Is your wish merely a fantasy or a vision? A good way to find out is to ask yourself honestly how much and how far you are willing to sacrifice to accomplish your wish. The minimum is to learn from a real Shaolin master who is willing to teach you, and then practice daily under his supervision for at least five years. Understandably, such a real Shaolin master is rare today.

I provide a convenient alternative for those who are really serious and sincere. If you are accepted, you attend my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course, and then practice on your own daily for at least three years. But you must have some prior kungfu experience before you can apply for my consideration, or in some special cases at least some other martial art experience.

It does not even matter if your kungfu experience is that of kungfu dance or gymnastics. If you can at least perform some external kungfu forms reasonably well, and if you are deserving, you will learn internal force, combat application, and spiritual cultivation in my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course.

If you find these minimum requirements beyond your reach, with reasons or excuses that you cannot find a master or an instructor in your area, and you are unable or unwilling to travel to a master or an instructor to learn from him, or you have no money to attend my course, then your wish is most probably a fantasy rather than a vision.

Some have suggested to me that I house and feed them and teach them free of charge, and in return they help me to teach my students, when they haven't even begun genuine traditional kungfu. They are a big joke. My students are already many times more skilful than them.

If your wish is a fantasy, you can learn Shaolin kungfu forms from my books or any books or videos. It would be a better idea to learn modernized wushu than traditional kungfu. It may not be easier, but it is often more glamorous.

If your wish is a vision, your situation is only a small disadvantage. If you succeed in practicing genuine traditional kungfu later on, you will probably find that overcoming this small disadvantage is the easiest thing in your kungfu career. This means that if you find this task daunting, you probably do not have the endurance and determination to become a Shaolin master.

The solution is simple, though it may not be easy for you. Actually I have given you the answer but I shall repeat it here for you. If you cannot find a teacher who lives near you, and as learning from a teacher is necessary, find a teacher who lives far away. Finding a real master is difficult, but finding a teacher who teaches external kungfu or wushu forms is easy. Alternatively learn and practice the kungfu forms from my book. When you are quite proficient with external kungfu forms, learn personally from a real master.

Question 7

Also can you give me more information on the Horse Riding exercise, like how long and how many times I should be doing it.

Answer

The Horse-riding Stance is the most important stance for force training in Shaolin Kungfu. “Sit” at the stance as long as you comfortably can. Practice everyday, or if you are hardworking twice a day.

A very common mistake many practitioners make is to treat the stance as an endurance contest. Not only this does not bring benefit, but also causes harm. When practicing the stance, one should be totally relaxed, i.e. physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

In such a demanding position it is of course difficult to relax. But if one understands this crucial principle, he will not only avoid the very common mistake of engaging in an endurance contest, but also have some proper direction and training procedure to follow.

The most important task while practicing the Horse-Riding Stance is not to last as long as possible, but to be as relaxed as possible. Most beginners cannot last a minute at the stance if it is performed correctly. But if he practices consistently and regularly, adding even just a few seconds after a few days, gradually he will be able to “sit” for a few minutes. Gradually as he learns to relax more, he may soon find that his progress gradient will become steeper.

In other words, at first his progress is slow, but gradually it can be quite fast. And he may find “sitting” for 15 minutes not as impossible as he thought when he first started. By then he may discover some “subtle joys” while practicing the stance.

When he can sit at the Horse-Riding Stance for 5 minutes, 15 minutes or more, depending on the standard he sets as his minimum requirement, he may progress to variations of the Horse-Siding Stance, such as Lohan Carrying Water, Embracing the Buddha, or Golden Bridge.

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