October 2004 (Part 2)

SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Intensive Chi Kung Course in Malaysia

Qigong works on all the three compenents of a person, namely “jing”, “qi” and “shen”, or the physical body, energy and spirit. Qi flow and Standing Meditation, which work on “qi” and “shen”, are present in every qigong exercise in our school, Shaolin Wahnam. Without working on “qi” or “shen”, it debases into gentle exercise. The photograph above shows participants cultivating their “qi” and “shen” during a qigong course in the Shaolin Wahnam Centre in Costa Rica.

Question 1

I am a physiotherapist, and have 10 years of qigong and Taiji training. I am studying physiology and qigong in the search for explanations to how qigong works, beside the pure energy part.

— Tomas, Sweden

Answer

An important point I have attempted to impress upon both Western scientists as well as modern qigong masters is that to derive the best benefits, qigong should be practiced and studied in its own paradigm, and not in a Western scientific paradigm. This is only logical. An art, any art, developed in its own culture, and therefore is best expressed and explained in its own cultural reference.

In practical terms it means that when we study qigong (chi kung) we use qigong terms of reference like jing, qi and shen (or body, energy and spirit) and not Western terms like muscular reaction, hormone production and blood pressure count. The setbacks of using a foreign paradigm to study qigong are obvious, though paradoxically even experts may not realize them. For example, when Western scientists and modern qigong masters research into the effect of practicing qigong on various diseases, they usually use Western parameters like temperature changes and parts per million of the viruses or bacteria in question. One serious setback of doing so is that the researchers ignore the work and explanation of centuries of qigong masters on the same topics but written in classical qigong parameters. Another serious setback is that they focus on variables which may be irrelevant in qigong.

This does not mean that Western scientists cannot work with traditional qigong masters since they use different paradigms. But if Western scientists wish to understand how qigong may help them to solve problems, they should first view qigong from the qigong perspective using qigong parameters. Then they may use their own Western parameters to test if the problems have been solved.

For example, if Western research scientists wish to find out whether practicing qigong can help patients overcome viral infection, they should not impose their Western parameters on the qigong masters, like insisting that the masters must explain what antibodies are produced to neutralize the viruses. The reason is that these Western parameters, which may be essential in the Western paradigm, are simply not relevant in the qigong paradigm!

The qigong masters are not interested in the antibodies and viruses! Their concern is to get the patients generate an harmonious energy flow, which will eventually restore yin-yang harmony. When yin-yang harmony has been restored, the Western scientists can then use Western methods and parameters to test whether the patients still have viral infection.

Similarly, if you wish to study how qigong may help a patient overcome muscular dysfunction, you should not concern yourself with such Western physiological parameters like muscle size and tendon elasticity, simply because these variables are irrelevant in qigong.

Instead you should concern yourself with qigong parameters like how his qigong training has improved his jing, qi and shen, or in Western language, how his muscles regain their normal shape, how his energy flow enable his muscles to work normally, and how well he feels as a result of these improvements. Then, if you like, you may measure his muscle size, tendon elasticity or other variables according to Western physiological paradigm.

Question 2

Do you have any good reference to the physiological effect of static stances?

Answer

Yes, I have a lot of good references, both in written records as well as in actual life experiences, but these references are not expressed in Western parameters, which are probably what you are looking for.

There are many records to show that by practicing static stances the practitioners can develop internal force which not only enhances their combat efficiency but also strengthens their internal organs and enables them to be more effective in physical work.

My students, as a result of practicing static stances, can develop internal force that enables them to break a brick with a kick, be agile in their physical movements, and spar or do normal daily work for hours without feeling fatigue. All these are physiological effects of static stances. The psychological effects are also very beneficial.

On the other hand, I also have read some reports by modern qigong masters working with Western scientists on the physiological effects of static stances expressed in Western parameters, like the favorable effects on heart beats, breathing rate and brain wave frequencies. But as I am generally more interested in studying qigong using qigong paradigm, I cannot remember the details of these reports. You may find some of these reports mentioned in the bibliography at the back of my book, “The Art of Chi Kung”.

Question 3

Shaolin Nei Jin Gong and Luo Han Gong, the qigong I am studying, utilize static stances as do some Taiji qigong exercises, and I wonder if there is a general effect to be found from western medical point of view.

Answer

The answer is yes. Although past masters described the training of and the benefits from these static stances in kungfu or qigong paradigm, we can also observe as well as objectively measure their effects from a Western medical point of view.

If we take two groups of people, one practicing static stances and the other do not, and measure their effects using standard Western medical parameters, we should find that the static stance group generally healthier and fitter both physiologically and psychologically.

If we are more specific and measure parameters like heart beats, brain wave frequencies, blood pressure, muscular tone, reaction time, stress threshold and mental stability, we should also find that the static stance group far better than the control group.

Stance training

Stance training is a very important aspect of kungfu practice. Its importance lies not only in its physiological effects but in its training of energy and spirit. Here, during an Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in Malaysia in March 2004, Sifu Wong corrected the posture of Kevin's Horse-riding Stance, while Ronie behind enjoyed his energy building up and a serene state of mind in his stance.

Question 4

Please let me know if the training dates are firmed. I will need to make reservations for flight and accommodation, as well as to reschedule a non-critical eye operation.

— Ho, Singapore

Answer

My secretary told me that you would reschedule a non-critical eye operation to attend my Intensive Taijiquan Course.

I believe that if you practice the Shaolin Eight Eye Techniques, you may improve your eye conditions sufficiently so that the operation may not be needed. These Eye Techniques have helped many people with eye problems, including myself and my children who were told by eye specialists to wear glasses but did not need to do so after practicing the exercises.

Not only the Eye Techniques are highly effective, they are also safe to be practiced on your own without a master's supervision. These wonderful Shaolin Eight Eye Techniques are as follows. All the exercises are performed while standing upright in a relaxed manner. Those too weak to stand, may sit upright.

Technique 1 — Counting Leaves.Stand a comfortable distance from a tree or plant and count its green lieaves with your eyes. Start with 50 leaves, then gradually increase the number to 300, increasing a few leaves after a few days.

Technique 2 — Rolling Stars.With the eyes open, roll both eyeballs in big circles (as big as possible) 10 times one side, and then 10 times the other side.

Technique 3 — Angry Eyes.Open both eyes as big as possible, then shut them as tightly as possible. Repeat about 10 times.

Technique 4 — Far and Near.Stare at a distant object, like a cloud or a tree on a faraway mountain, for a few seconds, then stare at a nearby object, like the tip of your nose or some grainds of sand on your feet, for a few seconds. Repeat about 10 times.

Technique 5 — Focusing One.Gently stare at a point about 5 to 10 feet in front of you with steady eyes as long as you can, which may range from a few seconds to a few minutes. At first your eyes will become tired or painful, and tears may roll down. This is part of the training or recovery process. Initially when your staring time is short, you may repeat the exercise a few times, but as your eyesight improves gradually you can stare at the point for many minutes comfortably and steadily.

Technique 6 — Nourishing Spirit.Gently close your eyes and let your chi (energy) nourish your eyes and spirit. At first you may feel your eyes itchy. This is a good sign indicating that chi is working at your eye problems. As you progress, you will find your eyes restful and your mind fresh. (Note: “Nourishing Spirit” may appear similar to but is actually different from “Standing Meditation”. But students need not worry about the differences.)

Technique 7 — Point Massage.Massage the face with both palms and then using your fingers massage energy points around the eyes, at the base of the nose, at the temples (here, use the base of the palms to massage) and behind the ears. If you do not know where the energy points are, just massage the face, round the eyes, nose and ears.

Technique 8 — Heavenly Drum.Close your ears firmly with your palms and strike the back of your head with your fingers 24 times. You should hear inside your head sounds like a resonating drum.

Practice once every morning. At first, start with Technique 1 and complete with Techniques 7 and 8. After about a week or two of daily practice, add Technique 2, then Technique 3, and so on. Then practice all the Eight Techniques in that order in one session.

Like all other chi kung exercises, these Shaolin Eight Eye Techniques are not just for those with eye problems. Those with healthy eyes will also gain much benefit from these techniques. Not only their eyesight is good (even at an elderly age), but also their spirit is fresh. The saying that the eyes are the windows of the soul is not just poetically but also factually true.

Question 5

I am looking for some advice on how to cure a simple nose cold I have which does not ever really go. I thought you would be the best person to ask for advice.

— Mark, Austria

Answer

If your running nose does not go away, it is likely to be a symptom of some deeper problem. However, as you have this symptom for some time yet you do not suffer any serious ill effects, this problem is not likely to be serious though it can be annoying.

The problem could be at your lungs or lung meridian system. Or it could be somewhere else. If there is some “chill” at your lungs, for example, you would have running nose as a result. If your lungs become “warm” again, the running nose would stop.

This is a common cause of running nose. But there may be other causes. When a doctor or therapist can find out the cause, he can treat it and help you to stop your running nose. If he cannot find out the cause, he may give your symptomatic treatment, which means your nose will stop running for some time but later will run again.

In this case, practicing chi kung has a big advantage over a doctor's or a therapist's treatment. You don't even have to know what or where the cause is! If you succeed in generating a good chi flow and continue practicing it for a reasonable period of time, your chi flow will naturally find out the problem and overcome it! This may sound like a fairy tale to many people, but it is true. In the case of running nose like yours, this “reasonable period of time” may be just a few days. But if the cause is deep-rooted, it may be a few weeks or months.

Any form of genuine chi kung will generate energy flow. After all, chi kung literally means “energy work” in Chinese. And the most fundamental work on energy is to make it flow.

There are hundreds of different types of chi kung with greatly different levels. Low level chi kung takes a long time to generate energy flow, in matter of months or years. High level chi kung generates energy flow in a short time, in matter of days or weeks. Physical exercise but mistaken by many people as chi kung will not generate energy flow no matter for how long one may practice it.

Question 6

I have practiced chi kung for a while in conjunction with my kungfu training.

Answer

I am sorry to say it, but your practice has not been effective. There are a few possible reasons as follows.

  1. What you have been practicing is not chi kung although you think it is. This, in fact, is the case with most chi kung students today! More than 80 percent of students today practice gentle, and sometimes no so gentle, exercise which they have mistaken for chi kung.
  2. You have been practicing wrongly. Even if your chi kung is genuine, if your practice is wrong, naturally you do not have the desired effects. You may have harmful side effects instead.
  3. You have been practicing insufficiently. Low level chi kung practiced expertly still takes many months to generate energy flow. If it is practiced poorly, it will take years. So, if you had practiced a low level chi kung for just a while, it would not have generated an energy flow to clear your running nose.
  4. Your type of chi kung or the way you practice it, even if it is high level genuine chi kung, is not suited to your purpose of stopping your nose running. This is especially so with martial art chi kung. For example, Iron Palm and Iron Shirt are examples of high level chi kung, but if the energy generated is solely channeled to breaking others' bones or to preventing others breaking your bones, you may still have running nose. However, if they are practiced properly — like following the kungfu tenet of “health first, combat later”, you would have stopped your nose running in a matter of days.
Sparring

Combat application is another essential aspect of kungfu training. Here during an Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course, Chee Yong of Malaysia and John of South Africa practiced sparring. Notice that they used typpical kungfu patterns and stances.

Question 7

I often visualize good cosmic energy coming in and waste cosmic energy leaving, but I feel there must be a block somewhere. I put my tongue tip to the roof of my mouth but sometimes find it difficult to feel chi flow around the top of my head. I would very much appreciate any tips on improving my practice.

Answer

Your case is common amongst those who learn from books or mis-informed instructors. Visualization is an advanced skill. If you are not in a chi kung state of mind, visualization does not produce the desired effects.

Putting the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth is only necessary in some particular types of chi kung. If you are not properly trained to do so, it is advisable to leave the tongue naturally.

If you have not generated any chi flow, naturally you will not feel it at your head or elsewhere. (If you have, you would probably have overcome your running nose already.) Even if you can generate chi flow, you need not, and should not, purposefully attempt to feel it at the top of your head. If you have not learnt appropriate controls, doing so may result in harmful side-effects. For those who train without the advantage of a master's supervision, it is generally better to feel chi flow at the hands or lower body.

The best tip I can give you (it will sound egoistic though it is given sincerely) is for you to attend my Intensive Chi Kung Course. The experience on the very first day of the course itself will answer all your questions and probably make you feel that your running nose problem is actually so petty. You will also know from direct personal experience why it has so often been said, though seldom understood by many people, that genuine chi kung will enhance your kungfu training.

But if you cannot attend my Intensive Course, then learn “Lifting the Sky” from my books and practice it regularly. Do not worry about details. Just follow my instructions as best as you comfortably can, and enjoy your practice.

Question 8

I have read your book, “The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu”, and have found it most interesting and helpful to my style of kungfu. .I look forward to hearing from you.

Answer

Instead of attending my Intensive Chi Kung Course, you can attend my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course. Three of the very first things you will learn in this course are entering into a chi kung state of mind, “Lifting the Sky” and generating an energy flow.

With these skills, all your subsequent kungfu movements become chi kung. And if you happen to be accidentally hit during sparring, which will form a major part of the course, you yourself can readily clear off the new injury by performing “Lifting the Sky” and going into a chi flow.

You will experience so much and so powerful chi flow during the course that your running nose, unless it is a symptom of some deep-rooted problem, will probably be overcome without your being consciously aware of it even before you return home. And this is just an incidental bonus of the course. Is this true? The best test is direct experience.

LINKS

Overview of the Questions-Answers Series

Selected Reading

Courses and Classes