September 2004 (Part 2)

SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Emanuel

Master Mariner Emanuel Kissey delivering a speech at the graduation dinner of the Intensive Chin Kung Course in Sabah in June 2002

Question 1

In our crisis ridden world, currently mired in religious differences, racial differences, cultural differences, to name a few, it struck me (realization) during the recent Sabah Intensive Chi Kung Course, with participants from all over the world and from all walks of life, at how unique the Shaolin Wahnam Family is. As it knows no boundaries it trancends all these differences without qualification and makes us a truly universal family. Our bond is pure undifferentiated cosmic energy.

Our humble “Thank you” to Sifu for having “raised” this family.

May the world be at peace.

— Emanuel, Malaysia

Answer

Looking into my mail-box after having just returned from Africa and Europe where I had some rewarding chi kung courses, the first post I came across was your heart-warming e-mail.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful realization. It confirms for us that we do not just practice chi kung, but are dedicated to a great art that enriches our lives and the lives of other people irrespective of religion, race and culture.

Like the Intensive Chi Kung Course in Sabah that preceded it, the Intensive Chi Kung Course in Cape Town also transcends religious, racial and cultural differences — an inspiring fact that is perhaps more significant at a place where these differences caused much tension not too long ago.

Regarding the Intensive Chi Kung Course in Sabah, you may be pleased to know that Zhang Wuji reported the following in our Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum ”Till today (27th July 20040, I am thinking of the wonderful place and the course. That was an experience that set a benchmark for the rest of my life.”

He added, “I went to Sabah with some apprehension but at the same time with much excitement, and came away with exuberance and serenity. I have been telling my family and friends about the K family. I really really enjoyed their fellowship, and they were a major reason why I felt sad when the course ended.”

Regarding the Intensive Chi Kung Course in Cape Town, Kevin said the following in Feeling Free in the Sunshine .

"I have never felt so free ... so liberated from my fears and worries. I was just beaming with happiness and peace.

It was such a special moment for me. I could not believe that for most of my life, I have felt sad and depressed and worried and tensed . What a fool I have been! Oh well. I have the rest of my life ahead of me."

Question 2

I have just joined a Shaolin Temple at my place. But it seems to me that it doesn't teach authentic kung fu. I seem to be learning many fancy forms and I haven't seen any one actually know how to use it in application. Every day I think it is more and more like wushu. It is very sad that not even the Shaolin Temple itself teaches authentic kung fu. Preserving such an art is something I truly want to do. Perhaps I am young and naïve, but is there any thing I can do to preserve these ancient arts?

— Peter, USA

Answer

Yes, it is indeed sad that even the Shaolin Temple not only in your country but also in many other countries as well as in modern China itself, is teaching modernized wushu instead of traditional Shaolin Kungfu.

It is sadder still when the modern Shaolin monks as well as the general public do not know that it is wushu. They think it is traditional Shaolin Kungfu. The saddest of all is when these modern Shaolin monks teach Kickboxing in their sparring, proclaiming that traditional Shaolin forms cannot be used in combat!

Genuine traditional Shaolin Kungfu (“Shao Lin Zheng Zhong” in Mandarin, or “Siu Lam Cheng Choong” in Cantonese) is rare today. What is genuine traditional Shaolin Kungfu? Besides having typical Shaolin forms, it must at the most basic level be combat efficient, at the intermediate level contribute to radiant health, and at the highest level lead to spiritual fulfillment.

Even at its lowest level, genuine traditional Shaolin Kungfu is rare. There are many schools teaching genuine Shaolin kungfu forms, but they cannot use these Shaolin forms for combat; they use Karate, Taekwondo or Kickboxing.

I am very glad that you wish to do something to preserve the Shaolin arts (of kungfu, chi kung and Zen). Many young people as well as those not so young in age but still young at heart are doing that in Shaolin Wahnam.

In fact we have just completed a kungfu training course in Frankfurt, Germany (July 2004), besides some Shaolin chi kung courses. I am very happy with the result of the course, which was conducted by Grandmaster Kai Uwe Jettkandt, one of our best Shaolin instructors.

In the course, not only could our students, who have about a year or two years of training in Shaolin Wahnam, use typical Shaolin Kungfu to defend themselves effectively against opponents using Western Boxing, Muai Thai, and other martial arts, they were not tired after continuously sparring for three hours, and were cheerful and relaxed throughout.

There was not a single instance of anger or aggression that so commonly occurs in free sparring elsewhere. To us in Shaolin Wahnam, this physical and spiritual wellbeing throughout hours of free sparring is more desirable than being combat efficient. This course reflected our aims of attaining combat efficiency, radiant health and spiritual fulfillment in our Shaolin Kungfu training.

If you share our philosophy and believe in our claims, you are welcome to join our world-wide Shaolin Wahnam Family. You may join a regular Shaolin Kungfu class conducted by one of our Shaolin Wahnam instructors, or attend my regional courses in various parts of the world or my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in Malaysia.

There are, however, no regular Shaolin Wahnam kungfu classes in New York at present, but you may join one in nearby Toronto or Kitchener in Canada. Please see http://www.shaolinwahnam.ca/ for details. The most important is not just to practice Shaolin Kungfu, but to practice the Shaolin ideals in our daily life, guided by our The Ten Shaolin Laws .

Question 3

I am a fencer (the modern Olympic sport, not sword-fighting), and it demands a great deal of coordination. The feet, hands and mind must often perform complex but separate actions independent of each other. Are there any specific chi kung exercises which might be useful in developing this coordination, or would the same exercises prescribed for other reasons be as appropriate?

— Robert, USA

Answer

For convenience it may be helpful to approach your needs under two headings, “skills” and “techniques”.

Under “skills” you need to be relaxed and focused at the same time, to improve your flexibility, to increase your energy level, to enhance mental clarity, and to sharpen your mental and physical responses.

These skills are holistic in nature, hence any chi kung exercises will serve the purpose, though some special exercises like “Lifting the Sky”. Self-manifested chi movement, focusing at the dan tian and Standing Meditation will be particularly useful. These exercises not only improve your cooreination, but also many other important aspects of fencing.

Under “techniques”, you need special exercises whereby you can employ your holistic skills for particular fencing situations. Here is where training under a good master is crucial. For example, after studying and analyzing fencing matches, the master can discover some most commonly used techniques of your opponents. He would then devise counter-techniques for you to practice.

For example, the master may discover that your opponents tend to attack you in some preferred ways. He would then teach you how to dodge their initial attacks, and counter-attack immediately. As your opponents dodge, you move in for further attacks. All these movements are executed by energy flow induced by appropriate chi kung exercises.

modern Shaolin monk

A picture of a modern Shaolin monk, taken from a book, “Shaolin Kungfu”, demonstrating a double-headed spear

Question 4

I find that I require much more sleep than I once did. When I was younger (less than 12) I could sleep for less than four hours per night and have an abundance of energy. As I grew older, I began requiring more sleep. I assumed this was simply because my body was growing and needed more rest. However, I am now 18 and have been the same height and weight for more than two years, yet with even 10 or 12 hours of sleep I often feel sluggish and yearn for more sleep. What could be the cause of this?

Answer

Your condition is not normal. Children need more sleep than teenagers for their growth. Generally if you have 10 to 12 hours of sleep, you should not be sluggish and yearn formore sleep.

Your abnormal condition is generalized as yin-yang disharmony. There may be various factors causing this yin-yang disharmony, but the fantastic thing in chi kung is that you need not even have to know what these factors are. What you need to do is to rectify this yin-yang disharmony, and the best way is to practice genuine chi kung. Once your chi kung training has restored your harmonious chi flow, you will restore yin-yang harmony. In practical terms you will sleep less than 10 hours a day yet be more relaxed and energetic.

Question 5

Often you speak of the need for the student to be willing to train and practice everyday. While I do not have trouble doing some things (I practice fencing every day, for instance) they are often things for which I have a social support network (my fencing masters are like uncles to me, and many of my friends are fencers as well). Not only I will find no social support for chi kung or kung fu due to my region being very hostile to anything even vaguely associated with a non-Christian religion, I know I will have difficulty practicing on my own. Is there a way to improve one's own will to practice and to work diligently?

Answer

Firstly I would like to correct your two mistaken premises. Your chi kung masters can be like uncles or even fathers to you. You should call your chi kung teacher “sifu”, which literally means “teacher-father”.

Your chi kung classmates are closer than friends. In chi kung culture they are called “si-heng-tai” or “si-jie-mui”, which mean “brothers and sisters learning from the same teacher-father”. Hence, if you learn from a good traditional chi kung school, you will find a lot of social as well as moral support.

Chi kung is not “anything even vaguely associated with a non-Christian religion”. Chi kung is non-religious. On the other hand, fencing is also not even vaguely associated with the Christian religion. Like chi kung, fencing is also non-religious. Therefore, if your friends or family members have no objection to your practicing fencing, there is also no valid reason why they should object to your practicing chi kung.

If you have difficulty practicing on your own, if you value laziness more than good health, then chi kung is not for you. You could then spend hours sleeping day and night, and go through life tired and in low spirit.

There is an excellent way for you to practice chi kung rewardingly and go through life with vitality and joy. Attend my earliest available Intensive Chi Kung Course in Malaysia, and then stay back on your own for a week to see the beautiful country and to practice your newly learnt chi kung twice a day, so that when you return to your home country you are a totally new person full of life and hope.

It is even better if you do not have enough money now for this opportunity to change your life. It forces you to raise money, which will inevitably make you appreciate my Intensive Chi Kung Course more.

Question 6

I wonder what is the difference amongst these books: “The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu”, “Introduction to Shaolin Kungfu” and “The Complete Book of Shaolin”?

— Darien, Indonesia

Answer

“Introduction to Shaolin Kungfu” was my first kungfu book, written more than 20 years ago. It reveals my views of Shaolin Kungfu at a time when, as aptly described by my senior disciple Douglas, “I was still not softened by Western culture”. The Horse-Riding Stance” I show in the book, for example, is very low, and I recommend students to train in it for about an hour.

The main focus of this book is the Southern Shaolin “Dragon Tiger Set”. I explain how this set is performed, with clear diagrams showing footwork, and how its many patterns are used in combat application. In fact just a few days ago, Kai Uwe, my senior disciple who is a grandmaster himself, remarked that the combat applications were very advanced and I reveals a lot of secrets in the book.

“The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu” was written about 10 years ago, at a time when I have started teaching in the West. Many people consider this book an excellent introduction to the art, and some have commented that this book should be called “An Introduction to Shaolin Kungfu” and the earlier book “The Art of Shaolin Kungfu”, an opinion that I also agree.

This book covers all important aspects of Shaolin Kungfu, from history and philosophy to force training and combat application. It ranges from a basic level for beginners where fundamental forms and skills are explained to advanced levels where aspirants may attend cosmic awareness and spiritual fulfillment. The Shaolin “Five-Animal Set” is explained in some details in this book.

“The Complete Book of Shaolin” is my latest kungfu book to date, written at time when the focus of my teaching over the years has shifted from combat efficiency to wholesome daily living and spiritual cultivation. As the title indicates, this book gives a complete explanation of all the important Shaolin arts, not just on kungfu, but also on chi kung, Zen as well as poetry and traumatology.

The fundamental kungfu set practiced at the Southern Shaolin Temple, “Four Gates”, and its combat application are revealed in this book. The presentation, however, is not meant as a self-taught manual, but rather as a record of classical knowledge for modern informed readers. It also contains many inspiring stories of Shaolin training where important Shaolin principles are revealed.

For those who wish to learn some kungfu from a book as well as to have some sound philosophical knowledge, “The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu” is recommended. For others who wish to go deep into the intricacies of Shaolin combat application, “Introduction to Shaolin Kungfu” is useful. For both beginners as well as advanced practitioners who wish to have a reliable source reference, as well as those who wish to read for pleasure, “The Complete Book of Shaolin” would meet their needs and aspirations. Relatively speaking, the first two books are more practical whereas the third book is more philosophical.

Intensive Chi Kung Course

We share our arts to deserving students irrespective of race, culture and religion. In a recent Intensive Chi Kung Course in August in Malaysia, (from left to right) Mohammed Marafie of Kuwait (Muslim), Muhammad Hussain of Malaysia (Muslim), Tan Ngiap Joo of Singapore (presumably Buddhist or Christian, as we did not ask about his religion), Kathleen Lakey of Australia (Christian), and Finbarr O'Connor of Ireland (Christian) experienced spiritual joys during Standing Meditation.

Question 7

I have practiced martial arts for 6 years, and since the past 2 years I have developed a great interest in learning chi kung. I am also a fitness instructor. I practice exercises such as the Eight Golden Exercises, chi breathing with visualization and also I practice all the exercises from your book, “Chi Kung for Health and Vitality”, I practice about 45 minutes every day.

I was treated for panic disorder. I have overcome that but sadly still I am not able to come off the medication with anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drugs even after practicing chi kung regularly for over 8 months. Right now I am a cheerful person full of life but on medication.

— Sabih, India

Answer

It appears that you learn on your own and not from a living teacher. If you learn from a good teacher, you will get better result in shorter time. In the long run it is more economical to learn from a living teacher. If you learn from books, videos or unqualified persons, you will take a long time to receive any good results if at all. Often you may have adverse effects.

Those who have attend my Intensive Chi Kung Course in Malaysia, for example, need to practice only one chi kung exercise for 15 minutes, yet their results would be many times better than yours. Many who took anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drugs threw away their drugs about a month after the course. Some even threw away their drugs before they returned home from the course!

Question 8

Please suggest some remedies. I have conserved my essence since the past one and a half years. I want to become a healer and help people. Please, if possible, do one distance healing session for me. I really want to feel it.

Answer

My best suggestion as remedies for you is to attend my Intensive Chi Kung Course. You will be amazed at the results even during the course itself. If for some reasons you do not want to attend my course, then learn from a qualified chi kung teacher. If you cannot do that, then carry on practicing regularly on your own.

Getting the results you got in 8 months is already remarkable. You must accept the fact that the results one gets practicing on his own are surely slower and lesser than those learning properly from a qualified teacher.

If you want to become a healer and help people, first of all you must be properly trained, and this necessarily takes time and sacrifice. Thinking that one can be a healer by training on his own and fast is being naïve or irresponsible.

I transmit chi to people when it is urgent, like saving lives. Your situation, though annoying, is not urgent. If you keep on practicing your chi kung, you have a good chance of dropping your medication one day. You would, of course, accomplish that much faster if you take the effort to learn from a good master.

Question 9

I have your book, “The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan”, and enjoy it thoroughly. However, some of the hand-movements described confuse me, like when you speak of “clockwise” and “anti-clockwise” movements. For instance, when transitioning from False-Leg to Left Bow-Arrow stance I am to move my right arm in an anti-clockwise motion and my left in a clockwise motion, but all I can seem to do is simply push my arms straight out. Perhaps my forms are just incorrect, but if you have any pictures or could give me detailed instructions, I would be ever so grateful. I have tried to find someone who can teach me, but the only two I did find I either didn't have enough money to pay them, or they were too busy to teach me anything.

— Zack, USA

Answer

Many people have told me that the instructions given in my books, including “The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan”, are very clear. But no matter how clear the instructions are, if you have no prior experience in the art, it is very difficult to learn them accurately from a book.

For example in moving your hands in a clockwise or an anti-clockwise direction, you may have the direction correct, but your movement may be too slow or too fast, your arc of movement may be too small or too large, your elbows may be protruding awkwardly, your chest may be close or your shoulders raised, your muscles may be tensed, your posture may be badly off-balanced, or countless other wrong factors. It would simply be impossible to describe all these factors accurately.

You did not indicate which pattern or movement you were referring to. But if it is merely moving from a False-Leg stance to a Left Bow-Arrow stance as you mentioned, it is not necessary to move your hands.

If you wish to benefit from the wonderful benefits of genuine Tai Chi Chuan, you have to learn from a real master. Although a few masters may teach for free, most charge high fees (if compared to fees charged by mediocre instructors).

Even if a master teaches for free, he would not just drop into your door steps simply because you announce your interest or fancy to learn. You have to spend a lot of time and effort searching for him, and most important you have to persuade him to teach you.

However, there are many people teaching Tai Chi dance for free or for a nominal fee. Not only you don't have to pay them fees, some such instructors even serve you tea and cookies for being their students. But you still have to look for them.

As you are not ready to pay fees or spend some time looking for a teacher, it is likely you just want to perform some Tai Chi movements for fun. In this case, it does not matter very much whether your hands move in clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. Just move them however you like and enjoy yourself.

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