November 2006 (Part 3)

SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

sparring

Combat efficiency is an essential aspect of high-level kungfu. Here Sifu Simon and Sifu Tim, both from Shaolin Wahnam England, practice sparring during an Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in Malaysia

Question 1

I really want to learn the beautiful art of Shaolin Kung Fu. Please, I ask help because I can't give up my dream.

— Ernando, Brazil

Answer

It is a beautiful and beneficial dream to learn and practice Shaolin Kungfu. To make your dream worthwhile and fruitful, it is necessary to know the following two points, which are not often appreciated by many people, including those who have practiced Shaolin Kungfu for many years.

Due to its long history, there are many versions of Shaolin Kungfu today. These many versions may be generalized into the following four categories:

  1. High level Shaolin Kungfu. This was the Shaolin Kungfu practiced by the top monks in the Shaolin Temple in China in the past. It is very combat effective, uses internal force, contributes to excellent health, and is a process of spiritual cultivation.
  2. Middle level Shaolin Kungfu. It is combat effective and contributes to good health. There is emphasis in force training, but much of it is external, like hitting sandbags and striking wooden poles. Its foucs is on combat rather than spiritual cultivation. Its training contributes to good health, but if the force training is incorrect or excessive it becomes detrimental to health.
  3. Low Level Shaolin Kungfu. Its practitioners practice genuine Shaolin kungfu forms but they do not know how to use Shaolin forms for combat, and has no spiritual cultivation. They borrow techniques of othe martial arts, like Karate and Kick-Boxing, for their force training and sparring. Their training may be detrimental to their health.
  4. Flowery Fists and Embroidery Kicks. Its practitioners have beautiful Shaolin Kungfu forms but have no force and are ineffective in combat. Their practice contributes to good health.

The classification is for convenience and there is often overlapping. If we accept kungfu as a martial art, it is even debatable whether the third and the fourth categories can be called kungfu, although practitioners of the third category can fight but they use techniques of other martial arts for their fighting and not those of kungfu.

Most of the Shaolin Kungfu practiced today belong to the thrid and the fourth categories. Kungfu of the second category is uncommon, and that of the first is rare.

It is important to realize this first point, otherwise you may spend many years practicing Shaolin Kungfu, and may even attain a high level in it, yet derive little benefits from your practice. This is because you may attain a high level of a low level art, which is quite common among many kungfu practitioners today.

The second important point is to appreciate the difference between learning and practicing. Learning involves knowing more and more material, often in theory. Practicing involves going over and over again material that you know, usually in action.

Even if you have a rare chance to learn high level Shaolin Kungfu but if you do not practice it regularly and sufficiently, you many not have many benefits. You may know kungfu history and philosophy in theory, but you may not be able to defend yourself, have good health, vitality and longevity, and experience peace and spiritual joy.

Question 2

But there are no academies in my city. Unfortunately, the only way for me is to learn alone, so if there is some material or intensive course to sell I want to buy it.

Answer

In a way you may be lucky that there are no Shaolin Kungfu academies at your place. Most of the Shaolin academies today teach low level Shaolin Kungfu or flowery fists and embroidery kicks.

Understandably many people will be unhappy or angry at my above statement, and think that we in Shaolin Wahnam are boastful and arrogant, but the statement is made in sincerity and good faith to help you and other people who may appreciate good advice, including those practicing and teaching low level Shaolin Kungfu and flowery fists and embroidery kicks now.

If you learn from such an academy you will waste a lot of time, and may even harm yourself physically and psychologically. You waste time because you will not derive those benefits practicing genuine Shaolin Kungfu will give, such as good health, vitality, longevity, combat efficiency and spiritual development. You may harm yourself because you may sustain a lot of internal injuries and become aggressive due to your inappropriate training where tensing yourself and hitting one another in sparring are common.

If you are just beginning your kungfu career, understanding the points mentioned above will enable you to choose a good school that teaches high level Shaolin Kungfu or at least middle level Shaolin Kungfu. Of course it is not easy to find such schools, but at lease you will be able to differentiate them from bad ones.

If you have been practicing low level Shaolin Kungfu or flowery fists and embroidery kicks, understanding the above points will enable you to change your lower level art to a middle level or even a high level one. You would have to stop those practices that bring you harm, like tensing your muscles in your solo training and hitting one another in your sparring, and substitute them with beneficial practices, like performing your kungfu movements in a relaxing manner and developing control in your sparring. You would also have to change your Karate, Kick-Boxing or other non-kungfu techniques to kungfu techniques in your sparring.

No one says that this change is going to be easy. In the first place, it is not easy to find a school or a master who may teach you high level or even middle level Shaolin Kungfu. But if you wish to get the benefits of Shaolin Kungfu training and are willing to put in the effort, you will at least know an effective approach to do so,

It is illuminating to note that not many people are willing to do so, though they long for the benefits. There are various reasons. Some don't believe what I have said is true. Others don't have the determination and perseverance. Still others have practiced or taught low level Shaolin Kungfu or flowery fists and embroidery kicks for such a long time, even being acknowledged as masters by the uninformed public, that making such a change may not be suitable for their ego or other interests. The needed information is given, the choice of course is theirs.

In your case, you can learn from my Shaolin books, such as “Introduction to Shaolin Kungfu”, “The Art of Shaolin Kungfu” and “The Complete Book of Shaolin”. You can buy these books on line. You can also learn a lot from my website at http://shaolin.org and from other Shaolin Wahnam websites. You can get their links from my website.

When you can perform Shaolin Kungfu forms fairly well, you can apply to attend my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course. Please see for details. You can also get much help from Sifu Rama Lamberti, our Chief Instructor for Latin America. His e-mail address is robertolamberti@libero.it .

Sifu Wong

Another essential aspect of high-level Shaolin Kungfu is contributing to good health, which can be attained from internal force developed from the training. Although Sifu Wong is over 60 years old, he still can perform Shaolin Kungfu on the snow-capped Mount Cotopaxi in South America which is about 6000 meters above sea level because of his internal force.

Question 3

I am determined to take the Chi Kung class from Sifu Wong some day. I would like to betaking it right now but the difficulty and expense of traveling are both major problems for me.

— Michael, USA

Answer

You may turn out to be one of many participants who say that taking my Intensive Chi Kung Course is one of the best things they had ever done in their life. My chi kung course has helped many people live a healthier and happier life.

Compared to what most teachers anywhere in the world charge, my fee is extorbitant. Most chi kung teachers charge about $50 per month; I charge $1000 for three days. But compared to the benefits they get, many of my students say they would be glad to pay many times the amount I charge.

Traveling half the world to learn from someone whom you have never met but only heard about from books, the internet or friends, requires a lot of faith. Even though you know you need not have to pay the fee if you are dissatisfied with the course, the cost, time and hazard of traveling is still daunting. Hence, I sincerely ask those who wish to learn from me to consider carefully before applying.

It is also revealing to note that some of my best disciples, who have become excellent instructors, borrowed money to attend my courses. Their trust in what I can teach them led them to their dedicated practice, which in turn brought them fantastic benefits.

Question 4

I practice chi kung on occasions and I've noticed that I can generate energy from my palms. When I put my palms together after doing the exercises in the ”Complete Book of Shaolin”, I can feel force from my palms repel each other when my hands are an inch ortwo apart. The effect lasts for several minutes. I wondered once if someone implanted magnets in my hands!

Answer

Congratulations for your successful practice. Although what you felt was just some novel symptoms that you had been practicing correctly, they are nothing compared to the real benefits of daily chi kung practice like good health, vitality and spiritual joy, yours was a remarkable attainment. Indeed some chi kung practitioners mistakenly regard this as an advanced result, possible only to those who have practiced for many years. Incidentally this shows how much chi kung has been debased.

Participants to my Intensive Chi Kung Course can have this result on the very first day of the course, though actually many of them may not realize that they have this result. This is because we pay little attention to this result, remarkable though it may be. We pay more attention to chi flow and bulding a ball of energy at the dan tian (energy field), as these bring good health, vitaliy and longevity. But if the participants place their palms together like what you did, they would be able to feel chi repelling their palms.

Question 5

What other exercises can I use to feel energy flow in a different way? I have not felt much that is unusual or different except for energy in my palms.

Answer

There are many, many other exercises that can enable you to feel chi in different ways. For example, if you practice Self-Manifested Chi Movement, you may find yourself jumping like a monkey, roaring like a tiger, or wriggling like a snake. If you practice “Carrying the Moon”, you may feel an internal shower going from your head down your whole body to your feet. If you practice Dan Tian Breathing, you may find yourself pulsating with the Cosmos.

On the other hand, if you have the appropriate skills (which one will learn at my Intensive Chi Kung Course), you can do any or other of the different ways energy may flow, by performing any one exercise or even without performing any exercise!

Nevertheless, the aims of chi kung training is not just to feel how energy may flow in different, and sometimes interesting or comic, ways. The fundamental aims are to have good health, vitality and longevity. Advanced aims are to develop mental freshness and clarity, and to expand the spirit. If you have these interesting ways of energy flow but are still weak and sickly, you would have wasted your time. You may not have experienced any of these novel feelings but you are healthy, have vitality to enjoy your work and play, and live to a ripe old age, then your chi kung practice has been very rewarding.

Question 6

I try very hard to uphold the Shaolin laws; some are easy to follow, others difficult).

Answer

The Ten Shaolin Laws are excellent in helping us in our spiritual development. We follow them not because we fear punishment or prosecution (and there are none), but because we know it is for our own benefits.

Initially one may have to remind himself of the Ten Shaolin Laws, but gradually he may become so accustomed to living by these laws that he practice them effortlessly.

The ten laws are of the highest moral values, and transcend race, culture and religion. They are simple to practice, but this does not necessarily mean easy, and bring profound benefits.

spiritual joy

A third essential aspect of high-level kungfu is spiritual development. This photograph shows Sifu Anthony Spinicchia of Shaolin Wahnam USA enjoying spiritual joy during Standing Mediation after a training session.

Question 7

The Western culture considers chi kung and energy manifestation to be an occult practice.

Answer

It is untrue that Western culture consider chi kung and energy manifestation as occult, if by “occult” it is meant to be evil or involving lower spirits. The culture of a great majority of our Shaolin Wahnam Family is typically Western, and they consider chi kung to have brought immense benefits to their lives.

Chi kung, or the art of energy, has been practiced by peoples of different races and cultures since ancient times, though these people might not call it “chi kung”. Because of differences in history, culture and other factors, the philosophy and actual practice as well as the connotations associated with it may be different, but the fact remains that people of different cultures, including Western, have studied, practiced and benefited from energy work and manifestation.

Chi kung, or the art of energy, was practiced ny the elite of Western societies in the past, and they were much respected by the common people. Solon and Plato were two examples of energy masters amongst the ancient Greeks. Great persons of modern times, like Einstein and Neil Borh, studied energy and its manifestation too, though we would not normally call them energy masters, and their work has brought great benefits to us.

Question 8

Do you know if this practice is discouraged by the Roman Catholic Church or anyother organized religions?

Answer

I do not know enough about the Roman Catholic Church to make an informed opinion on their views regarding chi kung or any arts of energy. But it is a fact that Catholic priests have supported our practice, like allowing us to use their monasteries for chi kung training, some practice our Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung and have benefited much from it, and many of our Shaolin Wahnam members are devoted Catholics.

I believe that Jesus Christ was a great grandmaster of energy work and manifestation. He healed the sick by touch, walked over water and performed many other miracles. We normally do not call what Jesus practiced as chi kung, but what he did corresponded to what the greatest of chi kung masters did.

As far as I know, no known organized religions discouraged chi kung. On the contrary, great masters of all known religions practiced arts that we in Shaolin Wahnam would call chi kung, though other people may disagree. Taoist, Buddhist and Yoga masters practiced arts of energy in their cultivation to attain the highest spiritual attainment. Christian and Muslim masters practiced contemplation and introspection, which involves the training of energy and mind, in their cultivation to return to God.

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