April 2007 (Part 2)

SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Cloud Hands in Flowing Meditation

Grandmaster Wong in flowing meditation while perform “Cloud Hands” in Wahnam Taijiquan. More pictures showing the movements can be found here

Question 1

I have heard it said that Standing Meditation is not only equal to but even better than Sitting Meditation. Would you kindly comment/elaborate further on this point?

— Sifu Emiko, Canada

Answer

Meditation is the training of mind. There are four major poises for meditation, namely standing, sitting, lying down and moving. Each poise has its pros and cons.

In standing meditation a practitioner stands upright. Sometimes he may stands at various stances. Sitting meditation may be performed sitting on a seat or in a lotus position. In lying down meditation a practitioner lies on his back with arms at his sides, or he may lie on one side with one hand supporting his head and the other on his bent leg. In moving meditation a practitioner moves about either freely or in certain pre-arranged movements.

In our school every time we practice, irrespective of whether it is chi kung, Shaolin Kungfu or Wahnam Taijiquan, we practice meditation, because every thing we do in our practice is a training of mind and energy. We perform standing meditation at the start and at the end of our training sessions.

At the beginners' and the intermediate levels, standing meditation is better than sitting meditation. Results come much faster, and there is less risk of wrong practice. Sitting meditation in the lotus position is quite difficult for many people. Sitting meditation on a seat is easy but does not bring deep results.

Sitting meditation in a lotus position brings profound results, but they come slowly. A practitioner, therefore, needs much patience. Moreover, it is easier to make mistakes in sitting meditation than in standing meditation, and the adverse effects ae also more serious.

Sitting meditation in a lotus position is therefore for advanced practitioners, for those who wish to attain the highest spiritual fulfillment. If one is not ready for such a noble task, it is better to use standing meditation or moving meditation. It was precisely for this reason that the great Bodhidharma taught the Shaolin monks the Eighteen Lohan Hands. He found the monks not ready both physically and spiritually, hence he prepared them with exercises which later evolved into Shaolin Kungfu and Shaolin Chi Kung.

Many meditation practitioners, however, do not realize this. They start straight away with sitting meditation in a lotus position. Not only they do not attain the desired results despite having spent many years practicing diligently, worse, they derive adverse effects like dull mind and body pains.

But when one is ready physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, sitting meditation is an excellent vehicle to attain spiritual awakenings and eventually Enlightenment. Nevertheless, many of our Shaolin Wahnam members also attain profound results, including spiritual awakenings, using standing or moving meditation.

Question 2

According to this webpage, Wahnam Taijiquan Set: Floating Water Floating Clouds Part 2 , Wahnam Taijiquan derived inspiration from Chen Taijiquan. In composing Wahnam Taijiquan, what were the major sources of inspiration or classics that Sifu used? Did Sifu look at any of the modern styles of Taijiquan for ideas at all?

— Sunyata, USA

Answer

Wahnam Taijiquan evolved quite naturally. I was very interested in Taijiquan even before I learned from my second kungfu master, Sifu Chee Kim Thong. But I could not find a good Taijiquan master.

However, after having learned from my third kungfu master, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, I had some good understanding and experience of energy flow and internal force as well as combat application. I jogged to a park every morning to practice Shaolin Kungfu. There, an elderly gentleman practiced Yang Style Taijiquan every morning too. His Taijiquan performance was the most impressive I had ever seen.

One morning I approached this gentleman and politely asked whether he could teach me Taijiquan, and, if he liked, I could show him some combat application. The gentleman declined, saying that my Shaolin Kungfu was hard, and any hardness would spoil his Taijiquan.

This put me off. All at once I knew that his was only Taiji dance, beautiful to watch it might be, and he was unaware that all great kungfu, including Taijiquan, had both hard and soft aspects. As I could not find a good Taijiquan teacher, I decided to learn Taijquan by myself.

I bought whatever Taijiquan books I could. Two of these were most influential and both were in Chinese. One was “Taiji Fist, Knife, Sword and Staff” by Chen Gong, a disciple or grand disciple of Yang Deng Fu. The other was a very small volume entitled just “Taijiquan”, written by the great Yang Style master, Yang Deng Fu, himself.

This small book of only 46 pages formed the source of Wahnam Taijiquan, though most people, including many Taiji practitioners, may regard this small book as insignificant. The bulk of the book consists of explaining the forms and applications of the Yang Style 108-Pattern Set, with about 5 pages of introduction and 8 pages of conclusion.

Many people would just read over the introduction and conclusion, but I find them a treasure house for Taijiquan. It is understandable if one doubts how much 5 pages of introduction and 8 pages of conclusion can reveal. It is of great help to know that Chinese is a very concise language where just one phrase may tell what it may need a few paragraphs to explain in English — if one has the background knowledge.

Take for example the following phrases mentioned in the introduction. “Regarding internal, use intention, not strength. Down means chi sinks to dan tian, Up means void, spiritual, upright, forceful.” Even if one knows the dictionary meaning of these words, he would not understand what they actually mean if he does not have direct experience of what the phrases describe.

The introduction includes the “Ten Important Points of Taijiquan” by Yang Deng Fu. They are (1) void, spiritual, upright, forceful; (2) sink chest, raise back; (3) loose waist; (4) differentiate false and real; (5) sink shoulders, drop elbows; (6) use intention, don't use strength; (7) up-down interconnection; (8) internal-external harmony; (9) continuous without break; (10) stillness in movement.

These ten points are described in just two pages, but they form the core of Taijiquan. Because of my previous training in Shaolin Kungfu, these few pages give me an insight to profound Taijiquan secrets. Like generations of kungfu masters before him, Yang Deng Fu hid great secrets in the open.

Indeed, Yang Deng Fu gave a clear clue right in the first paragraph of his introduction. He said that Taijiquan is profound. It is unlike Western sports where an overt explanation can reveal everything. But in Taijiquan you have to go deep to get the treasure.

And this great master revealed further secrets hidden in the open in the conclusion of this tiny book. There are 5 pages with illustrations on Pushing Hands and Striking Hands, which many people without direct experience would not understand by merely reading the text and looking at the pictures.

This is followed by just three pages of “Taijiquan Philosophy”, which record the essence of great masters' teaching. They include “Wang Zong Yue's Thesis of Taijiquan”, “Insight into Training of Thirteen Techniques”, “Song of Thirteen Techniques”, and “Song of Combat”. It is incredible that some of the greatest of Taijiquan teachings are found in just these three pages.

But the uninitiated, even though he may have practiced Taiji external forms for decades, may not know what he reads. Take for an example the first lines of Wang Zhong Yue's famous thesis:

These lines are just empty words to most people, but they concisely describe the essence of Taijiquan at many levels. If you wish to understand these secrets and enjoy the wonderful benefits of Taijiquan as an internal martial art, besides diligent practice, taking part in discussions like those initiated by Sifu Joko, like Chinese New Year's Gift: Secret of Footwork and Why is Taijiquan performed slowly? is very beneficial.

Years later, when I first taught packaged courses (in contrast to regular classes) of Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung to the public, some of my students were Taiji instructors. They were amazed at the energy flow and internal force they attained from my chi kung.

They asked me to teach them some Taijiquan. I taught them “Lifting Water” to generate energy flow and develop internal force, and some combat applications of the patterns they practiced.

Although my students were very happy with the results, I only taught Taijiquan informally at first. I believe a good teacher should teach his best, and my best was Shaolin Kungfu.

Sifu Javier of Spain was the first to take a formal Intensive Taijiquan Course from me. Later Sifu Rama of the Blue Mountain successfully persuaded me to teach Taijiquan formally. I found his reasons that although my best was Shaolin Kungfu, my Taijiquan teaching was better than most Taiji teachers, and for many people Taijiquan was more suitable than Shaolin Kungfu, were reasonable and valid.

In my initial Taijiquan teaching, I used the 24-Pattern Simplified Set as a base. Although this set was invented by a council of Taijiquan masters in China as part of Wushu for sports, I found it very useful for our purpose of practicing Taijiquan as an internal martial art.

As students progressed, we have to use a more advanced set. At this time Chen Style Taijiquan, which resembles more of Shaolin Kungfu than Yang Style Taijiquan, became popular, though most Chen Style practitioners practice it for sports rather than as an internal martial art. I chose the Chen Style fundamental set, made some changes to suit our particular needs, and used it as our basic set for our advanced Taijiquan students. Hence, much of the inspiration in our Taijiquan came from Chen Style.

Soon there were much adverse criticism on our Taijiquan, accusing us of not having a proper Taijiquan lineage, although we had been very open regarding how our Taijiquan came about and we never claimed any well known Taijiquan masters to be our lineage predecessors. Sifu Javier first suggested that we used the term “Wahnam Taijiquan”, and Sifu Jeffrey of Australia formally proposed it. Zhang Wuji in our Discussion Forum rightly said that by adopting this term “Wahnam Taijiquan”, we took responsibility for our own development.

Question 3

What is the greatest gift one can ever give to a person?

— Ray, USA

Answer

It is what he (or she) urgently needs at the moment. If he is dying of thirst, it is water. If he is in severe pain, it is relief from pain. If his family is starving, it is money to buy food.

For most people in their ordinary times, it is the joy of being alive.


Flowing Water Floating Clouds Flowing Water Floating Clouds

Sifu Wong demonstarting the pattern “Double Kick” of Wahnam Taijiquan. These pictures are culled from the video clip on the Wahnam Taijiquan set, “Flowing Water Floating Clouds”, which can be accessed here.

Question 4

I would hereby ask to become a student of Shaolin Wahnam Kung Fu since I have become fascinated with this art. As I reside in Europe, I would like to ask how it is possible for someone to become a student of your school. Also, please inform me on the fees that are necessary.

— Christopher, Greece

Answer

I am glad you have chosen to learn from us. From the way you wrote, you impressed me as a sincere, respectful student — the kind of people we in Shaolin Wahnam would like to pass our arts to.

There are three main ways you can learn and benefit much from us:

  1. Learn from me personally by attending my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course. It is held a few times in Malaysia and is publicized on my webpage. The course lasts for seven days (including the arrival and departure dates) and the fee is US$1500. A similar but shorter course is also held in Frankfurt and in Toronto, and the fee is US$1000. Participants to these intensive courses need to have some prior martial art experience.

  2. Learn from me personally by attending my regional Shaolin Kungfu courses in many countries in the world at different times of the year, such as the UK Summer Camp, Spain Summer Camp and hopefully the USA Autumn Camp and the Scandinavian Winter Camp, as well as in Switzerland and Portugal. Depending on the number of courses, the fee may range from US$600 to US$1000. Information about these regional courses is publicized on my webpage as well as the webpages of the respective countries accessible at http://www.shaolin.org

  3. Learn from our certified Shaolin Wahnam instructors in regular Shaolin Kungfu classes in many countries around the world, like Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, Finland, Portugal, Canada and the United States. These classes are held throughout the year. The fee is about US$100 per month, but there may be variation due to local and other factors. Please see the List of Certified Instructors as well as the webpages of the respective countries accessible at http://www.shaolin.org for more details.

Question 5

Is it possible that someone can have you personally as a teacher or is this only for those students who are willing to relocate and reside in Malaysia?

Answer

The answer is “yes” and “no”.

If you attend my intensive courses in Malaysia or my regional courses in various parts of the world, you learn from me personally. But these courses are held over a few days only, after which you have to practice on your own, or you may join a regular class taught by a certified Shaolin Wahnam instructor. I do not conduct regular classes.

Even those who reside in Malaysia would not learn from me on a regular basis because I do not teach regular classes. But students maintain contact with me regularly by attending further courses in Malaysia or elsewhere, and through the internet, e-mails and our Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum .

Question 6

From your address list at the back of your books I have located that the closest registered representatives of your School in my area are probably two masters in England.. Is it therefore necessary that I relocate either to England, or Malaysia for following this Shaolin Wahnam course of study?

Answer

The books are probably of earlier editions. You can find a full list of our Shaolin Wahnam centres with more than 50 certified instructors all over the world at /general/instructors-list.html . Hence, it is not necessary that you have to relocate to England or Malaysia.

Shaolin Kung Fu free sparring

Students at the regional Shaolin Kungfu course of September 2006 in Finland practicing combat application

Question 7

Can it be performed remotely as well, i.e. through some form of distance learning?

Answer

Again the answer is “yes” and “no”.

Unless you are already proficient in kungfu, it is not feasible to learn it from books, videos or some forms of distant learning. You have to learn it personally from me or one of our certified instructors.

But once you have the basic skills, you can benefit much from distant learning. In fact this applies to most of our Shaolin Wahnam instructors and many of our students.

Many other people, especially those who think that practicing kungfu is merely learning techniques, may find it hard to comprehend. But it is actually straight-forward, particularly after one has appreciated the difference between skills and techniques. Take football as an analogy. If you have no football skills, you cannot play football by merely reading from a book. But when you have fundamental football skills, you can improve your game by learning new techniques from reading or viewing a video.

Question 8

I wondered if there were any treatments for erection problems. Does chi kung have an effect on this? I am only 22 but I am aware that when I was 18 erections were common throughout the day, but now when I see something that stimulates my brain, nothing happens down there. Obviously, this is something that would worry a young person, specially a male. Can you help me? I worry for my future wife.

— Travis, USA

Answer

Practicing chi kung is a good way to overcome sexual problems, including erection incompetence.

Chi kung treats problems holistically instead of locally. For example, if a person has an erection problem, practicing chi kung does not merely make his penis erect, but improves his whole sexual machinery, including sharpening his senses so that he can derive more pleasure, strengthening his other organs, especially his heart, so that he can endure the necessary action longer, and providing him with the necessary ingredients so that he can have something worthwhile to deliver.

Surprising it may be to some people, the main sexual organs are the kidneys. If one's kidneys are weak, even if he can force an erection using artificial means, he might not enjoy the sexual act. Worse, he will weaken himself. But if his kidneys are strong, the vitality will be spread over all the organs involved in the sex act, including sending the appropriate signals to make the penis erect.

“Nourishing Kidneys”, as its name will tell, is an excellent chi kung exercise that will strengthen the kidneys, and subsequently make the penis erect at the right time. Stand upright with your feet close together and be relaxed. Smile from the heart. Bend your body forward, without bending your legs, to touch your toes. If you cannot touch your toes, then bend as far down as possible.

Slowly raise your body to stand upright and simultaneously breathe in gently through your nose. Place your palms behind on your kidneys, bend backward slightly, look up at the sky, and gently bite your teeth together. Hold this position for a few seconds. Then stand upright again and drop your hands at your side, simultaneously breathing out gently through your mouth. Then stand upright for one or two seconds. Repeat the exercise.about 10 to 20 times. Practice once in the morning and another time in the evening or at night. Your future wife will be happy.

LINKS

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Selected Reading

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