SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
JUNE 2011 PART 3

Tai Chi Chuan Sparring

Sparring is an important aspect of our kungfu training. We are proud to say that our sparring is not only injury-free but also full of fun.

Question 1

I have a rather unusual question to ask you. Has anyone ever combined the likes of Bodybuilding/Powerlifting and Kung Fu/Tai Chi in a meaningful way?

An example might be a person doing Tai Chi/Kung Fu to enhance his doing of Bodybuilding/Powerlifting and also the other way around. I am not thinking of someone doing them as separate activities.

— Anthony, USA

Answer

Yours is actually a very benefical question for many people, and in ways they may never expect.

Yes, many kungfu practitioners, especially those practicing Shaolin styles of kungfu, have employed body-building and power-lifting in their kungfu training. Most Taijiquan practitioners do not employ body-building and power-lifting, but some do, especially those who practice Taijiquan for combat.

To them they combine body-building and power-lifting with kungfu (including Taijiquan) in a meaningful way. They believe this combination will make them stronger and look muscular or fearful to their opponents.

On the other hand, there are also body-builders and power-lifters who use kungfu (including Taijiquan) in their training. Using kungfu stances, certain kungfu movements and breathing methods will enhance their body-building and power-lifting.

Question 2

I personally have never heard of it but someone somewhere might be doing it or have done it. My opinion is that Bodybuilding/Powerlifting/Olympic Weightlifting might be classified as "External Martial Arts". It's only my opinion and I am willing to back off if it sounds silly.

Answer

Your opinion is certainly not silly. As mentioned above, your questions are very interesting and helpful; they open many vantage points on health and kungfu training that many body-builders, weight-lifters and kungfu practitioners today do not realize.

Body-building and power-lifting or weight-lifting are not external martial arts. For any art to be called martial, it should be capable of attack and defence. This is not the case with body-building and weight-lifting.

Martial arts have been debased to such a ridiculous level that most kungfu practitioners today, including some masters, cannot use their kungfu patterns for attack and defence. If they ever have to fight, they use Kick-Boxing.

Most non-kungfu martial artists can use their arts for attack, often brutally, but they cannot use their arts for defence -- to the extent that being hit many times is accepted as routine in free sparring. Isn't that ridiculous? A main aim to practice a martial art, any martial art, is not to be hit at all.

But the fault here lies not with the arts. It lies with the practitioners. The arts are capable of attack and defence; but most modern practitioners are not.

Nevertheless, a lot of kungfu practitioners today combine body-building and weight-lifting with their kungfu training. Indeed, some kunfu schools are very proud to have complete sets of weights as part of their standard training equipment.

But from our Shaolin Wahnam perspective, body-building or weight-ifting is detrimental to health and kungfu performance, as it builds big muscles that interupts smooth energy flow. Smooth energy flow is necessary for good health and good kungfu performance.

Moreover, as much energy is locked up as muscles, there is less energy for life-maintenance and daily activities. Thirdly, the already deprived organs have to work harder to support extra body mass. This explains why those with big muscles are easily tired even when they are young, and encounter many health problems as they grow older when their over-worked organs start to wear out.

Weights, like stone-locks and metal rings, are sometimes used in genuine kungfu training, but they are not used in the way in body-building and weight-lighting.

However, for those who still want to, or due to some valid reasons have to do body-building or weight-lifting, combining it with genuine kungfu will not only minimize its harmful side-effects, but also contribute to its good results.

Some of my students were body-builders and weight-lifters before. After knowing its harmful effects, they stopped their previous practice. Later they returned to their gyms to meet their body-building and weight-lifting friends. They tried some weights for fun, and to their surprise they found that despite not having trained with weights for months, they actually performed better than before!

Golden Bridge

"Golden Bridge" performed by Wong Chun Yan, the youngest son of Grandmaster Wong, during an Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course

Question 3

I have been thinking about the Golden Bridge exercise. Is it safe? Can I progress to practicing it after reaching great success with "Lifting the Sky"?

— Bjarni, Ireland

Answer

Of course, Golden Bridge is safe. And of course, you must do it correctly. Anything done wrongly is not safe. If you learn Golden Bridge from books, videos or incompetent nstructors who themselves do not perform it correctly, it is likely you will do Golden Bridge wrongly.

If you can achieve great success with "Lifting the Sky", you can practice Golden Bridge on your own, even if you learn it from books or videos instead of from a competent teacher. But the question is whether you can achieve great success with "Lifting the Sky". Indeed, the question is whether you can even practice "Lifting the Sky" correctly as chi kung, and not as a gentle physical exercise.

From your e-mail, it is obvious that you can't even practice "Lifting the Sky", or any chi kung exercise, as chi kung. How do I know if I haven't seen you practicing? It is simple. If you have practiced "Lifting the Sky" or any chi kung exercise as chi kung, you would not ask me the questions you do. You also would not have any problems sleeping.

Many people may be surprised at a statement like "If you have practiced chi kung exercises as chi kung", but the fact is that most chi kung practitioners today, without their realizing, do not practice chi kung exercises as chi kung! They practice them as gentle physical exercise. Similarly, most Taiji practitioners today do not practice Taijiquan patterns as Taijiquan, they also practice them as gentle physical exercise.

In case you are still confused, let me elaborate. Taijiquan is an internal martial art. Anyone who practices Taijiquan should have at least some internal force and be able to defend himself -- even if his internal force is not very powerful, and he may still be defeated in his self-defence. But most Taiji practitioners today have no internal force and cannot defend themselves. Why? Because all along they have practiced Taijiquan patterns as gental physical exercise, and not as genuine Taijiquan.

Chi kung is an art of energy management. Anyone who practices chi kung will have to work on energy, or chi. To be able to work on chi, the basic requirement is to be focus and relaxed. In other words, if you cannot be focused and relaxed, you cannot practice chi kung. Or to put it the other way round, if you have practiced chi kung correctly, you would be able to be focused and relaxed. Today, most chi kung practitioners have no experience of chi, and they cannot be focused and relaxed. Why? Because they have practiced chi kung patterns not as genuine chi kung but as gentle physical exercise.

Question 4

I have heard that Golden Bridge is dangerous if practiced incorrectly, but the benefits that internal force training gives are something I have always wanted to train for, with benefits like increased stamina, endurance, mental clarity and freshness, abundant energy, immunity etc.

Answer

Yes, and the same principle applies to other things too. If you do something correctly, you get benefit. If you do it wrongly, it can be harmful. The more powerful that something is, the more powerful will be its beneficial as well as harmful effects.

If you ride a bicycle correctly, you get benefit -- you arrive at your destination faster than walking. If you do it wrongly, it may be harmful -- you may fall and hurt yourself. If you drive a car, which is more powerful, the beneficial or harmful effects will also be more powerful.

How do you learn driving a car or Golden Bridge safely and correctly so that not only you will avoid the harm but also get the powerful benefit? Learn from a competent teacher.

Lifting the Sky

A beautiful performance of "Lifting the Sky" by Irene Bassell of Switzerland during an Intensive Chi Kung Course

Question 5

But will "Lifting the Sky" give the same benefits?

Answer

It is like asking whether riding a bicycle will give the same benefits as driving a car. The answer is yes and no.

Yes, riding a bicycle will also take you to your destination like driving a car does. But no, driving a car will enable you to arrive faster and more comfortably.

Yes, "Lifting the Sky" will also give you benefits like increased stamina, endurance, mental clarity and freshness, abundant energy, and immunity like Golden Bridge does. But no, the effects from Golden Bridge are more powerful.

Question 6

I still have problems with my sleep, so I haven't been able to practice it much. I cannot perform "Lifting the Sky" in my bed because it is next to a wall and there is a chest of drawers next to the bed. What else can I do to get good sleep? I have this sleeping problem because I cannot relax and empty my mind.

Answer

The best thing you can do in this connection is to learn genuine chi kung from a master.

As you cannot relax and empty your mind, you should not attempt Golden Bridge.

Small Universe

A record number of participants attended the Small Universe Course in Langkawi in October 2010

Question 7

Is it OK to activate or rather gently focus on the Small Universe during sex? Are there any important points to be aware off? Can there be any negative effects for my girlfriend or for me?

— John, UK

Answer

Yes, it is alright to gently activate the Small Universe during sex. Once the Small Universe is activated, just let it flow spontaneously. There is no need to continue focusing on it. Needless to say, you should focus on your partner's as well as your own enjoyment.

At any time, if you realize that the small universal energy flow has stopped or slowed down remarkably, you may, if you like, gently reactivate it, without distracting from your and your partner's sexual performance and enjoyment.

If you are unaware of it, or if you don't like to reactivate it, it is alright too. If the small universal flow is on, both you and your partner will have much benefit. But there is no harm if the small universal flow is not activated or if it has slowed down or stopped.

Question 8

I have noticed that when I am making love with my girlfriend (she also practices chi kung and kungfu), there is a big difference in both our energy levels afterwards, depending on whether she came to climax or not. When she did not, I rather felt tired and exhausted. When she did reach her climax, we both felt energized and fresh as if we generated more energy together.

Answer

Your feeling tired when your girlfriend did not reach her climax was due to your genuine feeling for her. Your heart energy was affected resulting in your feeling tired. You can overcome the tiredness by generating a gentle energy flow after sex.

You can use any suitable techniques to generate the energy flow. Using the Small Universe is a good choice. If your Small Universe was flowing during sex, the tiredness would be minimized or prevented.

When your girlfriend reached her climax, both she and you were happy. This opened your hearts and activated a good flow of energy, resulting in both of you being energized.

In Chinese medical philosophy, the heart is regarded as the "emperor" organ as it directly affects all other organs. Laughter, which opens the heart and generates a lot of energy flow, is not just the best medicine but also a bringer of good health, vitality, longevity and joy.

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