SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
JULY 2013 PART 3

Asking Bridge

Many secrets, like safety first as shown in Sifu Omar's guard hand in the sparring showing above, are not actually secrets in the classical sense. Anyone practicing genuine kungfu in the past would known about these secrets.

Question 1

Why are you so generous while other masters keep their secrets? Isn't it a contradiction? Chi kung makes them open their heart, but they are still very conservative.

— Sara, Sultanate of Oman

Answer

There are a few reasons why I am generous.

I want to preserve the wonderful arts of kungfu and chi kung. If I don't share secrets, genuine kungfu and chi kung will be lost. Other masters may not have the same enthusiasm and sincerity in passing these arts to posterity.

Secondly, I have a lot of secrets. Sharing a few is not a big problem, compared to other masters who have few secrets. Let us say I have a thousand secrets. I can freely share a hundred secrets. Other masters who have only ten secrets will be very concerned after letting out a few secrets.

How is it that I have so many secrets whereas other masters have so few?

I was (and still am) very interested in kungfu and chi kung philosophy. I have a large collection of kungfu and chi kung classics. Other masters may not be bothered with such philosophy.

In my young days I went round seeking kungfu masters and discussed with them. This increased my understanding of kungfu and chi kung, and added to my repertoire of secrets.

I have a huge turn-over of classes per year. I teach more than a hundred classes, whereas most masters have the same one or two classes following him the whole year. This huge turn-over of classes not only enables me to improve my teaching methodology but also increases my understanding of kungfu and chi kung secrets. Many of these secrets resulted from my meeting expedient needs to help students solve problems in their training.

Many of the secrets are not actually secrets in the classical sense. There are training points any practitioners of genuine kungfu and chi kung in the past would know, but kungfu and chi kung have been debased so ridiculously today that modern practitioners do not know them.

For example, covering oneself for safety whenever he attacked was standard knowledge. If a student did not know it, he would soon know from actual experience of sparring or real fighting. But today students are so negligent in their own safety in sparring that telling them of this point resembles a secret.

Being focused and relaxed was an essential point any chi kung practitioner in the past would know. But today chi kung has been debased to gentle physical exercise that telling students about this point constitutes a secret.

Thirdly, I am generous by nature. My kungfu and chi kung training opens my heart and makes me generous.

Then, why aren't other kungfu and chi kung masters generous? It is because not many people, including masters, have the opportunity to practice high-level kungfu and chi kung like ours. Only some masters have internal force and are able to generate an energy flow, and they take months, if not years, to achieve these skills. Our students in my intensive courses take only one day! It is incredible but true.

Hence, although they are masters, of lower levels kungfu and chi kung or called masters out of respect, they may not enjoy the benefits that we do, like opening our hearts and be generous.

Most Chinese masters are conservative by tradition. I happen to be a freak in this respect. Our generousity is also determined by our school philosophy that we share the wonderful benefits of our arts with deserving students irrespective of race, culture and religion.

Indeed, when I first taught chi kung to the public, many masters were angry or laughing at me. They were angry that I taught to non-Chinese, and laughing that I taught chi kung in a matter of months (now in a matter of days). To them chi kung and kungfu training took years.

Question 2

In chi kung, what causes back pain and what exercise should I do?

Answer

Pain is caused by energy blockage. Because energy cannot flow smoothly at your back, you feel pain.

We do not need to know what intermediate factors caused the energy blockage. When we clear the blockage with energy flow, irrespective of what the intermediate causes were, your back pain will disappear.

You can practice any chi kung exercise. The important thing is to generate an energy flow. It is the energy flow, not the exercise, that will clear the energy blockage and make you pain free.

But certain exercises are more cost-effective, like Carrying the Moon and Pushing Mountain.

Carrying the Moon

Carrying the Moon

Question 3

You mentioned that if we wanted to clear blockage, we let our chi flow be vigorous, and if we wanted to build, we kept fairly still. But how do we let our chi flow to be vigorous or keep fairly still?

— Elena, Colombia

Answer

Just do it. If you want a vigorous chi flow, let go and enjoy a vigorous chi flow. If you want to keep fairly still, tame your chi movement and remain fairly still.

In principle, it is like how you remain seated on a chair or stand up. Don't worry how to stand up or intellectualize the difference between seated and standing up, just stand up.

Of course, you have to let yourself follow the movement. If you want to stand up, and your legs are pushing you up, but you keep holding on to your chair, you would not stand up.

Similarly, if you wish to go into a vigorous chi flow, and your chi is moving you, but you tense your muscles to stop the flow, you are not going to succeed going into a vigorous chi flow. Many students, consciously or unconsciously, make this mistake.

You can remain fairly still or go into vigorous chi flow because you have had experience of both. Other people who have no experience of chi, whether while remaining fairly still or moving about in vigorous movement, will be unable to will themselves to remain fairly still or go into vigorous chi flow.

In the same way, someone who had remained in bed all his life and had never sat on a chair or stood up, would not be able to will himself to remain seated or stand up.

Question 4

Please allow me to give a description of my background if it would help diagnose the problem. I did karate from when I was 5 to 8 (having no concept of chi or any sort of cultivation of body, mind and spirit). I did taekwondo on and off till I was 13.

— Ansur, USA

Answer

From my teaching experience, those who practiced Karate and Taekwondo before find it harder than ordinary people to relax. Often they honestly think they are relaxed when they are actually tensed.

But your case is different as you practiced Karate and Taekwondo not now but some time ago. Moreover you are a violinist. Thus, you can relax quite easily, which is important for any internal art training.


Editorial Note : Ansur's other questions are found at July 2013 Part 2 issue of the Question-answer Series.

essence of chi kung, qigong

The essence of chi kung is chi flow

Question 5

I developed a fascination with Chi Kung this past August as I watched many videos of masters performing unimaginable feats. I started watching all the kung fu movies since I really enjoyed practicing martial arts as a child.

Answer

While a genuine chi kung or kungfu master can perform these unimaginable feats, they are not the main reason for his training. In other words, the main reason we train chi kung or kungfu is not to demonstrate that we can send chi through a wall or let someone punch and kick us without us sustaining any injury, but to have good health, vitality and longevity, and in the case of kungfu to be able to defend ourselves and our loved ones effectively.

It is also worthy of note that some of these feats, though real in the case of genuine chi kung and kungfu masters, are actually tricks performed by stuntmen. Lying on a bed of nails and having a slab of granite broken on one's chest, for example, is more of a stuntman show than a demonstration of chi.

Further, much of chi kung and kungfu today have been so watered down that they have lost their essence. The basic benefit of practicing chi kung is to have good health, but many chi kung practitioners today are still sick and weak despite having practiced chi kung for years. The basic function of kungfu is efficient combat, but most kungfu practitioners today cannot use their kungfu effectively to defend themselves. They depend on kick-boxing.

Question 6

Naturally it followed to try and learn some of the art of Chi Kung to cultivate my mind and body. I was skeptical but as I was fascinated, I accepted it and wanted to practice it so to draw some conclusions (even if only scorching the surface level) from my observations and experiences.

Answer

In the past, chi kung was sometimes known as triple-cultivation, i.e. the cultivation of jing, qi and shen, which means physical body, energy and mind or spirit.

However, today most chi kung practitioners only cultivate their physical body, without cultivating their energy and their mind or spirit. Hence, they are easily tired, which shows a lack of energy, and often stressful, which shows a lack of mental freshness.

It is therefore necessary that you practice genuine chi kung, not just some chi kung performed as external exercise, if you want to draw conclusions from your observations and experience that the benefits ascribed to chi kung are true.

The essential requirement for successful chi kung practice is a chi kung state of mind. The essence of chi kung is energy flow. In other words, if you are not in a chi kung state of mind, you would not be practicing chi kung even when the techniques you use are genuine chi kung techniques. If you do not have an energy flow, it is an indication that you are not practicing chi kung.

This, indeed, is the problem of more than 80% of people who practice chi kung today. They are not in a chi kung state of mind when they practice chi kung. They never experience energy flow even when they have practiced for year

three-circle stance

The Three-Circle Stance is an advanced art and should be learned personally from a competent teacher

Question 7

Knowing very little, I first got a book called "The Way of Energy" by Master Lam Kam Chuen. I practiced the Wu Chi stance and the Three-Circle Stance periodically and worked on breathing from my abdomen as described. Since this practice was sporadic I might have created some issues as I have now. I learn from your book that it is first a must to clear all the blockages and make sure the chi is circulating before one can correctly build chi.

Answer

Master Lam's book is excellent, and the chi kung taught by him is very good. But our philosophy is different. In our opinion, starting with the Three-Circle Stance without personal supervision from a competent teacher is not advisable as it may result in wrong practice.

Relatively speaking, practicing the Three-Circle Stance is building energy. As you have rightly mentioned, it is our opinion that one should clear energy blockage before building energy. If one builds energy before clearing blockage, he may develop harmful side-effects. Chi flow is an excellent way to clear blockage.

Question 8

Anyway reading your books I understand that there is much caution in practicing without an instructor and I am worried that these sensations of burping, gas, slight bloating, and pressure, are deviations.

As a violinist I know how great the pitfalls can be if one develops bad habits at the onset of practice. I am also not looking for any instant wonders or mastery as I remind myself of how much time and effort it takes for a beginning violinist to even draw out what he/she might call an okay tone.

Answer

You are wise to heel the warning that practicing without an instructor can be risky. You are also wise to realize the great pitfalls if one develops bad habits at the onset of practice. Not only it is harder for him later to relearn correct practice, but also he deviates right from the start.

But in your case, judging from your report you have practiced correctly. The burping, gas, slight bloating and pressure are not deviations but indications that chi flow is working on you to clear away your energy blockage. These unpleasant sensations will disappear when the blockage is cleared.

Question 9

I have sincerely tried to follow your instructions in your two books and n spite of these specific sensations have experienced much freshness after the sessions.

Answer

Again you are wise to follow my instructions carefully. This is only logical, but many students try to be smarter than the master and add extra procedures on their own, like breathing strongly, visualizing colours and wearing crystals! Your experience of freshness is an indication that you have practiced well.

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