THE ART OF LIGHTNESS

shaolin triple stretch

Baguazhang



Question

Did Sifu just consider to may be teach the art of lightness one day?

Every time you think it can’t get any better, Sifu teaches you otherwise.

Leonard Lackinger


Answer

I did not have any plans to teach the Art of Lightness, but if opportunities arise I may do so, but it is unlikely.

There are a few good reasons why I have not planned to teach the Art of Lightness.

Although I practiced the Art of Lightness before, I did not complete the training successfully. I cannot speak from direct experience, which is a hallmark of my teaching. If I teach the Art of Lightness, I could only speak from theory, though I know the theory is right.

This is different from teaching courses like Baguazhang and Xingyiquan. Although I did not learn Baguazhang and Xingyiquan from a living teacher, I could personally perform what I teach in a Baguazhang or Xingyiquan course, which is recorded in their classics as their hallmarks.

For example, it is a hallmark of Baguazhang for its practitioners to get behind their opponents in combat. I could do that, and more importantly I could teach students to do that.

It is true I could already do that even without Baguazhang. I could use Wing Choon, Flower Set or Taijiquan techniques to get behind opponents. But that was not what I did in the Baguazhang course at the UK Summer Camp 2012. I did not teach students to use Wing Chun, Flower Set or Taijiquan techniques to get behind their opponents, I taught them to use characteristic Baguazhang techniques. And I found that using Baguazhang techniques for this purpose was even more effective!

Applying powerful pressing attack on opponents with little chance for them to escape is a hallmark of Xingyiquan. I can do this, and more significantly I shall teach students to do this in the Xingyiquan course at UK Summer Camp 2013. Again, it is true that I could already apply powerful pressing attack on opponents using Shaolin or Taijiquan techniques.

But this is not what I did in my preparation to teach Xingyiquan, and also not what I shall teach in the coming Xingyiquan course. I used characteristic Xingyiquan techniques in powerful pressing attack, and this is what I shall teach. I also found that using Xingyiquan techniques was even more effective in powerful pressing attack than using Shaolin or Taijiquan techniques!

I can’t do this in an Art of Lightness course. I may tell students that jumping up or over a wall is a hallmark of the Art of Lightness, and the techniques I am teaching them are the ones recorded in classics or told to me by my sifu that would enable them to attain the desired result. But I can’t demonstrate to them by jumping up or over a wall, and tell them that the methods of training for this feat are what I am teaching them. More significantly, students are not able to jump up or over a wall during the course to show that they have achieved the desired result.

This was the main reason why I did not teach a Shaolin Kungfu course or a Small Universe course initially although a lot of students asked me to. Internal force and combat efficiency are the hallmarks of Shaolin Kungfu, while attaining a continuous energy flow round the Ren and the Du meridians is the hallmark of Small Universe.

Initially I was not sure I could help students attain these results in a few days of a Shaolin Kungfu or a Small Universe Course. I did not want to tell students that if they went home and practiced for a few months what they had learned, hopefully they could develop internal force and use Shaolin Kungfu for combat, or they could have a continuous flow of energy round their Ren and Du meridians. I wanted the students to experience the desired results at the course itself. It was later when I had improved my teaching methodology and was confident that students could have the intended result at the course that I taught it.

This was, and is, the case of my chi kung courses, both intensive and regional. In a Generating Energy Flow course, for example, I told students that they could generate an energy flow, and they did at the course itself. In a Cosmic Shower course, I told students that they could enjoy a cosmic shower of energy, and they attained the intended result at the course itself.

Actually the start of my training for the Art of Lightness was incidental. About 35 years ago I was testing my ability to break bricks with my Cosmos Palm. I bought a lot of bricks, and broke a few everyday. I lined the broken bricks at the sides of my garden. One day I was about to throw these unwanted, broken bricks away.

Then I thought to myself, “Instead of throwing the broken bricks away, I could use them for some purpose.” Earlier, when I was learning from my sifu, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, he told me the secret methods to train the Art of Lightness. There were three levels, namely the physical, the energy and the mind. I would not mention the energy and the mind levels here, as students attempting the methods on their own are likely to harm themselves. The main procedure of the physical level was to dig a hole, jump down the hole, scape away some earth every day, and then jump up from the hole.

I did not attempt the training because it was not feasible to dig a hole in my garden big enough for this purpose. I thought that instead of jumping up from a hole, I could jump up two piles of bricks which I could gradually increase their height.

I was doing quite well in my daily training. I particularly remember one morning when I jumped up the piles of brick, which were about 5 feet high then, my neighbor who was on the other side of a wall separating our houses and therefore could not see me earlier, were very surprised to see me suddenly appearing in the air!

But this was soon followed by a fall. One day after I had jumped up the two piles of broken bricks, the piles shook and down I fell. I cut my thigh quite deeply in my fall. It took me about two weeks to recover.

After my recovery from the deep wound I did not continue my training for the Art of Lightness, The main reason was that I thought apart from novelty there were not many practical uses for the Art of Lightness.

Years later my wife told me that it would be romantic to find someone jumping up a tree, for example, using the Art of Lightness. Had she mentioned this earlier, I would certainly have continued my training just to make her happy. But now I believe I could make her happier by driving her to a nice restaurant to enjoy dinner together.

Actually the Art of Lightness is not totally without practical uses nowadays. One night after returning from kungfu teaching in Penang, my niece, who was about 5 years old then, was sitting on the upper end of a flight of stairs leading from the ground floor to the first floor. She was excited seeing me home, and in her excitement she tumbled down the stairs. I ran from the door to the bottom of the stairs, then up the stairs – a distance of about 50 feet – and caught her safely before she tumbled down two steps! I was incredibly sharp and fast.

On another occasion, I visited my sidai, Sifu Yeong Khuen Chi, who is now the grandmaster of Georgetown Chin Woo Association, and is an expert of Praying Mantis Kungfu and Eagle Claw Kungfu. He lived in his old flat on a fourth floor in Brown Garden in Penang.

I shouted for my sidai from the ground, My sijie, Sister Kam, who is Uncle Righteousness’ eldest daughter and Yeong Khuen Chi’s cousine, emerged at a window and asked me to go up. There was no lift, so I ran up the stairs.

When my sijie opened the door, she was shocked to see me waiting. “How come you are so fast?” she asked in disbelief.

“I ran up the stairs,” I replied.

“I just walked from the window to the table to get the key to open the door (a distance of about 10 feet), and you are already here!”

If I remember these events correctly which happened long ago, they occured before my training in jumping up two piles of bricks. I attributed these abilities to my earlier training in Thousand Steps. Whatsoever, these abilities are not the hallmark of the Art of Lightness, though the Art of Lightness would certainly have enhanced these abilities. The hallmark of the Art of Lightness is to jump up high, like jump up a tree to make my wife happy.

Thank you for your compliments that my courses are constantly getting better and better. Many people have told me this fact.

Many years ago when my teaching efficiency was probably less than a quarter of what it is now, Jean, our Chief Instructor in Canada, told me that she had such wonderful benefits in a course that she thought the next course could not be better. But when she took the same course repeated the next time, she found it even better than her expectation.

Just before she took the same course the third time, she said to herself that the course be better but the difference could not be great. She was pleasantly surprised that it was better beyond comparison. It must be the climax, she thought. It could be better any more. But when she took the same course again, she found herself blown away.

An important reason why I could improve my teaching methodology is because I teach many classes, which give me a lot of opportunities to improve my teaching. I teach more than 100 classes a year, compared to about 2 or 3 classes other masters teach. For most masters who teach the orthodox way, their students follow them throughout the year every year.

Another reason is that I have a lot of chi kung and kungfu classics to refer to. These classics give me an illuminating picture of what past masters did.

shaolin iron wire

Eagle Claw Kungfu


The questions and answers are reproduced from the thread 10 Questions to Grandmaster Wong -- 18 Jewels of Shaolin Wahnam Chi Kung in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.

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