INTENSIVE SHAOLIN KUNGFU COURSE 2006 -- LIFE (ALMOST)
The following discussion is reproduced from the thread 2006 Intensive Kungfu Course - Live (Almost) in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum on 2nd February 2006
2nd February 2006
2006 Intensive Kungfu Course - Live (Almost)
I though I'd post a report on my first day of the course. If people enjoy it, I might do the same for the others.
First a bit about the place. The hotel is very nice, although the food is so-so. There is even a... Tesco(!) about 10 minutes walk from here. Malaysia is pretty hot. Reminds me of being in a swimming pool - hot and humid, but no where near as bad as I feared. Having air-con in the room does help a lot.
So the course. I'll try and give a brief outline, because learning from Sifu Wong is an experience in itself, not something I have the skill to put into words.
We started off with a nice session on relaxation, with additional emphasis on correct posture. We also got fair warning on the '3 mistakes' rule. There were some rather intense chi-flows (all we did was close our eyes and relax, not even any patterns.) Then came the stance training, with special focus on training it as a relaxation exercise and on correct posture (in addition to form.)
Stance training was followed by 5 patterns from the Art of Flexibility.
Then came the moving in stances. This was quite intense, is the best way I can put it: much deeper level of practice than usual. If I had to choose the best part about if, for me it was the emphasis on maintaining ying-yang harmony the movements. This is not something I have paid attention to before and I wish I had. Apart from this we worked on forwards and backwards movements; multiple directions; long to medium to short movements progression; 1, 2, 3... combined transitions in one 'move'; right to left, right to right etc modes of transition; half-steps; turning round in mid move; combinations of all of the above and free practice of this.
After lunch we moved onto hand attacks. Much emphasis on synchronization of attack with the move into the stance (attack ends at the same time as the stance is completed) and linked to this the 'spiraling force' of the attack. Learning to explode force in the attack and to root the stance.
Then we had a go at composing our own set, aimed at a specific personal need, before practicing the Lohan Asks the Way set. It felt quite a bit different as a result of the previous work on stances and strikes: much more flowing and powerful.
We finished with some spacing practice from "2 tigers".
I think we covered about 6 months' worth of material in just 8 hours. Pretty intense, although naturally it still needs at least that much personal practice to convert the 'knowledge' into knowledge, probably much more time than that.
Anyway, I hope this is useful. It's past 23:30 and I have another early start tomorrow... Fortunately, the time difference very conveniently means that I can phone Andrea to wish her good night, just after I wake up at 06:30, so no interruptions there.
Shaolin Wahnam England
3rd Feb 2006
Persevere in correct practice
3rd Feb 2006
Poor Wuji. I was looking forward to reading what he had to say.
So, day 2. Just as Sifu Andrew said, it got a little harder. Not physically, mind you, which is a little strange. Despite my extreme laziness in my personal practice I seem to somehow have picked up enough force to keep going (only goes to highlight the quality of the Art itself.) The difficulty was mental. Some of the material covered today I was previously only vaguely aware of in theory, so I got pushed out of my comfort zone. Even had a little low point in the afternoon, although I felt better towards the end.
The morning started with Lifting the Sky (I have come to love Jordan's chi-flows, although there was no singing today from anyone. ) and stance training.
The rest of the day was spent on strikes and their combat application.
We moved from striking a few inches away, to striking through. I'm sorry to say my control is quite bad, as a few people found out - sorry guys, I will get better.
Sifu discussed in much detail the 4 modes of preparation and the 3 arrivals, as well as spending quite some time on applying these principles to our daily lives outside Kungfu (this is one of the very special advantages of Wahnam training.)
Between training sessions we were driven to lunch in Georgetown and then for a trip to the Butterfly Farm. There was lots of (you guessed it) pretty butterflies flying all around us, but also ducks, big fishies, lizards, hairy spiders in jars (alive,) very zoned-out squirrels, cute turtles with pig snouts and more stuff. The cartoon warnings about what not to do with butterflies were also quite amusing.
I think the trip made the afternoon training more difficult, as it changed my frame of mind. However, instead of avoiding such trips in future to get rest, I personally would rather learn to handle both. This may take some time though...
Back in class, we covered the progression from form -> flow -> force in training. Self-choice was introduced, gradually increasing the range of attacks. We also covered feint attacks, and spontaneous modification of defence patterns to respond to these faints and also to incorrect choice of defence pattern in the first place.
Sifu also pointed out that we lacked the "threat" level in out attacks. Introducing this immediately made the training much more focused, intense and real. Only the intention of avoiding hitting your training partner if they did not counter correctly prevented these attacks from being fully realistic (another benefit of the Wahnam training method )
We returned to the Lohan Asks The Way set and Sifu demonstrated the basic breathing for the set, so that with each strike we actually obtain and store energy, rather than just expending it. It will take a fair bit of practice to get used to it, though.
Sifu also pointed out that the set can be performed with different aims in mind to provide training 'multi-tool' - seemingly obvious, but I never thought of it like that before.
Finished by covering and practicing the first 3 combat sequences, also with self choice and with form, force and flow.
Sifu spent some time explaining that if there is a problem, e.g. with the form, then one needs to go back a step, or more in the progression chain until the problematic component is located. For example if form suffers in the sequence then drop the force and flow, if not enough go back to footwork. This important principles applies to all problems in the training. The structured training method makes it very easy to back-track a few steps, even within a particular sequence, to locate the problem and work on it specifically.
Right, that's it for tonight. Sifu Mark is eager to check his emails and he has a lot more internal force than I do...
P.S. Simon, I'm afraid I haven't felt any inclinations towards the receptionists here. I must be tired.
Shaolin Wahnam England
3rd Feb 2006
Glad to hear it!
George - I have to say I am rather glad to hear that you are not interested in the receptionists although obviously I never had any doubts on account of you lack the required injections!
Anyway it sounds like you are having a great time on the course and had fun with the pretty butterflies - what on earth did the signs say you weren't to do to them?!
Anyway I just wanted to say I will see you soon, and hopefully others off the course who are hanging around after the 7th. Oh and if you want anyone to take notes on the next intensive course I will volunteer, in exchange for tea and cakes of course
So what parts of the training are people particularly enjoying on the course and are people finding that their perceptions and previous training are being challenged?
I am the Fluff Elemental. All the power of fluff is channelled through me.
4th Feb 2006
Another day, another post. Just in case anyone wondered, this is not just my personal thread - it would be really nice to hear from other people on the course. My perspective is limited by my own ability, so I am probably missing lots of interesting stuff out.
Today, our usual stance practice was done with the appropriate hand-forms.
During the chi-flow stage after, a few of the people had a 'spiritual expansion' experience. Sifu talked about these in more detail, but I will not attempt to summarize.
Lohan Asks The Way set was next, this time with emphasis on the breathing. We practiced performing the set in 8 breaths, then in 4. Each breath was in 4 stages: in, follow explode and swallow.
Learned combat sequence 4. Practiced performing it in 1 breath. Added jumps and linked the first 4 combat sequences into the Black Tiger Steals Heart set (performed in 4 breaths.)
Sifu distinguished between the Lohan Asks the Way set (as being a tool for training form, force and flow,) from the Black Tiger Steals Heart set (a tool for practicing application.) In case of problems with form, return to the Lohan Asks the Way set.
In the afternoon we had a very tasty lunch at yet another Chinese restaurant. We then visited the Kek Lok Si Padoga complex. It was nice, if a little crowded by people trying to sell you touristy junk. Lots of new constructions, but I felt the site of bits of reinforced concrete all around, spoiled it a little.
In the afternoon Sifu produced an instantly classic phrase, while lamenting the lack of force in our sequence practice: "This is Shaolin Kungfu, not opium smoking!"
Working with sequences 1-4 we progressed to self-choice, modification (e.g. sequence 3 4 on the fly,) moving in with a surprise attack and then a mix of all of it.
Sifu shared a little trick to help prevent form slippage: imagine your training partner is invisible and just move as in solo set practice.
Learned sequences 5 and 6. Pressing attacks were introduced and beautifully demonstrated by Sifu.
Practiced sequences 1-6 with self-choice and continuation. With this we practiced attacking with 2 sequences one after the other and then dropping the any one of the patterns in the first attacking set.
Now for a little personal perspective. During the second session I hit the point of no longer being able to keep up with the skills transmitted. The brain overflow is usual for me, except I expected it to happen much sooner than this. What is amazingly different about this time, is that despite the overflow the new information kept going in. Usually, once I reach this point I simply stop absorbing information, nothing will go in (this happened a lot during my time at university.) Yet Sifu managed to keep transmitting more and more skills. I know that I have learned them (although I am not sure how I know this,) it is just that my body can not yet keep up.
The previous days are all starting to merge into one, but again, whereas I would usually start forgetting the things I learned (again e.g. university lectures,) in this case I am merely forgetting when I learned them. The information itself is clinging to my brain with remarkable determination. I could be due to my notes and these posts here, but I have a feeling that alone would still not be enough, as I haven't re-read them yet. Very strange (in the nicest possible way.)
Shaolin Wahnam England
4th Feb 2006
Originally Posted by George
“The morning started with Lifting the Sky (I have come to love Jordan's chi-flows, although there was no singing today from anyone. ) and stance training.”
Shaolin Wahnam UK
4th Feb 2006
First I would like to thank you for sharing your experiences at the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course. Your openness is much appreciated and admired especially when doing so in a public forum.
After reading your posts, I found myself thinking back to my past courses with Sifu. They have been fun, inspiring, and uplifting, yet, at times, very challenging. It is interesting that I usually find when the Shaolin training becomes more and more challenging, it is a sign of breaking through or emerging to the next level. I have also observed this interesting pattern in my fellow classmates.
The funny thing is the person who is experiencing this transformation may think he/she is not doing well and may become frustrated. On the contrary, he/she is doing very well and is about to have a breakthrough. In my opinion, all that person needs to do is march along the best way that he/she can. At any rate, it's inspiring to be a witness of this change in a fellow Shaolin warrior.
It is always interesting and inspiring to hear of personal success stories from Sifu's courses. Thank you for sharing yours.
Shaolin Wahnam Canada - Toronto Community
Sifu Michael Durkin
5h Feb 2006
Great to hear from you George, I only saw you a few weeks ago in England at the 3 Nations Gathering, now look at you !!!
What you are sharing with us excellent stuff, please continue to share your experiences with us, and anyone else who is also taking Sifu's Intensive Kung Fu course.
Click here to view a thread which shows how one may prepare for a course in Malaysia with Sifu, methods which George himself has followed to help him get ready.
Shaolin Wahnam England
Come learn with us - http://www.shaolinwahnam.co.uk
9th Feb 2006
Hello From Sunny Malaysia!!
For those of you who are still trying to decide to come here to do this course, my advice is this: stop thinking, just come and do! I had a million doubts before coming here. I thought I wasn't ready. I've no regrets coming whether I was ready or not.
I've gained so many skills in such a short time, and the course isn't even finished! Plus I think all this qi flow is making my hair grow ! Many thanks to Sifu and all my kungfu brothers and sisters for making this the best experience of my life! I want more!!!!!!! Cheers!
9th Feb 2006
George very kindly allowed me to write this post even though he was first in the queue. I know I said I would not post until I got home, but there are two reasons why I just had to.
First, Sifu encouraged us to contribute our experiences, and second, I am just too inspired by SIfu's teaching today to go to bed without recording it.
I will let George post his excellent account of what we learnt today. I will share how Sifu introduced a teaching methodology that I am 100% certain has never been seen before.
He told us to practice our Combat Sequences 5 to 8 as if they were Taijiquan patterns. Immediately, that changed everything for me, and it is not just because I am a Yang Taijiquan student.
Suddenly, it became crystal clear what he meant by flowing movements. The way Sifu explained it is so brilliant that I have difficulty putting this in words. He said that if our movements are flowing, our very attack or defence merges with the cosmos, and even our breathing is attuned to the flow of the universe.
I will have to continue this tomorrow, as I am taking longer than expected. Over to you, George.
Persevere in correct practice
5thj Feb 2006
Staying up a little late, but no regrets, as a big group of us spent a few hours talking over dinner.
In the morning we practiced Carrying the Sun and the Moon and then the first part of the One Finger Shooting Zen, with emphasis on no use of muscular force and using a few visualisations to move the energy down the lung meridian. I think I have a bit of a problem letting go and I worry too much about the form.
Sifu also did a teaser demonstration of some Chin-Na on a few lucky students (like myself) and it was totally painless (Sifu put a bit of effort to make it that )
We practiced combat sequences 7-8 and then linked up 5-8 into the Fierce Tiger Speeds Through Valley set.
In the afternoon we had a nice sea-food lunch (which apparently includes chicken - 'sea chicken' anyone? .) Then we went to the archaeological museum nearby, which was wonderful - that place has really lovely energy. One of our two resident Frenchmen was even caught practicing golden bridge in front of one of the old temples there.
On the way back we stopped by a fishing village (must be where they get the chicken?) and bought fresh coconut juice (in the coconut) from a lady that wielded a large meat cleaver in a scarily proficient way. She then hacked open the coconut for us to eat the jucy insides - it tasted nothing like the dry coconuts we get in English supermarkets.
In the afternoon we practiced attacking with sequences 5-8 as one continuous attack.
Then (as Wuji said) Sifu had us practice the sequences as Taijiquan. I have my doubts about my efforts but Sifu's examples looked simply beautiful. He makes it look so easy (it probably is, in comparison to other things.) I am glad Wuji posted, because for some reason I forgot about it when I was writing my notes after the class.
We then practiced patterns 1-8 as self-choice in an increasingly fun ways. First we attacked with any 2 sequences as a single attack. Then we dropped a pattern (again self-choice) from each of the two sequences, then 2, then 3 patterns (except if we did one of 1-4, obviously.) Then, we dropped 2, or 3 and added another self-choice set on the end. Then, it was the defender who added the extra combat set, except that the defender did not know when the attacker finished his improvised attack and had to pick a time to insert his sequence.
Sifu gave us an introduction to kicks. By default using them is a disadvantage, so they should only be used when the advantages (e.g. being able to sneak in a strike with your 'third arm') outweighs this. Do not use kicks at all until each kick has been practiced at least a few thousand times.
We were taught the Art of 100 kicks.
The day ended a bit down for me. I almost caused Jordan some serious injury, if it were not for Sifu healing the damage. Thank you Sifu for being (in addition to everything else) the safety blanket for my incompetence.
I am off with Wuji to get it off my chest (quite literally ) with a Chi Kung session.
P.S. There was more singing today.
Shaolin Wahnam England
6th Feb 2006
I'm with you on this Mike. The first course was very very hard (by my definition). The only real preparation I had was some dynamic Chi Kung exercises which I had learned from Sifu some few months previous. Ok, I did practice some Horse Riding Stance before going and read Sifu's book "The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu" too --- but that was all I had. And even my stance wasn't quite right
By the second course I had apparently made a lot of progress from solo practice (no partners for hundreds of miles) which surprised me. Mind you, I think that Sifu made the second course easier too .... or maybe he didn't .... hmmmmmmmmm??
Now that all of this additional material is being made available on Sifu's site .... and considering the wealth of opportunites for students to prepare with Shaolin Wahnam instructors all over the globe I think the Sifu may have to consider making the course harder again
Shaolin Wahnam Switzerland
6th Feb 2008
This is going to have to be really short because we are now waiting for the bus to take us to the graduation dinner.
I just wanted to write about Sifu's teaching methodology in this post. For the senior Wahnam students, I am sure it is very obvious but even for a novice like myself, I can see how Sifu continually improves his teaching. I wrote yesterday about how Sifu applied Taijiquan training methods to the more difficult Shaolinquan techniques. It is nothing short of innovative, but more importantly, it highlights how Sifu always seeks out the best methods for his students. I know of masters who take an extremely partisan approach to their teaching, and refuse to budge from the traditional ways of teaching.
I must stress though that I am not saying that one should abandon the rich legacies of the past masters in a blind attempt to be creative. The training methods passed down by masters were perfected through centuries of trial and error and blood was shed for these methods. At the same time, though, martial arts is a living thing, and masters have evolved it for each generation of civilization.
I am still organizing my thoughts and will need to trawl them for the exact details but there is one thing that stuck in my mind. This morning, when teaching us the One-Finger Zen, Sifu said that we begin with the right hand. Then he said something seemingly innocuous that held great significance for me: “I am not sure of the effect if we begin with the left hand. I have not gone deep enough into this to know.”
For some reason, that simple statement hit me like a thunderbolt. It was a statement of such humility, coming from a celebrated master who has practiced this art for 40 years and has mastered it. The statement was also an embodiment of the perfect student — to practice exactly as he was taught by his master. I found myself reflecting on the fact that Sifu had made so many revolutionary changes in the teaching of Shaolinquan but taught this art exactly the way it was passed down. A great master knows what to teach, what not to teach and of course, how to teach. Another statement that keeps echoing in my mind was this: “I teach this way because this was how my Sifu taught me.”
Just yesterday, Sifu reminded us that we should practice what the master instructed and not to try and be smarter than the master. All of us students have heard Sifu say this so often but he never fails to reiterate it. There is definitely something to it, and as Ronan said at the graduation dinner, don't spend years going in circles just to realise this truth. Just practising what Sifu told us to practise is going to take my whole lifetime. There is no time to waste in trying to be clever.
Persevere in correct practice
6th Feb 2006
Day 5 - last day
I will try and make this as coherent as possible, however my timing skills are off and it is gone 01:30.
So, this was it, the last day of the course.
We were taught the second part of One Finger Shooting Zen. Emphasis on total relaxation and no use of muscular force.
We also practiced forgiveness (yourself, or others) during the standing meditation part. A very joyful experience, but not one I have the skill to put into words.
Sifu gave an interesting talk on strategy, whether in mass, or personal combat.
We learned sequences 11 and 12 and combined 9-12 into the Happy Bird Hops on Branch set.
Practiced adding surprise kicks against the attacker in a sequence.
Practiced sets 1-12 as self-choice with several sequences linked together and increasing number of (self-choice) patterns being dropped (e.g. attach with pattern then selected attacks from set, attack with selected patterns from set, respond with selected patterns.)
Sifu taught us and alternative 'soft' counter for the kick in sequence 12.
Learned sequences 13 and 15 and did some break-fall practice.
Then the usual self-choice practice. I'm afraid by this point it got a little too much for me. My brain shut down to the point that it was easier to do free sparring with patterns from 1-16 than to actually follow the rules Sifu set for the practice.
Sifu re-stated an important principle that was covered very early in the course, but one that I forgot when writing my notes: first make sure you do not give your opponent any advantages and only then seek to find advantages from yourself. In one way this is an extension of the "safety first" principle but it is more than that. Your defeat is handed to your opponent, but you must put in effort to gain victory.
Sifu Ronan gave a demonstration of the Tiger-Crane set.
By the time the morning class finished I was not feeling all that great mentally/emotionally. I sort of stumbled back to my room where I fell on the floor and cried lots, then wailed a bit and then cried some more. After about 15-20 minutes I finished with that, washed all of the gunk off my face and went and dived into the pool to get rid of the gunk on my body (sorry fellow pool users.)
I then went to Tesco and discovered a cake shop. There I bought a slice of cake, with lots of cream and chocolate on it (the wrapping even had pink hearts on it,) which I took back to my room and ate in happy solitude with lots of green tea.
Training in the afternoon was easier. I felt much better.
We learned sequences 14 and 16 and combined 13-16 into the Felling Tree with Roots set.
Then we practiced sequences 1-16 from self-choice all the way to free sparring, using the methodology used by Sifu throughout. Thus Sifu's secret plan to get us to free spar without realising it was revealed.
Then, for most of the remaining session we practice applying Kungfu techniques against basic techniques of other martial systems: boxing, taekwondo, kick-boxing, a knee attack from Muay Thai and a wrestling frontal take-down. Many thanks to Sifus Mark and Ronan (who are also extensively trained in all these systems) for the demonstrations of real combat application.
The experience was humbling actually. Even though most of us imitated the techniques from these systems quite badly, it was not as easy countering as I thought it would be (with the exception of boxing, which was fairly straightforward.) The counters themselves are very easy and straightforward, but my level of skill is too low to execute most of them properly (mainly footwork and timing problems.)
That said it worked brilliantly when Sifus Mark and Ronan were using them on each other (not to mention Sifu, who just slices straight through whatever technique is thrown at him,) so it is just a question of practicing the skills, which I would be doing in my normal practice anyway.
We practiced 3 levels of progression: avoidance, interception and counter-attack. In some cases a "coup de gra" attack was possible (e.g. kicks against a boxer.)
It was very weird (in an unpleasant way) using these non-Kungfu techniques. They feel empty, as if the energy has been turned off. It hurt so much more when sparring against Kungfu techniques. The attacker would also be short for breath after a few minutes, despite being able to spare vigorously for hours at a time in our Kungfu practice without this happening.
We finished the session with our own practice - whatever we felt like doing (naturally with a nice chi-flow at the end.)
In the evening we went to a lovely Chinese restaurant for our graduation meal, and ate fantastic genuine vegetarian food (no sea-chickens here!)
I'm not going to write about it - it was lovely. Apparently, we (as a course) surpassed Sifu's expectations.
This is it. Tomorrow I start my holiday.
Thank you Sifu.
Shaolin Wahnam England
Combat application is an essential aspect of kungfu training. Here Sifu Wong shows how to open the way for a surprised kick.
7th Feb 2006
It's time to post my impressions of this course.
First of all, let me say that as always the social and family aspect of the course have been a great highlight. Seeing old friends, meeting new ones, and going through the course together make for unforgettable memories.
Being the second course of this kind for me (I would count the special Shaolin course separately), it was much much easier than the first time, but by no mean devoid of challenges!
My general aim for this course was to improve my combat efficiency.
My objectives were:
- Maintain mental clarity while sparring
- Don't get out of breath while sparring
- Keep good forms while sparring
- Get better at applying force
- Improve my basic skills (spacing / timing / judgement)
- Improve my intent while sparring
Well, I am glad to say I achieved them all. By the last day I could spar without ever "losing it". I remember how at the previous courses I would lose track of my dantian after some time of sparring. Now I can spar, press, and be a threat while always being relaxed and in control.
Of course it was more difficult when sparring with much highly skilled partners, like Mark or Ronan, but at least it didn't build up into some blockages, and I could at least manage not to get overwhelmed. (Even after receiving a nice leopard punch in the eye from Ronan ) Given that I started Shaolin Kung Fu only a year and a half ago, and had no experience of martial arts whatsoever, it is a great testimony of the efficiency of Sifu's teaching.
It also helped that I didn't crash my shoulder on the second day of the course
I need to meet Maxime at Tesco in 5 minutes so I will talk about the constant improvement in Sifu's methodology later on.
9th Feb 2006
I'd just like to say what a joy this course has been. Again my appreciation and love for the Shaolin arts has been deepened to unfathomable depths! I learned more than I possibly could have imagined and met some great hearted people. All in a one week course!
We all know how important going back over the basics are, no matter what level you are at. But I always saw it as a chore to go back however many steps and work solely on my footwork or breath control etc. I was proven totally wrong in this case! It wasn't a chore at all, on the contrary it was pure joy to deepen skills in the basics. I realise full heartedly now what Sifu has been telling us from the beggining, "The secrets of the masters are found in the basics."
I can't fully put into words how gratefull I am for this devine realisation and for all the gems my brothers, sisters and myself were given on this course. I just feel the best way we can repay Sifu and all past masters is to train dilligently, follow the 10 Shaolin Laws and pass the arts onto deserving students, irrespective of race, culture of religion. That way this incredible art will not be lost.
Thanks again to George and everyone else contributing to this thread. I'd like to invite everyone to join in and post their expierences, good or bad. It's a great help to anyone interested in spiritual joy, health and combat efficiency to read the accounts of people who practice the Shaolin Arts. Especially the accounts of people like Hubert, who with no previous martial arts training, can spar with real Kung Fu for hours at a time and not be physically or energetically shattered.
This in itself is a marvellous achievement after just 18months practice, but still not the most marvellous! I have been through severe depression in my life and so I believe the most impressive achievement is that his spirit and his happiness have grown steadily since he began practicing. And not just Hubert, the transformations I've seen people go through after just a year of dedicated practice is truely remarkable!
For myself, the happiness I've aquired through training has at times been simply overwhelming! Everyday is better than the last (even the bad days are good!) and the key is regular practice.
Many thanks to Sifu, all past Masters and God for making Life such a joy!
9th Feb 2006
The Course, Frying point!
I just wanted to add my own contribution to this thread.
The course was absolutely fantastic, I had a great time in so many ways and on so many levels.
As always with the Kung Fu Courses you send about 32/35 hours studying with Sifu and this is great!! tough but great.
So first of all I would like to thank Sifu for his teachings and pay my respects to all the past Masters.
I am not going to even try and go into any detail about the course as George has done an exellent job on this already. Also I would like to thank George for doing such a great job of posting so regularly and in such great detail.
Ok one thing that I found really memorable on the course was the catch phrases from Sifu.
"Basics means very important"
"You are doing kung fu, not opium smoking"
These are going to stick with me for a very long time.
Meeting all the people on the course, some old and many new was truly great, everyone worked really hard and did really well
Two things I would like to comment on. This was my third course with Sifu and like Ronan said I picked up so much and got to look at many of the different aspects of the Kung Fu.
One thing that really impressed me was the way that Sifu is constantly refining his teachings, techniques and skill in the way he presents the material. Both Ronan and I were commenting on how all the people attending the course was picking up the Kung Fu so quickly and we both put this down to Sifu's ability to transmit the essence. Either that or everyone was better than myself when I did the course (it would not be hard to be ).
The second part for me was being in a position to see everyone when they hit what I and other instructors call the frying point. This in essence is when your mind and body are overwhelmed and you forget what limb is what. Sifu will call out to right punch and you end up kicking with your left leg. Sifu says that he will push you mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually and he does. The reason I enjoyed this so much was because I have been there and I can truly appreciate what people are going through.
More importantly I get to enjoy seeing them when they go beyond this point and they realise they have got more in reserve than they imagine. It really is a nice feeling to see someone who could not control his body suddenly move up a level and there Kung Fu practise get better.
Thanks for your time
15th Feb 2006
Hi guys, I arrived home yesterday. I've been taking the training easy for the last week, mainly lifting the sky and stretching. Mainly because the cleansing has been quite strong, for example my feet were swollen for a while.
I've been looking at the videos we received of the course and it's very extensive and useful, seeing as I've forgotten a lot of the sequences.
My moves have become a lot more forceful which I didn't expect.
Before the course I didn't have a good grasp of what force was as I hadn't done any sparring. From sparring with everyone on the course I can now see the difference in everyone's level. It was a very surreal experience to have my ideas on strength turned on its head. The large guys weren't necessarily more powerful and the girls weren't necessarily weaker. Some arms were a struggle to move and others were easier. But I could notice an improvement in them towards the end.
On the first day after my chi flow while listening to Sifu Wong talk, I noticed that everything was getting very vivid. I found the yellow of Sifu Wongs clothes and the blue of the pool were becoming too intense. Almost like the sun was getting too close. Then I felt a rush up to my eyes and I lost my eyesight for a second and fell over. I stood up and I suddenly had a lot of sweat on my face and later some friends said I was very pale. I felt that I had lost a weight behind my eyes.
During stance training in the mornings I had very severe shaking so much so, it was hard to keep the form sometimes. Sifu Wong said tissue cleansing was happening and if we were doing Eagle Spreads Wings than we can think of our dan tian so the shaking becomes less and we can keep our balance.
On the last day Sifu Wong told us that we had been sparring for two hours and that we're not out of breath or tired. In fact we had more energy.
I spent a lot of time trying to remember the sequences. If I knew these beforehand I feel I would have been able to take away a lot more from the course. I guess I'll just have to go again. Yeah the course was really great.
15th Feb 2006
Sorry to hear the cleansing has been rough, but it will make you stronger . We missed you in Langkawi... I don't know if you were still there to witness Adam getting himself attacked by monkeys. Fortunately, he survived.
I too realized on this course what the nature of internal force is and how my small size means very little when going up against larger opponents. I guess before the course began, I was beginning to become frustrated with my stance training. I thought it wasn't going anywhere and that I wasn't getting any stronger. Boy, I was wrong.
I'm glad I persevered in that aspect of my training. Once I saw how it affected by kungfu for the better, it gave me renewed motivation to go back and continue training without worry and enjoy where it's taking me. Of course, it helped to hear all of Ronan's encouraging words which will keep me training day in and day out. Well I hope you're getting on okay, and I'm sure when you're done cleansing, you'll find your skills even better then they were at the end of the course.
Hubert, thanks for posting that lovely photo- it's a big happy bunch of folks. I'll have to print myself a copy!
16th Feb 2006
I am sorry but I couldn't write anything before my coming back in France. Please accept my apologies.
I will not contribute more on this thread as George and others have already done a wonderful work. My personnal experiences will certainly be 'discarded' in others threads, from time to time.
But I feel the need to thank from my heart all those who have contributed to make that course in Malaysia a wondeful, challenging, insightful and once again life changing experience.
First of all my eternal thanks to Sifu for sharing with us the wonderful Arts of Shaolin. We students of Shaolin Wahnam are extremely lucky to inherit such wisdom, knowledge and to be able to walk a path of Light and Love. Thank you from the Heart Sifu.
Dear Simu, thank you for your kind smile and for making Sifu such an happy man.
Dear Wei Foong, you are a true sister, an inspiration and, like I told you, a ?perfect Shen'; it has been wonderful to see you again.
Extra special thanks to my Sihing Ronan and Mark, whose kindness in providing us help and support, as well as sharing their experiences has been of great help.
Ronan Sihing: I finally found the only man in the world who loves Milo more than I do
Mark Sihing (no, you can't escape my ?Sihing' word here ): you know that we will meet again, even if you still are Scottish (nobody's perfect ). From the Heart, thanks for everything.
And to all my warrior brothers and sisters from worldwide:
George: my non-English non-Russian brother, this goes especially for you: a very big
Nick: I simply just loved sparring with you (I also loved your no-shadow kick in my groin, but surprisingly would not like to try again )
Molly: ah, my favourite nasty girl. See you soon for another Pressing sparring, good girl!
Wuji: you are the impossible melting-pot of Shaolin and Wudang; the reunification is in your merciful hands!
Chris: stop laughing while sparring with me big guy!
My two favourite Australian: guys I appreciate your style and your friendly spirit, in sparring as well as in daily activities. Extra thanks for sharing that Hung Gar Dim Mak with me.
Daniel: It was good to see you again in Georgetown. And don't forget: don't throw your stances away brother! (no, I won't tell what is your favourite weapon, as long as you don't tell what mine is; a true brother's secret!!!)
Johnattan: nice to repeat sequences with you, when close to the frying point. And of course I agree with your ultimate statement: ?yeah I think this course is great!'
Adam: stop bouncing baby (and I'll open my mouth), you crazy American. Done? Now YOU da man, Gee! (ps: what happened with those monkeys?)
Jordan: Rooaaarrrr!!! Now I listen to the Big Laughing Tiger!
Warren and Leroy: my dear brothers, your spirit is reflected in your kind smiles and sparkling eyes. It was a pleasure to share that adventure with you. See you in a near future.
Kaz: young girl, I hope everything is fine with you. Keep in touch when you have time.
And of course ? last but not least ? my dear brother Hubert: thanks from my Heart for your patience and kindness with me. You know that I appreciated it so much. I look forward more and more sparring with you soon (but no more jokes when it's time to go to bed, you know my crazy laugh now ). The smoothest Dragon on earth. French connection is in the house, baby!
Dear brothers and sisters, I was jut thinking, isn't the path we are walking a wonderful one? What about our achievements in 10 years from now? In 20 years? Well, we will share our experiences then, besides having shared happiness around us during all those years!
I Smile At You With A Friendly Face
My Eyes Are Full Of Emotion
A True Family Of Brothers And Sisters
Sharing The Warrior Path Of Compassion
'I am now becoming a better man, son, and friend every day in every way."
19th Feb 2006
I think George has done an absolutely amazing job crystallising what happened at the course, especially since he wrote these notes virtually straight after the evening session. To have been able to just get your head together to even type something down is just truly amazing.
George mentioned that he hit the mental wall on Day 4 and especially on Day 5, and I remember the look on his face during that time, because it was the same face that stared back at me in the mirror after the evening session of Day 4!!! I don't know how many others reached that stage, but I also sensed the feeling of everyone supporting each other spiritually and emotionally, and that was one of the things that helped me to break through that wall, and I again want to thank everyone at the course for their support.
So thanks again George for this amazing report and keep smiling!!!
21st Feb 2006
I saw a Hawk
I thought I might give a short account of the Intensive Kung Fu Course as experienced by yours truly.
Firstly though I would like to thank George for his Herculean efforts in documenting the course, and for his slightly disconcerting grin.
Unfortunately I was in such a general state of mental meltdown that a day by account is beyond me. However this has already been done with great competance and so I will just get on with noting some of my most memorable experiences in general chronological order...
I think the moment when i realised what the word 'Intensive' in the title meant was when Sigung said "Stand and relax" and I went straight into a manic chi flow before he had even finished speaking. I can remeber wondering 'woops I dont think I'm meant to go into chi flow' then i realised that there was very little i could do about it and let go and enjoyed it immensley.
The Afternoon of day one was amongst the toughest parts of the course for me. I had a lot of pain in my lower back and in my stomach and a not insignificant urge to go to the toilet. This was my biggest physical frying point without a doubt!
I did have an amazing chi flow here though. I was one of those people singing and I was singing one note. The note was coming from my stomach and it took on an almost physical nature. It then expanded becoming my entire body, then the entire room. Then there was nothing except this one note, though i noticed it was made up of small vibrations all moving in harmony to create this one universal note. It was truly, truly amazing and the words here will never do it justice! Thankyou Sigung!
The evening of day one saw me feeling very delicate. At the welcoming meal I threw up a few times. Without all the gory details lets just say this was not your conventional sick(ie solid and black with no carrots anywhere to be seen )(ok so maybe some of the gory details )!! I felt in huge emotional turmoil for the rest of the evening.
On waking the next day I felt 'lighter' like had discarded some sort of guilt and shame that I had been carrying with me for my entire life. This feeling is still apparent as write this and is quite amazing! I am free from myself now
Another experience worthy of note is the noting itself of a small amount of force that I had collected in only 6 months of daily stance training under the guidance of a Competent Sifu(Jordan(Thankyou!)) It was wonderful to have a verification such as this of my short practice thus far and I urge to anyone who is considering training with a Wahnam instructor to just do it!!
I think my biggest mental frying point was when learning the Felling sequences (12-16). I had Sifu Ronan as a sparring partner for a little while here and owe him many many thanks for coaxing me back into the world of coherence. It really is difficult to describe this feeling of being 'fried' but you can tell if someone else is; they respond to you with nothing other than a blank stare from misted eyes.
I think one of the most beautiful aspects of the course was the positive attitude and respect shown by everyone to Sigung, the material itself, and to each other! This course is amazing! I loved meeting everyone and sharing the experience with you all! Thank you!
My final experience I would like to share is one I had in the standing meditation after One Finger Shooting Zen. Akin to the singing chi flow only much much more powerful. Again this feeling of calm and humility, I realised I had an ability to unconditionally love others more than i could possibly imagine(note subtle star wars reference ) Once again words fail to convey the experience.
I had my first class post-course last night and I have already noticed many, many things I had missed or foolishly disregarded before. My shen is substantially better than before the course. My execution of patterns like Black Tiger and White Snake is much better, but more than this I have realised there is depth to every pattern that is there for me to explore as I wish. I have made my horse stance slightly narrower and it feels great! I understanded to much greater depth the concept of differentiating yin and yang... the list could go on but i imagine anyone who has read this far is probably getting bored by now..
So I will adjourn this with a final thanks to Sigung, to Sifu (Jordan) and to all my course mates, especially Mark, Ronan, and Hubert whose help was invaluable!! Practicing with Wahnam is truly a great honour!!With Love