November 2001 (Part 3)
SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Have you any advice about ways that I could take out or reduce the negative affects of having a pure and primal appetite for kung fu?
— David, Scotland
Yes. Remember that kungfu is to enrich your life, not to enslave yourself to it. If you practise kungfu the whole day and have little time for your friends, little time for your parents, little time for your work, and little time for anything else, then you have become a slave to kungfu.
If you find you have more time and more energy to enjoy the company of your friends, to talk to your parents, to enjoy your work and anything else, then kungfu has enrich your life and the lives of others.
Are there any true places in the world I could forever live my art?
A truly great art will enable you to live in it anywhere, anytime. If you have to find a secluded mountain or distant temple to hide your art, it is nothing great.
You can live in kungfu in a desert by yourself, or in a sea of people, at night or in the day, when you are twenty or in your ripe old age. When you are at work, kungfu gives you the clarity of thought and persevernace of effort to produce your best. When you are with the high and mighty, kungfu gives you the courage and wisdom to surpass them. When you are with the down trodden, kungfu gives you the compassion and strength to help them. When you are alone, kungfu gives you the inner peace to find God.
I feel I need a new perspective on life and training, as I know I would not be truly satisfied with a life that is less than steeped in kung fu.
View kungfu not merely as a fighting art, but as a complete programme for physical, emotional, mental and spiritual development. And if you are ambitious, do not be satisfied with anything less than the greatest, and that is genuine, traditional Shaolin Kungfu. If you wish to know why Shaolin Kungfu is considered by many people as the greatest, please refer to Why Shaolin Kungfu is the Greatest Martial Art.
I would recommend you to attend my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in Malaysia. Please refer to Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course for details. I am sure you will be amazed that there is much more to kungfu than what you think. You will not only develop internal force and apply genuine kungfu techniques for combat, but concepts that I have mentioned earlier like clarity of thought and inner peace will come to life.
If you qualify, you may like to teach genuine Shaolin Kungfu in the name of my school, Shaolin Wahnam. I am dedicated to ensure that genuine Shaolin Kungfu will be preserved, and I need sincere, devoted instructors to help me.
Usually in martial arts books, the “good guy” will be on the defending side, However, if one day I am attacked and the opponent stops half-way before continuing the attack, shall have to attack instead of waiting for him to attack me in order for me to block and then counterattack.
— Vincent, Malaysia
The good guy needs not necessarily be on the defending side. In fact, if you observe sparring today, especially in karate and taekwondo, both sides go in for attack, with little thought for defence. All martial arts, perhaps with the exception of Aikido, have both attack and defence.
All other things being equal — a presumption that is not true in real life — the attacker has a disadvantage. Hence, some people say that in any combat the one who attacks first has lost. This statement is incorrect because a trained attacker can make use of other advantages in initiating an attack.
In kungfu philosophy, these advantages are summed up in strategic and tactical principles. Here are some examples. The pronouncitation is in Cantonese.
- Seen fatt jai yen — Sudden subduing attack.
- Lin wan kung khaik — Continuous attacks.
- Sing tung khaik sei — Sound the east, attack the west.
I have to do that because I was never able to block a “friendly” opponent's attack even when I have practised many times. I just can't block or avoid fast enough. I worry about what would happen in the future if I face continous fists.
This is because you have never learnt and practised combat application systemmatically. If your training is systemmatic, and not consisting only of haphazard free sparring, you will be able to effectively block friendly as well as unfriendly attacks. You will also learn that often there is no need to block an attack.
There are some effective ways to overcome continuous fists or continuous kicks. One way is as follows. First let your opponent carries on his continuous fists for a while. As he attacks continuously, you retreat using “phut sau” (verticle palm slap) of your Wing Choon Kungfu to brush away his attacks from outside in. You must not retreat too far, but just far enough so that his fists cannot reach you even if you do not defend with your hands. Hence your “phut sau” is just a feign, as well as to keep him in contact for an effective counter-attack. The Wing Choon four-six stance is suitable for this retreat.
Then, when he least expects it, as he attacks with his right fist, you change your defence from your left “phut sau” to your right “thang sau” (mirror hand). This time you do not retreat, but lean forward in your right bow-arrow stance or right four-six stance (depending on the spacing) with your left “phew chi” (thrusting fingers) to his throat. Immediately “tame” or cover both his hands with your left “fok sau” (taming hand) and simultaneously executes a verticle fist to his solar plexus or ribs (depending on which are more exposed), followed by a thrust kick to his abdomen.
You may use the same sequence, with some modifications if necessary, against continuous kicks. Although it may come as a surprise to many people, it is actually easier to counter-attack continuous kicks than contiuous fists because while kicking, the opponent's ability to move away as well as to use his hands for defence, is comparatively slower.
But it is important to realize that merely knowing the techniques above is insufficient for you to counter-attack contiuous fists or kicks. You must have the necessary skills. To acquire these skills you have to train with a master who himself can counter continuous fists and kicks — not with any master, like one who only teaches kungfu forms.
If it is not feasible to train with such a master, as a poor substitute you can practise the above sequence many times with your friends. You must be sure that you can implement the sequence skifully before trying with a real opponent.
I feel that there are no martial arts suitable for me as they all focus on defence. I can't use my hands for attack as they are shorter than most people's.
Obviously your understanding of martial arts, even if we restrict our discussion on combat alone, is very limited. Many martial arts, like karate, taekwondo, muai thai, kickboxing, western boxing, wrestling and even judo, focus more on attack than on defence. This does not mean their defence is not effective, but if you observe the way their exponents typically fight, the emphasis on attack is obvious.
Take taekwondo as an example. In a typical sparring session, out of ten moves, more than seven are attacking moves. Often both sides attack together, with little attention for defence. There are more than ten categories of kicks for attack, but only two or three categories for defence against these kicks.
This becomes understandable when we examine their competition rules. Points are given for strikes, not for good defence. Good defence may prevent you from being struck, but by itself it cannot make you a winner — in controlled competitions as well as in real fights.
On the other hand, jujitsu and kempo place equal emphasis on attack and defence, whereas aikido emphasizes heavily on defence. Why do these arts not emphasize on attack, where points for winners are awarded. This is because of other factors, like their history and philosophy.
Aikido's philosophy is gentleness and love. Attack is incongruous to its philosophy. Jujitsu and kempo are more fighting arts than sports. Hitting an opponent even gently scores you points in a compettion. In a real fight it is not how many p;oints you score. If your strike is powerful enough, you can kill with just one strike. Good defence is therefore a necessity if you want to live.
Most kungfu styles have equal emphasis on attack and defence. Except Chen Style Taijiquan which has equal emphasis on attack and defence, the various styles of Taijiquan — Yang, Wu and Sun — focus more on defence. On the other hand, Xin Yi Kungfu and Choy-Li-Fatt focus on attack.
It is interesting to note their historical significance. Both Xin Yi Kungfu and Choy-Li-Fatt were first developed for warfare — Xin Yi by the great general Yue Fei in the Song Dynasty, and Choy-Li-Fatt by the great patriort Chen Harng in the early Republican times. These Xin Yi and Choy-Li-Fatt warriors were ready to sacrifice themselves to fight for their country.
Having short hands is not a disadvantage in most styles of kungfu, including Shaolin, Taijiquan, Bagua, Hoong Ka, Eagle Claw and Charquan. In some styles, like Wing Choon and Monkey, having short hands may be an advantage. I am not a judo expert, but I think that having short hands could be advantageous in judo.
I've done Wing Chun before but I feel the footwork isn't suitable for attack and if I want to attack, I'd have to walk a very long distance to the opponent, putting myself in danger of repeated hits and me having to block again, which I'm not good at, and again before I reach my target.
You have missed a lot in your Wing Choon training. I do not know which style of Wing Choon you practised. In some Wing Choon styles the exponents use mainly the four-six stance. This stance limits your range in both defence and attack, but if you are well trained this otherwise disadvantage can become an advantage. Your opponent has to move in to attack you, and as your stance is short he has to be closer than if your stance is long. This saves you time and effort in walking a long distance to him.
The four-six stance allows you much waist mobility — more than a bow-arrow stance does. As your opponent attacks you, without even moving your feet, you can deflect his attacks away by turning your waist, simultaneously counter-attacking.
If you wear a long skirt that goes right to your ankles, like what Yim Wing Choon did — you can kick your opponent's shin without him ever seeing your kick. This is the famous “khuen nui thui” or “kick inside skirt”. Such a kick is easier made when you are at a short four-six stance than a long bow-arrow stance.
But in other Wing Choon styles, like Choe Family Wng Choon which I practise, both the bow- arrow stance and the four-six stance as well as other stances are used. Here, you do not walk into your opopoent, you shoot in like an arrow, or in Chinese kungfu terms, “jun kung yu cheen”.
But whatever mode of advancing into your opponent you use, or whatever stance you prefer, you must always cover yourself against any possible attacks. This is a basic rule in advancing into your opponent. And when he attacks at any time, there are other ways to neutralize or counter-attack besides blocking.
Is Jujitsu invincible? What's its weakness?
No martial art, including the greatest, is invincible. Often it is not the art, but the quality of teaching and training that decides how good a fighter you are.
Kungfu is a great martial art, but most kungfu students, including those who have won international competitions, cannot use their kungfu tefchniques for fighting. Muai thai is simple — but not easy, yet most muai thai exponents are good fighters.
In my opinion, jujitsu is the best of the non-Chinese martial arts. Unlike many other martial arts which are restricted to one category of attacks — like strikes in western boxing, kicks in taekwondo, and throws in judo — jujitsu is all-round. It is graceful as well as forceful. And its training is not detrimental to health, compared to, for example, the untreated injuries sustained in karate or kickboxing training. I cannot think of any weakness in jujitsu.
Nevertheless, jujitsu does not have the great advantage of internal force and solid stances that great kungfu like Shaolin or Taijiquan has. Indeed, looking back at my sparring and actual fightings in the past, it was internal force and solid stance more than anything else that helped me come out of the combat unhurt.
But the greatest advantage Shaolin or Taijiquan has over jujitsu is in spiritual development. Basically jujitsu is a great fighting art, but Shaolin and Taijiquan can lead their practitioners to the highest spiritual attainment.
If a Jujitsu practitioner counterattacks an attack, is there no way to counter the counterattack?
There is no such a thing as an invinsible attack or counter-attack in jujitsu or in any other martial arts. Every attack or counter-attack has its counter. Usually there are a few counters, and there are also a few counter-counters to these counters, and so on.
In some kungfu stories or movies, we sometimes found that when a martial artist was defeated by a particular technique, he went all over the country to seek a counter for that technique. This notion is not true. If you are highly skillful, almost any technique can counter almost any technique!
Let us say you use technique X to attack your opponent, and he counter-attacks with technique Y. You can use X to counter Y, or you can use Y to counter Y, or you can use many other techniques.
Take a simple example. You attack your opponent with a straight punch, and he counters with a tiger-claw, gripping your elbow. You can pull back your straight punch to your hip and give him another straight punch. Even if he has his grip on your elbow, the turning effect of your arm in pulling it back will release the grip.
Alternatively, you can respond to his tiger claw with your own tiger claw. Even if his tiger claw is gripping your elbow, the turn of your arm in executing your tiger claw will release his grip. And you can in turn grip his elbow like what he did to you, or you can aim your tiger claw at his face.
These techniques are simple, you may say. What about complicated techniques? You can find counters against complicated techniques in my webpages, like when both your hands are held and you are being kicked, or when your opponent has locked your arm and pressed you to the ground.
The crucial factor in winning a combat is usually not techniques but “kung”, a kungfu term that has no English equvalent. “Kung” includes skill, speed and force. In the example above, if your opponent's tiger claw is very powerful, even if you have applied a correct counter technique, you would be unable to release your elbow from his grip.
Jujitsu masters have done very well in international price-fighting competitions. They got their opponents to the ground, applied arm locks or neck locks on them, and won handsomely — without any tincture of crudeness or brutality that is not uncommon in many other martial arts.
Yet, their victory was due to their “kung”, although their techniques were excellent. It was not that their opponents did not know how to neutralize their locks, but because they had executed their locks so skilfully that despite knowing the counter-techniques, their opponents could not free themselves.
What would happen if a jujitsu master got a Shaolin or Taijiquan master onto the ground and applied an arm lock or neck lock on him?
In the first place, the Shaolin or Taijiquan master would not allow the jujitsu master get him onto the ground. To be so would be a case of Shaolin or Taijiquan at its weakest matching jujitsu at its strongest.
So, if it were a real fight of life and death, as soon as the jujitsu master moved in to grap his waist or legs to bring him onto the ground, the Shaolin or Taijiquan master would call forth his strongest points — his solid stance and internal force. He would sink down his stance to neutralize the throw and, if necessary, smash his palm with internal force onto the attacker's head, killing or maiming him — reminding us, unfortunately, the brutality of life-death combat. Shaolin and Taijiquan masters are generally compassionate. So the master might strike the opponent's shoulder instead, fracturing or dislocating it.
But, what would happen if the jujitsu master succeeded in getting the Shaolin or Taijiquan master onto the ground. This would be a good example of the jujitsu master winning the situation because of superior “kung” although his technique was inferior. On the ground, it would also be “kung” that would decide the victor.
Technically speaking, at least two limbs are needed to effectively lock one limb, hence leaving the opponent's other limb free. So while the jujitsu master locked the Shaolin or Taijiquan master's arm or neck — which would take a few seconds to be effectively implemented — the latter would use his free hand to jab into the former's side, and pulled out a rib. This was possible if the Shaolin or Taijiquan master had sufficient “kung” to penetrate the jujitsu master's side. If the former's “kung” was lacking, his arm or neck would be broken.
Li Qing-Yun was born in 1678 A.D. in Qi Jiang Xian, Sichuan province, China. He died in 1928 A.D. A book called Er Bai Wu Shi Sui Ren Rui She Ji (A Factual Account of a 250 year old Good Luck Man) was written about him. Will the Chi Kung you teach also be of great results as the Good Luck Man? I humbly ask for any wisdom or knowledge that you may share about this.
— Anton, Canada
I am not sure whether the Good Luck Man, Li Qing Yun, was a real person or just a myth, but he is certainly an inspiration to us.
Chi kung operates according to natural laws. The effects of chi kung is to enhance our natural abilities so that we can approximate to our full potentials. We cannot go beyond nature.
To be healthy, peaceful and happy are natural. Hence no matter what illness, disturbance and sorrow we may sometimes be exposed to, if our systems are working naturally, we can overcome them.
When a person becomes sick, agitated or unhappy, it is because one or more of his systems have failed to worked naturally. Chi kung helps to restore the natural working of these systems, thereby helping him to recover his health, peace and happiness.
But no matter how great a chi kung master is, he has to die one day because it is natural to die. The potential life span of people in our present era is about 120 years. There may be persons who have lived beyond 120, but they are the lucky exceptions. Hence, the most chi kung can do in terms of longevity is to enable a mortal live to his full potential, i.e. 120 years in our present world era.