April 2003 (Part 1)
SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Through much growth on my part and maybe a bit more wisdom, I have come to realize that I have wasted your time. I tried my best to tell a friend with multiple sclerosis the opportunity he had with you, and he seemed to believe me. I even lent him your book “The Art Of Chi Kung" to give him some prior understanding of your philosophy. Maybe his karma is not ready. It is very sad because he will spend millions of Rands on treatment by doctors who admit to not even having a clue on how to cure the disease, or even how it is caused.
— Kevin, South Africa
You are right to suggest that your friend with multiple sclerosis does not have the good karma to learn and benefit from a wonderful art. When one realizes that the chi kung that I am teaching was from the Shaolin Temple which was the imperial temple for all the emperors in China (but is now a tourist attraction), he would realize why the art is so wonderful.
In the history of kungfu and chi kung, a number of masters started to learn their art because they wanted to overcome illness that conventional medicine (and in China, conventional medicine was traditional Chinese medicine) could not help them. Not only they overcame their illness, they went on to become masters.
The Venerable Hai Deng (Light in the Sea of Suffering), the famous Shaolin master who taught traditional Shaolin Kungfu at the Shaolin Temple in the 1960s just before modernized wushu replaced traditional kungfu at the temple, was a good example. He was so constantly sick in his childhood days that his parents called him Fan Wu Bing (Fan the Never Sick, Fan being his surname) in the hope that this might help. The Venerable Hai Deng was the teacher of the great chi kung master, Yan Xin, considered by the Chinese government as a national treasure.
In theory, multiple sclerosis can be overcome by practicing genuine chi kung, and in practice there have been many successful cases. According to Chinese medical philosophy, a patient suffers from what in the West is called multiple sclerosis because energy flow between his “heart” and various parts of his body is blocked. In Western terms, the connection between his conscious control and various parts of his body is interrupted. Hence when he wants to use his hands in a certain way, for example, his muscles do not obey his intention because the instruction in the form of mental impulses does not reach the muscles.
Western doctors could not overcome this problem because they do not know where the blockage is. The blockage may or may not be along the arms; it may be at a gland in a remote part of his body controlling flows of mental impulses. Even if they knew, the nerves along which the mental impulses travel are too delicate for intervention.
Do chi kung masters know where the blockage is? They don't, but the fantastic fact is that they need not have to know! What they need to do is to get the patient generate a vigorous energy flow. As the patient's body naturally has an elaborate network of meridians that connect every part of his body with every other part, energy will flow to all parts of his body and will eventually clear the blockage that causes him multiple sclerosis. It will also overcome his other health problems.
In theory any type of chi kung will eventually have this result. But in practice only high level chi kung will do, because the energy flow of low level chi kung is too weak to clear other blockages barring the way, and too slow with the result that when some blockages are clear new blockage may occur.
In theory high level chi kung will overcome multiple sclerosis, but in practice this may not be so, because other factors may interfere. For example, he may have perverted views, thinking that multiple sclerosis cannot be cured. This mental blockage is a serious hindrance to his recovery. Or he may have some life threatening problems which he may not consciously know, and all benefits fo his chi kung training are channeled to contain these problems to keep him alive.
An analogy will make this clear. Suppose you want to buy a castle but you do not have enough money. In theory, if you work hard and long enough in an occupation or profession that brings high level income, you can eventually buy the castle. But in practice this may not be so. For example, you may, for some reasons, have concluded that you could never own a castle, and this mental blockage subconsciously prevents you from earning enough money to buy one. Or you may have other more urgent commitments, thus whatever you earn is channeled to these more urgent needs.
The philosophy above explaining why chi kung can overcome multiple sclerosis is similarly applicable to all other diseases. The philosophy is very simple, so simple many people may not believe in it, especially when subconsciously they regard that the Western medical paradigm is the only way to look at health and illness.
Philosophy in the Eastern concept is different from that in the West. In the East, philosophy is an explanation of what has been happening over many centuries. In the West, philosophy has become speculation on what should (but may not necessary does) happen in real life. In this case, over many centuries patients suffering multiple sclerosis and other so-called incurable diseases have overcome their illness by practicing high level chi kung. Chi kung master then offer an explanation on what has happened, and this explanation constitutes the philosophy.
It is not that some smart masters speculate that a person has a network of meridians, and when chi flows harmoniously along the meridians multiple sclerosis and other diseases will be overcome. The event comes first, the explanation later. Masters sum up various explanations in a coherent philosophy so that succeeding generations can benefit from the experiences of their predecessors.
Recently you pointed out an example of a well-thought out letter which made me realize my tardiness. I started training the Horse Stance, “Lifting the Sky”, and “Drawing the Moon” one month ago. I practice every morning and evening, and the results can be seen. If I can teach myself to this level in one month using your written guidance, I would gladly pay 1000 dollars to learn from you personally.
The best way to show my appreciation of what you have taught me is to save up the money and come to an intensive course so that I can one day become a good student. This may take a while but I don't mind anymore. I realize that my karma has given me an opportunity to learn something incredible and surely that is worth waiting for.
Why do people say my courses are expensive? A student who has taken many courses from me gave an excellent answer. It is because these people have never attended my courses. If they had attended any of my courses, they would not say the courses are expensive because they would then know what benefits they get from the courses compared to the fees paid.
On the other hand, many of those who have attended my courses have said they would gladly pay many times the fees. Moreover, all my courses are satisfaction-guaranteed. Anyone not satisfied with what he is learning, needs only to tell me or my organizer an hour before the completion of the course, and he will have a full refund without questions.
Actually amongst my best students, including some who are now Shaolin Wahnam instructors, are those who borrowed money to come to Malaysia to attend my intensive courses. It is no surprise that they turned out to be best students. They valued the arts so much that instead of waiting they preferred to borrow money (which they eventually returned).
In the past I used to teach some of my best arts free. When it rained or when there were some interesting programs on television, many students did not attend classes. Many years ago some senior students requested private kungfu lessons from me, and I taught them without charging them any money. One night I was at the training ground and waited for two hours but not a single person turned up. It happened that a World Cup football match was being broadcasted at about the same time. That was the last straw, after which students had to pay to learn from me.
Sometimes some persons can be incredibly unreasonable. My literary agent in England asked me to do her a favor by sending chi to her friend who had cancer. Instead of the cancer patient telephoning me to arrange for a suitable time for the distant chi transmission (which would be expected if she asked me a favor) the cancer patient asked me to telephone her instead. Long distant calls from Malaysia to England cost a lot of money at that time.
When I called her the first time, she said her house was too noisy then, and asked me to call again later. Later, through the literary agent the cancer patient asked me to fly to England to teach her chi kung to overcome her cancer. The literary agent added that since the cancer patient had already spent a lot of money in conventional treatment, she could not afford to pay me for the chi kung lessons. “Would she pay for my air tickets?” I asked. “No” came the answer.
About 10 minutes into my Taijiquan practice I develop agonizing pains just below the middle of my spine. I have had back pains for a long time, and in daily life chi kung has almost removed the pain altogether by correction my posture, which I think caused the whole problem to begin with. But about half way into the sword form the pain just dissolves in an instant. At the same time I find my body as well as my sweat suddenly cool instead of hot. After the practice I experience no pain but this seems to happen almost every time I go to class . What advice would you give me?
My advice for you is to consult a genuine chi kung master to open the blocked spot at your spine, and to teach you some effective chi kung exercises to clear the blockage once and for all. If this is not feasible, then continue your Taijiquan practice.
When you first start your practice, you develop energy flow. This energy flow attempts to break through some blockage at your spine, thus causing you initial pain. As you continue your training, the energy flow succeeds in clearing the blockage, and the pain disappears.
Then, why does the pain appear again. This is because the cleansing is not thorough. The chi or energy developed by your Taijiquan practice manages to clear some of the blockage, but is not powerful enough to clear all the blockage. The partial clearing gives you some relief.
But why didn't you feel pain before your Taijiquan practice? This is because the blockage is not serious. At normal times, your energy flow is not strong, and it is able to slip through the blockage without causing pain. At the initial stage of your Taijiquan practice, your energy flow becomes stronger, and this creates pressure as it flows against the blockage, causing pain. But as the energy flow becomes stronger still, it is potent enough to break through some partial blockage, thus relieving the pain. The feeling of coolness, or more correctly the feeling of being refreshed, is what is called the “vaporizing effect” of chi flowing through a cleared passage.
Such experiences of what we call “good pain” are common among our chi kung students in Shaolin Wahnam, with the exception that after some time the “good pain” disappears permanently when the blockage is thoroughly cleared.
At first these students may not have any pain. But after a few weeks of chi kung training, they may feel pain at certain parts of their body or at their elbows or knees, and sometimes soles. The pain at certain parts of their body is due to energy flow clearing blockage at those parts. The pain at their elbows, knees or soles is due to toxic waste that has been cleared from their internal organs but not yet cleared out of their body, and is temporarily lodged at their elbows, knees and soles. As they continue their training, the blockage will be cleared and the “good pain” will disappear altogether.
With the movements and sets that are described and illustrated in your book, “The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan”, if you have problems focusing your internal energy with some of the moves but in others you can feel the energy rushing through your dan tian, can you concentrate on those moves or is it wise to incorporate all of the moves in a set to build the chi to a specific pattern?
— John, Germany
There are many different ways to work on energy while performing a Taijiquan set in particular or performing Taijiquan in general. Such energy work must be taught and supervised by a master who himself has much experience in energy work.
If you are learning on your own, or from an instructor who does not have energy experience, it is best to leave out the energy and mind aspects. Just perform the Taijiquan movements gently and gracefully with natural breathing and without any visualization. In this way you will still be able to work on energy informally, as you have done as indicated by the feeling of energy at your dan tian.
For some patterns if you feel energy at your dan tian or elsewhere, enjoy the sensation. For other patterns if you do not feel anything, it does not matter; just continue your movements gently and gracefully.
Masters have warned those who practice on their own, not to tamper with energy and mind without supervision, but many people ignore the warning, frequently at their own perils. If one wants to be a doctor, he has to be trained under the supervision of senior doctors. He cannot merely read some medical books and then practices medicine. Similarly if one wants to enjoy the advanced effects of Taijiquan, he has to learn from and practice under the supervision of a master. If he is unwilling to do so, he has to be satisfied with lesser benefits.
I am quite week and have a small sized body. My legs and hands are small too. Is there any way to make my legs and hands powerful. I have read many questions and answers in your websites. Am I right to say that the practice of Tai Chi Three-Circle Stance is among the best ways to make my punches or hands more powerful.
— Thammarath, U.S.A.
Many kungfu masters are small sized, but they are very powerful. In fact it is considered a disadvantage to be too huge in size. It would make the person slow, clumsy and more easily out of breath.
I am small sized compared to most of my American and European students, and much older too. Yet they often said, usually to other people, that I was too powerful and fast for them.
External martial artists, including masters, are puzzled how a smaller-sized, older person could be more powerful than a bigger-sized muscular adult. It simply does not make sense to them.
The secret is internal force, which is not limited to size, age and sex. There are many ways to train internal force. “Zhan zhuang” or stance training is one of the best categories of these many ways.
You are right. The Three-Circle Stance frequently practiced in genuine Taijiquan is one of the best ways, not just to make your punches and hands more powerful, but your whole body more powerful, including your fingers, your internal organs, their functions and the cells that make up your organs.
Not only you can injure your opponents more destructively by using your fingers than using your fists, you can fight, work and live longer and more efficiently. The reason is actually very simple. You have much more energy to do all these tasks.
The Three-Circle Stance is simple but not easy. Because of this, many people practicing on their own make mistakes without knowing, and these mistakes may sometimes lead to serious side effects.
It is best to learn the Three-Circle Stance or any other zhan zhuang exercises from a master or at least a competent instructor, and practice at least for some time under his supervision. Not only this can ensure you do not make serious mistakes, you will also get faster as well as better results.
Some people insist that they can obtain good results by learning and practicing the Three-Circle Stance on their own. They are being unreasonable and illogical. Even learning how to drive needs the service of a living instructor. Isn't the need more necessary if you learn an arcane art that will make all your hands and legs, all your internal organs and all your body cells more powerful and work more efficiently?
You once mentioned that Professor Fang Li Da had investigated chi kung from the scientific point of view. Can we access to her scholarship, please?
To be exact, Professor Fang Li Da investigated the cure of cancer by using chi kung from the scientific point of view. When I met her at the Second World Qigong Congress in 1997 in San Francisco, where she was awarded the “Qigong Research Scientist of the Year”, and I was awarded the “Qigong Master of the Year”, Professor Fang was over seventy years old. She was then the director of China's Medical Research Institute.
As a Harvard trained medical professor, at first she did not believe in chi kung (qigong) until chi kung saved her grandmother from dying of cancer. She told the Congress that her grandmother was very special to her, and she was deeply frustrated that despite being one of the top medical professionals in the world and having trained hundreds of doctors in China for the sole purpose of relieving pain and illness, she literally could do nothing for her grandmother. I am sure this was the same type of pain many great doctors had felt which inspired them towards medical discoveries that later benefited mankind.
Professor Fang Li Da was driven by the same inspiration. She spent the next 20 years researching into the cure of cancer by chi kung. She brought her 20-year work to the Second World Qigong Congress, and we listened in reverenced silence as this kind elderly lady explained in details the experiments and scientific proofs showing that chi kung can cure cancer.
I have the utmost respect for Professor Fang Li Da. Her life's work could have saved literally millions of people, but did not. Like other great scientists in medical break-throughs, she was far ahead of her time. Perhaps 50 years later, perhaps more, people in future will say — just us we say of people before us — those living in the 20th century were so stubborn.
If people on the streets are ignorant of the tons of scientific research papers on chi kung overcoming cancer and other so-called incurable diseases, it is understandable. But medical and health care professionals should know better. Professor Fang Li Da's paper, together with my papers on “Qigong, a Cure for Cancer and Chronic, Degenerative Diseases: A Global Interest” and the research papers of other scientists and masters were sent to the Department of Health of the United States, and to the World Health Organization at United Nations.
If interested parties really want to find proofs, there is no lack of them. There are literally hundreds of brave doctors, scientists, chi kung masters and other researchers who risked ridicule and their reputation to produce proofs that so-called incurable diseases can be cured. But the world and their contemporary medical and scientific establishments have continued to ignore them.
Hence, when people angrily accused occasional reports that cancer could be cured as fakery, I could not help thinking they were like children. They did not know what they were doing.
If you want access to her scholarship, you can write to the Medical Research Institute of China, or the World Congress of Qigong. Or you may search for “Fang Li Da” in internet search engines.
In the Chinese novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, warriors such as Lu Bu and the Five Tiger Generals of Shu were all renown as fighters of great skills. When they dueled against each other, it seemed that the warrior with a better horse, a stronger weapon, sharp archery skills, and larger physique was usually the victor, as if he didn't require much “martial arts skill”, for example, Guan Yu cutting down two generals, Wen Chou and Yan Liang.
— Chan, USA
There was no doubt that the warriors of the Three Kingdom period were very skilful fighters. To be combat efficient was not only their professional requirement, it was also essential if they wanted to return home alive.
Having excellent control over their horses, using heavier and therefore more destructive weapons, possessing sharp archery skills, and being strong and agile in their physique were some of the fundamental skills for being a good warrior.
However, while wielding a heavy weapon and having a large physique for this purpose were an advantage, it was not true that the warrior with a heavier weapon and a larger physique would be the victor. The two most formidable generals of the Three Kingdom period were Lu Bu and Zhao Yun, who was one of the Five Tiger Generals. But both of them were not large in size. Although their weapons were heavy compared to modern weapons used by present day kungfu practitioners, they were not heavier than the weapons of most other generals. Lu Bu used a crescent-moon spear, which is now called “Lu Bu Ji” after him, and Zhao Yun used an iron spear.
Zhang Fei, another of the Five Tiger Generals, was large in size, but his weapon, which was a snake-headed spear, was not exceptionally heavy. Kwan Yu, who was also one of the Tiger Generals of Shu, used a Big Knife, which was very heavy. This Big Knife is now named “Kwan Dao” after him.
Kwan Yu exhibited great martial art skills in his numerous fightings. His killing of Yan Liang, who himself was a very good fighter, was a classic example. Kwan Yu pretended to lose and tempted Yan Liang to chase after him, both on horseback. When Yan Liang was close enough, Kwan Yu suddenly turned his horse around, swung his Big Knife over his head to deflect the expected spear thrust from Yan Liang, and continuing the swinging momentum cut down Yan Liang with one swift chop of his Big Knife.
To execute this one technique to cut down Yan Liang, Kwan Yu required some essential combative skills. Not only he could maneuver his horse excellently, his spacing was exact, his timing perfect, and he had great courage and mental focus. If he just made a small mistake, Yan Liang's spear would have pierced into him from behind. This Kwan Dao technique, known as “Turning the Horse Around to Cut Down Yan Liang”, is found in many Kwan Dao sets, although most performers may not know its name, application or background history.
Did the warriors of the Three Kingdom period have specific fighting styles but lack colorful names? Could their fighting styles be considered “martial arts" but not the type we perceive today? If so, were they necessarily skilled in empty-hand combat?
Yes, the Three Kingdom warriors had fighting styles of their own. The way Kwan Yu fought, for example, would be different from that of Zhao Yun. Nevertheless, there were no specific names for their styles.
There is a weapon set of the Crescent-Moon Spear called “Lu Bu Ji” or “Lu Bu Crescent-Moon Spear” in many styles of kungfu. This set is named after the famous warrior Lu Bu, but was not the style passed down from him. Interestingly, although Zhao Yun was a famous warrior well known for the use of the iron spear, there are no spear sets like “Zhao Yun Spear” named after him. There are spear sets like “Li Hua Spear” and “Yang Family Spear” named after the famous female general Fan Li Hua of the Tang Dynasty, and after the famous Yang Family generals of the Song Dynasty.
Names for specific styles of martial arts, like Shaolin, Wudang, Hsing Yi, came about only after martial arts were institutionalized. Martial arts were first institionalized, i.e. passed down as a coherent institution, at the Shaolin Monastery.
The Three Kingdom period was before the Shaolin Monastery was built. Hence, the ways these warriors trained and fought were personal styles without specific names. Their fighting styles were of course martial arts but, as you have rightly mentioned, not the type we perceive today.
Today, when we mention Chinese martial arts, we often conceptualize the type of martial arts with emphasis on unarmed combat on the ground. The Chinese term for this type of martial arts is “quanfa”, often shortened to “quan”. Hence we have Shaolinquan (Shaolin Kungfu), Taijiquan and Tanglangquan (Praying Mantis Kungfu). Since the end of the dynastic period, the Chinese government calls it “guoshu” (national art), and the Chinese government in mainland China calls it “wushu” (martial art).
In the past, such as during the Three Kingdom period, martial art was called “wuyi”, which actually means “martial art”. But the concepts of “wuyi” during the Three Kingdom period would be very different from the concepts of “quanfa” or “wushu” today. When “wuyi” was mentioned, one would conceptualize horseback fighting with weapons, use of bows and arrows, as well as movements and formations of soldiers.
In ancient China, when generals drilled their troops and ready them for warfare, did the soldiers receive martial art training, as the term “martial” is relevant to the military.
Yes, the generals taught their soldiers martial arts. Eagle Claw Kungfu, for example, came from the army of Yue Fei, a famous general of the Song Dynasty.