August 2003 (Part 3)
SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
First of all I'd like to congratulate you for your great books which touch perfection. I'm 16 years old and my love and dream are martial arts. I'm a practitioner of Wing Chun but I learn as many martial styles to perfect myself as a martial artist.
— Bonas, Ukraine
You may learn as many different styles of martial arts as you can to have a general idea of what these various styles offer you. Then you should choose only one style to focus on. In this way you will get the best benefits for your training.
You must be quite clear of your aims and objectives. Do you practice martial arts just because your friends do so or because you dream to be a martial artist?Why do you want to be a martial artist instead of, say, a scholar or a scientist? Are the martial arts you practice beneficial or detrimental to your physical as well as emotional health? If you intend to make your chosen martial art into a profession, will it be conducive to a profession you wish to do for a living? Will it give you sufficient satisfaction that you will devote time and effort to it?
These are some questions you should consider if you are serious about martial arts. You should also read and put into action the advice explained in my webpage Getting the Best Benefits from Your Training.
I knew about chi and could control it quite well even before I read about chi kung. I am studying the iron skills of Shaolin Kungfu. I want to learn Iron Arm. What can I do so I can use the chi as protection from the hitting? I have a complete guide for this art but don't know which chi exercises to use better for these iron arm skills.
Many things we do in chi kung, like focusing chi at certain parts of our body or generating chi flow to overcome illness are actually innate abilities we naturally have. But for various reasons, most of us have lost these natural abilities.
A crucial reason that hinders people from using these abilities is mental blockage; they do not believe they have these abilities. Another crucial reason is their inability to relax. Chi kung is an excellent art to help them overcome these difficulties.
However, arts like Iron Arm and Iron Shirt are not natural abilities. One has to practice certain exercises to acquire these skills or arts, and as these exercises involve managing energy, we call them energy exercises or chi kung exercises. These chi kung exercises are advanced, and should be practiced with the supervision of a master or competent instructor. If you practice on your own, it is likely you will harm yourself.
The first time I used the exercise of letting chi control my body (“Lifting the Sky” and “Carrying the Moon”) I experienced something strange. I moved all around the room, even doing kung fu movements. Every time I do the exercises I know how to move my chi to a new part in the body until I can put it through the whole body only after 1 week of using the exercises. Then I would feel my whole body with chi and it would flow to the dan tian so much that I could feel the flow very hard all over my body.
Perhaps it is a matter of which word to describe your situation, but you should not let chi control you, you must control chi all the time. What you mean is that you let go to allow chi to flow freely. But you are still in control. Should you wish to slow down or stop the movements, you could do so.
What you did is called Self-Manifested Chi Movement. You induced Self-Manifested Chi Movement by doing “Lifting the Sky” and “Carrying the Moon”.
Although Self-Manifested Chi Movement is a very safe exercise if performed correctly, it is generally not advisable to attempt this type of chi kung on your own without the supervision of a competent instructor because of the risk of getting out of control. But if you are confident you can practice it safely, you may carry on. Self-Manifested Chi Movement is an excellent art to overcome or prevent illness, and promote health.
It is not uncommon that some practitioners perform kungfu movements while in Self-Manifested Chi Movement. Sometimes the practitioners may not have learnt kungfu before! Then, why could they perform kungfu movements, which were often beautiful and authentic?
There were a few possible reasons. One, they were in contact with Universal Mind, which is omnipresent and all knowing. Two, they reached into their own deeper levels of consciousness, which revealed kungfu movements they had seen or had learnt in past lives. Three, they were in contact with some higher beings who transmitted the kungfu movements to them. This, I believe, could be the case of Dong Hai Chuan, the First Patriarch of Bagua Kungfu, who said he learned the art from a Taoist immortal on Hua Mountain.
When I think of my hands, chi goes to the whole arm unless I control and focus it to go only to the hands.
This is actually a natural ability, but most people have lost this originally natural ability. On the other hand, many other people do this all the time, but the effect is too marginal to be discernable.
Although you have not learnt chi kung formally from a master, you have developed this ability to a high level of skill on your own. In chi kung terminology, you have pre-natal skills. In ordinary language, you have talents.
The strangest thing in all this is that now after 4-5 months of using chi I can see where something is with my mind. For example, if I image in my mind a bus coming to my house, and when I see it coming in my mind, it would come in real life! Or sometimes I could see something in the close future and it would happen. In general anything I think would happen. Is this normal to have these results in such a short time, and the strange movements of chi the first time using the exercises? Please send me your comments.
Regarding “strange movements of chi” or Self-Manifested Chi Movement, it is both usual and normal for students in our Shaolin Wahnam School to have such results in a very short time, sometimes on the very first day they learn chi kung from us. But it is not usual for most chi kung practitioners, simply because such an art is not usually taught. However, if it happens, it is normal, in the sense that it is not abnormal or unnatural.
Regarding the ability to materialize thoughts or to see into the future, it is unusual for any chi kung practitioners, including in our Shaolin Wahnam School, to have this ability in such a short time. Congratulations for your remarkable achievement, which is probably due to your having attained high levels in chi kung or relevant disciplines in your past lives. However, if anyone has this ability after only a short time of training, it is not abnormal, because the ability to materialize thoughts and the ability to see into the future are actually natural abilities!
Interestingly, the latest science is saying or implying the same things. Quantum physicists say that if you conceptualize an electron to be here, then the electron is here. If you conceptualize an electron to be there, then the electron is there. If you do not conceptualize, then there will be no electron. When an electron travels from A to B, the time taken is from A to B. It is also true that the time taken is from B to A!
What is most important is that you must always use this remarkable ability of yours for good, and never for evil. You may use it for your own good, besides the good of others. For example, you may visualize that you will be a good martial artist, or you will be successful in your studies or profession. It is absolutely for your own sake that you must never use this ability for evil. If a person so blessed to have such a wonderful ability were so stupid to use it for evil, he will inevitably, surely ruin himself.
With this awesome ability, you have an awesome responsibility — to yourself. As your thoughts may materialize, you must always think of good, noble thoughts. Think of how lucky you are, what good friends you have, and what a beautiful world we live in. Whenever you want to learn from any teachers, make sure your teachers and their teachings are noble and worthy. If you expose yourself to those who teach brutality and meanness, it may be easy for you to be tempted to abuse your ability for short-term wicked advantages.
I want to learn Shaolin Kungfu at home. Please advise what I should do. I am 12 years old.
— Povlas, Lithuania
Unless you already have some kungfu experience, it is not possible to learn Shaolin Kungfu on your own from books or videos, even though the books and videos you refer to are good and teach authentic kungfu. The reason is that what is more important in kungfu training is skills rather than techniques. Skills need to be learnt from and practiced under the supervision of a competent instructor.
Take for an example the kungfu patterns, “Black Tiger Steals Heart” and “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave”, which provides an effective way to punch and to defend against the punch in Southern Shaolin Kungfu. You may learn the techniques of these two patterns, i.e. how to perform them, from books or videos. But unless you have some kungfu experience, it is likely that you will perform them wrongly. You may, for instance, put stress on certain parts of your body or your balance may be wrong. You would not know this mistake, and if you continue your practice you would bring harm instead of derive benefit.
You should first of all have a good understanding of what Shaolin Kungfu is. My book, “The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu”, will provide you with this understanding. Then you should learn Shaolin Kungfu from a master or an instructor in your area. If Shaolin Kungfu is not available, you may learn other styles of kungfu or modernized wushu. What your teacher teaches may be different from what I have described in my book, because different schools and different teachers have different philosophy and methods in their teaching.
At present we do not have any Shaolin Wahnam instructor teaching Shaolin Kungfu in Lithuania, but Arunas Krisiunas, one of our Shaolin Wahnam instructors, teach Taijiquan and chi kung in your country. He is determined to bring the wonderful benefits of Shaolin Wahnam teaching to Lithuania. If you wish to contact him, his e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week I had my qigong practice twice a day as usual and I enjoyed the sessions very much because I felt a lot of qi flow. But yesterday morning I suddenly felt a sharp pain at my waist and lower part of my body, and I felt very painful even when I touched the waist and back portion of it. Now whenever I sit down, I can't stand up spontaneously without feeling the sharp pain, and I can't even walk straight. Please advise whether I should continue with the practice and how I could release the pain.
— Sharon, Malaysia
The pain you now experience is probably “good” pain. As you practice chi kung regularly and as our chi kung is very powerful, the chi you have generated is now clearing toxic waste and other rubbish from your body, especially from your internal organs. However the rate of cleansing is so fast that your deposal system could not clear the toxic waste and rubbish out in time.
Hence, they get temporarily logged in certain parts of your body, and in this case at your waist. Don't worry about it; keep practicing and eventually the pain will go away when the rubbish is cleared. It may, however, take some time — in some case even a few months. If the pain is too uncomfortable, you can slow down or even stop your practice for a few days.
Yours is actually a common “problem” with many of our students. At a superficial level, it appears as if your chi kung practice is bringing you harm instead of good. You did not have such pain before, but now you have it after practicing chi kung conscientiously!
A deeper understanding of chi kung will explain why this happens. Our organs are very resilient. The liver, for example, may be damaged up to 80%, yet it can still function. Of course, a person with such a damaged liver would not be full of vitality, but he may not be clinically sick. So he may not realize that his liver has been badly damaged.
This not only affects his daily living but also affects his potential life span. And he will be prone to illness, which may not be obviously related to his liver. For instance, because his liver is important for his blood production and storage, his immune and defence systems are much affected. Hence he may be down with a serious viral or bacterial attack, which would otherwise not affect him had his liver been more healthy.
To simplify explanation, let us symbolize his damaged liver condition as a 80% blockage of his liver system. As he practices chi kung, the chi flow that he has generated will gradually clear the blockage. This will take time, but if his chi kung training is consistent, after a few months the blockage at his liver may be reduced from 80% to 50%. At times when the cleansing is too fast for his waste disposal system to handle, some toxic waste cleared from his liver may be temporrily logged in certain parts of his body, like his waist and legs causing him pain. But as he continues his daily training, the toxic waste will be cleared out of his body.
As the cleansing is gradual, he may not notice his improvement on a daily basic. But if he compares his condition at the start of his chi kung training with, say, six months later, he can feel noticeable differences. His friends who have not seen him for some time, will remark how well he looks. He would probably not be aware of it, but his daily chi kung practice might have saved him from a possible deadly viral attack or a organic mal-function had he remained with a 80% damaged liver.
Improving his liver as well as all other organs not only enables him to get more out of his daily work and play, but also add many more years to his life. These are the real wonderful benefits of chi kung. Seeing beautiful colours, feeling the body expanding, experiencing pleasant streams of flowing currents, and some other fantastic sensations many of our students experience, are just interesting bonuses.
What is the difference between Chi Kung and Taiji Quan?
— Juliana, Singapore
This is an interesting question. Although Chi Kung and Taijiquan (Taiji Quan) practitiones may find this question redundant, in my frequent teaching tours in Europe, America and Australia, many people asked me the same question, or a similar question, “Is Chi Kung the same as Taijiquan?” This shows that although the terms “Chi Kung” and “Taijiqian” are widely known nowadays, what they really are, is seldom understood. Moreover, the question can be answered at different levels.
Answering your question at the basic level, which will be adequate for the purpose of most people, Chi Kung is an art of energy whereas Taijqiquan is an internal martial art. Therefore, Chi Kung is not the same as Taijiquan. This is a philosophical answer, which may not be of practical help to many people. They only know the dictionary meaning of “an art of energy” and of “an internal martial art”, but do not really know what they are. Hence, they still will not know what the difference between Chi Kung and Taijiquan is.
An easier answer would be as follows. Chi Kung is practiced for health, whereas Taijiquan is practiced for combat. But this answer is not exactly right because Chi Kung can also be practiced for combat, and Taijiquan can also be practiced for health.
A practical answer is to observe people practicing Chi Kung and people practicing Taijiquan. You will then know they are different. When asked to say their difference in words, you may say that their forms are different. Generally, but not always, a person remains at about the same spot when practicing Chi Kung, but moves about widely when practicing Taijiquan.
But if we answer the question at a deeper level, both the philosophical and the practical answers given above, which are adequate for ordinary purposes, are actually not correct — though they are also not wrong! Taijiquan is also an art of energy, and many forms of Chi Kung are also internal martial arts.
You may have a clearer idea if you look at the answer this way. There are many types of Chi Kung, and one of these is Taijiquan. However, this may mislead many people to think that Taijiquan is a part, or sub-set, of Chi Kung. This is not so because there are many aspects in Taijiquan, and one of these aspects is Chi Kung. In other words, there other aspects of Taijiquan that are not Chi Kung, and also there are other types of Chi Kung that are not Taijiquan.
Asking the difference between Chi Kung and Taijiquan, is like asking the difference between poetry and music. We may say that poetry deals with words, whereas music deals with sounds. While this may show the difference between poetry and music, it is not actually correct — though it is also not wrong. Poetry also deals with sounds and music also deals with words. Moreover, an aspect of poetry is music, but this does not mean music is a sub-set of poetry, because, on the other hand, an aspect of music is also poetry.
So, instead of intellectualizing on the difference between poetry and music or between Chi Kung and Taijiquan, practice them to enjoy their benefits.