SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
NOVEMBER 2010 PART 2
It is amazing that we have so many options to choose from. I am not even with Shaolin Wahnam for six years, yet there is so much material I have learned not only to apply in combat but more importantly also in everyday life. Thank you Sifu from the heart for giving us all so much.
— Sifu Mark Hartnett, Ireland
I am glad that both you and Greg have improved very much in your internal force. Though you yourselves may not be aware of it, which is normal, the increase of force in both of you is noticable. Your students and your sparring partners would have mentioned it too.
We are indeed very lucky not only to be exposed to but actually have the chance to train so many very effective force training methods. Most other martial artists do not even have the chance to train one.
Similarly, not only we learn many useful techniques but also tactics and strategies for combat. Many martial artists today do not use techniques in their sparring; they often spar randomly though they may perform beautiful techniques in solo practice. They usually have no idea of tactics and strategies.
As you have rightly said, more importantly we apply our internal force, combat skills, tactics and strategies to enrich our daily life.
Since coming home from the Wing Choon Course, Gregg and I had an interesting conversation recently about what to practice. We both have done so many courses now we were looking at each other saying what method of internal force we should practice. Sifu, we have stances, One-Finger Shooting Zen, Tiger Cleanses Claws, Iron Wire and Siu Lin Tou to name a few. My heart is really with Iron Wire and Tiger Cleanses Claws but I do not want to neglect the others. I would love to hear your advice on what to practice, Sifu.
These different methods give you a good idea and experience of force development. You can try out all of them first, then choose any one or two, but still practice the others once a while to maintain them.
Iron Wire and Tiger Cleanses Claws are good choices. They will go very well with the Shaolin Seventy Two Chin-Na Techniques that you have learnt.
Because of the way you have been trained, these two force training methods as well as other methods complement one another, whereas for some other people different force training methods may contradict. In other words, for other people they may negate their force development if their training methods contradict one another, but for us it doesn't matter what force training methods we use, including those methods that may contradict one another if practiced by other people. For us the different metnods increase our force development.
For example, if other people use Taijiquan methods to train internal force, and at the same time train Iron Wire, the force developed is less than if they have chosen only either one method. Worse, sometimes it may bring harmful effects.
But for us, if we train both Taijiquan methods and Iron Wire, our force development will be more than had we use only either one method.
Why is this so? This is because our understanding of the philosophy and applications of skills of different methods enable us to maximize their results. But other people usually practice the methods en route as taught by their teachers, often without understanding their underlying philosophy and without being familiar with fundamental skills like chi flow and mental focus. This would negate the results of conflicting methods.
For example, for us the chi flow in Taijiquan internal force development enhances the development of "jing" in Iron Wire, and vice versa. But for others, the seemingly effortless movements of Taijiquan internal force development negates the development of "jing" in Iron Wire, and vice versa.
For us, when we practice Taijiquan force development, we consciously generate chi flow, and because of our experience in Iron Wire, we are better able to consolidate the chi flow into "jing" to have powerful internal force. On the other hand, when we practice Iron Wire, our experience in Taijiquan better enables us to let our "jing" flow, rather than lock it up as muscles, thus resulting in more powerful internal force. (In internal force, the smoother the flow, the more powerful the force.)
Other people do not consciously generate an energy flow like we do when they practice Taijiquan movements. Their chi flow is generated unconsciously after many years of dedicated practice. And after more years of dedicated practice, without their being awae of the happening, their chi flow consolidates into "jing" as internal force. This explains why it takes them a much longer time to develop internal force than we do.
Similarly, others who practice Iron Wire are usually not aware of the underlying philosophy and internal development taking place. But if they practice correctly and dedicatedly, after many years they will generate an energy flow and then consolidate their energy flow into "jing". All this happen inside them without their conscious awareness.
But even if they know the underlying philosophy, they may not have the fundamental skills to speed up the force development. They just practice the techniques en route, and let the chi flow develop naturally, and then let the internal force be naturally consolidated from their chi flow.
Our students at the Iron Wire course started at a more advantageous position. They were already able to generate an energy flow even before learning Iron Wire. And because I understand the underlying philosophy, having gone through the process myself as well as bringing in useful principles and practice from other force training methods, I was able to lead them step by step to consolidate their chi flow into powerful internal force.
Hence, our students could develop internal force in a few days what others without this insight would take a few years - if these other people practice correctly. If they practice incorrectly, they would miss the internal force and develop huge muscles instead.
Sifu, you often advise us to practice the different methods first, then choose one or two to specialize in later on. Can you please say more about this?
Yes, practicing many methods first, then choosing one or two to specialize in is an excellent training procedure. This applies to force training as well as to mastering techniques. The principle is to first have a broad base, then reach for the height (or depth). As explained earlier, this training procedure will enhance our results manifold.
Not many people have this oppotunity. As we in Shaolin Wahnam are lucky to have this opportunity, it is only wise to make good use of it. In force training, we have many effective methods to develop internal force, like Taijiquan, Iron Wire, Siu Lin Tou and Triple Stretch to name a few. In combat application, we have many different combat techniques, like our basic combat sequences in Shaolin and Taijiquan which include all forms of attack, as well as supplementary techniques from Tan Tui, Eagle Claw, Wing Choon and Praying Mantis.
If practicing different methods can enhance our results, wouldn't specialization be a contradiction? In other words, if we can get better results by practicing more methods than by practicing only one method, shouldn't we continue to practice more methods rather than choosing only one method to specialize in? Reversely, if specialization produces better result, wouldn't it be better if we specialize straight away without first undergoing general training?
Of course, the answer is "No". In kungfu terms, doing so would be committing the mistake of double yang. In kungfu, as in life, we should strive for yin-yang harmony.
One can still be a formidable fighter, or an achiever in profession or business in everyday life, if he continues his general training throughout or start with specialization right away, but he would be a better fighter or achiever if he broadens his scope first, then goes for depth, instead of just having scope or just having depth.
When one has reached the depth, he must also not neglect the scope, otherwise he would commit the mistake of double yang. Yin-yang harmony is not only more effective, more significantly, it is also more fun. It is very important in healing. When we go deep into a patient's illness to help him overcome it, we must not neglect his overall health. From our perspective, it defeats the purpose of healing if we help a patient to overcome one illness but cause another in its stead. In everyday life, when we are successful in our work, we must not neglect our play. All work, even when it is very successful, but no play is no fun.
I just found your email address on the shaolin-wahnam.org website.
— Philippe, Belgium
Nowadays I do not conduct full-time chi kung or kungfu courses; I only conduct regional courses in various parts of the world and intensive courses in Malaysia. My website gives current information on these courses. Although these courses last only a few days, those who have attended them find them very beneficial.
Many certified Shaolin Wahnam instructors all over the world conduct full-time classes. Please see List of Certified Instructors for their contact particulars.
I attended your 4-day Shaolin Chi Kung course in Gutenstein, Austria last summer. I was very fascinated by the fact that I could feel strong energy flow right away and that it also works in my all-day practice. Your method is great. Thank you for passing your knowledge to others!
— Carola, Germany
As more than 80% of chi kung practitioners all over the world today do not have any feeling of energy flow, which is one main reason that they keep asking what chi or energy is, feeling a strong energy flow is a remarkable experience. It is even more remarkable if you can generate an energy flow yourself.
If a chi kung practitioner can generate an energy flow after a few months of training, it is already fantastic. Chi kung students in the past generally had to practice for a few years before they could experience any energy flow. Hence, to experience a strong energy flow right away in a four-day course is simply unbelievable. But it is true, though many people may not believe it.
And your case is the norm, not an exception. In other words, students who learn from us experience energy flow straight away, or at the most after a few weeks!
You are the first master I could accept. This was something I had been always waiting for and it means a lot to me. I appreciated the philosophy behind it and I am very grateful that I had the chance to get to know your authentic Shaolin Chi Kung.
Finding a true master, or at least a competent teacher, is very important. Most students, however, ignore this important step. They think that all instructors are the same, which of course is not true. It is also not ture that all chi kung is the same. Failure to appreciate these two facts cause many students not only unable to gain benefits from their practice but also waste a lot of tiem, often in matters of years.
There is not just one kind of chi kung. In fact there are hundreds of different kinds of chi kung, ranging from very low levels to very high. Low level chi kung enables practitioners to be relaxed and maintain well-being. Very high level chi kung enable practitioners to attain the hightest spiritual fulfillment, called variously as return to God, merging with Tao or Enlightenment.
Different teachers may produce very different results even when the type of chi kung taught is the same. This is only logical, but many people, including those who have practiced chi kung for many years, may not realize it. An analogy may make this clearer. Different school teachers may teach the same common syllabus, but they produce students of vastly different attainment levels. When these students take the same examination, some fail miserably while others pass with distinctions.
In our school, Shaolin Wahnam, we do not just teach chi kung. We also teach our students how to apply what they have learnt to enrich their daily life. We are able to achive such good results because our teachers are properly trained.
I don't know how to express my sincere thoughts and feelings for you and Shaolin Chi Kung. It is something that came in my life and seems to be part of me. May I ask you for your permission to become an instructor for the Eighteen Lohan Hands in Munich and surrounding. I listened carefully to your instructions and I have bought the Shaolin Chi Kung book to research details.
A good way to express your gratitude is to practice the art according to the way you have been taught (and not according to how you think it should be practiced), including practicing the Ten Shaolin Laws as a pre-requisite.
In our school no one became an instructor after only a four-day course.with us. To permit this to happen is shamefully irresponsible.
On the other hand, if you think you can be an instructor after only four days of training, then the art you intend to teach is extremely shallow and is not worth your effort to teach.
Unfortunately this is not uncommon in the West. A gym owner in Spain once told me that he saw how much my studdnts had benefited from my teaching a chi kung class, so he taught what he saw to his gym students and found my chi kung exercises very beneficial to his students too. He had not even learnt chi kung before! Like many people, he thought chi kung was like physical exercise whereby one could read from a book and start teaching it.
Don't try to be a teacher before you have become a good practitioner. Be a good student first. Practice the Eighteen Lohan Hands the way you had been taught, and enjoyed their benefits.
It would mean fulfillment to me being able to teach Shaolin Chi Kung. Your permission would mean a lot to me. What I don't know is whether I am already able to pass the ability of chi flow to other people and I am not able to evaluate this. So I would like to ask you.
If you start to teach without being properly trained as a teacher, you will not only do injustice to your students but also surely debase the art. This is a main reason why chi kung today is so badly debased. It is no longer chi kung; it is just physical exercise, and the great majority of chi kung teachers and students do not know the difference.
This pathetic situation is also found in other great arts like Shaolin, Taijiquan and meditation. Many people teach Kick-Boxing and call it Shaolin Kungfu, teach dancing and call it Taijiquan, teach sitting stressfully in a lotus-position and call it meditation. It is no wonder that now these great arts have lost their essence. They only have their outward shell.
It is obvious you do not have the ability to help other people generate an energy flow. If you have the ability you will know it from direct experience. For example, if you know how to drive a car or play the piano, you will know it. You won't say I don't know whether I can drive a car or play the piano.
- Will a practitioner get more benefit by focusing on one force-training method or spending his time over two or more methods?
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- Why does your School Substitute External Training with Internal Cultivation?
- The Best and Most Rewarding Experience of my Life