SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
JANUARY 2012 PART 1
Thank you very much for coming to Ireland this year in February to teach us Tai Chi Chuan against Other Martial Arts. My day to day life is benefiting so much already in such a short space of time.
— Brendan, Ireland
Isn't this amazing? Though many of us in Shaolin Wahnam may have taken it for granted, it is good to remind ourselves that a main reason to practice our arts is to enrich our lives and the lives of other people.
On the other hand, it is shocking that many Taiji practitioners today do not even realize that Taijiquan is a martial art, and many martial artists today routinely hurt themselves and their classmates in sparring practice. Our mentioning these facts is not to belittle others or to glamorize ourselves, but to highlight a deplorable situation of martial arts today with the hope that those involved may be able to rectify it.
I have noticed that I'm becoming more efficient in any work. I feel this is a direct result from our Tai Chi Chuan form correction where we stop after each pattern and check that we have the six harmonies of feet, body, hands, jing, chi and shen.
So the same goes for the work I do. I check it all and noticed where I have been slacking. Before I would just leave it and thought it was OK, but now I try to improve in these areas. This has become almost automatic. It just seems to happen like a natural progression.
You have highlighted how practicing a martial art can enrich our lives. One of many ways to do so is to ensure that every pattern we perform attains the six harmonies of feet, body, hands, essence, energy and mind. When we have practiced this correctly and sufficiently, this skill will become habitual. Hence, not only we attain six harmonies in our Taijiquan performance, but in whatever we do in our daily lives.
On the other hand, if a student is sloppy in his form, tenses his muscles in applying force, is aggressive in his attitude when he practices Taijiquan or any martial art, these undesirable traits will also become habitual, and will unfavorably affect his daily life.
I've also noticed that I am becoming more assertive with certain people in my life which has not only surprised them but it has surprised me just as much. This is great as I always felt I need to be a bit more assertive.
Yes, we need to be assertive when necessary, and often it is necessary. Just as there are different ways to subdue an opponent in combat, there are different ways to be assertive in daily life, such as overtly, demandingly, subtly and gently.
Whatever way we may choose to be assertive depending on the situation, we need confidence and force. In other words, the more confidence and force you have, the more effective you will be when you want to be assertive. Your practice has intrinsically given you much confidence and force.
For example, practicing Grasping Sparrow's Tail with correct waist rotation activates energy flow in your kidney and gall bladder systems. When your kidney and gall bladder systems are full of good chi, you become confident. Practicing the Three-Circle Stance correctly gives you a lot of internal force.
You said during the course that if there were no openings either in sparring or in daily life, we should create an opening to see what opportunities present themselves. As I wasn't working I decided to volunteer at an animal shelter and to my surprise they offered me some paid work. Although this may be only short term I have benefited so much from creating this opening.
This also shows the karmic truth of goodness always bring goodness. You were kind to volunteer your service, and were unexpectedly rewarded financially. I am proud of you.
Actually the adverb "unexpectedly" may not be correct. We know that goodness always bring goodness. Even if you were not rewarded financially, you would be rewarded spiritually. You would feel happy knowing that you have helped somebody, and some animals.
Or "unexpectedly" may be correct. You did not expect the reward, you did so because you felt it was the right thing to do.
Whether the adverb is used correctly or not correctly is not because we are confused. In fact we are very clear about this. It is because of the limitation of words.
Soon after starting work I had some unexpected bills I had to pay and was able to do so. Amongst other things it is giving me the great opportunity to go to Brighton this year not only to learn the Drunken Eight Immortals, 18-Lohan Art and all the other Chi Kung courses from you, Sifu. but I get to visit England for the first time and will get to meet more of our extended Shaolin Wahnam Family. Not bad for creating just one opening!
Brighton is a beautiful town by the sea. You will like it.
The Drunken Eight Immortals set is inspired and guided in its composition by Immortal Li, who has a special place in the history of our school. Anthony Spinicchia, our instructor in the US, says it is the most complete set he has learnt, and has asked if someone can name another more complete set. So far no one has answered his call.
The Eighteen-Lohan Art is an excellent complement to this Drunken Eight Immortals set as not only it provides tremendous internal force but also various ways to explode the force as well as good training for balance and agility.
Editorial Note: Brendan's other questions can be found at January 2012 Part 2.
Are there any limitations for both beginners and advanced practitioners in practicing Cosmic Shower?
— Alexey, Russia
Yes, there are, but I would call them guidelines rather than limitations.
Cosmic Shower is a very powerful exercise. Hence, beginners must not practice it too often. They must give time for their physical body to adjust to the tremendous increase of energy as a result of practicing Cosmic Shower. Practicing once or twice a week would be sufficient. And each session should last only about 10 to 15 minutes.
It is very important not to over-train. If they under-train it is alright.
How would one know that he has over-trained? It is an academic question. In practice he would know. It is like asking how one would know when he has over-eaten. He would know from direct experience.
Nevertheless, I would give an academic answer. When a student over-trains, he will feel tired or sleepy. This is Nature's way of asking him to stop. He may also feel pain. But he needs to differentiate it from good pain. He often feels locked-up or overwhelmed.
These are symptoms of over-training. If he takes heed if them and slow down or stop for a few days, he will be fine. But if he persists despite the warning, he could have serious adverse effects.
Advanced practitioners may over-train too, but because their body is stronger they can take in more energy. So they may practice more often if they want, like four or five days a week, or even every day. They have the physical capacity to practice every day, but it may not be necessary unless they have chosen it for specialized training.
It is good to know that powerful chi kung is not necessarily the most useful. Indeed, for most people the lowest level of chi kung, i.e. self-manifested chi movement, is the most useful because it is the most cost-effective for overcoming pain and illness, which is the main reason why most people today practice chi kung.
Powerful chi kung, like Cosmic Shower, purifies the practitioner and leads him to see God, or expand into the Cosmos. For most people this is not a need, many may not even be interested in it.
How do we programme our daily practice of the Eighteen-Lohan Art?
— Dr Oetie, Austria
At your level you can practice the Eighteen-Lohan Art any way you like! Please note that not many other chi kung practitioners have this privilege. They may have to follow a certain procedure, especially if their chi kung is not of a high level.
Here are some examples of how you may practice the Eighteen-Lohan Art. You may pick any one pattern and practice it any number of times, then enjoy a chi flow. For instance, you may practice Lohan Worships Buddha for 3 times, or 10 times, or 30 times, and enjoy a chi flow.
Or you may have a combination of two or more patterns, and perform each of the patterns any number of times. The patterns chosen can be in any order. You need not follow the order as they are listed in the set.
Suppose you have chosen Reverse Hanging of Double Hooks, Big Bird Flaps Wings and Old Monk Takes off Shoes. You may practice Double Hooks 2 times, Big Bird 4 times, and Old Monk 6 times, then have a chi flow. Or you may have a chi flow after each pattern, instead of at the end. Or you may change the order as well as the number of repetitions, like Big Bird 10 times, Old Monk 8 times, and Double Hooks 3 times.
You can also perform all the 18 patterns, and in any order. You can also repeat some patterns in your combination, like Green Dragon 3 times, Father and Son 6 times, and Green Dragon again 5 times.
You may combine patterns from Eighteen-Lohan Art with patterns from other chi kung or kungfu set, or even with chi kung patterns of other schools. For example, you may perform Carrying the Moon 8 times, then Big Boss Lifts Bronze Vessel 10 times. Or you may perform Old Monk Grinds Rice 20 times, then practice the Three-Circle Stance. Or you may practice Double Hooks Hanging on Wall, followed by some kungfu patterns. Or you may perform a kungfu sequence, then one or two patterns from the Eighteen-Lohan Art, followed by more kungfu sequences.
There are countless ways to practice the Eighteen-Lohan Art or any chi kung exercises. The important thing is to have a chi flow. It is the chi flow that brings benefits, the exercises are just the techniques. You must take care not to over-train. Hence, you do not normally use powerful exercises, like Cosmic Shower and the Small Universe, in combinations, though you can if you want to.
Can I continue my gym work after practicing chi kung? Can I combine my chi kung training with working in a gym?
Of course you can. No matter what you have been doing, having practiced chi kung, you will do it better.
If you have been working in a gym, practicing Taiji or yoga, drinking coffee with a lot of sugar, eating ice-cream or enjoying sex, having practiced chi kung, not only you can continuing doing all these things, but you will do them better. This is only logical as practicing chi kung gives you more energy and mental clarity. It does not make any sense if before practicing chi kung you can drink coffee with sugar or enjoy sex without harm, but after practicing chi kung you cannot do these things.
Not only you can combine chi kung with gym work or any other physical or mental activities, you will have better result. You can practice chi kung first, then perform your gym work. Or you can perform your gym work first, then practice chi kung. Or you can enter into a chi kung state of mind, or even have a gentle chi flow while performing gym work or any activity.
If you work in a gym because you enjoy doing it, it is fine. But if you endure gym work to keep healthy, then you don't have to work in a gym if you practice chi kung, as chi kung by itself is more than sufficient to keep you healthy. Similarly, if you enjoy taking vitamin pills, that is fine. But if you take vitamin pills to keep healthy, then when you practice chi kung you don't have to take the pills because chi kung by itself is more than sufficient to keep you healthy.
- Showing Respect to the Master
- The Use of Internal Force
- Chi Flow and Cash Flow
- Glimpses of the Drunken Eight Immortals
- Fun Time in Disney World