Smiling from the Heart

Smiling from the heart

Question 1

Sifu, can you please tell us more about the amazement stage and the amusing stage in the development of our teaching methodology?

— Sifu Daniel Perez, Spain


We have passed the amazement stage and entered the amusing stage.

The amazement stage was when our students were amazed at the results of their practice. On the very first day they learned from us, they experienced chi flow. They were amazed.

Many people, including masters, have chased after internal force but to no avail. They are also puzzled why by not using strength, as advised by all internal force masters, they could develop a lot of force.

Yet, on the very first day when our students performed "Pushing Mountains" they experienced internal force. They did not use muscular strength, yet they felt very forceful. They confirmed what internal masters had advised. Wasn't that amazing?

We have passed this stage of amazement. These amazing results have become so common that students do not find them amazing any more! Rather, now they find our answers to their technical questions amusing.

We tell them not to worry about their form. We say that even if they make mistakes, it doesn't matter! Yet, other students are very particular about their form, and even when they perform their chi kung exercise perfectly, their benefits are not even a small portion of our students' benefits. Isn't that amusing -- in a good way.

When our students ask us whether they should lower their hands first or breathe out first when performing "Lifting the Sky", we tell them not to worry but enjoy their practice. When our students ask us whether their fingers should be slightly open or gently close when performing "Pushing Mountains", we tell them not to worry but enjoy their exercise. Yet our students have fantastic results, whereas other practitioners who are very exact about their form have little or no results. Isn't this amusing -- without meaning to bekittle others?

Question 2

Why is our methodology so amazing? Why do we achieve in one day what other people may take a few years to achieve?


Our students have amazing results in a very short time even when they do not perform the form of the exercise perfectly. There are many reasons for this amazement, but a major one is that our students operate at the mind and energy levels, whereas other people operate at the form level.

But before the other people can operate chi kung even at the form level, they need a few months, if not a year or two, to develop the chi kung skills to do so. Otherwise they only perform gentle physical exercise.

Even when the other people have chi kung skill, they do not realize it. Hence, sometimes they perform chi kung, and sometimes they perform gentle physical exercise. They do not have the advantage of accumulated effect.

On the other hand, we teach our students chi kung skills to operate at the mind level and the energy level in their very first lesson. We also emphasize the importance of skills. Our students have the advantage of accumulated effect.

Other people may not understand what we are talking about here, and some would angrily accuse us of boasting. But what we say is true. For example, our students in my regional or intensive courses enjoy a chi flow on the very first day of their learning from us. Other people would be lucky if they have a chi flow after a year, Most of them may not know what a chi flow is; they only know chi kung forms. And chi flow is the essence of chi kung.

Students at my regional or intensive courses experience internal force on the very first day they learn from me. Other people would be lucky if they experience internal force after a year of training. Many of them do not even believe in internal force because they never experience it no matter for how long they train.

Pushing Mountains

Pushing Mountains at an Intensive Chi Kung Course

Question 3

How do we convince others that our amazing results are true?


We don't have to convince them.

We are being ridiculously generous, offering them an opportunity to have benefits in one day what it would normally take them a year or two to obtain elsewhere. They have to convince us that they are deserving to learn from us.

Question 4

According to chi kung how is depression caused? How does one get rid of it?

— Ahsun, England


According to chi kung, depression is a disorder of the spirit. In some cultures, the spirit is called the soul, the mind, the psyche or the consciousness.

Depression results when the spirit is pressed down or locked up. An excellent way to overcome depression is to set the spirit free. Practicing high-level chi kung like ours is very effective for overcoming depression, as evident by the success of many of our students who were previously depressed.

Every time we practice chi kung, we smile from the heart. Smiling from the heart opens the heart and sets the spirit free. In our advanced practice, like Cosmic Shower and Cosmic Breathing, many students experience their spirit expanding into the Cosmos.

Chi Flow

The chi flow at a regional chi kung course during the 2011 UK Summer Camp was so vigorous that some students rolled happily on the floor

Question 5

I was of the opinion that weight training, i.e. unnecessary tensing of the muscles, hinders chi flow. Big muscles, as a result, lock the chi up. However, big muscles can also be relaxed and chi flow encouraged. Can you please comment on this?

— Sifu Andrew Barnett, Chief Instructor of Shaolin Wahnam Switaerland


Big muscles hinder chi flow even when relaxed, though some chi may flow through.

When one relaxes big muscles, more chi can flow through.

Small muscles when tensed may block more chi flow than relaxed big muscles.

When both big muscles and small muscles are relaxed, chi flows through small muscles more easily, but those with relaxed big muscles generally can do more work than those with relaxed small muscles.

Nevertheless, those with internal force training even with small muscles can generally do more work than those without internal force training but with big muscle, irrespective of whether their big muscles are tensed or relaxed. This is because even when they relax their big muscles, they do not know how to use flowing chi to do work. Thus, whenever they do work, they have to tense their muscles which results in blocking much energy flow.

I use the adverb "generally" above because there may also be occasions when those untrained in internal force but with big muscless can do more work than those trained in internal force but with small muscles. A weight lifter, for example, can lift heavier weights than a small sized person with some training in internal force. A good boxer can cause more damage with his punch than an average (genuine) internal art martial artist.

This brings us to a common mis-conception. Many people mistakenly think that internal force is always more powerful than external strength. This is not true. Somone with a lot of brutal strength can cause more damage than an internal martial artist with some internal force.

Nevertheless, internal force is certainly more useful, even when its amount is less than that of brutal strength. Besides lifting heavy weights and causing damage with a massive punch, there are not many other uses. But internal force maintains life (like ensuring one's organs are working properly), enhances life (like flushing out negative emotions), and enables the person to achiev better results in whatever he does (like having more mental clarity when reading) -- wonderful benefits that external strength does not bring.

Question 6

In our school chi flow is very important. But I have met many Tai Chi masters and none of them talk about chi flow. How is it?

— Yvol, Switzerland


Chi flow is very important in Taijiquan. Without chi flow, which gives Taijiquan its internal force, Taijiquan is not effective as a martial art. It is not even effective as health exercise.

Unfortunately, today more than 90% of Taiji teachers and practitioners do not have any experience of chi flow. Some of them do not even believe in chi, while others talk about chi flow and internal force as body mechanics. Anyone who has any experience of chi flow will immediately know that this is wrong. It is like saying that when you swim, you breathe in deeply through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Anyone who swims will know this is wrong.

If chi flow is so important in Taijiquan, why do so many Taiji teachers and practitioners not talk about chi flow?

The straight-forward answer, though many Taiji teachers and practitioners may become angry at the answer, is that they do not know. Actually they do not practice genuine Taijiquan, which is a wonderful internal martial art. They only practice external Taiji dance.

Push Hands

Students at a Taijiquan class durng the 2011 UK Summer Camp practicing Push Hands

Question 7

What is Bone Marrow Cleansing?

— Albeto, Spain


Bone Marrow Cleansing is an advanced chi kung skill. It also refers to an art of chi kung that results in this skill.

"Bone Marrow Cleansing" is taken from the Chinese term "Xi Sui Jing", which word-by-word means "Cleanse-Marrow-Sutra". It is pertinent to note that "Sutra" here does not refer to a Buddhist scripture, which is what the word "sutra" normally means. Here "sutra" refers to a classical work that has been proven to be very beneficial, and in this case it refers to a traditional chi kung exercise.

It is also pertinent to note that here "sui" is literally translated as "bone marrow", which is the normal meaning of the Chinese word "sue". But the Chinese language and the English language have different cultural background. In this context, "sue" does not just refer to bone marrow, it also refers to the nervous system as well as internal force, mental clarity, righteousness and spiritual cultivation traditionally related to the bone and marrow systems, and which this advanced chi kung exercise develops.

Bone Marrow Cleansing is one of the three chi kung legacies of Bodhidharma at the Shaolin Monastery, the other two being Eighteen Lohan Hands and Sinew Metamorphosis. However, while there are records of how the Eighteen Lohan Hands and Sinew Metamorphosis were performed in the past, there are no records of Bone Marrow Cleansing, except descriptions of its nature and benefits.

This has led some scholars to suggest that Bodhidharma did not teach Bone Marrow Cleansing. It was a later invention using Bodhidharma's name. This observation by scholars is incorrect. Bodhidharma did teach Bone Marrow Cleansing, and there is a famous description of Bodhidharma mentioning that his chosen successor, Hui Ke, attained the highest level of this art.

The reason why there is no record of how Bone Marrow Cleaning was performed, whereas there are records for Eighteen Lohan Hands and Sinew Metamorphosis is because Bone Marrow Cleansing refers to skills, whereas Eighteen Lohan Hands and Sinew Metamorphosis refer to techniques.

As skills are formless, there is no record of how the skills were performed in the past, whereas as techniques have forms, there are records of how Eighteen Lohan Hands and Sinew Metamorphosis were performed. For example, if you perform the technique of Lifting the Sky or the technique of Flicking Fingers to effect the skill of cleansing your nerves, we can have a picture of you performing Lifting the Sky or Flicking Fingers, but not a picture of you cleansing your nerves. Lifting the Sky and Flicking Fingers are techniques from Eighteen Lohan Hands and Sinew Metamorphosis respectively, and cleaning nerves is a skill from Bone Marrow Cleansing.

Question 8

What are the benefits that we can achieve in practicing Bone Marrow Cleansing that we cannot get in other chi kung exercises?


Energy flows at five levels -- at the levels of the skin, the muscles, the meridians, the internal organs and the bone marrow (including the nerves). In our school, we perform Bone Marrow Cleansing to achieve this result.

When energy flows along our skin, we have a rosy complexion. Ladies will certainly like this benefit of the exercise. But we often forget that our skin is our most important defence against external invasions by disease-causing agents like bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms. Hence, practicing Bone Marrow Cleansing promotes this importance defence.

Our muscles are necessary for our movement. Hence, practicing Bone Marrow Cleansing at this level strengthens our muscles, promoting better movement and agility. This is especially urgent in old age.

Moreover our muscle system is related to our gall bladder. According to Chinese medical philosophy, when the energy in one's gall bladder is strong, he becomes courageous. Hence, practicing Bone Marrow Cleansing at this level is very useful to those who lacks confidence.

According to Chinese medical philosophy, which has maintain the health and sanity of the biggest population of the world for the longest period of known history, all illness is due to energy blockage. If energy is flowing smoothly in a person's merdians, he needs not be sick at all. Hence, practicing Bone Marrow Cleansing at this level overcomes illness, including so-called incurable diseases, and maintain good health.

Certain negative emotions, which cause serious illness insidiously, tend to be locked up in certain internal organs, for example, grief in the lungs, worry in the stomach and fear in the kidneys. Clearing these negative emotions in our organs with energy flow will overcome emotional problems, and strengthening them will give vibrant emotional health.

Our internal organs maintain our life processes. Practicing Bone Marrow Cleansing at this level makes our organs vibrant and lasting, giving us vitality and longevity.

When energy flows in our bones, it gives us tremendous internal force. As our marrow (including our nerves) flows to and from our brain, cleansing the marrow will enhance our intellectual prowess. At the mundane level, it enables to attain peak performance in whatever we do. At the supra-mundane level, the tremendous internal force and mental clarity enable our spirit to expand beyond our illusory physical body attaining spiritual awakening. As you have witnessed, many of our students had this beautiful experience during our Bone Marrow Cleansing course.

Do we also get these benefits by practicing other chi kung exercises? The answer is yes and no. In theory, all chi kung exercises can give us these benefits, though in practice the benefits in some exercises are minimal. But in practical terms, Bone Marrow Cleansing, as it enables energy to flow at five different levels of depth, gives us these benefits in a most complete manner.



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