SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
MARCH 2012 PART 2
Sifu, can you please explain the difference between techniques, skills and results?
— Sifu Roland Mastel, Switzerland
Literally thousands of thousands of people, not just in kungfu and chi kung but in all walks of life, have wasted years and also harmed themselves because they do not understand or appreciate the difference between techniques, skills and results.
They have wasted a lot of time because they wrongly think that once they know the techniques, they will get the results the techniques are said to bring. They have harmed themselves because they have practiced the techniques wrongly bringing them adverse effects, but they are unaware of it. The main reason in both cases concern skills.
Techniques are particular ways of doing things. "Lifting the Sky", for example, is a technique. Techniques are visible, i.e. others can see what the practitioner is doing. Most practitioners have the right techniques, but they do not have the required skills.
Skills are how well he performs the techniques to obtain the desired results. The main reason why many people do not have the desired results of "Lifting the Sky" is because they do not have the skills. Here the most important skill is to be focused and relaxed at the same time.
Results are the benefits he gets from performing the technique with the appropriate skills. But if he perform the technique wrongly he may have adverse effects. The main benefit of Lifting the Sky, and in fact of all chi kung exercises, is generating an energy flow, which in turn will bring good health, vitality and longevity.
Many people do not get these wonderful results even when they have the right technique because they do not have the chi kung skill of generating an energy flow. They perform the technique as gentle physical exercise, thus getting only benefits of gentle physical exe rise like loosening their muscles and joints.
How does this understanding benefit our students?
I shall enumerate the benefits in ascending order so that our students can see them more clearly.
Our students can avoid the big mistake thousands of other chi kung practitioners make. These other practitioners practice chi kung patterns as gentle physical exercise (and not as chi kung) for years but do not realize (or admit) that they do not enjoy typical chi kung benefits like good health and internal force.
Many instructors are sickly even after teaching chi kung for many years, and most practitioners do not have internal force. They mistakenly think that if they know the techniques, they will get the benefits. They do not realize they lack the necessary skills.
Our students get the desired results that practicing chi kung will give. They have good health, vitality, longevity as well as mental clarity and internal force which enable them to have better result no matter what they do.
Our students become very cost-effective. They attain better result in six months what most other practitioners may not get in three years -- which is actually a conservative estimate as many of these other practitioners will never get the chi kung benefits as they only practice chi kung patterns as gentle physical exercise.
This statement, thought true, will appear boastful to many other people who do not really understand what we are talking about (for example, they do not understand what we mean by performing gentle physical exercise and not genuine chi kung) and are not exposed to the benefits we enjoy.
Our students can apply the skills as well as the underlying philosophy they learn in our class to enrich their daily life, especially when we highlight these to them. For example, they have to be focussed and relaxed when practicing chi kung in class. When they have this skill, they will be more focussed and relaxed (than had they not learned from us) in their daily work and play, bringing better results.
Philosophically, they understand that it is often the difference of skills, not of techniques, that brings different results. A master and a student use the same technique, but a master has better result because he is more skilful. A salesman earning $10,000 a month and another earning $2,000 a month use the same sale techniques, but the former is more skilful. Understanding and applying this principle will enrich the students' daily life in many ways.
Can I continue to practice yoga when I practice chi kung?
— Carlos, Ecuador
Of course, you can. You will also have better result than before.
No matter what you had been doing before you practiced chi kung, so long as these activities brought you benefit, after practicing chi kung not only you can continue doing these things, you will also have better results.
For example, if you had been practicing Taiji or another form of chi kung, playing football, driving a car, going to parties, drinking Coca Cola or coffee with sugar, and enjoying sex, after practicing chi kung not only you can continue to enjoy these activities, you will have better results.
I would like to highlight drinking Coca Cola or coffee with sugar and enjoying sex. For some odd reasons, some chi kung instructors warn their students not to drink Coca Cola and coffee with sugar or to have sex! This is ridiculous, and the irony is that these students following such ridiculous advice are not healthier. If one can enjoy these pleasures without harm before practicing chi kung, he should be able to perform better after practicing chi kung.
How do I combine the exercises in Eighteen-Lohan Art with those of Eighteen Lohan Hands?
You may combine them in any way. You may perform one or more exercises in Eighteen-Lohan Art first, followed by one or more exercises in Eighteen Lohan Hands. Or you may reverse the order.
For example, you may perform "Reverse Hanging of Double Hooks", followed by "Lifting the Sky". Or you may perform "Lifting the Sky", followed by "Reverse Hanging of Double Hooks".
You may combine any one or more chi kung exercises with any one or more chi kung exercises in any way. For example, you may perform "Carrying the Moon", "Night Guard Tests Sea" and "Swallow through Clouds". Or you may perform "Lohan Worships Buddha", "Flicking Fingers", and "Golden Bridge". Or you may perform "Big Boss Lifts Bronze Vessel", "Big Wind Mull", and "Grasping Sparrow's Tail".
However, generally you will get better results by focusing on one chi kung exercise at one time.
Sifu, thank you for your inspiring advice.
I was waiting for someone with cancer to first call me, introduce himself and let me know that he is interested in my help and not just being pushed into it.
He was supposed to call me this Thursday. I think he is in a rather difficult space currently, and has had more bad news from the doctors and hospital. His cancer is quite advanced.
I don't really know how I can actually help right now as he hasn't even introduced himself. It's very frustrating as time is ticking.
— Sean, Australia
If he needs your help, he will call.
If he doesn't, leave him alone. Let him choose how to handle his own life. You need not worry unnecessarily over him.
There are many more people elsewhere who need your help. Help the deserving who come to you. Don't force your help onto those who don't ask for it.
Is the wu chi posture or the tree good for the knees? Can it cause problems from arthritis or cartilage wear in long terms? Are they also suitable for people with back problems and lumbar hernias?
— Joaquin, Argentina
In our school, what you refer to as the wu chi posture or the tree is called the Three-Circle Stance.
If you practice the Three-Circle Stance correctly, it is good for your knees, overcome problems from arthritis or cartilage wear, and are suitable for people with back problems and lumbar hernias. There are many other chi kung exercises with these benefits.
However, if you practice wrongly, it may cause these problems, or aggravate them if you already have these problems. It is easy to practice the Three-Circle Stance wrongly if one does not learn from a competent teacher.
I saw in a kungfu movie showing a famous master was sick and he took Chinese herbal medicine. In the past were kungfu masters sick, and how did they get well?
— Vicente, Spain
We sometimes forget that we are elite. We sometimes forget that other kungfu practitioners, including masters, do not get the wonderful benefits we get.
For some odd reasons, some people are shy, even feel ashamed, to be elite. Some ridiculously think that to be elite is a crime. These are perverted views.
To be a top manager is elite. To be a millionaire is elite. To practice the type of high-level chi kung and kungfu we practice and to enjoy their wonderful benefits is elite. Not every person can be elite. Not only it is highly desirable but rare. We should be proud of it.
What has being elite anything thing to do with your question? It is directly related to the answer.
Our kungfu is elite. It gives us good health, combat efficiency and spiritual joys -- usually in this order of progression. But most other kungfu practitioners, including masters, may not have these benefits. They have combat efficiency -- if they practice genuine kungfu -- but they may not have good health and spiritual joys like we do.
They may not be weak and sickly, but they are not full of good health and vitality like we do. Sometimes they are in pain from the injuries they sustain, and sometimes they become clinically sick.
On the other hand, we are not in pain. If we sustain any injuries, which are seldom, we can readily clear the injuries within half an hour using chi flow!
As our kungfu practice generates chi flow, our chi flow is always smooth, which means we are never sick! If we ever become sick, which is an exception, we can overcome it with chi flow, supplemented by Western medicine, Chinese herbs or other means if necessary.
But why didn't kungfu masters in the past, and kungfu masters today, have these benefits? The simple reason is that they didn't, and modern masters don't, have chi flow -- not the type we have. They might have chi flow, which they often did not realize, that contributed to their internal force and combat efficiency, but they did not have the type of chi kung we have that contributes to good health. In other words, they used their internal force for combat efficiency, whereas we use our internal force for good health, vitality, longevity, combat efficiency and spiritual joys.
Why didn't the past masters use their internal force the ways we do? They were not trained in the same way. Moreover, they took a much longer time to train their internal force; they might take years when we take months!
Yes, in the past kungfu masters were sick. They got well by taking medical herbal concoction. Sometimes they used acupuncture. When they were injured, they recovered by applying medical wine, medical paste and herbal concoction. The very high-level masters used chi transmission.
What caused kungfu masters in the past to be sick? How could they be sick if they had internal force? I thought that you said the first function of internal force was to keep us healthy?
Like other people, kungfu masters in the past became sick because they were attacked by disease-causing agents, such as stress, negative emotions, bacteria, viruses and physical injuries. The most important cause, then as now, was stress.
It was (and is) stress that weakened a person's natural defence system, allowing contagious diseases, organic disorders and psycho-somatic problems to occur. Many kungfu masters in the past were stressful. They often had to deal with life-death combat.
Nevertheless, kungfu masters in the past were healthier than ordinary people. Hence, they were not as often sick as the general public. But I believe they might not be as healthy as we are. The reason will become clear soon.
Not many kungfu masters had internal force. Internal force was (and is) elite. But even those with internal force would sometimes become sick, though they would not be as often sick as masters who used external strength.
It is true that internal force would spontaneously keep us healthy, enhance our life and enable us to do better no matter what we do. However some kungfu masters did not allow their internal force to operate spontaneously; they channelled their internal force for combat, thus depriving their internal force to keep them healthy.
Moreover, they did not train internal force the way we do. We let our energy flow, but they consolidated their energy in training like Iron Palm and Iron Shirt. Flowing energy is more effective in maintaining good health.
Hence, although disease-causing agents also attack us as they did to past masters, our flowing energy flush out the disease-causing agents before they can have any chance to cause trouble, whereas past masters consolidated their energy for combat purposes.
The difference in philosophy and environment also play a crucial part. For us, stressful combat seldom occurs (unless one is silly enough to look for it). We train internal force for good health, vitality, longevity and peak performance in our daily life. For past masters, stressful combat was frequent. They trained internal force for survival.
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