SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
AUGUST 2012 PART 2
You say zhan zhuang is the most important exercise for internal force. I have done horse stance for many months. Do I have internal force? My legs are strong but I become tired easily.
— Mark, UK
While zhan zhuang or stance training is the most important exercise for training internal force, not many people practice it correctly, and therefore do not develop any internal force even when they have practiced for a long time.
You are unlikely to have internal force. If you have internal force, you will know it from direct experience, just as if you are happy or hungry, you will know it.
Becoming tired easily is another indication that you don't have internal force. If you have internal force, you can work physically or mentally for quite a long time and yet you won't be tired.
Practicing the horse stance can make your legs strong even when you have not practiced correctly. Indeed, many people mistakenly think that the main purpose of stance training is to have strong legs. This is not so.
The main purpose of stance training is to develop internal force. Another important purpose, though it may not be as obvious, is to develop mental clarity. Of course it must be practiced correctly. Although the stances are quite simple, it is difficult to practice them correctly if one does not learn personally from a competent teacher.
I learn "One-Finger Shooting Zen" from your videos. But I do not feel any chi flow like what you describe. Can one learn from videos?
It is unlikely for one to learn "One-Finger Shooting Zen" correctly from videos or books. It should be learnt personally from a competent teacher.
You may learn the outward form of "One-finger Shooting Zen" correctly from books or videos. This is the technique. But you miss the skill. It is the skill that is more important, especially the skill of generating a chi flow. It is the chi flow that brings about internal force and its resultant benefits.
Many people do not realize this crucial point. They mistakenly think that if they know the techniques, they will have the art and the benefits. This is not so.
As an analogy, you may learn the techniques of swimming from a video or a book. But if you do not have the skills, which you need to learn from a competent teacher, you will still not have the art and benefits of swimming.
I know internal force is very good in fighting. Can internal force be used for other things than fighting?
Of course. In fact, in today's law-abiding society, using internal force for fighting is only a very minor and seldom use of internal force. There are countless other uses.
The countless uses of internal force can be classified into three categories.
One, internal force is used to maintain life, like digesting your food, keeping you warm, and countless other metabolic functions that keep you alive. This is the most important function of internal force. It is also the most easily neglected.
The second function of internal force is to enhance life. For example, many people feel tired even at work. By the time they return home after work, they become listless. With internal force, not only they work with zest, but when they return home they are still bouncing with energy to enjoy the company of their families, friends or by themselves.
Thirdly, internal force enables us to do better no matter what we do! For example, previously without internal force you become tired even before you complete a game. Now with internal force you can play on and on. Previously without internal force you may re-read a page many times yet do not understand what you have read. Now with internal force you understand clearly with just a single reading.
The wonderful thing is that these benefits come spontaneously. You don't have to worry how to direct your internal force to overcome harmful virus, work more efficiently or enhance your mental clarity. Without you having to do anything special, your internal force will give you these benefits.
Internal force will also operate the above three categories of functions in that order of priority. In other words, unless you direct it otherwise, internal force will first ensure your life go on smoothly, next enhance your life, then enable you to have better result in whatever you do.
For example, you may want to play a game of tennis but you do not know that you have been infested with harmful virus. Without you having to do anything special, your internal force will clear the harmful virus first before strengthening your internal organs to give you more stamina to play your game, as maintaining life takes priority over enhancing life. Only then will your internal force give you more power for your tennis strokes, as enhancing life takes priority over enabling you to do better in whatever you do.
I have been hearing about your amazing work with Tai Chi, Taijiquan, Chi Quan, and I need your great advice. I want to learn the very best style for internal and outer medicine and self-defence for old age at 70s and 80s. I see you teach 3 styles: Taijiquan, Tai Chi Chuan, Chi Chuan.
— Ronnie, UK
"Taijiquan" and "Tai Chi Chuan" refer to the same art. "Taijiquan" is spelt in Romanized Chinese, whereas "Tai Chi Chuan" is spelt in English. In Chinese both are written in the same Chinese words.
Perhaps, by "Chi Chuan" you mean "Chi Kung", or may be "Yi Chuan".
I teach chi kung, which is the English spelling. In Romanized Chinese it is spelt as "qigong". "Qigong" is pronounced like "ch'i kung", and not as "ki kong", as it is often mispronounced even by some qigong instructors.
I do not teach "Yi Chuan", which is spelt as "Yiquan" in Romanized Chinese. Yiquan is a shortened form for Xingyiquan, or Hsing Yi Chuan in English spelling, which is a famous style of internal kungfu.
Nevertheless, due to popular request, I shall offer a course of Xingyiquan at the UK Summer Camp in England next year.
Taijiquan is also a famous style of internal kungfu, but it is different from Xingyiquan. Chi kung is an art of energy management.
There are different styles of Taijiquan, such as Yang, Chen, two types of Wu, and Wudang. To differentiate from othe styles of Taijiquan, we call our style Wahnam Taijiquan.
At the Tai Chi Chuan Festival in Florida, USA in early November this year, I shall conduct some courses on Fundamentals of Tai Chi Chuan, Yang Style, Chen Style and Wudang Tai Chi Chuan. It is an excellent opportunity for Tai Chi Chuan lovers to learn three famous styles of Tai Chi Chuan in a few days what they may need a few years to learn elsewhere.
What is the best art in internal and outer medicine for health and longevity?
Which art is the best for both the internal and the external aspects of health and longevity depends on various factors, such as a person's needs, aspirations, available resources, and the time and effort he is prepared to spend on practicing the art.
But considering people and factors in general, the best art is chi kung. Indeed, two of the five main aims of chi kung training are health and longevity, the other three being vitality, mental freshness and spiritual joys.
Health includes and surpasses medicine. When you have attained health, you would have overcome any internal or external illness if any. In conventional medicine, many diseases are incurable; patients have to take medication for life to manage the diseases. In chi kung, there is no such a thing as an incurable disease.
Vitality and mental freshness give you the energy and clarity of mind to enjoy your daily work and play. Longevity enables you to live healthily and meaningfully to a ripe old age. Spiritual joys give you peace, happiness and a connection to the Supreme.
But you need to practice genuine chi kung. More than 80% of chi kung practiced today is not genuine chi kung, though the practitioners themselves may not realize it! What they practice is just gentle physical exercise. A useful criterion to tell the difference is that chi kung works on energy, whereas gentle physical exercise works on the physical body.
You would probably appreciate better if we use Tai Chi Chuan as an analogy. More tjhan 90% of Tai Chi Chuan practiced today is not genuine Tai Chi Chuan. It is just an external dance. Genuine Tai Chi Chuan is an internal, martial art. There is nothing internal, and nothing martial in more than 90% of Tai Chi Chuan practiced today.
More importantly, you must learn the genuine art from a competent teacher who is willing to teach you. Such a teacher is not easy to find, but it is worth many times the effort to search for him.
What art offers good self-defence that can be used in old age?
Any genuine kungfu will offer good self-defence even at old age. But the problem today is that genuine kungfu of any style is very rare. Understandably, many people may think that I am arrogant or talking non-sense. First I said that genuine chi kung was very rare. Now I say that genuine kungfu, including Tai Chi Chuan, is very rare. But I am just telling the truth.
Kungfu is a martial art. That means kungfu practitioners, if they practice genuine kungfu, can use it for self-defence. But the truth is that today most kungfu practitioners cannot use their kungfu to defend themselves. If they spar with Boxers, Kick-Boxers or martial artists of any style, most kungfu practitioners today will be badly hit.
In fact, they cannot even use the kungfu forms they may beautifully perform in solo demonstrations to put up any semblence of defence. They will throw away their kungfu forms and employ Boxing or Kick-Boxing. Regardless of what they use, they will be badly hit by their opponents. Most kungfu practitioners today cannot defend themselves. It is a shame.
But this does not mean that kungfu is not an effective martial art. It only means that most kungfu practitioners today only pactice kungfu forms, but cannot use their kungfu forms effectively for combat.
In your case, the best choice is genuine Tai Chi Chuan. Geniuine Tai Chi Chuna is not only an effective art of self-defence, it is also chi kung. It will fulfiill your needs and aspirations for internal and outer medicine for health and longjavity, as well as offer good self-defence that can be used in old age, and much more.
If you practice genuine Tai Chi Chuan, you will have good health, vitality, longevity, mental freshness and spiritual joys -- wonderful benefits that conventional medicine and many other martial systems may not give. Medicine may overcome your illness, but does not necessarily give you good health and vitality. Many martial art systems may give you self-defence, but may not give your mental freshness and spiritual joys.
Almost to the point of being long-winded, I would remind you and many other seekers of good health, longevity and self-defence like you that you will have these wonderful benefits only if you learn genuine Tai Chi Chuan (or any style of genuine high-level kungfu) from a competent teacher willing to teach you.
I wonder if you can tell me which one of the following three schools teaches real Tai Chi Chuan?
It is a general policy of our school not to pass judgment on other schools.
Without referring to the three schools you have mentioned in particular, but on Tai Chi Chuan schools in general, you can form your own opinion on whether what they teach is genuine by referring to my comments on Tai Chi Chuan above, especially that genuine Tai Chi Chuan is an internal martial art. If internal force and combat application are not in the syllabus of a school, then it does not teach genuine Tai Chi Chuan.
If you wish to learn the type of Tai Chi Chuan we describe, it is only logical that you learn from one of our certified Tai Chi Chuan instructors. Please see our List of Certified Instructors.
If you cannot find our instructors in your area, you can learn Tai Chi forms from any other instructors or even from books, and when you can perform the forms reasonably well, you can apply to attend my Intensive Tai Chi Chuan Course. Please see Intensive Tai Chi Chuan Course for details.
There is a golden opportunity for Tai Chi Chuan lovers at the Tai Chi Chuan Festival in Florida, USA in early November this year, where they can learn all they need to know about Tai Chi Chuan, like how to develop internal force and apply Tai Chi Chuan patterns for combat, as well as three famous Taijiquan styles, Yang Style, Chen Style and Wudang Taijiquan, in just a few days. Such an opportunity is unprecedented.
If you wish to learn other types of Tai Chi Chuan, you would have to search elsewhere.
What's your opinion about Shaolin Kung Fu and how it works with real Tai Chi Chuan and old age defence?
Old age defence is only one of many wonderful benefits of practicing genuine Shaolin Kungfu or genuine Tai Chi Chuan.
A comparison of these two great martial arts can be summed up in a saying in our school as follows. "Shaolin Kungfu is for those who wants the best and are willing to work very hard. Tai Chi Chuan is for smart people."
Shaolin Kungfu is the greatest martial art in the world, from whatever aspects you look at it -- history, philosophy, forms, force, health and longevity, combat application and enriching daily life.
It is the oldest continuous martial art in the world, with a history of over 1500 years, whereas many martial arts today have a history of less than 100 years. Since its establishment, all the empire builders in Chinese history, except the Mongols and the Manchurians, or the generals who helped them build the empires were Shaolin trained. Shaolin has a very rich and extensive philosophy which explains not only good health and combat efficiency but also spiritual fulfilment and cosmic reality.
All the techniques in other martial arts can be found in Shaolin Kungfu. Its force training, like One-Finger Zen and Golden Bell, is beyond the comprehension of many martial artists. Shaolin disciples are healthy and live long lives. Shaolin Kungfu can handle any combat situations, whereas many other martial artists need to cross-train because their arts are not complete.
Because of its deep and extensive material, it takes much time to practice Shaolin Kungfu thoroughly. Tai Chi Chuan provides a short-cut. It starts straight at fairly advanced Shaolin Kungfu. In other words, what a Tai Chi Chuan beginner learns at the start is similar to what a Shaolin student learns after having practiced for many years.
Due to the different nature of their training, it is also tougher to practice Shaolin Kungfu than Tai Chi Chuan. As a rough estimate, Shaolin practitioners would need three times more time and effort than Tai Chi Chuan practitioners. The material Shaolin practitioners learn will be three times more, but Tai Chi Chuan practitioners will smartly respond that a third of that material is more than sufficient for their needs.
As an analogy, a Shaolin businessman earns 30 million dollars, whereas a Tai Chi Chuan businessman earns 10 million dollars. The Tai Chi Chuan millionaire would say that 10 million is sufficient for his needs, and he would rather spend the time enjoying life than earn an extra 20 million.
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