Shaolin Kung Fu

Course participants at an Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in Sabah enjoying sparring

Question 1

I have some concerns about some very intense emotions that have begun to surface in me This primary emotion is rage. I touched upon this rage in the past during some of my most powerful chi flows, but it was rare. In the past I would respond by reducing the amount of force training. However, it is different now. It comes out in almost every chi flow, and it is scary for me. It feels like a battle rage, like I have a wild, vicious, fearless, powerful force buried in me that I don't know how to control. I am afraid of it

My concern has been amplified more recently because the rage is beginning to surface outside of chi flow as well. Now I spar with much more force and intensity than in the past. As the intensity increases, so do these emotions. The emotions are like a raw, angry heat coursing through me. They are so intense! I want to scream, to roar, to tear my opponent apart, to snarl like an animal, to destroy whatever is in front of me. It is intoxicating, and I am afraid of this side of myself that I didn't know was there before.

I have a lot of experience with full force contact, but I never had this kind of emotional reaction before. It is very important to me not to hurt my opponents.

My intuition is that everything you taught us is for me, for whatever reason, a profoundly powerful opportunity to clear and let go of some things inside of me that, if let go of, would enable an amazing and beautiful change in my life and my person. I want and need that change, and I will work for it. But I want to be safe along the way, and I am afraid of what I'm finding in myself.

Any advice I am hugely grateful for. I am grateful that I am able to call you my Sifu, and grateful for your generosity in teaching me and my loved ones these Shaolin Arts. They are the most powerful tool for becoming the person that I want to be in this life that I have ever come across.

— Name and Country Withheld


Your feeling of rage in not uncommon. Yes, it is the working of our powerful chi kung clearing out something bad in you, something that has been in you for a long time -- even from your past lives. Yes, clearing it will result in an amazing and beneficial change in you and your life.

How are you going to let this come about without having your rage hurt you or other people, such as in sparring? The following is a good procedure.

When you are training alone and your rage is coming out, let it out if you are confident of maintaining good control.

If you are unsure of your control, do the following. Breathe out with a lot of volume but in a gentle manner (in contrast to a forced manner). If you are having a chi flow, slow down your chi flow. If you are quite still, gently think of your dan tian and let your chi be focused at your dan tian. Keep your mouth open. Gently think of good thoughts.

When you are sparring and your rage is coming our violently but you are confident that you can control yourself, move back a step or two out of the arena, breathing out at the same time. Sink your chi to your dan tian, and gently tell yourself that you must not hurt your sparring partners. Then resume your sparring. You need not tell your sparring partners or other people what has happened.

When you are sparring and your rage is coming out and you are unsure of your control, move out of the arena, and orally or using signals tell your sparring partners that you wish to have a break. Go into a chi flow, which can be gentle or vigorous, sometimes making loud noises if necessary. When you complete the chi flow, stand still for a short while and think of good thoughts. You may resume your sparring if you wish. You need not tell your sparring partners or other people what has happened. If they ask, tell them that you didn't feel well and you needed a chi flow -- which was true.

Question 2

Sifu, I want to confess to you that the reason I have so rarely communicated with you over these years I have been your student is because I am always afraid to make obvious my weaknesses and failings and shortcomings. I too often say nothing for fear of saying the wrong thing, and do nothing for fear of doing the wrong thing. I don't want to show anything until it's perfect. I am sorry for this.

I want desperately to be thought of as a good student, but I feel that I am undeserving. This letter is my first attempt to change this destructive habit pattern. I want to grow up. Thank you for everything


This strikes me as you are a Chinese in a body of a Westerner.

Before proceeding, I would like you to know two things. One, I can understand your problem very well because I understand Chinese culture. Two, I am proud of you -- which means that I was proud of you before you told me your problem, and that I am still proud of you after you have told me your problem.

You need not feel guilty about it because, again, it is not an uncommon problem, though not many people have the courage to say it out. It is actually quite common in the East. Many Chinese do not do or say anything because they are afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing. In fact, there is a Chinese proverb as follows. "If you do not open your mouth, no one thniks you are dumb."

You can overcome the problem quite easily if you follow the following advice.

Remind yourself that you are practicing the best of Shaolin Kungfu, which includes Zen training. The hallmarks of Zen is being simple, direct and effective.

This means that when you want to do or say something, you do or say so simply, directly and effectively. Simply means that you just do or say it. You do not intellectualize whether what you are going to do or say will be interpreted by others as correct.

This is different from doing or saying the wrong thing. If you know that it is wrong, you will not do or say it in the first place. The problem is not what you think you do or say is wrong, but that you think other people may think what you do or say is wrong.

Let us take a simple example. Suppose you want to say that practicing Shaolin Kungfu is better than practicing Karate. So you just say, "Practicing Shaolin Kungfu is better than practicing Karate." You do not, for example, ask yourself again and again in your head what other people will think of you if you make this statement.

Suppose you made a wrong statement and you realize it. You just apologize and correct the statement. You do not, for example, intellectualize what will other people think if you apologize, or what will other people think if you do not apolozise.

Suppose you said, "No matter what happens, practicing Shaolin Kungfu is better than practicing Karate", and you realize that this statement is wrong. So you correct yourself and say, "I''m sorry, I mean generally practcing Shaolin Kungfu is better than practicing Karate. There may be special occasions when practicing Karate is better. For example, practicing good Karate is better than practicing bad Shaolin Kungfu."

Now we come to the second hallmark of Zen. Directly means you do or say straight to the point, you do not beat about the bush. You say, "Practicing Shaolin Kungfu is better than practicing Karate." You do not start by saying something like, "May years ago I learned martial arts. I learned from a master. I thought he was a master, but actually he was not a master. I learned in a house. No, actually it was not a house, it was a hut ..." and only after much ado you finally say, "I found out that, after many years, after much punching and kicking, practicing a style of martial art called Shaolin Kungfu is better than practicing a style of martial art called Karate."

Thirdly, what you do or say must be effective. In the above example, you must have successfully conveyed to your listeners your opinion that practicing Shaolin Kungfu is better than practicing Karate. Whether they agree with your opinion is another issue. Whether they want you to prove your statemnt is another issue.

You must say in an appropriate manner. You must be loud and clear enough to be understood. You must speak confidently that your listeners believe in your conviction. If you mumble, for example, or speak to yourself instead of to your listeners, or are hesitant or uncertain in your speech, you are unlikely to be effective.

Besides being simple, direct and effective, another advice to help you overcome your problem is to be sincere in whatever you do or say. When you are sincere that what you do and say will benefit others and yourself, you will start to worry less and less on what you think others will interpret your action and speech, and eventually you will not worry at all. This does not mean you do not care. But you do not worry because you are sincere.

Horse-Riding Stance

The Horse-Riding Stance

Question 3

Previously when I came out of my Horse-Rriding Stance, that would be the end of the session. Now after I have finished my Horse-Rriding Stance I do self manifested chi movement as described in your book, "Complete Book of Shaolin".

— Dan USA


This is a big kungfu secret. I believe we in Shaolin Wahnam are the first to share this big secret publicly.

In the past, masters shared this secret privately only with a few top students, after the students had proven themselves worthy after many, many years. Over time, this secret was virtually lost. Today, not many people know of this secret. Even those masters who practice this and derive a lot of benefit, i.e. enjoying a chi flow after stance training and developing internal force, might not know of it as a secret They do so as part of their training routine.

This secret is called "yew foong pai lau" (Cantonese pronunciation), which means "flowing breeze swaying willows". If you practice "flowing breeze swaying willows" for a short while after your stance training, you will get more than three times the benefit!

For example, suppose you practice stance training for 15 minutes, and you obtain 50 units of benefit. If you add another 5 minutes of "flowing breeze swaying willows", you will obtain more than 150 units of benefits.

And if you have some adverse effects due to wrong training, "flowing breeze and swaying willows" will clear away the adverse effects.

Question 4

At first I found that I just swayed a little from my knees, but now I find that I am moving quite a lot. I'm not sure if this is a sign that I am generating more internal force. But it does feel a lot better and I feel so relaxed sometimes.


Yes, it is a sign of generating more internal force.

In my kungfu classes the chi flow after stance training or any other kungfu training can be very vigorous. Students may jump and roll on the ground. Some may sing or yell. This is catharsis, or emotional cleansing. It is also erasing bad karma from past lives.

Some people may think that we are talking non-sense. Erasing bad karma from past lives? Or even more mundane matter like emotional cleansing? These people would say that kungfu is only physical, and has nothing to do with superstition.

This is not superstition. In fact it is very scientific. And great kungfu is more than physical; it is also spiritual.

I use the terms "physical" and "spiritual" here in its Eastern context. In Chinese, it is "shen" and "xin". Literally, "shen" means "body", and "xin" means "heart". (Please note that "shen" pronounced in another tone, but written differently in Chinese, can also mean "spirit".)

In Western context, "shen" or "body" refers to the physical. "Xin" or "heart" is not the organ heart; it refers to the emotional, mental and spiritual.

Let me give an example of how vigorous chi flow can cleanse negative emotions and erase bad karma. Someone often suffers from stomach pains, and is afraid of ordinary knives. Thorough medical examinations show that there is nothing wrong with his stomach, and he knows very well that he needs not be afraid of knives.

But in a past life he was killed by a knife driven into his stomach. The experience was so traumatic that it left a strong impression in his soul, or consciousness. In chi kung terms, he has a spiritual blockage. Vigorous chi flow can clear the spiritual blockage. In Western terms, it clears his negative emotions and imprints in his consciousness. In some literature, it is described as erasing bad karma.

Your feeling better and relaxed is also an example of spiritual cleansing.

Nevertheless, as you practice on your own, you should keep your chi flow gentle. Vigorous chi flow should be learnt from a competent teacher, and performed with his guidance.

Flowing Breeze Swaying Willows

Flowing Breeze Swaying Willows is a very important part of internal force training

Question 5

My Horse-Riding Stance has also increased to 5 minutes but it is extremely hard. I am not sure if I am too high or not. My thighs are not parallel with the ground but they are not that far off and I find that at this height it is much more comfortable on my knees.


There are many pictures on my website showing how the Horse-Riding Stance should be practiced.

Some practitioners aim to have their thighs parallel to the ground. Their horse-stance is box-shaped. We discourage this, as it locks energy at the thighs and knees.

Our horse-stance is pyramid-shaped, with the thighs gently sloping. This enables chi to flow to the feet and root the practitioners to the ground, as well as enables chi to be gathered at the dan tian to develop internal force.

Question 6

I know this may sound like a silly question but are there any simple ways that I can test whether or not I am developing internal force on my own.


It is not a silly question. In fact it is wise of you to ask. Thousands of students have wasted a lot of time because they never ask such questions. They never ask, for example, whether they are getting the benefits their art is supposed to give them.

You are asking this very important question in different words and with direct reference to internal force. Stance training is supposed to develop internal force, and you are asking how you can know you are getting this benefit.

A good way to find out is to list some of the things internal force would enable a practitioner to do well, and then check yourself against this list.

Here are some examples of a practitioner with internal force. The more internal force he has, the better he will be at these items.

  1. He is healthy,
  2. He has vitality.
  3. He is powerful, yet peaceful and relaxed.
  4. His face is radiant.
  5. His voice is full.
  6. He has sparkling eyes.

Take each item and compare yourself before you started stance training and now. Are you healthier now than before? Do you have more vitality now than before?

You may have a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 as the lowest and 10 the highest in your achievement. Suppose you give yourself 4 for health before your started stance training, and now you give yourself 6. So, you can conclude you have gained some internal force which enables you to move from 4 to 6 for health.

internal force

Grandmaster Wong and Sifu Riccardo Salvatore are excellent examples of internal force. Can you read the signs of internal force from their faces?

Question 7

You have emphasized that it is very important to have good thoughts.

— Rodrigo, Spain


The three causes of karma are thoughts, speech and actions -- in that order of important. Indeed, it is from thoughts that speech and action result. In other words, what you say and what you do are the result of what you think.

Interestingly, modern science is saying the same truth that masters have taught for centuries. The phenomenal world is the result of thought. A famous scientist seriously says that if you place a cat and a vial of poison in a box and close its lid, whether the cat is alive or dead depends on what you think of the cat. If you think the cat is alive, it is alive; if you think it is dead, it is dead.

Question 8

I always have negative thoughts. For example, when a friend is sick I think he is going to die, I am going to be lonely and not see him again.


Change your bad thoughts to noble thoughts. Thank that your friend will recover from his illness, that is going to live healthily, that you are going to enjoy his company and see him again and again.

Your thoughts will determine what you will say to your friend. If you think he is going to die, though you may not say it, what you say would be gloomy. If you think he is going to live, what you say to him will be cheerful.

Your speech will determine your actions and his actions. If you tell him that if he practices high-level chi kung like ours, not only he can recover but also he will have good health, vitality and longevity, he may act on your advice and get these benefits. You are unlikely to say so if you have bad thoughts, and he is unlikely to learn high-level chi kung to have good health, vitality and longevity. Just changing your thoughts from bad to good makes a lot of difference.



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