internal force

Sifu Kai Uwe demonstrating internal force. One person is trying to bend his arm while another is chopping at his neck. Such demonstration, however, is for fun. The main purposes of internal force are to maintain life, to enhance life and to enable a practitioner to have better results no matter what he does.

Question 1

I have found this text on your website :

Some martial artists can tolerate much pain and have a lot of energy.

My question is how do they do it "mentally".

  1. Through Enlightenment, Great Void (no thoughts a long time and how long).
  2. Through Auto-suggestion.
  3. Through Relaxation.
  4. Through Qi wandering through the body (median systems). Can they route the qi to a special place in the body. (only arms, or only leg etc.).

    — Theo, Germany


It is important to take note that my answers here refer to feats shown in the video you provided, and not to any master who performs the feats or to his school.

Different schools and different masters have different philosophy and practice. From our philosophy and practice in Shaolin Wahnam, we do not regard the following feats as martial art, internal force or spiritual achievements.

  1. Breaking a spearshaft with the spearhead positioned at the throat and having a piece of marble slab broken by a sledge hammer executed by an assistant.

  2. Lying on a bed of nails and having a slab of marble on the chest broken by a sledge hammer executed by an assistant.

  3. Having some bricks supported on the head broken by an assistant slamming a brick on them.

We regard the above feate as spectacular demonstrations. In other words, you need not be trained in martial art, internal force or spiritual development to successfully perform these feats.

Reversely, a demonstrator who performs these feats may not necessarily be skilful in martial art, has a lot of internal force, or has accomplished much in spiritual cultivation. For example, although he can demonstrate breaking a spear positioned at his throat, he may not be unhurt if an opponent executes a palm thrust at his throat. Although he may have a marble slab broken on his chest, he may not be unhurt if an opponent executes a palm strike on his chest. Although he can have a few bricks broken on his head, he may not be unhurt of an exponent slams a brick on his head.

You would have a better idea if you hold a brick in your palm and break it with a hammer. The brick will be broken and your palm will be unhurt. But if you take away the brick and hit your palm with the hammer, your palm will be hurt.

These feats are not mental; they are purely physical. Any able-bodied person with some appropriate training would be able to perform these feats.

Hence, these feats are accomplished not through Enlightenment, auto-suggestion, relaxation, or qi training.

Question 2

Is number one above (Enlightenment or Great Void) the best way to achieve a great tolerance in pain and get a lot energy?


No, being Enlightened is not the best way to achieve a great tolerance in pain and get a lot of energy. When one is perfectly enlightened, there is no differentiation at all. There is no pain, no being free from pain, no energy and no lack of energy.


A beautiful wushu demonstration reproduced from

Question 3

What is the fastest way to achieve great results -- through Mediation or Chi Gong, Taijiquan, Shaolin Kungfu?


The fastest way to get the result of performing those feats is to practice them.

In practicing to break a spear, it will help greatly if you ensure the shaft is quite brittle and the spearhead is rounded instead of pointed. Initially place about seven sheets of paper between your throat and the spear head. Remove a sheet a day as you practice. You need not worry about the marble slab on your back. Just ask your friend to break it with a hammer.

For breaking a marble slab on your chest while lying on a bed of nails, use nails which are rounded rather than pointed. The closer the nails are together, the easier you can lie on them. Initially have a towel on the nails before you lie on them. This is more for your confidence than for safety. Later remove the tower.

It will help if your friend hitting the marble slab first practices hitting marble slabs placed on something else rather than your chest. When he is skilful, he can then break a marble slam on your chest. To make it more impressive, you can use huge granite slabs instead of thin marble slabs. Use granite slabs with lines of crack. Tell you friend to strike at the crack lines.

Ask your friend first practice using a hard brick to break a pile of soft bricks placed somewhere else. When he is skilful, you can then place the piles of soft bricks on your head. Initially place a towel between the bricks and your head. Later remove the towel.

If you are a fast learner and able-bodied training everyday, you should be able to perform these feats impressively within a week. If you train leisurely, you could accomplish the feats in a month.

But I would not advise you to attempt these feats. Not only there may be risks of injury in your attempt, it does not contribute to good health, vitality, longevity, mental clarity and spiritual joys -- the very reasons why we dedicate ourselves to train chi kung, kungfu or spiritual cultivation.

Question 4

I live in Brazil, and in a place so far way from China it is hard to find kung fu masters and real masters are even more difficult. So how could I learn kung fu?

— Guilherme, Brazil


"Kungfu" is a colloquial term and is widely used in the West to mean traditional Chinese martial art. In the Chinese language there are many terms for martial art, such as wuyi, wushu, quanfa and quanshu. The current term used in China is wushu.

But today wushu is promoted in China as a sport rather than as a martial art. Hence, when one learns wushu in China today, he only learns external forms, and normally does not learn internal force or combat application.

Many people are confused over this situation. To make it less confusing, we differentiate between traditional kungfu and modernized wushu. The difference is arbitrary and for the sake of convenience.

Both traditional kungfu and modernized wushu have been spread to many countries all over the world. There may not be a kungfu or wushu school in the town where you live, but it is not difficult to learn it if you really want to.

Nevertheless, it is very helpful for you to be clear of what your aims and objectives are in learning kungfu or wushu, and search for a school that helps you to realize them. You should also be very careful that your kungfu or wushu training is not detrimental to your health and spirit. In other words, your training should not routinely cause you injuries and make you stressful and angry

shaolin kung fu

While we place much importance to combat efficiency, our priority in kungfu training is to have good health, vitality and longevity

Question 5

I believe that true beauty is not found in so called kung fu moves, but rather in true effectiveness. After all why learn a martial art that can't be used for fighting? So what can I do to learn true kung fu?


Different people would have different concepts of what true beauty is. Personally I find wushu movements very beautiful, but I would not ask my children to train wushu the way it is normally taught today because it causes a lot of injuries.

You are right to say that why should one learn a martial art that cannot be used for fighting. Yet, many people would be surprised at the fact that today most martial artists cannot defend themselves, though they may be good at punching and kicking others. Most of them would be hurt in free sparring.

Indeed it is shocking to note that in free sparring even at Black Belt level, there is a total disregard for personal safety. Combatants seem to adopt the attitude that to be punched and kicked is part of their training!

If your aim of training a martial art is to be able to defend yourself, you need to spend some time searching for a right school. If you want to learn kungfu that you can use to defend yourself, you would need to search even harder.

We are one of the rare schools today that teaches students to use the kungfu they practice for combat. But more important than combat efficiency, we teach students to attain good health, vitality, longevity, mental freshness and spiritual joys.

If you wish to learn from us, join a regular class taught by one of our certified instructors. If this is not feasible, you can learn some kungfu forms from a local school, or from my books or videos.

Regardless of whether you attend a regular class from one of our certified instructors, or from a local instructor or my books or videos, when you can perform basic kungfu forms quite well, you should attend an Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course conducted by me in Malaysia. Please see my website for available date.

When you return home after the course, continue to practice what you have learned. You would then be able to accomplish much in terms of good health, vitality, longevity, mental freshness, combat efficiency and spiritual joys irrespective of religion.

Question 6

Is a chi kung state of mind the same as chi flow?

— Andrea, Sultanate of Oman


No, they are not the same. Entering into a chi kung state of mind is essential for chi flow, or practicing chi kung. But one may not necessary have a chi flow or practice chi kung when he is in a chi kung state of mind.

Not many people realize that entering into a chi kung state of mind is a required condition for chi kung training. In other words, even when they perform chi kung techniques and regulate their breathing correctly, if they are not in a chi kung state of mind, they are only performing gentle physical exercise co-ordinated with breathing, but they are not practicing chi kung. The failure to realize this fact causes more than 80% of chi kung practitioners all over the world not getting any chi kung benefits like good health and vitality even when they have practiced for many years.

A chi kung state of mind is a modern term. In the past it was known as entering silence, entering Tao or entering Zen. In Western terms it is attaining a higher state of consciousness.

Hence, one may enter into a chi kung state of mind, or attain a higher state of consciousness, like in meditation or a scientist, an artist or a sportsman totally and relaxingly focused on what he is doing at the moment, but he may not be practicing chi kung.

chi kung state of mind

Students in a chi kung class in Bern enjoying a chi kung state of mind

Question 7

If we can generate a chi flow from a chi kung state of mind, is it necessary to perform chi kung patterns to generate a chi flow?


The answer, as often the case in chi kung matters, is yes and no.

If your purpose is to generate a chi flow and nothing else, it is not necessary to perform any chi kung patterns if you already can go into chi flow from a chi kung state of mind.

This is considered a master's skill. Only masters who have practiced chi kung for many years may have this advanced skill. Yet, ridiculous it may seem, now even our students can do this.

There may be other purposes in your chi kung practice, like correcting your posture or loosening your joints and muscles. Perform some relevant chi kung patterns, like Lifting the Sky and Carrying the Moon, would be very useful.

You may like to look and feel youthful besides generating a chi flow for health, vitality and longevity. Performing Carrying the Moon is excellent.

Although by entering a chi kung state of mind, you can generate a chi flow, performing some relevant exercises will make your chi flow more vigorous. This also applies to the number of repetitions for performing chi kung patterns.

Suppose you have decided to perform 15 repetitions of Lifting the Sky. But by the sixth or seventh repetition, you already have generated a chi flow. The chi flow is not very powerful yet. So you can "tame" the flow and continue performing Lifting the Sky to generate a more powerful flow.

Question 8

You emphasize that entering into a chi kung state of mind is a very important thing in chi kung. What other benefits we can get from entering into a chi kung state of mind besides generating a chi flow?


Entering into a chi kung state of mind is very important in chi kung because without it one cannot perform chi kung; he only performs the patterns and also the breathing. Without entering into a chi kung state of mind, one cannot generate a chi flow. Chi flow is the essence of chi kung. It is chi flow, not the exercise and not the breathing, that gives chi kung benefits like overcoming pain and illness, attaining good health, vitality and longevity, and attaining mental clarity and spiritual joys.

Even if we leave aside chi kung, being able to enter into a chi kung state of mind or attaining a higher level of consciousness is a wonderful skill that brings tremendous benefits. When you are in a chi kung state of mind, you can perform better no matter what you do. Isn't that fantastic? No matter what you do, whether you read your newspaper or have breakfast, plan a marketing project or give a public talk, help your children with their homework or play games, you will have better results if you are in a chi kung state of mind!

How is this possible? It is because when you are in a chi kung state of mind you are both focused and relaxed at the same time. No matter what you do, when you are focused you will have better result than if you had been distracted. When you are relaxed you will have better result than if you had been tensed. When you are both focused and relaxed at the same time, your result will be better exponentially.

When you started chi kung, it took you about 10 minutes to enter into a chi kung state of mind. In many situations, 10 minutes is too long to be useful. You don't, for example, ask your client or a tennis opponent to wait for 10 minutes while you prepare yourself to enter into a chi kung state of mind.

But now, after the chi kung course, you can enter into a chi kung state of mind within a minute. That is extremely useful. Before your client sits down comfortably or your tennis opponent walks into the court, entering into a chi kung state of mind within a minute enables you to enhance your performance.



Selected Reading

Courses and Classes