SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
DECEMBER 2014 PART 2
I practice Aikido. Five years ago, my diet was good, but the last year I had a bad cold and I could not remain strong, I feel extreme fatigue and I have no energy for anything. My defence is continuously down, because I worry a lot and think too much.
I want to ask you which exercises you recommend to restore my health and overcome the extreme fatigue. I read your book "The Art Chi Kung". I wanted to know what specific exercises should I do to regain my health every day and for how long.
— Lucas, Argentina
Many people have asked me the sane question. They have asked me to recommend specific exercises to overcome specific diseases.
I shall answer your request by providing you with three facts.
Chi kung can overcome any disease, but this does not mean that every patient can overcome his illness. In the same way, everyone can become a millionaire, but it does not mean that everyone is a millionaire.
The fact that chi kung can overcome any disease is a great inspiration and brings hope to many patients when many diseases are considered incurable according to certain medical philosophy. This is a fact, not a supposition or a fancy. Many patients who suffered from what many people think was incurable, have become healthy again after practicing chi kung taught by us, or undergoing our chi kung healing.
The second important fact is that chi kung is an art, and like any other arts, skills are more important than techniques. This means that even if you have the right techniques but do not have the appropriate skills, you will not get the desired results. The situation can be made clearer if we use an analogy.
Suppose you want to be able to swim. So you write to a good swimming instructor for some swimming techniques, and he describes them to you. Even when you know the techniques you will still be unable to swim because you don't have the appropriate skills.
Suppose you want to be a surgeon. So you read up the techniques of surgery from a good text book. Even when you know the techniques, you still cannot perform surgery because you don't have the appropriate skills.
It is the same with chi kung. Even if I tell you the techniques to overcome extreme fatigue, you will still be unable to overcome your extreme fatique because you don't have the appropriate skills.
How do you acquire the appropriate skills. Learn from a competent teacher. This is the third important fact. If you want to be able to swim or to perform surgery, you have to learn from a competent swimming instructor or a master surgeon. If you want to overcome extreme fatigue by practicing chi kung, learn from a competent chi kung teacher.
Chi kung is an excellent way not only to overcome your extreme fatigue and restore your good diet, but also to give you good health, vitality and longevity.
I would like to add that a lot of chi kung practiced today is actually not genuine chi kung but gentle physical exercise. If you learn from a competent teacher who teachers gentle physical exercise, you will learn gentle physical exercise, not chi kung. Gentle physical exercise cannot enable you to overcome extreme fatigue or restore your good diet, but chi kung can.
In the same way, if you learn from a competent swimming instructor, you will learn swimming, not surgery. Knowing how to swim will not enable you to perform surgery, but being qualified as a surgeon can.
The analogy is the same, but there is a big difference in the examples. You and most people can easily tell the difference between swimming and surgery, because their outward forms are very different. It is unlikely you will confuse swimming with surgery.
But it is not easy for you and most people to tell the difference between gentle physical exercise and genuine chi kung because their outward forms are the same. It is very likely that you and most people will confuse gentle physical exercise with genuine chi kung. Indeed the very fact that you asked me your question indicates that you are already confused.
The crucial difference between gentle physical exercise and genuine chi kung is that the former works on the physical body whereas genuine chi kung works on energy. If a practitioner does not know what working on energy is, he is very unlikely to practice chi kung.
Nevertheless, many people may say that their art works on energy without really knowing what it means. This situation is common in daily life. Many people, for example, may say that Aikido is a harmony of ki, which means a harmony of energy, but they do not really know what it means.
My arthritis was gone after attending the Intensive Chi Kung Course and I was very happy. For many years, I am pain free.
But last October the pain came back. By November the pain became unbearable. I had to go to a hospital to get pain-killers.
Now it is so painful that I cannot practice chi kung normally. At night I can only attempt Carrying the Moon.
I shall appreciate it if Sifu can give me some advice.
— Su, Austria
What is happening to you is not uncommon amongst our students, even amongst our instructors.
It is deep cleansing. In chi kung terms it is called "chi attacking the oven of illness". Chi is clearing out the root cause of the illness. The result is that not only you will not have the illness again, but also you will have vitality and longevity. Your cleansing, however, is faster than what is comfortable.
Let me illustrate with some figures. Our organs, and in your case, your bones, are very resilient. They can be clogged to a high level, yet the person is still healthy.
The usual threshold is 30%. This means that even when your bones are full of rubbish up to 70%, you are still healthy. But if the rubbish goes to 75%, for example, you will have illness, and in your case it manifests as arthritis.
When chi flow has cleared off 5% of rubbish, you recover, as you restore the 30% threshold level. But one who operates at 30% of his potential will not be full of vitality. He may also not have longevity, though he is not sick.
Our chi kung is very powerful. It keeps on clearing your rubbish even when you are healthy. When the rubbish is cleared out from your bones but before it has gone out of your body, you may experience symptoms of pain. This is your situation now. The clearing out of rubbish from your bones is very much faster than the rubbish getting out of your body.
You have two options. One is to work harder in your chi kung training to clear out the rubbish. The other is to slow down so that the cleansing is not so drastic. This will slow down the total cleansing, but it is more comfortable.
When the rubbish is totally cleared out, you will have vitality like you never experienced before. You will also have longevity.
For either option, choose any exercise you like. Carrying the Moon is an excellent choice. It is the chi flow, not the exercise itself, that gives benefits.
I found it interesting that even though I was using patterns from the basic Shaolin sequence like Black Tiger Steals Heart and Single Tiger Emerges From Cave, I was still getting to the sides and back of my sparring partner from another school.
He was frankly amazed by sequences and told me that after a few months of practicing sequences from the videos on your website, now he is the second best fighter in his club; all he does is the Fierce Tiger Crosses Valley sequence! I'm very happy for him.
— Frederick, USA
This is because of the skills you have developed in Baguazhang training, especially your footwork.
Black Tiger Steals Heart and Single Tiger Emerges from Cave are simple techniques, but in the hands of a skillful exponent these techniques can be very effective in combat. My sifu, Sifu Lai Chin Wah, used these two techniques frequently in his fighting to right wrongs that he was nick-named Uncle Righteousness in kungfu circles.
Black Tiger Steals Heart and Single Tiger Emerges from Cave, together with Fierce Tiger Speeds through Valley, which were the favoruties of Uncle Righteousness, are found as a combat sequence in the Triple Stretch Set. Your sparring partner is smart. He learned from your example, followed my advice, albeit indirectly, and benefited much from it.
Editorial Note: Frederick's earlier questions are also found at December 2014 Part 1 issue of the Question-Answer Series.
I have to admit that I do despair some times of meeting martial artists who are a higher level than I am. I was over-joyed to be able to practice with so many people at the instructor level and higher at the Baguazhang Summer Camp, and it taught me a lot. The people at instructor level that I have met since then don't seem interested in sparring and testing skills with me.
Before I learned from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam and improved my combat efficiency tremendously, my combat ability was average, yet I could remain undefeated. It was not because I was good, but because I was smart. I chose opponents whom I had confidence of beating, studied their way of fighting, practiced on my own accordingly, and only then I sparred with them.
Thus, sparring with opponents who are below your level is a good training approach. You should then gradually and systematically build up your combat efficiency. This is the basis of the 30-Opponent programme I have advocated for our school.
A main reason why many of our instructors are not keen on sparring is because they know they have attained a high level of combat efficiency. They have shifted their focus from combat to peak performance in daily life.
This was also the case with me in my younger days. At first I literally went out to search for sparring opponents. But when I knew I was combat efficiency, I did not need to prove it to myself.
My experiences have certainly confirmed what you have written, that masters are very rare indeed.
I've also noticed that some of my classmates and other students on my campus have gotten into rather violent situations; one was attacked by several drunk people a few weeks ago, there was a string of muggings and assaults over the past few months on people walking home at night, and so forth, but I have never been bothered.
Masters were also rare in the past. But they are rarer still nowadays, while bogus masters are plentiful. These bogus masters practice and teach kungfu that cannot be used for fighting, and practice and teach chi kung that does not contribute to health and vitality.
When we have good energy and good thoughts from our training, unpleasant and violent situations would not happen to us. This is not superstition or wishful thinking. It is a scientific law, though not yet proven in laboratories, that good energy and good thoughts attract good energy and good thoughts, whereas bad energy and bad thoughts attract bad energy and bad thoughts.
I am quite happy to not have been attacked, but I am annoyed when I hear of people bullying others or getting into fights for foolish reasons. I feel as though I have a responsibility to use my health and what skill I do have in the service of others.
It's what brought me pursue training as a future physician, after all, and one of the things that attracted me to Baguazhang in the first place, was its reputation being the fighting art of many professional and royal bodyguards.
Our training makes us righteous. We train to enrich our lives and the lives of others. Naturally we feel annoyed at people bullying others and getting into fights for foolish reasons. While we may not purposely go out of our way to look for these obnoxious people to fight with, if they confront us we must not be afraid to hurt them decisively. It is right to treat gentlemen as gentlemen, and animals as animals. It is not right to treat animals as gentlemen.
Similarly we do not challenge other schools or masters, but if they ridicule us and challenge us, we must not be afraid to use our internal force and skills to hurt them decisively in a challenge fight. If a challenger attempts to take you down using a shoot, for example, if you hesitate to strike his back or head, which may seriously injure him, he will succeed in taking you down and break your arm or leg, and rightly mock you that your kungfu is useless for fighting.
Becoming a physician is a noble aspiration. But I would not recommend you or any of our Shaolin Wahnam students to be bodyguards. You should be a boss and efficient to defend yourself, with or without your bodyguards. The arts we practice are elite arts, meant for emperors and generals in the past, bosses and directors in the present.
A few weeks ago, for fun, I decided to try extinguishing some candles I had on my table with palm strikes. I did notice that I had to be completely relaxed for the candle to get extinguished and that doing a short round of Cloud Hands or Circle Walking beforehand to enhance my qi flow enhanced my results in extinguishing the candles.
The more relaxed you are, the better will be your result with internal force. Many people who have no experience or exposure to internal force will find it hard to comprehend. How could a person have strength, if he does not use strength, they wonder.
The answer is that we do not use mechanical strength, we use internal force, which is different. Mechanical strength is a function of muscle and speed. The bigger the muscles, and the faster the muscles move, the more strength will result.
On the other hand, internal force is a function of the volume and smoothness of energy flow. The bigger the volume and the smoother the flow, the more internal force will result. If you tense your muscles, which is necessary in mechanical strength, you block the flow of internal force.
My results were also enhanced when I had a gentle thought of extinguishing the candle. Just shooting my palm out in a bid to extinguish the candle almost never worked. All in all, I managed to extinguish small candles from up to a foot away. I also noticed that afterwards, I felt that my mind was much more focused and concentrated.
Some people have read that the highest kungfu is at the mind, but they do not understand what they read. Yours is an example of kungfu at the mind, when you gently focus your thought on your action.
Extinguishing a candle flame from about a foot away is quite an achievement. Congratulations.
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- Asking Bridge: Chi Flow and Philosophy
- Throwing Opponents Around
- Secrets of Footwork