SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
SEPTEMBER 2014 PART 1
What are the most fundamental Shaolin Kung Fu movements and teachings?
— Danny, USA
The most fundamental kungfu set in Southern Shaolin is "Four Gates". It was the fundamental kungfu set taught at the southern Shaolin Temple at the city of Quanzhou before it was burnt down by the Qing army around 1850s.
We are lucky that this set was passed down in our school by our First Patriarch, the Venerable Jiang Nan, who escaped from the burning of the southern Shaolin Temple. You can view this set here.
The most fundamental kungfu set in Northern Shaolin is Tantui, which means "Spring Kicks". It is the set Northern Shaolin practitioners practice before they branch to other Northern Shaolin styles like Eagle Claw and Praying Mantis.
It is the first set taught in Chin Woo Association, the association dedicated to the spread of Chinese kungfu and has branches in many parts of the world. It was also the set practiced by such great Shaolin masters like Huo Yuan Jia (the master made famous in the West by the movie "Fearless") and Gu Ru Zhang (the Iron Palm master who killed a horse with a gentle tap). You can view this set here.
Historically the most important teaching of Shaolin Kungfu was to strengthen monks at the Shaolin Temple to attain the highest spiritual achievement any being could attain, namely Enlightenment, or in Western terms, to return to God the Holy Spirit.
While this is the supreme aim of the Shaolin teachings, we in Shaolin Wahnam aim at a relatively lower level while we still live and work in this phenomenal world. To us the fundamental teachings of Shaolin Kungfu are to have good health, vitality, longevity, mental freshness and spiritual joys irrespective of religion.
While it is not our top priority, we also aim to have combat efficiency. One may legitimately ask why we practice a martial art if fighting is not our top priority. This is because Shaolin Kungfu training is an excellent way to achieve the results we desire. For example, while having good health is the climax of many types of chi kung, it is the starting point of Shaolin Kungfu training. This gives an indication of the level of good health we want.
The base of our Shaolin teachings is the Ten Shaolin Laws, which every student has to abide and which are shown here.
To see my Catholicism and training join together is a beautiful thing. I have learned to see clearer, have confidence, valor, honor, be a better person, and see the world in a larger way.
We are proud and happy that our students become better followers of their own religion. This is because our Shaolin training is spiritual, but not religious. In other words, our training not only cultivates our body and intellectual but also our spirit, and people of any religion or of no officially professed religion can benefit from the training. As all religions deal with the spirit, the spiritual cultivation in our training make the chosen religion of our students come alive.
Our training enhances mental clarity, thus enables students see clearer, strengthens the energy of the gall bladder which, according to traditional Chinese medical philosophy, builds confidence and valour, strengthens the energy in the bones which contributes to righteousness and honour, teaches our students skills and techniques which make them better persons, and inculcates values which enable students to see the world wholesomely.
What am I to learn from the grace of the Dragon, deception of the Snake, valor of the Tiger, Speed of the Leopard, calm of the Crane, playfulness of the Monkey, mystery of the Mantis, and the stories of the Immortals?
By practicing these arts correctly, you will learn the qualities associated with these Shaolin animals, and more.
Besides the grace of the Dragon, you will also have presence of mind. Besides the deception of the Snake, you will also develop intrinsic energy. Besides the valour of the Tiger, you will also develop internal force. Besides the speed of the Leopard, you will also have muscular strength. Besides the calm of the Crane, you will also have elegance.
Besides the playfullness of the Monkey, you will also learn some useful tricks for combat. Besides the mystery of the Mantis, you will also be able to defeat opponents bigger in size than you. Besides the stories of the immortals, you will also learn to handle multiple attack.
I see "Lifting the Sky" as sort of "First Aid" because I feel very well with it. Are there other Lohan Hands that could be used as "First Aid" against all things that may happen: injuries, illnesses, mental stress?
— Dorit, Austria
Lifting the Sky and all the other exercises in the Eighteen Lohan Hands are more than merely first aid, though they can be used as first aid if desired.
First aid means help given to a patient or victim of an accident before proper medical treatment is available. For example, if a person fractures his arm, his fractured arm will be bandaged as first aid and preferably he will also be given a warm drink before being taken to a hospital for medical treatment.
You may like to perform Lifting the Sky as first aid, i.e. preparatory exercise before the training proper, to loosen your limbs before proceeding to other chi kung or kungfu exercises like Sinew Metamorphosis and combat sequences. When one is mentally stressful or physical tired but he does not want to miss his regular chi kung or kungfu training, performing Lifting the Sky as first aid before proceeding to more vigorous training is recommended.
All other exercises of the Eighteen Lohan Hands can be used as first aid in this way, though Lifting the Sky is probably the best choice. Carrying the Moon is also an excellent choice.
Besides being suitable as first aid, Lifting the Sky and all the other exercises from Eighteen Lohan Hands can be used as a main therapeutic method to overcome illness. It is actually not the exercises themselves that heal a patient of his illness, but the chi flow derived from performing these exercises.
These exercises must be performed as chi kung, i.e. energy art. If they are performed as gentle physical exercises, as more than 80% of chi kung practitioners in the world today do so without realizing it, the exercises cannot overcome illness. But if they are performed as chi kung, there is no illness that cannot be overcome!
The form of the exercise is the same regardless of whether you perform it as chi kung or as gentle physical exercise. In other words, you can perform Lifting the Sky as chi kung or as gentle physical exercise with the same external form. The difference is in the internal chi flow. Students have to learn internal chi flow from a living teacher, not from a book or video. Nevertheless, Lifting the Sky performed as gentle physical exercise can be used as first aid, as it loosens the practitioner’s muscles and joints and helps him to relax.
Besides being first aid as well as a therapeutic method, Lifting the Sky and all other chi kung patterns performed as chi kung and not as gentle physical exercise, have other wonderful benefits like giving good health, vitality, longevity, mental freshness and spiritual joys irrespective of religion. One does not need to be injured or sick to benefit from chi kung exercises, whereas first aid and medicine are not useful for people who are healthy.
Sitaigung, were the flow method and the force method recorded in kungfu classics, or were they discovered by you?
— Richard, England
The terms, flow-method and force-method, were not recorded in kungfu classes. The terms were coined by me.
The methods themselves were not invented by me. They were practiced by masters and students in the past, but I believe they were unaware of what was happening inside them as they trained. Those who succeeded in developing internal force, experienced energy flow and the energy flow was spontaneously converted into internal force due to their dedicated training, but they were unaware of the energy flow and also unaware of the conversion of energy flow into internal force.
Because of their unawareness, only a very small proportion of those who trained internal force eventually succeeded, and their development took a long time.
I discovered these processes of flow-method and force-method for our school, and for those who read about and believe in our philosophy which is explained in my Question-Answer Series and our Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.
As far as I know, no other masters discover these processes now or in the past and share the knowledge publicly. If some masters did discover the processes in the past, they kept the knowledge to themselves.
Having this knowledge and putting it into practice bring us a lot of benefits and in a relatively short time. Our students can develop internal force in a matter of weeks when past practitioners would take years. In the recently completed Xingyiquan course (16th to 20th July 2013), for example, some students told me that using the expansion mode in practicing the Three-Body Stance, they found their spirit expanded beyond their body.
I myself took many years to develop internal force. This was and is the norm. But our students now can noticeably feel internal force after just one session of training! When they keep on their practice, they can develop similar internal force in a few months what I needed a few years! This is ridiculous but true.
Other people may not believe in our attainment or accuse us of being boastful. That is their problem, not ours. We are generous, or naïve, enough to share secrets with those who wish to benefit from our knowledge even when they may not personally learn from us.
Is there any difference between presence of mind and chi flow?
— David, England
Yes, they are different.
Presence of mind is presence of mind, and chi flow is chi flow, just as a table is a table, and a chair is a chair.
A difference is that presence of mind and chi flow are self-explanatory, whereas what a table and what a chair are needs to be explained to someone who does not know them.
Another difference is that presence of mind and chi flow are not common in everyday life, whereas a table and a chair are. Hence, most people do not know presence of mind and chi flow, but they know what a table and a chair are. This is your situation, as you are new to chi kung, but once you are familiar with them, you can tell the difference easily.
Literally, presence of mind means that you are fully aware of what is happening around you. For example, you are aware that the person sitting next to you is wearing a yellow dress and not a blue one. Nevertheless, in chi kung context, it means that your mind is clear of all irrelevant thoughts and you are gently focused on what you are doing.
Chi flow means that the intrinsic energy that maintains all life processes is flowing. Actually chi flow, like blood flow happens in all person, but most people are unaware of it. In chi kung context, chi flow refers to a flow of intrinsic energy that is more vigorously than most people, and it is usually manifested outwardly as gentle swaying of the body. Sometimes the outward manifestations can be quite vigorous, and sometimes quite humorous, like rolling on the ground, and jumping about like a monkey.
It should be mentioned that chi flow is natural. In the case of someone jumping about like a monkey, it is not that he has gone crazy. He is fully aware of his own movements, and usually enjoys them. His chi kung exercise has generated his chi or intrinsic energy to flow in a way best for his body, and in this particularly case his movements resemble those of a monkey.
A practitioner must clear his mind of irrelevant thoughts, described by you here as a presence of mind, before he can experience a chi flow. If his mind is distracted by thoughts, he would not have a chi flow.
On the other hand, presence of mind or having a one-pointed mind does not necessarily lead to chi flow. When they accomplished their masterpiece, philosophers and scientists had presence of mind, but they might not be experiencing a chi flow.
How does chi flow give us good health, vitality and longevity?
Life, at all levels, is a meaningful flow of energy. If the chi flow, or energy flow, of a cell, a human or a star stops, life ceases.
In human beings, harmonious chi flow is necessary to maintain life. In simple language, it means that life goes on because the energy that enables all our cells, tissues, organs and systems to work the ways they are meant to work, flows harmoniously to all these cells, tissues, organs and systems.
For example, when we eat food, energy will flow to our stomach to digest the food. When viruses attack our body, energy will flow to clear the harmful viruses. These life processes go on naturally, usually without our conscious awareness.
However, if this energy is blocked from flowing to some particular cells, tissues, organs or systems, then the respective cells, tissues, organs or systems will fail to function naturally. That person will be sick.
The intermediate causes of energy blockage may be many and varied, such as stress, virus, excessive sugar and pollutants in Western terms, and coldness, heat, anger and fear in traditional Chinese medical terms. But the ultimate cause is energy blockage.
When a sick person continuously generates a vigorous chi flow, the chi flow can clear the blockage. When the blockage is cleared, energy that enables all his life processes to work naturally will flow harmoniously to all his cells, tissues, organs and systems to enable him to do their natural work. Hence he restores good health.
When he continues to practice chi kung that will generate a chi flow, not only the chi flow will be harmonious, it will become more vigorous. When the chi flow is vigorous, he has a lot of energy to carry on life wholesomely. Hence, he has vitality.
As he continues to practice chi kung, he generates more energy than he needs for his living. The excess chi will be stored at his various dan tian or energy fields as well as in his eight wondrous meridians which act like reservoirs of energy. If an epidemic occurs, the excess energy will flow out to meet expedient needs, keeping him healthy while others may be sick.
The main function, however, is to provide him with a large supply of energy to flow for a long, long time. Hence, he has longevity.
Attaining good health, vitality and longevity are the main aims of practicing chi kung.
Why don't we send chi to the heart and the brain. Are there other ways to clear blockage at the heart or the brain if we do not send chi there?
It is for precaution that we do not send chi to the heart and the brain. If it is performed correctly, chi can be sent to the heart and the brain. But if there is any mistake, the injury can be serious. It is to prevent such possibility that we abstain from sending chi there.
Yes, there are other ways to clear blockage at the heart and the brain. One may send chi to his back, and let chi flow into the heart spontaneously if it is needed there. One may send chi to the head in general, but not the brain in particular. Actually if the heart or the brain needs energy urgently, energy will spontaneously flow there, as energy always flows to where it is needed most.
An excellent way to clear blockage from the heart, and let energy blossom out is to smile from the heart. We do this every time we practice.
- An Inspiration for You
- Instructor-Student Relationship
- Fierce Tiger Descends Mountain
- Chi Flow and Quality of Life
- Twelve Animal-Form Continuous Fist