SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
JUNE 2018 PART 2
If one can generate an energy flow which provides all the benefits of chi kung, like good health, vitality and longevity, why is it necessary to learn other patterns?
— Dr Damian, Malaysia
Thank you for asking this question. I am sure you know the answer well but you ask it for the sake of other people.
When a practitioner can generate an energy flow using a simple pattern like "Lifting the Sky" or "Carrying the Moon", the chi flow can provide all the chi kung benefits he needs, like good health, vitality, longevity, mental clarity and spiritual joys. Why is it necessary for him to learn other chi kung techniques, like stance training to develop internal force, meditation to develop mental clarity, or to enjoy a Cosmic Shower?
Strictly speaking, it is not necessary, but it is very helpful. As an analogy, when a person can walk, it is not necessary to own a car or to take a plane, but it is very helpful.
There are a few reasons why it is very helpful, and sometimes necessary, to learn other chi kung patterns.
These reasons may be summed up into a few categories, like history, geography, resources, effectiveness, knowledge and ability.
The various methods of chi kung to solve various problems developed due to history. In the early days, people discovered that by blowing to a wound, they could reduce pain, or by making a sound, they could better lift a heavy object.
Later, people discovered that by practicing certain chi kung exercise, they could overcome certain illness. Hence, if some men had eye problems, they could perform eye exercises to overcome their problems. If some women could not bear children, they could perform some fertility exercises to produce children.
Another important factor is geography. A student may know of other chi kung patterns to solve his problems, but if he stays at a place where chi kung teachers only teach certain exercises, the student has to learn these exercises from the teachers. For example, he may know that Five-Animal Play is excellent for providing health and vitality, but Five-Animal Play is not taught in his area. So he may have to learn whatever chi kung exercises taught by teachers in his area.
This brings us to the third category of resources. Five-Animal Play may be taught in his area but the teacher teaching it charges a high fee which the student cannot afford. So he has to learn form a cheaper teacher even when the exercises taught are less effective.
A very important factor is effectiveness. The teachers teaching the appropriate exercise are available, and the student can afford the fees, but certain exercises are more effective than others in achieving certain objectives and aims.
For example, Five-Animal Play can eventually develop internal force, but a student performing "Pushing Mountain" or "Separating Water" from the Eighteen Lohan Hands, can develop internal force more effectively. Eighteen Jewels can make him find life more beautiful, but he can attain this purpose more effectively by practicing Cosmic Shower.
This does not mean that Five-Animal Play and Eighteen Jewels are inferior to Eighteen Lohan Hands and Cosmic Shower. For other purposes, like overcoming illness, Five-Animal Play and Eighteen Jewels are more effective, presuming all other things being equal. It is choosing an appropriate chi kung technique for a certain purpose.
To be able to do so, students must have the necessary knowledge and ability. Students must know, for example, that if they want to overcome illness, they choose Five-Animal Play, but if they want to find life more beautiful, they choose Cosmic Shower. More significantly, they must have the ability to do so. In other words, it is not enough to know that by practicing Cosmic Shower, they can make life more beautiful, but they can actually make life more beautiful by practicing Cosmic Shower.
Unfortunately, many chi kung practitioners today do not have this ability. They may know that by practicing chi kung, they can have good health and vitality. But even when they practice chi kung, they are still sickly and weak. It is more obvious, for those who realize, but many martial artists may not realize it, that by practicing a martial art they can defend themselves and be healthy. In reality, many martial attists cannot defend themselves; they take for granted that in free sparring they will be hit and punched. They also become more unhealthy the more they train their martial arts!
A skillful student may have chosen a less effective exercise, but because of his ability he may attain his aims or objectives more effectively than another student who has chosen a more effective exercise. For example, you may have chosen Self-Manifested Chi Movement to develop internal force. This is actually not a good choice of chi kung techniques. But because you are skillful, you may develop internal force more effectively than another person without skills who have chosen "Pushing Mountain" or "Separating Water".
Without false modesty, we are very lucky in Shaolin Wahnam. Not only we have the knowledge and ability, we also have a great range of chi kung exercises and kungfu styles to choose from. We are so effective that seriously we have to guard against over-training.
In the Intensive Chi Kung Course (in Sabah 2017), Sifu mentioned the three parts of a chi kung practice, namely introduction, body and conclusion. In a 10-minute practice session, the introduction would take about 1 minute, the body 8 minutes, and the conclusion 1 minute. How should we allot the time for stance training in an Intensive Taijiquan Course (in Sabah 2017)?
The same time allocation is also applicable in Taijiquan and Shaolin Kungfu. For example, in a 10-minute Taijiquan course on stance training, we also have an introduction, a body and a conclusion of about 1 minute, 8 minutes and 1 minute.
Students spend about 1 minute in getting into a chi kung state of mind, 8 minutes in practicing the stances, and 1 minute in the conclusion.
In the body of the practice session, which takes about 8 minutes in a 10-minute session, students may use one of the following methods. They may practice all the stances. There are about 7 major stances, namely Three-Circle, Horse-Riding, Bow-Arrow, False-Leg, Four-Six, Single Leg and Unicorn. So they spend slightly more than 1 minute on each stance. Or they spend 1 minute each on the six stances, and the remaining 2 minutes on the selected stance, like the Three-Circle or the Horse-Riding. Or they spend all the 8 minutes on the selected stance in whatever way they feel fit.
Then they spend 1 minute on the conclusion, which is standing meditation, facial massage, point massage and heavenly drums.
This is a general suggestion. Students may vary the allocation of time for special purpose. Just now, for example, our training session was for a special purpose. Instead of spending 1 minute for the conclusion, we spent about 5 minutes in standing meditation. It was well spent. More than half the students expanded into the Cosmos.
Sifu, why is it that at the beginning of the Drunken Eight Immortal Set, the Shaolin Salute is performed standing upright and not in a false-leg stance? Is there a special significance to this? Does it have something to do with the spirit of the Eight Immortals?
— John, Ireland.
The Shaolin Salute, usually in the False-Leg Stance, is not performed in the Drunken Eight Immortal Set because the set is not from Shaolin. It is a set from Taoist Kungfu.
In many non-Shaolin sets, like in Xingyiquan, Taijiquan and Baguazhang, not only the Shaolin Salute is not performed, there is no salute-pattern at the start of the sets. Actually, Xingyiquan, Taijiquan and Baguazhang originated from Shaolin, but they are now conventionally classified as Wudang Kungfu.
Even in Shaolin sets, like Praying Mantis Kungfu which is sometimes called Shaolin Praying Mantis Kungfu, the Shaolin Salute is not performed. The Shaolin Salute is normally not performed in many Northern Shaolin styles, like Huaquan and Shaolin Tantui.
The Shaolin Salute is sometimes replaced by a greeting with two clasped palms, and sometimes with just one palm in both Northern Shaolin and Southern Shaolin. The one-palm greeting is in honour of Hui Ke, the Second Patriarch, who severed his own arm when Bodhidharma said that he would teach him when snow turned red.
If the Shaolin Salute is used, it is usually different from lineage to lineage, sometimes from school to school. The signature Shaolin greetings of my four sifus are all different.
There is a story behind the Shaolin Salute. It was initially meant as a secret symbol against the Qing government. The greeting came from the left side, and not from the centre, when looking from the spectators' side. "Left" often meant "against the authority".
It was a tradition that if a government was good, Shaolin disciples supported it. If a government was bad, Shaolin disciples opposed it. Our greeting comes from the centre, from heart to heart.
There is no special significance in the standing position when making a greeting in the Drunken Eight Immortals Set. It has nothing to do with the spirit of the Eight Immortals.
The spirit of the Immortals is manifested in the patterns accredited to them. The eight Immortals are Zhang Guo Lao. Han Zhong Li, Li Tie Guai, Lu Dong Pin, Cao Guo Jiu, Han Xiang Zi, He Xiang Gu and Lan Chai He.
Zhang Guo Lao is elderly, and he rode a donkey in a reverse manner. The spirit of his technqies is certitude. Han Zhong Li is fat with a tummy, and the spirit of his techniques is felling opponents. Li Tie Guai is Immortal Li. His specialty is kicks. Lu Dong Pin is famous for his sword, and the spirit of his techniques is throws.
Cao Guo Jiu plays a pair of clappers, and the spirit of his techniques is chin-na, or gripping energy points. Han Xiang Zi plays the flute, and the spirit of his technique is also chin-na. He Xiang Gu is a lady, and the spirit of her technique is softness and flow. Lan Chai He is a child immortal, and the spirit of his techniques is ground-fighting.
Does the open and flat left-hand of the Salute symbolize the Scholar and the right-hand fist symbolize the Warrior?
No, the symbolism is not as you have mentioned.
In a Shaolin greeting the left palm symbolizes a dragon and the close right fist symbolizes a tiger. The dragon and the tiger are the two most frequent of the Shaolin five animals in Southern Shaolin Kungfu.
It is reputed when a Shaolin disciple passed his graduation test as he came out of the Lane of 108 Wooden Dummies at the southern Shaolin Monastery, probably on the Nine-Lotus Mountain, there was a big bronze tripod barring his way. He had to lift the big tripod by embracing it, turn around with the tripod in his arm, then walk out of the Lane of 108 Wooden Dummies. As he did so, the marks of a dragon and a tiger were imprinted on his left arm and right arm.
Shaolin monks who practiced kungfu were known as warrior-monks. A monk symbolized a scholar. Hence, this manifested the scholar-warrior concept.
Not every Shaolin monks could practice Shaolin Kungfu. There were four types of monks at the Shaolin Monastery, namely service monks, administrative monks, scholar monks and warrior monks. Warrior monks were the most prestigious.
If a human is radiating his own good energy, is there on earth from Sigung's experience something else (not machines) that radiates more energy than the human? What does Sigung think of energy radiated by animals.
— Dimitri, Austria
The greatest source of energy is the sun, which I believe is not a machine. The moon also radiates energy, but it is no where compared to the sun. Other sources of good energy are pine trees, birch trees and sparkling streams.
Personally I don't think the energy radiated by animals, including big ones, is good for humans.
Small animals, like cats and dogs, are attracted to humans when the latter practice chi kung. The animals like the energy radiated from humans.
Big animals, like elephants and buffaloes, do not come near humans. Humans are also not attracted to them as they radiate a kind of smell, which is energy, not attractive to humans.
Anyway your question is academic. The best method to increase our energy is to practice chi kung.
What kinds of martial art were practiced and taught to the public and to the emperor's armed forces in ancient China before Shaolin Kung Fu was developed?
Martial arts were practiced and taught to armies in China long ago. The levels were high. Warriors during the Three Kingdom Period, for example, were excellent in their martial arts.
However, before the establishment of the Shaolin Monastery, martial arts were practiced and taught on a personal basis. It was at the Shaolin Monastery that martial arts were institutionalized.
In other words, before the establishment of the Shaolin Monastery, warriors taught others what they knew, or perhaps what their teacher and teacher's teacher knew. Since the establishment of the Shaolin Monastery, martial arts were taught as a system, i..e. not just what individual teachers knew, but what generations of teachers in that system knew.
For example, if you learn Boxing from an individual teacher, you just learn the skills and techniques of Boxing from this teacher. The skills and techniques of other teachers before him are not taught to you. If you learn Shaolin Kungfu from your teacher, you learn skills and techniques as well as many other aspects of martial arts developed by generations of teachers in the Shaolin tradition. One-Finger Shooting Zen, for example, was not invented by your teacher nor by me, but developed and improved upon by generations of teachers before us.
You often write on your website that we can't compare to the past masters because the standard back then was much higher than today, and also because the level of present-day kung fu and chi kung is ridiculously low.
However, you also note that your students can attain in months what it took past masters (including yourself) years to achieve.
I do not want to imply that the level of past masters is easily attainable, but isn't it also logical to think that you and maybe instructors in your school can aspire to that level, if it hasn't already been attained?
— Alonso, USA
There are two statements in your e-mail:
- Our level of attainment in kungfu and chi kung today, including those in our school, is lower than that of past masters.
- A typical student in Shaolin Wahnam today can attain in months what past masters, including myself, in years.
For example, if enemies shot arrows at a past kungfu master, he could deflect the arrows. If enemies shoot arrows at a present-day kungfu master, he would be killed. A chi kung master in the past was never sick, and was full of vitality and lived a long life. A present-day chi kung master (outside Shaolin Wahnam -- please pardon my seeming arrogance, but I just want to state a fact) often takes medication on a routine basis, and is weak.
A typical Shaolin Wahnam kungfu student has internal force after a few months. A typical kungfu master (outside of Shaolin Wahnam) has no internal force after training for many years. A typical Shaolin Wahnam chi kung student can generate an energy flow, which is the essence of chi kung, after a few months. Most present-day chi kung practitioners outside Shaolin Wahnam cannot generate an energy flow despite having practiced chi kung for many years. I, myself, took more than 17 years to have internal force and to generate an energy flow.
An interesting question is how can we compromise these two factual statements. If our typical Shaolin Wahnam students can achieve in months what past masters would take years, why is the attainment of typical Shaolin Wahnam students not as high as that of past masters? To put the question in another way, if past masters took years to attain what a typical Shaolin Wahnam student can attain in months, why was the standard of attainment of past masters still higher than that of a typical Shaolin Wahnam student?
The answer is time. Past masters took years to attain their high standard. They practiced their arts for hours every day. Shaolin Wahnam students practice their arts for a much shorter time, and some may not practice for months. Some students learn the methods of the arts, but practice the methods only for a few days.
This situation of knowing the methods but not doing the practice, applies more to kungfu than to chi kung. Combat efficiency was a need for past masters. It is a hobby for present-day Shaolin Wahnam students, though the benefits of practicing a martial art like Shaolin Kungfu or Taijiquan can be transferred to daily living.
Obviously, the greatness of past masters resided not only in their attainments, but in how they lived their lives, which must have been much more difficult than what we know now. Still, I have had that "doubt" (for lack of a better word) for some time and thought of asking you. I apologize in advance for taking some of your time for a question that may be trivial and/or which may have an obvious answer for anyone who practices these arts in your school.
It is very useful that you ask this question to clear your doubt which may occur to many people. Many Shaolin Wahnam family members know the answer, but we do not publicize the answer because it may be sensitive.
You are right in your doubt. Masters in the past were great in kungfu or chi kung, but their lives were far from great -- a fact that many people today may not realize. For example, Yang Deng Fook, a great Taijiquan master, was injured for life. He was struck by his father during training. He did not know chi flow like our students do today which can flush out the injury.
Guo Yun Sheng, a great Xingyiquan master, was miserable in his life. He did not know, like our students in Shaolin Wahnam do, how to transfer his internal force to make his life happy.
Many people outside our school, understandably, may be angry at my statements. As I have often said, that is their probem, not mine. I am just stating the truth. With our information age, you can easily check the truth from the internet.
If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at stating your name, country and e-mail address.
- History of Chi Flow in Shaolin Wahnam
- Kungfu Forms for Fighting?
- The Mechanics of Taijiquan in Overcoming Bigger, Stronger Oppoents
- The Amazing One-Finger Shooting Zen
- Gods and Goddesses at Night Market