SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
AUGUST 1998 PART 2
I am a doctor of Traditional Oriental Medicine. I am doing research to expand my medical knowledge of herbs and medicines as well as learning techniques of healing and medicine from a more energetic standpoint. I have planned a trip to Taiwan to look for the Ancient Taoist Sorcerers and Healers.
— Carl, USA
You mentioned that you planned to learn from “Ancient Taoist Sorcerers”. Perhaps it is just a matter of linguistic interpretation, but to me the term “sorcerers” refers to magicians with evil intentions. If that were the meaning you had by the term “sorcerers”, I would strongly and sincerely ask you to drop your plan and do not even think of such an idea in future. But if you actually meant Taoist masters when you said “sorcerers”, then go ahead.
You may obtain benefits from sorcerers, but if the benefits are based on other people's suffering, which are often the case with sorcerers, you must never want the benefits, no matter how big or small they may be. Those who initially enjoyed such benefits eventually ruined themselves — this is not any sort of moralization; it is a cosmic truth.
You would probably like to know that Taoist magic is real, and very powerful. The most famous school of Taoist magic is Maoshan. There are three major types of Maoshan magic: high, middle and low, or in Western terms white, grey and black. High or white Maoshan is used only for good, low or black Maoshan often for evil, and middle or grey Maoshan is in between. Magical abilities like telling where lost property is, or making someone fall madly in love with you — considered by some people in the West as fantastic, are actually elementary in Maoshan magic.
I have been training martial arts for a couple of years. My teacher at the academy had been a monk in Shaolin for seven years. We trained the following: Taiji, Qigong, basic forms armed and unarmed and “san da” (a form of kickboxing or sparring).
I just got back to Sweden, and I am very interested to come and train with you in Malaysia for a longer period of time.
— Martin, Sweden
I am glad of your opportunity to travel to China and trained with a Shaolin monk there. You are welocme to come and train with me in Malaysia.
You may find my teaching quite different from what you see in China. For example, while many people in China use kickboxing techniques for sparring, we use the kungfu (including Taijiquan) techniques we have learnt in our set practice.
Ideally you should stay in Malaysia for some time (say, a year) and train for a longer period with me, but due to various factors this is not feasible. The best alternative is for you to stay here for about a week to take an intensive course from me specially designed for your purpose. You have to continue training on your own after the intensive course.
Many people have done this and have achieved good results. We shall maintain contact after the course, and if suitable you can help to organize a class in your country so that I may visit you and the class regularly.
You can find some details of my intensive courses at Intensive Chi Kung Course and Intensive Kungfu Course. Irrespective of whether you are interested in my intensive courses, don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions you think I can help you to answer.
Is it possible to become a teacher under you? I have been teaching for many year (10) and have a full time school, I am a so called master of my style, (and feel like a novice). I would like to get to a more traditional and “pure” Shaolin art. My true desire is to be able to, with a clear conscience and heart, teach traditional Shaolin Kung Fu.
You and the Shaolin Wahnam Kung Fu Institute, have been the only ones to exhibit true Shaolin philosophy and depth. I want and need to grow as a person and martial artist, but my true love is teaching and sharing the martial arts.
— Chris, USA
Yes, this is possible. I am particualrly keen on helping those who have spent many years in kungfu, and sincerely wish to improve according to the highest ideals of their art. You fit this description well.
I am glad of your ambition to practice and later teach genuine Shaolin kungfu and chi kung, or Taijiquan. If these arts are to survive — and they will — we must have not only genuine masters but also competent genuine instructors.
A good approach is to come here for an intensive course of a week. Please see Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course for details. You have to continue practicing for at least six months what you have learnt in the course. Then, if you find it suitable, you can come for a second, more advanced course, and so on. Or I may go to your place to teach you.
It is understandable that many people will feel that one week of intensive course may not achieve much. This is true generally, but my intensive course is really special. You will be amazed at what you will achive. Javier, who is a Tai Chi instructor in Spain, is completing his intensive course today. I shall briefly describe what he has achieved in these few days.
When he first came, he slumped, despite his Tai Chi training (which he admitted was a dance). He had pain at his ankle and he, as he told me when I explained some relevant points, often felt depressed although there were no apparent reasons why he should be so.
He now stands upright quite naturally, and the pain at his ankle has disappeared. During the last few days when he had vigorous spontaneous chi flow movement after his Taijiquan set practice, he felt pain in mnay parts of his body. I told him those were signs that his chi flow was clearing his energy blockage, especially at his heart meridian. It was this blockage at the heart meridian that made him depressed. Now with the blockage gone, he feels cheerful. He actually told me he felt the difference. He also told me that he had never felt so energized and powerful before. For example, he said that during a session, he felt tremendous energy charging down his arm. In another session, after doing Standing Meditation, he told me he felt he was a transformed person.
Before he came, he could only perform Tai Chi dance — these were his words. He knew nothing about Push Hands or combat application. Now he could perform Push Hands and free spar using genuine Taijiquan patterns reasonably well! Of course he is nowhere a competent fighter yet, but if he keeps practicing daily for six moinths, he should be able to take on a black-belt comfortably. More significantly he can now practice Taijiquan, and not Tai Chi dance, and he makes every Taijiquan movement a training of mind and energy.
Like any good teacher, he is keen to pass on his newly learnt knowledge to his students. He asks my permission to do so. I told him not to, not that we are selfish, but that he is more likely to cause harm than bring benefit. Even practicing Taijiquan form wrongly caused him to have blockage at the heart meridian. You can imagine what greater harm would occur when the mind and energy aspects of Taijiquan are incorrectly practiced. Although Javier can now practice the energy and mind aspects correctly, he is certainly not familiar with them yet to be able to teach them competently.
It is significant to add that, unless observed by masters, even his incorrect form was not easily detectable. The very first thing I asked him to do when he came, was to show me his Tai Chi set. After his performance I told him that his form, being elegant and graceful, was beautiful to watch, and that many people might have said so. However, the way he held his posture and moved, would have hurt his heart meridians, knees and ankles.
After the intensive course with me, you will of course continue teaching your students, and you can teach them from the course what we are sure will not cause any deviation or insideous harm, such as Push Hands and combat application. But if you wish to teach in the name of my school, Shaolin Wahnam, you can do so only after you have been methodically trained as a Shaolin Wahnam instructor.
As a second question, can you recomend an exercise or a thought on how to open my channels I am having a difficulty clearing them?
Self-manifested chi movement is an excellent method to open meridians, but it must be done with the sujpervision of a master or at least a competent instructor. If this is not feasible for you, “Lifting the Sky” is a very good method.
It is important that you must perform the exercise, especially the breathing in gently, and your mind must be free of irrelevant thoughts. Perform the exercise about 20 to 30 times, then stand fairly but not rigidly still for about 5 to 10 minutes after completing the whole set of physical movements.
Nevertheless, it is often not what exercise you do, but how you do it that is important in chi kung training. That is why learning from a master makes such a big difference.
You asked for “deserving” students. I don't know if I deserve to be taught this great art, but I do know that I can uphold all of the Shaolin Laws.
— Jon, Austria
If you can uphold the Shaolin Laws, you are deserving to learn the great Shaolin arts, as well as have the necessary conditions to become a master one day.
I am a new student so I can't go to your camp, but I would really like to learn from a master who is willing to teach a dedicated youth this ancient and beautiful art.
The training camp is not suitable for you if you are a beginner, but my intensive courses are. Please refer to Intensive Chi Kung Course and Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course for details. You can take a combined course, instead of the two courses separately. But it is important you have to continue practicing on your own after the course.
I have been practicing Zen for many years and now I think it's time to move on in both my spiritual and physical expansion.
Your progress in Zen will be better if you first prepare yourself with Shaolin kungfu and chi kung. Read my book, “The Complete Book of Zen”, which has been kindly described as “the only book available in the West that explains Zen clearly.”
I agree with everything in your web page and I enjoy reading what you have to say. I personally am Christian, but I respect Buddha and his teachings (of what I know ).
The Shaolin teaching, while spiritual, is non-religious.
I have tried to contact many people affiliated with the Shaolin teachings, but none of them have replied. I hope you will. I have prayed many times for God to show me roads to my future. I very much want this to be one of those roads.
Some people may think it trite, but it is true that God answers all prayers when one prays sincerely and deeply. This is a great cosmic truth, and is held in all great religions, including Christainity and Buddhism.
Actually, Buddhism is not a religion in the sense most westerners will conceptualize what a religion is. Etymologically speaking, Buddhism means the teachings of the enlightened ones. Hence, from the Buddhist perspective, a good Buddhist can at the same time be a good Christian.
Some Kung fu teachers are teaching Tai Chi as a kind of senior syllabus to their Kung Fu students.
— Gary, New Zealand
Taijiquan is a style of kungfu by itself. It ranges, like any other style of kungfu such as Shaolin or Bagua, from beginners' to masters' levels. Hence, my opinion is that, unless there are special reasons, those who teach Taijiquan, or more probably Tai Chi dance, to their senior students, do not fully understand the scope of either Taijiquan or their own kungfu style.
If they understand Taijiquan sufficiently, they should know that one does not have to wait till an advanced level to learn it. If they understand their own kungfu style sufficiently, they would know that what can be achieved in Taijiquan, can also be achieved in their own style, although the approach and emphasis may be different.
If their own style does not provide what Taijiquan provides, and if the style is worthy of practice, it is because that something extra is not needed in their style. If it is needed, past masters of the style should have developed it. This reminds us that any so-called master who is so arrogant as to think he is more knowledgeable or skilful than all the past masters, that he can better the art by changing or modifying it, should first of all examine whether he knows the art enough.
Within Nam Pai Chuan we have a whole range of sets some of which might be described as internal or soft, including chi gung practice. One particulary that springs to mind is called Choi Lat Kun but always these sets / forms have a combat intention. However I never saw my Sifu practice or even advocate Tai Chi.
All good kungfu has both the soft and the hard, or the internal and the external aspects. In the past many masters considered kungfu that was only hard or external as third class kungfu, and that was only soft or internal as second class.
Most probably the reason why your sifu did not advocate Taijiquan was not because he did not realize the benefits Taijiquan could bring, but because he realized you could derive similar benefits through your own art.
No matter what style of kungfu it is, even if it is third class kungfu, it must have combat function, otherwise it cannot rightly be termed kungfu. Often, mediocre instructors or so-called masters do not know the combat intention of the kungfu they perform. Consequently they attempt to incorporate fighting techniques from other martial systems such as from karate, taekwondo and kickboxing.
Frequently in Taijiquan, which is a famous style of kungfu, these mediocre instructors and so-called masters debase it so much that it has become a dance, sometimes “played” to the accompaniment of music. This was why the great kungfu master, Sifu Wang Xiang Zhai, said such Tai Chi practice was a waste of time.
Your kungfu style not only has combat function but also pays attention to chi kung (or energy training), which is invaluable not only for combat but also for good health and vitality. Yours is therefore a first class kungfu, and you are blessed with a good sifu. So practice and treasure your art which has everything necessary to make you into a real, great martial artist; you need not look outside your art to become a master.
Can one practice Shaolin Kung Fu and martial chi gung sets and obtain fulfilment without practising Tai Chi.
Certainly. In fact there are more chi kung sets in Shaolin Kungfu than in Taijiquan. However, if one practices only the external form of Shaolin Kungfu without practicing Shaolin Chi Kung (which is energy management in Shaolin Kungfu) he is practicing third class kungfu.