LEARNING FROM BOOKS
I have been practicing Kung Fu with two of your books: “Introduction to Kung Fu” and “The Complete book of Kung Fu”. Thank you for writing such amazing books. They are very practical and my progress seems to be improving. Unfortunately I'm experiencing some problems.
I find that I cannot perform my forms correctly because I'm always out of breath and my legs became weak very quickly. I'm not sure if this is caused by the weakness in my body because of the tick byte fever or I'm doing something wrong?
-- Ryan, South Africa
Thank you for your kind comments. Without false modesty, my books are very good. That is the feed-back I have received from many readers. But while a good book may be better than a bad teacher, it is usually not as good as a competent teacher. Your problem here provides an example.
Even beginners attending my regional Shaolin Kungfu course can spar for more than an hour without panting. This means their legs are strong and they are not out of breaths. The instructions I provide in my books are actually more detailed than what I give in my courses. Then, why were your legs weak and you out of breaths whereas those who learn from me directly do not have these problems? There are three possibilities as follows.
- You did not follow my instructions though you actually wanted to and honestly think you did.
- You were not ready for the training — this could be due to the weakness of your body or other factors.
- You did something wrong.
Without seeing you in person and how you trained, I cannot tell which of the above reasons apply. You would have to work that out yourself.
But a competent teacher would be able not only to identify the cause but also help you to overcome your problem.
It is inspiring to relate an actual situaion here. In the Taijiuqnan course at the 2006 UK Summer Camp, Heather came to the course in crutches. She had registerd for the course long ago but fell down and injured her legs just two weeks before the course started. Her specialist doctor put her in crutches for three months to let the injury heal. But she did not want to miss the course, and asked me permission if she could just come and watch. I examined her injury, gave her a chi flow, told her to throw away the crutches and take the course instead of just watching!
Of course, everyone was surprised, if not shocked, at my mad suggestion. But Heather had full trust in me. She did what I said, at first cautiously. But by the end of the day she was participanting fully like any other participants. She even forgot her crutches when she left. Sifu Michael, who helped to do the video recording, called her back to remove the crutches from the training hall to be thrown away somewhere else.
If you go to Free Sparring in Taijiquan you can see videos showing Heather free sparring on the fourth day of the course. No one could imagine she came in crutches on the first day. I believe your leg condition could not be worse than Heather's at the start of the course.
I've watched your videos and am amazed that you can perform the forms with such strength and fluidity and you are not out of breath. What must I do to attain this level of strength and stability?
What is more amazing is that this ability is the norm not only of the masters in our school but also of our ordinary Shaolin and Taijiquan students! In other words, an average Shaolin or Taijiquan student in Shaolin Wahnam can perform kungfu forms with strength and fluidity and are not out of breath. Please have a look at our many videos showing our students performing in solo or in sparring. Do you find them panting or their legs weak?
The sure way to attain this level of strength and stability is to do what they do, i.e. learn personally from our certified Shaolin Wahnam instructors. You can view a list of our insturctors here.
After practicing, I'm experiencing pain in the lower back and the sides. I do sit at work the whole day, so is this pain caused by a weak lower back?
Again, I cannot give you a good answer without seeing you in person. What is sure is that the pain is due to an energy blockage. What is not sure is whether the blockage is an old one caused by your sitting at work the whole day, by your weak lower back, or it is a new blockage caused by your wrong training, or by other factors.
But irrespective of whether the blockage is old or new, and irrespective of its cause or causes, the chi flow resulting from your correct practice will clear it. But if you practice wrongly, even when you follow my instructions as best as you can, your practice may aggrevate your blockage and cause more paiin.
Some people may be surprised at how one could practice wrongly if he follows my instructions. They will be further surprised that in fact this is common.
Students may follow my instructions in details — or more exactly, they think they follow my instructions in details — yet they make mistakes. These mistakes are so obvious that even the half-blind can see them, though sometimes people do make such obvious mistakes because they think they are smarter than the master. Frankly, I do not want to waste time on such smart Alexes.
I would spend time on earnest students who follow my instructions yet make mistakes. Their mistakes are usually non-physical, like when I ask them to relax, they tense, or when I ask them not to think of anything, they intellectualize. In high-level chi kung or kungfu where a relaxed, thought-free mind is essential while training, such non-physical mistakes are more serious than physical ones. They are also more easily overlooked by students learning form books or videos, as well as by incompetent teachers.