Grandmaster Wong

Grandmaster Wong


Can Sifu kindly explain more about heart to heart transmission in our Shaolin Wahnam tradition?

-- Sifu Zhang Wuji, Singapore


It is often said that the highest arts are transmitted from heart to heart. Not many people really understand what it means. Many more they don't believe this is true. But we in Shaolin Wahnam have a lot of experiences in heart to heart transmission. That is a main reason why we have such fantastic results in a very short time.

The meaning of heart to heart transmission is straight-forward; there is no play of words. But like other terms such as chi flow, focused at the dan tian, and spiritual expansion, many people do not know what it really means though they know all the words because they do not have the direct experience.

On the other hand, those who have direct experience, like our students, may not be able to articulate what the experience is like because they do not understand the mechanics behind their experience and also because they lack the necessary vocabulary. In other words, although they benefit from heart to heart transmission, they do not know what happens in a heart to heart transmission. They also lack the vocabulary to describe the transmission.

What is transmitted from heart to heart may be techniques, tactics, strategies, skills or intuitive understanding. The transmission may operate at different levels.

Let us take an example of a transmission of a skill from heart to heart at the lowest level. Suppose a lady student has bruises in her arms after applying "Single Tiger" on a "Black Tiger" of a powerful sparring partner while practicing Combat Sequence 1. You wish to transmit to her the skill of using minimum force against maximum strength.

If you just tell her, or instruct her, or demonstrate to her, she is unlikely to have this skill no matter how many times and for how long you do so. Of course, it will be worse if she attempts to learn this skill from books or videos. But she can have this skill within a few minutes if you transmit it to her from heart to heart.

Here is how to do it. First you explain to her that her wrists are bruised because she knocks her wrists against her opponent's stronger wrists. You tell her that she can avoid the bruising if her arm "leans on" instead of "knocks against" an opponent's arm. Also, she can use minimum force, instead of brutal strength.

You asks her to punch you with a "Black Tiger!, and you respond with a "Single Tiger" showing her the mistake she made by knocking against an opponent's arm. Then she punches you a second time, and your respond again with a "Single Tiger", but this time showing her the skill of leaning on instead of knocking against her punching arm.

Ask her to tell you the difference she feels. She would tell you that in the first case she felt your wrist knocking hard on her wrist, whereas in the second case your arm gently touched hers. You would enlighten her further by explaining to her that the defence lies in the legs, where you withdraw into a False-Leg Stance, and not in your hands where most people mistakenly think that your arm wards of her attack.

Next, you reverse roles. Correct her subtle mistakes like the timing of her response, where she places her arm, the amount of force to use, and the angle of the arc in the leaning movement.

Many people will accuse us for being boastful and become angry at us when we say our students can gain in six months what others may not in three years. This is a good example. A smart student may acquire the skill, not merely learn it, in 5 minutes. An average student may take at the most half an hour, whereas other students will keep on knocking their wrists against their opponents' arms after many years of training.

Why do we call this heart to heart transmission? Isn't it a demonstration and imitation of skills? Outwardly, it may appear like you demonstrate to your student what to do, and she imitates your action. But if you just demonstrate and she just imitates, you may carry on for months and yet she does not acquire the skill.

The demonstration and imitation is just a part of the learning process. The initial teaching starts from your heart, and the acquiring of the skill permanently remains in her heart. You explain to her and lead her step by step in a heart-felt way, and she absorbs your teaching in her heart, manifesting only outwardly in correct forms.

This is an example of a heart to heart transmission at the lowest, relatively physical level. Much of the heart to heart transmission is at a higher, mental level.

Let us take another example of chi flow. Why are our students able to generate a chi flow in a day, or at the most a month, whereas other people may practice for years to no avail. A main reason, of course, is heart to heart transmission. "Heart" in classical Chinese often means "mind" in modern English.

First we lead our students into a chi kung state of mind. We as teachers also enter a chi kung state of mind. Then, when we give instructions for them to generate a chi flow, it is not from our mouth to their ears, but from our mind to their mind, or from heart to heart.

We may give instructions that come out of our mouth, but they originate from our heart. Our students may listen to our instructions through their ears, but they enter their heart.

Aren't instructions of other teachers also originated from their heart? Don't instructions heard by other students through their ears also enter their heart?

No, not in the context of internal arts. Many teachers do not really mean what they say when they ask their students to be relaxed. They may give such an instruction but they rarely take the trouble to check that their students are relaxed. Most of them do not even give this essential instruction.

On the other hand, their students do not really take the instructions into their heart. The instruction to be relaxed, if it is ever given, may enter one ear and go out from the other. Nether the teacher nor the students really follow the instruction to be relaxed.

At very high level of heart to heart transmission, verbalization may not even be necessary. The master transmits his teaching from his mind to the mind of the students.

Some people may think this is crazy, but mind to mind communication is not uncommon in our school, even amongst our students. You probably have had such an experience too. When sparring with an opponent, sometimes you know what he is going to do before he actually does it. You have picked up his thoughts, which precedes his action.

This is not the same as a master transmitting a lesson to his students from mind to mind, or heart to heart, but it gives an example of mind to mind communication. Heart to heart transmission is another form of mind to mind communication. Needless to say, when we have such powers, we must be very careful never to abuse it.

Reproduced from June 2012 Part 2 in Selection of Question-Answer Series


Special Issues of Question-Answer Series

Courses and Classes