Darryl Collett

Stance training

Darryl and his course mates practicing zhan zhuang or stance training at the Inensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in March 2002 in Malaysia. From left: Andrew from Switzerland, Ron Sia from the United States, Darryl from Scotland, Chee Yong from Malaysia, Michael from England, Mark from Scotland, Eugene from the United States, and Ronan from England.

I had forgotten how much joy came with the training. I am still struck by how revolutionary it all still seems to me, how I had never come across anything like this in any other art before.

Darryl Collette

Dear Sifu and Linda,

I trust my email finds you both in excellent health and high spirits.

I would just like to take this opportunity to write down my thoughts and experiences from the recent Intensive Kung Fu Course, and to express my thanks and best wishes as well.

Stance training

The course participants observe each other at their poise pattern during a sparring session. In the front are Darryl and Michael.

I must admit to being nervous before starting the course this time round, as I was remembering the last one, and how hard and challenging it had been. If anything, I expected this one to be even harder, as I now knew some of what was coming and facing me in the near future and was very aware of flaws and weaknesses that I was still exhibiting, my persistent bad habits.

When the course started, all my doubts and worries fell away. I had forgotten how much joy came with the training. I am still struck by how revolutionary it all still seems to me, how I had never come across anything like this in any other art before. From the stances and the stretches to the footwork and directions of movement, it really was a delight to be back. With the slight corrections that you were making and the feeling of the chi coursing through me again, wild and free, it was a different world.

As the sessions went on, I again felt a twinge of worry when you informed us that we would be hitting all of our thresholds, surpassing our limits and coming out as different people after the course was over.

It is two of these limits I would like to thank you for, the first and main one being when I finally realised what you meant by 'Not using strength', letting myself relax enough to allow everything to just happen during my training, catching myself tensing up again and then just returning to the dan tian, taking a moment to compose myself and starting again, in the sequence or the pattern or the set. I still cant reach the experience with words, instead I just think of 'Wu Wei' and wait patiently.

My other main breakthrough was of finally understanding through experience Internal Force, and the ease with which everything came. This was really during the last day, and when sparring with Andrew. Before that I had noticed things, like turning my hand at the last minute to 'slap' instead of 'striking' his hand.

Stance training
Darryl (back to comera) and Andrew engaged in sparring

When he asked me why, I explained that I would otherwise hit his thumb, and duplicated the movement to demonstrate. I had not thought of not striking him, and believe that your point of "partner not opponent" was what caused that minor breakthrough as well. This led me to trusting my own movements, which allowed me to relax even more, and to open my heart that little bit more too.

There were many more that came with it, the commitment and unstoppable feel of the technique, the way the moves just flowed into one another when we were sparring and the calm, peaceful way in which I could deal with every new situation, as when Michael reversed my counter against him during the felling, I just flowed into a new stance and continued with the technique, allowing the chi to guide my hands, feet and body in a most gentle way.

I certainly believe I came out a better person, with a gentler outlook and far more peaceful demeanour that before I started.

Once again Sifu, thank you for this gift of learning, and the world you have allowed me to see

With warmest regards and sincere admiration,
Your student Darryl.
17th May 2002.

Stance training

A happy pair from Scotland, Mark and Darryl, posing before their vegetarian meal in Malaysia

Sifu Wong's Reply

Dear Darryl,

This is just a short note to let you know how happy I am to read your experiences and achievements. Your comments arrived some time ago but for some reasons have been locked up in my portable computer.

Your break-throughs were wonderful -- letting yourself go without using strength, yet powerful and flowing with internal force. Your feel of the techniques, the ease with which everything flow into one another, and the calm and confidence you have in dealing with every situation, are commendable, and serve as inspiration to many martial artists today who find it hard to believe such attainments are still possible. The most wonderful is your feeling of joy in your kungfu training, reconfirming that our Shaolin Kungfu focuses on spiritual cultivation.

I am more happy that you are now ready to teach. It is paradoxical -- but actually heart-warming as it indicates their sense of responsibility -- that while many other people are impatient to teach, many of my senior students whom I have asked to teach, still feel they are not ready to do so. Having observed the rapid transformation of traditional kungfu to demonstrative wushu, I am really concerned that genuine traditional Shaolin Kungfu might be lost to the world forever if the lucky ones who prctice it, like us, do not actively spread it. But, of course, we will only teach such a wonderful art to the deserving.

Best regards.
8th November 2002.


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