Joshua Craig
United States of America

Joshua Craig

During one of the standing meditations in the Dantian Breathing course I had a wonderful experience. As I stood, I felt my body begin to merge with the space around me.

-- Joshua Craig

Dear Sifu,

Thank you once more for coming to Toronto this summer. Rebecca and I enjoyed both meeting and practicing with you (Rebecca took the Chi Kung, and I took the Chi Kung and Dan Tian courses). I have never met someone who radiates such goodwill and health.

The courses were fantastic. The chi kung course helped me to understand a variety of chi kung "dances" that I had once practiced. The missing ingredient was the direct access to chi. Your emphasis on medical chi kung before the health practices (along with health before vitality and vitality before intellectual or martial emphasis) also furthered my understanding of chi kung.

During one of the standing meditations in the Dantian Breathing course I had a wonderful experience. As I stood, I felt my body begin to merge with the space around me. Beginning with my head and proceeding down my right side I began to experience my head, shoulder and upper arm as undifferentiated from the space around it.

Bit by bit, more of my body became as empty as the air around it and I could not distinguish where my body began. Disconcerted, I eventually left the meditative state, though had I been able to stay with it I am sure that it would have continued until the rest of my body was "empty".

I was awakened to new possibilities by your demonstration of the Art of One-Finger Shooting Zen. I sensed the power as it emanated from you and washed through me. This energy felt similar to the ripples created by a stone dropped into a pool of water. I was also inspired by your ability to control your emission of chi. Your ability to turn on or off this flow, to emit or not to emit, was fantastic.

I would like to invite you to New York City. I have considered this at length and I would be honored to host you here in New York City for a Chi Kung series. I currently host other teachers of Chinese martial arts and believe that I would be able to generate a great deal of interest in your teachings. I have spoken to Eugene Siterman about this and would coordinate with him so that we could introduce prospective students to your books and website, prior to the seminars.

I realize that you are extremely busy. Perhaps next summer, before or after your Toronto trip, would be most convenient for you. The flight from Toronto to New York City is approximately one hour and 30 minutes. If you are interested, please do let me know of your requirements so that I may discuss these with my wife and begin the planning process.

I also invite you to visit my website at www.artemis-seminars.com. After a local series there may be the opportunity for some of your instructors to teach (Anton Skafar and I have discussed him teaching, and of course Anthony Korahais as well, should he decide that he is ready).

Below I have included some personal training questions that have arisen since the course.

I appreciate your time and wish you continued abundance.

Joshua Craig.
September 13th, 2002.

Training questions:

  1. In Chapter 20 (entitled "The Internal Cosmos") of your book "The Complete Book of Shaolin" I discovered a description that summarized my goals:

    "An exponent of the Small Universe is a living example of radiant health: he is physically fit, emotionally stable, mentally alert and spiritually peaceful."

    I began my practice of chi kung, martial arts and meditation in order to achieve these benefits. These qualities, once embodied, will provide a stable foundation from which to fulfill any aspiration. I realize that this is a great art and do not wish to demean the practice. I would like your guidance in how to proceed.

    Prior to reading "The Complete Book of Shaolin", my aim was the development of the Shaolin Cosmos Palm, of which the Small Universe is a part. After having read your book, I am rethinking this and am considering adjusting my aim to be the Achievement of the Small Universe. At the time of completion, I could then assess where I would be in my life and decide upon my path. I would like to avoid taking on too much and achieving little of value.

    In your book you delineated the progression of Abdominal Breathing, Submerged Breathing, Long Breathing, Hard Small Universe and Gentle Small Universe with great care. I am still working on the prerequisite of abdominal breathing -- smiling from the heart and chi flow, and practicing the Dantian Breathing once per week. Should I increase my practice of Chi Kung from once per day to two or three times per day?

    How could I best learn the Small Universe under your tutelage? I am currently saving for a Chi Kung Intensive in Malaysia and will visit Toronto when you are there.

  2. In Chapter 15 (entitled "Taiji: Energy and Poetry in Motion") of your book "The Art of Chi Kung", you state:"...the Three-Circle Stance...is softer than the Golden Bridge, and not as demanding, and the emphasis is more on the training of chi whereas the Golden Bridge emphasizes jing (essence) more."

    Why does the fundamental force training method of Taijiquan emphasize chi and that of Shaolin emphasize jing?

    Would time be wasted or any harm accrued if one were to train Golden Bridge while practicing Taijiquan or Three Circle while practicing Shaolin?

Jai Bhagwan Sifu
(Sanskrit: "I honor the light within you")

A close up of Joshua Craig showing him enjoying his chi flow

Sifu Wong's Reply

Dear Joshua,

It was a pleasure to receive your e-mail and it is a greater pleasurer to reply to you, though I would like to apologize for not writing earlier.

I am glad that you and Rebecca have found the Toronto course rewarding. The chi kung exercises you have learnt earlier will not be in vain, because now you can apply the skills that you have learnt in Toronto to enhance your earlier practice.

Congratulations for your wonderful experience of merging with the cosmos. In Zen terms, that was a "satori", or a spiritual awakening -- a direct experience of cosmic reality even for an endless moment. Many people today would not think that is possible.

Although I have taught private lessons in the United States, I have not conducted public seminars there. Thank you for inviting me to New York City. I hope that from there we may spread the wonderful Shaolin arts to more people in the United States. Both Anton and Anthony will be good instructors.

The "Small Universe", called the "Micro-Cosmic Flow" in some other schools, is a wonderful art. Although many people have requested me to teach it, I still have not done so in public. This is because unlike in other kinds of chi kung like "Generating Energy Flow" and "Dan Tian Breathing" where I can help students to achieve tangible result during the course itself, I may be unable to do in the "Small Universe". Nevertheless, I have improved my teching methodology considerably, and may offer this course to advanced students in Malaysia in the near future.

There are many approaches to develop the "Small Universe". The main approaches employed by masters in the past were through "Abdominal Breathing" or "Stance Training" (Zhan Zhuang). When one practiced "Abdominal Breathing" or "Stance Training" for a long time, usually many years, the chi overflowed from the abdominal "dan tian" (energy field) to complete the "Small Universe". Another approach was to visualize chi going round the "Small Universe" while in sitting or standing meditation.

The method we use in Shaolin Wahnam, as described in my book, is via "Abdominal Breathing", "Submerged Breathing", "Long Breathing", "Forceful Small Universe" and "Gentle Small Universe". By using this method we may shorten the training time from many years to many months, but the "power" derived is considerably less. Nevertheless, I would strongly advise against anyone to attempt the "Small Universe" on his own without proper supervision, as the risk of harmful wrong practice is high.

While you can get good result practicing once a day, you will get better result practicing twice daily. "Once in the morning and once at night" was what past masters advised.

Traditionally, Taijiquan training was "from soft to hard" and Shaolin training "from hard to soft". Taijiquan exponents paid more attention to the Three-Circle Stance because the nature of the stance training generated chi flow, whereas Shaolin exponents emphasized the Golden Bridge because, relatively speaking, its training consolidated chi, which is referred to as "jing".

A rough analogy is as follows. As a result of the Three-Circle Stance training, the exponent becomes powerful because chi flows in him like continous streams of water. As a result of the Golden Bridge training, the exponent becomes powerful because chi has consolidated like solid blocks of ice. This analogy is not accurate, because chi is more powerful and more versatile than water, but it gives an idea of the different effects between the Three-Circle Stance and the Golden Bridge.

Force like flowing water is more suitable to Taijiquan exponents because Taijiquan movements are comparatively fluid and gentle. Force like solid ice is more suitable to Shaolin exponents because Shaolin movements are comparatively hard and ferocious.

Time is not wasted nor harm accrued if one trains Golden Bridge while practicing Taijiquan or Three-Circle Stance while practicing Shaolin Kungfu, but that would not be the best use of time and effort, although he still can be very powerful.

Best regards.
10th November 2002.


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