The following discussion is reproduced from the thread Dispelling Ignorance and Restoring the Glory of Kungfu started in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum on 15th April 2006.
Sifu Ronan Sexton
Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam England
15th April 2006
I've started this thread to address the subject of misinformation leading to the pathetic situation of Kung Fu today.
I'm sure this discussion will benefit many and everyone's welcome to present their views as long as they are written clear and concise, no waffle please!
Jeffrey's comment below results in some important issues.
“Your performance on the DVD also made me truly curious to know how your kungfu is used in a combat situation. It seemed to me that you would have to modify quite a lot to avoid hurting yourself (particularly in your hand and thumb positions). As a veteran of real fighting situations, I'm sure that you know better than me how dangerous it is to have your thumb at right angles to the rest of the palm. Please note that I'm not questioning your ability as a fighter but genuinely wondering whether you use the forms I saw on the DVD for combat.”
A discussion of these issues will be beneficial to many martial artists, especially to those who have been misled by bogus masters. There are many important issues, and I'll take a few posts to discuss them. I wish to clarify right from the start that my presentation of these issues is not against the master in question or any master. In fact we have to sincerely thank him for without his participation in our forum, which we all value, we may not have this opportunity to discuss these issues which will be of use to many kungfu practitioners as well as help to restore the past glory of kungfu.
I believe that purposely distorting some forms and performing below one's level to hide secrets from others as advocated by that master are both incorrect and unnecessary.
It's incorrect because masters perform at their normal high level. (If someone claims to be a master but performs at a low level, especially in a public demonstration, we'd have good reasons to suspect whether he is really a master.)
My Sifu, Sifu Wong, goes one step further. I am sure many of those who have trained with him personally would have heard him say, “Make every movement a master-piece”. The reason behind is not to have beautiful forms to please spectators, but to condition ourselves so that perfect forms become our second nature, so that in sparring or real fighting, these perfect forms which give us the best advantages in given combat situations will be manifested spontaneously.
This is one reason why whenever my Sifu demonstrates on the spot, in private or in public, his forms are beautiful to watch. I am glad to say that many of my brothers and sisters, and even our students, have benefited much from this high-level concept of making every movement a master-piece.
One manifestation can be found in the picture series of many kungfu sets Sifu has posted on his website for public viewing. If you compare the picture series with their respective video clips, it's not difficult to see that the pictures are extracted directly from the video clips.
What is not so easy to realize is that these pictures posted individually in the website were not taken individually. It was not that the performer posed for a particular pattern, checked to ensure the form was correct, then had the photograph taken. All the patterns were performed continuously in one go as a kungfu set. Later, the pictures were extracted from the movie film as still pictures. Yet, the performers were perfect in their forms. You can find some examples here and here . here and here.
When a practitioner is already proficient in his forms, asking him to perform at a lower level may be a problem. It'd be worse for a master whose perfect form is his second nature. I'm sure some of you have seen kungfu movies where the main actor in real life is proficient in his kungfu forms. In the film, when he acts as a beginner learning kungfu, he purposely performs at a low level for the story. You can easily see how artificial he is.
Hence, my believe is that if a performance is low level, it's because the performer is of a low level.
But even if we presume that the performer is actually of a high level, purposely performing at a low level, it's unwise and unnecessary. It also indicates his shallow concept. I'll discuss these interesting topics in my next and other posts.
Lee Wei Joo
Shaolin Wahnam Malaysia
15th April 2006
If I may, I think this matter is also appropriately for this thread. The matter I want to discuss is the legacy of Shaolin Kung Fu and the Shaolin Temple. We know that genuine Shaolin Kung Fu is not taught at the Shaolin Temple anymore, what is taught there is wushu.
Having said that, do we, the Shaolin Wahnam family, have the responsibility to bring the genuine Shaolin arts back to its place of birth? I believe that we have the duty to dispel this great myth that Shaolin Kung Fu cannot be used for fighting and also enlighten the public that there is more to Shaolin Kung Fu, like chi kung, meditation and Zen.
How do we bring this about? It is not easy to bring a lost art back to Shaolin temple and smash the misconception that Shaolin is all about wushu and demonstrations.
With Shaolin Salute,
Lee Wei Joo
Assistant Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Scotland
15th April 2006
I fully agree with Sipak Ronan.
In the Martial Art community, Tai Chi Chuan and Shaolin Kung Fu have bad reputations.
They are often percieved as being non-effective. Especially against styles such a Muay Thai, Ju Jitsu, Sambo and so on.
One aim of Shaolin Wahnam is to return these Arts to there former glory. To demonstrate that Shaolin Kung Fu is the greatest martial art.
Doing performances with a half-hearted approach, is not helping.
On our website, you will find a video of Sigung doing the 'Dragon Strength Set'. This is an incredible example of Shaolin Kung Fu. Anyone with skill can see what is going on. To have been there in person would have been simply magical, leaving no doubt that Sigung was a genuine Shaolin Grandmaster.
Whenever Sigung or any of his senior disciples demonstrate, Masters of other styles often become students, either of Kung Fu, Tai Chi or Chi Kung.
Why? Because there was no doubt.
Shaolin Wahnam Scotland
Shaolin Wahnam Canada
15th April 2006
Let us always perform to the best of our abilities in every moment of our lives.
Sifu has certainly set the bar high when he says:
“Make every movement a master-piece”.
Off to practice.