Sifu Leonard Lackinger

Shaolin neigong

The Force Method

Sifu Leonard Lackinger

Shaolin Wahnam Austria

27th October 2015

After having taken many courses including both methods in the last years, I'm trying to clear up the confusion about the Force and the Flow methods.

Generally those two methods describe how a set or force training exercise is learnt and/or practiced.

Force Method

This is the traditional standard method used in Shaolin Kung Fu. Therefore Iron Wire, Triple Stretch Set and One-Finger Shooting Zen make use of it.

The learning procedure is:

  1. Learn the sequence (of the set).
  2. Get the form correct.
  3. Practice with force. This is often done in a comparatively slow and sometimes staccato manner.
  4. Over time the force produced earlier leads to a flow which results in fast and smooth movement (while still delivering strong and forceful punches).
Example 1: Lohan Asks the Way (set):

  1. Learn the sequence.
  2. Get the form picture-perfect.
  3. Add breathing and later explode force with every pattern.
  4. After some time you will notice that you are flowing very well through your set.

Example 2: One-Finger Shooting Zen:

  1. Learn the sequence.
  2. Get the form picture-perfect.
  3. Add breathing (including sounds) and focus the force where it's needed. Explode on appropriate times.
  4. After some time you will notice that your movements are flowing very well. For example, your hands might move spontaneously on their own.

Flow Method

This is the traditional standard method used in Tai Chi Chuan. Therefore Yang style and Chen style make use of it.

The learning procedure is:

  1. Learn the sequence (of the set).
  2. Get the form correct.
  3. Practice in a smooth and flowing manner.
  4. Over time the flow will increase and develop internal force which can be exploded out.

Example 1: Grasping Sparrow's Tail:

  1. Learn the sequence.
  2. Get the Form picture-perfect.
  3. Flow through the set. There's no beginning, no ending and no stops in between. Increase the flow by will and you will move faster, faster and even faster.
  4. When you are ready, explode the developed force on every pattern you like to.

Example 2: One-Finger Shooting Zen:

  1. Learn the sequence.
  2. Get the form picture-perfect.
  3. Let the force flow and repeat the movements many times (instead of three times). Initially don't worry about the breathing and the form. Your hands will get faster and faster.
  4. When you are ready, explode the developed force with a shout on appropriate places.

The Flow Method

Some Important and Interesting Discoveries

Sifu discovered that chi FLOW is the ingredient for internal FORCE and the FORCE method is important for the FLOW method.

Therefore the first step is to develop chi flow (every time you practice). Only then internal force can be generated. I'll leave aside what is necessary to develop chi flow, as this is common knowledge in our school. (Ha! That's why the classics are often misunderstood.)

An interesting observation I made, which may act as a proof, is that my chi kung students who later picked up martial art training, get much quicker results from Zhan Zhuang and other force training methods than fresh beginners.

So, there is no 100% consolidating. There always has to be at least some flow. "Consolidating" gathers/focuses the internal force on specific parts of the body. Therefore the energy must be moving. Imagine that you want to meet up with your friends, but no one can leave their houses/flats (for any reason), everyone is non-moving. The gathering won't happen.

Even Golden Bridge will have a ratio of at least 99:1 (consolidating:flowing) while Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan has at least 1:99. In more recent comparison lists, Sifu even changed to 10 or 20% of flow for standard Iron Wire, which was before regarded as only being consolidating.

Even if we use the force method and by will consolidate by 99.9% percent, the chi flow afterwards will direct the energy to more important regions, like our internal organs. Therefore even Golden Bridge, whose main purpose is to develop a lot of martial force and mental clarity, can be used to fight illness, though using exercises from the 18 Lohan Hands or 18 Jewels will be more cost-effective and also enjoyable for most people.

By will we can choose any of the methods for any set after learning and training both of them.

Sifu also discovered that we need to learn the force method first before applying the flow method to Shaolin Kung Fu sets or force training methods. That's why Sifu always starts with the traditional force method for Iron Wire, Triple Stretch, One Finger Shooting Zen.

But, normally, practicing a flowing set with the flow method and practicing a force set with the force method is most cost-effective. Though there might be an exception with the force method, which will be explained in the next paragraph.

The flow method is safer, often stronger and more beneficial.

By asking students to compare their results with both methods at his courses, Sifu was initially surprised that most students found the flow method produced stronger results.

The flow method is dependent on chi flow and vice-versa enhances chi flow. Therefore it is more beneficial for our main aims of nurturing health and vitality, while still developing a lot of force for martial arts purposes.

If the force method is practiced incorrectly (like tensing the muscles or having a non-focused mind), it can develop more serious deviations. The flow method is much safer in this respect.

Spread and depth

Traditionally the flow and force methods would cancel each other out, because one keeps the energy moving while the other focuses the energy on specific parts of the body.

Through the magic of our chi flow, by practicing both methods in Shaolin Wahnam, we are not only freed from this adverse effect, but we even enhance our results and therefore speed up our progress!

Personally, I made one of my biggest steps in force development when I practiced Triple Stretch and Flowing Water Flowing Clouds daily for some time after attending Sifu's respective courses in Frankfurt.

So, that is my interpretation of what we call force method and flow method in our school.

As for the often mentioned "tension" in this thread, I will only repeat two very beneficial and often heard pieces of advice from Sifu:

"The more you relax, the more force you develop" and "If you want to have force, don't use strength!"

I will close with an important reminder for force training. Our methods are VERY POWERFUL! Take care not to over-train! More on that here on Over-Training and Over-Cleansing.

Best wishes,

Shaolin Wahnam Austria

Chi Flow

The above discussion is reproduced from the thread Questions on One-Finger Shooting Zen in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.



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