VARIOUS METHODS OF BUILDING INTERNAL FORCE
Sifu, I have been very lucky to attend many of your courses. Because of that, I had the opportunity to learn many ways of building Internal force. In the past St. Valentines Taijiquan Course (108 Yang Pattern Set) I could experience many different ways of building internal force. I name below a list of the ones that I usually practice:
- Performing Taijiquan Set/Patterns with Yang Spirit.
- Performing Taijiquan Set/Patterns with Chen Spirit.
- Performing Taijiquan Set/Patterns really slow.
- Performing Taijiquan Set/Patterns at the mind level.
- Performing Tajiquan Set/Patterns exploding force.
- Stances (I usually practice 5-10 minutes maximum).
- Performing Cloud Hands walking through stances.
- Performing Cloud Hands in goat/horse stance.
- Performing Lifting Water in goat/horse stance.
My questions are as follows:
Sifu, may you give me advice for the best routine in my daily practice for building internal force? Which is the safest and the most effective way to do it with all the methods that I usually practice? Should I add/learn any other methods in my repertoire?
Congratulations for being able to develop internal force in so many different ways. It is mind-blowing that you learned all these methods in just a few days of the Taijiquan course in Ireland. Even masters in the past had only one method, and they took many years to develop internal force using that one method. Most students would have no chance to develop internal force.
More significantly, we know the three main functions of internal force, namely, maintaining life, enhancing life and enabling us to have better results in whatever se do -- in that order of importance. In other words, for us, firstly internal force makes us healthy, then it enhances our vitality and longevity, and finally it contributes to our peak performance in our work and play.
Even masters in the past did not know this philosophy. Hence, they wasted most of, if not all, their internal force on combat. They were great fighters, but they might not necessarily be healthy, and they might not excel in their work and play. Yang Deng Fu and Guo Yun Sheng, the great masters of Taijiquan and Xingyiquan, for example, were great fighters, but they were known to be easily irritated, and did not lead a happy life despite their tremendous internal force.
One main reason why students at the Taijiquan course in Ireland could learn so many methods of internal force training was because it came close after the Special Wudang Taijiquan Course in Penang, where the highest Taijiquan, in fact the highest kungfu, was taught, including many methods of internal force training. As many Shaolin Wahnam students know, my teaching methodology is progressive, which means that the benefits of the teaching methodology at the Wudang Taijiquan Course was carried over to 108-Pattern Taijiquan Course in Ireland.
My best advice, though it may sound odd to many students, including you, is not to over-practice. Actually what you are practicing now is more than enough. You should practice less, and spend more time with your girlfriend or girlfriends. In your case, the phrase “less is more” is very appropriate. By training less, you will actually get more benefits, both in kungfu and in your daily life.
As you know many different force training methods, you can take turn to train one method a day. You can find out from direct experience which method will give you more benefit or more joy, bearing in mind that the result may change through time or circumstances.
Any one of the methods you mentioned above is an excellent method. Because of your skills and philosophical understanding, even if you had chosen the worse of the above methods (even this worst method is still a very good method) and your practice is only mediocre, your results will still be better than the results of most practitioners, including some masters.
Other people reading my comment may think we are boastful, and may become angry, but the comment is true. How many people practicing Taijiquan today have internal force? Even those few masters who have internal force will take a year to acquire what you can acquire in a month. Let’s say they acquire 12,000 units of internal force in one year, which you can acquire in a month. Even if your result is mediocre and you attain only 40% of your potential, you still acquire 4,800 units of internal force, whereas the masters working at their best acquire only 1,000 units a month.
In our school all the methods are safe. This is because of our chi flow. But this is not so for most practitioners in other schools. Many practitioners, especially advanced ones, are constantly concerned that they do not train wrongly. It may be a surprise to many people in the West, but in fact a main reason why many Chinese are afraid to train any internal art is a fear of deviation, known by a frightening term in Chinese as “escaping of fire and entering of devil”.
In our school, “escaping of fire and entering of devil”, or its less frightening modern term of “deviation”, is effectively prevented, or erased had it happened, by our chi flow, unless a practitioner over-trains or excessively intellectualizes.
Of the methods mentioned by you, if all other things were equal, the one that is most easily practiced wrongly is performing Taijiquan at the mind level. The second most easily practiced wrongly is performing Taijiquan very, very slowly. But if practiced correctly, they are the ones that are most effective in producing tremendous internal force respectively.
The safest method is performing Taijiquan in Yang spirit. If all other things were equal, it is also the method that, relatively, produces the least internal force. But other things are not equal. Even when you use this method, you will produce more internal force than practitioners in other schools performing at the mind level or performing very, very slowly, in which case they have high risks of harmful side-effects.
Though it is not necessary, if you have the opportunities and within your means, it is, of course, beneficial to add or learn new methods to your repertoire. Not only you have new methods, they will also give you breadth and depth.
The questions and answers are reproduced from the thread Secrets of Building Internal Force in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.