COMPARING IRON WIRE WITH OTHER FORCE-TRAINING METHODS
How does the internal force generated from the Iron Wire Set compare to other methods in Shaolin Wahnam such as Golden Bridge, One Finger Shooting Zen, Three Circle Stance, Sinew Metamorphosis and The Flower Set?
Sifu Andrew Barnett
With the exception of Sinew Metamorphosis, the internal force generated from the Iron Wire Set is generally more powerful than that from other chi kung exercises. This does not necessarily mean that practicing Iron Wire is a better choice than practicing other internal force training methods, because other factors are involved and this will become clear as you read on.
I have mentioned somewhere that the Iron Wire Set is probably the most powerful internal force training method. This was because I was thinking of practicing Iron Wire as a set compared to practicing individual exercises of Sinew Metamorphosis.
With our high level of cost-efficiency, it is not necessary, and sometimes harmful, to practice the whole set of 12 Sinew Metamorphosis exercises in one training session. If we do so it is for the purpose of review and we purposely perform at a much lower level of efficiency to avoid too much force at one time. The Iron Wire is usually practiced as a set, though students learn it gradually at the beginning and sometimes we may perform a part of it for some special reasons.
At a thematic level, the internal force generated from different force training methods is different in nature, function as well as time taken to develop it.
Iron Wire force is "hard" and is generally used for combat. Normally it takes a few months before a practitioner can feel the internal force generated. But with our highly cost-effective methodology, our students often feel the force on the very first lesson, or at most after a week of daily practice.
It is easy for other people to mis-understand my frequent mention of our cost-efficiency. We honestly do not mean to belittle others nor to glamorize ourselves, but it is necessary to mention it so that our students have a clearer picture of the training, not only letting them know that their progress is greatly speeded up but they need to be careful of correct practice as wrong practice will also greatly speed up adverse effects. As a comparison, using the traditional method it took me a few months before I could feel internal force from my own Iron Wire training.
The force developed from Golden Bridge is also "hard", and is less flowing than that in Iron Wire. The nature of training is also different. In Iron Wire a practitioner has to "consolidate" his force at the appropriate place, whereas in Golden Bridge the force is allowed to be "consolidated" on its own due to the particular position of the stance.
It is therefore easier to make mistakes in Iron Wire than in Golden Bridge. While the force in Iron Wire is particularly geared to actual combat, that in Golden |Bridge is more for laying foundation. If one is a beginner, it is faster to develop force using Golden Bridge than using Iron Wire. But if he is already very skilful, he can develop force faster using Iron Wire than using Golden Bridge. Regarding the order of learning, it is more cost-effective learning Golden Bridge first, then Iron Wire than vice versa.
The force in One-Finger Shooting Zen is "softer" and more "flowing" than that of Iron Wire. It is an excellent combination of the "flow method" and the "force method", whereas Iron Wire employs the "force method". If one uses only the "flow method" or only the "force method", he can still develops internal force, but this is not so with Iron Wire. If one uses only the "flow method" in Iron Wire, he cannot develop internal force, he has to use the "force method", though energy flow is essential.
It is easier to make mistakes in Iron Wire than in One-Finger Shooting Zen. On the other hand, mistakes made in One-Finger Shooting Zen can be easier rectified, but not in Iron Wire. One-Finger Shooting Zen is very versatile. It can be used for almost any purpose, like combat (not only at the finger but any part of the body like the fist, the palm, the claw, the elbow and the leg), overcoming illness and maintaining health, expanding into the Cosmos, for healing and for daily life. The force from Iron Wire is more restricted.
It is also faster to develop force using One-Finger Shooting Zen than using Iron Wire. If one knows One-Finger Shooting Zen, his progress in Iron Wire is much speeded up, On the other hand, if one learns Iron Wire first, he may hinder his progress in One-Finger Shooting Zen later.
The force derived from the Three-Circle Stance is much "softer" and more "flowing" than that from Iron Wire. Like in Golden Bridge, the force in Three-Circle Stance is allowed to develop on its own due to the particular position of the stance, whereas in Iron Wire a practitioner has to "consolidate" his force. Relatively, the force from the Three-Circle Stance is spread all over the body, including nourishing internal organs, whereas the force of Iron Wire is focussed at the arms, particularly for combat.
A beginner will develop force faster using the Three-Circle Stance than using Iron Wire. But a skilful practitioner can develop more force and faster using Iron Wire.
Amongst the various force-training methods mentioned, Sinew Metamorphosis and Iron Wire are most similar in the nature of force developed. Both are "hard" and vibrant. This won't be a surprise when we understand their historical background. The Iron Wire Set, I believe, was developed from the Triple-Stretch Set, which in turn was developed from Sinew Metamorphosis.
But relatively, Sinew Metamorphosis is more internal whereas Iron Wire is more external. The force from Sinew Metamorphosis is more holistic, whereas the force from Iron Wire is more focussed at the arms. Both a beginner and a skilful practitioner can develop force faster using Sinew Metamorphosis than using Iron Wire.
The development of force in the Flower Set is similar to that in the Triple-Stretch Set, both use the triple-stretch method. The force derived from the Flower Set is "softer" (which does not mean less powerful). This is because the Flower Set employs the Goat Stance or the Two-Character Stance which makes the force more flowing, whereas the Triple-Stretch Set employs the Horse-Riding Stance which makes the force more focussed.
The nature and function of the force from the Flower Set are somewhere between those of One-Finger Shooting Zen and Iron Wire. Flower Set force is "harder" and less "flowing" than that of One-Finger Shooting Zen, but "softer" and more "flowing" than that of Iron Wire. It is less versatile than that of One-Finger Shooting Zen, but more versatile than that of Iron Wire. Flower Set force is also easier and faster for a beginner to develop, but a skilful practitioner can develop more force using Iron Wire within the same time period, but not necessarily easier, than using Flower Set,
Studying the advantages listed above, it appears that other force-training methods are more advantageous than Iron Wire. For a beginner, it is both safer and faster to develop internal force using other methods than Iron Wire. The functions are also more varied. Why is it then that I strongly recommend Iron Wire for our students?
It is because the students to whom I recommend Iron Wire are not beginners. There are already quite skilful.
Here is where spread and depth play a very significant part. With the skills derived from other force-training methods, our students can generate tremendous internal force safely within a short time -- more force and in less time than using other methods.
It is easy for other Iron Wire practitioners to make mistakes, like performing it as isometric exercise instead of as energy exercise. Even when they practice it correctly, it takes a longer time for them to develop internal force. But for our students, even when they make mistakes, their chi flow will erase the adverse effects. The chi flow will also greatly speed up their progress in developing force.
Our students are also able to use the force generated from Iron Wire for purposes beyond what other Iron Wire practitioners can do. For example, other Iron Wire practitioners may use their force only for combat, whereas besides for combat our students can use the force for overcoming illness, maintaining good health, promoting longevity, enriching daily life, as well as for healing and spiritual cultivation.
The above question-answer is reproduced from the thread 10 Questions to Grandmaster Wong on the Iron Wire Set in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum