SPECIALIZING IN YANG STYLE, WUDANG OR FLOWING WATER FLOATING CLOUDS
5a. Why is this set (108-Pattern Yang Style Taijiquan) so long in comparison with other sets, or why are other sets so short in comparison with this set?
5b. What are the expected results if I specialize in this set in comparison with Wudang set or Flowing Water Floating Clouds?
5c. Would it be more beneficial for my level to specialize in Flowing Water Floating Clouds or in Yang 108-Pattern Set?
5d. What are the things that I should take into consideration when choosing a set for specialization?
The 108-Pattern Yang Style Taijiquan Set is long because initially it was the only set practiced by Yang Style practitioners. This long set could have been linked together from numerous shorter sets. Later, when Yang Style developed into a school of its own, the reverse would happen when shorter sets were composed from this mother set.
This was the general trend in the history of all kungfu styles. When Shaolin Kungfu started there was only one set, the Eighteen-Lohan Set, which was developed from the Eighteen Lohan Hands. Over its long history of over 1500 years, countless sets were developed to meet expedient needs.
When Zhang San Feng practice his kungfu on Wudang Mountain, there was only one set, the Wudang Kungfu Set, which was later called Wudang Taijiquan. As Taijiquan developed, due to differences of needs, aspirations and other factors, different sets issued from this mother set, like Chen Style Set, Yang Style Set, and Wu Style Set.
The same trend could have happened, but actually did not, in our school. To meet expedient needs, I devised four basic sets, namely Black Tiger Steals Heart, Fierce Tiger Speeds through Valley, Happy Bird Hops up Branch, and Fell Tree with Roots. We could have combined all these four sets into one long set called the Wahnam Set. In the future masters in our lineage could composed shorter sets from this long mother set to meet expedient needs of their students.
But in our school this trend did not develop in this way because I brought our training to a higher level. I introduced classical sets that were the specialties of past masters.
Non-Wahnam students specializing in this set, presuming that they practice it as a genuine art from a competent teacher, will get the benefits this set is specially designed for. Yang Deng Fu specially composed this set for health. Hence, these students will be healthy. They will also be relaxed and graceful, and have some internal force.
They may also be able to apply some of the patterns for combat, but if all other things were equal, they would not be as combat efficient as those who specialized in Flowing Water Floating Clouds. They may also have some spiritual development, but will be unlikely to be as spiritually developed as those specializing in Wudang Taijiquan.
On the other hand, those specializing in Flowing Water Floating Clouds would be combat efficient. They are also healthy, but may not be as relaxed and graceful as those specializing in the Yang Style Set. They may experience spiritual development but not as much as those specializing in Wudang Taijiquan.
Those who specialize in Wudang Taijiquan will benefit most in spiritual development as this is what the set is designed for, but they may not be as relaxed and graceful as those who specialize in the Yang Style Set, and not as combat efficient as those who specialize in Flowing Water Floating Clouds.
But you and all other Wahnam members are different. You will have all the benefits mentioned above, i.e. good health, combat efficiency and spiritual development when you specialize in the 108-Pattern Yang Style Set. Your combat efficiency will be better than non-Wahnam students who specialize in the Flowing Water Floating Cloud Set or any Chen Style Set, and your spiritual development will be better than non-Wahnam student who specialize in the Wudang Taijiquan Set. This is because our teaching is of a much higher level than that in other schools.
In our school, presuming all other things were equal, those who specialize in Wudang Taijiquan will get the best benefits in all the areas of health, combat and spiritual cultivation, those who specialize in Flowing Water Floating Clouds will get more benefits than those who specialize in the Yang Style Set. This is relative. Although those specializing in the Yang Style Set get the least benefits, their benefits are still a lot.
But other things are not equal. Those who missed the Special Wudang Taijiquan course in Penang recently would not be able to specialize effectively in this set. I have no plan in the immediate future to offer a Special Flowing Water Floating Clouds course, so Wahnam members would be unable to specialize effectively in this set. Although the Yang Style course in Ireland is not at the level of a special course in Malaysia, it is still of a very high level.
Hence, if you attend this course and choose to specialize in the Yang Style Set, you will have more benefits in all the three areas of health, combat and spiritual development than other Wahnam members who specialize in Flowing Water Floating Clouds or Wudang Taijiquan if they have not attended any courses on these sets. Presuming that a Wahnam member had attended courses in all the three sets, but if he is more skillful in one particular set or likes that set the most, it is likely that he will also get the best results if he specializes in that set.
If all other things were equal, it would be more beneficial for you at your present level to specialize in Flowing Water Floating Clouds. For most other people, like those outside our school, it will be more beneficial for them to specialize in the 108-Pattern Yang Style Set. This is because these other people do not have the knowledge and skills that you have. If one does not have the skills to drive a car, it is better for him to ride a bicycle.
But other things are not equal. If you haven’t attended a course on Flowing Water Floating Clouds but have an opportunity to attend a special, though regional, course on the 108-Pattern Yang Style Taijiquan Set, specializing on the Yang Style Set will be more beneficial.
Suppose a Wahnam member has attended a general course on Flowing Water Floating Clouds like the one held at St Petersburg last year, and he is going to attend a special course on the 108-Pattern Yang Style Taijiquan Set in Ireland next year, which set will give him more benefits if he chooses one to specialize in? Of course, the Yang Style Set because the special course will give him more depth.
Now let us compare two Wahnam members A and B, and both of them will attend the Yang Style Set in Ireland. A also attended the St Petersburg course last year where he had an introduction to all the three main styles of Taijiquan, but B did not attend this course. If both choose to specialize in the Yang Style Set, who will have more benefits? Of course, A because he has more breadth.
Now, for more fun, suppose C attended the St Petersburg course, and D will attend the Ireland course. If both choose to specialize in the Yang Style Set, who will have more benefit? In other words, does breadth or depth give more benefit? The result will depend on how far is the breadth and depth. If C’s breadth is more than D’s depth, C will get more benefit. If D’s depth is more than C’s breadth, D will get more benefit. If C’s breadth equals to D’s depth, they will get the same amount of benefit.
When choosing a set for specialization you should consider the breadth and depth of the set, available resources, and your liking and skills. These factors correspond to the art, the teacher and the student.
Obviously choosing a set with much breadth and depth is better than one with less breadth and depth. Choosing a 108-Pattern set, for example, is better than a 24-Pattern set because there is more breadth. Choosing the 36-pattern Dragon-Tiger Set is better than the 36-pattern Lohan Asks the Way because there is more depth.
It is important to consider the resources available, especially the knowledge and teaching ability of the teacher. Even when a student has chosen a set with much breadth and depth, but there is no competent teacher to teach him, he won’t obtain many benefits from his specialization. This problem, fortunately, does not apply in our school, but is common in most other schools.
The liking and skills of a student are important. Even when an excellent set is chosen and a competent teacher is available, if a student does not like the set or lacks the skills to perform it, he is unlikely to progress far. This situation is quite common with people suffering from so-called incurable diseases. We have an excellent method in chi flow, and excellent healers, but if patients do not want to practice, they will not be cured.
The question and answer are taken from the thread Yang 108-Pattern Set: 10 Questions for the Grandmaster in the Shaolin Wahnam Institute Discussion Forum.