FLOWING AND CONSOLIDATED STYLES IN COMBAT APPLICATION, INTERNAL FORCE AND SPIRITUAL CULTIVATION
At the Xingyiquan Course this year you mentioned that Yang Style Taijiquan and Wuzuquan were the most flowing styles in our Treasure House of Kung Fu Sets!
Yet what is the difference between Yang Style Taijiquan and Wuzuquan in terms of combat application, internal force and spiritual cultivation?
Aiming spread and depth, what are the benefits of practicing both of these flowing styles as opposed to the benefits of practicing flowing and consolidated styles like Yang Style and Iron Wire?
Sifu Anton Schmick
Our Treasure house of Kungfu Sets has more and a greater variety of kungfu sets than in any school I know now or in the past, with the exception of the Shaolin Temple. In the long history of the Shaolin Temple over 1500 years, the Shaolin Temple had more kungfu sets than us, but it may not have as great a variety!
This statement, of course, is not made out of vainglory, but to state a fact.
Taking representative sets from our Treasure House, the range from the softest to the hardest is as follows:
Yang Style Set – San Zhan – Baguazhang – Flower Set – Dragon Strength – Wudang Taijiquan – Flowing Water Floating Clouds – Siu Lin Tou – Xingyiquan -- Triple Stretch – Iron Wire
The 108-Pattern Yang Style Set of Taijiquan and San Zhan of Wuzuquan are not only the softest, they are also the most flowing. But there are differences between the two sets in terms of combat application, internal force and spiritual cultivation. The comparison, of course, is based on the presumption that all other things were equal.
The combat application of the Yang Style is more sophisticated yet more discernable than that of San Zhan. Yang Style practitioners have a greater variety of responses against different attacks from opponents, whereas San Zhan practitioners employ about the same responses against a great variety of attack.
If an opponent uses a thrust punch, for example, depending on various factors like the opponent’s force, speed and stability, or the exponent’s strategy and experience, a Yang Style practitioner may respond with Immortal Waves Sleeves, Double Dragon Plays with Pearl, or Cross Hand Thrust Kick. A San Zhan practitioner would not worry about all these factors, and just respond with Catch Hand, Strike Palm.
Depending on whether an opponent applies a Muay Thai knee jab, a Judo throw or a gripping attack, a Yang Style practitioner would respond with Repulse Monkey, Jade Girl Threads Shuttle, or Green Dragon Shoots Pearl. For a San Zhan practitioner, it does not matter what attack the opponent uses, he would still respond with Catch Hand, Strike Palm!
Now, whom do you think is superior, the Yang Style exponent with sophistication to choose the best response for a particular situation, or the San Zhan practitioner who uses the same response regardless of the opponent’s attack?
If all other things were equal, as mentioned earlier, the Yang Style practitioner is superior. But in real life, other things are not equal. If a practitioner has breadth and depth like in Shaolin Wahnam, the San Zhan practitioner is superior. He does not need to carry different credit cards for different purposes and places. He uses his platinum card regardless of what and where he makes purchases.
In terms of internal force, the Yang Style practitioner is flowing and soft, whereas the San Zhan practitioner is flowing and hard. If you wish to defeat a stronger, bigger opponent, or fell an opponent onto the floor, flowing soft force is relatively more efficient. If you wish to press an opponent to a wall, or damage an opponent with one strike, flowing hard force is a better choice.
In daily life, flowing soft force from Yang Style Taijiquan will make you elegant and graceful in your daily life, while the flowing hard force from San Zhan will enable you to be assertive yet flexible. Such transfer of internal force developed from Yang Style and San Zhan training to daily work and play is spontaneous and even expected in our school, but may not happen in other schools.
This is because we are clearly aware that our Taijiquan training is meant to enrich our daily life. We also have the skill for transfer, especially in the magic of chi flow. Practitioners in other schools may not have this philosophy, and therefore do not make any conscious effort to purposely apply their Taijiquan training to enrich their daily life. Even if they do, they do not have the skill. Most other practitioners perform Taijiquan or Taiji dance for recreation. They have no idea of flowing soft force or flowing hard force.
It is worthwhile to realize that spiritual cultivation ranges from the basic level to the supreme, and is irrespective of religion or the lack of it. The onus of attainment in any art is practical experience. In other words, we must not just talk about spiritual cultivation, but actually enjoy the result of having cultivated our spirit.
The basic level is to be relaxed and peaceful, while the supreme level is to merge with Cosmic Reality, called attaining the Tao in Taijiquan terms, or returning to God the Holy Spirit in Western culture. There are countless stages in between.
If someone is nervous and agitated, but after practicing the Yang Style Set or San Zhan he becomes relaxed and peaceful, he has achieved much in spiritual cultivation. He has cultivated his spirit from being nervous, which means his spirit is weak, and agitated, which means his spirit is disturbed, to being relaxed, which means his spirit is at ease, and peaceful, which means his spirit is tranquil.
The Yang Style Set is relatively more cost-effective in attaining these benefits at the basic level. This, of course, does not mean that the San Zhan Set is not effective. It can be very effective, but if all other things were equal, the Yang Style Set is relatively more effective.
Benefits at the intermediate level, like becoming determined and confident in whatever we do, San Zhan is relatively more cost-effective. San Zhan is also more cost effective at the supreme level of merging with Cosmic Reality.
Aiming at spread and depth, and presuming all other things were equal, practicing flowing and consolidated styles like Yang Style and Iron Wire is more cost-effective than practicing both of these flowing styles, though one is flowing soft and the other is flowing hard. This is because practicing flowing and consolidated styles have more spread than practicing two different flowing styles.
Similarly, when we narrow down the spread, practicing two different flowing styles, like Yang Style and San Zhan is more cost-effective than practicing two sets of the same flowing style, like Yang Style and Wu Style. Narrowing down further, practicing two sets of the same flowing style is more cost-effective than practicing the same set twice.
This phenomenon is peculiar to our school because of our spread and depth. In other schools because they do not have the advantage of spread and depth, the outcome is reverse. For them, practicing the same set twice is more cost-effective than practicing two sets of the same style. Practicing two sets of the same style is more cost-effective than practicing two different styles, especially if the two styles are of opposite nature.
This may explain why students whose style has limited sets, like those who practice popular Wing Choon, are generally more combat efficient than students whose styles have many sets, who in turn are more combat efficient than students learn in schools with many different styles, often with conflicting nature. It also explains why masters advocate that students should focus on only one art at a time.
On the other hand, kungfu geniuses like Ng Mui and Pak Mei, who had spread and depth, were far superior to other kungfu masters.
It is incredible that now we in Shaolin Wahnam have the opportunity of spread and depth that even masters in the past did not have. Contrary to what has been the norm in kungfu practice throughout the ages, in our case the more opposite the two arts are, the better will be our benefits.
With reference to the list of kungfu sets ranging from the softest to the hardest mentioned above, because the range between Wudang Taijiquan and Triple Stretch is wider than the range between San Zhan and Flower Set, if all other things were equal, those who practice Wudang Taijiquan and Triple Stretch will have more benefits than those who practice San Zhan and Flower Set.
Why is this so? It is because the wider range gives it more spread.
As Yang Style and Iron Wire has the widest range, practicing both sets will give the best benefits. In Yang Style, one learns flowing soft force. In Iron Wire he learns consolidated hard force. These two modes of internal force training, generating flowing soft force and consolidating energy into hard force, represent the two extreme range of internal force training methods. All other internal force training methods fall in between these two extremes.
Letting energy flow and consolidating energy into internal force are required in all internal force training methods. Depending on the type of force desired, practitioners adjust the proportion between flowing energy and consolidating energy.
In Yang Style Taijiquan, about 90% of the energy is flowing, and 10% is consolidated. In Iron Wire about 10% is flowing and 90% is consolidated. Other types of force are somewhere in between. In San Zhan, for example, about 80% of the energy developed is flowing, and 20% consolidated. In Baguazhang about 70% of the energy is flowing and 30% consolidated. Hence when one has learnt Yang Style and Iron Wire, he is able to let the energy flow and consolidate energy at their extreme, which results in learning other methods of force training easier.
When one practices both the 108-Pattern Set or any set of Yang Style and San Zhan or any set of Wuzuquan, his range of force training methods is narrower because both sets use the flow method. Another practitioner who practices the 108-Pattern Set and also the Iron Wire Set has the opportunity to use both the flow method and the force method. Someone who has both methods is more effective than another who knows only any one.
This evidence is abundant in our school. Shaolin practitioners who also learn some Taijiquan sets, or Taijiquan practitioners who also learn some Shaolin sets, find their kungfu performance improve tremendously. Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan represent the crystallization of the force method and the flow method. We are very lucky that we can integrate both methods in yin-yang harmony.
We may sound arrogant but it is true that this phenomenon happens only in our school. In other schools, including myself in my own training as a student, training two opposing methods, like Yang Style Taijiquan and Iron Wire, is highly discouraged as the two opposing arts cancel each other’s benefits.
In our school the two methods are not opposing but complementary, which means that our results in these two arts, and by transference of skills in all other arts, will be much enhanced instead of diminished! This phenomenon is unprecedented in kungfu history.
Do you know why two opposing arts in other schools become complementary in our school? Yes, it is because of the magic of chi flow.
Indeed it is because of chi flow that we have attained unbelievable results in force training for daily living as well as in clearing blockage in overcoming illness. The 108-Pattern Yang Style Taijiquan Set in Ireland is an excellent course for chi flow. For those who have learnt Iron Wire before, this 108-Pattern is an excellent complement. For those who have learnt Iron Wire, the flow method in 108-Pattern Set course will enhance any force development and, more importantly, our daily life.
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.