Shaolin Kungfu

Grandmaster Wong performing the Iron-Wire Set

The Iron-Wire Set is probably the most powerful kungfu set to develop internal force. Every pattern in the set develops internal force. It is also easy to train wrongly with serious side effects. I repeat: it is easy to train the Iron-Wire Set wrongly with serious side effects.

Even world known masters trained the Iron-Wire Set wrongly. They have developed big muscles instead of internal force, and they look unhealthy despite the fact that they are fit and have much muscular strength.

Why do I say that they look unhealthy? Firstly, it is because of their big muscles, sometimes so big that the muscles are out of proportion to their body. From my understanding of chi kung, the energy that should work their internal organs goes to build up their muscles. This excess energy is locked up, and eventually it became flesh, which is a chi kung process of “qi” transforming into “jing”. Energy has to be flowing to be beneficial. Stagnant energy is hamful.

To compound the farm, their internal organs which are already lacking in energy, have to do extra work to compensate for the excessive mass of the muscles. If their internal organs overworked once a while, it might not be as bad, but here, their internal organs have to overwork constantly.

Another tell-tale reason why I conclude that these masters are unhealthy is because they lack shine in their eyes. If they are healthy and full of vitality, their eyes will naturally shine. This is a universal fact, though not many people may realize it. It is like when you are hungry, by eating food you will overcome your hunger. The lack of shine in their eyes indicates that these masters are unhealthy.

Why did the masters train the Iron-Wire Set wrongly when they came from well-known lineages and knew the set, i.e. the external forms, very well? Actually many masters are in this situation. They come from well-known lineages and they know the outward forms of their sets very well, but they lack the skills to use their sets for combat, or to use the sets to have good health, vitality and longevity.

In the case of the Iron-Wire Set, practitioners lack the skills to use the set to develop internal force. A main mistake is that they use the set as an isometric exercise. Practicing the Iron-Wire Set as isometric exercise will give them big muscles as well as a lot of muscular strength, but it will not give them internal force as well as good health, vitality and longevity.

I made the same mistake when I first practiced Iron-Wire. I had much muscular strength which I mistook as internal force. But at that time I already knew energy flow. My energy flow must have eliminated a lot of harm that came from my faulty practice of Iron-Wire as isometric exercise. I realized my mistake and was very fortunate to be able to practice Iron-Wire as chi kung, which is energy exercise, and not as isometric exercise.

Many people hold the opinion that the various sounds made during the performance of the Iron-Wire Set must be exact. For example, if the sound “ha” is made in a particular pattern, practitioners must made the sound “ha”, and not “ho”, “ya” or any other sounds.

From my experience of practicing the Iron-Wire Set, I have discovered that the sounds made must be correct, but not necessarily exact. For example, the sound “ha” in the example can be made in many ways. A practitioner making the “ha” sound in a forced manner, which is the exact sound but wrongly made, would cause more harm to himself than another practitioner making another sound correctly, like “ho” or “ya”.

Generally, any sound correctly made is beneficial; any sound wrongly made is harmful. The effects, irrespective of whether they are beneficial or harmful, are different when different sounds are made. For example, “ha” gently vibrates the abdomen. “ho” the liver, and “ya” the lungs.

The first important consideration is whether the sound made is beneficial or harmful, not whether it is a sound prescribed by past masters. Making a “ho” sound or a “ya” sound correctly, although the “ha” sound should be exact, benefits the liver or the lungs. Making a “ha” sound wrongly, although it is the exact sound, can harm the abdomen.

This is the benefit of breadth. Having practiced other arts with different sounds and enjoyed their benefits, I was able to make this discovery. Making a sound wrongly thought it is prescribed, is a mistake in depth. We can employ this philosophy in many situations to enrich our daily life.

We can also go a step further. Having understood the underlying philosophy and enjoyed its benefits, we can modify some sounds to suit specific needs. But we shall do this only when we can fully understand what we are doing.

I recall that many years ago in Sabah a Shaolin Wahnam instructor and a senior student asked me about Iron-Wire. I told them to show me a section of how they performed Iron-Wire.

Although the instructor had learned Iron-Wire his performance was not perfect. I showed him the perfect way. It was indeed illuminating that he told me that from his own experience there was a noticeable difference between how Iron-Wire should be performed as shown by me, and the way he previously performed it.

The student performed the set wrongly, although all his outward forms were correct. He did not learn the set directly from me, he learned it from one of those who attended my Iron-Wire Set course. I told him not to practice the set, and learned it from me directly when an opportunity arose.

If you have not attended my Iron-Wire course, don’t practice the set. There are so many other force-training methods in our school that you can practice. But practice only those methods that you have learned from me or from any of our certified Shaolin Wahnam instructors. Even if there were no other force-training methods, it is not worth the risk of practicing Iron Wire on your own. The risk of making mistakes in Iron Wire with serious adverse effects is great.

If you have attended my Iron-Wire course, do not practice the whole set training internal force all at once, as I warned many times at the course. If you train everyday, practice only a section of the set a week training internal force, and just go over the remaining patterns of the set without training internal force, so that you can remember the set.

Add one or two patterns after a few days if you are satisfied with what you have practiced. You must feel fresh and energized after each practice. In this way, you can complete the whole Iron Wire Set training internal force after a few months. You must give your physical body sufficient time to adjust itself to the tremendous increase of internal force.

This mode of training is actually very fast. Other students just learning the external forms of any set will take many months.

Apply the three golden rules of practice, which are “don’t worry, don’t intellectual, and enjoy your practice.” Enjoy an energy flow at the end of the set. The energy flow will clear away any harm which you may have unwittingly caused yourself. If you have not made any mistakes in the practice of the set, the energy flow will enhance your internal force. Indeed, energy flow is a treasure of our school.

Wong Kiew Kit,
11th April 2016, Sungai Petani.

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