INTERNAL FORCE, KUNGFU FOR COMBAT AND SPIRITUAL EXPANSION ARE REAL, AND CAN STILL BE ATTAINABLE TODAY
The Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course conducted by Sifu Wong is a comprehensive course covering all the fundamental aspects of Shaolin Kungfu. Its training material ranges from the most basic like stance training and footwork which beginners learn at the start of their kungfu training, to the most advanced like spiritual expansion and experience of cosmic reality, which masters aspire to attain!
Therefore, not only the training is intensive, the progress is fast and steep. Before the course, for example, many participants could not apply kungfu for combat and had no impression of internal force, but at the end of the course they could spar effectively using kungfu skills and techniques, and could feel internal force surging inside them.
These series of video clips show some of the lessons of the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course of April 2005 in Malaysia. The videos were taken impromptu, and are released here without editing. They are meant
- To help those who have attended Shaolin intensive courses to review and revise what they have learnt
- To provide reference materials for those attending Shaolin intensive courses
- To enrich the understanding and practice of other Shaolin Wahnam members.
In addition, the video clips serve as visual evidence for the public in general and marital artists in particular to show the reality and possibility of some important concepts in kungfu, like chi, internal force, kungfu for combat and spiritual cultivation.
Kungfu has been watered down so badly that today many martial artists, including kungfu practitioners, either doubt whether these concepts are possible, or have mis-conceived ideas of what they are. Many martial artists, for example, mistakenly believe that internal force and spiritual cultivation in kungfu are only myths, and that sparring is necessarily painful and brutal. Hopefully the video clips may rectify these mis-conceptions and enable them to derive more benefits in their own practice.
The video clips serve as visual evidence to show that
- Chi and internal force are real, and can be cultivated not just for combat but for enriching daily life
- Kungfu can be used for combat, and sparring can be safe and fun
- Kungfu training is a process of spiritual cultivation, and inner joy and satori, or a glimpse of cosmic reality, are still attainable today.
This is the first part of the Series. The other parts can be accessed by clicking on the following:
As in other intensive courses, in many ways the first training session is the most important. Here the participants are initiated by Grandmaster Wong to enter Zen, or a chi kung state of mind, and enjoy chi flow. As a result of this initiation, the participants are able to perform all subsequent kungfu as chi kung.
Stance training, or “zhan zhuang”, is a very important aspect of kungfu training. Amongst many other benefits, it develops internal force — if it is performed correctly. Sifu highlights some crucial points in stance training as well as common mistakes to avoid.
Grandmaster Wong asks the participants why stances are important. Joe explains that it enables the exponent to be stable. Grandmaster Wong explains that stances also gives speed. He goes on to say that as moving in stances is not natural, one has to practice and practice it until it becomes second-nature or spontaneous.
Past masters mentioned about the subtle joys of stance training that practitioners experienced when they could relax in their stance training and derive internal benefits.
During a stance training sessions, a few participants have some extra-ordinary experiences. Leroy and David, for example, talk about their spiritual experiences. David says that a few times while he was at his Horse-Riding Stance, he found himself not inside his body but everywhere. Granmaster Wong explains that this is a satori, a glimpse of cosmic reality at a higher level of consciousness.
First Grandmaster Wong shows some common mistakes students make while moving in the Bow-Arrow Stance. Then he explains that one should differentiate yin-ynag while moving. Surprisingly, many practitioners do not pay attention to this important aspect of footwork, with the result that not only they do not get the benefits of balance and agility but may also harm themselves with tension and knee injuries.
Having familiarized themselves with stances and footwork, participants learn the four basic patterns of strikes and their four defend patterns. As Shaolin Kungfu is practiced as an internal art in Shaolin Wahnam, it is important to be relaxed. Having the right forms is important as this enables us to get the best benefits from the patterns, including benefits of energy flow and mental clarity. If you are tensed or bent, for example, your energy flow and mental clarity would be affected.
This is the second part of the pattern practice for strikes and their defences. If you know these four attack patterns and four defend patterns, which are representative of hand strikes to the top, middle, bottom and sides, and understand the underlying combat philosophy, you would know how to counter any hand attacks! This is economy of learning. It is also useful to know the names of the patterns as this will enable you not just to preserve an important legacy of kungfu, but to understand kungfu literature better.
“One-Finger Shooting Zen” is a very important method to train jing (essence), chi (energy) and shen (mind) in our school. But why didn't others who performed the same technique could not derive the benefits of internal force? The answer is straight-forward, although it may be difficult for the uninitiated to appreciate or even understand. They only knew the technique but lacked the skill. They mistook the technique for the art. This in fact is very common, and is one of the crucial reasons why many people do not get the benefits the art is purported to give.
The “One-Finger Shoot Zen” session is extraordinary. Sifu Michael Durkin, who is the most senior in kungfu age, thanks Grandmaster Wong for the session and reaffirms his conviction that we are so fortunate to practice a most noble art. In a moment of intense emotion, Grandmaster Wong laments that such noble arts are going to the dogs where exponents take pride and pleasure in damaging their opponents. He extols the course participants to preserve the noble art and pass it on to posterity
Spacing and timing are basic skills in combat. Surprisingly, many martial artists do not have any methods to train these skills systematically. They hope that with frequent free sparring, these skills will improve. Not only is this unsystematic and therefore progress is slow, it is also placing the cart before the horse. Effective free sparring is the result of good spacing and timing (besides other factors), and not the other way round.
The eight hand patterns learnt individually earlier are now linked together into a set, called “Lohan Asks the Way”. One should maintain the “six harmonies” when performing any kungfu movement, be it a pattern, a sequence, a set or in sparring or actual fighting. The “six harmonies” should also be applied in our daily living. The six harmonies are the three external harmonies of legs, body and hands, and the three internal harmonies of essence, energy and mind.
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