January 2006 (Part 2)

SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

chi flow

Most people cannot tell the difference between genuine qigong (chi kung) and gentle physical exercise. A crucial difference is that qigong works on energy and mind, whereas gentle physical exercise works only on the physical body. A tell-tale sign each of working on energy and on mind is qi flow and a heightened state of consciousness, as evident here during the Intensive Chi Kung Course in April 2005 in Malaysia.

Question 1

A friend's daughter has a celiac disorder (a gluten issue). Can it be overcome through Qi gong? I think so, but I am not sure.

— Christopher, UK

Answer

Yes, celiac disorder can be overcome through qigong. But it must be genuine high level qigong (chi kung), and the illness must not have passed a certain threshold. Moreover, the instructor must be able to transmit the necessary skills to the student or patient who must practice correctly and diligently.

Let us examine the five conditions.

  1. What is regarded as gigong by most people today, including by some masters, is not actually qigong but some forms of gentle physical exercise. Most people cannot tell the difference bertween gentle physical exercise and genuine qigong, mainly beause the crucial difference lies not in the outward forms but in the way the exercises are performed. Gentle physical exercise works on the physical body, whereas qigong works on energy. Gentle physical exercise cannot overcome celiac disorder but qigong can.
  2. Low level qigong takes a long time to have result. If time were not a factor, then even low level qigong, so long as it is genuine, can overcome celiac disorder or any illness! But time is an important factor. If the qigong result is slower than the deterioration of the illness, the patient may not recover.
  3. If an illness, even a simple one, has gone beyond an irreversible threshold, even high level qigong cannot help the patient to recover.
  4. In qigong, skills are more important than techniques. Some instructors and most students do not even realize the difference between skills and techniques. Hence they think that beginners can learn qigong easily from books or videos. Hence if you learn from an incompetent instructor, or from books or videos, you may have the technqies but not the skills. An analogy is as follows. You may read about an effective technique to dribble a football past many defenders, but when you go into a football field you may be unable to do so. This is because although you know the technique, you lack the skills.
  5. A student or patient may have learnt from a competent instructor and have the necessary skills and techniques, but if he does not practice correctly or sufficiently, he will not have good results.

Question 2

I marvel at TCM and Qi gong; they have rejuvenated so-called cervical disc degeneration within me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Answer

Congratulations for your recovery from a so-called incurable disorder, i.e. “incurable” from the conventional Western medical perspective.

I have tried to disseminate the following concept. Understandably there is much resistence, but eventually the concept will get through — hopefully to the right people. When that happens, countless people will benefit. The concept is as follows.

Disorders like celiac disorder, cervical disc degeneration, asthma, diabetes, cancer, viral infection, depression and many, many others are “incurable” only when viewed from the conventional Western paradigm. A paradigm is not a set of truths; it is only a way of viewing events and processes, and in this case events and processes related to health and illness.

If a particular paradigm does not work, it is only sensible to try another paradigm, especially one that has proven to have worked for centuries. For example, one way to view your previous health problem is to call it “cervical disc degeneration”. The trouble is that when your problem is viewed in this way, we come to a dead-end because conventional Western doctors have no way to reverse the degeneration of your cervical disc.

The situation changes instantly when we view it using the traditional Chinese medical paradigm. There may be different ways to label your symptoms, but basically your health problem was caused by yin-yang disharmony. This makes a big difference. When we view your problem as cervical disc degeneration, it becomes “incurable” because there is no way to revert the degeneration. But when we view it as yin-yang disharmony, it becomes curable because there are many ways to restore yin-yang harmony.

One crucial point many people miss is that using a different paradigm does not mean one has to throw away all his previous training. It means the new paradigm enables him to enlarge his perspective so that he can put his training to better use. Once the concept of yin-yang harmony is understood, conventional Western doctors can use their own training and methods, such as chemotherapy or surgery, to restore yin-yang harmony. They may not even call it “yin-yang harmony”. They can express the same concept in different words, such as “restoring the natural functioning of the patient to enable him to adjust effectively to changing conditions”.

The issue of AIDS, which affects 4 out of 10 people in Africa, comes to mind. If Western doctors and research scientists stick to the conventional paradigm that AIDS is caused by HIV, they come to a dead-end because viruses cannot be killed by drugs, a fact that Western doctors and research scientists know fully well. Yet, millions of dollars and working hours are spent on the impossible, i.e. finding a drug that kills HIV, while millions of people suffer and die. It is amazing why the otherwise brilliant research scientists do not attempt to view the problem from another perspective, that of restoring yin-yang harmony. In Western terms, instead of viewing AIDS as a result of a viral attack (which is true), why not view it as a result of a weakening of the immune system (which is also true)? In fact the term AIDS mean just this — Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome. We should note the word “Acquired”. It means that AIDS is not natural; it is acquired. Before a patient acquired this deficiency, his immune system could naturally destroy HIV! This fact is crucial. The task therefore is to find out how to restore the natural working of the immune system. This is possible because it is natural.

It may also be pertinent to mention that pharmaceutical companies that fund research will not lose their potential market. In fact it is a good opportunity for them to reap a lot of financial rewards. Instead of hoping to find a dream drug that kills viruses, which is unlikely to occur, they can sell real drugs that restore the natural functioning of the immune system, which has a good chance to happen. A lot of people will also be saved. It is a win-win policy.

Question 3

I am a Tai ji Quan practitioner, I have been practicing a chi kung exercise from a Tai Ji book but they did not mention the name of the chi kung technique. Perharps you may know about it.

In the book they say you breath pre-birth chi with this type of chi kung. They also say something about turtle breathing. When doing it you have to focus on the dan tian and keep your head straight like the Tai Ji posture Wu-ji. Then you say “heng”, pull your belly in and breath in from the abdomen and send the chi up to your chest.

I feel heat rising from my dan tian and covering my chest, then you hold the breath in for a moment and then you say “haah”, let you belly out and let the breath go and sink the chi into the dan tian. (reverse breathing like in Tai Ji). One does this way of breathing with all the other movements like rising arms, bending over to touch the toes, turning the head to look over the shoulder etc.

After finishing the whole routine my body feels warm all over. It is a very effective type of chi kung I have been doing for more than two years, once a day and the benefits are great. When I had a cold I just performed this chi kung that night, and the next day I was completely healthy, and now when others catch the flu I do not. All thanks to this Chi kung. I can even lift heavy water buckets by sending the chi from my dantian into my fingers to help me lift them. it is a graet addition to my Tai ji Quan .

I have read about abdominal breathing in your site but I don't know if it is this one. They say this chi kung is good for health and longevity. Perharps you could tell me its name. Also is this a middle or a high level chi kung?

— Jefferson, Netherlands

Answer

This type of chi kung exercise is called Heng-Ha Breathing. In your case it is also called Reversed Breathing. There are also other versions of Reversed Breathing where the sounds “heng” and “ha” are not used.

On the othe hand, Heng Ha Breathing can be performed as Abdominal Breathing, in which case the abdomen expnads as the practitioner breathes into his abdomen while making the “heng” sound, and the abdomen sinks back as he breathes out making the “ha” sound.

Congratulations. You have practiced it well and have derived very good results. However I would like to warn others reading this that it is easy to practice Heng Ha Breathing incorrectly and the adverse effects can be drastic. It is advisable to practice such form of powerful breathing under the supervision of a competent instructor.

As you have been deriving good results from your practice, you should carry on the way you have been practicing. Don't attempt doing your Heng Ha Breathing as Abdominal Breathing; it may complicate your training.

All types of genuine chi kung promotes good health and longevity as well as vitality. Low level genuine chi kung takes a long time to achieve some result, whereas high level chi kung takes a short time to achieve a lot of good result.

Abdominal Breathing and Heng-Ha Breathing are advanced chi kung exercises. If all other things were equal, Abdominal Breathing and Heng Ha Breathing are high level.

But in real life, other things are not equal. Generally speaking, “Lifting the Sky” is less advanced than Abdominal Breathing, but a skilful practitioner can derive more benefits, including good health and longevity, and in shorter time practicing “Lifting the Sky” than a less skilful practitioner practicing Abdominal Breathing or another more advanced exercise. Moreover, Abdominal Breathing or any more advanced chi kung exercise will bring more harmful side effects than a less advanced exercise if practiced wrongly.

zhan zhuang or stance training

Zhan zhuang or stance training is a very important aspect of Taijiquan. It is probably the most important single category of exercise to develop internal force. While it is simple it is not easy to perform correctly. This photograph, taken at an Intensive Taijiquan Class in Malaysia in 2005, shows Sifu Wong checking to ensure that course participants are doing zhan zhuang correctly.

Question 4

Can just the performance of Tai Ji Quan heal skin problems like fungus infections on the skin or dandruff? Should I send chi from my dan tian to cover and heal those areas. or do I have to perform another chi kung routine? Any help on this matter will be appreciated.

Answer

Yes, just the correct performance of genuine Taijiquan can overcome skin problems like fungus infections and dandruff or any health problems. Although you need not consciously send chi to the area, it will speed up the recovery process if you do.

On the other hand, seeing a conventional doctor to solve the skin problem would be more cost-effective.

Question 5

I also do stance training. My sifu taught me stance training of the Tai Ji postures like Single Whip, and Golden Cockerel Stands on One Leg. I make sure to be relaxed.

I am capable of executing Fa-jing. The chi comes from the feet and rises to the arms to send the enemy flying I have learned it after one year by practicing on hitting big water bottles filled with water by striking them with my palm and by calling the chi through my breathing into my hands and sending it into the bottles. I manage to hit the bottles far away with very little arm movement — with the Brush Knee Twist Step palm strike posture of Wu Style Tai ji Quan.

Answer

The key word in any form of stance training and internal force development is “relax”. Again, congratulations. You have done very well.

Question 6

I have been practicing for more than four years and have faced and easily defeated Karate fighters. But now my desire is to perform Tai Ji and Chi Kung just for longevity and health not just for martial application,

Answer

I am very glad of your combat efficiency. You are a good example that Taijiquan is an effective martial art.

Taijiquan is also excellent for good health and longevity as well as vitality if it is practiced correctly. How does one tell whether he is practiicing Taijiquan correctly?

Taijiquan is an internal martial art. You have internal force, as evident from your fa-jing (explode force) where you can send your opponent flying. This shows your Taijiquan is internal. You are also combat efficient, as evident from your defeating Karate fighters easily. This shows your Taijqian is martial. Hence you have been practicing Taijiquan correctly as it is, i.e. an internal martial art.

But how does genuine Taijiquan bring good health, vitality and longevity? It is because of internal force.

The most important function of internal force, which is also the function that many people may not realize, is to enusre life goes on harmoniously. The energy that digests the food you ate, that regulates your heart beats, that destroys harmful germs which attack you usually without your knowing, and that does other countless life-sustaining activites, is internal force.

Having maintained life, internal force enhances life, i.e. it enables all your cells, tissures, organs and systems to work better than those of other people who have less internal force. This means you have vitality to enjoy your work and play.

Then, as you increase your internal force further, you increase your reserve of energy supply. This means you have surplus energy to flow harmoniously for a long time. As life is a flow of energy, this means you have longevity.

combat application of Taijiquan

Another essential aspect of genuine Taijiquan is combat efficiency. The photograph shows that even at a four-day beginners' class in May 2005 at Punta Est in Italy where most of the participants have no previous Taijiquan or other martial art experience, course participants are introduced to Taijiquan combat application.

Question 7

I started doing Tai Ji Quan just to be able to perform feats the Tai Ji masters like Yang Lu Chan and Yang Pan Hou did for the Fa-jing. But now I am capable and know about the consequences of fighting I feel like I don't want to fight any more for I don't feel like having to prove myself to others nor do I feel like hurting others.

Answer

This attitude is another crucial factor contributing to good health, vitality and longevity.

While Yang Lu Chan lived up to 73, Yang Pan Hou, sadly, lived only to 53. Why did this great Taijiquan master die relatively young? One possible reason was that he channedled much of his internal force, which could otherwise promote longveity, for frequent combat which necessarily drained much of his energy supply.

Once you are confident of your combat efficiency, you would avoid fighting as you do not need to prove your fighting ability to anybody, including yourself.

It is inspiring to note that by not wanting to hurt others you are actaully not hurting yourself. This is an excellent example of the working of karma — good thoughts will bring good effects.

Question 8

I think the constant performance of the Tai Ji forms has a meditative effect on my mind. I can control myself very easily I do not get angry easily, I am aware of what I am doing.

Answer

Taijiquan is not just a training of forms. More importantly, it is a training of energy and mind.

Your constant performance of Taiji forms has a meditative effect on your mind because you practice correctly, i.e. your energy and mind flow with your forms. If someone tenses his muscles to have mechanical strength or worries about how he should move while performing his Taiji forms, he would have adversed effects instead.

Question 9

I hope my story has not annoyed you. I just felt like writing it not for pride but just because I think that Tai Ji Quan is a great form of martial art that deserves to be called “'Ultimate Supreme Fist” for it not only gives you martial skills and health but it also helps you to advance spiritually when performed correctly. especially if you performs the kata a certain rounds per day it becomes like a sort of moving meditation, Please correct me if I am wrong, Master Wong.

Answer

Historically speaking, when the great Zhang San Feng developed the art which we now call Taijiquan, it was for the purpose of spiritual cultivation. It will be very helpful for Taijiquan practitioners today to remember this fact. Zhang San Feng and all the great Taijiquan masters of the past never meant Taijiquan to be a demonstrative dance to please spectators.

Spiritual cultivation in Taijiquan occurs at all levels, from the very beginning to the most advanced. And spiritual cultivation is non-religious. In other words, people of any religion or of no offical religion can practice and benefit from Taijiquan as spiritual cultivation.

A simple yet profound way to practice Taijiquan as spiritual cultivation is as follows. After having ensured that the forms and movements are reasonably correct, perform them in a relaxing manner without any muscular tenstion and without thinking of anything. Let the forms flow, and enjoy the flow. Then stand upright and be totally relaxed. Do nothing and think of nothing. If the energy flows and sways the body, enjoy the flow. If not, it does not matter. Conclude the training session by standing upright and still, and then think gently of the dan tian (abdominal energy field).

Question 10

My spiritual master said to me that now I left the path of slaying the external enemy and now I am slaying the internal enemy, the ego.

Answer

“Slaying the inernal enermy, the ego” is the ultimate aim of Taijiquan. It leads to the greatest spiritual fulfillment called “attaining the Tao” or “merging into the Great Void”. In Western terms it is returning to God the Holy Spirit.

LINKS

Overview of the Questions-Answers Series

Selected Reading

Courses and Classes