HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF CHI KUNG DEVELOPMENT IN OUR SCHOOL
Until 2012, Sifu has not taught Bone Marrow Cleansing. Why has Sifu now decided to do so?
Sifu Andrew Barnett
While the Winter Camp in Norway organized by Markus and Omar in January 2012 was the first time my teaching of Bone Marrow Cleansing was widely made known to our Shaolin Wahnam Family, followed by many Bone Marrow Cleansing courses in many other countries, it was taught in the Spanish Summer Camp in Tarragona organized by Adalia in 2011. Even long before this, Bone Marrow Cleansing was taught not as a complete course by itself but as part of Massaging Internal Organs.
Like other courses as well as our general development of our school, the reason for introducing Bone Marrow Cleansing into our curriculum is to meet expedient needs. Apart from giving a straight-forward answer, using Andrew’s question as an opportunity to give aA brief survey of how the various courses came into our school would be more interesting and illuminating.
When I first taught at the Shaolin Wahnam Association in the middle 1980s, which is now defunct, I taught Lifting the Sky to all beginners like a “warm-up” exercise, and Separating Water and Big Wind Mill to advanced students to enhance their internal force. When I first taught chi kung to the public in the late 1980s under the name of Shaolin Wahnam Institute, I taught the Eighteen Lohan Hands in 6 months. Some masters were angry that I taught chi kung to the public, especially to non-Chinese (though it was my chi kung and not theirs), and many people thought I was crazy to teach it in six months, as practicing chi kung would take years.
Nevertheless, I had wonderful results, with students reporting that they overcame so-called incurable diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, rheumatism, arthritis, and cancer. Interestingly, depression was unknown in Asian society then. I even had difficulty finding a term for depression in Chinese. I learned about depression as a clinical disease only when I went to the West!
Later due to demand for more advanced courses, I add Small Universe for 6 months, and then Big Universe for 6 months. At that time, the theme of Shaolin Wahnam Institute was Breaking through the Small Universe enables you to overcome all diseases, Breaking through the Big Universe enables you to live healthily beyond a hundred years.” Now, with improvement in our attainment, we can update the saying to “Breaking through the Small Universe enables you to live healthily beyond a hundred years, Breaking through the Big Universe enables you to realize you never die.” Later, because of improvement in my teaching methodology, I shortened the Eighteen Lohan Hands, Small Universe and Big Universe courses to 3 months each.
Like in the Shaolin Wahnam Association before, some students in Shaolin Wahnam Institute whom I actually saved betrayed me. So L left to teach in Australia in the early 1990s, invited by a university professor there who earlier learned from me in Malaysia. I taught 10 exercises from the Eighteen Lohan Hands in 10 days, then shortened the course to 3 days. The results, as expected, were wonderful. History repeated itself. The university professor betrayed me, so I stopped going to Australia, until Neil and then Jeffrey invited me there to re-open an new chapter.
A Chinese belief says that one must passed three hurdles before he can accomplish great things. I did that. I survived three betrayals by my own students whom I had saved from suffering and dying, and whom I trusted. In mid 1990s, Douglas invited me to Spain. It was an instant success, and from Spain we have now spread to over 50 countries.
When I first taught in Spain as well as in Portugal, Germany and Austria, I taught 6 exercises from the Eighteen Lohan Hands in 8 hours. There was no special name for the course, it was just called Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung, and the practice consisted mainly of dynamic patterns and self-manifested chi movement. Suggested by Jean from Toronto, I later shortened the instructional material to 3 exercises, our wondrous Lifting the sky, Pushing Mountain and Carrying the Moon, and the time to 6 hours. It was the first clear indication that “less is more”.
Later, in response to demand for more advanced courses, I added another course, calling the original course “Generating Energy Flow” and the new course “Massaging Internal Organs”.
I taught three patterns from the Eighteen Lohan Hands in the “Massaging Internal Organs” course – Turning Head for cleansing the nerves (called Bone Narrow in classical Chinese terms), Merry-Go-Round for massing the stomach, and Nourishing Kidneys for massaging the kidneys. I found nerve cleansing too delicate and to avoid possible deviation by students, I soon substituted it with Separating Water to massage the lungs.
As more senior students return to learn and the demand for more courses increased, more courses like Cosmic Shower, Internal Force, Selection from Sinew Metamorphosis, Abdominal Breathing, Dan Tian Breathing, Cosmic Breathing, and Merging with the Cosmos were gradually added. On some rare occasions I also taught Shaolin Wahnam Eighteen Chi Kung Techniques and Self-Manifested Chi Movement. And sometimes I taught the complete set of the Eighteen Lohan Hands (in 3 Parts).
When Roland invited me to teach Praying Mantis Kungfu in 2010 in Switzerland, I included the Eighteen-Lohan Art, which I believe was the main internal force training method at the northern Shaolin Temple at the time. Since then Eighteen-Lohan Art has become very popular as a chi kung course (in 3 Parts) in many countries.
In 2011 Adalia suggested Bone Marrow Cleansing from the Spanish Summer Camp. There was no record on how Bodhidharma taught Bone Marrow Cleansing to the Shaolin monks. But from indirect references, I believe that by employing appropriate techniques from the Eighteen Lohan Hands or Sinew Metamorphosis, the Shaolin monks could channel energy flow along their bone marrow, which in modern language refers also to the nerves.
There is a famous story that when assessing the progress of his students, Bodhidharma remarked that they attained the level of the skin, flesh, bone and bone marrow. It is also an established chi kung concept that energy flows at five different levels, namely the skin, the flesh, the meridians, the internal organs and the none marrow.
Linking the story and the concept together, I decided to make the Bone Marrow Cleansing course comprehensive to cover energy flow at all the five levels. In line with the Shaolin tradition, I chose appropriate patterns from the Eighteen Lohan Hands or Sinew Metamorphosis. This might not be what or how Bodhidharma taught Bone Marrow Cleansing, but in the spirit of Zen, this does not matter, because the external form is not important but the essence of Bodhidharma’s teaching must be there.
The above question-answer is reproduced from the thread 10 Questions to Grandmaster Wong on Bone Marrow Cleansing and Eighteen-Lohan Art in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum