FROM 6 MONTHS TO 6 HOURS
When I first taught in Australia in the late 1980s, the 6-month course was reduced to a few days, and eventually to one day of 8 hours when I taught 6 chi kung exercises instead of 18. Despite the teaching time was greatly reduced, the benefits were the same, but students had to continue their training after the course. Many students overcame diseases considered incurable by conventional Western medicine. In the previous 6-month course, students also had to practise daily on their own.
The reduction of teaching time from 6 months to 1 day was due to expedient needs. It would not be feasible for me to stay in Australia for 6 months. But it marked a tremendous, and to many people, unbelievable, progress in our teaching methodology. Although I had not crystalised the concept yet, it also reflected the importance of skills over techniques.
In other words, if one’s objective was to overcome pain and illness, he did not need to learn 18 techniques in 6 months, he only needed to learn 6 techniques in one day. Whether he learned 18 techniques in 6 months, or 6 techniques in 1 day, he still needed to daily practise what he had learned for some time, about 6 to 9 months. What was important was not the techniques he used, but the skills with which he practised the techniques.
This does not mean that knowing 18 techniques is not better than knowing 6 techniques. This is a different issue than the issue of overcoming pain and illness. This other issue of knowing more techniques, as well as the issue of knowing more skills, concerns spread and depth, and will be explained later.
When I first taught in Spain in 1993, I continued with this 8-hour 1-day course of 6 techniques. I taught students a complex system of how to combine the six techniques for their daily practice. It was so complicated that I myself could not remember the system clearly, but it was based on a mantra that sounded something like ABCABCD, with A, B, C, D representing different combinations of techniques for each of the seven days of the week.
Later, I reduced the 8-hour 6-technique course to a 6-hour 3-technique course. We spent less time, 6 hours instead of 8, and less effort, learning 3 techniques instead of 6, but get the same, if not better, results. This improvement was much inspired by Jean’s comment (Sifu Jean Lie, Chief Instructor of Shaolin Wahnam Canada).
“Sifu,” Jean once told me, “Most students here practise only the first three techniques. They find the ABCABCD mantra too complicating. And their results are marvellous.”
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