Novemeber 2000 (Part 1)


Wang Zi Ping

Sifu Wang Zi Ping, one of China's last traditional kungfu masters, was an expert of Changquan or "Long Fist". Here in his 80s and taken before the Cultural Revolution in China in the 1960s, Sifu Wang demonstrated the "Moon-Crescent Spade", a heavy classical weapon. Sifu Wang was one the many traditional kungfu masters who easily defeated foreign masters who came to China to test her martial arts in the early part of the 20th century.

Question 1

I read in your books that it's best to have a master and that books are a poor substitution. I had stopped practising on my own and started attending lessons. I am now learning in this school teaching Shaolin styles. I can't find a school close enough to where I live that offers only chi kung classes and the classes this school offer emphasize on combat. But I am wondering if it's normal to have a kungfu master and a chi kung master at the same time?

— Roger, USA


Chi kung is incorporated in traditional kungfu training. Any martial art which does not have chi kung, which is the art of energy management, cannot progress to high levels: they remain at the lower level of physical combat, often using only mechanical strength.

A good kungfu master therefore is usually also a chi kung master, but a chi kung master is not necessarily a kungfu master because there are many types of chi kung which does not involve combat. Nevertheless, there are also many kungfu masters who may not know chi kung, although they still can be good fighters.

Question 2

The master says I can only feel the chi myself when the time comes but it's not describable. I know this will take a lot of practising but I am confident that I'll be able to feel it if I practise consistently.


It is true that you can only feel chi when the time comes, i.e. when you have developed your energy or internal force. But when that time will come can vary considerably. If you practise an external martial art, you will have to practise for many years before you can feel chi, and this occurance is an incidental bonus. Many external martial artists, including masters, have never felt chi even though they may have practised for their whole life.

On the other hand, if you practise an internal martial art, like Taijiquan or Baguazhang, you should feel chi after a few months. If you don't, you only practise Taiji dance or Bagua gymnastics, which unfortunately is the norm today. Indeed, dance and gymnastics that pretend to be internal arts are so widespread today that the public often forget that genuine internal arts are, as they were in the past, very rare.

Amazing it may be, if you practise chi kung, Shaolin Kungfu or Taijiquan from me in my intensive courses, you will feel chi in your very first lesson! It is understandable if many people do not believe this is possible. If someone told me this ten years ago, I myself would not believe it. My senior students, who learned from me in regular classes, had to practise for many months before they could feel chi. I myself took a longer time to have the same achievement. Why is this so. It is not because I am now more generous in my teaching, but because at the time I taught my senior students I had not perfected the methods I now use in my intensive courses.

It is significant to mention that my teaching is a transmission of skills, and not merely a listing of techniques. This means even if I write down my teaching instructions accurately and clearly (which I actually have done in my books), students reading and following them exactly will still not acquire the skills. They have to learn from me personally. This is an example that great arts are transmitted from a master to his students heart to heart

Question 3

My school says the students shouldn't practise any other styles because they might conflict with their styles Can I still go to your chi kung classes while practising kungfu at this school? From what I read it seems that if you advance your chi it would only help with the combat fighting. Is that correct?


Of course you can come to my intensive chi kung course and still continue to practise kungfu in your school. The chi kung you learn will definitely enhance your kungfu, irrespective of the style. But if you are interested in kungfu, you will benefit more if you come to my intensive kungfu course instead of my intensive chi kung course -- and you can (in fact you should) still continue your regular kungfu practice in your school. My intensive courses are meant to supplement, not to replace, regular classes.

If you attend my intensive kungfu course, you need not take my intensive chi kung course -- although you can and will benefit much from it, if you wish. My intensive kungfu course involves much chi kung, and it is of a higher level and therefore demands more time and effort than the type of chi kung taught in my intensive chi kung course.

But this does not mean that the chi kung in my kungfu course is better than the chi kung in my chi kung course. It depends on your needs, nature and aspirations. If you are interested only in good health, vitality and spiritual joy, and not concerned about combat, it is better to take my intensive chi kung course. Not only it is easier, it is also more suited to your purposes.

If you wish to take my intensive kungfu course, you should have some prior kungfu or other martial art experience. If you are a fresh beginner, you may find the course too overwhelming.

Yes, if you advance your chi, you will also advance your combat efficiency. But this is only one of the many benefits of chi kung. With more energy and better energy management -- these are the inevitable results of chi kung training -- you will be able to do anything better.

Question 4

What is the history of Long Fist?

— Deba, South


Long Fist, or "Changquan" in Chinese, is a general term referring to a group of kungfu styles. There are, therefore, different styles or types of Long Fist. Some famous examples are Huaquan, Chaquan and Baoquan.

The earliest style of Long Fist was Taizu Long Fist, which was about 1000 years ago. "Taizu" means "the First Emperor", and here it refers to the first emperor of the Song Dynasty, who was a Shaolin kungfu master.

Baoquan, or Canon Fist, was demonstrated as a kungfu set by the famous Shaolin monk Yuan Zhong for the first Tang emperor about 1400 years ago. At this time it was part of Shaolin Kungfu. Baoquan became established as an independent Long Fist style much later.

"Fist" in the term "Long Fist" does not refer to a fist; it means kungfu. The adjective "long" is not the opposite of "short", but alludes to waves of the Long River, the name the Chinese call Yangtze Kiang, the longest river of China. Long Fist is therefore the kind of kungfu where the patterns are performed continuously like waves of Yangtze Kiang.

Long Fist

A pattern from Long Fist of modern wushu taken from an old wushu magazine called “Wulin”

Question 5

Is this a traditional Shaolin art?


There are traditional Long Fist styles, and there is also a modern Long Fist style. In the 1960s, the Chinese government incorporated many traditional Long Fist styles into one style, which is just called Long Fist. All Long Fist styles, traditional and modern, are Northern Shaolin arts.

Question 6

Are Yi Zhi Chan, Pi Kong Zhang and Shaolin Shen Quan taught at the higher levels of Shaolin Long Fist?


Yi Zhi Chan (One-Finger Zen), Pi Kong Zhang (Strike-Empty Palm) and Shaolin Shen Quan (Shaolin Marvellous Fist) are regarded as the ultimate of martial arts. Using a finger, a palm or a fist, the respective master can seriously injure an opponent from a distance without immediate physical contact. All of these are Shaolin arts.

Whether these very advanced arts are taught at the higher levels of Long Fist or of any other styles of kungfu, depends not on what style of kungfu but on numerous factors like whether the masters know these arts, whether they want to teach, and whether the students are ready for the arts.

Question 7

Can you give me some brief information on Yi Zhi Chan and Shaolin Shen Quan?


A Yi Zhi Chan or One-Finger Zen master can injure opponents by striking their vital points with his index finger from a distance 36 steps away. A Pi Kong Zhang or Strike-Empty Palm master can injure opponents by striking them with his palm from a distance 72 steps away. A Shaolin Shen Quan or Shaolin Marvelous Fist master can injure opponents by striking them with his fist from a distance 108 steps away.

The numbers of steps away, 36, 72 and 108 are just approximations. These numbers are multiples of 18, alluding to the Eighteen Lohan Hands, a fundamental Shaolin chi kung exercise.

The numbers 36, 72 and 108, which are the striking distance of One-Finger Zen, Strike-Empty Palm and Shaolin Marvelous Fist respectively do not mean that since its striking distance is longer, Shaolin Marvelous Fist is the most, Strike-Empty Palm is the next, and One-Finger Zen is least powerful. In fact, One-Finger Zen is traditionally regarded as the most advanced of these three ultimate arts.

Question 8

Is Long Fist a superior Shaolin style?


Yes, it is -- provided you are training in genuine Long Fist and have access to its highest level. If you merely perform its outward forms, as is done in the modern wushu category called "Long Fist", in terms of self-defence it is inferior to external martial arts like karate and taekwondo. But in terms of demonstration it is superb.

Question 9

I have heard about certain amazing and mythical feats performed by kungfu masters many centuries ago. I remember such examples as leaping over mountains in a single bound, forcefully pushing people away with wind generated from the chi flow from the hands, and I recall seeing these things in kungfu movies. They were referred to as wuxia, and I want to know the truth behind these claims.

— Arthur, USA


The feats performed by kungfu and chi kung masters are true although many people may not believe them. Those who witness these feats personally would call them miraculous, although they actually follow natural laws and could be repeated by almost any person if he is willing to train hard under a master.

Some examples of these feats include breaking a piece of granite with the head, breaking a few bricks with an apparently gentle tap of the palm, taking weapon attacks on the body without sustaining injury, pushing an opponent back with chi and without physical contact, passing chi through walls, and transmitting chi across a great distance to heal others.

Nevertheless, there are also stuntmen who use tricks which appear like genuine kungfu or chi kung feats. If you, for example, use a brush to draw a line around some bricks with sulphuric acid, you can break those bricks easily. Or if you place your arm on the floor or on a hard table, and place some bricks on your arm, you can break the bricks on your arm without hurting your arm, but giving a false impression that your arm is powerful.

Some of the feats are exaggerated. It is not possible for a master to leap over mountains in a single bound, forcefully push people away with wind generated from chi flow from his hands, or break mountain rocks with chi from his palm like a thunder-bolt, as shown in some far-fetched kungfu movies.

"Wu-xia" were righteousness, chivalrous martial art experts in classical China who often travelled alone over the country righting wrongs. There is no suitable equivalent term in English, but for convenient they may be described as "kungfu knights", but bearing in mind that unlike the Western knights, these "kungfu knights" were not employed by the sovereign. In fact these "kungfu knights" usually disregarded the laws of men, especially when the man-made laws were oppressive, but they were always guided by the unwritten laws of heaven.

One-Finger Zen

Grandmaster Wong demonstrating "One-Finger Zen"

Question 10

Why is chi kung unable to cure disease like AIDS?

— Song, Singapore


Please take note that I have never said that chi kung is unable to cure diseases like AIDS. On the contrary, I have often mentioned that chi kung can overcome all diseases, including AIDS, and I believe that chi kung is probably the most effective solution to cure AIDS.

What I say is that for various reasons I do not accept AIDS patients as my courses are not suitable for them. This is different from saying that chi kung is unable to cure AIDS. In the same way I have said that my intensive kungfu courses are meant for those who have some prior experience of kungfu or other martial arts. This is different from saying that beginners cannot learn kungfu. Of course beginning students can learn kungfu, just as AID patients may recover from practising chi kung, but they will have to learn from other teachers.

My not accepting AIDS patients is in line with my philosophy that the minimum qualifications of any teacher are to be professional and to be ethical -- in contrast with some teachers who do not actually know what they are teaching, and who simply accept students even though their teaching is useless for the students. If you wish to know the reasons for my not accepting AIDS patients, please refer to May 1999 Part 1 of my question-answer series.

Question 11

How is Reiki related to chi kung?


In my opinion, comparing reiki to chi kung is like comparing a drop of water to an ocean. Anyone asking me this question, does not know what chi kung is.

This is no slight on him as actually not many people fully realize the scope and depth of chi kung -- many people, including some so-called chi kung teachers, think that chi kung is some sort of gentle exercise, which one may learn from books or videos and then start teaching others.

Question 12

Are auras connected to chi kung?


As in many other questions, the answer can be "yes" or "no" depending on some variables.

The answer is "no" because in chi kung we do not worry about such topics like what auras are, what the different colours of the auras mean, how to train oneself to see auras, and how one could increase his own aura. The answer is "yes", because when you practise chi kung your aura, which is called chi-field in chi kung terms, will increase.

But why does your aura increase? Is your aura the same as your cat's aura? Why does the aura colour change?

While there are answers for these questions, they are usually not the concern of chi kung practitioners who are more concerned with actually enjoying health and vitality. Chi kung practitioners will leave these questions to chi kung scholars who are more concerned with academic questions than with the practical.



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