March 2006 (Part 2)
SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What do you mean by high level chi kung?
— Philip, England
There are many ways to differentiate high level chi kung from low level chi kung.
One way is to compare the time taken to attain results. It it takes a long time, like years, then the chi kung is low level. If it takes a short time, like weeks or even days, it is high level.
Another way is to compare the intensity or depth of the results. If the results are little, like merely loosening your muscles, it is low level chi kung. If the results are great or profound, like developing tremendous internal force or expanding your spirit, it is high level.
A third way is to compare the nature of the results. If it merely makes your relaxed, it is low level. If it overcomes so-called incurable diseases like cancer and viral infection, it is high level.
However, in some schools such as ours, chi kung that aims at overcoming illness is of a lower level than chi kung that gives health and vitality, which in turn is lower than chi kung that expands the mind and spirit.
In the West a tradition seems to have developed in Shaolin Kung Fu training which grades people with various sashes: white, gray, orange, yellow,blue, purple etc. etc. leading to Black Sash. Has this anything to do with 'pure' Shaolin Kung Fu training, or is this just a Western development. And in the training you provide, do you have any similar structure?
— Dr Piotrowicz, USA
In traditional kungfu training, including Shaolin, Taijiquan and other kungfu styles, there is no colored sash system to indicate levels of attainment. Some modern kungfu masters, however, have borrowed the colored belt system in Japanese and Korean martial arts like Judo, Karate and Taekwondo, and use it in their kungfu schools, substituting sashes for belts.
In our school, Shaolin Wahnam, we do not use the colored sash system. Nevertheless, we have a structured programme as well as a time frame for training to help our students progress from one level to another.
I am very eager to make a deep commitment into studying Shaolin Kung Fu, but am a little nervous not to get involved in variations of the original. What I have read of your work is so beautiful and appears to be straight from the original Shaolin.
In my opinion, much of the original Shaolin teaching has been lost today. Shaolin Kungfu was well known for internal force, combat efficiency and spiritual cultivation. But most Shaolin practitioners today use muscular strength instead of internal force, Kick-Boxing instead of Shaolin techniques in their sparring, and have little understanding and experience of spiritual training.
We believe that what we value and practice in our school, Shaolin Wahnam, are very close to the original philosophy and practice of the southern Shaolin Temple at the time of its burning about 150 years ago. The fact that I am only four generations from the original Shaolin Temple, which is close as other lineages may be ten or fifteen generations away, enables the original teaching to be better preserved. We in Shaolin Wahnam are dedicated to preserving and passing on the original Shaolin teaching to deserving students.
What is the name of the traditional music played in the Shaolin temples?
— Truebudo, Hong Kong
Music was not played at the northern Shaolin Temple or the southern Shaolin Temple. This is because listening to music is forbidden by monastic rules.
At the superficial level, one may think that the monastic rules are harsh, not allowing monks to enjoy even simple pleasures of life like listening to music. But actually all the rules are meant to help the monks.
The most important reason for becoming a monk is to dedicate his life solely to attaining Enlightenment. Listening to music arouses feeling of pleasure, which ties the monk to the phenomenal world, hence frustrating his aim of attaining Enlightenment.
But figuratively, the music at the temple is the music of Zen. It is played in the heart of the monks.
Or perhaps you were referring to the chanting sometimes played over tape-recorders in some Buddhist temples today. It is the chanting of sutras, or Buddhist scriptures. The chanting is often done in a musical way. The scriptures frequently chanted in a Shaolin temple are the Heart Sutra, the Diamond Sutra and the Great Compassion Mantra.
You say in your book that the forceful and gentle Small Universe are advanced chi kung not advisable to be practiced on my own, I presume that it is because they involve controlling the chi flow from the huiyin to the baihui points, and thus may cause harm to the brain. But in another book, there are actually two moves, Carrying the Moon and Deep Knee Bending, which involve visualizing chi flowing along the spine to the head. Are these two exercises also dangerous?
— Yong, Singapore
Naturally the effects of advanced chi kung are more powerful that those of elementary chi kung. This means that when advanced chi kung is practiced correctly the benefits are powerful, but if it is practiced wrongly the adverse effects are powerful too. Hence it is advisable to practice advanced chi kung with the supervision of a competent instructor.
Both “Gentle Small Universe” and “Force Small Universe” are more advanced than “Carrying the Moon” and “Deep Knee Bending”, hence the adverse effects of wrong practice are more powerful. Moreover, the possibility of practicing them wrongly is also higher.
On the other hand, the same chi kung exercise can be performed at an elementary level or at an advanced level. If you perform “Carrying the Moon” and “Deep Knee Bending” without visualization, they are elementary and are generally safe to be practiced on your own. But if you perform them with visualization, they become advanced, and therefore may be risky if you practice them without the supervision of a competent instructor.
While one can perform “Carrying the Moon” and “Deep Knee Bending” without the use of visualization, this is not possible with “Gentle Small Universe” and “Forceful Small Universe”. Moreover the visualization in “Gentle Small Universe” and “Forceful Small Universe” is deeper.
The reason I feel that Shaolin chi kung is better than the Taoist chi kung is precisely because Shaolin chi kung seldom uses visualization, has equal benefits, and is safer than the Nei Dan practices of the Taoist, which involve more forceful control of the chi flow.
It is not true that Shaolin chi kung is necessarily safer than Taoist chi kung. There are many different types of exercises in both Shaolin chi kung and Taoist chi kung. Advanced Shaolin chi kung exercises like Golden Bell and Sinew Metamorphosis are more risky if practiced without an instructor's supervision than elementary Taoist chi kung exercises like Eight Pieces of Brocade and Waitangkung.
It is also not true that Shaolin chi kung does not use visualization, and that Taoist chi kung involves more forceful control of chi flow. Eight Pieces of Brocade and Waitangkung, for example, are generally performed without chi flow control, whereas the chi flow in Golden Bell and Sinew Metamorphosis is very powerful.
I was reading your questions and answers page about Shoalin monks being able to develop superhuman strength through the practice of chi kung. Would you e-mail me instruction in this as it is something I am very keen to learn.
— Adam, England
It is inadvisable to practice high level chi kung which produces superhuman strength without the supervision of a competent instructor. But if you have been practicing chi kung for 15 years, your chi kung attainment, even if it is not superhuman, should be quite remarkable.
If it is not, I would recommend that you attend my Intensive Chi Kung Course in Malaysia. Please click here for details, and see my website for available dates. It is likely that you will discover you can attain in three days in my course what you may not have attained in 15 years.
I have been practicing chi kung for health for 15 years now so I know it works. Whenever I meet people with health problems, I try to explain to them the benefits of regular chi kung practice but nobody ever listens to me. So I thought if I could demonstrate something like superhuman strength, they would then realise that chi kung does work and would take it on board.
It is good to tell people with health problems that they will benefit much by practicing chi kung, especially if it is high level. However, according to the values we cherish in our school, if they do not wish to listen, we would not want to waste time on them. It is even more unwise to spend time and effort practicing chi kung to acquire superhuman strength just to impress others.
- Great Kungfu is a Process of Spiritual Cultivation
- Secrets of Sparring Methodology
- Cloud Hands in Slow Motion
- Experiencing the Process of Composing a Kungfu Set
- Remarkable Recoveries
- Wahnam Taijiquan Simplified Set — Cloud Hands