August 2007 (Part 1)
SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Because of his victories in challenge matches, Grandmaster Yang Lu Chan acquired the nickname “Yang Wu Ti”, which means “Yang the Invincible”, and he always avoided hurting his opponents. His son, Yang Ban Hou, liked to fight and was also undefeated in combat. Also Yang Cheng Fu, Yang Lu Chan's grandson, often said that he felt like a steel bar wrapped in cotton. He too was never defeated in combat. He is also credited with emphasizing the health benefits of the art and popularizing it among the people.
As far as I know only Taijiquan fighters attained such titles. I would like to know if there where masters of other fighting styles who also attained the status of “wu ti”, or invincible.
I really like reading stories of the Taiji masters of the olden times like the master Chang San Feng who created Taijiquan.
It is said that when Master Chang walked on snow, he would not leave foot prints in the snow, and he even taught taijiquan to a big ape.
There was also the practice of his Five Pleasures. These were:
- Sword dancing in moonlight, which accumulates energy
- Playing Taijiquan on dark nights, which invigorates the Chi
- Climbing mountains on blustery nights, which elongates the breath
- Studying classics on rainy nights, which cleanses the mind
- Meditating at midnight, which makes one's nature brilliant.
Also Chang San Feng became an immortal.
— Jefferson, Neitherlands
Thank you for your stories about the Taijiquan masters. There are indeed interesting and educational, especially the stories of great masters like Zhang San Feng who became an immortal, and Yang Lu Chan who avoided hurting his opponents.
There were many other masters who had not been defeated in their lives, but not many of them had the title “wu ti” or “invincible”.
As early as the Three-Kingdom Period, about the 3rd century or about 300 years before the founding of the Shaolin Monastery, the general Lu Bu (also called Lu Feng Xian) was never defeated in battles. But one night he was drunk, as was his habit to lament his broken love-affair with Diao Zhan, one of the four most famous beauties of China. He was tied up by his leutanent, Zhang Liao, who bore a grudge against him because earlier he punished Zhang Liao for some errors.
Zhang Liao offered Lu Bu to Cao Cao, one of the three lords of the three kingdoms. Initially Cao Cao wanted to release Lu Bu and adopted him as his son so as to help him conquer and unit the country. But Liu Bi, who was squarting with Cao Cao at that time but later became his arch rival and one of the three lords, was worried that Cao Cao, already very powerful, would become invincible with Lu Bu's help. So Liu Bi cunningly reminded Cao Cao that Lu Bu had three fathers.
Besides his own natural father, Lu Bu had two adopted fathers. He killed his first adopted father to join the rank of his second adopted father, the former Prime Minister who planned to urusp the throne. Later, Diao Chan betrayed him for the sake of the country, resulting in Lu Bu killing his second adopted father. Both adopted father and son fell victims to a strategy to use Diao Chan to instigate amorosity between them. This strategy is known as “Beautiful Woman Strategy”. Cao Cao was alarmed, and ordered Lu Bu to be decapitulated at the Pavilion of White Gate.
Interestingly, Lu Bu was credited more for his handsome looks than for his undefeated fighting. He was nicknamed the “Handsome Man”. It is telling that the best fighter amongst countless fighters in the Three-Kingdom Period, known in history for warefare and strategies, was not rough, tough and full of scars, but handsome, fair and elegant. He was also known not to have much brain, epitomizing the saying “you yong wu mou”, which means “having courage but no strategies”. Otherwise, Lu Bu would be a lovely match with Diao Chan. Lu Bu used a crescent-moon spear, which later came to be more widely known as Lu Bo spear.
After Lu Bu but also during the Three-Kingdom Period was another invincible warrior named Zhao Yun (also called Zhao Zi Long). Like Lu Bo, Zhao Yun never lost a battle, but unlike Lu Bu, he epitomize the saying “zhi yong shuang quan”, which means “possessing both wisdom and courage”. Also unlike Lu Bu, Zhao Yun was righteous. He was a sworn brother of Liu Bi. Liu Bi had a young and beautiful wife, and had to send her far away from the battlefield. He could not trust other generals except Zhao Yun, who of course accomplished this task honorably.
On another occasion, Liu Bi's baby son, A Dou, who was the heir apparent of Liu Bi's kingdom, was surrounded by millions of Cao Cao's armies. Zhao Yun fought his way through single handed to save A Dou and hid the baby in his bossom while fighting the armies. Thousands and thousands of arrows rained on Zhao Yun. But the arrows did not have arrow heads! Cao Cao, who admired great warriors irrespective of whether they were for or against him, ordered the arrow heads to be removed, and to catch Zhao Yun alive. This episode came to be known as “Hiding A Dou amidst Millions of Armies”.
Cao Cao continued to woo Zhao Yun to his side, but despite some weakness of Liu Bi, Zhao Yun remained loyal to his lord and sworn borther throughout his life. Again it is significant to note, especially for those who think that a fighter must be rough, tough and crude, Zhao Yun was handsome, fair and elegant. But he was not nicknamed “the Fair” or “the Handsome”, he was called the “Ever Victorious General, Zhao Zi Long”. He lived to a ripe old age. His weapon was a long, metal spear.
In recent times, about one or two generations after Yang Lu Chan, i.e. around the 1920s, were two invincible fighters, one in North China practicing Northern Shaolin and the other in south China practicing Southern Shaolin. There was a kungfu saying, “Bei you Hoa Yuan Jia, nan you Huang Fei Hong” in Mandarin or “Pak yau Fok Yun Khap, nam yau Wong Fei Hoong”, which means “In the north there is Hoa Yuan Jia, in the south there is Wong Fei Hoong”.
This was the time kungfu began to degrade. Lamenting the degradation of kungfu, Huo Yuan Jia founded the Chin Woo Association. “Chin Woo” or “Jing Wu” in Romanized Chinese, means the essence of martial arts. Hence, although Hoa Yun Jia practiced Northern Shaolin and specialized in “Mizongyi”, which means the “Art of Deceptive Movements”, he invited the best masters of the time to teach in his kungfu association, which included Eagle Claw, Praying Mantis, Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Hsing Yi Kungfu. But all students had to start with “Tantui”, or “Spring Kicks”, considered by many as the essence of Northern Shaolin. Besides practicing kungfu, students followed a chivalous code of conduct.
Many masters from other countries came to China at this time to test her kungfu. Despite the start of kungfu degradation, the Chinese masters convincingly defeated all of them. Hoa Yun Jia was one of these ever victorious masters, and earned the nickname “Yellow-Face Tiger”, yellow being the skin-colour foreigners referred to the Chinese. But after defeating a Karate master from Japan in a much publicized open match, where no rules applied, Hoa Yun Jia died mysteriously. It was rumoured that he was poisoned by his Chinese cook, who betrayed his master because his family was held ransom by some patriotic Japanese, or by a Japanese doctor in a hospital where Hoa Jun Jia was taken to for food poisoning.
Although Wong Fei Hoong was an invincible fighter, he was best known for his peace-loving. He would fight only when it was absolutely unavoidable. His key word was “tolerance”, and any student found fighting unnecessarily would be expelled from his school. As the grandmaster of the public guards, he had hundreds of students, but his inner-chamber disciples were only a handful.
Wong Fei Hoong learned from his own father, Wong Kei Ying, an inner-chamber disciple of Lok Ah Choy, who himself was one of the ten great disciples of the Venerable Chee Seen, the First Partirach of Southern Shaolin. Wong Fei Hoong was famous for his Tiger-Claws and No-Shadow Kicks, two of the specialized arts from the “Tiger-Crane Set”.
Nevertheless, during his times Wong Fei Hoong was well sought after for his “thit-ta” treatment. “Thit-ta” literally means “fall-hit”, and refers to a branch of Chinese medicne specializing in treating injuries due to falling and being hit. It is sometimes mis-pronounced as “thet-ta”, which means “iron-hit”. An interesting aspect of “thit-ta” is that most of its practitioners were (and still are) kungfu masters rather than mainstream Chinese physicians. Hence, it may be conveniently translated as “kungfu medicine”. But in my book, “The Complete Book of Chinese Medicine”, I refer to it as “tramatology”, as it deals with injuries rather than diseases.
I first purchased and started practicing from your books back in 2003 as part of wishing to broadening my horizon on kung fu that I had just started practicing. I did so for around a year and a half getting much benefit from your books and still am. However, I am currently steadily recovering from a year long combination of physical illness and depression. I myself have decided to apply to one of your chi kung courses in Malaysia once I am well enough again, but I also wish to bring this determination over to another person, my stepfather.
— Omar, Norway
If you had practiced from my books consistently for a year and a half, and still recovering from a year of physical illness and depression, it would mean one or more of the following.
- You practice the chi kung patterns as gentle physical exercise. This in fact is what most practitioners do.
- The benefit from your practice was little.
- The disease-causing agents were still acting on you, and they negated the good results of your chi kung practice.
It would be wise to examine which one of the above is preventing you from enjoying good health.
Attending my Intensive Chi Kung Course in Malaysia is a wise choice. The benefit from your chi kung practice would be enhanced by more than ten times! This is not an overstatement.
My stepfather is a healer. He can make people well from physical or psychological sufferings by laying his hands on them. He has been aware of this ability most of his life, but only for a short time in the late 1990s did he actively use it. There was actually a line of people waiting outside our house.
He stopped this however, as he felt unsure of his abilities even though people told him he helped them cure anything from a cold to severe angst. He also told me he saw things, apparently some persons past or future as he was treating the sick, and this appeared to have disturbed and scared him slightly.
Some people have an in-born ability to heal others. It appears your step-father is one of them.
This in-born ability is due to three possibilities.
One, they are born with powerful chi. When they lay their palm on a sick person, their chi naturally flows to the sick person and stimulates a chi flow in the latter. This helps the sick to recover. They have powerful chi due to favourable pre-natal conditions, like their parents are strong and healthy, they were conceived when heavenly bodies were in favorable positions radiating good cosmic energy, or they received good care and treatment while in their mother's womb.
Two, they were healers or spiritual cultivators in their previous lives. The good training and development of their past lives are carried over to their present life.
Three, they are helped by divine beings, often without their conscious knowing.
If your step-father wishes to develop this in-born ability, he should take lessons on relevant courses from genuine masters. Courses on Chinese medicine and chi kung will be excellent for him.
My stepfather has also expressed to me his discouragement of the big majority of unserious (not always intentionally so) “new age“ and ”hippie" environments that seems the only ones he can turn to to seek knowledge and further gains in the field as a healer.
I advised him to step back a bit after an episode he told me. He attended a healing course where he was told to place his hand on a woman's stomach and send chi into her.
He soon felt as if his hand was sucked stuck to the woman's stomach, and he then got a very severe electrical jolt up his arm and into his chest and shoulder, and this left him feeling very ill for several days after. To me that sounded like a bad case of “feedback” or bad chi from the woman back-lashing into him.
I advised him to stop going there as no fully competent instructor however well-meaning would make people perform such acts on each other without either the instructor nor the course participants knowing what was going to happen and why. The woman did however contact my stepfather on a later occasion and thanked him for curing her severe angst she had struggled with for some time. She told him it was gone instantly on the spot there that day
You are right in your observation that no fully competent instructor should ask his students perform anything he himself has little knowledge or experience of. Doing so is both unprofessional and unethical.
Unfortunately, this is quite common nowadays, especially in the “new age” arts. Some persons start teaching others, often without charging any fees, after they have attended just one or two courses, or after reading a few books. They claim to save the world.
Many people also associate chi kung as a “new age” art. This is certainly wrong. Chi kung is not “new age”; it is very ancient.
Maybe I can even get him to apply to one of your courses which I am certain would benefit him immensely. He has a stirring hip illness that has laid dormant for years and is now starting to make itself known and I am sure chi kung knowledge and practice will prevent him from having a big surgery in 10-20 years.
A healer should first heal himself before attempting to heal others. Unfortunately, in today's societies many healers, especially those in new age therapies, are themselves sick — physically or psychologically.
Some persons asked me whether they could become instructors even before they learned from me. They told me they were already healers. I asked them what kind of healing they did. They said they dealt with energy. But to me they knew nothing about energy. Worse, they were obviously sick, both physically and psychologically.
Your stepfather was righteous to stop healing others before he knew what he was doing. All healers, including Western trained doctors, should abide by a well-known Chinese saying, “yi che fu mo sam” (Cantonese pronunciation), which means that a healer has the heart of a father or mother towards his or her children. Whenever he gives any treatment, he should ask himself whether he would do the same to his own children.
The force behind your stepfather's healing ability is chi. Amongst all healing philosophies, Chinese medicine has the most sophisticated understanding of chi. Amongst all healing practices, chi kung is the one most directly involved with chi. Hence, it is logical that your stepfather would benefit much by studying Chinese medicine and practicing chi kung.
My book, “The Complete Book of Chinese Medicine”, is an excellent introduction. Your stepfather will get a lot of benefits by attending my Intensive Chi Kung course. The course, however, does not aim to teach him to be a chi kung healer, but it will most likely overcome his hip problems and give him good health and vitality.
I am very grateful for your detailed reply to my last email and it has truly inspired me. I now only practise “Lifting the Sky” and “Carrying the Moon” every day (and not Six Secret Words as I was doing previously). Or at least I did until a couple of months ago because since then I have been able to induce chi flow by simply standing still and smiling from the heart. This has meant that I have not done the exercises mentioned above since February. Is this okay?
— Robert, Sweden
I am glad that my answer has helped you. “Lifting the Sky” and “Carrying the Moon” are two wonderful chi kung exercises.
Congratulations for being able to induce chi flow by simply standing still and smiling from the heart. This is a remarkable achievement, especially when you have not learnt personally from an instructor.
If your objective is merely to induce chi flow, then it is not necessary to perform “Lifting the Sky” or “Carrying the Moon”. But these two wonderful exercises give many more benefits than merely inducing chi flow. They can, for example, loosen your muscles and joints, give you good posture, increase your vitality, make you look and feel young, expand your mind and expand your spirit. Inducing chi flow without performing the two exercises may also give you these wonderful benefits, but performing them is likely to be more cost-effective.
One of the reasons I am interested in Qi Gong is because I have a circulatory problem in my hands (Raynaud's Syndrome) and I was hoping that chi flow might help cure it. At the moment I have been inducing chi flow daily for five months and have not noticed any change in my hands or in my general energy levels. I wonder if this means my practice is wrong.
Although you never meant it, and in fact you have been respectful, yours is an example of attempting to be smarter than a master. I advised you to practice chi kung exercises like “Lifting the Sky” and “Carrying the Moon”, but you have discarded them for inducing chi flow from standing meditation and smiling from the heart. Tacitly your action implied that I did not know inducing chi flow like you did, would be better than performing the exercises I recommended.
Had you practiced the exercises the way I had adviced, your might have overcome your hand problem by now.
Is the whole point of qi gong to induce good chi flow or should one aim to complete a programme of qi gong (as described in Chi Kung for Health and Vitality) whether or not chi flow has started.
Chi kung is a profound art. It is not just as simplistic as just choosing induce chi flow or completing a set of exercises. Many other variables are involved. And there are many, many levels of chi kung attainment, ranging from the lowest like overcoming pain and illness to the highest in realizing Cosmic Reality or returning to God. I would recommend that you learn from a good chi kung instructor.
Because of family obligations (my wife will soon give birth to our second child) I have had to stop attending kung fu classes but am missing them very much so I try to practise at home when I can. I accept that at different times in one's life one must have different priorities. At the moment I practise induced chi flow, meditation, horse stance and stretching exercises every day. If one only has 20-30 minutes to practise per day, is this a reasonable programme to maximize energy and health (physical and mental)?
Congratulations for having your second child soon. To be a husband and father is one of the best things that can ever happen to any man. Treasure your great blessings.
At your level and in your situation, irrespective of whether you have 5 minutes or 30 mintues, or anything in between, the best chi kung exercise you can do to maximize energy and physical and mental health is “Lifting the Sky”. It is not for no good reasons “Lifting the Sky” is regarded as the wondrous exercise in our school.
Horse stance and meditation are powerful exercises, but if you practice them wrongly, you may have serious adverse effect. When you have only 20-30 minutes to rush through all the exercises you have mentioned, it is more likely than not that you would practice them wrongly and not know it.
- Tantui, the Essence of Northern Shaolin
- The Sabah Kungfu Show
- The Shaolin Sword against the Samurai Sword and the Staff
- Flowing Water Floating Clouds
- Restoring the Former Glodry of Kungfu