April 2008 (Part 2)
SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
I have a dilemma about teaching Wahnam Taijiquan at the current moment, and that has to do with my Taijiquan instructor, who is also my Shixiong (Siheng) -- I am the last of the initiate disciples of our school's grandmaster. My instructor who taught me almost everything I know about this style of Taijiquan depends on teaching Taijiquan and Taiji qigong for a living. I am not sure if I should be in direct competition with him.
— Zhang Wuji, Singapore
You are right in not competing with your shixiong in teaching Taijiquan, and I am proud of you to have this righteous thought. You should leave out teaching Taijiquan if it affects his income. You could also help him by recommending students to him, including your future students who learn chi kung or Shaolin Kungfu from you.
If the opportunities arise, and if he does not mind, you can subtly pass on to him what you have learnt from me which you think could help him in his teaching, and without mentioning that it is from our school. Perhaps you may pass such teaching to his school indirectly through his senior students.
A useful area is to help devise some simple Taijiquan sparring sequences for his students to practice. Your training at the Special Shaolin Kungfu Course will be very helpful in this effort. The level, of course, should be relatively low so that his students would not feel overwhelmed. Some simple strikes and counters repeated a few times would form a good combat sequence.
You should have different sequences for different types of strikes — unlike the ones we did at the Special Course where many different attacks were included in one sequence. Later you can formulate sequences with kicks. At more advanced levels, you can add felling and qin-na techniques.
But it is important that your help should be offered tactfully, without your shixiong feeling slighted or that you try to intrude into his teaching.
Can I ask Sifu a question about my practice, which I hope is a “practice” and not a “think” question? In Sifu's books, you mentioned practising different variations of a sequence (for example, if I execute a punch, the opponent side-steps and kicks instead of moving back and blocking, or charges in, or drops down and sweeps my leg). Given all these possibilities, I was trying to find a way to train smart when it comes to such variations during solo practice.
Your questions, as usual, are interesting. I would like to include them in my Q-A series. They are actually secret teachings masters reserved for their inner-chamber disciples. Then why do I publish them on my website? It is an effective way to share the teachings with my other inner-chambers disciples all over the world as well as to enable Shaolin Wahnam students to have a glimpse of the depth of kungfu combat strategy.
Is it detrimental to us that our critics know these secrets? No fear. They probably do not know what we are talking about. Even if they do, if they do not believe that kungfu can be used for fighting, they just do not have the skills and techniques to put these secrets into fruitable application. On the other hand, we would like others who also share our philosophy to beneift from these secrets if they wish.
Although yours can be “practice” questions, your answers are of the “think” type. In other words, if you follow our sparring methodolgy, you would not need the academic answers. If an opponent attacks you the way you have described, you would have responded spontaneously and correctly.
An analogy will make this clearer. Suppose you are learning how to drive a car. You intend to turn left, and have just put on the left-turning signal. Just then you see a boy running across the road on your left to which you wish to turn. What should you do?
Should you stop your car immediately or go straight away instead of turning left? Should you also turn off your left-turning signal? And should you practice such a simulated situation so that you can react correctly when a real situation arises? In reality, you don't have to ask these questions and don't have to practice how to avoid hitting the boy in a simulated situation. If a real situation like this arises, you will be able to react spontaneously and correctly if you have been correctly trained in driving.
I have studied Sifu's answer to my question in October last year, and I have since spent the time being more familiar with my sequences and adding/subtracting them. But I have now reached a stage when I want to include the variations of my imaginary opponent in my solo training.
It is good to include variations of your opponent in your solo training. You can do so in different ways, and you should not be rigid in your methods.
Let us say you are practicing our basic Combat Sequence 5, which is “Fierce Tiger”, “Fierce Tiger”, “Precious Duck” and “Golden Star”.
After the first “Fierce Tiger”, instead of responding with “Black Tiger”, your opponent exercutes a side-kick using “Happy Bird”. You will then spontaneously counter with “Lohan Strike Drum”, followed with the second “Fierce Tiger” and then continue with Sequence 5. Or instead of the second “Fierce Tiger”, you may follow with “Dark Dragon Enters a Well” as in Sequence 9 although you will be using your right hand instead of your left.
Suppose you continue with Sequence 5. When you execute “Precious Duck”, instead of sweep your arm, your opponent bounces away, and then bounces back with a right jab. You would not move forward with your “Golden Star”, as doing so will result in his right jab on your face. Instead you would first brush away his right jab with, for example, your right “Single Tiger”, then followed with the original left “Golden Star”.
You can do all these spontaneously and correctly even when you may not have practiced these variations before because you have practiced the basic combat sequences well and are able to make subtractions, additions and modifications. It is helpful to have a real partner to practice substrations, additions and modifications. But if a real partner is not available, you can use an imaginary partner.
Do I therefore execute a sequence and then “imagine” a few typical possible variations by my imaginary opponent which will disrupt my planned sequence, make the necessary adjustment, and then carry on with my sequence? Should I imagine a range of strikes, grips and kicks, or would that be too much of an overload?
You don't have to imagine in detail how an imaginary partner responds out of sequence. For example, you don't have to imagine clearly how the opponent bends his body to execute his side-kick and where he places his two hands. Just a quick thought of a side-kick coming will do. Unless it is necessary for some particular situations, you don't even have to worry where the side-kick is executed with his left or right leg. It is just "side-kick, strike leg, Fierce Tiger" — your action as fast and as flowing as thought.
You don't have to formulate special sequences for these incidental variations. It is sufficient if you go over the modified sequence eight or ten times, then continue with the same or another sequence with other modifications. However, if some modifications are very common, you may like to formulate special sequences for them.
In your practice you would make just one or two modifications to a sequence. Too many modifications with strikes, grips and kicks will overload your sequence. Let me illustrate with some examples. Suppose your sequence is “ABCDE”. At point B you have a modification F. So your modified sequence will be “ABFCDE”. Next, at point C you have a modification G. So this modified sequence will be “ABCGDE”. Then at point D, your imaginary opponent attacks you continuously with H and I. Now your modified sequence will be “ABCDHIE”.
In your training, you practice these different modifications separately, one or two modifications at a time using ABCDE as the base. But in free sparring or real fighting, your real opponent may attack you totally out of your planned sequence. Let us take an extreme example. Suppose he responds out of sequence at your every move with the following patterns H, FF, J, GKH — where FF represents your opponent attacking you with the same pattern twice, GKH are his three different but consecutive attacks, and JK are new attacks you have not practiced in your modified sequences.
If you have been well trained, you will respond spontaneously and correctly. You may not realize at the time what patterns you use, but if a video is taken to show your movements, they will probably be AHBFFCJDGKHA. Even when you have not practiced to respond to modicifactions J and K in your sequence training of ABCDE, you are still able to respond correctly because you would have practiced their responses in other sequences. Even if you had not, you would just move back to dodge these JK attacks, and continue with your planned sequence.
This above example is extreme. It is very unlikely to happen in real fighting today. Here, your opponent, not you, has taken the initiative, but you are still able to handle the situation competently. Today, when most poeple fight randonly, the combat will most likely be ABCDEABCDE with you taking the full initiative. At the most, there may be two or three modifications.
Let us take another analogy. You have many clients seeking your service as a lawyer to prepare sales agreements. You need only to prepare a standard agreement ABCDE covering five areas of sales. Your clients may have different needs that require adding special details to various areas of the sales.
Suppose there are 9 different needs, represented by the numbers 1 to 9. Your sale agreements can be, for example, A2B3C46D78E9, A25B19C3DE4 or AB3C2D98E5. You don't have to prepare all these different agreements in anticipation of your clients' needs. You just prepare one basic document, and fill in the respective needs in the relevant sections when required.
As an example, I was training a sequence against a Boxer. The scenario was like this: I have a sequence for his left jab, left jab, right cross. Then I imagined a surprised variation by the Boxer giving me a low kick as I defended his right cross. Is this the correct way to train in solo practice?
Let us now look at the scenario you have suggested. Your perspective is incorrect; you have allowed the Boxer to take the initiaitve, and you are not awared of it. This is wrong tactic. It should be the other way round. You should take the initiative and the Boxer does not know it.
The scenario can be represented as PPQ. If the Boxer takes the initiative, P represents a left jab, and Q represents a right cross. In your approach, you train to defend against his attacks, placing yourself at his mercy, and hoping to counter-attack when there is an opportunity. This is bad tactic.
A good tactic is to reverse the situation. You take the initiative. Taking the initiative does not mean you have to attack all the time. But it means you, and not your opponent, decide how the combat is going to unfold, and your opponent is at your mercy. In this case, you decide that you allow your opponent to make the first three moves, after which you unlash your series of counters. Later you may counter after his second move or his first move. Or you may initiate the attack right from the start.
To prepare for this scenario, you devise the following combat sequence — PPQRRR. Here, where you take the initiative, P represents a left “Single Tiger”, Q a left “Wave Dragon Back to Den”, and R a right leopard punch.
As the Boxer throws a left jab, you brush it off with your left “Single Tiger”. As he throws a second left jab, you again brush it off with your left “Single Tiger”. As he throws a right cross, you cover his right arm against his left arm with your left “Wave Dragon Back to Den”, close in and strike him with three consecutive leopard punches using the pattern “Golden Leopard Speeds through Jungfle” at whatever suitable places, like his head, ribs or upper arm.
Now, after his right cross he surprises you with a kick. So you make a modification. You dodge his kick and simultaneously jab at his leg with a leopard punch using the pattern “Angry Leopard Rushes at Rock”, then continue to strike him with three leopard punches using “Golden Leopard Speeds through Jungfle”. The modified sequence will be PPQSRRR, where S is your leopard jab at his leg.
His kick may come at different points. You just make the relevant modifications. Some examples of the modifified sequences can be PPSQRRR, PSPQRRR, PSSQRRR, PPQRRSR, and PQSRSSRR.
The Boxer may add some hooks and undercuts besides left jabs and right crosses. You can still use “Single Tiger” and “Wave Dragon” to brush off his hooks and underrcuts. or you may use other responses like “Double Bows Tame Tiger” against his hooks, and “Naughty Monkey Fells Tree” against his undercuts. Some examples of modified sequences can be PPTRRR, PPURRR, PQTRRR, PQTRRSR, SPQRTRR and PQURSRP, where T represents your “Double Bows” and U your “Naughty Monkey”.
If you want to intercept him at his second move, some modified sequences will be PPRRR. PQRRR, PSRRR, PSRRQR and SQRRPR.
If you wish to intercept as soon as he makes his first move, or attack him before he makes his first moves, some examples are PRRR, PRRQP, SRRPR, RRTQR, and RPRUR.
You may have other attacks besides leopard punches. You may, for example, want to kick him with “Happy Bird” and fell him with “Fell Tree with Roots”. Some examples are PPQRRV, PPQRRW, PPQSRVR, PPVVRW and PRVVQRW, where V represents “Happy Bird Hops up Branch” and W represents “Fell Tree with Roots”.
Do you have to work out special sequences with these modifications? No, you just practice the basic sequences like PPQRRR, PPQRRV and PPQRRW and add the modifications wherever needed. These sequences are not of a high-level. You can find some detailed explanation in the video series at /video-clips-3/shaolin/boxing-01/overview.html which record some lessons taught in a regional course with many beginners.
I have a question about the Intensive Shaolin Chi Kung courses. Is there a minimum age limit or a maximum age limit to attending the course?
— Christian, USA
There are no minimum and maximum age limits for attending my Intensive Chi Kung Course as long as the perspective students are fit and healthy. Students to my Intensive Chi Kung Course do not need any prior experience. My course is suitable for beginners and masters alike. But the most important requirement is to uphold and practice the Ten Shaolin Laws. Please see /general/laws.html.
I shall conduct an Intensive Chi Kung Course in Sabah, Malaysia from 3rd to 7th June. Please see http://shaolinwahnamsabah.com/IKFC.htm for details, and apply to firstname.lastname@example.org for registration. You can have an idea of what you learn at the Intensive Chi Kung Course at /video-clips-2/chikung-intensive/overview.html
l read in your article in “Inside Kung Fu” that chi kung can heal depression. Does that also mean it can heal anxiety and nervousness, and help control or eliminate negative thoughts?
— John, USA
Yes, practicing high-level chi kung can overcome anxiety and nervousness, and help control or elimanate negative thoughts. Many people have done this. You can read their own testimonials in our Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum at http://wongkiewkit.com/forum/.
In traditional Chinese medical philosophy, emotions like anxiety and nervousness are forms of negative energy. Various forms of negative emotional energy are related to various internal organs. When a person is anxious or nervous, certain forms of negative energy are generated. If his spleen and stomach systems are blocked, these negative forms of energy are locked up there. Hence, even at ordinary times when there are no causes for anxiety or nervousness, this person may still feel anxious or nervous due to the locked up negative energy.
By practicing high-level chi kung, he can clear the blockage and release the negative energy. A trained practitioner can direct his chi to massage his stomach and spleen, thus releasing the locked up negative energy that causes anxiety and nervousness. I would suggest that you attend my Intensive Chi Kung course to learn this skill. I shall conduct one in Sabah, Malaysia from 3rd to 7th June. Please see http://shaolinwahnamsabah.com/IKFC.htm for details, and apply to email@example.com for registration.
When you practice high-level chi kung, you develop mental clarity and focus. What does one mean by mental clarity? It means that his mind is clear. What is his mind clear of? It is clear of thoughts. If you mind is full of thoughts, you would not have mental clarity.
Each time you practice chi kung, you have to clear your mind of all thoughts. When your mind is clear, you focus on your breathing or on the chi kung exercise you are performing. In this way you develop mental focus.
When you have mental clarity and focus, you can control your mind. Not only you can eliminate negative thoughts, you can focus on good thoughts more effectively.
Could you tell me the healing and the combative differences between Chi Kung, Tai Chi, Tai Chi Chuan, and Nei Kung?
In the past, “chi kung” was called “nei kung”. “Chi kung” literally means “energy art”, whereas “nei kung” means “internal art”.
An energy art is an internal art. What makes an art internal is its training of energy, not just training physical forms.
Word by word, “Tai Chi” means “Grand Ultimate”, and “Tai Chi Chuan” means “Grand Ultimate Fist”. Figuratively, “Tai Chi” refers to the Cosmos, and “Tai Chi Chuan” refers to a wonderful internal martial art. But today, most people do not practice Tai Chi Chuan as an internal martial art; they practice it as a dance-like recreation exercise. They often shorten the term “Tai Chi Chuan” as “Tai Chi”.
With the background information above, you will better understand the healing and combative similarities and differences among these various terms, as well as better appreciate why there are no hard and fast answers. Genuine chi kung (or nei kung) and genuine Tai Chi Chuan can be used for healing as well as for combat. But if all other things were equal, which is almost never true, chi kung emphasizes more on healing, and Tai Chi Chuan emphasizes more on combat.
- An Interesting Story on a Great Secret
- Really Experiencing Combat Application, Internal Force and Spiritual Joy at an Intensive Course
- Rotation of the Waist
- Four Abridged Shaolin Combat Sequences
- Four Abridge Taijiquan Combat Sequences