June 2008 (Part 3)
SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
My hobby is Kungfu. I never learned Kungfu before. I watch television and see Shaolin masters breaking sticks with their hands or head. How could they do that? I read you book and tried to learn from it but couldn't. Can you help me?
— Hong Ky, Indonesia
I am glad you would like to learn from me. The best way to do so is to attend my Intensive Chi Kung Course or my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course. I shall talk about these courses later, but first I would like to let you know that in our school, while we can break sticks and bricks with our hands, it is not an important objective in our training.
There are three main reasons why we train Shaolin Kungfu. They are to have internal force, to be combat efficient, and to cultivate spiritually. With internal force we have good health, vitality, longevity, and mental clarity. It will enable us to enjoy our work and play. We can also use internal force to break bricks if we want to.
With combat efficiency we can defend ourselves if the need arises. We also become confident and righteous. The combat training also gives us many benefits like being elegant and agile, being able to solve problems quickly, and being calm and relaxed even in demanding situations.
Our kungfu and chi kung training is not religious, but it is spiritual. It expands our spirit. We feel peaceful, happy and a tremendous sense of freedom.
Chi Kung training gives us the same benefits except combat efficiency.
I want to go to Malaysia to meet you to learn Kungfu and Chi Kung. How long can I stay?
An Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course takes 7 days, and an Intensive Chi Kung Course takes 5 days, with the first day as the day of arrival, and the last day as the day of departure. All those who wish to attend my courses must follow the Ten Shaolin Laws.
Many people may wonder what one can learn in just a few days. The answer may be a surprise to many people. One can learn in a few days in my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course or Intensive Chi Kung Course what many other people may not learn in 20 years!
However, you need to have some kungfu background to attend my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course. As you have none, this course is not for you. If you still wish to attend, you will have to learn some kungfu from a local instructor or from my books first. When you are ready, you can then apply to my secretary at email@example.com.
But I would recommend that you attend my Intensive Chi Kung Course. The course fee is 1000 Euros. If you are not happy with the course, the full sum will be refunded to you if you ask for it an hour before the course ends.
Amongst the many skills, you will learn how to attain a one-pointed mind, to tap energy from the Cosmos, to generate an energy flow, to develop internal force, and to direct the energy to wherever you want in your body.
I am interested in your next courses of Chi Kung in Amsterdam.
— Magali, Netherland
Perhaps there may be some mix-up, but I am not offering chi kung courses in Amsterdam. But you can learn from our certified instructors in the Netherlands. Please see http://www.shaolinwahnam.nl/index_main.html.
Since some time ago I had stomach problems. At the moment I have a diagnose of Neuro Endocrine Tumor in my stomach and liver. This is actually a sort of cancer, but a very soft one, which is controlled with only one injection per month.
I continue doing my normal life, feeling reasonable good, not really sick. But I would rather love to work for my health not only with injections, but with some good alternatives. I ask you then if you think that Chi Kung would help me get better, and in which way should I do it.
In my opinion, practicing genuine, high-level chi kung from a qualified teacher is your best option to overcome your health problems. I would like to highlight the three conditions regarding my recommendation of practicing chi kung. In other words, it is not merely practicing chi kung from any instructor — a mistake most people make without even realizing it.
Firstly, the chi kung you practice must be genuine. What I am about to say may be delicate, and many chi kung instructors may not like it. But when I am respectfully asked for my advice by an earnest enquirer, I would give my honest answer without fear or favour. Of course, you and other people can choose to follow my advice or ignore it.
By the definition of chi kung being an art of energy, many chi kung instructors today are not teaching chi kung. They teach chi kung patterns as gentle physical exercise. In other words, the exercises they teach are genuine chi kung patterns, but these chi kung patterns are not performed as chi kung but as gentle physical exercise. Shockingly, some of these chi kung instructors do not believe in chi. They even say that “chi” is an exotic term referring to some mechanical movements.
An analogy may make this important point clearer. Suppose you have bought an elegant car. But you do not drive it, you just park it in front of your house as a show-piece. Your car is genuine, but by the definition of a car as a vehicle of transportation, you do not have a car, you have a show-piece. You become as ridiculous as some chi kung instructors when you say that there is no such thing as transportation, it is just an exotic term referring to some exhibits.
The crucial difference between genuine chi kung and chi kung patterns performed as gentle physical exercise is energy. Genuine chi kung works on energy, whereas gentle physical exercise works on the physical body, like joints and muscles. If one has practiced genuine chi kung, he would know what working on energy means. He would know from his direct personal experience that it is very different from working on joints and muscles. In the same way, if one has driven a car, he would know from direct experience that it is very different from viewing and touching a car as an exhibit.
In genuine chi kung itself, there is a wide range of levels. Practitioners of low-level genuine chi kung would take a long time before they can experience some energy. They may have to practice for many months before they can feel some tingling sensations at their finger-tips, or some sort of electirc current down their arms. Practitioners of high-level chi kung can experience a lot of energy in a short time. They may sway about, which is due to their energy moving them, after a few weeks.
Much of what is practiced as chi kung today is actually gentle physical exercise. Amongst the little genuine chi kung that is practiced today, much of it is of a low-level. In your case, low-level chi kung would not be strong enough to help you overcome your health problems.
But you should learn high-level chi kung from a qualified teacher, not just any teacher. If you learn high-level chi kung from a bad teacher, you may get much harm.
In my opinion, a qualified teacher should fulfill at least two basic requirements — he (or she) should be professional and ethical. By being professional, a qualified teacher knows what he is doing. He knows, for example, what exercises are best for his students' needs, and what remedial exercises they should do in the unlikelihood that they deviate. By being ethical, he ensures to the best of his abilities that his students are benefiting from their practice.
Yet, the most important part is the student himself. You may have an excellent teacher who is willing to teach you genuine, high-level chi kung, but if you are a bad student, you are unlikely to get benefits. An obvious example of a bad student is one who does not practice regularly. But worse than this is one who tries to be smarter than his teacher. For example, the teacher may ask him to breath gently, but he purposely breathes with force, thinking (erroneously) that this will give him more powerful result. Another common example of a bad student, though he is sometimes unaware of the mistake, is not following instructions. For example, the teacher asks him to be relaxed, but he tenses his muscles.
In case you consider that it would help my health I would like to take part of the courses that start in May. Please let me know.
You will certainly get better if you are a good student and learn genuine high-level chi kung from a qualified teacher. I would recommend that you learn from our certified instructors in your country.
You can also attend some of my regional courses I offer in Europe. Please see my website at http://shaolin.org for the dates and venues of these courses.
When you are ready, attend my Intensive Chi Kung Course in Malaysia. You will be amazed at the benefits you can get.
I am writing a research paper about Zhou Tong, the archery teacher of Song Dynasty General Yue Fei. It analyzes his mention in historical records, literature, folktales, and martial arts legends and the interplay between the four. On this webpage, you state that Zhou Tong was a Shaolin master. Is that based on the Eagle Claw legend or does it come from another source. Do you happen to know of any authentic martial art manuals from the 19th century that mention Zhou Tong in connection with Shaolin?
— McClanahan, Australia
I am sorry that my knowledge of Zhou Tong is little. I am not sure whether Zhou Tong taught Yue Fei Eagle Claw Kungfu, though I am quite sure Zhou Tong was a highly accomplished Shaolin master. I also cannot remember the literay source from where I obtained this information. It is generally known in kungfu circles that Yue Fei's teacher was Zhou Tong, and the latter was highly skilled in the Shaolin arts.
I would think that Zhou Tong taught the Shaolin arts holistically to Yue Fei, and not just the specialty of Eagle Claws. In other words, Eagle Claws and chin-na techniques were amongst the many other things Zhou Tong taught Yue Fei. He would also have taught him Cannon Fist, Eighteen Lohan Hands and Sinew Metamorphosis, which were popular Shaolin arts at that time. This explains why Yue Fei, and not Zhou Tong, is regarded as the First Patriarch of Eagle Claw Kungfu.
Yue Fei was a marial art genius. He selected the most appropriate techniques and skills to teach to different people. To ordinary soldiers and junior military officers, he taught Eagle Claw skills and techniques, which contributed to making his army a formidable fighting force. But to generals and other senior military officers, he taught simpler but deeper techniques and skills, which later were collectively known as Liu He Xin Yi Quan, which means “Six-Harmony Heart-Intention Kungfu”. This was later known as Xingyiquan, or Hsing Yi Kungfu, which means “Form-Intention Martial Art”. Yue Fei is also regarded as the First Patriach of Hsing Yin Kungfu.
It is interesting to note that Eagle Claw Kungfu has more techniques than Hsing Yi Kungfu. It is also more impressive to watch. The training of the Eagle Claw force is generally external, like gripping T-shape tree-branches, tearing off tree-bark, and pulling out embedded poles from the ground with fingers. The training of force in Hsing Yi Kungfu is generally internal, like zhan-zhuang (stance training) and Sinew Metamorphosis, which require remaining at one poise for a long time.
There are many and a great variety of Eagle Claw techniques involving striking, kicking, felling and gripping. The special locking and gripping techniques, known in Chinese as “chin-na”, are famous. Hsing Yi techniques are comparatively few and apparently straight-forward. They mainly involve striking.
A lesser master would teach a great variety of techniques and physically demanding force training methods to generals and senior officers, who were obviously more intellignet and combat efficient than ordinary soliders and junior officers. Only a great master like Yue Fei would do the reverse. Why? It was because intelligent and dedicated persons like generals could appreciate the profundity in the apparently simple techniques as well as had the patience for internal force training. This does not mean that those who practice martial arts with variety of techniques and training methods are not intelligent or have no patience, but it highlights that intelligence and patience are needed to appreciate depth in apparently simple techniques and methods.
I really enjoyed your Chi Kung courses few months ago in Ireland. I would like to thank you because I had been suffering from an eating disorder for 4 years. Half way through the “Generating Energy Flow” course we split up for lunch and I was able to enjoy my food. The last time I enjoyed my food was when I was 14. So thank you very much Sifu, I have recovered fully and I'm always Smiling from the Heart.
— Ahmed, UK
I am glad to hear that after a long time you are able to enjoy your food at last. Enjoying our food is only a bonus; there are many more remarkable benefits of practicing high level chi kung. One of such benefit that we can enjoy everyday is to have vitality and mental clarity to have better results no matter what we do.
Smiling from the Heart is probably our best benefit, and it brings other wonderful benefits. It is the hallmark of our school.
Also I heard about your retirement plan. Congratulations. I was wondering if you would still be holding the Intensive courses in Malaysia in the next few years.
Thanks for your kind wishes. Yes, I shall still be holding intensive courses in Malaysia in the next few years.
After my retirement, it is likely I shall still offer courses in Malaysia. But these courses will probably be for Shaolin Wahnam members only.
- The Legacy of Shaolin Wahnam
- Importance of Mind Training and Force Development
- Applying Strategies and Tactics in Effecting Chin-Na Techniques
- Discussion on Sabah Intensive Chi Kung Course, 3rd to 7th June 2008
- Don't Become a Slave to Intellectualization