June 2009 (Part 1)
SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
I took an Intensive Chi Kung course with you in 2001, and it really was one of the most marvelous experiences of my life. I am happy to report that the ailments I came to you with are no longer present. The experience was wonderful and I think often of those few amazing days in Malaysia.
Sifu, I have an elderly aunt with advanced Parkinson's disease. She has always been most interested in her Western doctor's advice, but she is ailing and almost immobile, and there is not much more that her doctor can do for her. Is it possible and safe to share anything of Chi Kung with her if she is now open to it?
— Jill, Australia
I am sorry to hear of your aunt's Parkinson's disease, but the good news is that she can overcome it if she practices high-level chi kung.
Yes, you can (but you should not, and the reasons will become clear later) teach her chi kung but not at the high-level you have learnt from me because doing so may cause side-effects that can be risky. If you teach her simple chi kung exercises like "Lifting the Sky" and "Carrying the Moon" but without the visualization or mind aspect, that will be quite safe.
You can also teach her how to co-ordinate her breathing with her movements. You must remind her to breathe gently.
However if she makes mistakes, unless they are serious ones like breathing in forcefully or tensing her muscles, it is better for you to ignore them rather than correct them. This is because as you have not been trained to teach as a qualified instructor, correcting her mistakes may enable her to go into deeper levels of chi kung. She may be breathing correctly under your supervision, but later when she practices on her own she may make similar mistakes again, which can cause serious side effects.
This is an important issue many people, including inexperienced instructors, do not realize. They think that they have done well by introducing their students to deeper levels. But they ignore the possibility that even when their students may have learnt correctly, later they can make mistakes that can cause serious side-effects. The problem is double-fold. First they and their students may not realize the serious mistakes. Secondly, even if they do, they do not know how to rectify the side-effects.
It is like prescribing medication. If a friend has a simple problem like a simple headache or fever, you may give him some appropriate medical drugs to overcome the headache or fever. But if his problem is complicated or he needs to undergo complex treatment, he must be treated by a properly qualified medical professional.
If you teach some simple chi kung exercises correctly to some friends and they learn correctly, they will get some benefits, though their benefits are nothing close to what you obtain from the Intensive Chi Kung Course. If your friends learn incorrectly, the harm is not great because the chi kung taught by you is not advanced.
But you should not teach advanced chi kung, because you have not been trained to do so. Teaching advanced chi kung is more than what it meets the eyes at the surface. Even if we presume that you had taught advanced chi kung correctly and your friends had learnt it correctly -- a presumption that is not likely in real life -- your friends could make mistakes later on that could cause serious side-effects which both you and your friends might not know, or which you could not rectify even if you knew.
Your aunt's illness, Parkinson's disease, is not a simple problem. Even doctors at the present stage of Western medical development have no cure for it. Do you honestly believe that you can help her overcome it by teaching her chi kung? Ordinary chi kung instructors may be unable to help your aunt recover. Only masters teaching high-level chi kung can do so. As an analogy, if a patient has a disorder that needs a surgical operation, general practitioners cannot do it. Only surgeons can do so -- and to the surgeons it is a simple matter, just as to a high-level chi kung master, helping students overcome serious problems is a simple matter.
It is not advisable for you to teach your aunt chi kung. You will do her a dis-service. You may give her a wrong impression that chi kung does not work. You should ask her to learn from one of our certified instructors, or ask her to attend my Intensive Chi Kung Course.
I would like to ask you some questions about the horse stance. I do not understand what and how I must meditate or imagine chi during horse stance training. I have trained for one year and am able to hold only 3 minutes.
— Denazs, Latvia
You need not meditate on anything or imagine chi while practicing your horse stance.
If you have been training for a year and can hold your stance for only three minutes, your progress, if any, is slow. You probably made the following three common mistakes during your practice. You were tensed. You tried to meditate or imagine chi. You worried unnecessarily.
Practicing the horse stance is simple, but not easy. Follow the two steps. First, make sure your posture is correct. Then follow the three golden rules of stance training. The first rule is to relax. The second rule is to relax. And the thrid rule is to relax.
Even the instructions are clear and simple, you may not follow them correctly, and often you do not even realize your mistakes despite knowing the instructions. It is best that you learn stance training from a competent instructor.
If you learn from any one of our certified Shaolin or Taijiquan instructors, you will derive more benefit in one week than what you can derive practicing on your own for one year. Understandably, you and many other people may not believe this is true, but it is easy for you find out.
Probably my breathing is wrong or chi developing to dan tian is wrong.
Yes, it is probably that your breathing is wrong. Actually you don't have to worry about your breathing, which means that you let your breathing to be natural.
You also need not worry about chi developing at your dan tian. If you practice your stance correctly, you will have this result naturally. In the same way, when you drink some water you don't have to worry about the water getting into your stomach. If you drink water correctly, you will have this result naturally.
How I can achieve better results?
You will certainly achieve better results if you learn from a competent teacher. A competent teacher here means that he (or she) himself has obtained good results from his own stance training, and he is able to teach you to obtain similar good results.
As far as I know, you will achieve the best results if you learn from any one of our certified Shaolin or Taijiquan instructors. Some may choose not to believe this is true, and others may be angry at us for making this statement, but I am telling the truth to the best of my knowledge. This does not mean we are the best in kungfu, or even just in stances. These are different issues, and are different from saying we help our students achieve the best results in stance training.
If a student can feel some internal force from his stance training after about three momths of devoted practice, it is considered good result. Many students have practiced for months, yet feel nothing. But our students feel remarkable internal force after a week of training. And after three months, they can experience noticeable improvement in their mental clarity. There may (or may not) be better results elsewhere, but frankly I do not know about them.
What I must imagine to develop chi and stand longer?
I have given you and others who read my Question-Answer Series the secrets how we in Shaolin Wahnam can achieve such good results in our stance training. Please refer to the two steps mentioned above. Just follow the two steps. Don't add anything, and don't subtract anything.
If you examine the two steps, you don't find any mention about imagining how to develop chi or how to stand longer. This means you don't have to worry about these two unmentioned factors, just like you don't have to worry about other unmentioned factors, like whether you should breathe into your chest or abdoment, or whether you should wear a blue shirt or a pair of red troussers.
One should also take note that knowing the instructions is one thing, but carrying out the instructions correctly is another. In other words, you may know that you should have your posture correct, but you may not be able to do it. You may know it is important to relax, relax and relax, but you may not be able to do it. Hence, it is best to learn from our certified insrructors. They will be able to help you carry out the instructions correctly.
I have been practicing chi kung for two years and I want to know how and what colour should I visualize chi.
You should not visualize chi to be any colour. Unless you are supervised by a competent teacher, doing so could cause you serious harm.
I recall that years ago a student told me he saw on televison a chi kung master telling the audience to visualize purple chi rising from the ground through their feet into their body.
In my opinion, this could cause serious harm. In the first place, while ground chi may be beneficial to some creatures like snakes and bats, it is not suitable to humans. Humans are made to take in cosmic chi.
Secondly visualizing chi of whatever colour should be attempted only under the supervision of a competent teacher who knows exactly what is happening to his students. Learning or teaching from books or blindly borrowing techniques from other arts or philosophy without fully understanding them can be dangerous.
It appears that you learn from books or from an incompetent teacher. You will certainly get better result at a shorter time learning from live teachers than from books. But you must ensure that the teachers are competent.
I spoke to a friend as he was having problems. I mentioned to him that Chi Kung could possibly work for him. He asked me several times about it and I told and showed him how I performed "Lifting the Sky". I then suggested to him to see a qualified instructor (Sifu Marcus Santer) to learn correctly and gave him Sigung Wong Kiew Kit's and Sifu Marcus' books to read.
Within a few days he was getting chi flow and he said his levels of energy had changed. Previously he gaspped for breaths after playing football for a short period, but after practicing chi kung he played football for over an hour and felt fine.
He also used to have a nervous twitch that now seems to have disappeared. He was on prescribed treatments of drugs after an operation he had several years before, and he eventually took it upon himself to use them less and less. Recently we were having a social drink with some people and the words he said about the Wahnam Chi Kung were "It's changed my life". I was taken aback, but smiling that he had benefited from the mere passing of information and a small demo that he went on to practice on his own to achieve such results.
It's always a blessing to see results from others as a confirmation, and of course I have my own experiences that have shown me the beauty of this art. I love it!
— James, UK
Are you the same James who attended my Special Shaolin Kungfu Course? If you are, then there is no problem that you teach your friends at an intermediate level. In fact, if I remember correctly, I asked whether you would like to be an instructor. But if you are not that kungfu James, you should be on the safe side and follow the guidelines given.
I am very glad of the story about your friend, and I am proud of you. Indeed, it was reading this story that prompted me to reflect that you may be that James who attended my Special Shaolin Kungfu Course before.
Before this, I was thinking you practiced chi kung from my books and had good results, in which case it is advisable that you show your friends only the elementary form of chi kung. But if you are the kungfu James, you are already quite proficient in chi kung, in which case you can proceed to deeper levels when informally teaching your friends, including teaching them to smile from the heart and enjoy chi flow.
Indeed, our arts are so wonderful. If your friend can have such remarkable benefits just by following your demonstration, imagine how much more rewarding the benefits would be if he learns from us formally.
If you are the kungfu James, you need not attend the Intensive Chi Kung Course, though it would also be very beneficial if you still want to attend. You can attend the Special Chi Kung Course on the Small Universe instead. But if you are not the kungfu James, the Intensive Chi Kung Course in June is excellent for you.
Editorial Note This is not the same James who attended the Special Shaolin Kungfu Course.
I just want to be totally clear about sharing the elementary chi kung exercise. I understand I am not a qualified instructor and to facilitate on deep levels may cause harm. Can you please correct me if I am wrong in my understanding of the following?
It is possible to show others the correct physical basic forms of "Lifting the Sky", "Carrying the Moon" or "Pushing Mountains", but no other forms than these.
It is possible to get them to relax before the start of the physical form. For example, ask them to relax form the head, neck downwards to legs and feet.
It is not possible to get students to stand in Zen or Chi Kung State of Mind.
Consolidating at the Dan Tien, I think may be deeper level than elementary, but I am not certain.
It is not possible to show breathing techniques.
I think "Smiling from the Heart" is also deeper level, so it is not possible to mention this in practice.
If someone has a strong chi flow, will I just tell them to carry on? This is also a grey area. Usually the way to calm the flow is to consolidate thinking on the Dan Tien and stand in Zen. Maybe once I'm clear on the elementary part of practice it will all fall into place, and I will no longer worry. I just want to get it right!
Yes, you are right about the ways a chi kung practitioner, but not trained to teach, can help his friends. In the list of do's and don'ts, you mentioned the word "possible". It is a matter of semantics, but I would prefer the world "advisable".
You may teach our chi kung exercises at the form level, but do not attempt to teach them at the energy and the mind level. Hence, asking them to attempt chi flow or meditation is not advisable.
But if your friends perform the chi kung exercise correctly even at the form level, they can get much benefit. Of course their benefit is nothing like what you will get at the intensive course.
Our chi kung is very powerful. I am quite sure you have good intentions to help your friends, but if you are not a trained chi kung instructor and you teach them even at an intermediate level, it is possible that you may cause harmful effects which both you and your friends may not realize.
The best help you can give your friends is to ask them to attend the intensive chi kung course too. It is likely to be a life-changing experience for you and your friends.
- Shaolin Wahnam Policy on Challenges
- Size is Immaterial - Even in Throws and When your Hands are Locked
- We Taste our Food Three Timces
- Flowery Language in Buddhist Writings
- Application of Wing Choon Folding Arms