JUNE 2010 PART 2

Shaolin Kung Fu

Any style of kungfu is a complete art by itself

Question 1

I have been steadily working toward using traditional kung fu for fighting, admittedly with influences from any other styles I find useful.

— Neko, USA


Any style of traditional kungfu is a complete art by itself. There is no need to add anything from other styles to it.

Nevertheless, there are many practitioners, including instructors, adding techniques from other arts to their kungfu. For example, some Taiji practitioners add chi kung exercises to their Taiji training. Many kungfu practitioners add Boxing and Kick-Boxing to their sparring.

This happens because these practitioners do not realize that these outside techniques are already present in their own art, or their own art already has techniques and skills even superior to those they add. For example, if you practice Taijiquan correctly, you are already practicing chi kung; there is no need to add other chi kung exercises. Kungfu techniques and skills by themselves are adequate for sparring; there is no need to add Boxing and Kick-Boxing.

On the other hand, practitioners of most other martial arts need to cross train if they wish to be competent in real fighting. For example, a Boxer would need to learn Taekwondo or other kicking arts if he wishes to use kicks, because there are no kicks in Boxing. A Taekwondo practitioner who wishes to defend himself against throws would need to learn Judo or other throwing arts because there are no throws in Taekwondo.

Question 2

I have recently begun conditioning in a traditional manner after reading "Training Methods of 72 Arts of Shaolin".


"Training Methods of 72 Arts of Shaolin" is a kungfu classic. Not many people realize or appreciate that classics were not meant for self-taught training. They were written for two main reasons: to remind experienced practitioners the salient points of their art, and to record important knowledge for posterity.

If you lack the proper background knowledge and experience, learning from a classic not only does not give you the desired result, but may also bring you adverse effects. Take Iron Palm training for an example. Basically the classic instructs you to sit on a Horse-Riding Stance and strike your palm repeatedly on a sandbag filled with beans, sand, pebbles or iron-filing. If you do not know how to sit on a Horse-Riding Stance or strike your palm on the sandbag correctly, and most inexperienced students do not know, you will cause more insidious harm the more you train.


Ismael of Shaolin Wahnam Ecuador demonstrating Iron Shirt Chi Kung

Question 3

I decided to start working on Iron Palm and Iron Shirt. I also considered beginning the study of Cosmos Palm, but I decided I did not have the proper instructions for the internal aspect.


These are advanced arts, attempted by students after some time, usually years, of kungfu training. You should seek a competent instructor and learn the basics instead of attempting these advanced arts on your own.

What you may not know is that even if you were successful in training these arts, which is most unlikely, you still would not be a good fighter. Suppose you spent three years everyday training Iron Palm and eventually you could break three bricks with one strike. If you meet a Boxer who has trained for only six months, he would still beat you easily. Worse, by that time, your hands would probably be deformed.

Then why do kungfu practitioners train Iron Palm? They do so after they know how to fight. Then their Iron Palm will greatly enhance their fighting ability.

Question 4

I have resolved to begin doing qigong for fifteen minutes every morning, as well as 15 minutes of chi projection training every day (extinguishing candles). In addition, I strike bags several hundred times almost every day.


First of all, why do you do all these things?

Is it to overcome illness, or to have good health, or to be combat efficient? You are unlikely to have the desired result. You are wasting your time, and you may derive harmful side-effects. It is more economical if you seek a master or at least a competent instructor.

Breaking the bottom brick

Sifu Eugene Siterman of Shaolin Wahnam USA applying Cosmos Palm to break the bottom brick without breaking the top one

Question 5

Could you please tell me about the exact training methods required to attain Cosmos Palm? If you do not believe such techniques as Cosmos Palm should be passed to students over the internet, that is fine.


Not only I but also all genuine masters would not reveal the training methods of such advanced arts to strangers over the internet. There are two good reasons.

One, such advanced arts are reserved for selected students. Two, the masters do not want others to bring harmful effects to themselves by practicing on their own.

But even if I were to tell you, you would be unable to carry out the instructions. For example, two basic instructions are to focus at your dan tian and direct qi to your palms. If you try to do so without proper training under a master, you are likely to have adverse side-effects.

Question 6

If I do fifteen minutes of qigong a day, doing two sets of Iron Palm qigong, two sets of Iron Shirt qigong, and three sets of Cosmos Palm qigong a week, can I expect any results? I know masters in the past used to train much longer per day than modern students train, but I am willing to give up more of my time in order to attain moderate success in some of these skills.


You will have adverse result. You will drain yourself. You will feel weak and tired easily. You may feel pain at your chest. You are also likely to be impatient, angry and dull.

Stop your self-taught practice. Don't waste your time. Seek and learn from a competent teacher.

Masters were different. They trained correctly. They knew what they did. But even masters guarded seriously against over-training.

Chi Kung

Practicing high-level chi kung is a good way to generate positive energy

Question 7

If I begin practicing Iron Shirt qigong, can I direct the qi to my hands as well as my body to practice Iron Palm at the same time? In other words, can I combine the Iron Palm form I am doing with Iron Shirt qigong form to make one exercise?


You could but you may not. If you were already well trained in Iron Palm and Iron Shirt, you could train these two arts at the same time, though you would likely get better result if you trained them separately.

But if you have not learnt from a competent teacher, you should not train on your own even one of them as it is likely to bring you harmful side-effects. If you train both at the same time, you will compound the harm.

Question 8

Is there a reason why some people seem to exude a sort of negative energy; the sort of thing which sets everyone around them on edge?

— Warren, South Africa


Your question is self-answering. Because this energy causes unpleasantness, it is called negative. If, for any reason, this same energy makes people happy, it will be called positive.

Let us put the question in another way. Is there any reason why some people upset others when they walk into a room? There can be many possible reasons. One possibility is that these some people show a gloomy face. Another possibility is that they are unruly as they enter. A third possibility is that they are arrogant.

We may go a step further and ask why they are gloomy, unruly or arrogant. Again, there are many possible reasons. It could be that they had an unpleasant time before they enter the room, or that they have been brought up in that way, or that they habitually mix with friends who are gloomy, unruly and arrogant.

Notwithstanding all this, we have a good answer from our Shaolin Wahnam perspective. These people do not practice high-level chi kung. If they do, they will smile from their heart, and their energy will flow harmoniously. When they walk into a room, they will radiate joy and vitality to people in it. In short, they have positive energy.

Other people may laugh at this statement, or even be angry at it. But if you ask around, you will find this is generally true.


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