SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
NOVEMBER 2016 PART 2
Sifu, do we teach children the same chi kung or kungfu exercises as we teach adults?
— Sifu Sippe Douma, New Zealand
It depends on various conditions. If a few children join a class of adults, we teach both the children and the adults the same chi kung or kungfu exercises according to the syllabus of the class.
If we teach a few children apart from a regular adult class, we teach the children different chi kung or kungfu exercises from what we teach adults. This is because the needs and aspirations of children and adults are different.
The focus on teaching children is fun. In other words we make it fun for children to practice chi kung or kungfu. In teaching adults the focus is on attaining their aims and objectives, like maintaining good health or overcoming a particular illness in chi kung, knowing some self-defence or overcoming timidness in kungfu.
Even when we teach the same techniques, in children we operate more at the physical level, whereas in adults we operate at the energy or the mind level. Operating at the mind level, or even at the energy level, may not be appropriate for children, as they may fool around with the techniques. Fooling around at the physical level to have fun is fine for children.
If it is feasible, we select different techniques for children and adults. For children we teach exercises like from Five-Animal Play and 18 Jewels, and remember to focus on the physical level. For adults, after they have familiarised themselves at the basic level, we teach exercises like from Bone Marrow Cleansing and Sinew Metamorphosis.
Teaching exercises from Bone Marrow Cleansing and Sinew Metamorphosis to children may be boring to them, even when we operate at a physical level. On the other hand, we can teach adults exercises from Five-Animal Play and 18 Jewels, but we operate at the energy or the mind level, because being adults they have the maturity for these exercises, whereas children may have the mind set to operate at the physical level, but not the maturity to operate at the energy and the mind level.
In kungfu, we teach children exercises with a lot of movements, like Tantui and Praying Mantis. We should operate these kungfu movements at a physical level, leaving developing internal force with Tantui or Praying Mantis for later development. We may teach them combat application, but it is mainly for fun. Kungfu sets like San Zhan and Iron Wire are not suitable for children.
For adults the teaching is more serious, but not without its fun. Adult students should see their daily life enriched as a result of practicing our kungfu.
When their needs and aspirations are different, why do we teach children the same material as we teach adult students in a regular class. This is because the children form a small minority in a regular class, and we can adjust our teaching accordingly. Although we teach the same content matter, we can operate at different levels for children and adults. For children we focus on fun and physical movements, whereas for adults we enrich their peak performance in both work and play.
In places where there are no Shaolin Wahnam kungfu instructors, would you recommend parents to send their children to Karate or Taekwondo schools to strengthen the children and not to be bullied in schools?
What I give below is my personal opinion. It is only fair to get the opinions of Karate and Taekwondo masters.
No, in the present situation I would not recommend parents to send their children to Karate or Taekwondo schools. I would like to repeat that this is my personal opinion given in good faith, and of course I do not mean any disrespect to Karate or Taekwondo. In other ways I respect Karate and Taekwondo practitioners more than kungfu practitioners.
Karate and Taekwondo practitioners are honest with themselves. They are dedicated and practice their arts with the intention that they can defend themselves. Many kungfu practitioners only do kungfu forms for demonstration, but claim their art as fantastic for fighting when they know that they themselves cannot fight.
But in the present situation many Karate and Taekwondo practitioners, adults and children, cannot defend themselves, though they are good at punching and kicking each other in sparring. Many kungfu practitioners do not even know how to punch and kick their opponents, despite their beautiful solo kungfu performance.
Many parents send their children to Karate and Taekwondo schools with the belief that their children will learn an art that makes them healthy and that they can defend themselves so that they may not be bullied in schools. This is a serious mistake because not only their children will not become healthy, but they injure themselves in free sparring without taking any medication or remedial exercise to remove the injuries. Also not only the children cannot defend themselves, otherwise they would not sustain so many injuries in free sparring, but also they develop a false sense of combat efficiency which will get them into serious trouble in real fights.
I recall an occasion which a Shaolin Wahnam kungfu student once told me. He was talking to the father of a juvenile black belt, and the father had a false impression that his son was highly combat efficient. He asked my adult student to spar with his son, but my student declined. The father even became angry. My student did the right thing by just walking away smilingly. Had the juvenile black-belt fought with an adult in a real fight, the poor child would be badly injured or even be killed. The blows and kicks of the small boy would have no serious effects on the adult. The adult could have walked in, pick up the body and throw him hard onto the ground.
Some people may accuse me of being biased but I am just stating the truth. Parents should send their children to Shaolin Wahnam kungfu (including Taijiquan) instructors if the instructors are available. Not only the children will be healthy and learn self-defence, they will also acquire qualities like respect for their teachers and parents, perseverance, internal force and mental clarity which are more important for their development than mere fighting.
You have helped many people overcome cancer. Do many of them write to you to thank you?
Unfortunately, no, or at least not as many as I would have wished. As I have mentioned a few times, the biggest group of students who write to thank me are those who are already healthy, and my teaching has enabled them to find joy in their daily life. Other people, may think that it does not make much difference whether they learn from me, unlike those whose lives I actually save, like those suffering from cancer.
Actually it does not matter to me whether those whose lives I save, write to thank me. It is for their own sake and for helping others that I ask them to do so. When cancer patients who were supposed to die in a few months, learned form me, for example, I told them that they could recover, and asked them to let me know to share their happiness when they were healthy again. All of them agreed to do so, but they never did, except a few rare examples like Laura who wrote to thank me on her own accord.
Laura's good karma is noticeable. She looks younger than when I first saw her many years ago, and is happy and peaceful. Later as a teacher and healer, she also has helped many people overcome cancer.
Their recovery from their illness was a matter of course, so I did not follow up to check if they recovered. But their friends or the organisers of the courses they took, later told me that they overcame their cancer or other so-called incurable diseases, but I knew for sure they did not inform me despite their promise. More importantly, their testimonies, if the testimonies are published on my website or our Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum, would let others suffering from similar diseases know that they too can recover. The testimony givers would have cultivated invaluable blessings.
One important reason why our arts are so cost-effective is because we operate at the mind level. The mind of those who promised to write to me when they recovered from their so-called incurable diseases but did not do so, would somehow be affected, which would in turn result in them not getting as many benefits as they should. On the other hand, those who voluntarily write to thank me, will enhance their mind, resulting in their getting even more wonderful benefits. This is a good example, though subtle, of goodness always brings goodness.
Would you consider gratitude a very important attitude?
Yes, it is a very important attitude, more important and more influential than what many people think. It is also an attitude we cultivate and cherish in our school, and the evidence of its benefits can be clearly found if we examine closely.
I have led a very happy life, and I sincerely believe one very important reason is that I am always grateful. I am very grateful to all the divine beings who are so very kind to guide and protect me, my family and our school. I am very grateful to all my teachers who passed the wonderful arts to us. I am very grateful to all my students who have shown much dedication in their practice and have shown much respect and care for me. I am very grateful to you for taking time off work to show me beautiful New Zealand and for paying almost all my meals.
On the other hand, those who are ungrateful suffered the bad karma of their ungratefulness, though some may never realise it. It is helpful to remember that there is nothing religious or superstitious about karma. It means cause and effect.
The effect is immediate. When a person is ungrateful, he has resentment. The person he should be grateful to may not know it, but the resentment immediately makes him less peaceful and less happy than what he should be. Severe or prolonged resentment brings forth physical or emotional illness.
When a person is grateful, the immediate effect is that he is appreciative, resulting in his feeling more peaceful and happier than other times. It contributes to his good health and longevity. In the history of our school, I came across some people who were ungrateful, and they did not have good karma. Here is one example. A woman had cancer, but after learning chi kung from me, she recovered. Besides taking my regional course, she also took a special course from me, for which I charged her only US$1000 instead of the usual US$5000 for a personalised course. I also transmitted chi to her from a great distance for free to help her to recover. But she paid me 1000 Canadian dollars instead of 1000 US dollars, despite the organizer telling her and she knew it beforehand.
Later her cancer relapsed. She phoned me asking whether I could continue to transmit chi to her. I replied that I would consider. Had she asked me again I would continue to transmit chi to her for free, despite her breaking her promise and showing ingratitude. But she did not ask again. Her breaking her promise of not paying the agreed sum might have affected her thinking. I later learned from the organiser that she died from cancer.
What is your opinion of shifting both legs slightly to a side in Wing Choon Kungfu when you turn your body to avoid a forceful attack from an opponent? For example, you face north with both toes pointing north, with the toes slightly hooked inwards, in a frontal Goat Stance. As an opponent gives you a powerful right punch, you shift your feet to north-east and simultaneously turn your body to face north-east too as you push away his attacking punch with your left palm.
— Troy, Australia
This type of movement is performed in many other styles of Wing Choon Kungfu. In my opinion, it affects good balance and is slower.
In Choe Family Wing Choon, the style of Wing Choon Kungfu I practice, I just rotate my waist as I push away an opponent powerful right punch with my left palm, without moving my feet. I do not even have to push hard with my left palm because my waist rotation will deflect the opponent's powerful punch.
What are the effects of over-training and what should we do about it?
— Syabbir, New Zealand
For convenience, over-training may be classified as serious, intermediate and mild.
Practitioners may die or become mad due to serious over-training. This rarely happens. If it happens, the seriously over-trained practitioners should stop their training immediately and seek treatment from chi kung masters or healers. Modern western medicine may not be helpful because it does not understand over-training.
The effects of intermediate over-training include feeling tired and weak, severe pain and nauseousness. The over-trained practitioners may have rashes, heavy body odour and pus coming out of his body. They should slow down their training or stop training altogether. Performing vigorous kungfu sets or sequences, and engaging in outdoor activities help to expend their excess energy.
Mild over-training often occurs without the practitioners' notice. A common effect is feeling tired and sleepy, which is due to excess energy rather than a lack of it. It is their body telling them to rest. Usually they do not have to do any thing special as the effects of mild over-training will be overcome quite naturally.
Mild over-training frequently occurs in my regional courses because course participants acquire a lot of energy in a very short time. Many of our Shaolin Wahnam family members refer to this condition as "Sifu's blues".
How would one know that he has a chi flow?
— Clare, New Zealand
In principle it is like asking how does one know when he is eating an orange. He knows it when he is eating it. In the same way one knows he has a chi flow when he is experiencing it. Those who have no experience of eating an orange or having a chi flow, would not know.
Many chi kung practitioners outside our school still ask what chi is, despite having practiced chi kung for many years. It is a clear indication that they have no experience of chi, which also means that what they have been practicing is not genuine chi kung.
An academic answer is that he moves or flows in a manner not of his own volition. It is more obvious when the movements are extra-ordinary, like hopping about, rolling on the floor or making funny noises. He never intended to do these extra-ordinary actions, but his chi flow makes him do it.
Nevertheless, he is in control. These extra-ordinary movements occur because he allows them to happen. He can control them or not let them happen if he wants. When he practices chi kung in a public place, like a park, for example, he may not do these extra-ordinary actions, but just allow his chi to flow gently.
How would a practitioner graduate from his chi kung techniques to chi flow?
This is an important question especially for our beginning students. If they know the answer and apply it in their practice, they can enjoy a good chi flow the next time they practice. If they know the answer but cannot apply it successfully, they may have a chi flow after a few weeks of practice.
If they do not even know the answer, or are unaware of the issue, a small percentage, less than 20%, may have a chi flow after many years of practice, and they will eventually be regarded as masters, whereas the other more than 80% will never have any chi flow and therefore never have any chi kung benefits no matter how long they practice. Some of them, if they continue to practice their chi kung techniques for many years but have no chi kung benefits, may still be called masters by the ignorant public. This is the situation of chi kung today.
This is the reason why our students can get in one month the amount of benefits even masters may need one year to attain, because our students know the chi kung techniques and have the skills to generate an energy flow, whereas other masters know the chi kung techniques but do not have the skills to consciously generate a chi flow. Their chi flow occurs haphazardly once a while. Other people reading this explanation may not understand the explanation, though they know all the words used in the explanation. But our Shaolin Wahnam students should have no difficulty in understanding.
After performing one or more chi kung exercises for an appropriate number of repetitions, a practitioner should graduate into chi flow, i.e. there is no break between his exercises and the chi flow. He just completes the last repetition of the exercise and lets go. He follows his chi movement and goes along with his flow.
If he stops after his exercise, then lets go, there is a break, which will affect his chi flow. If he stops with muscular tension or if he stops for a long time, he may have to perform his chi kung techniques again.
An analogy is like starting a car by pushing it when its battery has run out. You put on 2nd gear, step on the clutch to free the gear, and have some people push the car for momentum. Then you release the clutch and let the pushing momentum of the car start the engine. When the engine has started, you continue driving the car without any break. If you stop the car and there is a break in the whole process, you have to repeat the procedure again.
If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at stating your name, country and e-mail address.
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- Flow Method in Conjunction with Mind Level and Cosmic Breathing
- Themes in Shaolin Combat Sequences, and Taijiquan Pushing Hands and Striking Hands
- Twelve Sequences of Tantui
- Scenic Views of USA Tour