SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
DECEMBER 2018 PART 1
It is a secret that Siu Lin Tou is used to develop internal force in Wing Choon Kungfu. Would Sifu be kind enough to share this secret with us?
— Sifu Tim Franklin, Shaolin Wahnam United Kingdom
Once I went to see my Wing Choon sifu, Sifu Choe Hoong Choy, in Penang. He was practicing Siu Lin Tou slowly, like Taijiquan as he told me afterwards. He then showed me how to use Siu Lin Tou to develop internal force. It was powerful.
I recalled that earlier another of my four sifus, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, who just retured from a palace teaching a king, taught me how to develop internal force by practicing Shaolin Pakua Set slowly, also like Taijiquan. In principle it was similar to what Sifu Choe Hoong Choy did with Siu Lin Tou. These two lessons were greatly invaluable.
To develop internal force with Siu Lin Taou, Shaolin Pakua Set or any method, a practitioner must first generate flowing energy. I did not know this when my two sifus, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam and Sifu Choe Hoong Choy, taught me how to develop internal force. I discovered this much later when teaching students how to develop internal force and when teaching chi kung.
Generating flowing energy will tremendously speed up the process of developing internal force. Most masters think, and also during the time when I practiced developing internal force, I thought, that if a practitioner follows the right methods and practices correctly and faithfully, he will eventually develop internal force over a long time.
After having developed flowing energy, the practitioner converts it into consolidated energy. He will then have internal force. Generating flowing energy and consolidating energy need to be learned from a generous master. If one learns them from books or videos, he is very unlikely to succeed. Masters keep such skills as top secrets. Aspirants have to be trusted students of the masters for a long time before the aspirants have a chance to learn the skills.
How does chi flow affect the picture-perfect form of Wing Chonn Kungfu?
The picture-perfect form will be much affected. Initially when we succeed in generating a chi flow, the form may be out, as the chi just flows and moves the body according to its flow.
Gradually we control the flow so that we can regain proper form. Hence, there is a balance between flow and form. We have to maintain the flow and at the same time regulate the form. This will take time.
When I first let chi flow to move my physical form, like when I performed the Dragon Strength Set in the 1980s, my form was far from picture-perfect. My intention then was to let my mind to direct chi, and let chi to direct form. I could be very fast and powerful, but not tired nor panting for breadth. Later I "tamed" my chi flow to attain picture-perfect form.
Andrew (Sifu Andrew Barnett) mentioned that a world top golfer had advised first to hit a golf ball far, and then learn to direct its movement. It is the same with using chi to move form. First we let chi to move form, then we learn to attain picture-perfect form. If we keep to picture-perfect from, we can never let chi to move form.
An excellent way to let chi to move form is first to have a chi flow. This is easier achieved if the base of our feet is close together. When we have generated a chi flow, we can let the flow to move form. We control the flow by widening the base of the feet, like adopting a goat stance or a horse-riding stance.
Why does practicing "Carrying the Moon" make a woman youthful?
— Camila, Spain
Practicing "Carrying the Moon" makes a woman youthful because the technique gives benefits of youthfulness. Besides knowing the technique, practitioners must have the necessary skills in his (or her) performance.
Let us look at the features of youthfulness and examine how "Carrying the Moon" gives these benefits.
Having a strong and subtle spine contributes to youthfulness. A woman may be young in age, like at 30, but if her spine is weak and rigid, we do not consider her youthful. There is a saying in Chinese that "we are not worried that a person is old in age, but worry that he or she is old in his or her spine." The movement of "Carrying the Moon" makes a woman's spine strong and subtle, giving her youthfulness.
Another feature of youthfulness is agility, both physically and mentally. If a woman is not agile, we do not call her youthful. The movement of "Carrying the Moon", like the swing of her head and body, gives her mental and physical agility. The strength and subtlety of her spine also makes her agile.
The bending forward and backward of her body stimulates her energy flow to the kidneys. The kidneys are important organs for spreading energy. When energy is spread, it gives her sexual, intellectual and general vitality. A woman who is sexually, intellectually and generally vital is youthful, irrespective of her age.
The bending forward and backward of her body also stimulates her energy flow all over her body. This gives her a glowing complexion, contributing to her youthful look. Even when a woman is young, if her skin is dull or pale, we would not consider her youthful.
Another feature of youthfulness is having a good head of hair. Even when a woman is young, if her hair is little or lacks lustre, we do not consider her youthful. The dropping forward of her head sends energy there, which encourages hair growth and nourishes it. This adds to her youthfulness.
You mentioned that we chose the best of the best when practicing internal force. What do you mean by "the best of the best"?
— Nicolas, Spain
In the course, "Developing Internal Force", I chose Horse-Riding Stance from Shaolin Kungfu, and Three-Circle Stance from Taijiquan.
Shaolin Kungfu and Tijiquan are best known amongst the initiated for internal force, though today many people regard Shaolin Kungfu as external, and many Taijiquan practitioners do not have internal force. The reasons will be explained later.
The best exercise in Shaolin Kungfu to develop internal force is the Horse-Riding Stance, and the best exercise in Taijiquan is the Three-Circle Stance, although many Shaolin practitioners today who practice the Horse-Riding Stance, and many Taijiquan practitioners who practice the Three-Circle Stance, do not have internal force. Again, the reason will be explained later.
This is what I mean by "the best of the best". Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan are the best martial arts to develop internal force. The Horse-Riding Stance and the Three-Circle Stance are the best in Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan for this purpose. This is confirmed by the success of course participants in developing internal force. It is actually ridiculous that course participants confirmed they had internal force by show of hands after just 4 hours of training!
It is a well-known fact that many people, irrespective of whether they are Shaolin or Taijiquan practitioners, have practiced the Horse-Riding Stance and the Three-Circle Stance for a long time, like for months, but have no internal force. Why is this so?
It is because although they know the techniques of the Horse-Riding Stance and the Three-Circle Stance, they do not have the skills of developing internal force. The two fundamental skills are to be relaxed and to be free of thoughts.
The Horse-Riding Stance is ingenious. The form of the stance is such that if a practitioner is relaxed and free of thoughts, Cosmic energy will naturally collect at his dan tian, or abdominal energy field. The Three-Circle Stance is more comfortable, and Cosmic energy will also collect at his dan tian if he is relaxed and free of thoughts.
Shaolin Kungfu is considered by many people as external and hard, although there are actually more internal and soft arts in Shaolin Kungfu than any other martial arts. These internal and soft aspects are practiced only at an advanced level after practitioners have won the confidence of Shaolin masters. Most Shaolin practitioners have not reached this advanced level, nor won the confidence of the masters.
Most Taijiquan practitioners today do not have the skills to develop internal force, although they have the techniques of the Three-Circle Stance. They also do not have the skills to apply their Taijiquan techniques for combat. They only practice the external form of Taijiquan techniques like a dance.
You told us that the three golden rules of practice were not to worry, not to intellectualize, and to enjoy the practice. But at the Cosmic Shower session just now, you asked us to visualize Cosmic energy showering down. Is this a contradiction of the three golden rules?
— Sifu Andrew Barnett, Chief Instructor of Switzerland
Thank you, Andrew, for the question. Andrew knows the answer very well, but asks the question for the class.
No, this is not a contradiction.
When I advise students not to intellectualize during their practice, I mean not to intellectualize rationally. During courses on Cosmic Shower, I do not ask students to intellectualize Cosmic energy showering down their body, I ask them to have a gentle thought, and it is done intuitively, not rationally.
One is to intellectualize rationally, and the other is to have a gentle thought intuitively. There is no contradiction.
Intellectualization is not necessarily bad. During practice, we ask students not to intellectualize, because intellectualization stops energy flow. But at other times, intellectualization can be good. When I answer your question, we intellectualize, or use our intellect to ponder.
Why is the name "Sinew Metamorphosis" called?
— Michael, Switzerland
I coined the name "Sinew Metamorphosis" for the set of advanced chi kung exercises called "Yi Jin Jing" in Chinese. The full name is "Classic of Sinew Metamorphosis". We seldom use the full name because the term "Classic" may sometimes cause confusion. Most other people translate "Yi Jin Jing" as "Muscles Changing". But we find "Sinew Metamorphosis" more poetic.
Many years ago there was a heated debate between our school and another school. The other school regard "jing" as a sutra, or Buddhist scripture, but we regarded "jing" as a classic, which might not necessarily be in the form of a book. By "classic" we meant that something whose value had been established, like "Yi Jin Jing" or the "Classic of Sinew Metamorphosis".
It is worthwhile to note that "jin", or "sinew" does not refer only to "sinew", but refers to "jin-gu", or "sinew and bones". Classical Chinese, in which "Yi Jin Jing" was written, is a very concise language. Often one word refers to a collection of words.
For example, in Taijiquan training, after "Tui Shou" or Pushing Hands, students train "Da Shou" or "Striking Hands". "Da" here refers not just to "da", which means "strike", but to "da, di, die and na", which means "strike, kick, fell and grip", which are the four categories of attack. In other words, there are not only strikes in "da shou", but also kicks, felling techniques, and gripping attacks.
More importantly, "jin-gu" in "Yi Jin Jing" refers not only to "sinew and bones", but to the whole concept related to sinew and bones. Sinew, for example, are related to work, not just physical work but also intellectual work, and bones are related to morality, like having "gu-qi" or "bone-energy", which means a person of high moral values. Hence, by training Sinew Metamorphosis, students can change their sinew and bones, which means, amongst other benefits, they can produce better work and have high moral values.
Sifu recommended to practice Chi Kung in the evening or at night (as well as in the morning). Does practicing Chi Kung at night, before going to bed, help one to sleep or does it keep one awake?
— Kathrin, Switzerland
Practicing chi kung at night helps a practitioner to sleep better. But it may keep some beginning students awake because of the increased energy from the practice.
Sleeping is Nature's way to recharge a person with energy. Chi kung practitioners need less sleep than ordinary people because they receive energy from their chi kung practice. When they want to sleep, they sleep like babies and wake up fresh. However, if they have difficulty going to sleep, like beginning students, they can do the following exercise explained in the next answer.It is recommended to practice chi kung in the morning and in the evening or at night. If for any reason a practitioner cannot practice chi kung twice a day, he should practice at least once a day, in the morning, evening or at night so that his practice is regular. If he practices only once a while, he will not have good results.
However, if he misses a practice session, he needs not replaces it, as this may lead to over-training. He carries on his practice the next time.
For most people, a chi kung practice session lasts about an hour. But for us in Shaolin Wahnam, it is sufficient to practice for about 10 minutes a session. Longer time for practice may lead to over-training.
This is a recommendation. He (or she) aims for 10 minutes in his practice. But, once a while, if the practice session turns out to be shorter or longer than his estimation, like 5 minutes or half an hour, it is alright. Advanced practitioners, if they have not over-trained, may practice for longer periods if they like.
How can one use Chi Kung to help one fall asleep?
Practicing chi kung will help practitioners sleep better because it makes them relaxed physically and mentally. Some beginning students may find it harder to sleep because of the energy they get from their practice. They can do the following exercise which has proven to be very effective.
Prepare themselves to sleep, liking putting on pajamas, and dimming or turning off lights. Then lie in bed and perform "Lifting the Sky" for about 12 repetitions. The purpose here is not to generate an energy flow but to make them relax physically and mentally. Once they are relaxed, they can sleep like a baby and wake up very fresh.
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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