SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
AUGUST 2019 PART 3
Sifu, what do you mean by a meaningful life?
— Parveen, England
Different people, understandably, will interpret “a meaningful life” differently. It refers to a life, or the time from birth to death, that is rewarding and happy to him. We may, for convenience, divide life into different periods, like childhood, adulthood, and old age. A life that is meaningful to a child may not be meaningful to an old person.
To a child a meaningful life is one that is protected with love and care. An orphan, for example, unless he lives in an orphanage with protection, love and care, is unlikely to find his life meaningful.
Life to an adult who is frequently concerned with poverty or depression is unlikely to find his life meaningful. Similarly, a neglected old person, especially when he is weak and sick, would not find much meaning in his life.
Irrespective of at what period a person may be, when he practices genuine high-level chi kung, he will find meaning in his life. As a child, when he excels in his (or her) studies and sports, he will find his childhood life meaningful. As an adult, when he practices genuine high-level chi kung, he will have mental clarity and a lot of energy to make his life comfortable. As an old person, genuine high-level chi kung will make him strong and healthy despite his age, and he will find joy in his daily activities, making life meaningful.
I come from quite far away (from Uruguay) and it is my first time in these courses. I just want to make sure I practice correctly.
— Dan, Uruguay
Welcome to Barcelona, a beautiful city (the courses were held in Barcelona, Spain in 2018) of the world.
Firstly, why do we practice chi kung, or what benefits we can get from practicing chi kung? Chi kung gives us good health, vitality, longevity, peak performance and spiritual joys irrespective of religion, like being peaceful and happy.
Secondly, we should know the difference between gentle physical exercise and genuine chi kung. Most practitioners practice gentle physical exercise but call it chi kung, and usually they are not aware of the difference. The forms or techniques are the same, but the skills are different.
Gentle physical exercise does not give chi kung benefits. If practitioners ever have chi kung benefits, like good health and longevity, and honestly we wish they do, it is because of other factors and not because of their practice. For example, if they are not sick it is because they take good care of their food, and if they live long lives, it is because of their genes, and not because of their practice.
In our school, you need not be unduly worry about correct practice. This may sound odd to students of other schools. It is because your chi flow will erase whatever harm your incorrect practice may bring. Other students do not have chi flow, so they have to be sure that their practice is correct.
Incorrect practice is due to carelessness or forgetfulness. If you purposely go against the instructions of the exercise, you are just asking for trouble.
Nevertheless, you should guard against over-practice, which means the benefits you get from your practice are too powerful for your physical body to bear. If you lower your potential, i.e. the best in your practice, to about 30%, you are pretty safe. If you find that 30% is still over-training, you can lower further.
You should enjoy your practice, which is about 10 minutes a session once in the morning and once in the evening or at night. If for any reason you miss a session, you need not practice more in the next session. Your practice should be regular and consistent.
I have benefited very much from the courses. Can I teach my children in Uruguay?
Instead of teaching your children yourself, the best course of action is to send them to my Intensive Chi Kung Course. Your children will do well in their scholarly and sporting activities, and will be respectful to you and your wife and elderly people.
The second best choice is to let your children learn from our certified instructors, many of whom are chi kung masters. Our certified instructors are trained to teach your children according to their needs and aspirations, which may not be the same as yours.
If it is not feasible to send them to my Intensive Chi Kung Course or to learn from our certified instructors, you can teach your children but certainly not at the level you have learnt at the courses, which is very high level and not suitable for your children. You can teach your children exercises from the Eighteen Jewels or from the animal plays.
Make the practice fun. Don’t correct minor mistakes. Children are naturally relaxed, and can have a chi flow easily. If the chi flow becomes too vigorous, as a precaution, ask them to slow down.
You may teach your children or family members, but don’t teach your friends or strangers. Despite your good intention, you may cause them harm as you are not a trained instructor. At best, your friends and strangers will perform gentle physical exercise and think it is chi kung.
Can you please comment on the fundamental stances, such as the amount of time comfortably spent in the stances as well as the benefits acquired from the internal force developed from the stances, and likewise for important variations of the basic stances such as Golden Bridge and Three Circle Stance?
— Dr Frederick Chu, USA
The time to perform the Horse-Riding Stance is 5 minutes and to perform the Goat Stance is 15 minutes. If a student practices everyday, he should be able to attain this basic level in three months. Variations of the basic stances like Golden Bridge and Three-Circle Stance requires about 5 minutes and 15 minutes respectively at the basic level.
There is no limit at the intermediate level and the advanced level. The longer a practitioner practices his stances, the more internal force he develops. When he reaches deeper (or higher) levels, he may use other methods, like Eighteen Lohan Art and Sinew Metamorphosis.
What benefits can be acquired from the internal force derived from the stances and for important variations of the basic stances such as Golden Bridge and Three Circle Stance?
Stance training is said to lay the foundation of kungfu. All kungfu actions are performed on stances. Not only a practitioner with internal force can be powerful in his attack and defence, he also has more stamina and endurance. Stance training also develops his mental clarity.
These benefits are not just for kungfu but for daily life. This, in fact, is a main reason why we train kungfu in our law-abiding society. Internal force gives us good health, vitaltiy, longevity, peak performance and spiritual joys.
Editorial Note: Dr Frederick Chu's other questions can be found at August 2019 Part 2 issue of the Question-Answer Series.
Can you please tell us how to test the force developed from One Finger Shooting Zen and Lifting Water?
Both One-Finger Shooting Zen and Lifting Water develop internal force. At a basic level, a student is required to extinguish a candle flame at a short distance or to break a short sugar-cane. At an intermediate level, he may increase the distance in extinguishing a candle or break a brick. At an advanced level, he may place a sheet of glass between the candle and extinguish it, or break the bottom of two bricks.
Please tell us the combat skills and characteristic force developed from classically inspired empty hand sets such as Cross Road at Four Gates and Flowing Water Flowing Clouds.
Cross-Road at Four Gates and Flowing Water Floating Clouds are learned when students are at intermediate levels, although in the Shaolin Kungfu Training Programme and the Wahnam Taijiquan Training Programme, learning these sets is considered basic; becoming a researcher is intermediate, and becoming a protector is advanced.
Kungfu and chi kung terms are for convenience; they should not be restrictive. We consider the two programmes basic, though in other schools handling multiple armed opponents, which is part of the two programmes, is considered very advanced, because we believe that is what a kungfu practitioner should know.
At the level required for the course, Shaolin Wahnam practitioners can apply techniques from Cross-Road at Four Gates or Flowing Water Floating Clouds for combat with opponents of their level.
Please tell us about the combat skills and characteristic force developed from the fundamental weapons of our kung fu syllabus such as Flowing Water Staff, Plum Flower Saber, Wudang Sword, and Taiji Staff.
Students should be able to have the combat skills and characteristic force of the weapons in our kungfu syllabus, such as Flowing Water Staff, Plum Flower Sabre, Wudang Sword and Taiji Staff.
I first constructed the Shaolin Kungfu Training Programme and the Wahnam Taijiquan Training Programme for Shaolin Wahnam Association. However, most of our instructors of Shaolin Wahnam Institute, which originated from Shaolin Wahnam Association, have not completed the two programmes. They were appointed instructors due to expedient means in our effort to preserve genuine kungfu.
If Sifu had the desire, could he also comment on similar aspects of the basic, intermediate, and advanced levels of attainment in other arts, force, and styles of our school and how to test one's skill level, such as Baguazhang, Cosmos Palm, Tantui, Flower Set, or whichever other aspects of the Shaolin arts he desires?
Apart from Shaolin Kungfu and Wahnam Taijiquan which follow the basic training programmes, other kungfu styles and skills like Baguazhang, Cosmos Palm, Tantui, Flower Set, Xingyiquan and Wing Choon Kungfu, are selective. In other words, kungfu students in our school practice Shaolin Kungfu or Wahnam Taijiquan following the two programmes; other kungfu styles and skills are selected to supplement the core practice. Because we also want to preserve these wonderful arts, some instructors are asked to spread them, like you to spread Baguazhang.
We do not have training programmes for these other wonderful arts, but they can be based on our Shaolin and Taijiquan training programmes. Perhaps you can work out a training programme for Baguazhang.
The characteristic of Baguazhang is getting to an opponent’s back, whereas that of Cosmos Palm is “striking a buffalo beyond a mountain”, of Shaolin Tantui is kicking, of Flower Set is deceiving an opponent. If a Baguazhang student can get to the back of an opponent of similar level, he would have succeeded in attaining the fundamental skill of Baguazhang.
If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at stating your name, country and e-mail address.
- Chi Flow and Cash Flow
- Interesting Background of Interesting Shaolin Wahnam Kungfu Sets
- Calling a Cow a Horse
- Wu-Wei, or Doing Nothing and Everything will be done for You
- Please Blow your Horm