skills more important than techniques

Skills are more important than techniques in chi kung

Question 1

The reason for this message is to ask for help and to be able to start sessions of chi flows, since I believe and consider having blocked several parts of my body. I suffer from anxiety, insomnia, chronic stress and I take antidepressants and calming agents. I have leg pain for a year now and I can't find a solution. It would be a pleasure for me to be guided towards a possibility of healing.

— Sebastian, Argentina


Skills are more important than techniques in chi kung. A good analogy is swimming. You can learn techniques from a good book or a good video, but unless you have the skills, you can't swim.

Another good analogy is playing football, which Argentina is famous. You can learn techniques from a good book or a good video, but unless you have the skills, you can't play football well.

It is the same with chi kung, but the trouble is that most people who practice chi kung, or say they practice chi kung, do not know of this fact. You need to learn the skills of chi kung from a master.

I shall conduct an Intensive Chi Kung Course which is only for a few days and you need to practice on your own when you have returned home. Many people have overcome their illness by attending the course. I would recommend that you spend some time on your own while in Malaysia before or after the course. Malaysia is a very safe place.

You can book a room at the hotel where the course is held with the Shaolin Wahnam Secretary. She will also send you further particulars

Question 2

I will begin training Kung Fu again, starting in a couple of days, but I will do it ONLY in my mind!

— Brain, USA


When you do it only in your mind, you need not be exact in your imagination. Just imagine your imaginary opponent attacks you with a straight punch.

You need not concern whether he uses a right Bow-Arrow Stance, a left Bow-Arrow Stance, a False-Leg Stance, or any stance unless it is important in your response. You need not concern whether he wears a shirt or smokes a pipe. Just imagine him giving you a straight punch.

Gradually progress to other types of punches, and then other forms of attack. Your progress is dictated by your ability to respond correctly and spontaneously.

You must also remember right at the start not to stress your mind. It is intuitive thinking, not intellectualization.

Flower Set

Combat application of the Flower Set

Question 3

The set I practise the most is Flower Set, as you recommended. Is there also an art that you would recommend I focus on? I like very much the technique "Fierce Tiger Cleanses Claws", but maybe that is not the best companion to the Flower Set?

— Sifu Roeland Dijkema, Shaolin Wahnam Netherlands


There are many arts that accompany the Flower Set. The best art as exemplified by Ng Mui, the most senior of the Shaolin Elders, is "Double Worshiping of the Buddha". She developed tremendous internal force with this art.

The special feature of Flower Set is "dim mark", which is one of the three special arts of Shaolin, and is now a lost art though many in Shaolin Wahnam know it.

"Fierce Tiger Cleanses Claw" is a very powerful art for tiger-claw, and is a secretive internal art for "chin-na" (or "qin-na" in Romanized Chinese), another one of the three special arts of Shaolin, the other being "internal arts".

I believe that the way we perform it in Shaolin Wahnam, Sinew Metamorphosis is the most powerful art for "internal arts". It is just incredible; we flick our fingers only a few times in less than 5 minutes and we can develop tremendous internal force.

Question 4

I was wondering if it is still all right to carry on doing Golden Bridge for half an hour for some time to attain a high level of Golden Bell? And then switch to other more advanced exercises? Or is this also attainable by doing higher level training?


You are already very powerful without performing Golden Bridge or Golden Bell. You can test yourself by hitting with a sharp weapon. Start gently at first, but increase force gradually.

Performing Golden Bridge for half an hour is very powerful. Most people cannot perform it correctly for 5 minutes. You should rest at present. Take your wife and children for a holiday. Later when you are not over-trained you may resume Golden Bridge or Golden Bell.

Golden Bell is a very powerful exercise. Most masters perform Golden Bell. Other very powerful exercises are Sinew Metamorphosis and Iron Wire. For us we need not perform the whole set of Sinew Metamorphosis, which will take half an hour to an hour. Just performing an exercise for about 5 minutes will do. When I perform "Flicking Fingers" (or "Golden Dragon Taps on Ground") for a minute, the force generated is so powerful that my arms rise.

Iron Wire is a very powerful set. But be careful not to perform it as isometric exercise. It should be performed as internal force training. The telling signs of internal force training are that you become very powerful and fresh, but do not develop big muscles. It is recommended to proceed by sections.

Flicking Fingers

"Flicking Fingers" of Sinew Metamorphosis

Question 5

You mentioned in one of your wonderful and insightful Question and Answer series on Cosmos Palm that Golden Bridge was an excellent technique to attain Golden Bell.

Small Universe and Big Universe were also useful you wrote. How do you attain Golden Bell by practicing Small or Big Universe if I may ask?

Would it be correct to say that Small Universe is even better for health than the Medical Big Universe?


Golden Bridge is excellent for Golden Bell. Small Universe and Big Universe are also useful, but they take a longer time -- at least three times longer. Relatively, Golden Bridge is for consolidating energy, whereas Small Universe and Big Universe are for flowing energy.

You can attain Golden Bell by practicing Small Universe or Big Universe because they spread protective energy. When you have attained Golden Bell, it is helpful to use Small Universe to spread the energy round the body.

I practiced Golden Bridge and Lifting Water (Stationary Mode) for my Golden Bell. I performed Lifting Water (Stationary Mode) for more than an hour. But I believe Golden Bridge is better. It was what I taught in Finland in 2016.

Small Universe is a preparation for Big Universe. I am not sure whether Small Universe or Medical Big Universe is better for health. Both are excellent. Spiritual Big Universe is for spiritual cultivation.

Question 6

I always remember Sifu's visit to Korea. Every morning Sifu would say, 'Another beautiful day!' which taught me a lot. Thank you Sifu!

— John, Ireland


I loved very much my visit to Korea. Irrespective of whether it was rain or shine, every day was a beautiful day.

I still remember fondly the roast duck we had at the shop not far from the Cultural Centre. Duck is not my specialty, but I enjoyed the roast duck very much. We must invite Eugene, who loves eating duck, to Korea one day.

Shen in Spiritual Big Universe

Training of "shen" in Spiritual Big Universe

Question 7

May I please request if Sifu could explain the relationship between Mind (Xin) and Spirit/Consciousness (Shen) in terms of cultivation.

How does Xin affect Shen?

When we talk about merging with the cosmos, are Xin and Shen the same at that point?

When we cultivate Xin, is Shen also cultivated at the same time or is it nourished by default?

Does Xin transform or transmute into Shen at the highest level?


Both "xin" and "shen" means mind or spirit.

"Xin" is Buddhist, like "wu xin" which means "no-mind" which is actually "all-mind", and "yi xin" which means "one mind" or everything there is.

"Shen" is Taoist, like "jing qi shen" which means "essence, energy and spirit", and "lian shen" which means "training the spirit".

Whether we use "xin" or "shen" often depends on whether it comes from Buddhism or Taoism.

It is worthwhile to note that "Buddhism" and "Taoism" are not "religions" as many Westerners conceptualize them to be. They are established teachings. A typical Chinese can be a Buddhist, Taoist as well as Confucian at the same time.

As "xin" and "shen" are different terms with the same meaning, one affects the other. A useful analogy in English is "mind" and "spirit". If a person's "xin" is strong, his "shen" is strong.

When we talk about merging with the Cosmos, which is in English, the "xin" or "shen" merges with the Cosmos.

But we normally do not say that in Chinese. In Chinese, in Buddhist terms, we talk about "gong" (pronounced in English like /kung/). In Taoist terms (in Romanized Chinese, it is "Daoist" terms) we talk about "Tao" (or "Dao").

When we cultivate "xin", "shen" is also cultivated. Similarly, when we cultivate "shen", "xin" is also cultivated.

"Xin" and "shen" are two terms with similar meaning. When we transform or transmute "xin", at the same time we transform or transmute "shen".

Please remember that "shen" can also mean "body". "Shen" meaning "mind" or "consciousness" is pronounced differently in tone from "shen" meaning "body". The written Chinese word is also different, but in Romanized Chinese both are written as "shen".

Question 8

What is the relationship between Yi and Chi as debated by many Neo-Confucian scholars in the past. Also I wondered about the relationship between Yi and Mind (Xin) and Spirit/Consciousness (Shen).

Is Yi a principle by which Mind (Xin) and Spirit/Consciousness (Shen) operate or is it a separate materiality (in the sense that Mind could be said to be material or at least energetic)?

Operating at the Mind-Level in our school is the highest level so I wonder why those scholars debated whether Yi follows Chi and vice versa rather than debating if Mind follows Chi.


"Yi" means "substance", and "chi", spelt as "qi" in Romanized Chinese, means "energy". "Shen" is spirit or consciousness. They operate at the physical, the energy, and the spiritual levels.

Loosely translated, the philosophy of "yi", which Neo-Confucian scholars frequently discussed, meant physics, but it is very different from the physics of Western Science.

Also remember that there are other words spelt in Romanized Chinese as "yi", "qi" and "shen". It is because of tonal value. For example, "yi" can mean "righteousness", like Uncle Righteousness, which is in Cantonese pronunciation; "qi" can means "seven", better written in the Arabic "7"; and "shen" can mean "body", which is physical.

In Chinese character there are many words written in Ronamalized Chinese as "yi". On such word is "principle" which can be operated by "qi" meaning "energy" or "shen" meaning "consciousness".

In our school we operate at all the three levels -- the physical, the energy and the mind. This is because all beings in the phenomenal world operate at all these three levels. When we learn a chi kung exercise or a kungfu set, we focus at the physical level. When we perform an internal art, we focus at the energy level. When we are peaceful and happy every day, we focus at the mind level. We perform triple-cultivation, i.e. we cultivate the physical, the energy and the mind.

The Neo-Confucians focused at "yi", the philosophy of principles or physics, and not at "qi" or "shen" because that was the norm of the time. That was also what the Neo-Confucians were very good at. The Taoists might focus on "qi", like the Small Universe and the Big Universe, and the Buddhists might focus on "xin", like "xiu xin" or spiritual cultivation.

It is good to know Chinese or any language, but we must not be limited by it. Debating whether "yi" should follow "qi" or "shen", or whether "yi" is "substance" or "principles" is limiting ourselves. But it is always good to ask. It is better "to be a fool for one day than a fool for life."

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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