FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON INTENSIVE COURSES
Many people have written to enquire about the intensive courses stated above. The following questions and answers selected from past issues will be helpful.
It seems hard to imagine that when we are aware of the years the monks spend in training, what we could possibly learn in a few days of your intensive chi kung course?
— Jack and Steve, USA — March 1998
Try asking politely some masters and advanced students whether they can tap energy from the cosmos and direct it to wherever they will in their body, such as to their hands, feet and stomach. Probably they will tell you that this was a secret art of great masters, and is probably lost now although it is mentioned in books.
Ask them whether they could generate their own internal energy flow, or develop internal force. Anybody who has access to classical texts of internal arts would have known these are fundamental skills, but unfortunately not many people have these skills nowadays. You are going to learn these skills in my intensive course. You can learn and experience the skills in a few days, but you have to practise conscientiously for at least a few months, if not years, before these skills become lasting.
If after learning either one of these great arts, how do we know whether or not we are doing it correctly; who gauges our progress?
The best test is to access your results against the effects these arts are purported to give. As chi kung is purported to give good health, vitality and mental clarity, you should have these results if you have practised it correctly. If you do not experience any noticeable results, it is likely you have correctly practised not chi kung but some form of gentle exercise that pretends to be chi kung.
Such a situation is more obvious in Taijiquan. Virtually all Taijiquan classics mention that Taijiquan develops internal force and is very effective for self defence. If you have practised what you think is Taijiquan for some time but do not know what internal force is or how to defend yourself, it is certain that you have not practised Taijiquan although you might have practised it correctly.
On the other hand, if you feel uncomfortable, painful, nervous, weak or sickly, what you practise may or may not be chi kung, kungfu or taijiquan, but you have practised it wrongly.
The best person to gauge your progress is your teacher — if you have a good teacher. Because of his experience and wider perspective, he is usually a better person than you yourself to gauge your own progress. But if you have chosen a mediocre instructor as a teacher, who himself has little experience of what he teaches, obviously he is not a good judge.
But in your case, after you have completed the intensive course from me, you yourself would be a good judge as you would know exactly what to look for in your own assessment. Your friends too would be able to gauge your progress. If you have practised correctly what you have learnt from me, your friends would not fail to notice the good health and vitality in you.
Is it possible that we can generate our chi to, say, our shin or inner forearm and it solidifies like the example a woman who does not train hardening and building scar tissue on her shin or forearm yet can generate power or energy to that part of the body for an intended purpose?
Certainly, this is one of the basic skills you will learn in my intensive course. But you will have to practise for some time — a few months or a few years, depending on various factors like your intended purpose and your diligence in training — before the effect has become lasting for practical use, like breaking through an energy blockage inside your body or breaking a brick on your head.
I hope you will not find this question impertinent. Please ignore it if you find it unsuitable. Did your Sifus charge you a lot for your training? Why do you charge such a large sum for training (US$ 1,000 for 4 days)?
— Michael, Malaysia — Aug (1) 1998
When Sifu Wong was teaching in Spain recently (Aug 2003), her parents brought her to thank Sifu Wong again for overcoming a heart problem five years ago. (Please see answer below.)
The question is not impertinent. In fact I like your question as it provides me an opportunity to explain my fees although I do not need to give any justification.
My sifus did not charge me a lot for my training. Uncle Righteousness taught me free of charge; Sifu Ho Fatt Nam charged me only a nominal fee.
If I have to pay, I would never have paid enough. This is not an exaggeration. They taught me not just the best Shaolin kungfu, chi kung and Zen, but how to lead a rewarding life for myself, my family and other people, according to the highest ideals in the Shaolin philosophy. To put in a nutshell, I have learnt and practiced righteousness from Uncle Righteousness, and impeccable morality from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam.
Then, why do I charge others US$1000 for 4 days of intensive training?
My fees, depending on how you look at them, can be very expensive or very cheap. Compared to some instructors who charge US$10 for as long as you want to practice, or even the more expensive ones who charge US$50 for three months, charging US$1000 for four days is certainly very expensive.
If you have been looking for genuine kungfu or chi kung, and have expressed that you would give anything to learn it, and you learn it in four days what others, if they are lucky to have the opportunity to learn genuine kungfu or chi kung, take twenty years to acquire, paying US$1000 is very cheap.
For someone who has been suffering from asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, cancer or any other chronic degenerative diseases, which he knows conventional treatment gives him little chance of recovery, and for which medical tests merely to confirm the illness is present, will cost him (or his insurance company) thousands of dollars, paying US$1000 to learn an art in just four days, an art which according to statistics gives him at least 60% chance of recovery if he continues to practice it for a few months, is very cheap.
I just received a fax from Douglas, my most senior student in Europe. The following quotation may cause you to think that my fees are very cheap! This is just one of my many successful cases.
I got a call yesterday from M.A., the young mother from Alicante whose baby suffered from narrow arteries from the heart to the lungs as well as leaky ventricles in her heart. She was thrilled at the progress that the baby has made. The doctor couldn't believe how good the baby looked. Her next checkup is August 21. She asked me if you would be kind enough to send energy to the baby again to ensure that no surgery will be necessary.”
NOTE: A photograph of this baby, who is now (Aug 2003) a young healthy girl, can be seen above.
Intending students would have the following three legitimate questions:
- How do I know the kungfu or chi kung I learn is genuine? After all every one who teaches, believes or says his art is genuine, if not the best.
- How can I be sure that I can recover from my illness?
- Can I learn it in four days? I thought kungfu or chi kung takes years to master.
The answers are as follows:
- Find out from reliable, established sources what genuine kungfu or chi kung is, and compare what I teach with what you have found out. Also find out from those who have learned from me before, whether they are satisfied with my teaching, and whether they get the results promised.
- No one, including I or the best doctor, can guarantee that his patients will recover, because recovery depends on other factors besides treatment. But I can say that at least 60% (actually closer to 80%) of those who suffered from so-called incurable diseases, regain good health after learning and practicing chi kung from me. I would not provide names because I respect the privacy of my students, but those genuinely concerned should have no difficulty finding out for themselves if they take some trouble to ask around.
- Yes, you can learn the necessary skills and techniques in four days. Some of the skills are quite fantastic, such as tapping cosmic energy, and channeling the energy down your body to clear energy blockage! Students do not have to pay me any fees if they are not satisfied that the course objectives, which are clearly set out, have been fulfilled. If someone thinks that he should have a longer time learning, he should know that I charge for efficiency and benefits acquired, not time spent. If I take four weeks to give him the same benefits which I can do in four days, I deserve a lower, not a higher, fee.
The intensive course is not meant to make you a master. Its purpose is to equip you with fundamental skills and techniques so that you can competently practice on your own after the course. You need to practice for at least a few months before you can have lasting good results. For example, after the course you will know how to generate your internal energy flow, but you have to practice this for a few months before your internal energy flow can effectively clear your energy blockage and restore your good health.
There are two good reasons, among others, why I charge a high fee. It is a practical way to ensure that a great art is taught to deserving students, and it ensures that they value the art and will practice it. In the past I used to teach some very good kungfu and chi kung to students for free. Because they did not pay for the training, they did not value it and stopped half-way. They each saved a thousand dollars but lost an invaluable art, and some lost the opportunity to recover from their so-called incurable disease.
A person with serious kidney problems went on a local newspaper to appeal for public donation to buy a dialysis machine. I offered to teach him free, and a reporter who knew of my good records in helping kidney patients recover, spoke to him. He replied that it was too troublesome to practice chi kung.
Some time ago there was frequent public comment on the high cost of maintaining dialysis treatment for kidney patients (which actually does not overcome the kidney problem, but prevents the patients from dying). I wrote to the secretary of a kidney patients' association and offered my free service to any of his members interested. He did not even acknowledge my letter, but a few months later he said they were not interested.
Many people claim that they would sacrifice anything to learn a great art. But when it rains, they would not turn up for training. This doesn't happen when students pay a high fee. On the other hand, some people even think they are doing their teachers a service when they pay a small fee to learn. But if the fee is high, they value the art and subsequently derive good benefits from their practice. It is not just that they want to get back their money's worth; rather it is often the other way round, i.e. they already value the art in the first place, as evident from their readiness to pay a high fee to learn.
The tenth Shaolin Law dictates that the Shaolin arts are to be taught only to deserving students. In the past a student stayed with and served the master for a few years, during which time the master observed and tested the student to see if he was deserving. Such a method of screening students is not feasible in today's world. Willingness to make sacrifice to an equivalent value of US$1000 is a modern, albeit poor, alternative.
Of course there are many other factors contributing to make a student deserving. Hence, it does not mean that anyone willing to pay US$1000 will be taught. But as a working guideline, I would consider that anyone who thinks my art is worth less than US$1000 to learn, does not deserve the teaching.
US$1000 is a comparatively small sum to pay for the benefits one gets in my intensive courses. Ask kungfu students in general how many of them have internal force and can effectively use their kungfu techniques for self-defence, or ask chi kung students how many of them can tap cosmic energy and generate internal energy flow. Less than 20% will answer positively, and they probably have taken many years to acquire these skills. Yet, my students learn the skills in four days, and through daily practice for six months will attain a level these lucky 20% attain in 10 years.
But my best kungfu and chi kung are still taught to advanced students free. And deserving, beginning students who cannot afford to pay get free teaching from me.
You asked for “deserving” students. I don't know if I deserve to be taught this great art, but I do know that I can uphold all of the Shaolin Laws.
— Jon, Austria — Aug (2) 1998
If you can uphold the Shaolin Laws, you are deserving to learn the great Shaolin arts, as well as have the necessary conditions to become a master one day.
I know that you offer specialized one week courses at your school in Malaysia. But I wanted to ask if you allow students to come and train with you for extended periods of time, months or even years. I realize that much can be learned in your one week courses, but I would like to dedicate a lot more time to my learning and training…
I understand that such long training would be difficult at times and intense, but I am ready to put forth the effort and dedication. I would like to be like you and study for many, many years, until I was skilled enough to go and teach others of the wonderful benefits Shaolin has to offer.
— Kevin, USA — Oct (2) 1998
A group of students enjoying internal energy flow during an Intensive Chi Kung Course in Malaysia
I would very much like to have a sincere student like you for prolonged study, and hopefully train you to become a real Shaolin master one day. But various factors make prolonged training with me impracticable. One main reason is that I travel often, and it would be difficult as well as expensive for students to follow me wherever I go. I am now in Germany. A few days ago I was in Belgium, and prior to that in Holland. I shall be going to Austria the day after tomorrow, and after that to Spain, before returning home to Malaysia at the end of October.
An intensive course with me is probably the best alternative. During the course I shall make sure that you will acquire the necessary skills and techniques to be able to practice competently on your own. This is fairly easy with chi kung. You need to take only one course from me, or may be two if you are more ambitious, but if you follow my instructions faithfully and practice regularly for two years what you have learnt from me during the course(s), you will attain a chi kung level higher than what MOST of those who teach chi kung today (including so-called masters) have attained.
This is not an exaggeration; it is true because what most people today teach and practice is merely external chi kung forms which are actually gymnastics or dance. Hence what they can achieve at their best, even if they have practiced for 20 or 30 years, are what gymnastics and dance can give, such as elegant performance and improved blood circulation. They cannot achieve those benefits that chi kung can give simply because they have not practiced genuine chi kung, which basically involves a training of energy and mind.
The skills and abilities you will acquire in my course are actually fundamental in chi kung, but they are fantastic to those who do not know chi kung, or who merely practice external chi kung forms. You will, for example, be able to tap energy from the cosmos, generate your internal energy flow, clear physical and emotional blockage, and channel energy to wherever you wish inside your body.
It may not be so easy with kungfu, mainly because there are much more techniques to learn and the training is more demanding. It would be better if you learn some kungfu forms, even if they are gymnastics or dance, before you see me for my intensive kungfu courses so that we can spend the time in internal force training and combat application. You would probably need two or three intensive courses spread over about three years. If you train conscientiously, in three years you should not only be able to handle blackbelts comfortably but more importantly have vitality, mental freshness, and zest for work and play.
While Zen is the highest of the Shaolin teaching, it is found at every level of the Shaolin arts. I do not teach Zen formally, but it is incorporated in every aspect of Shaolin training. Zen, which actually means mind training, is essential in genuine chi kung and kungfu. Without the respective proper state of mind, which is attained through Zen, one cannot attain any remarkable result in chi kung or kungfu. For example, a chi kung practitioner can tap energy from the cosmos, or a kungfu exponent marshals internal force, only if he is in an appropriate state of mind. Zen gives us inner peace, enables us to do better whatever we do, and leads us to the highest spiritual fulfillment anyone can ever attain. I am sure you will enjoy and benefit from my book, "The Complete Book of Zen".