EIGHTEEN LOHAN HANDS, SINEW METAMORPHOSIS, BONE MARROW CLEANSING AND ZEN
For the four arts of 18 Lohan Hands, Sinew Metamorphosis, Bone Marrow Cleansing and Zen:
What are the differences in outcome one can expect if practised correctly and diligently?
What criteria would a person use to decide which art to practise at any given time?
What effect has each art had in your life?
In what order and at what pace did Bodhidharma introduce these arts to the Shaolin monks?
If someone was a "fresh beginner" to this whole area how would you suggest they include each of these arts into a daily practice initially, after 6 months, after one year?
-- Sifu Barry Smale
Holistically all these four legacies of Bodhidharma have the same outcome if one practices them correctly and diligently, i.e. it gives him good health, vitality, longevity, mental freshness and spiritual joys, though the depth and intensity may be different.
Hence, we would consider their thematic aspects. Relatively, the Eighteen Lohan Hands provide good health, Sinew Metamorphosis provides a lot of internal force, Bone Marrow Cleansing is excellent for purification physically as well as emotionally and spiritually, and Zen training gives mental clarity and spiritual expansion.
Please note the qualifier “relatively”. All the four great arts give all the benefits mentioned above, but each art is more cost-effective in some particular results. If a person is sick, for example, he can regain good health by practicing Zen or any of the other Bodhidharma’s legacies, but it would be most cost-effective if he practices the Eighteen Lohan Hands. On the other hand, if a healthy person wishes to have mental clarity or to expand into the Cosmos, he can derive these benefits by practicing the Eighteen Lohan Hands or any other Bodhidharma’s legacies, but it would be most cost-effective if he practices Zen training.
Three criteria a practitioner should consider when deciding which one of Bodhidharma’s legacies to practice are his needs and aspirations, resources available and his developmental stage.
If his objective is to develop a lot of internal force so that he can win free sparring competitions, for example, the best choice is Sinew Metamorphosis. However, if this course is not available or the instructor teaching it only teaches external form, the next best choice is Bone Marrow Cleansing.
However, if he is new to chi kung (genuine chi kung, not just chi kung forms), Bone Marrow Cleansing may be too powerful for him. He should then choose Eighteen Lohan Hands even though relatively it provides less internal force than Bone Marrow Cleansing and Sinew Metamorphosis.
Obviously, one needs some background understanding to be able to benefit from the advice above. For many people outside our school, even when they trust our advice and understand the dictionary meaning of all the words used in the advice, they may still not benefit from it.
For example, because they do not really understand the difference between genuine chi kung and external chi kung forms, they would not understand why practicing Eighteen Lohan Hands as genuine chi kung would give them more internal force than practicing Sinew Metamorphosis as external forms, or why correctly practicing Bone Marrow Cleansing as genuine chi kung may be harmful if they are not ready for it. Our Shaolin Wahnam students will have no difficulty understanding all this and benefit from it.
For me personally, and speaking generally, the Eighteen Lohan Hands was my first introduction to these four arts of Bodhidharma. It laid the foundation for my training and development in the other three arts. Without the training in the Eighteen Lohan Hands, I would not be able to develop into the depth and richness of the other three arts that I have.
When I first practiced Sinew Metamorphosis myself and taught it to a few selected selected disciples, it was at a physical level. I myself had to perform all the 12 exercises in the Sinew Metamorphosis set, performing each exercise 49 times, yet the internal force I generated then was less than the internal force I can now generate by performing any one of the exercises only 3 times! Understandably, many people outside our school will find this hard to believe.
The effect is most impressive and has far-reaching consequences in both my personal life as well as the benefits our students get as a result of my teaching. It manifests the great importance of mind. It clearly demonstrates the great difference between practicing any chi kung exercise at the mind level or as external physical forms. It took me more than 10 years from the time when I was already an accomplished Shaolin master to arrive at this stage when I perform and teach at the mind level. It is ridiculous (in a good sense) that now Shaolin Wahnam students can get similar benefits in less than 4 hours.
My development of the mind level as a result of Sinew Metamorphosis led me to my “discovery” of Bone Marrow Cleansing. I was wondering at the debate whether Bodhidharna taught Bone Marrow Cleansing as there was no record of its form though there was record of its effects. It suddenly dawned on me that unlike in Eighteen Lohan Hands and Sinew Metamorphosis, there were no specific forms in Bone Marrow Cleansing but there were specific effects.
For me personally, the singular effect of Bone Marrow Cleansing, not obvious at the time of its development but more noticeable from hindsight, is to highlight the important difference between form and effect, between techniques and benefits. This concept enables us in Shaolin Wahnam to be very cost-effective.
I did not learn Zen formally from any of my sifus, but I had much Zen training from them informally. Thus the material I am going to teach in the Zen course at Winter Camp as well as in a few Zen courses I taught before, is gathered from my own experience and practice which I have found to be very useful.
Many people have commented on my mental clarity, and also many people are inspired by my experiencing joy in daily living. These are the effect of my Zen training.
Bodhidharma first taught the Eighteen Lohan Hands, then Sinew Metamorphosis to the Shaolin monks at a pace that was most suitable for their progress. Different monks would progress at different rates, just as our Shaolin Wahnam students nowadays do. But it can be safely said that both the rate of learning and the rate of accomplishing the result of the Shaolin monks were much slower than ours.
It was never recorded, in fact it was unthinkable, that any of the Shaolin monks could learn any of the four great arts or attained any of the results in a course of four hours!
-- Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
The above is reproduced from the thread 10 Questions for Grandmaster: Legacy of Bodhdharma in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.
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