CLEANSING, BUILDING AND NOURISHING IN CHI KUNG, TAIJIQUAN AND SHAOLIN KUNGFU
How do the stages of cleansing, building and nourishing differ between the arts practiced in our school?
Suppose you had three people who were identical in every way possible. The first person practices the 18 Lohan Hands Chi Kung exclusively. The second person practices Wahnam Taijiquan exclusively. The third person practices Shaolin Kung Fu exclusively.
How would their respective journeys through cleansing, building and nourishing be similar? How would they differ?
This is an interesting question that will contribute to the philosophy of chi kung, Taijiquan and Shaolin Kungfu in future. Despite a lot of knowledge recorded in chi kung, Taijiquan and Shaolin philosophy at present, there is not much about cleansing, building and nourishing the way we are looking at these processes, though these are actually very important developments in any person practicing these arts.
There are two main reasons why classical literature on cleansing, building and nourishing as a genre is lacking. In fact, the terms "cleansing", "building” and "nourishing" are coined by me, or at least popularized by us if these terms already existed elsewhere in English literature of chi kung and kungfu, to describe processes that our students undergo in their training.
The first reason is because of the linguistic as well as cultural difference between English and Chinese. It is worthwhile to note that a great language not only enables its speaker to communicate ideas and emotions effectively, but also influences what and how they think -- an important fact that those who do not have the opportunity to use more than one language, or the opportunity to use a great language even when they use a few languages, may not realize.
Both English and Chinese are great languages, but they are vastly different. Hence, what English speakers think of as cleansing, building and nourishing will be quite different from what Chinese speakers do. In chi kung, Taijiquan and Shaolin classics, which are written in Chinese, there are no descriptions of cleansing, building and nourishing the way we look at these processes, but this does not mean that the concepts of cleansing, building and nourishing, in different context, are not there.
The equivalent terms for cleansing, building and nourishing in Chinese classics are "da tong jing mai" which can be effected by "yun qi", and "yang qi". ("Yang" here is different from that in yin-yang). "Da tong jing mai" means "clear meridians so that energy can flow smoothly". "Yun qi" mans "circulate energy" and "yang qi" means "nurture energy". The Chinese classics do not make a distinction between "building' which is increasing the quantity, and "nourishing", which is increasing the quality, and refer to both as “yang qi” which is nurturing energy.
The second reason, which transcends the linguistic and cultural difference between English and Chinese, is that phenomena of cleansing, building and nourishing were not prominent in the past like in our situation. They are also not prominent in other schools in the present.
Past practitioners and present practitioners of other schools (if they practice genuine chi kung, Taijiquan and Shaolin Kungfu) also underwent and undergo the processes of cleansing, building and nourishing, but the effects were and are spread over many years. Hence the effects of cleansing, building and nourishing were and are not drastic. For us, because of our cost-effectiveness which was unprecedented, we have better results in shorter time. What past masters took years to cleanse, build and nourish, we take months, sometimes even days. Hence, the issues of cleansing, building and nourishing are immediate to us.
With this background let us now have some fun as well as benefit examining how each practitioner practicing Eighteen Lohan Hands chi kung, Wahnam Taijiquan and Shaolin Kungfu exclusively differs from the others in cleansing, building and nourishing, presuming all other things being equal.
Of the three arts, if the practitioners use the same level of skills, Eighteen Lohan Hands chi kung is the least powerful, Taijiquan is in between, and Shaolin Kungfu the most powerful. As I have often mentioned, "least powerful" does not mean "least useful".
Eighteen Lohan Hands chi kung is also the least demanding, Taijiquan is in between, and Shaolin Kungfu is the most demanding. "Most demanding" does not mean "least fun".
Compared to the other two practitioners, the chi kung practitioner will go through cleansing, building and nourishing in a breeze. Unless he uses high-level skills, which will be explained later, he is unlikely to over-train, and his progression from cleansing to building to nourishing is gradual. He may not realize each process, or the transition from one process to another. But he will know that he has become healthier, have more vitality and is more peaceful and happy.
But he will take more time to attain results than the other two practitioners. As a rough estimate, if he is sick he may need 9 months of cleansing to recover, whereas the Taijiquan practitioner may need 6 months, and the Shaolin practitioner only 3. If he is already healthy but wants to build enough energy to run round a football field without panting and without feeling tired, he may need to practice for 6 months, whereas the Taijiquan practitioner will need 3 months, and the Shaolin practitioner only 1 month.
If he wishes to nourish his energy so that he may expand into the Cosmos, he will need to practice for more than 10 years. Both the Taijiquan practitioner and the Shaolin practitioner will need about 3 years.
Then, why is it that many chi kung, Taijiquan and Shaolin students can run round the size of a football field without panting and without feeling tired, and expand into the Cosmos after just a few days of an Intensive Chi Kung Course, an Intensive Taijiquan Course or an Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course? This is because they use high-level skills even when the techniques remain the same.
For example, if the chi kung practitioner has attended an Intensive Chi Kung Course or a regional course on Cosmic Shower, for example, he can use Lifting the Sky or Carrying the Moon not just to generate an energy flow, which is the main skill of Eighteen Lohan Hands, but to generate a cosmic shower. He can then run round the size of a football field or expand into the Cosmos after a few days of the course. The Taijiquan practitioner and the Shaolin practitioner who do not have the skill will have to practice for 3 months and I month respectively.
If he has the skills to expand into the Cosmos which he can acquire at an Intensive Chi Kung Course or a regional course on Cosmic Breathing, he can do so after a few days of the course. The Taijiquan practitioner and the Shaolin practitioner without the skills will need to practice for 3 years.
He must, however, guard against over-training, especially if he uses high-level skills to perform the Eighteen Lohan Hands. If he just perform the Eighteen Lohan Hands to generate an energy flow or self-manifested chi movement, he is very unlikely to over-train. But if he uses high-level skills like cosmic shower, building internal force, bone marrow cleansing or merging with the cosmos, his chance of over-training will be higher than those practicing Taijiquan or Shaolin Kungfu.
The result of over-training is over-cleansing, over-building or over-nourishing. Adverse effects are pain and discomfort, feeling tired and sleepy, and feeling agitated and restless respectively. He should slow down his progress and spend more time on out-door activities.
The energy derived from Taijiquan and Shaolin training is more powerful than that from the Eighteen Lohan Hands. Yet, the recommended time for a training session for a Taijiquan practitioner or a Shaolin practitioner is 1 hour, whereas that for a chi kung practitioner is 15 minutes. Why is this so? Isn't practicing more powerful exercises for an hour more likely to cause over-training than practicing less powerful exercise for 15 minutes?
No, it is not so in this case because the nature of training is different. There is more movement in Taijiquan and Shaolin training than in Eighteen Lohan Hands training. Initially, the force training in Taijiquan and Shaolin Kungfu takes only about 5 to 10 minutes, and the rest of the time is spent in set practice and combat application where there is a lot of movement to spread the internal force all over the body. In Eighteen Lohan Hands, although the energy developed is less, it is accumulated. Hence the chance of over-training is more.
As a Taijiquan practitioner or a Shaolin practitioner progresses, he increases his time for force training. The increase is gradual, giving his body sufficient time to adjust.
Comparing Taijiquan and Shaolin Kungfu, the processes of cleansing and building are both stronger in Shaolin Kungfu than in Taijiquan, but the process of nourishing is about the same. Hence, if both are sick, the Shaolin practitioner will recover faster than the Taijiquan practitioner. If both practice to attain vitality, the Shaolin practitioner will achieve his aim faster.
On the other hand, if they practice wrongly, the Shaolin practitioner will have faster as well as worse adverse effects. Hence, over-cleansing, over-building and over-nourishing will be more acute and happen sooner in the Shaolin practitioner than the Taijiquan practitioner.
As mentioned earlier, we in Shaolin Wahnam have improved our training methods in a ridiculous manner. While past practitioners took years to acquire certain force or skills, we take only months or even days! We are able to do so because of three main factors -- we understand the underlying philosophy, appropriate skills are transmitted from heart to heart, and we have the magic of chi flow.
Knowing the underlying philosophy enables us to aim straight at our goal instead of progressing haphazardly as other practitioners do. Transmission of skills enable us to work straight at the result, instead of spending much time practicing techniques with the skills being developed often unknown to the practitioners. Chi flow erases adverse effects unwittingly sustained and speed up result remarkably.
While this is a great advantage and privilege, it can also easily lead to over-training with the result of over-cleansing, over-building and over-nourishing, especially for students who think that our school is like any other school (despite the obvious and vast difference), and, worse, who think they are smarter than their teachers, though they do not consciously mean to be disrespectful.
It is difficult for many people, including some of our students, to appreciate the fact that our school is vastly different form other chi kung, Taijiquan or Shaolin schools. They may acknowledge that our school produces better result, perhaps even two or three times better. But they will not be able to comprehend, or even imagine, that it is a hundred times better, which will make our school totally different from other schools!
Let us take an example, a very meaningful example directly related to the topic we are discussing, that of chi flow. It is chi flow that operates cleansing, building and nourishing. In other words, if there is no chi flow, there will be no cleansing, no building and no nourishing. Not many practitioners in other schools know this fact.
If practitioners of other schools can generate a chi flow in a hundred days, it would be a remarkable achievement. Most practitioners, even at masters' level, cannot generate a chi flow on purpose even having practiced for many years. Some of them do have chi flow, but it was not generated purposefully, and usually they are unaware of it.
But in our school, any student can generate a chi flow the very first day they learn from us. Some students attending regular classes may take a longer time. This is not because their teachers cannot help them to generate a chi flow in one day. It is because their teachers purposely take more time to instill the skill in them for their benefit.
Hence, if these students do not realize that our school is vastly different from other schools, and take our teaching like the teachings of other schools, they are likely to over-train and suffer the adverse effects of over-cleansing, over-building and over-nourishing.
The other group of students who are likely to over-train are those who think they are smarter than their teachers, even when they do not mean to be disrespectful. For example, when their teachers ask them to practice certain exercises in a certain way, they practice them in other ways, thinking that their way is better. When their teachers ask them not to think of anything, they start thinking how not to think of anything. When their teachers ask them not to worry about unnecessary details, they particularly worry about such unnecessary details like must their fingers be close or open, or should they breathe out exactly when they lower their hands.
Comparing the three groups of students in our school, chi kung students are most likely to have these two problems of not appreciating that our school is vastly different from other schools, and that they try to be smarter than their teachers. Taijiquan students are less likely, and Shaolin students are the least likely. The good thing is that the actual number of such students is small.
Regardless of whether they practice Eighteen Lohan hands chi kung, Wahnam Taijiquan or Shaolin Kungfu in our school, the journeys of cleansing, building and nourishing of the three practitioner are generally similar. First they go through cleansing, next building, and then nourishing.
If they are sick or in pain, they overcome their illness and pain. Next, they have good health, vitality and longevity. Then they enjoy mental clarity and spiritual joys. They may go through the various processes cyclically or spirally.
However, depending on the respective arts they practice, there are differences in intensity and speed of cleansing, building and nourishing. The processes of cleansing, building and nourishing are the most powerful in Shaolin Kungfu, less in Taijiquan and the least in Eighteen Lohan Hands chi kung.
If they use higher-level skills, even when the techniques remain the same, they will achieve more powerful results. However, if they practice wrongly or over-train, they will have the adverse effects of over-cleansing, over-building and over-nourishing, the seriousness of which depends on the art they practice and the level of skills they operate on.
To avoid adverse effects as well as to attain the best benefits, it is highly recommended to follow the three golden rules of practice, which are don't worry, don't intellectualize and enjoy the practice.
The questions and answers are reproduced from the thread Stages of Cleansing, Building and Nourishing in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.
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