CONTRIBUTION OF COSMIC BREATHING TO COMBAT EFFICIENCY, INTERNAL FORCE AND SPIRITUAL CULTIVATION
In which ways has Cosmic Breathing contributed to your attainments and development in the 3 hallmarks of Shaolin Kungfu -- combat efficiency, internal force and spiritual cultivation?
Cosmic Breathing is a very advanced art. Most kungfu practitioners, even masters, do not have an opportunity to learn it. It is simply ridiculous that students in our school have a chance to learn Cosmic Breathing -- and in an unbelievably short time!
One great advantage of Cosmic Breathing is that it contributes to all the three important dimensions of kungfu training, namely combat efficiency which is the primary aim of practicing any martial art, internal force which gives us good health, vitality, longevity as well as peak performance in daily life besides enhancing combat efficiency, and spiritual cultivation which ranges from being peaceful and happy to expanding into the Cosmos and returning to God the Holy Spirit or whatever term one calls the most noble and supreme achievement according to his own culture.
We in Shaolin Wahnam do not merely mention these noble aspirations but actually attain them according to our needs and developmental stage, except the most supreme achievement where the supreme being merges with the Cosmos and leave the phenomenal world. It is simply ridiculous that we can attain all these achievements when our primary concern is teaching kungfu and chi kung.
This incredible opportunity is even more ridiculous when we are aware that most martial art schools today do not even attain the most basic aim of self-defence, and most chi kung schools today do not even attain the most basic aim of good health. Of course, the mentioning of this fact is not to belittle others or glamorize ourselves. What other choose to believe and practice is their right, and none of our business. But it is worthwhile to remind our students, who have the good karma to learn from us, about this unbelievable opportunity.
It is also worthwhile, as it provides inspiration and guidance, how Cosmic Breathing has contributed to my own attainment and development in the three hallmarks of Shaolin Kungfu or any great kungfu, namely combat efficiency, internal force and spiritual cultivation.
To many people the obvious requirement for combat efficiency is to know the techniques for overcoming various combat situations. If an opponent gives us a kick or attempts to throw us onto the ground, for example, we must know how to counter his attack.
What many people may not realize is the necessary skills to apply these techniques effectively. All those who have practiced kungfu for some time would have learnt the techniques to overcome combat situations, though many students may not know the application and even some masters may not be able to apply them effectively!
Again, it may be necessary to emphasize that this statement is made in good faith, and is certainly not intended as a slight to these students and some masters. It is a fact today that many students practice kungfu techniques for demonstration and if they have to spar they would use Kick-Boxing and still receive a lot of blows. It is also a fact that some masters may be at a loss when Taekwondo exponents execute some kicks on them, or wrestlers attempt to shoot them onto the ground.
Many students may not know the application of the necessary techniques, but the masters know it as they can demonstrate their application with cooperative students. But they lack the skills to apply the techniques effectively in real combat.
The three main skills for effective combat are picture-perfect form, sufficient force and reasonable speed. More crucial than these main skills, though many people may not realize it, are calmness, mental clarity, spontaneous response, and real fighting experience.
The main skills are basic. Even when a person is calm and mentally clear, can react spontaneously and has fought frequently, but if he does not know the correct technique against a particular attack, or lack force and speed, he will not be able to counter the attack. On the other hand, even when he has the basic skills the factor that eventually decides victory is often the crucial skills, like being calm and mentally clear, responding spontaneously and having fighting experience.
As our school is noted for transference of learning, how can this understanding enrich our daily life? One example is as follows. You may be an expert in computer science. How well you make use of this basic skill is how successfully you convince your employer or your clients to purchase your service at a price you want. On the other hand, no matter how good you are in the crucial skills of marketing and convincing, if you don't have the basic skill of computer science, you have nothing to sell to your employer or clients.
Cosmic Breathing is excellent in enhancing both the basic skills and crucial skills for combat.
If one is panting for breath, he would be unable to attain picture-perfect form. When I perform Cosmic Breathing, panting for breath becomes irrelevant! I won’t be panting for breath because I don’t have to breathe like ordinary people do, i.e. breathing in and out air, which contains energy, through the nose and mouth. Energy just flows in and out through my body without the need for normal breathing!
Cosmic Breathing provides me with tremendous internal force for combat. Internal force is consolidated from the energy derived from Cosmic Breathing, and exploded out in suitable patterns for combat.
I am also able to attain lightning speed in combat. Lightning speed is attained by using flowing energy, and not by using muscles. Not only it can be very fast, I don’t become tired as no muscular tension is used. This flowing energy which gives me lightning speed is derived from Cosmic Breathing.
Besides contributing to my attainment of basic skills in picture-perfect form, tremendous internal force and lightning speed, Cosmic Breathing also contribute to my crucial skills of being calm and mentally clear, responding spontaneously and enhancing my fighting experience.
To perform Cosmic Breathing, one must be deep in a chi kung state of mind. Being in a chi kung state of mind, even at an elementary level, enables a person to be calm and have mental clarity. But Cosmic Breathing requires not just an elementary level of chi kung state of mind, but a deep one. Hence the attainment of calmness and mental clarity is tremendous.
When one performs Cosmic Breathing, he literally pulsates with the Cosmos. First he performs at an energy level, then he enters into a deep mind level. At the mind level, his movement can be at the speed of thought. Hence, his responses are tremendously fast.
For most martial artists, when they see an attack coming, they first conceptualize their counter, and then set their body and limbs to work on it. Their movement may be fast, but it is still at the physical level. For me, as soon as I see an attack, often I can sense it before an opponent starts his physical movement, I just think of a response, and it is enacted instantly! The respond is at the mind level, though manifested physically.
Others reading this description may think it is a myth. But our students who have been exposed to our teaching will understand that I speak from experience.
I had much combat experience in my younger days, sparring and actual fighting with kungfu practitioners, other martial artists as well as masters. At that time I had not practiced Cosmic Breathing yet. I operated mainly at a physical level.
Since practicing Cosmic Breathing, I found my combat efficiency improved tremendous, though I sparred more with our family members than with people outside our school. Cosmic Breathing enabled me to progress from a physical level to an energy level, then to a mind level.
Some instructors confessed to me that they could not keep up with my kungfu progress. I told them honestly that they could because they attained in one month what it took me one year. But in reality there was a noticeable gap between their attainment and mine. I attributed it to the time of training. I had been training diligently for 69 years whereas they had spent less time in their training.
Answering this question highlights another reason for this attainment gap. As instructors caught up to the stage where I previously was, in less time than I took, I progressed to a new stage. And my progress was exponential. In other words, my progress in my recent 5 years was more than my progress in the previous 30 years. Moreover, my rate of progress was more than that of most instructors.
Does this mean that a student will never catch up with me? This is looking at the issue from a negative perspective. A Shaolin Wahnam perspective is the fact that a student can now attain in one year what it took me ten years. Another Shaolin Wahnam perspective is that our students will derive benefits in a relatively shot time what most other people may not have irrespective of how long they may train.
A helpful way to illustrate this exponential progress is to examine my kungfu development, which may be divided into three main stages, namely a student’s stage, a master’s stage and a supreme stage. They roughly correspond to my performance of kungfu at a physical level, an energy level and a mind level.
When I was learning kungfu from Uncle Righteousness and Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, I sought out kungfu practitioners and martial artists of other styles for sparring. I was also involved in a few real fights. I managed to remain undefeated, but this was due not to my combat efficiency but to hard work in knowing my opponents and preparing myself for the fight, and my scholar-warrior’s strategy of not entering a fight hoping to win but entering a fight to secure victory.
At this time I operated at a physical level. If an opponent executed a side kick, for example, I would trapped his kicking leg using my double tiger-claw in a pattern known as "Two Tigers Subdue Dragon". If an opponent executed a round-house kick, followed by a reverse round-house kick, I would lean back my body in a pattern called "Tame Tiger with String of Beads" to avoid his first kick, and move to his back to strike him using the pattern "Double Dragons Cross Step" as he executed his second kick. I defeated my opponents using appropriate physical techniques. I called this the student’s stage.
By the time I started teaching at Shaolin Wahnam Association, the fore-runner of our school, Shaolin Wahnam Institute, I had learned a great variety of combat applications from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam which I could effectively applied for any combat situation. But more significantly I had developed substantial internal force from the internal training of Sifu Ho Fatt Nam.
In combat I progressed from sparring with students to sparring with masters. With my knowledge of combat application, I could handle attacks from these masters, but looking hack with hindsight, I believe it was my internal force that defeated them. When an opponent executed a low punch, for example, I gripped his arm using the pattern “Second Auntie Catches Crab”, with my internal force penetrating into his vital points. His arm became numb, and even if he knew the counter, he was unable to do so. I called this the master’s stage.
My kungfu performance, including combat with other people, at the student’s stage and the master’s stage was before my training of Cosmic Breathing. Cosmic Breathing improved my kungfu development from the master’s stage to the supreme stage, where the mind, not just the physical or the energy, is the main factor.
This noticeable development, though gradual in its transition, occurred in the last ten years when my understanding of kungfu philosophy and advanced methods like Cosmic Breathing had tremendously improved my combat efficiency, internal force and spiritual cultivation.
I call this development the supreme stage. In combat, my mind has expanded to a level where I can sense an opponent’s intentions and frustrate him even before he can make any moves. I still need the physical techniques of the student’s stage, and the internal force of the master’s stage, but it is mind that constitutes the decisive factor in victory. Cosmic Breathing contributed much in this direction.
Interestingly, my combat efficiency improves in reverse proportion to my keenness in combat. I was most keen to engage in sparring when I was at the student’s level. At the master’s level, I engaged in combat when situations were cordial. At the supreme level, I would avoid combat as best as possible – and so far I have been successful. I remember years ago reading a comment that in genuine kungfu training, one would avoid fighting the more combat efficient he becomes. I did not expect at that time I would experience this development myself.
This development, of course, does not negate the value of Cosmic Breathing even just for combat efficiency. The contribution of Cosmic Breathing to combat efficiency not only makes our kungfu training meaningful, it gives us courage and confidence in daily living. But it is in the other two hallmarks of any great kungfu, namely internal force and spiritual cultivation, that the contribution of Cosmic Breathing has its greatest value irrespective of whether one is at a student’s, a master’s or a supreme stage.
For me the attainment of internal force has enabled me to have better health and vitality and better performance in daily activities than many people half my age, and the attainment of spiritual cultivation has enabled me to be peaceful and happy every day. Much of these attainments come from Cosmic Breathing.
The above discussion is reproduced from the thread 10 Questions on Cosmic Breathing in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.
Courses and Classes