In the testing of Golden Bell, Karol took a strike from Sifu Claude


Every school in which I have trained internal arts has remarked on the importance of the Small Universe, relegating it to either the very beginning of training or reserving it for advanced, indoor disciples. Naturally, I'm quite curious about it!

Sifu mentioned in several of his books that the Small Universe is the foundation for many advanced arts, including Golden Bell and Cosmos Palm, especially as trained by Shaolin disciples in the past using orthodox methods. What is it about the Small Universe that made it a requirement for past practitioners to attain advanced force such as Golden Bell and Cosmos Palm?

On a similar note, what it is about the way we train in Shaolin Wahnam today that enables people who do not possess the true breakthrough of the Small Universe to attain Golden Bell, Cosmos Palm, and other advanced or specialized internal force? Does the order in which one learns advanced arts, e.g. Small Universe before Cosmos Palm, or Cosmos Palm before Small Universe, change the final results obtained by the practitioner?

Frederick Chu


The Small Universe, in which energy in the Ren Meridian and the Du Meridian flows continuously, is a very important art. That is why you find its importance mentioned in every internal school you have practiced in.

We do not mean to be presumptuous or arrogant, but even internal schools that do not really have internal force in their training, mention the importance of the Small Universe, like many Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan schools today. These schools are supposed to teach internal arts, but there is nothing internal in their training. They merely teach external techniques. But they still mention the importance of the Small Universe, often not knowing why. They have heard about the importance of the Small Universe from past masters.

Why is the Small Universe so important to internal arts? It is so important because it contributes greatly to the attainment of internal arts. We shall have a clearer idea if we use some quantification. Suppose all other things were equal, and two practitioners, A and B, start to acquire an internal art. The only difference is that A has the Small Universe, and B hasn’t. B will take at least 3 times longer to attain what A does.

A can attain the effects of his internal art faster because he has the Small Universe. The Ren Meridian and the Du Meridian are regarded as the seas of energy. When energy is flowing well in the two meridians, it is also flowing well in the whole body. Not only the flow is smooth, the flow will also become larger.

Internal arts are a function of energy flow. The smoother and larger the energy flow is, the better will be the result of the internal arts.

Not many people know these facts, including real masters. The masters may have the Small Universe, or they may be expert in their internal arts, but they may still not know these facts. They become masters due to their long years of dedication.

This is a main reason why masters have taken a long time to become masters, and why there are so few masters. Not anyone who has practiced a long time will become a master, though today we may refer to one as a “master” out of respect. It is also because of ignorance of the real meaning of the master’s art.

Not many people will practice an art for a long time. Out of those who have practiced the art for a long time, only a very small minority will have practiced in such a way that they develop the necessary skills, usually unknowingly, to become masters.

Our students in Shaolin Wahnam are very lucky. Not only they know the philosophy of the art they practice, they have the necessary skills transmitted to them.

Hence, internal arts schools, as well as some schools that do not teach internal arts, relegate the Small Universe at the very beginning of training, or reserve it for advanced, indoor disciples. Most schools reserve the Small Universe to advanced, indoor disciples.

Worse, most schools teach only the outward techniques of the Small Universe without its essence and benefits. Those schools that teach the Small Universe at the beginning do not know how advanced and powerful the Small Universe is.

When I mentioned that the Small Universe was the foundation of advanced arts like Golden Bell and Cosmos Palm, I meant that it contributed greatly to the attainment of the advanced arts. I did not mean that the Small Universe was a necessary condition for attaining the advanced arts. A practitioner, today or in the past, can or could attain any of the advanced arts without having the Small Universe.

The main reasons why having the Small Universe contributes greatly to the attainment of advanced arts are a lot of energy and the energy is flowing. For most people the Ren Meridian and the Du Meridian are blocked at many places. When the two meridians are full of energy, it means he has a lot of energy.

The energy in the two meridians must also be constantly flowing.

In any advanced internal art, the practitioner must have a lot of energy, and the energy must be flowing. Even in an advanced art where energy is consolidated, like in Iron Wire, the energy must be flowing first. The practitioner consolidates his flowing energy, usually without knowing the terms and without knowing what he is doing, except in Shaolin Wahnam. After using the consolidated force, the practitioner must let his energy flow, otherwise it will become big muscles which are detrimental to health.

In Shaolin Wahnam even if students do not have a real breakthrough of the Small Universe, they understand kungfu philosophy. Masters refer to the breakthrough of the Small Universe as “real” and “false”. A real breakthrough is when energy is flowing continuously in the Ren Meridian and the Du Meridian. A “false” breakthrough is when only a bubble of energy is flowing in the two meridians. The two meridians may remain “open” for a short while, then “close” again.

When a Shaolin Wahnam student trains an advanced art, he will generate an energy flow, and consolidate it if necessary. Usually the philosophy is explained to him. If he has the Small Universe, he will accomplish the attainment faster and more powerfully. If he does not have the Small Universe, he will still accomplish the attainment, but slower and less powerfully.

Students of other schools will not know the philosophy. They will also not know what they are doing. They just practice the techniques. Hence, they take a much longer time. By practicing the techniques faithfully, a small percentage may eventually acquire the skills to accomplish the advanced art, but they will not know the philosophy behind what they have been doing.

The order of learning the Small Universe and other advanced arts is important. Presuming all other things being equal, if a practitioner learns the Small Universe first than another advanced art, like Cosmos Palm, he will attain the advanced art faster and more powerfully. If a practitioner does not have the Small Universe, but learns an advanced art, he will attain the advanced art slower and less powerfully. Later if this practitioner learns the Small Universe, his attainment will also be slower and less powerful.

David used his Cosmos Palm to break the bottom brick

The questions and answers are reproduced from the thread 10 Questions on Small and Big Universe in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.