Wahnam Taijiquan

Sifu Rama and Sifu Jeffrey engaged in sparring during a Special Taijiquan Course with Sifu Wong in Malaysia in 2002. Sparring is an essential aspect in Wahnam Taijiquan. Sifu Rama is a Wahnam Taijiquan instructor in Costa Rica, and Sifu Jeffrey a Wahnam Taijiquan instructor in Australia.

The following discussion is reproduced from the thread What is Wahnam Taijiquan? started in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum on 13th April 2005.

As this thread is quite long, it is divided into various sections as follows:

What is Wahnam Taijiquan

13th April 2005.

What is Wahnam Taijiquan?


Hello Beausimon,

Your question can be answered on a number of levels.

Put most simply, Wahnam Taijiquan is the Taijiquan that is taught by Sifu Wong Kiew Kit and the certified Wahnam Taijiquan instructors of the Shaolin Wahnam Institute.

The word Wahnam comes from the names of two of Sifu Wong's beloved masters (my beloved Sigungs) Lai Chin Wah and Ho Fatt Nam.

In practical terms, Wahnam Taijiquan is Taijiquan as we sincerely believe it was trained by past masters. This is based on Sifu Wong's profound understanding of various Taijiquan Classics including works by Wu Yu Xiang, Li Yu Yu, Wang Zong Yue, Zhang San Feng (attributed or real, depending on your belief/perspective) and others. I would also include the Dao de Jing as having influenced Wahnam Taijiquan.

I don't think it's unfair to say that Wahnam Taijiquan has benefitted greatly from Sifu Wong's lifelong involvement in Chinese martial arts, as a practitioner, teacher and scholar. I find it very interesting that some of my Shaolinquan brothers (hello Darryl!) often utilize Taijiquan principles in their life and training.

In relation to the styles you mention, I'd say that Wahnam Taijiquan contains elements of both Yang and Chen style Taijiquan.

Some of the hallmarks of Wahnam Taijiquan include:

If you want to go beyond these words, I suggest that you enjoy viewing some of the videos on Wahnam Taijiquan that Sifu is making available. If you have any specific questions at all, please post them here and it will be my pleasure to answer them to the best of my knowledge and experience.

Best regards
Jeffrey Segal
Shaolin Wahnam Australia (Melbourne)

Hi Jeffrey,

Thanks for giving me a good overview of Wahnam Taijiquan. Having combining the elements of Chen, Yang and perhaps Shaolinquan, can we say that it is a new form of Taiji with its own requirements for postures, form, stepping, depth/width of stances and breathing much like Sun style Taijiquan when Sun Lutang combined elements of Xingyi, Baguazhang and Wu Taijiquan?

How many postures does it have? Do you happen to have a list of the postures? Is it just one set or does it have multiple sets like the other styles: small frame, large frame, slow set, fast set, etc?


14th April 2005

Hi Jeffrey,

Just one more question. Would the entire set of Wahnam Taijiquan be taught at the 1 week intensive course?

Some of the countries do not have Wahnam schools, so after attending the 1 week intensive course, when the trainee returns to his/her home country, how does he get his forms/postures/movements checked for compliance and corrected?


Wahnam Taijiquan

Sifu Anthony Spinicchia, who is a Wahnam Taijiquan instructor in USA, and Sifu Jorge Leon, Wahnam Taijiquan instructor in Spain practicing Pushing Hands during the special Taijiquan Course in Malaysia in 2002. This photograph shows Sifu Jorge closing Sifu Anthony Spinicchia's arms before moving in for a push. As Wahnam Taijiquan is practiced as a martial art, this “closing the opponent before attacking him” is very important, though it may not be so in other Taijiquan schools.

A Complete Art

Hi Beausimon,

You ask interesting questions. Let's see if I have any interesting answers for you!

First of all, I'm not sure whether it is useful to compare Wahnam Taijiquan with Sun Style Taijiquan because it is not Sifu's intention to combine other martial arts to form a new style. Even if he often jokes that Taijiquan is for lazy people, I think that Sifu believes that Taijiquan is a complete art that doesn't need to borrow from other martial arts.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we believe that the Taijiquan we practice is similar in style to what would have been practiced by past masters. Of course we realize that our level is by far inferior to those who preceded us.

We tend to talk about patterns rather than postures and I don't have a list but if you have a look at this link, you'll find the names of the patterns that appear in the Wahnam Taijiquan set.

As far as sets go, rather than talk about fast or slow frames, I prefer to think that they can be trained and taught on different levels which can be classified according to the intention and skill of the teacher and/or student.

To start with we can perform a set at the form level, taking care that each pattern is done correctly, paying attention to footwork, yin-yang harmony, turning the waist, flowing graceful movements etc. Even at this stage there are many ways of training the set, including repeating patterns, using each pattern as Zhang Zhuang training and others.

At another level, appropriate breathing is used so that qi directs the form. This is the energy level.

Later on, the form can be used to train internal force and explosive force. Here the form may be performed faster.

At a high level, the form is performed at the mind level where the mind directs the qi and the qi directs the form.

On paper these levels seem distinct but in practice there is a great deal of overlapping.

As far as small and large frames go, we tend to allow our internal development to govern the depth of our stances. By that I mean that there is an ideal (shown by Sifu every time he demonstrates anything!!) but that it is better to allow ourselves to naturally sink into the correct depth over time and as we become more aware of our Dantian. We do not purposefully perform the sets at different depths, even if some patterns do require deeper stances like, for example, Dodge Extend Arm.

Here are the sets that are usually taught in Wahnam Taijiquan:

I'd like to emphasize that sets, while a useful training method for connecting patterns, are not the essence of Wahnam Taijiquan. It would be theoretically possible to reach a high level in Wahnam Taijiquan solely by concentrating on a few patterns like Grasping Sparrow's Tail, Cloud Hands and Single Whip. Our focus is on developing internal force and applying Taijiquan principles in Pushing and Striking Hands as part of a systematic sparing methodology. As I have previously written, Wahnam Taijiquan is always Qigong and always spiritual cultivation.

To find out more about breathing in Wahnam Taijiquan I suggest that you read through this thread. If you are interested in the stances we use, the videos on Sifu's website will provide you with a wealth of information.

In my next post I'll answer your questions about the intensive Taijiquan course.

Best regards,
Jeffrey Segal
Shaolin Wahnam Australia (Melbourne)

Hi Beausimon,

Originally Posted by Beausimon:
“Just one more quesiton. Would the entire set of Wahnam Taijiquan be taught at the 1 week intensive course? Some of the countries do not have Wahnam schools, so after attending the 1 week intensive course, when the trainee returns to his/her home country, how does he get his forms/postures/movements checked for compliance and corrected?”

As you may have noticed from my posts, sets are not a priority in Wahnam Taijiquan. Again, I'm not saying that they are unimportant but the aims and objectives of the intensive course are more concerned with teaching the essence of Taijiquan. If you have a look at this link, you'll see that it says that a Taijiquan set will be taught if feasible. This will depend on the level of the course participants. Normally the Wahnam Taijiquan set is not taught at these courses. It is more usual to teach one of the smaller specially designed sets that I talked about in my previous post. This may consist of just a few patterns, allowing course participants to develop invaluable skills.

Generally speaking, after spending 5 days of intensive training with Sifu, course participants have internalized sufficient techniques and skills to continue training on their own. Also, once you have been initiated into Wahnam Taijiquan, you'll find that the material on Sifu's website is of immense value in terms of helping you stay on the right track with your training.

This forum is also an important part of post-course training. If you browse around the forum you'll find that apart from our respected guests, there is a large community of Shaolin Wahnam instructors and students sharing experiences and offering advice to each other.

I hope you find these posts helpful.

Best regards,
Jeffrey Segal.
Shaolin Wahnam Australia (Melbourne)

Wahnam Taijiquan

Sparring is an essential part of Wahnam Taijiquan, which is cultivated for health, combat efficiency and spiritual development. Here, at the Special Taijiquan Course in Malaysia in 2002, Sifu Anthony Spinicchia uses “Low Stance Single Whip” to neutralizes Sifu Jeffrey's high kick. High kicks are not frequently used in Shaolin Wahnam, but in this training session Sifu Jeffrey poses as an opponent using other types of martial arts.

Bringing Kungfu to Life

15th April 2005

Hi beausimon,

I am sure that Jeffrey Sihing will be able to answer more of your questions. I just wanted to say a few things. I hope they are helpful.

I have not experienced a Taijiquan Course with Sifu, but I have attended an Intensive Chi Kung Course and during that time I was among a few lucky people who received some instruction in Taijiquan (some applications, how to use Chi to direct Form, and how to correctly perform Lifting Water ).

Those short sessions really taught me a lot about Taijiquan. Even though I practise Shaolinquan now, I respect Taijiquan more than ever.

I think what Jeffrey was trying to say, is that during a course with Sifu, you will be taught the ESSENCE of Taijiquan. This is really the most important thing you can learn! Like Jeffrey said, you will most likely learn a smaller set that has been specially designed for the course.

You can learn a set from most Taijiquan Schools. Many schools that don't truly teach energy flow or combat application will still perform the sets correctly (on the physical level). Some things don't often change . For example: drop the elbows, relax the shoulders, movement controlled at the waist, etc (although these skills are best taught by a Master).

At the course Sifu will give you the Foundation upon which your Future Skills will be built. You will learn Essential Skills, rather than a whole lot of physical (and empty) movements. The Course will be most likely focus on things like Footwork, Stance Training, Pushing Hands, Combat Application & Chi Flow. Later on you can learn the longer sets, and then apply the skills from the course to the sets to expand your range of techniques.

I think it would help you a lot to read the excellent article "Wahnam Taijiquan and Noodle Making" by Emiko Sijeh. I think it has a lot of relevance to your posts in this thread.

Best Wishes,

Thanks to Kevin for that excellent exposition.

Beausimon, I think you need to understand the idea of "platinum card kungfu". Although I am not an instructor, I have experienced many benefits from this skill I learnt in my limited way at the qigong courses. Like Kevin said, what you will probably take away the essence of Taijiquan.

I think what Kevin is saying is you are expected to pick up the forms elsewhere even if they are not Wahnam Taijiquan sets per se. The idea is to use your skills to perform any set well to obtain the benefits of Taijiquan.

Of course, each style has its own unque training methods that may bring out the best in each style. For example, if a particular lineage of the Yang style specialises in explosive force, while the Wu style focuses on neutralising force in combat application, their zhan zhuang training and postures can be very different from each other. But underlying both styles is still the internal force generated from zhan zhuang, relaxed state and the ability to direct qi. What I learnt at the qigong course and what I hope to learn at an intensive Shaolin/Taijiquan course allows me to grasp the essence of any style, even if not the finer details.

An example. If I have trained to be able to run for long distances with intermittent sprints of 100 metres throughout, I can do just about any sport that requires stamina. In basketball for example, you need to be able to last 15 minutes in constant motion, but at the same time make short bursts from one end of the court to another. Maybe I cannot dribble or shoot all that well, but I can outlast any unfit player.

The above is not a really good example as it suggests that the platinum card is very generic (stamina) and cannot be used for specific ends. In truth, the platinum card can be a generic skill or a specific skill. Perhaps improving on that example I could say that in addition to having good stamina, I also have excellent hand-eye coordination which is the absolute foundation in any ball game. Then I can dribble and shoot with ease and accuracy.

So, if Taijiquan is a combat art, what you need are the elements that make an internal art what it is - calmness and relaxation, using the mind and qi, footwork, internal force etc. Maybe you don't have the knowledge of some esoteric skill in that art but with Wahnam Taijiquan, you get 80%. That is already pretty impressive. The rest you can figure out on your own. When you can sense your qi flow and direct it, you will be surprised at the extent you can progress in most things, especially martial arts.

Interestingly, at the qigong course, the seeds of the platinum card were planted so subtly that it seemed that what I learnt at the course had no direct relevance to kungfu fighting (but only relevant for health). But after a while, I found that I felt more refreshed after my form practice, my body was moving "right" and I was able to really enter into a deep meditative state, and of course, I could really FEEL the qi flowing and sometimes gushing. I am not saying that these sensations are an indication of correct practice though they often are, or that qi sensations prove what I am doing is real Taijiquan. That can only be truly assessed in a real combat situatiion or when I can cultivate my spirit.


18th April 2005

Hi Kevin and Wuji,

I agree with you that after you have learnt the skills and essence of Tai Chi, you can pick up complete Tai Chi sets of other styles from other instructors. But you can only learn the entire Wahnam Taijiquan set from Wahnam.

The intensive course would only have taught a portion of this to you. Bear in mind that the complete Wahnam Taijiquan consists of 99 patterns. It is not likely that you will learn more than 30 of these at the 5-day course, definitely much less than 80% of Wahnam Taijiquan.

After the course, it is true that you can bring the skills home and learn Wu Style Taijiquan. In the end, you will know complete Wu Style Taijiquan and still only some Wahnam Taijiquan (which you had learnt during the course).


Wahnam Taijiquan

Weapon training is a part of Wahnam Taijiquan. Sifu Javier Galve, a Wahnam Taijiquan instructor in Spain, demonstrates a pattern, "Green Dragon Shoots Pearl", from the Wudang Sword. The unarmed pattern also called “Green Dragon Shoots Pearl” looks different, but the principle is shooting chi in the attack is similar.

Treasure Hunt

19th April 2005

Hello Beausimon,

I've only formally learnt the 24 pattern set from Sifu so I'm not in a position to give an opinion as to how it differs from the standard Beijing set. Perhaps, when you have learnt Wahnam Taijiquan you will be able to tell me what the difference is

Sifu has often taught the Wahnam Taijiquan set at courses in Spain so there are quite a few people who know it. We also worked on it specifically at the special (invitation) Taijiquan course in 2002. Of the Wahnam Taijiquan instructors, I'm sure that Javier, Rama, Attilio, Inaki, Laura, Jorge and yours truly train or have trained it regularly. There may be others.

I don't know exactly what my brothers and sisters are teaching in their classes but in the normal training program, the Wahnam Taijiquan set does not appear until level 6. Up till now, I have not been teaching in one place long enough for my students to reach this level. When I start teaching Taijiquan in Melbourne (probably some time this year) I expect that it will take at least 2 years before we start learning the Wahnam Taijiquan set. I do not consider it to be a priority. I am far more interested in my students training qi flow, internal force, some basic Taijiquan patterns, pushing hands, striking hands and generally training Taijiquan following Taijiquan principles.

I think that Kevin wrote an excellent post on this thread. In my opinion, between us we have explained the aims and objectives of Wahnam Taijiquan and the intensive course quite well. Of course you are welcome to post any more questions that you may have.

Enjoy your training!

Jeffrey Segal
Shaolin Wahnam Australia (Melbourne)

Treasure Hunt

Thank you posting that Jeffrey, and also to Beausimon for asking the right question

It is very interesting to know some background on Wahnam Taijiquan, and the material covered from day one.

Originally posted by Beausimon.
"The intensive course would only have taught a portion of this to you. Bear in mind that the complete Wahnam Taijiquan consists of 99 patterns. It is not likely that you will learn more than 30 of these at the 5-day course, definitely much less than 80% of Wahnam Taijiquan."

Just a quick point.

For convenience, an art (in this case, Wahnam Tajiquan) can be classified into four dimensions: Form, Force, Application and Philosophy.

The set you mentioned fits in the Form category (generally speaking). It is the visual aspect, the obvious if you like.

"Form" constitutes one of the lesser important dimensions. Force and Application are the real "meat" of an art, along with philosophy.

Sets (Form) are available everywhere, but chi flow, internal force and using that form for self defense (Force and Application) are not.

Do not go on the course if you want just form, or even mainly form. Go for the real treasure, and you too will be fortunate like so many who have done so before you

Best Regards,


Wahnam Taijiquan

Wahnam Taijiquan

Sifu Wong demonstrates a combat application of the sword pattern "Green Dragon Shoots Pearl". Sifu Wong Chun Nga, a Shaolin Kungfu instructor in Malaysia, attacks Sifu Wong Kiew Kit with a horizontal sweep of his staff. Blocking the staff with a sword will result in the sword being broken into pieces. Without moving his feet, Sifu Wong retreats his body backward to avoid the powerful sweep of the staff.

This is a manifestation of the flexible bodywork of the "Dragon" pattern, and is possible only with an appropriate stance. Someone bouncing about, for example, would be unable to execute this technique. This illustrates the significance of stances and bodywork in kungfu (including Taijiquan, of course). As the staff sweeps past, Sifu Wong launches forward and thrusts his sword into the opponent's shoulder — instead of into his throat, illustrating the compassionate nature that results from Wahnam Taijiquan training.

What's in a name?

20th April 2005

I'm curious to know why common domain Tai-Chi Chuan postures, which appear with the same name in the Form Sets of every major style, are given different names in the Wahnam Tai-Chi Form Set? Why, for example, would a Form posture like "Brush Knee and Twist Step" be renamed "Green Dragon"?

Light To All!

Sifu Stier

"Green Dragon Shoots out Pearl"

Hello Everybody,

Quoting from Sifu Wong's "The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan" (highly recommended)

"This pattern is called Twist Knee Throw Step after the foot movement but a more poetic name is Green Dragon Shoots Out Pearl"

Would anyone care to explain from their own experience using this wonderful pattern (one of my favourites) what makes the poetic name so apt?

Best regards,

Jeffrey Segal
Shaolin Wahnam Australia (Melbourne)

Well, I will hazard a guess but first I must apologize to Sifu if my guess is different from what was intended when he chose the name "Green Dragon Shoots Pearl".

First, it is important to note that "Brush Knee Twist Step" is the only posture name that can be pronounced in at least 3 different ways with very different meanings. This is one reason why I always think that names of Chinese wushu postures in English should always have their pinyin or Chinese characters in parenthesis)

Pronouncing the name in one way indicates one application while pronouncing it in another shows another application.

In the first pronunciation, it means you lift your knee high and change your step. This is the interpretation taken by the modern Yang masters such as Yang Zhengduo.

The second pronunciation is a possible defensive posture -- you catch the attacking limb, and hold your own stance firm while you implement a striking counter-attack. This is the standard interpretation, you block a low or middle attack with the left hand and follow up with a palm strike to the tanzhong xue (See Sifu's book)

The third pronunciation refers to a qinna application when you hold the attacking limb and follow up with a felling attack to "break or twist" the opponent's step (or legs).

Because this posture is called "Brush Knee", the usual application is to seize the thigh of the attacker as he implements a kick. It is also enormously useful as the counter described in Sifu's book.

This posture name is also one of the few that are "functional" in nature rather than poetic, which means it literally describes the actions to be performed, as compared to say “White Crane Flaps Wings” or “Play the Pipa”. Because of the ways it can be pronounced, my guess is that masters chose this phrase as it was so versatile.

After all that, why "Green Dragon Shoots Pearl". OK, more background. "Green Dragon" in the few Taijiquan forms I know generally refers to a posture with the right hand extended forward, usually with the same leg in front, such as "Green Dragon Presents Claws". To my surprise, I found the same posture and name in the Dragon-Tiger Set found in Sifu's "Introduction to Shaolin Kungfu". It is a forward movement with an emphasis on attack, which describes the Lou xi Ao bu posture well.

So why Shoot Pearl instead of Present Claws? First, it is a palm strike not a claw. And the way the qi is to be shot into the opponent's body is in the shape of a pearl or pearls, i.e. a cascading flow or rush of energy.

This posture name therefore describes the final stationary posture without the transitional movements leading to it. And since any of the many applications end up in the same posture, it is even more versatile to choose this name than the prosaic Lou Xi Ao Bu which reveals only 3 applications. After all, it is the result that counts - you have attacked and subdued the enemy.

Lastly, I vaguely recall seeing this posture name in one of the Chen-style routines (can't recall which one) which may be the most likely reason.

Persevere in correct practice


Helllo again,

Apart from all the martial applications, my own experience is that “Green Dragon Shoots Pearl” is a truly profound way of cultivating my own pearl of energy at both the qihai and laogong.

Well, actually they are also martial applications!

Best regards,

Jeffrey Segal
Shaolin Wahnam Australia (Melbourne)

Quick disclaimer - I've also never taken Sifu's Intensive Taijiquan Course, but I have attended his “Fundamentals of Taijiquan” course and I did attend a Taijiquan course for a few months while looking into martial arts.

Originally Posted by Beausimon:
"For example, having learnt the applications of Brush Knee Twist Step doesn't mean you know the application of single-whip."

This depends on how the applications are taught. If the applications are taught as “fixed” applications ("if they attack with this, you counter with that") then you are correct. If the applications are taught with an emphasis on skills and philosophies (including Safety First, Differentiating Yin/Yang, Simultaneous Defence cum Counter) then your statement is not necessarily correct. Obviously, if the skills are not yet understood or alive, then the student would not be able to demonstrate combat applications of the various patterns.

If you have 99 patterns on offer and you are taught 20 that work on different skills and understandings, then you are actually able to give life to more than just the 20 chosen. However, your understanding is likely to be limited and nowhere near as accurate as the sophisticated uses that have already been discovered. At this point, further attendance and/or regular and persistent practice is required (to learn the combat applications of the other patterns).

At this point, either option is acceptable, but since 'Train Smart, not Hard' is very relevant here, repeat attendance would be the faster of the two.

Shaolin Wahnam Scotland

"If the food comes first, we eat then talk. If the food takes time, we talk then eat"

Wahnam Taijiquan

A Wahnam Taijiquan training in Soria, Spain in 2004. In the front row Dr Francis, a DNA research scientist, is sparring with Sifu Manuel, a Taekwondo grandmaster and former world champion who now practices Wahnam Taijiquan; in middle row Sifu Laura, a Wahnam Taijiquan instructor in Spain, dodges a attack from his sparring partner and is just about to counter strike; in the third row, Sifu Riccardo Puleo and Sifu Attilio Podesta, both Wahnam Taijiquan instructors in Italy, are sensing each other.

Wahnam Taijiquan

A pattern from the Wahnam Taijiquan Set, “Green Dragon Shakes off Water”, demonstrated by Dr Lie Kai Ie of Canada. You can view the whole set here

Why is Wahnam Taijiquan so called?

21st April 2005

Unanswered Questions!

I still haven't received a reply as to why standardized Tai-Chi Chuan postures are given different names in the Wahnam Style? How does parting from the 'mainstream' styles in this way benefit the practitioners in any way? Is this intended to make your Ta-Chi a more proprietary, 'in-house' style, or what?

The only other instances of postures being given different names than everyone else uses for the same posture have been from people like Bruce Tegner, back in the 1960's before Tai-Chi became so popular, who published a book in which he apparently posed for photos of the same postures displayed in a Chinese language book he found in Chinatown. Since he couldn't translate the names, and didn't think that a primarily non-Chinese readership of his book would ever know the difference, he just created 'new' names for all of the postures!

I know that this IS NOT the case in the Wahnam Tai-Chi Chuan, so what's up with the different names? Anyone?

Light To All!

Sifu Stier

Dear Sifu Stier,

I thought that my previous posts answered your question. We use both names for the pattern but give preference to the name “Green Dragon Shoots Out Pearl”.

Wuji gave some interesting theoretical/linguistic/historical background (including that he remembers seeing the name “Green Dragon Shoots Out Pearl” in a Chen style Taijiquan text, and I also gave a brief example of how the name “Green Dragon Shoots Out Pearl” has manifested in my own training. I know that I talked more about cultivating a pearl but I'm sure that you understand how important it is to cultivate energy before manifesting (shooting out).

May I suggest that you re-read the relevant posts. If you are still unsatisfied I suggest that you ask Sifu Wong directly. Perhaps your question will appear on his famous Questions and Answers series.

I'm delighted that you are so interested in Wahnam Taijiquan and I hope that you have been enjoying the resources that are provided on this forum and Sifu Wong's website.

Best regards,
Jeffrey Segal
Shaolin Wahnam Australia (Melbourne)

Originally Posted by SifuStier:
"I know that this IS NOT the case in the Wahnam Tai-Chi Chuan, so what's up with the different names? Anyone?"

A good question and since I know that Jeff is busy with coursework just now, I'll attempt a quick answer until someone knowledgeable is available. However, please bear in mind the following things. (1) I don't train Wahnam Taijiquan and so (2), I've never discussed this with Sifu, making it (3) entirely an intellectual view, not an official or even necessarily correct answer.

Disclaimer over and following from what Jeff said earlier about poetic relevance, I would suggest that Sifu changed some of the names to attempt to remind/return to the martial aspect of Taijiquan and the inherent strengths and achievements possible. As mentioned elsewhere, Sifu has no formal Taijiquan lineage (and has never attempted to hide or disguise this) and with a global influence moving away from the internal and the martial (the “Tai Chi dancers” effect), the names may have been changed to reflect the skills taught within each pattern.

While I must admit that I don't think this is very likely, I do know one thing -- that if my Sifu has changed the names of the patterns, then it must be for a very good reason. I know that Sifu has several classic Taijiquan texts in his personal library, so it may be that the pattern name is not new, but a return to a previous title. Again, I don't know if this is true either.

It's also worth noting that “Wahnam Taijiquan” was not initially called Wahanm Taijiquan, it was just called Taijiquan with the reference to whichever Sets were included/modified, in this case Chen. It was eventually named Wahnam Taijiquan due to people (outside of Shaolin Wahnam) disbelieving that Sifu could be teaching Taijiquan and (in their eyes) must instead be teaching a watered down version of Shaolin Kungfu. Amusingly, it is entirely because I know that this is not the case that I still continue to mock my Taijiquan brothers and sisters about this very thing.

Shaolin Wahnam Scotland

"If the food comes first, we eat then talk. If the food takes time, we talk then eat"

Originally Posted by SifuStier:
"I still haven't received a reply as to why standardized Tai-Chi Chuan postures are given different names in the Wahnam Style? How does parting from the 'mainstream' styles in this way benefit the practitioners in any way? Is this intended to make your Ta-Chi a more proprietary, 'in-house' style, or what?"

Hi Stier Sifu,

I was under the impression your question was with direct and specific reference to the posture name "Green Dragon Shoots Pearl", hence my answer and that of the others who have posted answered that question directly.

Sifu has emailed to me before on how Wahnam Taijiquan was created - I did not mention the email or its contents before since I did not want to make any representations on behalf of Shaolin Wahnam. Also, I had never taken a Wahnam Taijiquan course before so it was certainly not my place to "announce" anything as it were.

But now, I am glad that Darryl has posted about how the name "Wahnam Taijiquan" came to be, so I can make some matters clear. At the time Sifu emailed to me, he was considering adopting the name Wahnam Taijiquan after his students had made this suggestion to him. Darryl referred to others calling the Taijiquan Sifu taught "watered-down version of Shaolin Kungfu"; I saw it being described in some forums as "disguised Shaolin Kungfu". I believe Sifu finally chose the name Wahnam Taijiquan to make it clear that this is the version of Taijiquan he teaches.

In my humble opinion, this choice of name achieves several admirable aims. First, it makes it clear that Sifu has taken full responsibility for the version of Taijiquan he teaches. Compare this with the bogus instructors who purport to teach Yang-style Taijiquan after learning from an instructor teaching informally at a park. Only yesterday, when practising my form at a nearby garden, I saw an instructor teaching the Yang long form (as advertised on a signboard). It was clear that the "ji" (Squeeze) action they were doing could never work and violated every principle of Taijiquan - the shoulders were raised, the elbows pointed to the sides and upwards, hunching, knee over the toes etc. If these people want to teach this sort of Taijiquan, they should not insult Yang Luchan by using his family name.

If Sifu wanted, he could well have used one of the style names since he exhibits the essence of Taijiquan. It is difficult for others who have not seen for themselves to understand so I will not belabour the point. But having chosen a new name, Sifu now has an unquestioned right to lay down principles, training methods and philosophy for his style. Whether others agree with these principles is another matter altogether.

Second, it created a tangible identity for the Shaolin Wahnam members learning Taijiquan from Sifu. They had a style they could finally call their own. Instead of such a conversation:

Others:"What are you learning?"
Wahnam student: "Taijiquan"
Others: "Really? Which style? Yang, Chen, Wu2, Wu3, Sun?"
W: "I learn it from Sifu Wong"
O: "But what style is that? Is he teaching Yang, Chen.....?"

we now have:

O: "What style are you learning?"
W: "Wahnam Taijiquan"

Simple, direct and effective. It also made matters for convenient for the fellow students (tong2men2) to refer to each other: "XXX from the Taijiquan branch", rather than say "XX who practises Taijiquan". Though seemingly similar, the difference in the two phrases is to my mind most significant.

Third, it was an act of respect to Sifu's masters. Because they had generously transmitted to him the essence of Shaolin internal arts, which are the basic building blocks of wugong, and from which Zhang Sanfeng himself created the internal arts, Sifu was able to create a new style of Taijiquan. It is a way of saying that Wahnam Taijiquan was only possible because of them.

So, that's talking about the name of the version or style Sifu teaches.

Whether the lineage is an issue or not, a master of a certain level can create his own style of any kungfu he pleases. I may be reading too much into your questions here, but I think the implicit message is "What right does Wong Sifu have to use his own postures name to substitute established ones?"

As submitted above, Wahnam Taijiquan is officially Sifu's style - he can rename anything he wants. This is quite unlike the American you refer to, who in legal parlance, passed off and converted posture names he had no right to change if he did not even know how to translate them in the first place. He did not create his own style -- he changed the names in an existing established style. These two cases can clearly be distinguished on this point. I would further use the analogy of the creator of Praying Mantis Kungfu, who borrowed from many style to create a style of his own. He did take Monkey Kungfu and changed the posture names and then say this was his own.

And now, turning to individual posture names in particular. As I have said elsewhere, I practice a style descended from Yang Shaohou and Wu Jianquan to Wu Tunan and to my instructor's master. But Wu Tunan's own fast form has names quite different from established names in the Yang Long Form.

Even others masters such as Dr Yang Junmin has variations on the name. Aside from the dialect variations in pronunciation, I know for a fact that certain masters deliberately vary a posture name to give effect to the application they want to emphasise. So, Sifu may have chosen "Green Dragon" to focus on energy building and emission, as opposed to say a standard combat application.

Finally, I must say again that I am not a Wahnam Taijiquan instructor and I stand to be corrected by anyone (with due courtesy, of course) if my comments are out of line. I would further add that while I am writing this in my capacity as Sifu's student, I am also writing from the perspective of a Yang-stylist. Despite having a great instructor in the Yang Style, I have expressed my desire in this forum to learn Wahnam Taijiquan from Sifu. This is not to put down my instructor whom I respect very much and whom I am most indebted to.

Everything I have learnt and attained in Taijiquan (though very little) is from my instructor and Sifu. And my instructor himself has more than one master concurrently so he has no objections to my learning from another. Naturally, as a student of Sifu, I always speak in his defence, only that I believe that speaking as an advocate for anyone must always be accompanied by courtesy for our learned friends, or the other side. StierSifu, I am sure you would expect the same and no less of your students.

However, this is not a case of partisan loyalty. I believe that even seen objectively, the unique posture names of Wahnam Taijiquan are justified. They are part of what you have accurately called a proprietary in-house style.

Zhang Wuji

The Wahnam Taijiquan Set

Hi there just wanted to respond to an earlier comment by Beausimon.

I am a Wahnam Taijiquan instructor. When I did an Intensive Wahnam Taijiquan course in Maylaysia about a year ago, I learnt both the 24 pattern and the considerbaly longer Wahnam Taijiqaun set in under 5 days. Although I was not a complete novis, it wasn't too difficult. None the less I didn't find learning the forms the most valuable aspect of the course. Previously I had made a common mistake in kung-fu training of acquiring endless amounts of forms which really were of no use other than for performance.

Which reminds me of a time I was talking to a very kind and experienced teacher of Taijiquan. I was telling him how many styles and Taijiquan sets I had learnt....24 pattern, 48 pattern etc. I suppose I was trying to impress him or make him think that I was competent, but he didnt seem impressed. He gave me some advice and said to me that there are many types of container to hold water in, for example. glasses, jugs, vases. They all have different appearances but they should do the same thing .... carry water. If they don't then they aren't very useful.

My point is there are many different styles and appearancess of Taijiquan but it is the essence that is important -- the essence being force and application.

My kind regards.


Hi Everybody,

Robin's post is absolutely valid and I agree with his wise words but....

Originally posted by Robin.
"When I did an Intensive Wahnam Taijiquan course in Maylaysia about a year ago, I learnt both the 24 pattern and the considerbaly longer Wahnam Taijiqaun set in under 5 days."

I'm not sure I'd classify the week we spent together with Sifu (just the three of us and Lauren taking photos) as your average intensive Taijiquan course.

I'm attaching a couple of photos from that week to this post.

For that matter, I'd hardly describe Robin as your average Taijiquan practitioner. He's a very fast learner.

Looking forward to training with you again in Sungai Petani, Robin!

Attached Images:

Wahnam Taijiquan

Stance training and combat application are the two most important aspects of Wahnam Taijiquan training. This photograph shows Sifu Jeffrey, a Wahnam Taijiquan instructor of Australia, and Sifu Robin, a Wahnam Taijiquan instructor of England, practicing the Three-Circle Stance at the Taijiquan Intensive Course in Malaysia in 2004, while Sifu Wong looks on.

Wahnam Taijiquan

Sifu Robin and Sifu Jeffrey practice sparring during the Intensive Taijiquan Course in Malaysia in 2004. Notice that they use typical Taijiquan stances and patterns, and not bouncing about like Boxers or kicking about like Taekwondo exponents.

Jeffrey Segal
Shaolin Wahnam Australia (Melbourne)

22nd april 2005

Hello Everybody,

I thought some of you might be interested to know that when we originally learnt the Wahnam Taijiquan set, Sifu taught it to us in a one day course during the Shaolin Wahnam Summer Academy in Spain in 2001.

Naturally, since then many of us have repeated that one day course and had many (many!) sessions with Sifu discussing and refining our understanding and practice of the set. Nevertheless, we did learn it in one day.

It was during that one day that I first understood that letting go is not only important during qi flow but essential when learning techniques and skills. You could call it Wu Wei and the art of learning. The more you let go, the smoother the transmission from Sifu.

Best regards,
Jeffrey Segal
Shaolin Wahnam Australia (Melbourne)

Hi Jeffrey,

Did you and the others have prior Taijiquan experience before that 1-day course?


Hi Beausimon,

At the time of the course in 2001 I had been learning Taijiquan from Sifu for about 1 year. I can't speak for the other course participants. Nobody would have been a complete beginner because Sifu always insists that people take the Taijiquan fundamentals course before any other courses (like form, pushing hands, striking hands etc).

Best regards,
Jeffrey Segal
Shaolin Wahnam Australia (Melbourne)


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