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Tai Chi Chuan Festival in St. Pete

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  • #16
    Hey Fam! =D

    Well, I've certainly waited long enough to share my experiences from these amazing courses. Much like the speech I gave at the graduation dinner in St. Pete, I just don't know what to say. All I want to do is smile at everybody. Everybody at the course, everybody who wasn't at the course, everybody in our crazy and amazing family, everybody in the world. What words are going to do justice to that feeling??? None! BUT, Sifu asked us to post in the Forum! So I will do my best! =D

    For better or worse (better), Sifu's classes in Las Vegas and in St. Petersburg have merged together for me into one larger experience. And so, while I would like to comment on them individually, I must put them together, and leave it to our patient and kind moderators to decide where this post really belongs.

    In short, the last two weeks of my life have left me a profoundly different person. My love has grown so much and my fear has diminished to afterthought, faint and distant background noise. In one of the sessions in St. Pete Sifu had us send blessings to whoever we want to, however we want to, as he so often does. But I wanted to send blessings to more people than my heart could contain!...but instead of choosing this loved one or that loved one, it occurred to me, like a slap in the face, "Just let your heart be BIGGER!!!"... And then it was. And it still is.

    I love Iron Wire. Iron Wire loves me back. I have never felt such a strong and natural affinity for a set before! As I commented to Sifu after the course, it feels like an old friend, like a warm jacket. It is giving me what I need, nourishing parts of me that have been long neglected. It is like an engine powering my life, or fuel powering the engine. It is a physical, vocal, energetic and spiritual demonstration and practice of courage, confidence, vitality, joviality, force, and power. It is soft while hard, stern while compassionate, outwardly loud while inwardly quiet. It is just what I need, just when I need it. And I'm still doing it on such a low level!!! Oh my...

    Non sequitur: Just do what Sifu says. So simple! Don't think about doing what Sifu says, or worry about doing it wrongly. Don't worry about not doing it exactly the way he says! Don't worry about anything! Just DO. Just let it flow means just let it flow. Did you find some tension? What good fortune! Now you can let it go! Emotional tension? Thought tension? Physical tension? All the same solution. Just let go. Wonderful. Beautiful. Simple.

    Well, I have more to share, but I seem to have fried myself with this first bit. I can't seem to write about a course with Sifu without going into a kind of chi flow. =) More on Wudang and all the amazing people I was blessed to share this course with...later!


    Michael Helgeson

    First open your Heart. Then...follow it.


    • #17
      I'll add one to Christina's list:

      Thank you to my Sifu (Anthony K) for having the brilliant idea to come armed with cheat sheets for the sets and for showing me in a nice way that when pressing down on a shorter opponent, I must watch out for sneaky kicks!
      Chris Didyk
      Shaolin Wahnam USA

      Thank You.


      • #18
        Parting Advice

        When I took Sigung to the airport after the Festival was over, we had some time to enjoy a cup of coffee and chat before he went to his gate. In his ever-abundant generosity, Sigung left me with some wonderful words that I think some of you might benefit from, too.

        Sigung has often mentioned how difficult it is to impress upon even his most senior students just how deep an art Shaolin Kung Fu (including Tai Chi Chuan) is. With that in mind, I asked Sigung if he could clearly look way back and see the the various developmental stages he went through from the beginning until now.

        I was certain I knew the answer before I asked, but, as he does so often, Sigung expanded his answer (which was "Yes") into an inspirational gem. He said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "The instructions I give are always at the student's level. Take the pressing Tai Chi Chuan sequence we used against other martial artists at the Festival. It isn't advanced, it's elementary! Yet when I say that it is simple to apply it, many students mistakenly think, 'Of course it is simple for you to apply! You are a master!' but they do not realize I am saying that it is simple for them to apply at their level. They do not realize it is their thinking and not their skills that hold them back."

        Of course, my own experience backs up what Sigung said. I had always assumed that if I mis-applied something like that pressing sequence, it was because I was not skillful enough. But the times it flows out effortlessly prove that skills aren't the problem. It's getting distracted by what my partner might do with his back hand. Or thinking about what pattern I need to do next. Or thinking that I have two legs but spiders have eight

        It seems so obvious, but that conversation alone has changed my practice and my life. It was a fitting way to end two weeks of amazing break-throughs!

        Thank you again, Sigung.

        PS For those who were at the Wudang Tai Chi Chuan course, practicing the mind-level is an excellent way to "fix" your thinking
        Chris Didyk
        Shaolin Wahnam USA

        Thank You.


        • #19
          My Dear Family,

          Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful inspirational posts.

          I personally love reading everybody's experiences from Sifu's courses and sharing these very special gems that have been taught and learned.

          Congratulations to all involved in organising what sounds to have been absolutely divine courses in the US.

          Smile from the Heart,
          Books don't mean a lot unless you open them, Hearts are the same.......

          Valentine's Smile from the Heart 2019 IRELAND - world renowned Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit.

          -A FEAST OF SHAOLIN transmitted by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit FEBRUARY 16TH -19TH 2019


          • #20
            The Tai Chi Chuan festival in St Petersburg was amazing. Epic in its scope and magnificent in its execution, to be a part of it was a real honor and a privilege. I suspect it was unprecedented in the history of Tai Chi Chuan to learn what we did in such a short space of time. Let me tell you, it is inspiring to be part of history…

            And we didn’t just learn sets – Sigung transmitted the very essence of each style of Tai Chi Chuan by pausing at certain moments through the set to emphasis and elucidate aspects of the patterns he had just taught us. Sometimes we paused for combat applications, other times for philosophical discussions; sometimes we paused to practice the patterns with our total focus on the Jing, Chi and Shen level.

            The Yang 108 pattern was poetry in motion: soft, flowing and smooth. I felt light and spiritually fulfilled as I moved through the patterns. I felt confident and focused as I trained combat with it.

            Before I comment on the Flowing Water Flowing Clouds set I must state an obvious point – my words are not a statement on the nature of the set but rather a statement of my personal experience of practicing it: I found the Flowing Water Floating Clouds set more powerful than Iron Wire. It set my meridians on fire as surely as lighter fluid would. My Shen was glowing in that room and I felt a freedom in my soul like never before.

            And there was a deep intelligence in the energy as it seared through me. It was like I could somehow harness and cultivate it – like on some level I had an understanding of it. It seemed to move with me and through me. It was quite extraordinary.

            Learning the Wudang set was like opening a letter from God. There is a mesmerising beauty in the set that whispers to the eternal in all of us. It is the very source of all our Tai Chi Chuan – the very source! Watching Sigung practice it is to witness something very precious and very beautiful and the privilege of being there to learn it was immense.

            Some of the combat applications of the Wudang patterns were outstanding. Really, I never would have guessed. I learned so much, yet we only barely scratched the surface of it.

            We enjoyed some tremendous combat on all four afternoons. On the third evening (after Floating Water Floating Clouds) Sigung asked us to practice combat sequence seven against boxers and other martial artists. Again and again, Sigung emphasised with great clarity how we are to use our combat sequences in combat: we use the sequence as a sequence – we do not break it up into its constituent parts. It is a self-contained unit of attack all by itself!

            We strike with a punch and without a moment’s hesitation or pause we strike with the second punch. Then we kick. Then we strike again. As we apply the sequence we continuously and relentlessly press into our opponent (and by pressing correctly, naturally we guard correctly). We repeat and repeat the sequence – without relenting in our pressing – until our opponent has his or her back against the wall or is on the ground. As a methodology in combat it is quite stunning in its effectiveness. It is the very essence of how we are to train our sequences and fight in free sparring competitions.

            I found that when we apply our sequences in this correct manner we completely overwhelm our opponent. As a foundation we must of course have picture perfect form and reasonable levels of force (to be effective in pressing). We must also have the courage and confidence to follow through and banish our emotional insecurities. But when these ingredients are present and we train our sequence in this manner - as instructed to us by our Grandmaster - we make the transition from kittens to tigers.

            I had many tremendous sparring sessions that evening but the one that stands out is the one with Chris Sifu in which I had my “I get it!” moment. Now while Chris may very kindly have significantly reduced his skill level to train with me, I found that when I followed Sigung’s instructions I was able to press Chris across the floor with my combat sequence seven. Some of my punches could have landed and done damage if I had really followed through with them.

            By pressing him correctly he wasn’t able to get a proper punch in - he was off-balance and had no secure footing. His fists were punching the air around him (a point which he articulated and demonstrated to me afterwards - Thank you Chris. It was a superb session and helped me so much in my training).

            When I didn’t follow Sigung’s instructions due to my own emotional insecurities, and resorted to trying to land a strike here and there while moving in my stance with no fixed purpose, Chris, at his significantly reduced level of skill, had total control over me. He was the guy driving me back. He could have floored me with any one of his boxer punches.

            The difference between the two approaches was quite remarkable. One is the correct way to fight, the other is not. I learned this lesson at the Intensive in Penang in April but must confess that some of its finer points did not remain with me over the months - to be successful you need to press into your opponent and execute the sequence at the same time. Timing and spacing is everything!

            In addition to the profound lesson in combat, that whole evening was the most fun I have had in a very long time!

            We must of course acknowledge that we may always come up against an opponent more skilled than us who can get around us using our sequences in this manner. But that is a separate issue. As a methodology in fighting, using our combat sequences as intended by our Grandmaster is masterful and tremendously effective. It is the real way to fight. If a boxer or kick boxer of roughly equivalent skill level to me (or even a bit higher) had come into that room that evening and challenged me, I’d have nailed him to the wall!

            Tremendous stuff. And of course, hugely beneficial in our daily life as well.

            I would like to offer my sincere and deep thanks to both Chris Sifu and Christina Sifu for putting together a spectacular festival of Tai Chi Chuan. Your entire festival logistics were superb, you welcomed me with an open heart and beaming smile and you did a brilliant job in ensuring Sigung had a great time. It was also really superb to train with you both! Thank you both very much. I am really looking forward to welcoming you to Ireland in February. Oh we are going to have some fun fun fun I can assure you…oh yes we are…and hey, the Guinness will be better here too!

            I met a lot of family members for the first time. Oh what lovely and wonderful people! It never ceases to amaze me how Shaolin Wahnam continually attracts the most amazing people into its classes. Yes, we are all here to better ourselves through the arts but at our core we are all great and wonderful people. Thank you all so much for making me feel so welcome.

            I would also like thank my Sifu for offering me the right encouragement to go at precisely the right time (not to mention all the wonderful Tai Chi Chuan weekends!). I had a number of doubts beforehand about going and wrote to Sifu asking for advice. Her reply was GO! and listed a number of reasons as to why her advice was go. Every one of them have since proved valid and true. Thank you Sifu. Not for the first time you have guided me through my own doubts and helped me enormously in the process.

            Finally I would like to offer my sincere and heartfelt thanks to Sigung for another extraordinary series of courses. Each one was fabulous. Each one was amazing. Each one was so much fun. I really cannot say much more other than thank you, thank you, thank you.

            I am really looking forward to playing my part, as best I can, in welcoming you to Ireland next February again Sigung. Thank you.

            All the best to the Shaolin family,



            • #21
              Thank you Kevin

              Dear brother,

              This post was amazing. Your words are so inspiring...

              Thank you for taking the time in writing about your experiences. I have found this of tremendous inspiration and help. In fact, whenever I feel lazy about the practice I visit the Forum and read a couple of posts. And guess what? I get back my apetite for practice and I do practice better than ever.

              That is exactly what I am going to do right now. I am going straight to practice. :-)

              As I said before, it is a pleasure to have you Kevin as a brother in this wonderful family.

              And, it is very true what you said about Joan Sije. She is amazing (and we all know here, in Shaolin Wahnam, that lies are not part of our lives. So, I really mean it). I don't know how she does but I found that she really knows what we need, how we need it and when we need it. Sije, thank you for that too. :-)

              I am also pretty excited about upcoming courses in Ireland. Can't wait...

              My deepest gratitude to Shaolin Wahnam too and all its family members, in particular Sifu for bringing this wonderful arts to us.

              Shaolin Salute,



              • #22
                I was "only" able to attend the Cosmic Shower course this year, and it ended up being just what I needed. Leading up to the course, I have been dealing with a lot of stuff especially emotional blockages. During the course, I felt as if there was a blob of dark, sticky, gooey muck spreading from my chest to my liver and stomach. In the first sessions, I could feel the energy flow hitting against this area which was really uncomfortable. Each successive session seemed to break it up a little more, and by the end of the course, it was physically flushing out of my body (not going into specifics there) which continued for the next day. Since the course, I've felt lighter and my energy has been flowing much smoother.

                Thank you to everyone who made this year's event possible. Thanks to Sifu for bringing Shaolin WahNam to Florida; thank you Chris and Christina for organizing an awesome set of courses; and of course, thank you Sigung for transmitting such amazing skills so openly.
                Adam Bailey
                Shaolin WahNam USA


                • #23
                  Thank you!

                  Dear family,

                  I want to offer a heart-felt "Thank you!" to everyone who has generously shared their experience in this thread. It's like being there in spirit, retrospectively, as it reminds me of the high points of my own experience of Sigung's amazing courses. Sounds like this was very special, which --amazingly-- in Shaolin Wahnam is not very special at all! We are very blessed indeed to be in a position to practice these precious arts.

                  Big smile from the heart,



                  • #24
                    Dear Wahnam family,

                    Awesome thread, can't believe I missed this. Thanks for posting your experiences.

                    To Stephen for being bold enough to take every single course offered in the US (Vegas and st pete) and for letting me look so good locking your arm with Sifu watching
                    Sijie Christina (is that how I should address you?),

                    I didn't have a choice in the matter above, just like I didn't have a choice in the bruises that you gave me. By the way, more bruises developed after I went home to NY. It then turned into a weird green color after doing some Iron Wire practice, but then it was gone!

                    It's amusing that the bigger guys in my Baguazhang class never gave me any trouble despite the fact that they strike their forearms against tree trunks for fun. LOL

                    Best regards,


                    • #25
                      Well Stephen I often strike my arms against the huge tree trunks my husband has for arms for perhaps it isn't a fair comparison

                      It was a wonderful course with wonderful people and I am certain if you keep practicing that iron wire that there will be no more bruises for you in the future!
                      from the Heart...


                      • #26
                        Was that really only 4 days?

                        Dear Family,

                        I've been watching the videos from the St. Pete Taijiquan festival, WOW!

                        As someone who has taken numerous Taijiquan courses with Sifu over the years I must say that everyone who attended is very very fortunate. It's almost outrageous how much precious jade you received in only 4 days.

                        Congratulations and I hope to see many of you at many courses in the future:-)

                        From the Heart,
                        Jeffrey Segal