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Sifu's May 2020 comments about One Finger Shooting Zen

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  • Sifu's May 2020 comments about One Finger Shooting Zen

    Dear family,

    In Sifu's answer to question #6 in the May 2020 Q&A Part 1, he said the following:

    It is actually not the number of repetitions, but how you train internal force for each repetition. A person may perform 10 repetitions of either One-finger Shooting Zen or Fierce Tiger Cleanses Claw leisurely, but he may be tired after 3 repetitions of intense training of either art.
    and

    You can gradually increase the number of repetitions of training One-Finger Shooting Zen or Fierce Tiger Cleanses Claw. If you can perform 5 repetitions intensely you are good, and be able to apply Dim Mark or Tiger Claw. If you can perform 10 repetitions intensely, you will become a rare master.
    Reading his answer has had a huge positive impact on the way I train One Finger Shooting Zen. But before I describe the changes and benefits I've noticed, I would like to ask:

    Did reading Sifu's answer affect how you train One Finger Shooting Zen? If so, how? More generally, how has your practice of One Finger Shooting Zen changed over time?


    Also, a big Thank You to Steffen for asking the questions that prompted Sifu's answer!
    Chris Didyk
    Shaolin Wahnam USA


    Thank You.

  • #2
    I had often wandered how Masters advanced if not by adding more repetitions. For myself, I could never do many repetitions of for instance One Finger Shooting Zen, as I would notice mind would get bored and lose focus after many repetitions. I always thought that was my own inability of some sort, it was a relief when Sifu told me it was not the number of repetition but depth of your state of mind that counted

    Gratitude to Sifu for all his teachings .

    Best wishes,

    Roeland Dijkema
    www.shaolinwahnam.nl
    www.shaolinholland.com

    Comment


    • #3
      Dear Sisookgung,

      thank you for bringing up this topic! I remember receiving this marvellous answer from Sitaigung during the first months of our daughter's life.

      Training One Finger Shooting Zen as described has been an interesting experience for me so far. I have noticed improvements in every area of my Kung Fu and daily life. Most notably, I am fascinated by the versatility of the force developed.

      In Kung Fu context, both my soft Tai Chi Chuan and the harder styles like the tiger have become more powerful, reflecting the development of flowing and consolidating force in One Finger Shooting Zen. As I do not have a regular training partner, I cannot attest to any changes in combat application that might or might not have happened.

      From the health perspective, I have noticed some emotional cleansing, particularly in the kidney area. The benefits in daily life include being more confident and less distracted by fear and anxiety.

      Despite being exposed to a lack of sleep due to our small child, I have also noticed an increase in energy levels throughout the day and in the evening.

      The biggest impact, however, has been of a spiritual nature. I find it much easier to smile from the heart, even in challenging situations. The benefits of this are enormous, especially in the context of my work as a doctor and the responsibility as a father.

      All in all, I have received a glimpse why One Finger Shooting Zen is considered a treasure of our school. I am grateful for having learned it, being part of our lineage and enjoying this wonderful life.

      Thank you Sifu, thank you Sigung, thank you Sitaigung and thank you all past masters.

      From the heart,
      Steffen
      May all beings be happy

      Thank you.

      Comment


      • #4
        Dear Chris,

        Did reading Sifu's answer affect how you train One Finger Shooting Zen? If so, how?


        Yes, a lot. During our Intensive Shaolin Kung Fu Course Sifu taught Paz and me to perform OFSZ “three times three” 3 series of 3 repetitions each using intense force. 3 Series of 3 repetitions each serie for right hand and 3 series of 3 repetitios each serie for left hand. After reading Sifu´s answer the principle behind became very clear and with this new awareness i feel my OFSZ practice became more focused, consistent and clear at the same time and results come faster and deeper in every session.

        More generally, how has your practice of One Finger Shooting Zen changed over time?

        Because i practice OFSZ daily and i have learned OFSZ from Sifu in different courses and with different approaches and levels of transmissions i have experienced a lot of different insights, effects and benefits from my practice.

        Last few years i enjoy more practicing OFSZ using flowing dragon force for peak performance and spiritual cultivation.

        Steffen questions are always very interesting and i have benefited a lot by reading Sifu´s answers to them. Thank you brother for all your contributions, it´s always a joy to read your questions, hear your experiences and to share in Sifu´s courses.

        Looking forward to know about the changes and benefits you have noticed Chris!

        Always grateful for Sifu´s Teachings,

        Best regards,

        Ángel

        Comment


        • #5
          Hello All,
          I suppose it all depends on the heart . I for myself feel it in my heart to work up to those kind of things. I am the kind of person as my Sifu, who previously commented could attest, likes to do the more intensive ways of training force. I previously worked up to 300 pushing mountains and stayed there for a few months with 9 forceful big windmill and small universe and OFSZ and doing some spiritual big universe and all sorts of things. George Borisov could tell you about how during that time i would drink coca cola to try and not float off into space haha. I have become down to earth since that and just focus on sitting in horse riding for as long as i can hoping to work through leg blockages and make it to an hour. It just feels like something i want to personally do. I told Taisipak about it and he said an hour is not even necessary but 40-45 minutes is enough. But my heart still says you need to get to an hour everyday . I also find that if i force trying to sit longer i feel less force enter from the cosmos, while if i sit naturally for however long my body wants and then a bit more i am way more effective in gathering energy. In the evening i do 3-5 ofsz for fun and the benefits are awesome and i could definitely see myself working up to 10 in the future. What my Sifu (Roeland Dijkema) commented on earlier feels right to me as it is a per person per your heart sort of thing. What you want to put into the art is what you will get out of it. And it is something Taisipak in Frankfurt told me about as well, thinking about all if the famous Masters who reached a crazy high level in Kung fu they were 1 in a million even at the Shaolin temple. I notice some people in Wahnam also leaving perhaps because they feel they did not attain what they wanted. Probably none of us would get that level anyways, but the idea for myself i found is going beyond the limits for myself which i always thought were impossible. I find Wahnam is best for this, rather than having Ego attainments to show off we each have our personal attainments that we can be proud of in our daily lives. Wahnam is very beautiful for having this kind of thinking
          So what I found is listening to the heart with these kind of things is how we become our version of the best practitioner. Having a specialization is quite helpful for this sort of thing I suppose . This is one of the nicest things my Sifu and Sigung taught me, letting nature take care of it while smiling from the heart

          Many thanks for the thread Sisook and the comments from others

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks for all of the insightful comments! I am learning even more from them. I'm glad to hear that you are all getting such wonderful benefits, too.

            My experience is similar to Steffen's. (Congratulations again on your daughter!) Before reading Sifu's comments, I had been practicing One Finger Shooting Zen with an emphasis on relaxation/no physical tension. If I felt force start to consolidate in my arm/hand/finger, I relaxed more to let it go. The result was that I generated a fair amount of flowing force, but not much consolidated force, and not as much flowing force as is produced using the Flow Method.

            I practiced this way partly because I was teaching my students this method (since some were using too much physical tension) and like to "test-drive" my instructions. It didn't occur to me that another reason I practiced this way was because of an "imprint" of an old habit. I used to suffer from Try Hard syndrome. That's the one where you are so serious about doing something correctly and you want the result so badly that you try too hard and block yourself from fully receiving it.

            When I first practiced One Finger Shooting Zen, my Try Hard syndrome manifested in chasing after internal force. I had difficulty distinguishing between internal force and physical tension, so I frequently backed off and erred on the side of relaxation whenever I was in doubt.

            After I read Sifu's answer, I realized that I was neglecting the consolidated force aspect of One Finger Shooting Zen. I "remembered" that I can now quite easily distinguish between internal force and physical tension, so there is no need to dial back the internal force when it fills up my arm/hand/finger in One Finger Shooting Zen.

            When I began practicing One Finger Shooting Zen fully embracing both flowing and consolidated force, my repetitions of One Finger Shooting Zen slowed down considerably. I felt noticeably stronger with brighter shen after my practice. Both my One Finger Shooting Zen and my Tiger Claw felt much more alive. This effect has increased over time. I was exploring some applications with my imaginary partner recently and at one point I executed Old Eagle Catches Snake and had to stop and just look at my hands in surprise. Even though my only intention was to apply the pattern, my tiger claws were full of force. I don't know how much force would have gone in if I was applying the pattern on a real person, but it felt like a substantial amount. I never felt that in the past unless I was explicitly setting the intention to send force in through my tiger claws. Even then, because I was usually trying too hard, my tiger claws didn't feel as full.

            There has been a similar effect on my mind/shen. I find that the consolidated force aspect is allowing me to focus more powerfully on whatever I choose to focus on. Again, where in the past I might have backed off in case it was tension rather than force, now it's clear. I can just enjoy using stronger focus if I choose to.


            PS Miguel, you touched on something in your post that I have been thinking about recently, but I'll leave it for a separate post.
            Chris Didyk
            Shaolin Wahnam USA


            Thank You.

            Comment


            • #7
              I've been practising One Finger Shooting Zen daily for about 18 months now. First year was the standard 3 series of 3 repetitions format then at some point I switched to 5 series of 3 repetitions. In January, Kai Tai Sipak tweaked my practice "a bit" which easily doubled the intensity.

              From this experience, the most beneficial instruction was just to have a continuous practice. Just doing it every day for a year - things change and it feels like the direction is right.
              George / Юра
              Shaolin Wahnam England

              gate gate pāragate pārasaṁgate bodhi svāhā

              Comment


              • #8
                Dear George,
                Awesome to hear you kept the practice up since we talked about it I don't know how long ago now 2 years? Your force was already nice and can't wait to see how it develops from there . Taisipak's corrections are very strong, and I enjoy doing it everyday.
                All the best,
                Miguel

                Comment


                • #9
                  One Finger Shooting Zen was the part of my daily Golden Bridge practice, which I did for some years as the first thing to do after waking up. I ended every session with some repetitions of One Finger Shooting Zen. This year something changed and my body needs more flowing force, so I practice One Finger Shooting Zen during evenings only, in Sitaigung Ho Horse Riding Style. Interesting observation - it feels even stronger than before.

                  The most difficult part for me is the shooting itself. I can not grasp how to shoot good amount of chi with only one finger. Two finger Zen feels more natural in my case.

                  I am really happy to read that so many of us practice this precious art on daily basis.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'm one of the slower folks in the bunch to have learnt One Finger Shooting Zen. I took my first course in 2011, but didn't learn One Finger Shooting Zen until 2017! The joys of living and training literally one thousand miles away from the nearest fellow Shaolin Wahnam family member

                    Reading Sifu's answer absolutely changed my perspective of the exercise. It also reminded me that force training, especially, is not just something we do to feel good, but encompasses developing power, focus, accuracy, speed, and all those qualities needed to succeed at combat. In martial arts, that means winning fights. In daily life, it means being decisive, persistent, and courageous enough to do what must be done. It does not mean just sitting in a weird squat, making funny sounds, and waving your hands in a puppeteer.

                    I was previously emphasizing Cosmos Palm ever since that wonderful course, and later training various arts from the Glory of Shaolin Kung Fu Winter Camp and Becoming a Shaolin Wahnam Practitioner before deciding to bust myself back down to basics about a week ago with Lifting the Sky, Horse Riding stance & Golden Bridge, followed by several repetitions of One Finger Shooting Zen, then Art of Flexibility and combat sequences. In the evenings, I might practice something else, but for now that is the core.

                    Taking Sifu's advice from his comments here, as well as some advice he shared during the Practitioner course really helped the One Finger Shooting Zen training come alive and to develop its own characteristic flavor and emphases, especially with the sometimes incredibly crystal clear aspect of shen training. I sometimes joke that practicing Cosmos Palm is like being set adrift in a deep and all encompassing ocean, while One Finger Shooting Zen is like grasping a bolt of lightning in comparison. Just smack me if I start wearing black robes and cackling like Emperor Palpatine.

                    Given how prevalent One Finger Shooting Zen is in our school (it even shows up right at the beginning of the Shaolin Kung Fu training syllabus) and how often it's been taught, I find it fascinating how many subtle variations there are in the school. Even right from the start, Sifu mentioned that the first three sections of One Finger Shooting Zen come from the force training in the Great Majestic Set, with his later addition of the Big Boss Offers Wine section. It appears in some of the earliest course videos preserved on Sifu's website, such as in Toronto 2005, an impromptu demonstration of One Finger Shooting Zen and the Five Animal set at a VIP Taijiquan course in 2005, the truly epic How to Think and Act like a Master (perhaps my favorite series of videos to watch over and over again), many Intensive Shaolin Kung Fu courses, specialized arts courses such as the Shaoin 72 Chin Na Techniques, regional courses such as the Legacy of [Sigung] Ho Fatt Nam, and as a special bonus in other courses such as Northern Shaolin Seven Stars.

                    I've noticed some people have subtle variations, such as:
                    • the inclusion of a Mirror Hand in between One Finger Shoots Zen and Single Tiger Claw in the first section
                    • releasing vs maintaining the right angle of the wrist while triple stretching the One Finger Zen hand form in the first section before "shooting" it out
                    • at what point do they straighten their wrist when "shooting" their One Finger Zen hand-form forwards, such as back at their hip, in the course of straightening their arm, or right at the very end of extending their arm
                    • including Double Mirror Hands after Double Dragons Emerge From Sea & Lower Scissor Hands and before Double Tiger Claws
                    • purposeful training of Wave Breaking Hands type force when raising and separating the hands after Lower Scissor Hands
                    • training Inch Force, especially in the fourth section of the set in a manner similar to that described in Sifu's Wing Choon manuscript.
                    • repeating any particular section multiple times, such as training the second sequence three times and/or the third sequence three times before moving on
                    I've also run into people training their mode of One Finger Shooting Zen with different general themes or timing, such as:
                    • practicing the set as a whole in Wuji, Two Character, or Goat stance rather than the Horse Riding stance
                    • practicing the set in Wuji at the form level, at Two Character or Goat when emphasizing flow, and either remaining in Goat or transitioning to the Horse Riding stance to emphasize force
                    • training the set directly after stances or separately from stances
                    • including its practice before, after, or completely separate from other force training, such as Sinew Metamorphosis, Cosmos Palm, Golden Bell, etc.
                    If Chris siheng doesn't mind my asking, what sort of subtleties or nuances have you noticed in your One Finger Shooting Zen practice? I'm not advocating that anyone change their practice, of course, train the way that you have been taught. My "outsider's perspective" of training more or less on my own, but being lucky enough to have been invited to many of my family members' kwoons in past years lets me get a glance at the great things they're doing and how it compares & contrasts to my own practice.

                    Whew, this post got long. Time to step back and let other people talk!
                    I like making silly videos (including kung fu ones!) every so often on YouTube and taking pictures of weird things on Instagram.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hi Fred,

                      That is a big and interesting question! Thinking about it has brought about some insights that further clarify my previous comments.

                      The biggest subtlety I have noticed in my One Finger Shooting Zen practice is the effect of internalizing it over time.

                      Initially, like every Shaolin Wahnam kungfu student, I learned the routine and was transmitted some of the internal skills. In my practice, I focused on remembering and following the instructions like doing the correct physical form and routine, being physically relaxed, and being in Zen mind. At this stage, I hadn't yet developed the required level of sensitivity/awareness/force to distinguish between physical tension and consolidated force or observe my energetic body while practicing. I sometimes did things like extra "stretches" before "shooting" in an attempt to be able to feel the force in my hand/arm. I relied mostly on observing my results to determine if I was practicing correctly. In a sense, my practice was external.

                      As I progressed, I was able to follow more internal instructions, like placing my mind at my finger tip to allow force to concentrate there and feeling whether or not that was happening. I learned the flow method and could feel the difference between it and the consolidation/force method. My practice was becoming more internal.

                      Now, the instructions, including the routine and form, are fully internalized. I don't need to think about them. My level of sensitivity/awareness/force is such that I can observe my energetic body while practicing and make fine-grained adjustments (and notice their effects) in real-time. For instance, I can adjust the degree of consolidation or flow, not just whether I build one or the other. I can also find and correct small flaws in the physical form by first feeling the energetic blockages they cause. I still observe my results, but now it is simply to confirm what I already feel. Similarly, I know statements like "the energy flows from your dan tian down the arm to the index finger" are true because I can feel it happen. My practice has become even more internal.

                      I expect this process to continue to deepen over time with practice. After all, I am only 15 years into an art that is known to take decades of practice to fully realize!
                      Chris Didyk
                      Shaolin Wahnam USA


                      Thank You.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thank you for sharing, Chris siheng! Definitely informative and enlightening to read. I still remember you teaching me One Finger Shooting Zen a few years ago and even after learning and experiencing the training methods for other arts, One Finger Shooting Zen still remains very special for me. In terms of sheer time spent on a given force training exercise, Baguazhang is probably the #1 (easy when you barely know anything else for five years!), followed by Cosmos Palm, and then One Finger Shooting Zen. I expect it to change with time! I'm only...many, many years behind you

                        How about other folks, how have they approached, experienced, and evolved their practice of Shaolin Wahnam's treasure?
                        I like making silly videos (including kung fu ones!) every so often on YouTube and taking pictures of weird things on Instagram.

                        Comment

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