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  • Low, medium and high level Kung Fu / Chi Kung

    Low, medium and high level Kung Fu / Chi Kung

    What are the differences in general? Our arts are characterized as high level. But even in our arts there are techniques that have a lower level in comparison. How do they differ? Are there situations where lower level techniques are more useful than high level ones?
    May all beings be happy!

  • #2
    This is an interesting topic. It will be interesting to compare and contrast the responses in relation to each of the Arts. Or are they so "similar" that no major differences will be discovered?
    Sifu Andrew Barnett
    Shaolin Wahnam Switzerland - www.shaolin-wahnam.ch

    Flowing Health GmbH www.flowing-health.ch (Facebook: www.facebook.com/sifuandrew)
    Healing Sessions with Sifu Andrew Barnett - in Switzerland and internationally
    Heilbehandlungen mit Sifu Andrew Barnett - in der Schweiz und International

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    • #3
      Mark, thank you for beginning these discussions. I’m excited to see what personal experiences get expressed from them.


      I enjoy this question immensely! And it’s quite the rabbit hole. There are countless directions that one could tumble down.


      For me, what this question most immediately calls to mind is the evolution of my practice from a “high level” focus and thirst to a “low level” preference. (I’ll spare you the quotations moving forward lol). When I was a younger student, I was eager for the experience of depth. I associated a high level practice session, a deep state of qigong mind, an overwhelming sensation of energy permeating my being...etc...with a high level of skill. And certainly there is some level of truth to that. But as my practice has progressed, I have gradually come to value restraint as a fundamental attribute of an advanced student in our arts.


      There were some milestone moments that stand out to me in regards to this. The first was when Sifu taught the Sinew Metamorphosis patterns in Las Vegas, and then the Iron Wire Set, also in Las Vegas. Sifu placed such constant and steady emphasis on intentionally practicing at a lower level. It was difficult for me to follow his instructions fully, even though I had no doubt in them. Frankly, I was just too young, eager, ambitious...and to an extent, reckless as well. The seed was planted, but it took some time to really take root.


      So then, to the topic of this thread, was I practicing at a higher level when I was going deeper into a qigong state of mind than my Sifu instructed? Or was I practicing at a higher level when I intentionally practiced at a lower level, more in line with what my physical, spiritual, energic, and emotional bodies could process without repercussions? Clearly this is a loaded question


      The second milestone moment for me was during the time I had the immense honor of hosting Sifu in Seattle and Portland at the end of his last USA tour. On a small road trip from Seattle down to Portland, Sifu, Brian, Christina and I took a scenic stop to a famous spot on the Oregon coast. We took advantage of the impromptu beauty of the moment to have a small qi flow. The moment was huge, spectacular. But the flow was soft, gentle, pleasant, and essentially everything that we teach it should be. The night before, Sifu had described that his typical practice was a few repetitions of lifting the sky, and a gently qi flow. Something about that moment on the coast imprinted on me that my Sifu, the Grandmaster of our school, for whom countless options and depths of practice are available, uses literally the very first thing that he ever taught me as his normal practice. To me, this is profound.


      Of course, high level and low level always exist in context. One of my favorite quotes from Sifu is “all things being equal”...because all things are never equal hahaha…. But if they were, then perhaps high would be better categorically, and low would be less good. But all things are not equal. All things are relative to the aims and objectives of the student, and to the capacities of the student that may be beyond their own awareness. As such, lower level techniques are an essential aspect of the gradual progress of the student. And lower levels of practice are often the chosen level of practice, even for Grandmasters.


      Forgive me for not directly answering any of the questions! I hope I stayed close enough to the topic to be in the thread.


      I miss you all. Love and Shaolin Salute.


      Michael

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Michael Helgeson View Post
        So then, to the topic of this thread, was I practicing at a higher level when I was going deeper into a qigong state of mind than my Sifu instructed? Or was I practicing at a higher level when I intentionally practiced at a lower level, more in line with what my physical, spiritual, energic, and emotional bodies could process without repercussions? Clearly this is a loaded question
        I would say there is higher level, lower level and wiser level.
        George / Юра
        Shaolin Wahnam England

        gate gate pāragate pārasaṁgate bodhi svāhā

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Michael Helgeson View Post
          [B]
          Of course, high level and low level always exist in context. One of my favorite quotes from Sifu is “all things being equal”...because all things are never equal hahaha…. But if they were, then perhaps high would be better categorically, and low would be less good. But all things are not equal. All things are relative to the aims and objectives of the student, and to the capacities of the student that may be beyond their own awareness. As such, lower level techniques are an essential aspect of the gradual progress of the student. And lower levels of practice are often the chosen level of practice, even for Grandmasters.
          Michael
          Thank you Michael for that and your experience report. I enjoyed reading it very much.
          In the end, it is always best to choose the techniques that are best suited to safely achieve the goal.
          As a young student, you are always tempted to practice the high level techniques more, they are more interesting and you seem to be able to reach your goals faster. A beginner must first experience that low level techniques are often more useful to achieve the goals. That is why it is so important to follow the instructions of the master.


          There are so many ways to look at this topic.

          What is meant by high level or low level? Maybe when comparing two techniques or strategies, is the one high level that gives a better result in less time? Or is it the skill of the practitioner that determines the level in the end? Are there other ways to look at this?

          There are so many techniques, strategies and tactics that can be compared,

          For example, you can compare the "Single hand sweep" with "Green dragon shoots out pearl". Both techniques can be used to defend a thrust kick, for example. The single hand sweep is very simple, direct and effective. Dragon shoots pearl is more sophisticated and requires more skill. But you can use dragon shoots pearl to defend against almost any attack and this technique seems therfore to have a higher level.
          Are there situations where it would be more advantageous to use a hand sweep?
          Which technique would you spend more time training?

          If you compare "Lifting the Sky" with " Flicking Fingers" from Sinew Metamorphosis, then Flicking Fingers has a higher level because it generates more internal force and greater chi flow. But it also requires a higher skill and there is a risk of overtraining faster. Lifting the sky has a lower level, but is more useful and safer if you have the goal of becoming healthy.

          Can you think of other examples?

          In what situations or circumstances is it more useful to use the apparent low level technique rather than the high level technique?

          What are your experiences?


          Mark
          May all beings be happy!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Mark-) View Post
            What is meant by high level or low level? Maybe when comparing two techniques or strategies, is the one high level that gives a better result in less time? Or is it the skill of the practitioner that determines the level in the end? Are there other ways to look at this?
            Michael's loaded questions and George's answer give us an interesting way to look at high and low level from the perspective of shen. When you practice something at a high or low level because you either can't help yourself or don't know how to do otherwise, it is low level. When you practice something at the right level for you, it is high level. The first is low level because you can't apply your shen to practice at the appropriate level, and the second is high level because you can. This is regardless of whatever shen skills are required by what you practice. Just ask anyone who has ever over-trained Sinew Metamorphosis

            We should all aspire to practice at the wiser level!

            We can also view this from the perspective of the Flow and Force methods. Practicing something at a high or low level is often initially a skill in itself that has to be solidified. In this sense, it is Form level.

            Continuing to practice at as high a level as you can (e.g. Sinew Metamorphosis) is following the Force method. It is like trying to batter down a stuck door -it will probably hurt until you break through! With Sinew Metamorphosis, "breaking through" means reaching a level where you can handle practicing it at a high level without regularly without over-cleansing. Force spills over into Flow.

            In contrast, practicing gently within your level is following the Flow method. In this way, your level naturally grows along with your ability to handle it without over-cleansing. Eventually, you reach a point where you can practice at a high level without over-cleansing. Flow spills over into Force.

            I'm discussing this in terms of practicing a given exercise at a high or low level, but it also applies to practicing high vs. low level exercises.

            Chris Didyk
            Shaolin Wahnam USA


            Thank You.

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            • #7
              High level and low level are relative. Here are some examples:

              * Efficiency - the question of "how much can I get and how quickly?"
              * Distance - the question of "how far can this take me?"
              * Flexibility - the question of "what can I use this for?"

              More important questions are: "where do I want to go?" and "do I have what it takes right now?".
              George / Юра
              Shaolin Wahnam England

              gate gate pāragate pārasaṁgate bodhi svāhā

              Comment


              • #8
                Another example came to my mind that i would like to share.

                The three level of attack and defense.

                Lowest level: first defense then counter
                For example when responding to a black Tiger attack by moving back while guarding with a single Tiger and then moving in again to attack also with a black tiger.

                middle level: Simultaneous defense and counter
                For example when responding to a thrust kick with a "Bar the Big Boss" . Or moving back in a false-leg stand and striking simultaneous with a hand sweep.

                high level: no defense, direct counter
                for example when responding to a fierce tiger by moving diagonally forward to the side of the opponent and striking with a leopard to the opponents t side.


                I think here the wisest level is strongly dependent on the skill of the practitioner with a strict focus on the rule: safety first.
                Last edited by Mark-); 18 March 2021, 12:21 AM.
                May all beings be happy!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Dear Mark,

                  Thank you very much for starting this thread. I think the questions than you and other brothers are asking are extremely useful to improve our efficiency when the right answers come into place. It's also very interesting and nurturing to read everyone's experiences

                  In terms of levels these are some of the invaluable classifications, from lower level to higher level, i`ve learned from Sifu and i use for myself and others with great benefit in kung fu practice.

                  Shaolin Kung Fu
                  1. Genuine Kung Fu --> Combat / Life Efficiency
                  2. Good Kung Fu --> Combat Efficiency and Radiant Health and Vitality,
                  3. Great Kung Fu --> Combat/liFe Efficiency, Radiant Health and Vitality, Mind expansion and Spiritual Cultivation.
                  Combat Efficiency/Aplication
                  1. First defend then counter
                  2. Defense cum counter
                  3. No defense, direct counter
                  4. Marvelous level
                  Internal Force
                  1. Fundamental Force
                  2. Flowing and Consolidating Force
                  3. Specialized Force
                  4. Marvelous Force

                  Kung Fu Exponent
                  1. Student
                  2. Practitioner
                  3. Instructor
                  4. Researcher
                  5. Protector
                  Skill Level
                  1. Technique
                  2. Force
                  3. Speed
                  4. The Marvelous
                  Now i would like to try some answers to the very interesting questions asked:

                  But even in our arts there are techniques that have a lower level in comparison. How do they differ?

                  In my experience it can be considered from different perspectives like the skill level of the practitioner and the conductivity of different techniques in relation with the different levels of force, speed, marvelous, or other skills selected as agility, flexibility, etc.

                  Using Mark´s example, "single hand Sweep", it can be used at the level of technique and most probably the result is "First Defend, Then Counter" or you can use it at the level of force and the result is "No
                  Defense, Direct Counter"

                  Another example could be... Iron Wire Techniques are more conductive to generate consolidated force than techniques from Wuzuquan and less conductive to spiritual cultivation compared with Wudang Kungfu.


                  Are there situations where lower level techniques are more useful than high level ones?

                  This is a very important question that is worth to be answered at different levels, for example in terms of daily life or combat efficiency, recently i could realize, thanks to a Sifu´s answer that low level techniques are the most used and most useful in a daily basis. If high level techniques are used in combat or in life when they are not really needed, then the result is not good, mostly because you don't give even a chance to most people to participate.

                  Another great example, as stated in this thread before, is in our Chi Kung where the lower level techniques and skills are the best to recover from illness and/or injury.

                  In spiritual cultivation, if the practitioner is a beginner and his goal is just to be relaxed and happy it would be better to train "dancing butterfly " from 18 Jewels or "Separating Water" from 18 Lohan Hands than "Stretching Arms or Lohan Carries Mountain" from Sinew Metamorphosis.

                  Also in our sparring methodology, for example when a higher level practitioner is practicing with a lower level practitioner, it is very useful for both if the higher level practitioner lowers his/her level to almost match the level of the lower level practitioner. In this way, the lower level practitioner has a chance to learn a lot from the exchange and the higher level practitioner can train to be unfathomable.


                  Thank you again for starting the Shaolin Wahnam Homework Project and this thread. It´s really interesting and beneficial!

                  Best regards,

                  Ángel





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