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Different Specializations

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  • #16
    In Shaolin Wahnam, every meal is a banquet, every day is full of joy and everything is as good as everything else (except Monkey, which is even better ).

    "I find your lack of courses most disturbring"
    Star Wars: A New Hope (ish)
    Last edited by Darryl; 28 June 2005, 10:53 AM.


    • #17
      Dear Jonny,

      Thank you for starting this interesting thread. I've enjoyed read everyone's comments on their own specialised set. I'd like to share my perspective on the set I specialised in, the Dragon Form Set.

      There are two noticeable characteristics of the Dragon Form Set. Firstly, the techniques in this set utilise swerving body movement and agile, strong stances. Secondly, there is the emphasis and importance of chi flow and internal force in this set.

      The swerving body movement and agile stances of the Dragon Form are very effective in both attack and defense. For example, the technique, "Swimming Dragon Plays with Water" uses the swerving body to avoid/neutralise the incoming force or place the exponent in an advantageous position for more countering. Thus, a skillful exponent will be able to defend and strike simultaneously!

      The chi flow and internal force is very important to the Dragon Form. Sifu has mentioned that a master of the "Dragon Force" may be able to injure an opponent with any part of his/her body and I've had first hand experience of this. At the Toronto Shaolin Kungfu Course in April 2004, Sifu was demonstrating the application of “Dragon Expresses Marvelous Powers” (a very apropos name!). Sifu told me to grab onto him tightly and I did so. When Sifu applied this technique, I felt his internal force coming from all parts of his body! It felt like a pulse or wave of energy rushing from his body and striking mine. As a result, I landed several feet away from him.

      Another aspect to consider is the "mind" aspect of training the Dragon. For me, it has not only helped me to hone and bring more clarity to my mind, but assisted in healing a broken spirit. Personally speaking, it is my belief that these specialise sets are our "teachers" in a way. They both help our strengths and weaknesses.

      I hope that my perspective on the Dragon Form Set helps. Many best wishes to those selecting their specialise sets and attending the course in September.

      Many blessings,
      Last edited by YunXiang; 28 June 2005, 07:05 PM.


      • #18
        Dear Mike Sisook/Sipac,

        Thank you for giving your experiences of the Dragon form, it was facinating especially as I was just training with Emiko Sije yesterday and she was also giving her views on the Dragon set.

        Very nice to hear the different levels which the sets work on.

        All the best


        • #19
          Dragon-Tiger Set

          Hello Every one

          Just a few quick thoughts
          Each set is representative of certain animals as you all know - more importantly is that these sets also reflect a certain type of energy development, which is often reflectd in our personality and perhaps to some degree in our physical form, all of which affect how we express ourlselves through movement.
          I was surprised though by how much the sets are a reflection of the practioner - especially of myself. One of my kung fu brothers looked at me once and said "of course you are a dragon and tiger" which surprised the heck out of me.
          For those viewing the videos - you will notice that there is a broad range of techniques included in each set. Each set is representative of a complete system
          If you have a few minutes, you can compare how each animal set handles high, middle and low attacks for example to get a better understanding and character of each respective set

          I agree with Marcus's oberservations about taking our training to the next level by giving us an opportunuty to look deeper into the vastness that kung fu has to offer. It is a very exciting challenge and it something that I will be working on for the years to come.
          While it is very exciting to contemplate what it would be like to be given a specialized set by grandmaster Wong, keep in mind that the greater your skill in the fundamental sets 1-16, the greater the benefits your will derive from an animal set once you have reached the stage in your learning.

          In fact in order to advance in my animal set, i find myself having to go back repeatedly to the fundamental sets/sequences and refine my skill and understanding of them, often before I can get to where I want to be with my dragong-tiger set

          Having said all that, it is very exciting thing to expereince those moments in practice where I get aglimpse of what it means to capture the "spirit" of the dragon and the tiger when practicing my sets /sequences.

          I have to run
          All the best


          • #20
            Dear Gordon Siheng,
            Thanks for sharing your very interessting insight into the Dragon-Tiger Set.

            Darryl Siheng:
            I was thinking about what the Monkey charactistic is staying for. I mean, the Dragon is staying for Shen, teh Tiger for internal force and so one...
            If I am right you were telling me at the Review course something about the heart? Could you please tell more about that?
            Then I was thinking about the heart. The heart is literally staying for the mind and spirit. Not only in the Chinese phylosophie, also in other cultures. In which sence would that be different to the "Shen" - mind aspect, which the Dragon is working on? I aws just wondering, as you told that the Mindset of a Monkey practicioner is very important.

            Many thanks in advance,


            "From formless to form, from form to formless"

            26.08.17-28.08.17: Qi Gong Festival with 6 courses in Bern:
            Qiflow-Triple Stretch Method-12 Sinewmetamorphisis-Bone Marrow Cleansing-Zen Mind in Qi Gong



            • #21
              I have nothing to say except that is a fantastic thread and it has kept me glued to the monitor like everyone else.
              Thanks brothers for sharing these wonderful experiences.
              And for my favourite Monkey practitioner : here's one for you
              "Lex Luther, ruler of Australia, activate the machine"


              If you had met my Sifu, you wouldn't need to ask that question.


              • #22
                Just reading Darryl's description of the Monkey form started a really strong chi flow that lasted the whole day through! Thanks Siheng!
                Charles David Chalmers
                Brunei Darussalam


                • #23
                  Excellent quote Mohammed and one that caused me confusion at first because I was sure that it wasn't Gene Hackman! A quick check however confirmed it so - Terence Stamp, Superman II .

                  If I am right you were telling me at the Review course something about the heart?
                  Hi Rolland,

                  Another excellent question - I should do this more often .

                  In that aspect, I was referring to the Five Animal play and that a 'Monkey flow' is Joy, the Heart, expressed through the face (and sometimes with the sounds of whooping and hollering as well).

                  As to what the specific internal aspect of the Shaolin Monkey Set is? In all honesty, I would say that I don't know yet. Since I don't know anyone else who is currently practicing the Set, I have only my own experiences, the conversations with Sifu and the legacy of the Art. Since I've never asked or considered that particular question, I would honestly say - I don't know .

                  Disclaimer over, there are several key parts and ultimately, I would say - Flow. Flow is far more than just movement, as is Shen far more than just focus and Force far more than just force. Flow builds Force and while Focus may seem to initially contradict Flow, without Focus there is no Flow.

                  Cha Muir,

                  An excellent introduction to Flow . I am always tempted to write more, to waffle on and on about the style, the history, my own understanding and interpretation of the Style and instead, I usually end up removing the words and just grinning. While in London, Emiko Sije transmitted an excellent nugget of Joy over breakfast and, in line with everything else, I've ended up removing the words and just grinning.

                  Isn't life great


                  • #24
                    Dear all,

                    Bringing this thread back to life ..

                    While driving with TaiSihing Kai, one of his students asked me "Where does the Monkey Style go - what is the point?". The question absolutely stunned me because it was a far bigger consideration than my usual carefree and rather casual one. Rolland has asked before on this thread, so I decided to post my answer here. My answer is by no means correct, I don't know if I'm right. I'll ask Sifu when I next see him, but until then it's just a thought.

                    So my current answer - Enlightenment. The Shaolin Monkey Set, as taught within Shaolin Wahnam, is a vehicle to reach Enlightement. I don't know about the other Sets and I don't mean as a co-incidental occurance, but as a deliberate intention within the teachings and application of the Set.

                    When I first realised this, I was so happy I started to cry. Thank you Sifu


                    • #25
                      Thank you, Darryl Sihing, for bringing this thread back up! That is indeed a beautiful experience.

                      I'd very much like to hear experiences about the tiger-crane set, which has not been covered yet. For me, Sifu's tiger-crane set video is surely the most inspirational kungfu video ever. Every time I see it - and I see it quite often - I feel a strange urge to go practise some more.


                      • #26
                        Does the Tiger Crane set need the "Tiger Claws" to be trained extensively, conditioning etc? I must say this thread is fascinating!


                        "To know the riches of the martial arts, begin by standing still" - Grand Master Wang Xiang Zhai


                        • #27
                          Lessons So Far

                          Thank you Sifu for reviving this thread.

                          I was actually going to do it myself so I could write some of my experiences since choosing and training my set. Perhaps some of the others could do so also, specifically any Tiger-Crane practitioners so as to answer the queries.

                          So what has the Dragon form taught me so far?

                          The Importance of Training From the Heart

                          The set has taught me how important it is to ensure you are smiling from the heart whilst you are training your Kung Fu (sounds obvious I know! ). Or to clarify; I found that in the beginning I was forcing my shen to stay focussed, which needless to say had a few undesired results. To overcome this; whenever I noticed it I would relax, smile from the heart and mentally let go. This influenced my whole training but was most prominent in the Dragon Form and in Zhang Zuang.

                          The Importance of Internal Flow and Flow of Movement

                          I had been taught that within Dragon, flow is very important. I worked hard at the fluidity of movement but still it didn't feel quite right. With guidance I realised that when I stopped the flow of movement I was also halting my internal flow some what. As with all these lessons Im still working on them, but I realised it was so important for me to allow myself to flow especially in stillness or a poise pattern.

                          The Importance of Dan Tien and Waist

                          I had also read and been told about the importance of the waist in Dragon Form. Being one of the worlds worst dancers I wasn't very limber around the waist , having a tendency to fall back on my speed of arm movements. Dragon Form taught me that the movements come from the waist, even if it is a small, almost invisible motion. This training of the waist has deepened my Dan Tien skills, which like others have mentioned on the forum recently, I was a little unsure of. So an inadvertent benefit has been a more limber waist, and centred moves on the dance floor!!

                          Mentally Letting Go

                          As Im sure everyone has read the Shen is very important in the Dragon style. As already hinted earlier I felt a compulsion to suddenly be "high level" at this element when given the set. This caused me to overdo this harmony and consequently suffer a little deviation. As I relaxed more and smiled from the heart I realised that I wasn't suddenly going to have complete inner stillness with the set. Rather that it is unrealistic to think a jibbering mind of 22 years (and however many life times) will suddenly calm over night. Instead it is how I respond to the thoughts that counts, if I let them go and am unattached then I have done well, if I pursue and get caught up in them then I have to let go to the best of my abilities and don't worry about anything else. So really it has taught me the importance of letting go mentally and not overdoing things.

                          For me the words of the 6th Patriarch were influential here:

                          "To be in the midsts of characteristics but unattached to characteristics, to be in the midsts of thoughts but un bound by thoughts"

                          Needless to say all these skills are in the beginning stages and have along way to go. At this stage, feeling a little emotional! Id like to thank Sigung, Sifu, Tai Sipac Kai and Siku Jai Emiko for all helping me very much with the form and my training.

                          Love and respect to all
                          Last edited by Darryl; 30 March 2006, 08:36 AM.


                          • #28
                            'Shaolin Five Animals Set'

                            My set contains many varying characteristics and philosophies. I found it hard to explore so many different areas within one set.

                            My practice reminded me the importance of 'Fundementals' -

                            Open Heart
                            Harmony of Shen Chi Jing
                            Zhuang Zhuan
                            All skills covered in Combat Sequences (Timing , Spacing.....)
                            Development of Iron Shirt / Golden Bell
                            Application in daily life

                            No matter what style or set or pattern or technique I use, without these factors present, I feel my Kung Fu is empty.


                            • #29
                              Tiger-Crane Set

                              I noticed no Tiger-Crane specialists have written in, so I guess I'll take Johnny Siheng's offer and revive this thread with my contribution.

                              I've already had so many unexpected benefits from this set. I chose Tiger-Crane because of the elegance and power contained within it. Also because I like the strong emphasis on the tiger techniques. Not to say that I've gotten nothing from the crane, on the contrary, but my primary focus at the outset has been delving into the spirit and power of the tiger. I've found as I explore this part of the set that I'm getting a better understand of my own tiger claw and using it to grip with internal force, as opposed to the muscular force I had been using. Coming up to choosing a specialized set, I felt like I had a good deal of internal force, but that I really didn't know how to use it properly. I still found myself often using brutish strength in sparring that I didn't need. Now I'm finally beginning to understand and be able to use my force a bit. Recently I've been honing 'Hungry Tiger Snatches Goat', which has required me to get rid of this idea of using muscular force and instead use the smooth but firm force of a tiger to deflect the incoming strike followed by moving in with a relaxed but solid stance to grab the throat. This one technique has already taught me so many things- the most important of which is simply letting go and flowing with my force instead of worrying and manipulating. I'm a big worrier and thinker, so learning to let go has been and will be an ongoing process for awhile yet. But I'm really surprised at how much more I've been able to let go since starting to learn this set. I've also learned while practicing this techique the importance of stepping in with a firm, rooted stance. Or I guess I should say I've gained a deeper understanding of it. I find the technique to be much more devastating when I move in with a stance thinking gently of keeping my body relaxed, but moving in with 'felling legs'- that is to say as if I'm stepping in to do a felling technique (thanks Josh for that helpful little mantra! ).

                              I've also been very surprised by how much more force I have and how much more powerful I feel since I started learning this set. Doubly so since the special intensive course where Sifu helped really refine the whole thing. My stance training, one-finger zen, solo and partner practice feel so different from even six months ago. I feel like I'm starting to get a tiger claw now- not a kitty paw. Even though I haven't really delved into the spirit of crane in my set yet, I'm starting to feel more stabile and balanced. The kicks in my set are becoming more smooth and powerful. This I find amusing as they were REALLY clumsy until the special intensive. Though I placed no special emphasis on training the kicks, in a few short weeks I found them to be coming along quite nicely (perhaps it was all that jumping around in the sand on Pulau Pangkor that helped).

                              I think I actually chose this set over a year ago in the back of my head as I watched Ronan Siheng demonstrate it for us at my intensive course. I was totally enamoured by it. I didn't make my choice based so much on believing certain aspects of it would help certain aspects of my training. I just knew there were things about it that I loved and wanted to learn it. I set to learning it after Sifu agreed it would be very suitable to me and quickly discovered the set to be working the more problem areas of my practice. In particular, I've noticed a drastic improvement in my footwork from before learning the set to after (I guess you kind of have to hone your footwork in order to do all that jumping and spinning around). But above all else that has been improving is the one thing I've already mentioned that governs all the footwork, techniques, tiger claws, and force training- that is to say the ability to let go, smile from the heart, follow the instructions, and see what happens. In my personal experience, I've found worry, fear, and doubt to be the biggest obstacles to progression in my training. Before I starting learning from Sifu I had all those things in spades. Afterwards, they were still there, though markedly less so. Now I'm slowly finding myself much more in control of those things and can see a day when they will disappear forever. Tiger has given me courage to smile through it all, be it a difficulty in practice, personal, or professional life, and confidence in myself and my actions. This has improved my practice to a degree I'd never imagined, and I've hardly scratched the surface.

                              I'm truly impressed with Sifu's ability to understand each student's strengths and weaknesses and teach based on that. At our graduation dinner, I said I felt left out because I had no super crazy cleansing experiences nor wild spurts of improvment upon which to evaluate myself. But I think I failed to see the bigger picture. That being, if someone had told me just three years ago that today I'd be able to use my kungfu patterns for combat spontaneously and effectively, hold a horse stance for 15 minutes, be able to feel and direct internal force, and generally feel happy and joyful, I would've laughed them into next week. The difference between then and now are galaxies apart. The difference in benefits gained after specialization vs. before are worlds apart.

                              Of course, these are only preliminary observations. It will be interesting to revisit my thoughts here as I continue to develope a better understanding of this set. Whew, that was one long post! I think this lady tiger will bow out for now and hope Maxime will post his thoughts on how this set has benefitted him.

                              Best to All,

                              Shaolin Wahnam Twin Cities

                              Genuine Shaolin Kungfu and Qigong in Minnesota


                              • #30
                                Hi Molly

                                Thanks for that fantastic post, it really gave me a sense of how the set has added to your holistic development in all the wonderful dimensions of Shaolin Kung Fu.

                                I agree it would be great to hear from Maxime!

                                Best wishes