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  • Following Instructions

    Hi folks,

    I've started this thread after reading some comments on another thread (Taijiquan Training Methods). Initially, it was an email to Tom L in regards to some of the points he raised in his last post but in case other people are also doing the same thing, I am posting my comments instead.

    Recently, Michael Durkin and myself were discussing the different ways of studying, practicing and learning an art. We were doing so in relation to the difference between solo practice and learning within a class environment, along with the pro's and con's of each approach.

    Some people will develop best within a class environment, some will develop best within solo practice and some will benefit best with a combination of the two. Regardless of the training method being chosen, all three solutions assume that the student is practicing correctly. If the student is not practicing correctly, then the above methodology is no longer secure.

    On the other thread, Tom L wrote

    I've been doing well lately. Yeah, I dropped Shaolin Wahnam chi kung because I was not feeling it was right for me. Briefly, I ended up with more health problems compared to when I started. I was even in the hospital on some medications for a few weeks and had to drop a semester's worth of school. I have recovered a lot since then. My current teacher attributed it to Sifu Wong's style of chi kung. Too much chi rose to my head. He pointed out various blockages on my back as well. The current internal and external exercises I'm doing now are remedying this problem.
    I would say that every person practice depends on three classic ingredients - Method, Master and Student. Assumming that you have these three things, you then need one vital inclusion at every stage - correct practice.

    If the Method is taught incorrectly, if the Master is wrong in their delivery or if the Student is not correct in their practice then things can (and likely will) go wrong.

    From the above quote, the part in particular I wish to address is

    My current teacher attributed it to Sifu Wong's style of chi kung. Too much chi rose to my head.
    In this context, the above statement is correct. The deviation arose from the Method ("Sifu Wong's style of chi kung") causing the reaction ("too much chi rose to my head"). However, it does not explain why this happenned.

    Tom,

    I am extremely happy to hear that you are now progressing within your chosen art and that you have now found a system that is clearly helping you with your personal objectives. I had always felt that you would progress best within a class environment.

    One of the things that we always stress within Shaolin Wahnam is to relax. If you do not relax, then you are not practicing correctly. Over time, most people who initially had problems relaxing will learn to relax. Those who thought they already were relaxed will discover new levels of relaxation. And those who are having trouble relaxaing are urged to spend more time learning to relax by relaxing. We do not encourage people to think about being relaxed, to worry if they are relaxed enough or to start second guessing themselves as to whether or not they are relaxed.

    The easiest way to relax is to do just that - to relax. This is the part about following instructions. If you are given an instruction when learning a new skill or technique, you should follow it to the best of your ability. If you are unsure, wondering if you are doing something wrong or maybe if you could do it better in time - stop!, you are not relaxing. The instructions are there for your benefit, not to cause you undue worry.

    We have also mentioned many times that your chi will go where your mind goes - if you are catching yourself thinking too much, wondering, panicing then your chi will rise to your head. The reason is not the Method, it is not the Master - it is the Student. In this example, you did not follow the instructions.

    I am extremely happy to hear that you are attending a class and learning from an Instructor who is in front of you, able to answer your questions and correct you when you make mistakes. Previously, when you contacted Sifu, then Anthony, then Joan then myself I pointed out that you were still asking the same questions and confusing yourself with attempting to understand the words of several people, instead of seeing what they were all saying. Now, since you are listing to just one person and are able to relax when learning from them I am sure that you will reap the benefits.

    Please do not take my comments the wrong way, they are intended to help you in the long term and to allow you to realise that it is extremely helpfull to learn from the mistakes of the past. I hope that you will continue to post on the forum so that other people can also learn from your mistake.
    Last edited by Darryl; 31 August 2004, 02:10 PM.

  • #2
    double edged sword.

    Originally posted by Darryl
    Previously, when you contacted Sifu, then Anthony, then Joan then myself I pointed out that you were still asking the same questions and confusing yourself with attempting to understand the words of several people, instead of seeing what they were all saying.
    The forum is great for sharing one's experiences and comparing them to others. On the other hand it's really difficult to transmit skills through words, especially ones that involve bodily sensations like "tension" and "relaxation". Transmission through words invites confusion, which stems from people's prior experiences and conditions. I definitely sympathize with the problems that TomL had in properly tuning the amounts of relaxation needed in the exercises. It may be easy to trivialize the problem of over-thinking instructions, but "simple directions" can also be construed as vague. and when one needs clarification, one can either ask around or fill in the gaps. It's a shame that the taking the intensive course didn't yield the results he was looking for.
    Sometimes relaxing is easier said than done, which is a pity.

    Comment


    • #3
      Darryl,

      Interesting thread.

      I remember taking the course with Sifu last year. Two things he said made a big impact on me.

      One was "Smile from the heart" - and it wasn't just what he said but the way he said it. It lifted my heart - spontaneously, which is lucky as I wouldn't have known how to do it any other way.

      The other was "If I don't mention it it is because it isn't important". At the point in my life I had reached just then, this was like an invitation to take a weight off my shoulders. For years I had tried very, very hard at everything I had done. Concentrating on trying to understand everything and carrying it out to the letter. In my case the student had reached a point where this was a pleasant invitation, rather than an 'irritating vagueness' which I might have considered it in the past.

      I guess sometimes someone is lucky enough to stumble across a person who is teaching something they can understand and make use of right there and then. Too complicated to understand all of the in & outs of both people's paths taken to meet at that point. Just a happy, lucky accident. I hope Tom has been lucky too.

      Barry
      Profile at Capio Nightingale Hospital London Click here
      Chi Kung & Tai Chi Chuan in the UK Fully Alive
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      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by barrys
        The other was "If I don't mention it it is because it isn't important". At the point in my life I had reached just then, this was like an invitation to take a weight off my shoulders. For years I had tried very, very hard at everything I had done. Concentrating on trying to understand everything and carrying it out to the letter. In my case the student had reached a point where this was a pleasant invitation, rather than an 'irritating vagueness' which I might have considered it in the past.
        Thank you, Barry. As a person who is trying to save up for a course that is encouraging! I've had mini breakthroughs where the overthinking subsides and I find what I am looking for.

        Comment


        • #5
          I am sorry to hear of your troubles Tom but at least you seem to be heading in the right direction.

          Darryl - your post was long and thoughtful and admirably non-judgemental on the whole altho' I think the last 1/2 a sentence may imply a 'pin the tail on the donkey'/'blame assignment' type thing which you may not have intended.

          Sunyata/Barrys - I think you both convey well the relative inadequacy of characters on a computer screen compared to heart to heart teaching. Seeing the letters r-e-l-a-x on a screen is nothing compared to having Sifu tell you to relax.

          I think that one thing that comes out of this (as implied by Darryls conversation with Michael and it has implicitly cropped up in several posts) is that maybe we should revise the traditional formula to:

          Results = Master x Method x Student x Teaching Method

          {where Teaching Method = eg book, one-off course, weekly course, internet etc etc}

          As to why the formula didn't used to be this I suspect that it was as in the past the last was a relative constant (eg weekly/daily with close supervision/inside the door, brothers/sisters etc???).

          So in Tom's case I would (of course) feel that his new masters assessment (if Tom has related accurately) of Sifu/Sifu's methods is naturally incorrect. I am also not sure that the presence of blockages in the back is a sign of poor qigong practices (I am sure most people have blockages all over the place).

          Also one important point which hasn't been mentioned here is that there may be no causal link between Tom's qigong practice and his hospitalisation. If I practice qigong and have a road accident the latter isn't necessarily a consequence of the former of course.

          I also don't believe that its necessarily fair to 'blame' the student (eg 'your mistake'). I don't know Tom so I can't comment on him but for illustration lets consider the case of someone who is an anxious person (maybe even having real psychological/mental problems). In such circs it would be inconceivable to 'blame' the student for their needs/inability to execute instructions adequately etc.

          So it may well be in this case that applying the formula closer supervision is the format that is required for Tom - ie no 'blame' attaches to Sifu, Shaolin Cosmos Qigong or Tom.

          In terms of - as a forum - trying to learn lessons from where things have not gone well maybe we need to be more careful when coming across people who repeatedly raise the same issue - in different circs, to different people. On the nth occasion we shouldn't perhaps either just repeat the instruction (esp an important one like relax) or be dismissive but seriously consider whether the teaching method (forum correction/instruction) is appropriate for that individual (as they are clearly not 'getting it'). As above no-one has actually said that Tom's problems were a result of qigong but of course qigong can have deviations and at times it might be the appropriate thing to recommend to people that they stop (at least until they can get the appropriate direct instruction)?

          Anyway these are just my thoughts.

          Mike
          "If you realised how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought." Peace Pilgrim.

          Comment


          • #6
            On the other hand it's really difficult to transmit skills through words, especially ones that involve bodily sensations like "tension" and "relaxation".
            I am sorry, but I can agree fully. But take my statement as my personal opinion: Intellectualisation is in this case a big problem. Relax: how should I relax, what is relaxed, how much should I relax: these are all words which confuse your mind. I think it is not the word which is easy to understand. It is more that you just have to do what you have been told. If a teacher-instructor of the wahnam scool asks you to relax then he always also asks you to not worry about how to relax, because they know through personal experience how hard it is to find relaxation if mind tries to intellectualise. Just follow the instructions is one main key point to get the benefits.
            I am pretty convinced that everybody who took a course from the wahnam institute and who just followed what they have been told had have an idea of what relaxation means.

            . I definitely sympathize with the problems that TomL had in properly tuning the amounts of relaxation needed in the exercises
            Trying to tune the amount of relaxation needed in the exercises is asking what is relaxation or am I relaxed enough. Just follow the instuctions and try to the best what is possible is more suitable.

            Respectfully

            Roland
            "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

            Website: www.enerqi.ch

            Comment


            • #7
              Mistakes

              Originally posted by Mike B
              On the nth occasion we shouldn't perhaps either just repeat the instruction (esp an important one like relax) or be dismissive but seriously consider whether the teaching method (forum correction/instruction) is appropriate for that individual (as they are clearly not 'getting it'
              Hi Mike,

              It is extremely rare that an instruction is just repeated if it is indeed a serious problem. If it is not a serious problem, then repeated instruction is the usual way to teach. As an example, one of my Kungfu students has now realised something that has been covered many times in class over many months - when something finally goes in, it goes in. No race, no judgement, just the right result at the right time.

              Since Tom has not joined this thread (and potentially even if he had) I am not going to discuss the advice that was given to him. This is Tom's to share, not mine. Suffice to say that whenever an answer is given, it is given to that person. If the same answer is appearing, then it is because it is the same question being asked or the same mistake being made.

              I think the last 1/2 a sentence may imply a 'pin the tail on the donkey'/'blame assignment' type thing which you may not have intended
              Mistakes are mistakes and everyone makes them for a variety of reasons. One vital stage in someone's continual practice is being able to accept when a mistake has been made and to move on from it. In fact, I would say that it takes courage to accept that a mistake has been made and to change. What Tom has done is already admirable (in deciding that Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung is not working for him and looked for a replacement) but mistakes in practice are just that - mistakes. Sifu has made mistakes, I have made mistakes, you have made mistakes, your neighbour has made mistakes and so on. Through sharing our mistakes, we may be able to help other people prevent themselves from making the same mistakes. If we can't, then we can't but if we can, we should try.

              In my classes, my students get to benefit from the mistakes that I have made and the lessons that I learned. Hopefully, they will learn these lessons faster than I did and have an even more enjoyable life than I am currently having (although this may involve one of them having to explode!). If they don't follow my instructions, it will take them much longer and this is their mistake to make. If they do follow my instructions they will progress faster and realise why it would have been a mistake.

              The most important thing in having made a mistake is that you learn from it and move on. If you have done this, then the mistake has actually been a beneficial thing. If you stop at the mistake and don't move on, you may very well be continuing to make the same mistake all over again.

              Comment


              • #8
                Sorry about not replying any further. I guess originally I just wanted to share my opinion that I think Hun Yuan and Wahnam are different. I didn't like the comparison being made.

                Yes, I think relaxing is important. I don't know why I just didn't "get it". With all my effort, I think the blame more lays on the teacher (Sifu Wong) and method (Shaolin Wahnam chi kung). I tried for months and months, not making any breakthroughs, thinking maybe sometime I would. Instead, my progress went downhill until before I realized it, I needed to be in the hospital for depression. Oh well, that was four months ago. But I spent that $1000 course fee, and airplane fare to Malaysia, plus my previous trip to England for a regional course. I wish the money-back policy extended to 12 months past the course. I only got short-term benefits of about 3 weeks following the course. I felt more energetic then. After that point, not much more. I didn't rid myself of any chronic health problems. Hey, after 6 months of diligent, (correct) practice after just one course, shouldn't one be feeling pretty darn good??

                On a side note, I've never seen Sifu Wong or any of his advanced students do any special chi feats. Have you? Not the pictures, but in person?

                Tom

                Comment


                • #9
                  Folks, please do not try to atribute blame to anyone or anything. Sifu's method (how and what he teaches) has been proven successful. Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung (as well as the other Arts he teaches) has helped many to achieve amazing results. And many, many students have found the answer to their search / problems in this method / Master combination.

                  Does this mean that it will work for everyone? No, absolutely not. Why? Because every person is different, has different situations, has different problems / issues / aims / objectives / abilities etc. Because it doesn't work for a particular person (in this case Tom) does it make him a poor student - no, not necessarily. It means merely that at the current moment in time, the combination (the recipe if you like) was / is not appropriate. Can others learn from such experiences - absolutely yes. This, I believe, is what Darryl was getting at. We all can learn from everyone else - even if (maybe actually more so when) the experiences are negative (relatively seen).

                  Tom, I am relly very sorry to hear of your problems - both with your health and with the method / Master / student combination of Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung / Sifu / and you. You have found a new combination which seems to be working for you. That is wonderful and I wish you a successful onward journey.

                  Hey, after 6 months of diligent, (correct) practice after just one course, shouldn't one be feeling pretty darn good??
                  Generally speaking, yes. Your questions here did however indicate that your practice was not quite correct. Was it your fault - no and yes. Does it matter now - no. Who is to blame - noone. What to do now - continue on the new path you have successfully started on.

                  On a side note, I've never seen Sifu Wong or any of his advanced students do any special chi feats. Have you? Not the pictures, but in person?
                  Depends what you mean by special chi feats. Maybe this would be better asked in a different thread and you could then define what you mean by the term.

                  All the best,
                  Andrew
                  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

                  Chi Kung Courses: May 2019 in Landquart CH
                  QEA Discussion Forum: www.qea.ch/forum

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hello everyone.
                    This is my first post in this forum. I like this forum.
                    I am not a chi kung practitioner and my English is not good. Please correct me if I made any mistakes.

                    In my opinion, nobody made mistakes. Everybody has done the very best. But unfortunately, not everything is controllable.

                    Sifu is good, the method is good, the teaching is good, Tom is good, but the luck is not so good.

                    Best wishes,
                    Julie

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Welcome to the forum Julie and thanks also for your comment. Short and to the point.

                      Excellent English too.
                      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

                      Chi Kung Courses: May 2019 in Landquart CH
                      QEA Discussion Forum: www.qea.ch/forum

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Western-marketing

                        Hi again,

                        There is inaccurate marketing in the of world of chi kung, including I argue, with Sifu Wong's. "Relaxation" is just a western-marketed concept for chi kung to sell. There isn't full relaxation in a person during chi kung. There is always some tension present. This is fine. Saying that Relaxation, this skill only transmittable from Master to student, is over-simplifying chi kung. What I learned from my current teacher is that with exercises like letting go, and self-manifested chi flow, it is easy for chi to go to the head, for you are not always completely aware of your movements. Sometimes you are moving quite fast and vigourously, sometimes not. But you're not always conscious of the movements, and chi tends to go to the head. First, in chi kung, one must learn to control chi. Letting go can lead to problems. It is also easier for chi to rise up, compared to having it go back down. You need a proper chi kung method to take this into account.

                        WahnamCH,

                        "And many, many students have found the answer to their search / problems in this method / Master combination."

                        And I bet a fair amount of students have experienced significant problems due to the Wahnam system as well. It seems that you're trying to protect this system based on Wong's web-articles and books. How many people have you personally help cure (and let's say for the sake of arguement that a medical doctor would be surprised too)? Or how many people of Wong's students have you personally met who've overcome great problems? I'll admit, maybe there are some, but I don't think that it's close to that 60% rate Wong gives on his website. Yes, I think he's bogus.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Tom,

                          Please try to stay calm. Just becuase you are disappointed please do not use that as an excuse to attack everyone and everything else. Noone wins in that type of argument / discussion. Please also try to remain respectful of others (including Sifu - referring to him just as "Wong" is not at all respectful) as we will remain respectful of you and your ideas and thoughts.

                          There isn't full relaxation in a person during chi kung.
                          We may have to agree to disagree here. A person should learn to fully relax with Chi Kung.

                          Saying that Relaxation, this skill only transmittable from Master to student, is over-simplifying chi kung.
                          I agree. Chi Kung is not relaxation nor is it just relaxation exercise. Relaxation is the beginning, the pre-requisite if you will and not the end. Sifu transmits this skill very efficiently. But the skill has to be refined and perfected by each student. In the same way (maybe an easier comparison) Sifu transmits skills in combat application in his Kung Fu courses. Does this mean the student has perfect skills in but a few days? No, of course not. But they have planted the seed. Without nurturing that seed the plant will never grow.

                          What I learned from my current teacher is that with exercises like letting go, and self-manifested chi flow, it is easy for chi to go to the head, for you are not always completely aware of your movements. Sometimes you are moving quite fast and vigourously, sometimes not. But you're not always conscious of the movements, and chi tends to go to the head.
                          Each teacher, each school and each system is unique. That is why you cannot necessarily take what you learn in one and successfully implant it into another. What your teacher says is, I am certain, true for the system he/she teaches. For our system, however, this is not the case.

                          First, in chi kung, one must learn to control chi. Letting go can lead to problems. It is also easier for chi to rise up, compared to having it go back down. You need a proper chi kung method to take this into account.
                          Controlling chi is very simple and you (and all other students) learnt this skill from Sifu in his regional courses and, at a much deeper level, in the intensive course. Letting go, however, is also very important in our school.

                          And I bet a fair amount of students have experienced significant problems due to the Wahnam system as well.
                          I do not know of any personally. Your comment seems like words of frustration or desparation.

                          It seems that you're trying to protect this system based on Wong's web-articles and books.
                          I'm afraid you are wrong - I speak from my own personal experience.

                          How many people have you personally help cure (and let's say for the sake of arguement that a medical doctor would be surprised too)?
                          I do not keep count but there have been several. If you search these forums you will find some accounts of successes my students and students of other Wahnam instructors have had.

                          A recent example is a clinical study conducted by a local (Western Medical) clinic specialising in psychosomatic disorders. The doctors were surprised. I had 5 patients of whom 2 were suffering from chronic depression (for years) and all 5 were suffering from chronic pain. The 2 who suffered from chronic depression were cured (medical evidence as gathered by the Western doctors) within 10 days!!!! All but one of the patients also experienced significant reduction in their chronic pain -- success rate 80% in that case. Even the one patient who did not have any sginificant reduction in pain commented at sleeping and generally feeling better ... but I guess that doesn't count. The final study results (renewed testing of the patients after several months) are due in the next 2 to 3 months. The clinic is now, as a result of these trials, intending to include Chi Kung taught by me in a large scale medical research programme sponsored by the Swiss National Fund for Medical Research. ..... Does that count ?

                          Or how many people of Wong's students have you personally met who've overcome great problems?
                          Several --- myself included.

                          Yes, I think he's bogus.
                          You are entitled to your opinion and I respect you for it. But launching unfounded attacks here or elsewhere is not a good way to try and gain respect from others.

                          Andrew
                          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

                          Chi Kung Courses: May 2019 in Landquart CH
                          QEA Discussion Forum: www.qea.ch/forum

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Or how many people of Wong's students have you personally met who've overcome great problems?
                            At least a dozen off the top of my head whom I know well and could call on the phone. Dozens of others who've I've met at courses. Countless others whom I've "met" online.

                            I also know one who died. He was in late stages of melanoma before he met Sifu. Bless his soul, he was a good friend of mine, but not unlike you, he had trouble following instructions. He gave it his best shot. His sister told me that he died peacefully and gracefully in his sleep despite the trauma caused by emergency chemotherapy towards the end. She believed the chi kung really helped him, especially in the end.

                            Tom, I have to say I'm a bit disappointed by your behavior here. We all put in overtime with you. How many times did you call me on the phone, or write me an email? Despite having never met you, I did my best to help you with your "peculiar" problem (i.e. your excessive worry).

                            I understand that this chi kung is not for everyone. That's fine. But to attack the chi kung, the method, and the teacher?
                            Last edited by Antonius; 2 September 2004, 10:33 AM.
                            Sifu Anthony Korahais
                            www.FlowingZen.com
                            (Click here to learn more about me.)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Congratulations

                              A recent example is a clinical study conducted by a local (Western Medical) clinic specialising in psychosomatic disorders. The doctors were surprised. I had 5 patients of whom 2 were suffering from chronic depression (for years) and all 5 were suffering from chronic pain. The 2 who suffered from chronic depression were cured (medical evidence as gathered by the Western doctors) within 10 days!!!! All but one of the patients also experienced significant reduction in their chronic pain -- success rate 80% in that case. Even the one patient who did not have any sginificant reduction in pain commented at sleeping and generally feeling better ... but I guess that doesn't count. The final study results (renewed testing of the patients after several months) are due in the next 2 to 3 months. The clinic is now, as a result of these trials, intending to include Chi Kung taught by me in a large scale medical research programme sponsored by the Swiss National Fund for Medical Research.
                              Well done, Andrew!!
                              Last edited by Jeffrey Segal; 2 September 2004, 11:30 AM.
                              Jeffrey Segal

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