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Xingyiquan: 10 Questions to Sifu

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  • #46
    Really great!
    少林華南台灣 Shaolin Wahnam Taiwan


    "Then how could chi kung overcome diseases where the cause is unknown or when there is no cure? The question is actually incorrect. The expressions "the cause is unknown" and "there is no cure" are applicable only in the Western medical paradigm. The expressions no longer hold true in the chi kung paradigm. In the chi kung paradigm the cause is known, and there is a cure."

    -Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit


    • #47
      Really amazing.

      Thank you Sifu for these profound insights.

      Best regards,
      Love is wonderful, because anyone with love in his heart wants to see everyone in bliss, everyone healthy and everyone availing freedom. This is the state of a man who considers the world as his family. Such are the wise man, the great souls. (Shri Shantananda Saraswati)


      • #48
        “They are soldiers and we are generals,” I told Roland. “They toll and sweat and use more time but cover only a short distance, while we enjoy driving in a comfortable car and cover a lot of distance in just a short time."
        Thank you Sifu for the wonderful anwers.

        The days I was able to drive with Sifu around Switzerland are for sure some of the best times spending with Sifu. Considering the fact that we covered in just a short time a lot, made me reminding that actually Sifu most probably has seen more from Switzerland than many Swiss will ever see in their whole lives.

        We know now the distances from East to North. We also know the distance from North to South. We actually covered exept one or maybe two all of the different Swiss states. We didn't have too much time, but Sifu would be very effective in his choices.

        While driving and beeing very cost effective enjoying ourselves Sifu would provide us with articles like the Treatise of Zhang San Feng or Taiji originates from Wuji or Meditation and Chi Kung or Taiji dance.
        "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



        • #49
          Thank you Sigung.


          • #50
            More than QUESTION ANSWERED !!!!!

            Dear Family Members,
            I am astounded by Sifu's kindness . He has answered many questions in this one and put them all down as Q+A 6.

            Sifu is answering all the questions he can, he has given me the "answers " to 7 and 8 and they are just as long this one.

            SO keep asking the questions and take this special opportunity to have them answered by Sifu.

            I have studied Xingyiquan and Sifu's understanding of it is phenemonal as I think we can all see. i just wished that it had been Sifu teaching me all those years ago, imagine were I would be now

            Sifu has always taught ground breaking courses in the UK and I would urge you not to miss this one as it will be simple amazing.

            Enjoy the Q+A 6

            Question 6a

            Is it good to practice certain types of Kung Fu in order to balance ourselves?

            For example, if we need more confidence and decisiveness, is it good to practice Xinyiquan? And if we are too abrasive, is it good to practice Taijiquan or Baguazhang?

            Sifu Mark Blohm


            Yes, for other people it is good to practice certain types of kungfu to balance their character. For exampl, if they lack confident and decisiveness, it is good to practice types of kungfu like Xingyiquan, choy-Li-Fatt and Hoong Ka Kungfu to boost their out-going qualities. If they are too abrasive, it is good to practice types of kungfu like Yang Style Taijiquan, Fujian White Crane and Northern Shaolin Huaquan to modulate their aggressive behavior.

            However, for us our training, irrespective of whether it is Shaolin, Taijiquan, Xingyiquan, Baguazhang or any kungfu or chi kung styles will harmonize students’ character. If our students are too out-going to start with, the training will sober them. If they are too reserved, the training will stimulate them.

            The two main reasons for this wonderful benefit, which may not be present in other schools, is our training of spirit and energy. When our spirit is purified and our energy harmonizes, we will attain physical, emotional, mental and spiritual balance. It is not for no good reason that we claim our arts to be elite.

            Question 6b

            In the past, Xingyiquan masters would practice only San Ti Shi to develop internal force. Yiquan masters would probably practice San Ti Shi as well as the Three Circles Stance.

            Both San Ti Shi and the Three Circles Stance are rather high in posture, emphasizing the development of chi flow. The flowing internal force would be similar to that of a Taijiquan or Baguazhang exponent.

            Yet, Xingyiquan patterns are hard and explosive in nature. Did Xingyi exponents naturally learn at an earlier stage how to consolidate their flowing chi developed from San Ti Shi into hard internal force like that of Iron Wire?



            Besides San Ti Shi or Three-Body Poise, Xingyiquan as well as Yiquan masters also practiced other stances, but their main emphasis was Three-Body Poise.

            Besides building up internal force, the Three-Body Poise using the extension mode and the corresponding mode ,which we shall learn at the Xingyiquan course at the UK Summer Camp, also extends energy to the hands, and root exponents to the ground.

            There are no special techniques in Xingyiquan, like in the Iron Wire Set, to consolidate flowing internal force derived from Three-Body Poise into hard, explosive force for combat. Then, from where Xingyiquan masters derived their hard, explosive force for which they were famous?

            Like in Taijiquan but in a different way, Xingyiquan practitioners derive their hard, explosive force from their set practice, especially the Five-Elemental Fists. We shall learn this at the Summer Camp Xingyiquan course.

            It is an ingenious method. Instead of hitting sand-bags and lifting weights as in many external arts, Xingyiquan practitioners practice their Three-Body Poise and the Five-Elemental Fists, and the internal force they develop is not only less demanding in their training and more powerful in combat, it also contributes to good health, vitality, longevity and daily efficiency.

            Question 6c

            I would like to ask about the relationship of Xingyiquan to the Spear:

            The spear was known as "The King of Weapons"; what are the crossovers between spear combat in general and empty-handed Xingyiquan in particular? and how does the formidable reputation of the spear transfer into the combat efficiency of empty-handed Xingyiquan?

            Sifu Andy Cusick


            The spear is known as “the king of weapons”, and Xingyiquan is known as “kungfu for generals”. Throughout history the spear was the choice weapon of generals.

            There are many cross-overs from the spear. In fact, all the five elemental fists of Xingyiquan came from spear techniques.

            The spear is regarded as the king of weapons because technically the spear thrust is the most difficult to defend against. It was a tradition in the past that anyone learning a kungfu weapon should learn how to defend against or counter a spear thrust. The most important of unarmed Xingyiquan technique, pi-quan or chopping fist, despite its name, resembles a spear thrust.

            Another important technique of the spear is circling. This circling movement of the spear is found in the spiral movement of beng-quan and zuan-quan, or crushing fist and spiral fist.

            The spear is sometimes used to ward off an opponent’s weapon, followed with a spear thrust. This is found in pao-quan, or cannon fist, warding off an opponent’s attack or guard with one hand and striking him with the other.

            The remaining of the five elemental fist, heng-quan or diagonal fist which is actually a horizontal chip, resembles a little known but deadly spear technique known as “bai-tou” or “shaking head”, which is slicing an opponent’s neck with a spear-head. In unarmed Xingyiquan, this became the heng-quan.

            Even their subtle applications, which are secrets, are similar. If you slice your opponent’s neck with your spearhead, it is obvious and he can counter easily. But if you attack with a spear-thrust, and as he dodges sideway or wards off your attack, you circle round his defence and slice his neck, you often catch him by surprise. If you attack your opponent with a horizontal chop, it is obvious and he can counter easily. But if you attack with a thrust-palm, and as he dodges sideway or wards off your attack, you circle round his defence and slice his neck, you often catch him by surprise.

            Question 6d

            In many Xingyi techniques I've seen, palm attacks seem to be prominent. Are there specific force training methods in Xingyi to develop powerful palms?

            Sifu Markus Kahila


            Fist attacks are prominent in Xingyiquan, not palms. “Xingyiquan fists, Baguazhng palms” is a common kungfu saying. Taijiquan, on the other hand, has a mixture of palms and fists.

            There are no specific force training methods in Xingyiquan to develop powerful palms or fists. The force is developed through the Santi Poise and the flow-method of performing Xingyiquan sets. The Santi Poise accumulates the energy, performing Xingyiquan sets consolidates the energy into tremendous internal force.

            Question 6e

            You've mentioned that Xingyiquan can help one train in the element of threat.

            How can one practice against the element of threat in solo practice? Should we imagine our opponent threatening our life to increase the adrenaline and fear one feels when confronted in such a situation?

            How can we translate this over into our daily lives? I feel this would be especially useful for those who have high stress jobs.



            The methods you suggest are third-class. Xingyiquan is first-class. It has far better methods.

            It is even better that the methods are already incorporated into normal Xingyiquan practice. In other words, you don’t have to lift weights, hit sand-bags separately and work yourself into a frenzy to charge ferociously into opponents, and let opponents charge ferociously at you throwing punches and kicks wildly at you which you learn to condition yourself taking. These are third-class methods for ordinary soldiers. Xingyiquan uses first-class methods for generals.

            Performing the Five Elemental Fists with pressing footwork provides force and threat at both the giving and the receiving ends. Without sacrificing your own safety, you press into your opponents forcefully and threateningly, letting him worry how to handle your attack instead of you worrying how to handle their attacks.

            If your opponents are skillful enough to counter attack, you stop him immediately and continue your pressing attack, you do not retreat and let me take the attacking initiative. Xingyiquan is just pressing forward, with hardly any retreating. But you press forward without sacrificing your own safety.

            One may read about such principles, but to acquire the skills and techniques to do so he must learn personally from a competent teacher, or better still from a master.

            Question 6f

            Is Xingyiquan well-known for any particular weapons, like Taijiquan for the sword, Baguazhang for its knife, and Shaolin for its staff. I've heard that Xingyiquan was associated with the spear, but I've not yet run across any modern exponents practicing that weapon.

            Frederick Chu


            Xingyiquan is well known for the spear.

            The two best known Xingyiquan masters, Yue Fei (12th century) and Ji Long Feng (17th century), were expert in the use of the spear.

            Yue Fei (12th century), the inventor of Xingyiquan, used his metal spear on horseback to defeat the Tartars. Ji Long Feng, who popularized Xingyiquan, was so skillful with the spear that he was nicked named the “god of the spear”.

            All the five elemental fists of Xingyiquan came from spear techniques.

            Indeed, not may Xingyiquan practitioners today practice the spear. But there is a video on Youtube of a Xingyiquan master performing the Five-Elemental Spear. It is not impressive to watch but is very combat effective. My personal opinion is that the spear he uses is too flappy. It would be better if he had used a spear with a hard shaft.

            It is a norm today that kungfu practitioners not only of Xingyiquan but of all styles do not pay much attention to classical weapons. Probably they think that classical kungfu weapons are no longer relevant as they are not used today for fighting. But there are still benefits learning classical weapons. Besides upholding tradition, learning classical weapons demonstrate more immediately some important lessons for unarmed combat.

            Question 6g

            If I remember correctly, in Baguazhang there were not many patterns that were considered "compassionate" (as in comparison with Shaolin Kungfu), unless we use release force. For Xingyiquan, created to be as effective as possible on a battlefield, are there "compassionate" patterns, to spare the opponent?

            In Baguazhang we learned to get behind an opponent very fast, and in my small experience, when circle walking one of the benefits is a strong all around awareness. In Xingyiquan, when on a battlefield, one could be attacked from all sides. Does training Xingyiquan also generate an all around awareness as in Baguazhang?



            In Xingyiquan if a practitioner has sufficient force all strikes are combat ending, or lead to combat ending strikes. There are no compassionate Shaolin chin-na or Wudang dim-mak. But, as you have rightly pointed out, a Xingyiquan exponent can be compassionate by not using full force, or he uses release-force.

            By comparison Baguazhang is more compassionate. There are Baguazhang patterns like “Control a Running Horse”, “Black Bear Fells Tree” and “Golden Eagle Catches Chicken”, where a Baguazhang exponent keeps an opponent at bay, fells him onto the ground
            To subdue him, or grip his waist to disable his fighting ability.

            Shaoln Chin-Na is very compassionate. Instead of breaking an opponent’s bones or damaging his internal organs, a Shaolin exponent uses chin-na to disable an opponent temporarily, and the latter can later recover by seeking the help of a competent healer.

            Translating dim mak as a “death-touch” is due to shallow understanding. While it is true that a dim mak master could kill an opponent by apparently touching him, the main purpose of dim mak is to disable an opponent at the time of combat, but the latter could recover by seeking the help of a competent healer.

            Yes, Xingyiquan training can generate a sense of all-round awareness. Santi Poise is a good exercise for this purpose.

            Many people think that Xingyiquan is only going forward, and will be inadequate when attacked from a side or from the back. This is not true. As a complete martial art Xingyiquan is, a Xingyiquan practitioner can effective counter any attack from a side or the back.

            This is already provided for in the two fundamental sets, Five-Elemental Continuous Fist and Twelve Animal-Form Continuous Fist. But as in all other kungfu sets, practitioners are not aware of the effective applications in the sets though they can perform the patterns beautifully. We shall be practicing these applications at the Xingyiquan course.

            Question 6h

            When General Yue Fei developed and taught the "Kung fu for Generals," what qualities was he looking for in prospective students? What would make the General decide that this man would be taught Eagle Claw kung fu while that man would be taught Xingyiquan? Are there certain physical, mental, and/or spiritual qualities that lend themselves best to Xingyiquan?

            Frederick Chu


            There was no classical record for the answer, but I believe Marshal Yue Fei did not make any conscious choice of physical, emotional, mental or spiritual qualities when teaching some Xingyiquan and others Eagle Claw Kungfu.

            To the generals, he taught Xingyiquan, and to the ordinary soldiers he taught Eagle Claw. It is helpful to know that Yue Fei did not teach them as a hobby. He taught them to serve expedient needs, so that the generals and the ordinary soldiers would be more efficient in battles. And this proved to be so in real life.

            Question 6i

            You highlighted that the Xingyiquan offered at the UK Summer Camp would be an excellent preparation for those who wish to attend free sparring competitions. You mentioned if I am correct that Xingyiquan, among other styles would reflect Boxers and Kick Boxers way of fighting as most similar.

            Could you please explain why Xingyiquan would suit the needs of students who wish entering competitions so good?

            Sifu Roland Mastel


            Your question is excellent not only for those who wish to take part in free sparring competitions but also for all kungfu practitioners who regard kungfu as martial art and not as gymnastics, dance or kick-boxing.

            My earlier impression was that of all kungfu styles Xingyiquan most reflects Boxers’ and Kick-Boxers’ way of fighting. As today most competitors fight like Boxers and Kick-Boxers in free sparring competitions, regardless of what martial arts they practice, Xingyiquan would be most useful to our competitors who wish to enter free sparring competitions and win.

            This is implementing Sun Tzu’s perennial advice of knowing your enemy and knowing yourself, you will win a hundred battles out of a hundred. You know how your opponents fight and how you fight. Then you devise a way of fighting that your opponents do not know or cannot defend against so that you can easily defeat them. This is apply your planned and trained combat sequence relentlessly on your opponents.

            This conclusion was made before I started to prepare myself to teach Xingyiquan. This conclusion was based on my wide understanding and experience of kungfu. I believed, and still believe, that if our competitors followed this strategy, they would have at least 95% chance of defeating their opponents in free sparring competitions. The main problem is that they may not follow this strategy though they honestly think they do.

            But when I went deeper into Xingyiquan in preparation to teach it, I was amazed at its depth and discovered, besides other invaluable insights, an even better way for our competitors to win free sparring competitions. It is almost a joke when told to most other people: just apply a simple Xingyiquan sequence I am going to teach at the Xingyiquan course.

            It excellently suits the needs of competitors wishing to win free sparring competitions. The two most important needs are to safe from opponents attacks, and to press in effectively with little chance of opponents escaping. The Xingyiquan sequence fulfills the two needs even more effectively than the earlier strategy I taught. And the sequence is so bafflingly simple!

            This is only one of the many exciting benefits participants will get at the Xingyiquan course. There are so many exciting benefits that the five-day course can only introduce them to a taste of the benefits. Course participants will have to do a lot of training on their own after the course.

            Question 6j

            Sifu, what is the highest attainment in Xingyiquan?

            Sifu Matt Fenton


            For most people, the highest attainment in Xingyiquan is superb combat efficiency.

            Xingyiquan was invented for this purpose. It was invented by Yue Fei for generals to win battles in the battlefield. It was not invented with the aims of curing illness, improving health, enhancing vitality and longevity, or experiencing spiritual joys.

            But for us in Shaolin Wahnam, we can have all these wonderful benefits besides combat efficiency. In fact, we have reverse the priority. Of course we want combat efficiency. We do not want to make a mockery of practicing a great martial art. But we place more importance on good health, vitality, longevity, mental freshness and spiritual joys.
            Sifu Mark Appleford



            • #51
              Dear Sifu,

              The answers are really special.

              If I may add another question:

              I've heard that Chinese generals in the past were often Shaolin trained and therefore excellent fighters, that they could defeat something like 30 armed men in one encounter just by themselves. Is it true that the generals would fight directly on the battlefield alongside the soldiers? Also, is this unique to Chinese and Shaolin military history?
              少林華南台灣 Shaolin Wahnam Taiwan


              "Then how could chi kung overcome diseases where the cause is unknown or when there is no cure? The question is actually incorrect. The expressions "the cause is unknown" and "there is no cure" are applicable only in the Western medical paradigm. The expressions no longer hold true in the chi kung paradigm. In the chi kung paradigm the cause is known, and there is a cure."

              -Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit


              • #52
                Dear Sifu,

                Thank you for so generously answering our questions.

                If I could ask one other question,

                I've read that Xingyiquan translates as "Form/Intention Boxing", or "Shape/Will Boxing".

                Does this translates as moving without thinking? I think at the very advanced levels of Kungfu, in every style, one wouldn't need to even think a pattern, but it just manifests by will, according to the situation.

                Is this especially true in Xingyiquan? Does the profound "simplicity" in Xingyiquan adds or makes it easier to perform at levels where forms just manifest by will and without thinking?

                Thank you,


                • #53
                  Force and Flow explained

                  In this question Sifu kindly gives a great explanation of the Force and Flow training method.........more treasures given away freely


                  Question 7

                  In the recent Iron Wire courses, Sifu has used the flow method as an alternative to the force method. Does this opportunity, to use the flow method, exist in other kung fu sets and styles? For example, does Xingyiquan have this opportunity and can we use this flow method in some parts of Flower Set force training?

                  Sifu Mark Blohm

                  Once you have acquired the flow method you can apply it in any set, including in such external arts like Karate and Taekwondo.

                  On the other hand, once you have acquired the force method, you can apply it in any set, including in such internal arts like Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan. This is an excellent example of spread and depth.

                  If you apply the flow method successfully in Karate and Taekwondo, your performance will not look like Karate and Taekwondo, it will look like Taijiquan or Flower Set using Karate and Taekwondo forms.

                  If you apply the flow method unsuccessfully, it will also not look like Karate and Taekwondo, it will look like a dance in Karate or Taekwondo forms. As not many people have the opportunity to learn the flow method, dancelike performance is usually the result, especially with forms that are already flowing and graceful like Taijiquan and Flower Set.

                  If you apply the force method successfully in Karate and Taekwondo, your performance will not look like Karate and Taekwondo, it will look like high-level Shaolin Kungfu in Karate or Taekwondo forms. If you do it wrongly, it will also not look like Karate and Taekwondo, it will look like isometric exercise using Karate or Taekwondo forms.

                  You can find some examples on Youtube of Karate masters performing isometric exercise, mistaking it as the force method. A student who used this isometric method before told me that his master warned him not to practice often as it would shorten his life. I remember greatly puzzled why masters still practiced it or taught it to their students when they knew it was harmful.

                  But if you practice the force method correctly, even using Karate and Taekwodo forms, it will enhance your health, vitality and longevity, besides giving you internal force and mental clarity. You will get better result in shorter time if you use Shaolin forms, like Iron Wire, because Shaolin forms are more conducive for the force method.

                  If you apply the force method to internal arts like Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan, your performance will not look like what people think Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan to be, but look like what Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan were in the past. How do we know what these arts looked like in the past. We can have a good picture from descriptions in Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan classics, some of which actually explained the process of the force method, like stamping of feet, consolidating flowing energy into force, and exploding force with a shout.

                  It is helpful to remember that the terms “flow method” and “force method” are our innovations, created for convenience. The terms are created by us, but the techniques or methods are not, though with the advantage of breadth and depth we have improved on them. The techniques and methods were used by past masters, though they did not call them the flow method or the force method, and probably they might not be aware of what was subtly happening inside them while they trained though they were fully aware of the techniques and methods they used.

                  For example, past Taijiquan masters knew that to generate internal force they had to repeat certain movements hundreds of time, but they might not know that these repeated movements generated an energy flow, and they did not know that this occurred only when they were in what we now call a chi kung state of mind. Knowing all this, we can achieve similar result by repeating the same movement just 30 or 40 times.

                  Past Shaolin masters knew that if they repeated certain movements like those in the Iron Wire Set hundreds of time and made appropriate sounds, they could consolidate internal force. But they might not know that there must be energy flow first, before internal force could be consolidated, and that the sounds not only prevented energy blockage but also promoted better energy flow. Knowing all this enable sus to attain similar result in much shorter time.

                  Yang Style Taijiquan and Iron Wire represent the full range of the flow method and the force method. In orthodox tradition, Yang Style Taijiquan employs 100% flow method, whereas Iron Wire employs 100” force method. Other arts use a mixture of both methods, with varying focus on one method or the other.

                  As a rough estimate, the proportion between applying the flow method and the force method in the following arts are as follows. Yang Style Taijiquan 100-0, Baguazhang 80-20, Xingyiquan 60-40, Flower Set 40-60, Triple Stretch 20-80, Iron Wire 0-100.

                  With a clear understanding of their underlying philosophy and the required skills and techniques as well as the invaluable experience of breadth and depth, we can modify or improve the proportion between the flow method and the force method in the arts we wish to train in. At first we approach prudently. We have a great advantage of chi flow, which not only erases harmful effects unwittingly derived but also speeds up progress remarkably. With successful experience can progress with more confidence and certainty.

                  Therefore, if we use Taijiquan as an internal force training method, we can use 100% flow method, or 100% force method, or anywhere in between with varying proportions of the flow method and the force method.

                  The flow method will be more effective than the force method because the movements of Taijiquan are designed for the flow method. How effective the flow method will be over the force method depends on various factors, like how relaxed is the practitioner when generating an energy flow, how skillful he is in consolidating force, and how much has he experience in these two and other methods.

                  But as a rough guide, for most practitioners the force method will only reach to about 40% of the flow method. In other words, if they develop 1000 units of internal force using the flow method, they will only be able to develop 400 units using the force method.

                  Although the movements of Taijiquan are designed for the flow method, it does not mean that we won’t improve the result if we incorporate the force method into the flow method. This is because the force method is actually present, though most Taijiquan practitioners using the flow method to develop internal force successful may not realize it. This in fact is the norm, even among masters.

                  Masters may have developed a lot of internal force in their many years of training, but they normally do not know what happened. That is why developing internal force takes years. But if we know what happens, and works at it purposely, we can speed up the progress remarkably. That is why we only take months to develop internal force.

                  As a rough estimate, if we use 70% flow method and 30% force method, we can develop 1500 units of internal force, when those who use 100% flow method can develop 1000 units, and those who use 100% force method can develop 400 units. Please keep in mind that this is a very rough estimate. Many factors are involved, and even when one factor changes, the estimate will be different. For example, the above estimate is based on practicing Single Whip. If we use Lifting Water, we would have to reduce the proportion of the force method so that a good proportion would be 90% flow method and 10% force method.

                  Let us look at Iron Wire for comparison. The orthodox approach is to use the force method. Practitioners use 100% force method to develop internal force in Iron Wire training.

                  It is pertinent to keep in mind that I am referring to those practitioners who have been successful, and they constitute only about 20% of the total number of people who have a chance to practice Iron Wire. The other 80% use isometric exercise.

                  I myself used the force method when I practiced Iron Wire many years ago, and produced a lot of internal force in much shorter time than expected. On hindsight I realize that although I was not aware of it at the time, I also incorporated the flow method which I earlier acquired in One-Finger Shooting Zen which I learned from my sifu, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam.

                  It is interesting that when I introduced the flow method to the Iron Wire course in Barcelona in May 2012, all the participants, i.e. 100%, found it produced more force than the force method. At the Iron Wire course in Las Vegas in October 2012, only 60% found the flow method more powerful, and 40% found the force method more powerful.

                  I have not found out the reason for the discrepancy between the Barcelona course of 100% and the Las Vegas course of 60%, though with hindsight I could say that at the Barcelona course the distinction between the flow method and the force water was clear-cut, but at the Las Vegas course the distinction was merged. In other words, at the Barcelona course when practitioners used the force method, there was no element of the flow method, and vice versa. At the Las Vegas course, when practitioners used the force method, there was some element of the flow method, and vice versa.

                  But it was evident that the flow method contributed substantially to developing internal force in Iron Wire training. How is this possible? How is it that in Iron Wire where the movements are designed for the force method, incorporating the flow method in it would enhance the result remarkably?

                  When we know the underlying philosophy, substantiated with actual experience, it is not difficult to find the answer. Energy flow is needed before internal force is consolidated. Past masters who could be very powerful in their Iron Wire might not realize this important fact. The past masters could still be very powerful even when they did not know this fact because of their many years of dedicated training.

                  With this background knowledge, which is interesting and useful by itself, we can answer the question with insight.

                  Yes, the flow method exists in other kungfu sets and styles, though masters of these sets and styles may not realize the existence of the flow method even when they have developed a lot of internal force using these sets and styles.

                  Energy flow is necessary before internal force can be consolidated. If energy flow is necessary, and the masters do not realize it, how can the masters develop a lot of internal force?

                  The masters may not realize the energy flow, but the energy flow does occur. As the masters do not make a conscious effort to have energy flow, it does not occur every time they train. Suppose they train 10 times, and energy flow occurs 3 times interspacingly.

                  So, although they have trained 10 times, they actually have consolidated their energy into internal force 3 times. If they train once a day, they would have trained for 30 days, and have consolidated energy into internal force 9 times. Suppose each time they consolidate, they build 10 units of internal force.

                  Will they build 90 units of internal force in one month? No, it is because the internal force is not built up continuously, some of it would be dissipated. They may have only 50 units of internal force for the month.

                  Let us see what happens to us in our training when we know the underling philosophy and purposely work towards it. When we use the flow method, we generate a powerful energy flow, not interspacingly but every time we train. Because our energy flow is powerful, we can consolidate not just 10 units of internal force each time, but 20 units. Because we have the benefit of accumulated effect which creates not just an arithmetical progression but a geometrical progression, we will have built not 600 units of internal force in one month but 1000 units.

                  Other practitioners would have built only 50 units of internal force in one month. This explains why we can attain in a few months what others may need many years.

                  There are many different techniques and methods to develop internal force. In the Wuzuquan course in Deceember 2012, we employed numerous techniques and methods to develop internal force using movements from the San Zhan set. We found that we could develop a lot of internal force.

                  But all these different techniques and methods may be generalized into two main categories, which we call the flow method and the force method.

                  In our school we can only the flow method, or only the force method, or both in various combinations for any set or style, including Xingyiquan and Flower Set. This is a special benefit available to us. Practitioners of other schools do not have this benefit. Not only they do not differentiate between the flow method and the force method, they also do not differentiate between skills and techniques.

                  Practitioners of other schools normally practice the techniques of their set or style as it has been traditionally taught, without knowing whether they use the flow method or the force method. If they are fortunate to practice a genuine art, in Xingyiquan it will be 60% flow method and 40% force method, and in Flower Set it will be 40% flow method and 60% force method. In Taijiquan it will be 100% flow method, and in Iron Wire 100% force method. The great majority of practitioners will not be as lucky. They just practice their set or style as physical exercise.

                  We are in a better position. We can vary the proportion between the flow method and the force method according to our needs and other factors. The estimates given about are for general situations. When the situation changes, like when we change to another exercise or have a different objective, we may modify the proportion accordingly.

                  How does one know what proportion of the flow method and the force method to use if he does not have sufficient knowledge or experience? A good way is to follow wu-wei, which comes after yu-wei. The yu-wei part is to perform the set or style according to what is taught by a competent teacher. Then enjoy wu-wei. Later you may look back and determine the proportion you have used and access whether it has been beneficial. In fact, that was how the various estimates were made.
                  Sifu Mark Appleford



                  • #54
                    Dear Sifu,

                    It is very clear...and useful!
                    少林華南台灣 Shaolin Wahnam Taiwan


                    "Then how could chi kung overcome diseases where the cause is unknown or when there is no cure? The question is actually incorrect. The expressions "the cause is unknown" and "there is no cure" are applicable only in the Western medical paradigm. The expressions no longer hold true in the chi kung paradigm. In the chi kung paradigm the cause is known, and there is a cure."

                    -Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit


                    • #55
                      This is an incredible answer. Thank you Sigung, Sipak Mark A and Siheng Mark B


                      • #56
                        Dear Sigung,

                        thank you very much for this answer. Reading it, I was reminded of my enlightening experience at the Wuzuquan course last december. I want to share it here with the family.

                        Although I have visited a couple of courses where Sigung hast taught the flow and force method, according to the new methodology, in the Wuzuquan course was the first time I could actually feel the flow to force and force to flow conversion.

                        Before that I was reading and I was astonished about how Iron Wire and Taijiquan could be performed together and bring benefits because of our skill of chi flow. I also have practiced both Iron Wire and some Taijiquan together for a couple of months. And I could distinguish between force and flow methods.

                        But the very first time I have experienced the flow to force and the force to flow conversion was at the Wuzuquan course. I also "understood" - better to say- felt from body experience, how much of the previous flow was consolidated and how much of the previous force was flowing.

                        Now San Zhan has become my favorite set. I use it for force training and have success using it in free sparring against other martial art practitioners. This is incredible, but true.

                        How can San Zhan be used against other martial artists with more then 20 years of sports and real combat experience and sufficient force and health? This is because of simplicity and profundity which is found in the set. And I believe to experience the simplicity and profundity of Xingyiquan can bring many benefits in terms of force/flow and combat application. And of course our health, vitality and spiritual joy!

                        Kindest regards, Anton
                        Engage and maintain joyful practice!

                        May all of you get the best benefits from what you do.

                        Anton Schmick
                        Shaolin Wahnam Germany Nord



                        • #57
                          Dear Sifu,

                          Thank you for this incredible series!

                          Dear Sijat Anton,

                          Thanks for sharing your direct realisations with force to flow conversion
                          Sifu Andy Cusick

                          Shaolin Wahnam Thailand
                          Shaolin Qigong


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                          "a trained mind brings health and happiness"
                          - ancient wisdom


                          • #58
                            I find it interesting that, while I enjoy practicing many various sets and arts that I have been privileged to learn from Sigung, my two "main" ones are currently Triple Stretch and Baguazhang, which have complementary flow-force proportions (20-80 and 80-20). Similarly, Christina has been enjoying her Flower Set and Wuzuquan, which, if we place Wuzuquan in a similar position as Xing Yi (which seems reasonable, but may or may not be correct), are also complementary (40-60 and 60-40).

                            Of course, we haven't come to this from intellectualizing about it, I just noticed this based on Sigung's answer above. Is it a coincidence? Or, given the unprecedented opportunities of set/style practice we now enjoy in our school, is it natural to gravitate to complementary arts? Regardless, it sure is fun having all of these choices

                            Thank you Sigung for your incredible foresight in bringing us Spread and Depth. They have revolutionized our school and how we practice!
                            Chris Didyk
                            Shaolin Wahnam USA

                            Thank You.


                            • #59
                              Question 8 only two more to go

                              Question 8a

                              In Xing Yi Quan, there are 12 animals. Among them are the Dragon, Tiger and Snake, 3 of the 5 important animals in Southern Shaolin Kung Fu. Is there any difference in the external forms, the internal aspects and the applications of these animals in Xing Yi Quan when compared to Southern Shaolin?

                              Sifu Roeland Dijkema

                              Question 8b

                              What is the source of the twelve animals present in Xing Yi Chuan. As it was developed from shaolin, is it safe to assume these animal forms had already formulated in one way or another? If not, how do you suppose that the founder of Xing Yi Chuan became inspired by these animals? And we know that history tells us that Xing Yi Chuan evolved out of shaolin martial arts. But is there any record of what specific shaolin sets Yue Fei was trained in or was known for?



                              The 12 animal-forms of Xingyiquan are quite different from the 5 animal-forms of Southern Shaolin, like Hoong Ka and Choy Li-Fatt.

                              The Xingyiquan 12 animal-forms came first, the Southern Shaolin five animal-forms came later, with about 600 years in between. It is therefore incorrect to say that the Xingyiquan animal-forms were derived from the famous Shaolin “five animals”, as many people mistakenly think.

                              I have not seen any Five-Animal Set of Northern Shaolin, but I have some classics showing the five animals of Shaolin Kungfu in the Ming Dynasty (14th to 17th century). As both Northern Shaolin and Southern Shaolin were in existence during the Ming Dynasty, I am not sure whether the five animals refer to Northern Shaolin or Southern Shaolin. The pictures look Southern, but the descriptions of skills point to Northern.

                              I would guess that as this was the transitional period, the kungfu practiced at the northern Shaolin Monastery in Hunan and at the southern Shaolin Monastery in Fujian was quite similar. It was later that the difference became accentuated.

                              What is interesting about the pictures of the Shaolin five animals shown in the Ming classics is that they do not look like any of the Southern Shaolin 5 animal-forms. Although the pictures in the classics are named as dragon, snake, tiger, leopard and crane, they do not resemble anything like dragon, snake, tiger, leopard and crane.

                              All the pictures look alike. If I were to pick one of the five Shaolin animals, I would say all the pictures look like a tiger-form, mainly because the hands are held like claws. I had the classics long ago, at a time when my knowledge of kungfu philosophy was superficial. It was much later that I realized it is not the outward form (that can be shown in pictures) but the spirit of the form (that cannot be shown in pictures) that is important.

                              The classic clearly explains the spirit involved in the training. The dragon is to train mind, the snake to train energy, the tiger to train internal force, the leopard to train speed, and the crane to train essence.

                              What Yue Fei (12th century) learned was Northern Shaolin Kungfu, at a time when the southern Shaolin Monastery was not yet built. Both the spirit and the form of Xingyiquan 12 animals are different from those of Southern Shaolin 5 animals, though there are similarities with animals of various Shaolin styles due to overlapping.

                              The 12 animal-forms are shown in the videos at The spirit of the forms is found in a “song of 12 animal-forms” found in a classic, and reproduced at the webpage above.

                              I shall summarize the spirit of the Xingyiquan 12-animal forms as follows:

                              Dragon – contracting and expanding
                              Tiger – courage
                              Monkey -- agility
                              Horse – speed
                              Alligator -- gliding
                              Cockerel -- combative
                              Hawk – soaring
                              Sparrow -- skimming
                              Snake -- sliding
                              Ostrich -- ramming
                              Eagle -- gripping
                              Bear -- stability

                              The agility as well as the outward form of the monkey are found in all Shaolin styles. The form of the horse and also the snake is similar in Xingyiquan and in Southern Shaolin. Both the spirit and the form of the sparrow are the same in these two Shaolin styles. The form and the spirit of the eagle are the same in Xingyiquan and Eagle Claw Kungfu. The form and the spirit of the hear are similar in Xingyiquan and in Taijiquan.

                              On the other hand, the difference in both the form and the internal aspects of some animal-forms in Xingyiquan and Southern Shaolin are striking.

                              Xingyiquan dragon uses the Dragon-Embracing Stance and its spirit is contracting and expanding. Southern Shaolin dragon uses the Horse-Riding Stance or the Bow-Arrow Stance, is often swerving and its internal aspect is to train mind.

                              Although both Xingyiquan tiger and Southern Shaolin tiger use claws, the way the claws are formed is different. What is tiger-claw in Xingyiquan is eagle-claw in Eagle Claw Kungfu and Southern Shaolin. As both Xingyiquan and Eagle Claw Kungfu were invented by him and the claws in both arts are similar, apparently Yue Fei was not particular about names.

                              The alligator is common in Xingyiquan but not found in Southern Shaolin.

                              The cockerel is very important in Xingyiquan, but in Southern Shaolin it is incorporated into the crane. “Golden Cockerel Stands Solitarily” in Southern Shaolin is sometimes called “White Crane Flaps Wings”. Xingyiquan cockerel find its way into Taijiquan, but the spirit is quite different. In Xingyiquan the cockerel is aggressive, but in Taijiquan, like in “Golden Cockerel Stands Solitarily” but the form is different from that in Southern Shaolin, it is unobtrusive.

                              The ostrich is probably found only in Xingyiquan and not in any other kungfu styles. Some Xingyiquan masters question whether the term “ostrich” was actually used, arguing that the ostrich was not native to China. Personally I do not find this argument valid. The lion is not native to China, but its term is used in many kungfu styles.

                              There were no records of where Yue Fei derived the 12 animal-forms from. Probably many of the animal-forms were derived from the Shaolin Kungfu he had learned from his master, Zhou Tong, and some Yue Fei invented on his own to meet expedient needs.

                              Yue Fei was a kungfu genius. He was deified as the god of martial arts. Three kungfu styles – Xingyiquan, Eagle Claw Kungfu and Yue Family Kungfu – and all these styles are quite different in their nature, philosophy and application, and they are all very effective.

                              It is interesting to note that Yue Fei’s teacher, Zhou Tong, was the second generation successor of Chuo Jiao Kungfu, a little known kungfu famous for kicks, invented y Deng Liang. Yue Fei was the third generation successor. But these Chuo Jiao kicks, which would render Taekwondo kicks and Muay Tahi kicks rudimentary, are not found in Xingyiquan, Eagle Claw and Yue Family Kungfu.

                              On the other hand, the difference in both the form and the internal aspects of some animal-forms in Xingyiquan and Southern Shaolin are striking.

                              Xingyiquan dragon uses the Dragon-Embracing Stance and its spirit is contracting and expanding. Southern Shaolin dragon uses the Horse-Riding Stance or the Bow-Arrow Stance, is often swerving and its internal aspect is to train mind.

                              Although both Xingyiquan tiger and Southern Shaolin tiger use claws, the way the claws are formed is different. What is tiger-claw in Xingyiquan is eagle-claw in Eagle Claw Kungfu and Southern Shaolin. As both Xingyiquan and Eagle Claw Kungfu were invented by him and the claws in both arts are similar, apparently Yue Fei was not particular about names.

                              It was unlikely that Yue Fei sat in his tent with a cup of wine in his hand, thinking of animal-forms like dragons and alligators, and how to compose them into Xingyiquan. This would be the work of a dreamer, not a marshal at the frontline of battles. It was more likely that Yue Fei, finding his generals lacking in some combat techniques and skills, drew from his rich kungfu repertoire techniques and skills to teach the generals to meet their immediate needs.

                              At first Yue Fei taught the generals only the five elemental fists. It was later, finding that the five elemental fists were not enough in certain combat situations, that he taught them the 12 animal-forms as a supplement.

                              We go through the same process in our school. Our 16 basic Shaolin combat sequences, for example, were not invented by me sitting comfortably on a sofa with a can of coca cola in my hand, thinking of how to compose fanciful patterns into a course to teach students. It was finding students struggling to use kungfu patterns in free sparring that I drew from my rich repertoire kungfu skills and techniques to teach them so that he could be competent using kungfu in combat. Later when I found that the kungfu techniques are insufficient to meet simple, fast Boxers’ jabs, grapplers’ take-downs and attacks from other martial arts, I taught more simple counters against these other arts as a supplement.

                              The coming Xingyiquan course is also taught to meet immediate needs – the needs to expand kungfu understanding beyond our core Shaolin and Taijiquan syllabuses, to experience and benefit from great styles of great masters.

                              It was also unlikely that Yue Fei first thought about terms like dragons, hawks and alligators. It was more likely that later masters provided these names as well as the philosophy to explain effective training and application for convenience and better understanding.

                              As far as I know there were no direct statements on what exact Shaolin sets or arts Yue Fei was trained in and what he used to invent Xingyiquan. But indirect evidence from the classics as well as other literature indicates that he was trained in Northern Lohan Kungfu, Taizu Changquan (Long Fist of First Emperor, i.e. Zhao Kuang Yin, the first emperor of the Song Dynasty who was a Shaolin disciple) and Chuo Jiao Kungfu.

                              The forms in Xingyiquan resemble those in Lohan Kungfu and Taizu Kungfu. But Chuo Jiao kicks are noticeably absent.

                              Throughout kungfu history, Yue Fei was most famous for Xingyiquan, then for Eagle Claw Kungfu, the two arts that he invented and trained in after the invention. He was not so well known for Yue Family Kungfu, though all its practitioners as well as informed persons credited its invention to Yue Fei.
                              Last edited by Andrew; 21st April 2013, 08:35 AM. Reason: Double posted paragraphcs
                              Sifu Mark Appleford



                              • #60
                                Thank you Sifu for these gems and for your time!

                                Thank you Mark Sihing!

                                Best wishes,

                                Roeland Dijkema