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Legacy of Ho Fatt Nam - 10 Questions to Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

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  • Andrew
    replied
    A great question with some great insights in the answer!
    Question 4

    Dear Sifu, if you were to decide the 5 most meaningful lessons that you have received from Sigung Ho, which ones would they be?

    Santiago


    Answer

    Without doubt and without any hesitation in answering, the most important lesson I have learned from my sifu, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, was “sum seong si seng”, whch means, word-by-wod, “heart thinks events materialize”.

    In the Chinese language, “sum” in Cantonese or “xin” in Mandarin pronunciation, though the written word is the same, usually means the mind. The organ inside your body that pumps blood is called “sam chong” or “xin zhang”, which literally means “storage of the mind” or figuratively “heart organ”.

    In Chinese, it is the heart, not the brain, that thinks and feels. It is in English too, before modern science interfere into language. We ask, “How does your heart think”, or “How does your heart feel?”, not “How does your brain think?” or “How does your brain feel?”

    So, consciousness is located in the heart. When a neurologist cuts open a patient’s head in a surgical operation, all he sees is the patient’s brain. Interestingly, many psychologists who are experts in psychology, the study of the psyche, which refers to consciousness, are moving away from the heart to the brain!

    “Sum seong si seng” or “heart thinks events materialize” has long-reaching consequences for me, though at the time I did not realize its far-reaching effects. This invaluable lesson occurred not in formal classes but over leisurely conversation. If I remember correctly, Simu was with me then.

    I asked my sifu, “Sifu, what is the highest art in Shaolin?”

    My sifu thought for a little while. I expected the answer to be something like “Dim mak” or “Chin-na”.

    But he said, “Sum seong si seng.” I was taken back.

    My sifu continued, “Our thoughts are very important. Events materialize according to our thoughts.”

    This is a great, invaluable lesson to all of us. We must always have noble thoughts.

    This lesson was particularly meaning to our school. When I first established Shaolin Wahnam Association, which later evolved into Shaolin Wahnam Institute, my thought was to preserve the great arts of Shaolin and to pass on their wonderful benefits to deserving students all over the world irrespective of race, culture and religion.

    I did not have any idea how this could happen. I did not have any plans, not even immediate plans to expand beyond the then-unknown school out of the little-known town of Sungai Petani. Yet, events materialized according to this noble thought. Now we have more than 60,000 students all over the world, probably the most widely spread chi kung and kungfu school with the largest student population in history.

    The second most meaningful lesson from my sifu was “Koi tau sam chet yow shen ming”, or “When you look up three feet, you can find divine beings all around”.

    I believe Simu was also with me during this most meaningful lesson which also occurred over leisurely conversation, as my wife always was during my leisure time, i.e. apart from my formal kungfu lessons or teaching in schools, or teaching chi kung and kungfu overseas – even now, more than 40 years after this most meaningful lesson.

    I can’t remember what exactly led to this most meaningful lesson. But I can clearly remember my sifu also taught me three crucial steps in having an impeccable conscience.

    My sifu said, “A person may make sure no one knows what evil deed he does. He thinks no one knows, but he is mistaken because there are countless beings just above his head. Even if he could cheat these countless divine beings, he cannot cheat his own conscience.”

    (Part 2 follows)

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  • drunken boxer
    replied
    Thank you Andrew Siheng, for sparing me from suffering all weekend!

    Thank you Sifu for comprehensively answering my question. I think, given the standard of Muay Thai fighting in that part of the world, it is probably safe to say that Sigung Ho must have been very good to get to that level given the competition. Given that, and given Muay Thai's formidable reputation which I believe both Sifu and Sigung agree with, it should be inspirational to think that even in combat terms Sigung found Shaolin Kungfu even better, ie found that it made him way better even than his Muay Thai level.

    Leave a comment:


  • Andrew
    replied
    Here you go, Paul. Can't leave you on the cliff-edge for a whole weekend, can we
    (Continued from Part 1)

    I am not sure whether my sifu, when he had started teaching, had professional Muay Thai fighters as his students, but I don’t think so. Some of my classmates practiced Muay Thai before as a hobby, not as a profession. As expected, they had a poor opinion of Muay Thai though most other kungfu practitioners fear Muay Thai fighters.

    I am also not sure whether my sifu learned kungfu before he became a professional Muay Thai fighter. I believed he did, but it was low-level kungfu.

    What I know for sure is that he gave up professional Muay Thai after he had learned Shaolin Kungfu from my sigung, Yeong Fatt Khun. At first he wanted to learn Shaolin Kungfu to improve his professional Muay Thai fighting, but he found Shaolin Kungfu so far superior over Muay Thaii, not just in combat but also in many other benefits, that he gave up Muay Thai.

    Shaolin Kungfu certainly assisted my sifu in Muay Thai and in combat against Muay Thai fighters. Even when he was still a student under my sigung, but probably after he had left professional Muay Thai fighting, he beat a three-time Thai national professional Muay Thai champion who came to challenge my sigung.

    My sifu knew of my sigung through my sigung’s reputation even when my sigung kept a very low profile. My sifu did not get any demonstration of kungfu skills from my sigung. Great kungfu masters in the past normally did not demonstrate.

    All my sigung taught my sifu for over two years was One-Finger Shooting Zen, with some Shaolin patterns very occasionally. My sifu did not know the purpose of practicing this fantastic art. He practiced it daily and diligently because his sifu told him to. He learned an invaluable lesson earlier. He missed the opportunity of learning the Art of Lightness from another sifu, so when he had a rare chance to learn from my sigung, my sifu did not want to miss the opportunity.

    I don’t know for how long my sifu had to practice Shaolin Kungfu before he surpassed his Muay Thai level, but I guess at most it was a matter of months. With my sifu’s intelligence and experience, it could be a matter of days. My sifu was not a national professional Muay Thai champion. He only reached a district level. But he was highly intelligent, and had much kungfu as well as fighting experience.

    All my classmates who were regarded by my sifu as his disciples were very good fighters. Even if they started from scratch, if they trained diligently the way my sifu taught them, they could easily surpass an amateur Muay Thai fighter in six months, or surpass a professional Muay Thai fighter in one year.

    My siheng, Yong, took only a few healing sessions watching my sifu’s students practice while being treated by sifu for his leg injury, to give up a chance to become a top Taekwondo practitioner in the country to learn Shaolin Kungfu from my sifu. Students attending my intensive kungfu courses learn techniques to counter Muay Thai attacks in a few days. But of course they have to practice diligently on their own to have the skills. But others who do not know the techniques may practice for years, and still fear Muay Thai fighters.

    Professional Muay Thai fighters were very powerful, but their training was external and their bones, as my sifu once told me, were brittle and could be broken by another harder object. Suffering broken bones was actually not uncommon amongst professional Muay Thai fighters.

    The training methods of my sifu, which we now learn, were internal, and the internal force generated was very powerful. I believe that in one year the internal force derived from his chi kung training would make him a more powerful fighter than he had been as a professional Muay Thai fighter.

    When compared to us in Shaolin Wahnam, amateur Muay Thai fighters are not very powerful, though they are powerful when compared to ordinary people. Amongst themselves they exchange blows quite generously. If they were powerful, just one kick would fell a combatant, just as one strike without holding back from our students with substantial internal force would damage an opponent seriously.

    There are better use of our internal force than damaging an opponent, though we must not be afraid to use it if it is absolutely necessary. Fortunately it is usually not necessary. Even many kungfu practitioners may not realize it, the best uses of internal force is to give us good health, vitality, longevity, peak performance and spiritual joys.

    < End>

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  • drunken boxer
    replied
    I was watching a great tv show last night, I got to the end of episode 5 and there was a bit of a cliffhanger, meaning I can't wait for episode 6 - and I get the same feeling with this answer, can't wait for the next bit!

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  • Andrew
    replied
    Now on to question number 3 of this most interesting series .....
    Question 3

    I believe Sigung Ho was formerly a professional Muay Thai fighter. I wonder if there are any records of how many fights he had and so forth, I wonder if this paid well enough to be his livelihood though this is not the question, and would have had Muay Thai fighters as his students when he started teaching kungfu.

    My question is did he learned kungfu after he fought Muay Thai, or had he already started learning kungfu before that? If the latter, did he find the kungfu assisted him in Muay Thai, and if the former, how did the transition occur, did he meet a great kungfu master and get a demonstration of his skills, or hear about this master through reputation.

    And then finally the crux of the question, I wonder how long Sigung Ho had to practise kungfu before he could reach and surpass his Muay Thai level with his kungfu level, and how long it would have taken one of his students to do the same?

    I am thinking, perhaps Sifu would have to speculate or guess part of the answer above, he may not have specifically ever asked Sigung Ho these questions, I would like to hear what Sifu would speculate, but if Sifu feels it better to answer other questions to which he has more concrete answers I would completely understand.

    Also, and I have added this as an edit after re-reading everything, perhaps these questions do not apply so much to chi kung aspects taught in this course specifically, so again if there are more appropriate questions I would completely understand if Sifu answered those instead.

    To try to make my question into a more chi kung aspect related question, I would ask the same thing except I would ask in terms of chi flow and internal force, how long did Sigung Ho take before the internal force derived from his chi kung made him a more powerful fighter than he had been as a Muay Thai fighter?

    Paul (Drunken Boxer)


    Answer

    I have no doubt that my sifu, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, was a professional Muay Thai fighter. But I have no records of this belief. I don’t have any evidence, not even a photograph, though my sifu liked photography as a hobby.

    Probably photography was his hobby when he was young, or much younger. He was also a professional Muay Thai fighter when he was young, probably in his teens or early twenties. He did not tell him when he took photography as his hobby, or when he was a professional Muay Thai fighter. I first met my sifu when he was in his early forties.

    I guess at these facts or opinions (if the events really happened, they were facts; if they did not happen but I thought they did, they were opinions) from circumstantial evidence. He told me that he had many cameras in his young days, that his cameras were sophisticated and expensive, and that he loved photography.

    Like wushu artists, professional Muay Thai fighters were, and still are, in their teens or early twenties. By twenty five they would have retired due to injury. The difference between professional Muay Thai fighters and wushu artists was, and still is, that the former fought for money and usually did not like their art, whereas the latter perform for free and usually like what they did.

    My sifu, even when he was beyond forty, was very good and fast at Muay Thai, far better than what I expected amateur Muay Thai practitioners were. Our students are quite proficient in countering Muay Thai attacks because I taught them so. And, of course, I learned the counters from my sifu.

    My sifu also told me aspects of Muay Thai fighters’ life that amateur Muay Thai practitioners might not know, like many matches were fixed, Muay Thai fighters were ill-treated by their managers, often being slapped and kicked at, Thailand’s national Muay Thai champions were far more combat efficient than world’s international Muay Thai champions, and that fighting was more vigorous and therefore injury more serious at preliminary rounds of professional Muay Thai tournaments than at semi-finals and finals.

    But the most important reason I believe my sifu was a professional Muay Thai fighter was because he told me so. My sifu never lied.

    Muay Thai fighters were not well paid. But their pay was enough for them to feed themselves and their father’s families. Thailand was poor, and professional Muay Thai fighters came from the very poor. Their lives were also very harsh.

    (Part 2 follows)

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  • Andrew
    replied
    The waiting for part 2 of this answer is over
    (Continued from Part 1)

    I had two “aha” experiences with the Art of 30 Punches. The first one occurred when I was surprised I could develop so much internal force using this external method. The second “aha’ experience was when I dropped my stone-locks, which were similar to but less elegant than modern-day dumb-bells, to perform kungfu sets, I could perform a sequence of many patterns forcefully and fast in just one breadth – a basic requirement for combat efficiency, though not many people may know it.

    I had many “aha” experiences with One-Finger Shooting Zen. One was my discovery that not only I had internal force at my index fingers, but may palms and punches were also forceful. Another “aha” experience was my discovery that I became fast and agile with my One-Finger Shooting Zen training. I did not know the reason then. It was much later that I discovered it was because of chi flow.

    Another “aha” experience was when a Shaolin master of another school who boasted of his Iron Arm, could not last 3 hits when perform 3-Star Arm Knocking with me. But my most memorable “aha” experience was when I could break a brick, and a few after that, when earlier I could not break one with my more than 2 years of Iron Palm training.

    The benefits of these arts transcend combat application. My mental grip of concepts derived from the physical grip of Taming Tiger enables me to attain peak performance in intellectual activities.

    Those who follow our three golden rules of practice doggedly may wrongly think that intellectualization is bad. No , it isn’t. In many situations, intellectualization and conceptualization are not only good but necessary. When you want to plan a marketing project, for example, you need to conceptualize, then intellectualize your concepts into statements that can be easily read and understood. But during our kungfu and chi kung training, we do not intellectualize, or do not intellectualize unnecessarily.

    Developing internal force and performing a sequence of patterns in one breadth can be readily transferred to benefit our daily life. Internal force enables us to perform our tasks with energy and mental clarity. Amongst many other benefits, when it is necessary internal force enables us to be assertive.

    Translated into our daily life, performing a sequence of patterns in one breadth inspires us to perform a complete series of actions in one go instead of performing its parts, often with lengthy intervals between the parts. This principle has enabled me to achieve many things in daily life, and provides an answer to those who wonder how I could accomplish so many things in a relatively short time.

    For example, I have uploaded many videos to Vimeo. I do not upload a video, rest for a while, then upload another video. I upload all videos of a course,, which may range from 30 to more than 100 videos in one go. In this way, not only I save time, I become more effective as I progress.

    One-Finger Shooting Zen provides a lot of opportunities to enrich our daily life. In general, it generates energy flow and consolidates energy into internal force, besides enhancing mental clarity. These three most important ingredients can enable us to perform better no matter what we do.

    If we wish to perform any physical or mental tasks, like running a company or presenting a proposal, mental clarity enables us to be clear in our aims and procedure, energy flow enables us to work the various processes smoothly, and consolidating energy enables us to to perform our work with zest.

    These arts -- Taming Tiger, Art of 30 Punches, and One-Finger Shooting Zen – not only improve our combat efficiency but also enrich our daily life.

    < End>

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  • Andrew
    replied
    Thanks for highlighting that, Tim. Indeed a very important passage.

    Leave a comment:


  • Tim
    replied
    Just in case the importance and relevance of the following passed you by, here it is again:

    Of the three arts, the Art of 30 Punches and One-Finger Shooting Zen develop speed and internal force, which are two of the three basic skills in combat, the other being picture-perfect form. They also contribute much to combatants being calm and relaxed during combat.

    Leave a comment:


  • Karol
    replied
    I check this thread for updates every single day. And it is getting more and more interesting... Thank You so much Sigung!
    Last edited by Karol; 19 February 2015, 02:48 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Matt F.
    replied
    Originally posted by Andrew View Post
    .... it is worth waiting for, Andy . But I won't make you wait tooooooo long
    Also looking forward to part 2! And looking forward to not waiting tooooooo long!

    -Matt

    Leave a comment:


  • Andrew
    replied
    Originally posted by Andy View Post
    Looking forward to part 2.
    .... it is worth waiting for, Andy . But I won't make you wait tooooooo long

    Leave a comment:


  • Andy
    replied
    Fascinating! Looking forward to part 2.

    Leave a comment:


  • Andrew
    replied
    Here comes question (and answer ) number 2....
    Question 2

    Taming Tiger, Art of 30 Punches and One-Finger Shooting Zen have formidable combat benefits. Many would not believe the internal depths. Please can you tell us about any "A-ha!" moments you had when Sigung transmitted these practices to you? and also how the benefits of these practices transcend combat application?

    Sifu Andy Cusick


    Answer


    Many martial artists may not be aware of the formidable combat benefits in these three arts –- Taming Tiger, Art of 30 Punches, and One-Finger Shooting Zen. Many people think, wrongly, that the only issue in combat is techniques.

    The irony is that techniques are probably the least important factor to decide victory in combat. This does not mean that techniques are not important, but they are not as important as skills, being relaxed and calm, and fighting experience. Yang Lu Chan, the great Taijiquan master, used only a few techniques from Grasping Sparrow’s Tail in all his fights, and he was always victorious. In the Xingyiquan course at the UK Summer Camp 2013, I explained to students that one could use only one technique from Xingyiquan, pi-guan, to handle any attack!

    The great contribution to combat efficiency of these arts – Taming Tiger, Art of 30 Punches, and One-Finger Shooting Zen – lies not in techniques but in skills, and in enabling practitioners to be calm and relaxed. Not many people, understandably, could understand such depths.

    Of the three arts, the Art of 30 Punches and One-Finger Shooting Zen develop speed and internal force, which are two of the three basic skills in combat, the other being picture-perfect form. They also contribute much to combatants being calm and relaxed during combat.

    How do the Art of 30 Punches and One-Finger Shooting Zen attain these combat benefits? They do so because of their internal training, especially in chi flow and Zen mind. Applying combat techniques in chi flow enable us to be very fast. Consolidating chi flow into internal force enable us to be very powerful, yet not tiring and not panting for breaths. Being in Zen mind enables us to be calm and relaxed.

    Taming Tiger is basically an external art, though we in Shaolin Wahnam may train it internally because of our general skills and understanding. It gives us powerful grip, which enhances our combat efficiency. As the physical and the mental are closely related, though not many people may know this fact, a powerful physical grip also enahances our mental grip of any intellectual concepts.

    My “aha” experiences occurred not at the time my sifu transmitted these practices to me, but later during my own training and realization.

    My first “aha” experience in Taming Tiger was my realization that performing Taming Tiger with tiger-claws was more difficult than I thought than performing push-up with open palms. I could perform push-up quite well, easily performing more than a hundred times when many untrained young men had to struggle to 20. This training was a continuation of my scouting days in school, where performing push-up was part of the Tenderfoot Test, the first test of a boy scout. For a requirement of physical exercise.

    So when my sifu showed me how to perform Taming Tiger, I thought it was easy. But it was not, yet my sifu, who was more than twice my age then, could perform it effortlessly.

    (Part 2 follows)

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  • Andrew
    replied
    I find the following quote from Sifu's answer above to be key for many of our students to understand:
    It is worthwhile to bear in mind that we are able to have such benefits in daily life not because of the techniques we practice in our kungfu training, but because of the skills we have developed from our practice.

    Leave a comment:


  • Anton S.
    replied
    Dear Sigung,

    thank you very much for your insightful answer!

    Andrew Sisook, thanks for posting it

    With kind regards,
    Anton.

    Leave a comment:

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