No announcement yet.

10 Questions on the Essence of Spiritual Cultivation

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #31

    Best wishes


    • #32

      It's such a joy reading this thread. Thank you Shaolin Wahnam brothers and sisters for asking great questions.
      Thank you Sifu for sharing profound teachings which keep on transforming our spirits and thank you Mark Siheng for posting them.

      Shaolin Salute,
      Parveen 😊
      “So I say to you –
      This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:”

      “Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;
      Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
      Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream.”

      “So is all conditioned existence to be seen.”

      Thus spoke Buddha.


      • #33
        Thank you all for your questions...and of course Thank You Sifu for your profound answers...In gratitude, Gusty


        • #34
          Thank you Sigung for answering not only my question but other questions with such clarity and profundity.

          I look forward to seeing Sigung soon this weekend in NYC!

          Thank you,


          • #35
            Dear Sigung, thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. I always have much luck and feel protected by the cosmos. So thank you for teaching us.


            • #36
              Q +A No 3

              Sifu has kindly passed this on . Please enjoy

              Question 3

              Some of my friends practice or used to practice certain forms of Jewish and Christian mysticism and contemplative prayer/meditation. They told me that according to their particular systems, once a practitioner reaches a watershed moment in their cultivation, they seem to attract trouble and opposition. The usual explanation given to me was that "demons" are afraid that the cultivator will attain divine grace and get beyond their grasp, so they do all they can to drag the cultivator back into "an impure state." If the cultivator manages to break a certain threshold, then they become immune to these "demons." 

              I thought it was very peculiar, especially since the arts we learn in Shaolin Wahnam are said to protect us from anything from bad luck to hostility of almost every imaginable sort (I know I have benefited from ridiculously good luck many times). In fact, one of my friends who cultivates told me that my home seemed like "a safe place, protected from spirits" even though I just practiced my kung fu there and don't even think about spirits or the sort. 

              My question is: What is it about our arts that make us "protected" and what is it about other arts that, despite also aiming at spiritual fulfilment, do not "protect" their practitioners?

              Fred Chu


              The big secret that protects us from any harm is chi flow. Not only it protects us, it also gives us wonderful benefit. Besides giving us good health, vitality and longevity, it also makes us peaceful, happy and lucky. These are really wonderful benefits that are directly meaningful to us every day of our life. Earning a lot of money or holidaying on an idyllic island, for example, is only a passing fancy.

              Other chi kung practitioners don’t have this protection or these wonderful benefits because they don’t have chi flow, regardless of how long they may have practiced chi kung, or gentle physical exercise they mistake as chi kung. Indeed, chi flow is a hallmark of our school. Irrespective of what we practice, whether it is Eighteen Lohan Hands or Five-Animal Play, Baguazhang or Praying Mantis Kungfu, Flowing Water Floating Clouds or San Feng Wudang Set,we have chi flow.

              Although there may be other reasons why some practitioners fail to progress, it may be true that demons and other evil spirits interrupt practitioners’ progress when practitioners reach a watershed level as the demons and other evil spirits are afraid that the practitioners may attain divine grace and are beyond the grasp of the demons and evil spirits. We in Shaolin Wahnam do not have this problem. Demons and evil spirits are just afraid of our chi flow.

              Why is chi flow a protection against demons and other evil spirits. It is because our chi flow is like electricity to them. If demons and other evil spirits get near us, they will be repulsed by our chi flow. There is no need for us to do anything extra. As long as our chi is flowing well, it will act like electricity repulsing demons and other evil spirits.

              Our chi flow also repulses other evil elements sent by black magicians or any evil elements meant to harm us. The evil elements will just be bounced off.

              If the chi flow of a chi kung practitioner who practices genuine but low-level chi kung is not powerful, demons, evil spirits and evil elements may penetrate though. But our chi flow is very vigorous and powerful. It acts as a protection shield for us against evil.

              The person practicing our high-level, powerful chi kung must also be noble. If he is evil himself, he creates his own evil energy from within, and his chi flow may not protect him.

              How does chi flow make us peaceful. Chi flow purifies our spirit. When our spirit is purified, we become relaxed and peaceful.

              Many members of our Shaolin Wahnam Family would know by now why chi flow can make us happy and lucky. Energy masters discovered these facts long ago, and the terms have been established in the Chinese language. “Kai xin” and “hou yun qi” means “being happy” and “being lucky” respective. Literally, “kai xin” is “open heart” and “hou yup qi” is good circulation of energy. When your chi flow opens your heart, and circulates harmoniously, you have the state of being known in English as “being happy” and “being lucky”.

              Chi flow also overcomes pain and illness, and contributes to good health, vitality and longevity. Pain and illness are caused by energy blockage. When chi flow clears the blockage, recovery occurs. When chi flow is harmonious, good health is attained. When chi flow becomes vigorous, practitioners have vitality. Continued training of chi kung result in energy kept at our dan tian and marvellous meridians, enabling us to have a long supply of chi flow, which means we have longevity.
              Sifu Mark Appleford



              • #37
                Daniel Pérez


                • #38
                  Thank you very much, Sifu!

                  It still blows my mind after a few years that I can get "spiritual" benefits from "just" practicing kung fu the way I learnt from Shaolin Wahnam. Makes me feel very lucky and grateful.
                  I like making silly videos (including kung fu ones!) every so often on YouTube and taking pictures of weird things on Instagram.


                  • #39
                    A very delightful read

                    What a beautiful thread!

                    Thank you Mark Sihing for initiating this, and thank you dear family for your contributions and most of all that you Sifu for sharing your wisdom once again.
                    I keep being fascinated by the power of true words! What a purifying experience.

                    With deepest respect,
                    .•´¯`•.¸¸.•´¯`°irene°´¯`•.¸¸. ´¯`•.

                    “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.”


                    • #40
                      Brilliant as always

                      Best wishes


                      • #41
                        Essence of Spiritual Cultivation: Question-Answer 4


                        Question 4

                        May you kindly share with us some of the tests and difficulties that you have had in your own path towards Spiritual Cultivation and how where you able to detect and overcome them?



                        I understood what spiritual cultivation meant after I had started answering questions form the public, probably in the 1990s. Before that I vaguely confused spiritual cultivation with moral education or with religious knowledge.

                        In other words, I thought, wrongly, that a person was spiritually cultivated if he had high moral values, or if he was knowledgeable in religious matters. I later when I realized what spiritual cultivation was, I discovered that while this was often true, it might not necessarily be so.

                        In other words, while a spiritually cultivated person often has high moral values, or often knows much about religious matter, it could also happen that a spiritually cultivated person may have low moral values and knows little about religion.

                        The three terms are straight-forward, though they may cause confusion sometimes. Spiritual cultivation is cultivating the spirit, irrespective of whether the cultivator has high or low morals, is knowledgeable or ignorant in religion. Moral education is being educated in morals, irrespective of whether the person is spiritually cultivated or uncultivated, knowledgeable or ignorant in religion. Religious knowledge is knowing about religion, irrespective of whether he is spiritually cultivated or uncultivated, have high or low morals.

                        A black magician, for example, is highly cultivated in spirit, but he has low morals and may or may not be knowledgeable in religion. A moralist is highly educated in morals but he may not believe in the spirit or in religion. A priest is knowledgeable in his religion but he may be timid which means he is not spiritually cultivated, and he is usually compassionate which means he has high morals.

                        Even when I had a clear understanding of what spiritual cultivation was only in my 50s, my spiritual cultivation started early. As a child I was not afraid of ghosts, which meant my spirit was strong.

                        When I first learned Shaolin Kungfu form Uncle Righteousness, my siheng, Iron Arm Chiew Shi Khern, taught me the Horse-Riding Stance and asked me to remain at the stance. Then he walked away, probably forgotten that I was at my stance. Stance training was painful, but I endured. After about 10 minutes my siheng came back and saw me still at the stance.

                        “Oh, you’re still at your stance. Very good. Now stand up.”

                        My legs were so stiff that I could not stand up. I just slumped onto he floor.

                        My father’s earlier advice that I must respect my master and seniors, and do what they asked me to do, certainly contributed to my spiritual cultivation. Respecting the master and seniors, and having perseverance in practicing their teaching was moral education, but strengthening the spirit so as not giving up despite difficulty was spiritual cultivation.

                        This was one of my earliest tests in my path towards spiritual cultivation, and I am glad I did well.

                        Another early lesson and test on spiritual cultivation was in scouting. Scout Law number 8 is to smile at all times even under difficulties. I was on an endurance hike with my school-day best friend, Soon Hoe Choon. We walked along a railway track from Nibong Tebal to Bagan Serai, two small towns in Peninsula Malaysia, mistakenly thinking that was the shortest distance, not knowing that a trunk road, which was certainly more comfortable for waking, was running parallel nearby.

                        I was very tired, despite my kungfu training, and each time I stopped to rest, a huge swamp of mosquitoes would gather around us for supper. Despite the difficulties I kept up a cheerful spirit.

                        The first time I had an experience of my spirit going out of my physical body was before I even started my primary (or elementary) schooling. I was holidaying in Kuala Lumpur and was sitting a a wooden house in Loke Yew Village right in the middle of the city itself. A cake seller was passing bye and I could hear him calling out his ware. I had an interesting thought of putting myself in another persons’s body. I can’t remember now why I had that funny thought, and on hindsight it was incredible for a small boy of five or six to think this way. I believe my knowledge and skills must be due to my spiritual cultivation in past lives.

                        Suddenly, without warning, I found myself out of my physical body. I knew nothing about spirit and body or anything about spiritual cultivation then, at least not in this live. I was afraid. And as suddenly my spirit was pulled back into my physical body.

                        Another time I had an experience of my spirit outside my physical body was many years later. I read about developing night vision whereby a practitioner could see clearly even in dim light from a kungfu classic, and decided to try it. Dark in the night alone, I lighted a joss-stick and placed it in a jar in front of the God of the Earth in my house. I sat in a semi-lotus position a few feet away half closed my eyes and looked at the joss-stick in the dim light. After a few breadths where I was gently aware of my breathing, I found myself out of my physical body.

                        Again I was frightened, as I had no prior knowledge about the spirit. I was just practicing night vision. The fright instantly brought my spirit back into my physical body.

                        A severe test and difficulties I faced in my path towards spiritual cultivation occurred when a chi kung master and some of my own students whom I had nurtured to be masters themselves betrayed me. It was deeply hurting and painful. I remember asking myself many times, especially during long drives alone from Sungai Petani to Taiping to teach chi kung, what wrong had I done that I deserved such betrayals. I also asked Guan Yin Bodh Satt for guidance as well as to give me an answer.

                        I received a clear answer. I had done no wrong. I lived an exemplary life, guided by the Ten Shaolin laws. Was sincere in teaching the Shaolin arts, in nourishing students and helping others. I concluded that the test and the difficulties were a necessary developmental stage in the making of a true master.

                        This and later betrayals were invaluable lessons for me in my spiritual cultivation. It made me strong. Hence, in the recent betrayal concerning unproven sexual abuse allegedly committed by an instructor who had resigned, I considered it a blessing that those who lacked wisdom and compassion left our school.

                        Sifu Mark Appleford



                        • #42
                          One of the most amazing threads to read

                          Best wishes


                          • #43
                            Thank you :-)

                            Dear Sifu,

                            Thank you so much for answering my question. It is always very inspiring and humbling to learn more about your life and the Shaolin Arts and even more inspiring to realise that "the test and the difficulties were a necessary developmental stage in the making of a true master".

                            Thank your for your patience, wisdom and compassion in every thought, word and action that you share with all of us.

                            I want to also thank Mark Siheng for starting another beautiful thread that will greatly enhance many people's lives. I want to also thank to the participants of this thread for making such meaningful questions.

                            With love, care and Shaolin Salute,



                            • #44
                              Question 5 Q+A

                              This answer by Sifu it me exceptional

                              Question 5

                              We use the terms Martial Art, Eighteen Lohan Art, the Art of Shaolin Kung Fu, the Art of Teaching, the Art of Chi Kung, and the Shaolin Arts. What do we mean by "Art" in this context and how is it similar to and different from "Art" in the sense of poetry, literature, painting, dance, theater, photography, etc.? Also, is Spiritual Cultivation "Art" in either of these senses? Is Zen "Art"?

                              Sifu Mark Blohm


                              The term “art’ suggests two concepts, namely “man made” and “aesthetic value”. In other words, any work of art is not born of nature, it is man made, and it is generally regarded as beautiful.

                              A flower or a sunset is beautiful but it is not an art because it is natural, not man made. A table is made by man, but is not normally considered as an art because it has functional rather than aesthetic value.

                              These two attributes, man made and aesthetic value, apply to all arts, including martial arts, Eighteen-Lohan Art, the art of Shaolin Kungfu, the art of teaching, the art of chi kung, the Shaolin arts, poetry, literature, painting, dance, theatre, and photography.

                              Of course, the tem “man made” includes creation by women, like Wing Choon Kungfu invented by Yim Wing Choon. The term “aesthetic value” may be subjective. Karate and Taekwondo demonstrated by masters are beautiful to watch. When these martial movements are performed by students learning them, they may look clumsy. We may call them arts only when the students can perform them beautifully.

                              Hence, martial arts, Eighteen-Lohan Art, the art of Shaolin Kungfu, the art of teaching, the art of chi kung and the Shaolin arts are arts in that they are man made and have aesthetic value. In this context of being man made and having aesthetic value, they are similar to poetry, literature, painting, dance, theatre and photography.

                              But they are different in two aspects. One important aspect is that while martial arts, Eighteen-Lohan Art, the art of Shaolin Kungfu, the art of teaching, the art of chi kung, and the Shaolin arts have aesthetic value, it is their functional value that is more decisive in determining how good the arts are.

                              In other words, how good a martial artist is, is not decided by how beautifully he performs his art but how well he applies his art for combat. How good a teacher is, is not decided by how aesthetic his teaching is, but how functional he enables his students to learn. How good the art of chi kung is, is not decided by how beautiful the chi kung forms are but how well these forms enable practitioners to be healthy.

                              Another important aspect that differentiate between the two sets of arts is that while martial arts, Eighteen-Lohan Art, the art of Shaolin Kungfu, the art of teaching, the art of chi kung and the Shaolin arts are dynamic, poetry, literature, painting, dance, theatre and photography are static.

                              In other words, while martial arts, Eighteen-Lohan Art, the art of Shaolin Kungfu, the art of teaching, the art of chi kung and the Shaolin arts are processes, poems, literary works, paintings, dances and plays are objects, though the act of reading a poem or performing a dance may be a process. In this context, we may classify the art of reciting poetry and the art of dancing, etc in the same category as the art of teaching and the art of chi kung, whereas poetry and dances belong to the other category.

                              Following from the aspect of processes versus objects, it the aspect of practice versus admiration. In the first category, practice is necessary to acquire mastery of the art, whereas in the second category it is the large number of admirers that makes a poem, a piece of writing or a dance a work of art.

                              In other words, if one wishes to be a master in any art of the first category, he has to practice and practice, not learn and learn, whereas in the second category if a lot of people admire a poem, a piece of writing or a dance, it becomes a work of art. This aspect is important for us. If we wish to become a master of any martial art, Eighteen-Lohan Art, the art of Shaolin Kungfu, the art of teaching, the art of chi kung or any of the Shaolin arts, we need to practice and practice, i.e. going over and over again material that we have already learnt, not learning more and more new material.

                              A master of any art in the first category is one who can perform the art very well, not know much about the art in theory. Many people in the West seen to be confused over this aspect. They regard kungfu “masters” and chi kung “masters” as those who know much about the art in theory, even when these “masters” cannot apply their kungfu for combat or are unhealthy. Worse, due to the public’s lack of knowledge of these arts, these so-called “masters” sometimes give misleading or mistaken information about their arts.

                              It is also worthwhile to note that even amongst genuine masters, there are different levels of mastery of the art. If one practices correctly and diligently a low-level art for a long time, he may become a master of a low-level art, in contrast to a master of a high-level of the same art even when the high-level master may have practiced for a shorter time.

                              For example, a person may have correctly practiced some chi kung dynamic patterns, like Lifting the Sky and Carrying the Moon, for 20 years, and has derived the benefits of his practice like having good health and vitality. He is rightly called a master. But compared to another person who has correctly practiced for 5 years advanced chi kung exercises like Bone Marrow Cleansing and Sinew Metamorphosis, and has mastered them, as well as enjoys their benefits like internal force, mental clarity and spiritual joys besides having good health and vitality, the second master is of a higher level though he has practiced for a comparatively shorter time.

                              Needless to say, it is better to be a high-level master than a low-level master. To be a high-level master, one must both learn and practice smartly -- smarter than the low-level master in both the choice of chi kung exercises to learn and the way to practice. The coming UK Summer Camp provides this opportunity.
                              Sifu Mark Appleford



                              • #45
                                Essence of Spiritual Cultivation: Question-Answer 6, Part 1

                                Question 6

                                Please can you speak on how best to attain the balance between striving to reach one's maximum potential in this life (not necessarily ultimate potential; just making full use of the gift of this life) vs not deviating, overtraining or chasing experiences?

                                Sifu Andy Cusick


                                An excellent way to get the best results in what you practice, whether it is the art itself or just an exercise, is to follow the five guidelines below:

                                1. Have a philosophical understanding of the art or exercise.
                                2. Define your aims and objectives in practicing the art or exercise
                                3. Learn from the best available teacher according to your resourcess
                                4. Practice the art or exercie according to the way the teachers asks you to practice, and not according to what you think it should be practiced
                                5. Periodically access your results according to your set aims and objectives.

                                Surprising, or even shockingly, not having a philosocphical undertstanding of the art or an exercise is a main reason why more than 90% of martial artists or more than 80% of chi kung practitioners today do not get the benefits of the art or exercise it is supposed to give.

                                A martial art, any martial art, is an art that a practitioner can use to defend himself, but more than 80% of martial artists cannot use their art to defend themselves! If they can, they would not take being punched and kicked at for granted in free sparring.

                                Chi kung, by its defintition, is an art of energy, but more that 90% of chi kung practitioners today have no experience of energy despite having practiced the art for many years!

                                By extension, the same explanation can be applied to any exercise a martial artist or a chi kung practititioner pracrtices in his martial art or in chi kung. But let us take an example each of an exercise in a martial art and in chi kung for better explanation.

                                The philosophy behind practicing a kungfu set or a kata in Karate or Taekwondo is to be proficient in the patterns of the set or kata so as to apply them efficiently in sparring. But most kungfu practitioners (outside our school) and most Karate and Taekwondo practitioners not only bounce about and use Boxing and Kick-Boxing techniques when they spar, they do not know even theoretically the combat applications of the patterns.

                                The philosophy behind a chi kung exercise is to generate an energy flow so as to clear enerrgy blockage to overcome pain and illness, and to promote good health. Not many people, of course, know this philosophy. Most chi kung practitioners perform a chi kung exercise because it is taught to them by their chi kung teachers. Due to their not knowing the philsoophy, usually they and their teachers perform the chi kung exercise as gentle physical exercise.

                                We in Shaolin Wahnam are elite in knowing this philsoiphy. By being elite here means that we constitiute a minute minority of the total number of chi kung practitioners in the world.

                                By setting aims and objectives, even informally, the training become purposeful. But most martial artists and chi kung practitioners do not do this. Hernce their training becomes purposeless and haphaharard. If they ever get any beneficial results, i,e, if they are able to use their martial art to defend themselves or able to overcome illness and become healthy, it is incidental and after a very long time.

                                Less than one or two in a hundred may attain these benefits, and they will then be regarded as masters, especially when they may need 10 or more years to attain these results. Because set aims and objectives as well as follow the other guidelines mentioned above, we become very cost-effect. We attain similar or better results in far less time. Even our students have the results of masters, but our students are generally not regarded as masters, mainly because they have spent far less time to attain the results.

                                Some people say that all martial arts and chi kung, and all treachers are the same. This, of course, is not true. Judo, for example, is very different from Karate, and a teacher who produces results is very different from a teacher of the same art who harms his students.
                                Unless they are saints or fools, teacher who produce rrsuilts charge high fees. In fact, as a guideline, if a teacher teaches free or charges low fees, unless he is a saint or a fool, one can reasonably conclude that the art he teaches is of a low level or of no value. Reversely, if you want to get benefits from the art you wish to learn, go to a teacher who charges high fees.

                                Compared to the fees mediocre or bad teachers charge, the fees charged by good teachers are high. But compared to the benefits students get from practicing the art, the high fees good teachers charge are actually low. It is far cheaper to pay 100 euros to a teacher who teaches you to develop internal force to enrich your life, than paying 10 euros to a teacher who teaches you free sparring to harm yourself and your sparring partners.

                                How does a student know whether a teacher is good or bad? One effective way is to find out whether the teacher can help him attain his aims and objectives. He can learn from the teacher for a period of time to find out. But a smarter way is to access his students who have spent a similar time with him.

                                If many of his students have attained similar aims and objectives you have set yourself in learning he is a good teacher. If his students not only do not attain similar aims and objectives (but these students may not have this knowledge and awareness) but also harm themselves in practicing the art, you should not learn from this teacher even when he pays you money instead. This advice is only logical. But it is shocking how many students are actually victims of this unfortunate situation.

                                You should not only learn from a good teacher, you deserve to learn from the best teacher within your resources, two of the most inmediate are the time and the fees you are willing to pay.

                                Having found a great teacher, or at least a good one, who can help you to attain your aims and objectives in practing the art or exercise, the next logical step, which generally takes the longest time, is to practice the art or exercise according to the way the teacher asks you to, and not according to the way you think the art or exercise should be practiced.

                                Again, this is only logical, but again some students, despite their good intention, do not follow this advice. For example, the teacher, who has proven himself to be competnet in sparring, has asked students to practice a combat sequence well, and just apply this sequence on an opponent. But some students, trying to be smarter than the teacher though they never meant it, learn Boxing, Wrestling and Muay Thai techniques and spar like Boxing, Wrestling or Muay Thai exponents.

                                The teacher, who is an example of good health and has helped many students to have good health, has asked students not to worry and not to intellectualize during practice, but some students still worry whether the art they practice will give them the benefits they want, and intellectualize on how they can get the best result from their practice, despite the fact that the teacher has told them that even if they get only 30% of the benefits they get during a course with the teacher, they will still fulfil their aims and objectives in practicing the art or exercie.

                                The fifth step in the five guidelines to get the best result in one’s practice is to periodically access his results with reference to his set aims and objectives. An aim in kungfu training may be able to apply the techniques he learns in solo practice in sparring. An objective may be able to counter a certain kick. So he just test out his aim and objective with his classmates or with friends who practice other martial arts.

                                In chi kung training, an aim may be to have more vitality, and an objective is to overcome a particular illness. Although testing his aim may be subjective, he can generally know whether he has more virtality. Overcoming his illness is objective. He can check with his doctor, or if the symptoms of his illness have disappeared and he feels fine, he may not even have to see a doctor to know that he has attained his objective.

                                Failure to achieve one’s aims and objectives in practicing an art or exercise can be traced to one or more of the following three factors:

                                1. The art or exercise itself.
                                2. The teacher.
                                3. The student hinself.

                                In our school, our arts and exercises are genuine, and our teachers competent. Both have been time tested. More than 75% of our students derive the benefits the arts and exercixes are meant to give. If students do not derive benefits from their training, it is their own fault.

                                And the students’ fault can be traced to one or both of the following two factors:

                                1. The students do not practice sufficiently.
                                2. The students do not pracrice according to the teacher’s instrutions.

                                Related to or issuing from the second of the above factor is that students worry or intellctualize unnecessarily.
                                The five guidelines to attain the best results are time-tested. They have anable many people to succeed in their training.

                                Indeed, they are so effective that they lead to over-training. Over-training has become an important issue in our school. I believe it is unprecedented in kungfu and chi kung history.

                                This does not mean that no one in the past over-trained. But no school has over-trained at a scope and depth as we do. This, I believe, is due to our cost-effectiveness. We are frighteningly cost-effective. Our typical students can attain in one month what even genuine master would need a year to attain. Many people, especially outside our school, may not believe it, but it is true.

                                I can attest to its truth from my own personal experience. Those who attain my Intensive Chi Kung Course, even fresh beginners, can generate an energy flow on the very first day. It took me more than 20 years before I had an energy flow like what our typical students do. 20 years may not be a fair comparison because at the time when I learned the Horse-riding Stance, I did not know it was chi kung.

                                But I knew “Lifting the Sky” was chi kung when I first learned it. I still took more than a year practicng “Lifting the Sky” to have an energy flow, but it was nothing like the energy flow our students now have. It took me a few more years before I could have a similar energy flow. And energy flow is the essence of chi kung.

                                Internal force is the essence of good kungfu. Those who attend my intensive kungfu courses, or even regional kungfu courses, could develop internal force on the very first day! It took me more than 20 years since starting kungfu before I could develop internal force. Again, 20 years may not be a fair comparision because at the time I learned the Horse-Riding Stance I did not know that its primary purpose was to develop internal force. I only knew then that stance training laid the foundation for kungfu training.

                                But it took me more than 3 years after practicng San Zhan before I could develop internal force, and I knew that the primary purpose of San Zhan was to develop internal force. (Now I would say “a primary purpose” instead of “the primary purpose” because now I know there are other purposes of practicing San Zhan which I did not know then.)

                                Actually it was “One-Finger Shooting Zen” that enabled me to dvelop internal force, and I transferred the skills to San Zhan. I had to practice “One-Finger Shooting Zen” for about a year to feel noticable internal force.

                                Based on my own performance and dedication as well as the fact that I had excellent teachers, when typical students in our school now take a month to attain what I took a year, it is reasonable to estimate that other people, including genuine masters, would also take a year. This is actually a conversative estimate, though other people outside our school may say we exaggerate our claim.

                                Hence, it is no surprise that many of our students and some instructors over-train.

                                What are the signs we can use to say that we over-train?

                                Over-training is the result of getting more benefits than our physcial body can cope. The signs are unpleasantlness, nausiousness, tiredness, pain and over-cleansing.

                                Over-cleansing, which is a result of over-training, is a process where we clear away rubbish faster than what our physical body can cope. Rubbish includes bad cells, pain, sickness, negative emotions and perverted views.

                                The signs or over-cleansing are similar to those of over-training, thus the confusion, such as unpleasantness, nausiousness, tiredness and pain, and may also include rashes, pimples, heavy breadth and body ordour.

                                The obvious action to overcome or prevnet over-training is to slow down the training. Slowing doen the trainingt can be achieved in time or intensity.

                                If a student practices an hour a session, he can slow down by prcticing just 15 minutes a session. If he practices two sessions a day, he can now practice one session a day. If he practices everyday, now he can practice once in two days or three days. In this connection,

                                it is helpful to remind himself that practicing kungfu or chi kung is to enrich his life and the lives of other people, and never to enslave himself to the art. By reducing the time of his training, he now has more time for other worthy activities, which previously he may mistakenly thiought he had no time for, like spending more time with his parents or friends, or just watching clouds passing by in the sky.
                                (Part 2 follows later)
                                Sifu Mark Appleford