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Legacy of Zhang San Feng: 10 Questions to the Grandmaster

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  • #46
    Question and Answer - 6 - Part 1

    Question and Answer - 6 - Part 1

    Question 6


    Doing some research in Sifu's website he mentions that "before Zhang San Feng, kungfu in its physical form, chi kung and meditation were practiced separately. Zhang San Feng was a martial art genius. In his training he integrated physical kungfu, chi kung and meditation into one unity, bringing kungfu development to an unprecedented height. The result was what we now call Wudang Taijiquan".

    The way Zhang San Feng integrate these 3 aspects into one unity seems very similar to the way we train in Shaolin Wahnam as we train form, energy and mind at the very start and in all our practices.

    Did Shaolin Kungfu masters integrated these 3 aspects into one unity once Zhang San Feng developed Wudang Taijiquan or they kept training them separately?

    Did Sigung Ho or any of your Sifus have these 3 aspects integrated into one unity or merging them came later through your own progress and development and as a result of an aha experience like for example practicing Taijiquan?

    Might this be the reason why we are so cost effective?

    Santiago


    Answer

    Zhang san Feng was a genius. He integrated kungfu , chi kung and meditation into one unity.

    This is how we train in Shaolin Wahnam. We owe this to Zhang San Feng. We are very grateful to him.

    This triple training in one not only saves us a lot of time, it gives us a lot of benefits. If we were to train kunfu, chi kung and meditation separately, we would need a longer time. As a rough estimate, we would need three years instead of one year when we train all the three in one unity.

    Not only we save time, we also get more benefits. In other words, training our arts in an integrated way of triple cultivation for one year gives us more benefit than training the arts separately as kungfu, chi kung and meditation for three years. As a rough estimate again, we get 5 times more benefits!

    I would also add that my two estimates are conservative. It is more likely that our saving in time and gaining in benefits will be more than estimated.

    Some random comparison will give us an idea of the gain in time and benefits we get.

    Our students can spar for hours in intensive courses and are not tired or panting for breadths, whereas even other master would be tired and short of breadth after sparring for 30 minutes. This is a gain in benefit.

    Our students can develop internal force after a hew hours of my regional courses whereas even other masters chased after internal force for years but to no avail. This is a gain of time and benefit.

    Our students can have a spiritual awakening, like their spirit expanding beyond their physical body, after a few hours of my regional courses, whereas even monks cultivating in a monastery would take years. This is a gain in time.
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    • #47
      Question and Answer - 6 - Part 2

      Question and Answer - 6 - Part 2

      Question 6 (Original question)

      Doing some research in Sifu's website he mentions that "before Zhang San Feng, kungfu in its physical form, chi kung and meditation were practiced separately. Zhang San Feng was a martial art genius. In his training he integrated physical kungfu, chi kung and meditation into one unity, bringing kungfu development to an unprecedented height. The result was what we now call Wudang Taijiquan".

      The way Zhang San Feng integrate these 3 aspects into one unity seems very similar to the way we train in Shaolin Wahnam as we train form, energy and mind at the very start and in all our practices.

      Did Shaolin Kungfu masters integrated these 3 aspects into one unity once Zhang San Feng developed Wudang Taijiquan or they kept training them separately?

      Did Sigung Ho or any of your Sifus have these 3 aspects integrated into one unity or merging them came later through your own progress and development and as a result of an aha experience like for example practicing Taijiquan?

      Might this be the reason why we are so cost effective?

      Santiago


      Answer (Contd.)

      ... Even after Zhang San Feng had integrated these three aspects into one and had developed Wudang Taijiquan, other Shaolin kungfu masters as well as masters of other styles did not have this great benefit. They still trained kungfu, chi kung and meditation separately.

      If a master was injured, for example, he would not know how to generate an energy flow to clear his injury. He would have to take medication.

      Very few kungfu practitioners, including masters, had a chance to learn meditation.

      Meditation was the prerogative of Buddhist monks, Taoist priests and a few high-level Taijiquan masters. Not any of them had spiritual awakenings.


      One main reason was that such teaching was kept as a top secret. If past masters knew of the Legacy of Zhang San Feng course at the UK Summer Camp, they would think it was a big, crazy joke.

      Although I learned excellent kungfu, chi kung and meditation from my four sifus, they did not integrate these three aspects into one unity like what we now do in Shaolin Wahnam. I had to learn kungfu, chi kung and meditation separately.

      When I learned Four Gates, for example, it was kungfu. Practicing Four Gates did not give me internal force nor spiritual cultivation.

      To develop internal force, I had to practice One-finger Shooting Zen. For spiritual cultivation, which was taught exclusively to only selected disciples, I had to practice sitting meditation.

      My training was unlike what a typical Shaolin Wahnam student does today, where kungfu, chi kung and meditation are integrated. When a Shaolin Wahnam student practices Four Gates, for example, he will also develop internal force and train spiritual cultivation. He does not have to practice One-Finger Shooting Zen separately for internal force, or sitting meditation for spiritual cultivation.

      In other words, by practicing just any kungfu sets, like Floating Water Floating Clouds or the Shaolin Flower Set, without performing separate chi kung and meditation training, a student now can develop internal force and experience spiritual cultivation.

      Merging the three aspects of kingfu, chi kung and meditation into one unity came later through my own progress and development. It is a result of a aha experience and inspiration from Zhang San Feng, especially after my practice of Taijiquan.

      This integration of the three arts is one of the main reasons why we are so cost-effective. Another main reason is my heart-to-heart transmission. Students in my courses do not have to practice the techniques for months to acquire the skills. They acquire the skills immediately from my transmission.

      Another main reason is that I am sincere and generous in passing our arts to deserving students. If a teacher does not want to pass on the secrets, even when he himself is a great master, students may not learn.

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      • #48
        Another discovery and aha experience are that Wudang Taijiquan is very similar to Dragon Strength in spirit, principles and practice. While the main “animal” of most Taijiquan practiced in the world today is the Snake, that of Wudang Taijquan is the Dragon. For those not familiar with Eastern culture, the Dragon is a great majestic divine creature biringing prosperity and harmony. The internal force in Wudang Taijiquan and Dragon Strength is also quite similar.
        What can I say but WOW!

        Thank you Sigung for this fabulous insight.

        Thank you Sisook Barry for this wonderful thread which is another absolute classic.

        All the best,

        Kevin

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        • #49
          Question and Answer - 7 - Part 1

          Hi Kevin,

          Glad you are enjoying it. Some more incredibly detailed answers to come. Looking forward to seeing you on the course.

          Question and Answer - 7 - Part 1

          Question 7

          Zhang San Feng is the originator of Taijiquan. However he had one disciple named Wang Chung-yueh who wrote one of the important treatises on Taijiquan. Wang Chung-yueh also had two disciples named Chiang Fa and Chen Chou-tung.

          Apparently these two disciples of Wang Chung-yueh had a dispute and formed their own schools of Taijiquan. Chiang Fa is alleged to have formed the Northern School which gave birth to the Chen, Yang and Wu styles.

          Chen Chou-tung is alleged to have created the Southern (nanpai) School of Taijiquan. The southern school linage was continued by Chen Sung-chi, Wang Chen-nan and Kan Feng-chih and this linage came to an end just before the year 1800.

          Sifu I know you have read many books on gong-fu and many classics which have allowed you to have access to knowledge that many non-Chinese do not; and you have graced us with this knowledge on the threads that you post in on the site and which will hopefully enable you to answer the following questions

          Question 1a)
          Sifu do you know if the story about the founding of the Nanpai or Southern Taijiquan school is true or merely an apocrypha? if true, what was the dispute between the two disciples; and is there anything that was trained in this Nanpai style that the Northern styles did not inherit. Was the style Zhang San Feng invented closer to Northern or Southern Taijiquan?

          1b) I have heard the terms Heaven (yang), Earth (yin) and Cosmic (?) energies mentioned a lot in Taijiquan philosophies based on the classics but not a lot is expounded on these terms. What is the relationship between Taijiquan Internal Power and Heaven, Earth and Cosmic energies? How does one utilize these energies from a beginners’ stage where he/she needs to be healthy and then all the way to the final spiritual stage that Zhang San Feng reached?

          Jp571


          Answer

          Wang Zong Yue did not learn directly from Shang San Feng. Zhang San Feng lived in the 13th century, whereas Wang Zong Yue lived in the 15th century, though it was reputed that Zhang San Feng lived over 200 years.

          Zhang San Feng’s successor was Tai Yi Zhen Ren Wang Zong Yue’s teacher was Ma Yun Cheng. I am not sure whether Ma Yun Cheng learned directly from Tai Yi Zhen Ren, but he was from the same lineage.

          Wang Zong Yue is famous for his Treatise of Taijiquan which started by stating that Taiji originates from Wuji, or the Cosmos roiginates from the Great Void. This Treatise of Taijiquan is often quoted, but from their sayings and actions it is quite obvious that these so-called masters who quote the Treatise do not undetstand the Treatise. Some so-called masters even explicitly say that the descriptions in this Treatise cannot be attained nowadays!

          To us in Shaolin Wahnam, this Treatise of Taijiquan serves as a very important source of inspiration and teaching. We are grateful that we understand the Treatise well and are able to practice its teachings.

          Wang Zong Yue had three outstanding disciple: Zhang Song Xi, Mi Dan Xia and Guo Ji Yuan.

          Mi Dan Xia and Guo Ji Yuan were known as the Two Saints, and they might have taught Dong Hai Chuan who later developed Baguazhang.

          Wang Zong Yue and Zhang Song Xi taught Taijiquan, which was then called Wudang Kungfu, to Chen Wang Ting of the Chen Village, from where Chen Style Taijiquan issued. About 200 years later Yang Style and two Wu Styles developed.

          I do not know about Chiang Fu and Chen Chou Tang, and about the Northern School and the Southern School of Taijiquan.

          Personally I do not think that the founding of the Southern Taijiquan School was true. I do not believe the two persons you mentioned were disciples of Wang Zong Yue, but if they were, I don’t know what their dispute was, or whether they had any dispute.

          As I do not think there was a separation of Northern and Southern Schools, I do not believe thare was anything in the Southern School that the Northern School did not inherit. But what is glaring today, although many Taiji practitioners do not realize it, or they do not admit it if they realize it, is that there is nothing much Taiji schools have inherited from genuine Taijiquan.

          Taijiquan is an internal martial art, but there is nothing internal and nothing martial in more than 90% of what Taiji practitioners today practice. To add insult to injury, many Taiji practitioners add music to their practice, as if their performance is not dancelike enough.

          What modern Taiji practitioners inherit is the outward form, but even that they do not perform the form correctly. This is not a matter of opinion due to differenc choice, but it is a matter of wrong practice. It is wrong becaue it brings practitioners harm. More than 62% of Taiji practitioners today have knee injury, when they know that practicing Taijiquan is meant to give them good health, which includes being free from any injury and illness.
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          • #50
            Question and Answer - 7 - Part 2

            Question and Answer - 7 - Part 2


            Question 7 (Original question)

            Zhang San Feng is the originator of Taijiquan. However he had one disciple named Wang Chung-yueh who wrote one of the important treatises on Taijiquan. Wang Chung-yueh also had two disciples named Chiang Fa and Chen Chou-tung.

            Apparently these two disciples of Wang Chung-yueh had a dispute and formed their own schools of Taijiquan. Chiang Fa is alleged to have formed the Northern School which gave birth to the Chen, Yang and Wu styles.

            Chen Chou-tung is alleged to have created the Southern (nanpai) School of Taijiquan. The southern school linage was continued by Chen Sung-chi, Wang Chen-nan and Kan Feng-chih and this linage came to an end just before the year 1800.

            Sifu I know you have read many books on gong-fu and many classics which have allowed you to have access to knowledge that many non-Chinese do not; and you have graced us with this knowledge on the threads that you post in on the site and which will hopefully enable you to answer the following questions

            Question 1a)
            Sifu do you know if the story about the founding of the Nanpai or Southern Taijiquan school is true or merely an apocrypha? if true, what was the dispute between the two disciples; and is there anything that was trained in this Nanpai style that the Northern styles did not inherit. Was the style Zhang San Feng invented closer to Northern or Southern Taijiquan?

            1b) I have heard the terms Heaven (yang), Earth (yin) and Cosmic (?) energies mentioned a lot in Taijiquan philosophies based on the classics but not a lot is expounded on these terms. What is the relationship between Taijiquan Internal Power and Heaven, Earth and Cosmic energies? How does one utilize these energies from a beginners’ stage where he/she needs to be healthy and then all the way to the final spiritual stage that Zhang San Feng reached?

            Jp571


            Answer (Contd)

            ... The word “quan’ in Taijiquan indicates that it is a martial art. But more than 90% of Taiji practitioners today would be helpless when Karate, Tawkwondo, Judo and Jujitsu exponents give them simple punches, kicks, throws and holds.


            Those who care for Taijiquan should be concerned with these issues, rather than with whether there is anything in the Southern School that the Northern School did not inherit, or whether the style that Zhang San Feng developed was closer to the Northern or the Southern School.

            Cosmic energy means “heaven” energy. The term “cosmic” is found in English or a Western language. In Chinese it is just called “heaven energy”, although there are Chinsese terms, like “taiji” and “hunyuan” which means the Cosmos.

            The terms “heaven energy” and “earth energy” are self explanatory. “Heaven energy’ is energy that comes from or is related to the sky. “Earth energy” is energy that comes from or is related to the earth.

            But as Taoist philosophy is arcane, and much of Taijiquan philosophy is Taoist, these terms may have subtle connotations. For example, to be healthy one must have harmony of “heaven energy” and “earth energy”. In simple language it means that he must breathe in fresh air and have good food.

            Taijiquan philosophy, or any philosophy, is meant to enable us to have better and faster results when practicing the art. Unfortunately, many people, especially in the West, seem to indudge in philosophy for its own sake, and not for the practical benefits it brings. Worse, some of them are confused over or mistaken in the philosophy.

            One can find a lot of such bad or mistaken philosophy in the internet. For example, some bogus masters mention that a practitioner does not only breathe in good air but should be bare-footed and suck in energy from the earth. This can cause much harmful effect.

            Taijiquan internal force, or any internal force, is derived from “heaven energy” and “earth energy”. To be more exact, chi kung classics have mentioned that vital energy, which is the ingredient for internal force, is made up from 80% “heaven energy” and 20% “earth energy” with the functioning of “water” and “fire”.

            Here, “water’ refers to the kidneys, and “fire” to the heart. In other words, a person does not only take in 80% of energy from the Cosmos and 20% of energy from food, his kidneys and heart must be functioning well.

            To be healthy is natural. This is a great cosmic truth I would like to share with all readers. If a persons breathes normally, eats normally and his heart and kidneys function normally, he will naturally produce vital energy which will flow harmoniously. When his vital energy is flowing harmoniously he will be healthy.

            If his energy flow is blocked, he will be in pain or is sick. An excellent way to clear the blockage is to practice genuine chi kung. Genuine Taijiquan is chi kung, but genuine Taijiquan is very rare nowadays, though Taiji dance is plentiful.

            At the intermediate stage, when the energy flow has become vigorous, it becomes internal force. This process can be enhanced by consolidating the flowing energy. In Wudang Taijiquan and Chen Style Taijiquan, there is much consolidating of flowing energy into internal force. In Yang Style Taijiquan, internal force is mainly the result of vigorous energy flow. But in Taiji dance, which is what more than 80% of Taiji practitioners perform today, there is no internal force.

            Internal force is not just for combat. There are three main functions of internal force:

            1. To maintain life.
            2. To enhance life.
            3. To have better result no matter what the practitioner does.

            At the supreme level, the stage the great Zhang San Feng achieved, the energy flowing in a practitioner merges with the energy of the Cosmos. When the practitioner is ready, he merges with the Tao, or Taiji returning to Wuji, called variously by other terms by people of different cultures such as attaining Enlightenment or returning to God the Holy Spirit.

            We in Shaolin Wahnam are not ready. So we have a glimpse of Cosmic Reality, called a satori or a spiritual awakening, and return ot our phenomenal world. We shall have a rare opporutnity of this most noble attainment at the Legacy of Zhang San Feng course at the UK Summer Camp.
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            • #51
              Question and Answer - 8 - Part 1

              Question and Answer - 8 - Part 1

              Question 8

              I read your explanation of the Treatise at http://www.shaolin.org/video-clips-7.../overview.html .

              I am fascinated by the concepts of "achieving yin-yang harmony in all aspects" and also on the significance of "intention" in the practice and the art.

              My question is this:

              From the above explanation it appears to me that intention may be set at different levels of abstraction and in differing situations where the intent is either well known or totally new. In the first, a focused mind and gentle intention may be on a specific pattern, or on performing a complete set, or an even greater scope such as reaching a specific level of development as a martial artist? In the second situation a gentle intention may be either on performing a pattern that is well practiced and known, or on a goal or undertaking that is completely new to the student.

              Please could Sigung provide further advice and guidance for setting intention in the context of the Shaolin arts and also in our daily lives?

              Matthew


              Answer

              Before giving advice and guidance for setting intention in context of the Shaolin arts and also in our daily life, it is helpful to elaborate on your question so that others may be clear on what the answer is.

              Zhang San Feng’s Treatise is not just on Taijiquan, but also on spiritual cultivation and on daily life.

              Yin-yang harmony is very important in Taijiquan. It is also very important in daily life. In Taijiquan, we are not only healthy but also combat efficient. In daily life, we are not only successful in our family life but also successful in the outside world.

              Intention is very important in Taijiquan. Many Taiji practitioners know that, at least in theory though they are unable to put it into practice or even really understand its significance, Taijiquan techniques are not moved by muscles but by intention. In daily life, having good thoughts is very important.

              Intention can be set at different levels. At a low level, we may intent to perform a Taijiquan movement correctly in a proper stance. At a higher level, we may want to develop internal force while performing the movement.

              Intention can be set at different situations, like where the intent is well known or is totally new. It is well known that in Taijiquan a smaller-size person can defeat a bigger-sized opponent. We can set this intent at the coming Legacy of Zhang San Feng course to choose a bigger-sized opponent to defeat him. To many students it is new how learning the Zhang San Feng Wudang Set can improve our work. They can have this intent and watch out for lessons, practical or philosophical, at the course that they can transfer to their workplace.

              Having a clear understanding of the question, we can now examine the gist of Zhang San Feng’ Treatise to see how it can benefit us, especially how we may set intention in the context of the Shaolin arts and also in our daily lives.

              The great Zhang San Feng says that the Cosmos, called Taiji, originates from the Great Void., called Wuji. There is no differentiation in the Great Void. It is just an undifferentiated spread of energy.

              There are two aspects of this one energy, symbolized as yin and yang. The interaction of yin and yang creates the Cosmos, including our phenomenal world which is differentiated into entities, like mountains and humans, and countless other things.

              The Great Void and the Cosmos are actually the same. It is a matter of perspective. From the transcendental perspective, it is the Great Void. From the phenomenal perspective, the same Great Void is the Cosmos.

              This universal principle that the Great Void is also the Cosmos, and that the Cosmos is also the Great Void, also applies to all human functions and processes. This, Zhang San Feng emphasizes, is the essence of his teaching.

              Zhang San Feng continues that in the practice of Taijiquan, internally cultivate your spirit, and externally cultivate your energy. Before you make any physical movement in your form, you must have intention. Intention leads form. Also, you must empty your mind of all thoughts and not tense any muscles.

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              • #52
                Question and Answer - 8 - Part 2

                Question and Answer - 8 - Part 2

                Question 8 (Original question)

                I read your explanation of the Treatise at http://www.shaolin.org/video-clips-7.../overview.html .

                I am fascinated by the concepts of "achieving yin-yang harmony in all aspects" and also on the significance of "intention" in the practice and the art.

                My question is this:

                From the above explanation it appears to me that intention may be set at different levels of abstraction and in differing situations where the intent is either well known or totally new. In the first, a focused mind and gentle intention may be on a specific pattern, or on performing a complete set, or an even greater scope such as reaching a specific level of development as a martial artist? In the second situation a gentle intention may be either on performing a pattern that is well practiced and known, or on a goal or undertaking that is completely new to the student.

                Please could Sigung provide further advice and guidance for setting intention in the context of the Shaolin arts and also in our daily lives?

                Matthew


                Answer (Contd)

                ... Zhang San Feng did not elaborate on how the universal principle applies to human functions and processes. The following examples are what I would interpret his teaching on daily life and on Taijiquan would be.


                As the Cosmos is the same as the Great Void, if a person is sick, for example, it is because his energy is not flowing smoothly, just as on a bigger scale, if a calamity, like an earthquake or a tsunami, occurs, cosmic energy is not flowing smoothly. If we clear the blockage, we overcome the illness or calamity. Better still, if we ensure a smooth flow of energy we prevent them.

                Intention plays a crucial role at both the personal scale and the cosmic scale, though many people may not realize it. Amazingly, the latest science confirms this ancient truth. Whether an electron will turn out to be a particle or energy depends solely on the intention of a scientist’s intention to measure it as a particle or as energy!

                When a person suffers from a so-called incurable disease, whether he will recover by practicing chi kung learnt from us or resign himself to take medication for life depends on his intention.

                A chi kung classic mentions that the intention of a people on earth can affect heaven. What he means is that the intention of many people, outwardly expressed or inwardly conceptualized, can affect natural events like earthquakes and good harvests. Indeed, in a recent earthquake on Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, some people opine that some tourists showed great disrespect to the mountain spirits. Many other people may think this is superstitious. They probably do not know it is a scientific fact that the moon in the sky is not there if nobody conceptualizes it.

                Always having good thoughts is a teaching that we in Shaolin Wahnam are familiar with. It is a teaching based on both ancient wisdom and the latest science. Our result will be greatly enhanced when our mind is clear of all other thoughts and we are totally relaxed, which is another great teaching from Zhang San Feng’s treatise. Otherwise, it would be intellectualizing, which we discourage.

                Setting intention is very important in the context of our Shaolin arts, including Taijiquan of course, right from the preliminary stage of setting aims and objectives to the very advanced stage of expanding into the Cosmos.

                When we set aims and objectives which will make our training purposeful as well as very cost-effective, we employ intention. When we expand into the Cosmos, we focus our energy at our dan tian, place our mind there, and expand. This is also employing intention.

                In the various stages between these two extremes, we also employ intention. For example, we intend to generate an energy flow, clear blockage in self-manifested chi movement, develop internal force in various internal force exercises, being peaceful and happy while performing standing meditation, or letting our energy to flow at various levels in Bone Marrow Cleansing. It is important to have these intentions while in a chi kung state of mind, otherwise it would be intellectualization.

                On the other hand, we must guard against over-training. We have become frighteningly cost-effect. It is a fact, though many people outside our school would not believe it, that our typical student can now attain in one month what even real masters outside our school would need one year.

                An effective way to avoid over-training is not to go too deeply into a chi kung state of mind. We can still have good thoughts when we are not in a deep chi kung state of mind, or even when we are out of a chi kung state of mind.

                Even more important to have intention in the context of our Shaolin arts is to have good intention for ourselves and others in our daily life. If you think that your family should be happier than what it should be, have a gentle thought about it. If you feel you should have better result in your work, or you should be your own boss, have a gentle thought about it.

                An excellent time to have such good thoughts, or apply intention to enhance our daily life, is during or at the end of standing mediation of our practice.

                By just setting intention the Cosmos or the Great Void, in its mysterious ways, will work on it. But you will help the Great Void, called God in some culture, to help yourself if you also put in the right effort besides the right intention. The Legacy of Zhang San Feng course at the coming UK Summer Camp will provide a lot of opportunities to develop such effort and intention.
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                • #53
                  Question and Answer - 9 - Part 1

                  Question and Answer - 9 - Part 1

                  Question 9

                  I really enjoyed reading your chapter in the book "Your True Nature: The Wisdom of Living Masters". I also enjoyed the chapter by Mooji. In it he suggested a good question to ask a living master if one was lucky enough to meet one. So, for my and everyone's benefit - those who are already coming to the Legacy of Zhang San Feng course, those who have yet to decide to come to the course, and those who have decided not to come on the course -

                  Can an individual in the modern age find and become what the Buddha, Christ or any of the great spiritual masters discovered -- now, today and, if not, what stops them. How much is it a question of luck? Do they need to leave their present role in life, family, career, in order to discover and live this. What part can the Legacy that Zhang San Feng handed down to us play in this process?

                  Also, I have been interested in stories of some Tai Chi Chuan masters being irritable. Is this true? If so, what mistakes might they have made to allow this to happen and what are the key ways of ensuring it doesn't happen in our own practice?

                  Sifu Barry Smale


                  Answer

                  Yours are very interesting questions and will benefit many people, especially those interested in spiritual cultivation. I shall first answer each of the questions directly, then give my comments.

                  Can an individual in the modern age find and become what the Buddha, Christ or any of the great spiritual masters discovered -- now, today and, if not, what stops them.

                  Yes, an individual today can become what the Buddha, Chris or any of the great spiritual masters discovered.

                  How much is it a question of luck?

                  Luck, if any, constitutes only very, very small part. The main part is right practice..

                  Do they need to leave their present role in life, family, career, in order to discover and live thi?

                  No, it is not necessary.

                  What part can the Legacy that Zhang San Feng handed down to us play in this process?

                  It plays a tremendously useful part. It provides both the philosophy and practice for the discovery.

                  Also, I have been interested in stories of some Tai Chi Chuan masters being irritable. Is this true?

                  Yes, it is true.

                  If so, what mistakes might they have made to allow this to happen and what are the key ways of ensuring it doesn't happen in our own practice?

                  These irritable masters practiced Tai Chi Chuan not for spiritual cultivation but for combat. Key ways to ensure that this does not happen in our own practice is to practice Tai Chi Chuan as triple cultivation for spiritual cultivation, combat and health, to practice the Ten Shaolin Laws, and to emulate our two principles of cosmic wisdom and compassion.

                  “Your True Nature: Wisdom of Living Masters” is recommendable book. Personally the best chapter I find is “Heart Thinks Events Materialize”, which you can access at http://www.shaolin.org/general-2/wis.../overview.html . Embarrassing to mention, this chapter was written by me as a contribution to the book compiled by Natalie Deane and Damian Lafont on the wisdom of living masters.

                  In my writing I always make a point to achieve two requirements. I want my writing to be pleasant to read and I want readers to gain benefits from the time spent reading my writing. From the many letters readers kindly sent to me, I believe I have achieved these two requirements.

                  An individual in the modern age can find and become what the Buddha, Christ or any of the great spiritual masters discovered. Their great and noble discovery was that ultimately everything is an infinite and eternal spread of energy, or consciousness, without any differentiation. Due to differences in culture, language and other factors, different people call this undifferentiated spread of energy by various names, such as God, Original Face, the Great Void or Suchness.

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                  • #54
                    Dear All,

                    I'm normally not an avid "Ten Questions to the Grandmaster"-reader, but something compelled me to start reading this thread today (starting on the last page, for some reason). The answer to Question 8 blew my mind on multiple levels.

                    I know where I'm going to spend my lunch today: Reading the rest of this amazing thread !

                    Thank you, Matthew, for asking the question you did.
                    Thank you, Barry Sisook, for starting this amazing thread.
                    Thank you Sigung, for your seriously endless wisdom and generosity and for reassuring me without even trying to!

                    Looking foward to my lunch break even more now !

                    Warm greetings,
                    Fabienne


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                    • #55
                      Thank you barrys for starting this thread and Thank you Sigung, for your endless wisdom and generosity in answering mine and everyones questions.
                      I appreciate in your answer to my question to highlight the issue of health vis-à-vis the fire and water cycle in the body which can flow unimpeded when you have healthy kidney's and heart in particular. But the good health of all organs is equally important which many neglect in their IMA training. Taijiquan is a stage by stage process which means first you improve your health before you can become combat efficient and so many stages of chi kung, fundamentals training, meditation etc. in between. It's a life endeavour and many sacrifices have to be made in all honesty. People do it for different reasons and only they know why they do this but the common factor amongst all is hard work and passion.
                      I appreciate Sigung's responses because he is one of the very few masters who speaks of matters concerning chi, internal force and other esoteric terms in a very straight forward way without embellishing their functions or understating their significance in taijiquan or shaolin training. This is something very hard to find in a Internal Martial Arts teacher (believe it or not!) and so we are grateful that Sigung does not shy away from such issues and confronts our concerns about these head-on, as can be seen from his many writings and videos/dvd content, leaving us all amazed at his knowledge.
                      Last edited by jp571; 25 June 2015, 11:37 AM.

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                      • #56
                        Question and Answer - 9 - Part 2

                        Question and Answer - 9 - Part 2

                        Question 9 (Original question)

                        I really enjoyed reading your chapter in the book "Your True Nature: The Wisdom of Living Masters". I also enjoyed the chapter by Mooji. In it he suggested a good question to ask a living master if one was lucky enough to meet one. So, for my and everyone's benefit - those who are already coming to the Legacy of Zhang San Feng course, those who have yet to decide to come to the course, and those who have decided not to come on the course -

                        Can an individual in the modern age find and become what the Buddha, Christ or any of the great spiritual masters discovered -- now, today and, if not, what stops them. How much is it a question of luck? Do they need to leave their present role in life, family, career, in order to discover and live this. What part can the Legacy that Zhang San Feng handed down to us play in this process?

                        Also, I have been interested in stories of some Tai Chi Chuan masters being irritable. Is this true? If so, what mistakes might they have made to allow this to happen and what are the key ways of ensuring it doesn't happen in our own practice?

                        Sifu Barry Smale


                        Answer (Contd)

                        ...
                        The world we live in and see everyday is phenomenal. By “phenomenal” we do not mean that we imagine the world to be there when it is actually not there. “Phenomenal” comes from a Greek word meaning appearance. It means that the world we see and experience is an appearance, and this appearance, or phenomenon, occurs to us according to various conditions, especially our sense organs.

                        According to how our eyes, nose, ears, mouth, skin and consciousness perceive the infinitesimal part of the undifferentiated spread of universal energy we are in contact with, we experience it as differentiated entities, like different persons, a computer, a table and myriad other things. If we slightly change any one of these conditions, like changing the lens of a person’s eyes, he will see these phenomena differently.

                        If the change is drastic, like a being with a different set of sense organs and consciousness, or existing in totally different conditions, the phenomena will be very different. A fairy or a bacterium for example, may not experience the computer you are working with.

                        If a spiritual cultivator breaks through all these conditions, he would experience ultimate reality, which is an undifferentiated spread of energy. This was what the Buddha, Christ and other great masters found and experienced. This is also what modern spiritual cultivators can find and experience now and here, even without leaving their family and career.

                        Indeed, some of the advanced practitioners in our school found and experienced this ultimate reality, except that, as they were not ready to do so, they did not merge into this ultimate reality as what the Buddha, Christ and other great masters did, and returned to the phenomenal world where they worked and lived. We call this glimpse of ultimate reality a satori, or a spiritual awakening, and it is a beautiful, unforgettable life-changing experience.

                        Although many advanced practitioners in our school have such a noble, beautiful experience, we are still a minute minority amongst the great many people who practice chi kung, kungfu and spiritual cultivation. Understandably, most of these people would not believe our experience, as it is just ridiculous in the normal sense of conception.

                        Hence, although it is a possibility that a modern individual can find and become what the Buddha, Christ and other great masters did in the past, it is far harder now than before. One main reason is that our modern world, especially in advanced Western countries, has become very comfortable – too comfortable for most people to engage in long periods of spiritual cultivation to attain what the Buddha, Christ and other great masters did.

                        However, modern people have a great advantage over people in the past. Modern people have access to knowledge which was considered a rare privilege by past people. By reading this answer and other good spiritual writing modern people have at least a theoretical knowledge of not only what ultimate reality is but also how to reach it. Such knowledge, though theoretical, may not be available to past people.

                        There is, however, a huge difference between theoretical knowledge and practical experience. The coming UK Summer Camp will provide practical experience of spiritual cultivation as well as other more mundane benefits.

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                        • #57
                          Thank you :-)

                          Dear Sifu,

                          Thank you for answering my question and for always being so incredibly generous and open hearted in your teachings.

                          I want to also thank Barry Siheng for starting this wonderful thread and to all the participants for making such meaningful questions.

                          With Love, Care and Shaolin Salute,

                          Santiago

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                          • #58
                            Question and Answer - 9 - Part 3

                            Question and Answer - 9 - Part 3

                            Question 9 (Original question)

                            I really enjoyed reading your chapter in the book "Your True Nature: The Wisdom of Living Masters". I also enjoyed the chapter by Mooji. In it he suggested a good question to ask a living master if one was lucky enough to meet one. So, for my and everyone's benefit - those who are already coming to the Legacy of Zhang San Feng course, those who have yet to decide to come to the course, and those who have decided not to come on the course -

                            Can an individual in the modern age find and become what the Buddha, Christ or any of the great spiritual masters discovered -- now, today and, if not, what stops them. How much is it a question of luck? Do they need to leave their present role in life, family, career, in order to discover and live this. What part can the Legacy that Zhang San Feng handed down to us play in this process?

                            Also, I have been interested in stories of some Tai Chi Chuan masters being irritable. Is this true? If so, what mistakes might they have made to allow this to happen and what are the key ways of ensuring it doesn't happen in our own practice?

                            Sifu Barry Smale


                            Answer (Contd)

                            ...
                            Luck plays a very small part in spiritual cultivation and in all other endeavor. What is commonly regarded as luck is an interplay of karmic forces. Due to certain manner of thought, speech and action in the past, in this life as well as previous lives, an individual may come upon a rare opportunity of spiritual cultivation which may eventually lead him to experience ultimate reality, as a glimpse or even totally merging into it.

                            Whether he will succeed in this cultivation will also depend on his karma, especially on how he things, speak and act. As revealed in some of the betrayals that happened in our school, even when a person had developed to an advanced level, if his thought deviated, he would miss the rare opportunity of what the Buddha, Christ and other great master achieved, or at a mundane level, miss many benefits he would get had he continue with his cultivation.

                            It is not necessary for an individual today if he wises to attain what the Buddha, Christ and other great masters did, to leave his present role in life, family and career, though, if all other things were equal, it would be easier if he does so, like becoming a monk in a monastery.

                            Continuing in his present role in life, family and career will be present may huge hindrances in his spiritual cultivation. To attain ultimate reality, one has not only to eliminate all desires but also to eliminate all thoughts. Any though will cause differentiation, and starts the process of transformation from ultimate reality to the phenomenal realm.

                            Our school is ridiculously generous. We offer opportunities not only to have a glimpse of ultimate reality but also other mundane benefits like good health, vitality and longevity. But even learning in our school proves to be difficult for many other people, what more it is to give up all desires and thoughts, like the desire of earning more money in his job or the thought of spending time with his friends, to cultivate to attain what the Buddha, Christ and other great masters did.

                            The Legacy of Zhang San Feng course plays a very important role in this process, and more. The course will provide both the philosophical background as well as practical training on spiritual cultivation ranging from the basic to very advanced levels.

                            Students can read the philosophical background at http://www.shaolin.org/video-clips-7.../overview.html . This Treatise of Taijiquan from the great Zhang San Feng himself not only explains the philosophy of spiritual cultivation but also of combat efficiency and good health. To save time, we shall mention the philosophy in passing and students are encouraged to raise any questions, so that we can spend more time on practical training to attain spiritual cultivation, combat efficiency and good health.

                            It is worthwhile to repeat what I have mentioned somewhere in my writing. To have access to a classic is not easy, but even when we have access we may still have difficulty understanding it. There are two levels of difficulty – literary, technical and skills. Classics are not only written in a very concise manner but also in classical Chinese that even those who know modern Chinese may not understand. Secondly, classics only give the core techniques, necessary techniques that students are supposed to know are not given. Thirdly, even when a person knows all the techniques, he may not have the skills to perform them.

                            The following passage taken form the Treatise can illustrate these difficulties. This passage is on the more mundane aspects of practicing Taijiquan.

                            “Also empty spirit, ignore pull, loosen waist, settle false-real, sink and press, use intention and not use strength. Top and bottom co-ordinated, internal and external united. Continuously linked without break. Quiescence found in movement. The ten essentials in Art of Grand Ultimate. No-two-gate for those who learn the art. Fundamental for entering the way..”

                            For many students more immediate than spiritual cultivation is practicing Taijiquan or any art for combat efficiency and good health as well as to enrich their daily life. The Legacy of Zhang San Feng course will provide both the philosophy and practice training for these attainments.

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                            • #59
                              Question and Answer - 9 - Part 4

                              Question and Answer - 9 - Part 4

                              Question 9 (Original question)

                              I really enjoyed reading your chapter in the book "Your True Nature: The Wisdom of Living Masters". I also enjoyed the chapter by Mooji. In it he suggested a good question to ask a living master if one was lucky enough to meet one. So, for my and everyone's benefit - those who are already coming to the Legacy of Zhang San Feng course, those who have yet to decide to come to the course, and those who have decided not to come on the course -

                              Can an individual in the modern age find and become what the Buddha, Christ or any of the great spiritual masters discovered -- now, today and, if not, what stops them. How much is it a question of luck? Do they need to leave their present role in life, family, career, in order to discover and live this. What part can the Legacy that Zhang San Feng handed down to us play in this process?

                              Also, I have been interested in stories of some Tai Chi Chuan masters being irritable. Is this true? If so, what mistakes might they have made to allow this to happen and what are the key ways of ensuring it doesn't happen in our own practice?

                              Sifu Barry Smale


                              Answer (Contd)

                              ...
                              Not only some Tai Chi Chuan masters but also some masters of other kungfu styles were notorious for their irritable character. Two well known examples were Yang Deng Fu of Yang Style Taijiquan and Guo Yun Shen of Xingyiquan.

                              Once Yang Deng Fu was walking down an alley and sensed someone eyeing him from behind which make him irritable. He turned round, jumped up a wall and kill the person with just one strike of his palm.

                              Yang Deng Fu, uncle and teacher, Yang Ban Hou, was also irritable, though he was a great martial artists who always won all combats. Once while teaching his nephew, Yang Ban Hou struck Yang Deng Fu with a palm strike, from which Yang Deng Fu never recovered.

                              Guo Yun Shen of Xingyiquan was also very irritable, though he was also known to be righteous. Gun Yun Shen was famous for his “peng quan” or “crushing fist”, with which he killed some challengers. There was a kungfu saying about him that said, “half step peng quan defeats heaven and earth”.

                              Gua Yun Shen was a junior contempory of Yang Lu Chan, the patriarch of Yang Style Taijiquan, and lived at the same time as Dong Hai Chuan, the patriarch of Baguazhang. He wanted to test his skills with the othet two masters, but he never met Yang Lu Chan. He sparred with Dong Hai Chuan for three days and both came to a draw.

                              Interestingly, both Northern Shaolin and Southern Shaolin masters were composed. Huo Yuan Jia, a Northerrn Shaolin master, defeated many foreign masters who came to China to challenge kungfu, but he never injure them seriously though he could. Wong Fei Hoong, a famous Southern Shaolin master, was well known for his tolerance and compassion, strictly forbidding his students to be involved in fighting.

                              The irritable masters practiced kungfu for combat, not for spiritual cultivation. Our students in Shaolin Wahnam probably know more of spiritual cultivation, in both theory and practice, than these masters!

                              Our students also have a better application of internal force. Yang Deng Fu sustained injury of a palm strike from his teacher for life. Our students would have cleared the injury with chi flow.

                              You would recall the injury I sustained from an apparently gentle tap of his fist from my siheng, Poh Kai, during free sparring. It took me six months of medication from my sifu, famous for overcoming injuries, to recover. I believe that had I immediately used chi flow, which our students now use if they are accidentally hit but which I did not know then, I would have cleared the injury in 15 minutes!

                              Yang ban Hou’s strike on Yang Deng Fu would be more powerful for he did not pull back his strike but my siheng did, but if Yang Deng Fu knew chi flow he could have cleared the injury in three weeks, or even three months.

                              Besides knowing how to use chi flow to overcome injury and illness, and to promote good health, vitality and longevity, our students also know how to transfer what they have learned in their kungfu and chi kung lessons to enrich their daily life. Past masters might not know this!

                              Northern and Southern Shaoln masters also did not practice their kungfu as spiritual cultivation, but why were they not irritable like some of the other masters were? I believe this is because they followed the Shaolin moral code, which these other masters did not have.

                              Indeed we are very lucky. Not only we have a philosophical understanding of spiritual cultivation as well as its practical experience, we have many mundane benefits from our arts that even past masters might not have!

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                              • #60
                                Question and Answer - 10 - Part 1

                                Question and Answer - 10 - Part 1

                                Question 10

                                Dear Sifu, now that you have released the video and picture series for the San Feng Wudang Set, would now be a good time to ask what discoveries and 'ah ha' moments you have experienced during composing the set?

                                Sifu Tim Franklin


                                Answer

                                The discoveries and aha experiences occurred mostly not during the composition of the San Feng Wudang Set, not even during the reconstruction of Wudang Taijiquan from which the San Feng Wudang Set origninated, but during the teaching of Taijiquan in our school

                                When I composed the San Feng Wudang Set, it was mainly shortening Wudang Taijiquan to a manageable length, while maintaining the spirit, principles and benefits of Wudang Taijiquan.

                                When I reconstructed Wudang Taijiquan from classical sources, I already have practiced and benefited from Taijiquan for quite some time. But what struck me impressively was that the Wudang Taijiquan Set was more like a Shaolin set than what many Taijiquan practitioners conceptualized Taijiquan to be.

                                Even the patterns from the Wudang Taijiquan Set were like Shaolin patterns, and their names, such as Gentle Breeeze through Sleeves and Spiritual Lion Opens Mouth, were poetic like Shaolin pattern names, and not technical like many Yang Style Taijiquan patterns, such as thrust Kick and Chop fist, and some Chen Style Taijiquan patterns, such as Bow Stance Thrust Punch and Press Elbow.

                                There were many discoveries and aha experiences when I first practiced Taijiquan, which was Yang Style Taijiquan at that time. I discovered that if I performed a Taijiquan set fast, it looked like Shaolin Kungfu, and if I performed a Shaolin set slowly it looked like Taijiquan.

                                Even at this early age I knew that Taijiquan had to be performed fast if it had to be used for combat. This was not a problem for me I just performed it like Shaolin Kungfu. I was able to apply all Taijiquan patterns for combat because of my training in Shaolin combat application. This was quite a aha experience as most Taijiquan practitioners did not know the martial aspect of Taijiquan.

                                I was quite good at Taijiquan but did not teach it despite many requests. I considered my best to be Shaolin Kungfu, and I wanted to teach my best. It was Rama who rightly commented to me that although my best was Shaolin Kungfu, many people preferred Taijiquan for some legitimate reasons, and it would be a great pity if I did not teach them, that I changed my mind.
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