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Shaolin Five-Animal Set - 10 Questions to Grandmaster Wong

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  • #16
    Great Q&A start to this wonderful set.

    The five animal set was the first specialised set I learnt from Sifu in Malaysia, it's a great set.

    Whilst the ten questions are used up from Sifu I would be interested to know from your perspective Leo what a person could expect to gain from doing the course if they learnt it many years ago. Taking into consideration the further developments acquired from the other amazing courses Sifu has given, like the dragon strength and legacy of Zhang San Feng?

    All the best to you.
    Tim Franklin

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    • #17
      And we continue with the core features and impacts of training the various animal spirits:

      (Continued from Q-A 1 -- Part 1)

      By practicing the various animal forms with their spirits, will manifest the respective qualities in the practitioners’ nature, behaviour and action.

      By practicing the dragon form and manifesting the dragon spirit, practitioners will have presence of mind as well as enhance their mind power.

      By practicing the snake form and manifesting the snake spirit, practitioners will increase their energy level and have better energy management. They will, for example, have more stamina in their daily life.

      By practicing the tiger form and manifesting the tiger spirit, practitioners will increase their internal force. With internal force, they will have better results in whatever they do!

      By practicing the leopard form and manifesting the leopard spirit, practitioners will increase their muscular strength and speed of performance. They will accomplish their daily tasks in shorter time.

      By practicing the crane form and manifesting the crane spirit, practitioners will be more elegant and flowing in whatever they do. They won’t, for example, be clumsy when they go out on a date.

      Successful practice of the various animal forms with their spirit will enhance our character and personal growth in our daily life.

      A forgetful person will have a good chance of overcoming his weakness with a successful practice of the dragon form. On the other hand, as all Shaolin Wahnam family members have presence of mind, practicing the dragon form and spirit will strengthen our mind power. It is very important that we must always use our powerful mind for good.

      A person who is easily out of breath will have a good chance of overcoming his setback by practicing the snake form and spirit successful. As all Shaolin Wahnam family members already have good chi flow, practicing the snake form and spirit will increase their energy level as well as energy management. One of the benefits, amongst many others, is that we will live to a ripe old age.

      A person who is weak or timid will benefit much by practicing the tiger form and spirit. As all Shaolin Wahnam family members, including those who do not practice kungfu, have internal force, practicing the tiger form and sprit will add to our internal force, contributing to our daily peak performance.

      Those who are clumsy will have a good chance to overcome their weakness by practicing the crane form and spirit. As all Shaolin Wahnam family members are already elegant in both action and speech (which is clearly evident in our Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum), practicing the crane form and spirit successfully will increase their elegance.

      Many Shaolin Wahnam instructors and students have written to me to express how lucky they are to be able to learn our wonderful arts. The course on the Shaolin Five-Animal Set is another wonderful opportunity to gain these incredible qualities.

      <End>
      Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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      • #18
        Hey Tim,

        As we all know, Sifu’s teaching skills improve with every course he conducts, especially after having taught Dragon Strength and Legacy of Zhang San Feng. Given that you learnt the set many years ago, the course will be completely different, although the set will stay the same.

        Also you will have a chance to further refine the various animal spirits.

        Sifu will teach the Shaolin Five-Animal Combination set for the first time. Sifu’s combat sequences and partner sets are always enlightening and adding to the spread and variations of our applications and might even enhance your Dim-Mak skill.

        Teaching and helping others is a sure way of improving oneself. Attending the course as a senior student will therefore help yourself by helping others.

        These are only the reasons that came to my mind spontaneously on first thought, so there are probably many more benefits to gain!

        It would be great to have you and other senior students attending the course!

        Best wishes,

        Leo
        Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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        • #19
          In the next answer Sifu elobrates about the great variety of styles and sets in our school and what makes the Shaolin Five-Animal Set so special, even among our outstanding repertoire.

          Question 2

          We have so many speciality sets and even styles in Shaolin Wahnam now. What makes the five animal set special and, in this context, what reason should a student (or instructor) have to learn this rather than any of the other specialisation sets? As a P.S. to this question, how will learning and practicing the five animal set complement other specialisations and styles?

          Sifu Andrew Barnett


          Answer

          Not only we in Shaolin Wahnam are very lucky, we are also very special. Not only we have a great variety of sets and styles to enjoy ourselves in and benefit much from, we have also attained very high levels in each of the many sets and styles. Such an opportunity is not only unavailable to may kungfu practitioners today, when the standard of kungfu is much lower than that in the past, it was also not available to many past masters.

          I myself was quite lucky — luckier than most other martial artists, but not as lucky as students of Shaolin Wahnam today. Of course I don’t complain. Indeed it is a special privilege to have Shaolin Wahnam being so lucky.

          I had opportunities to learn many other martial arts, like Judo, Boxing, Karate, Taekwondo, Jujitsu Aikido, Hapkido and Muay Thai. Kick-Boxing and Mixed Martial Art were unknown then. Wrestling was considered a sport. My kungfu school-mates and I were fully aware that if a person used Wrestling in a real fight, he would be maimed or killed. But honestly, and with due respect to these martial arts, their depth and benefit was nothing compared to that in Shaolin Kungfu, i.e. genuine Shaolin Kungfu.

          I also had opportunities to learn different styles of kungfu. I learned Hoong Ka, Wuzuquan, Northern and Southern Shaolin, and Wing Choon from my four teachers, who were patriarchs of their arts. I also had opportunities to exchange arts with my schoolmates and other masters on Tantui, Praying Mantis, Eagle Claw, Choy-Li-Fatt and Ngok Ka Kungfu. I also could have learnt to a deep extent Taijiquan and Baguazhang, but due to my ignorance then I thought these kungfu styles were not as deep as the Shaolin Kungfu I practiced.

          Most martial artists today, including kungfu practitioners, do not have such opportunities. They have an unbelievable range of martial arts offered to them, but what they learn is a generous exchange of blows amongst themselves or flowery fist and embroidery kicks for demonstration.

          Genuine past masters also did not have the opportunities that our Shaolin Wahnam family members now have. Hoong Hei Khoon, for example would not have learnt Baguazhang, nor Wang Lang learned Taijiquan. Even Yue Fei and Zhang San Feng, for different reasons, did not have the opportunities to practice Choy-LiFatt or Wing Choon Kungfu.

          Please note that the issue is opportunities, not attainment. Yue Fei and Zhang San Feng, or even Hoong Hei Koon and Wang Lang, certainly were of higher levels in their attainment than any of us.

          (Part 2 follows)
          Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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          • #20
            "the Five-Animal Set is the best of the best."

            (Continued from Part 1)

            If I had such wonderful opportunities in my students’ days, why wasn’t I as lucky as our Shaolin Wahnam students now? It is because of the depth and benefits that our students get. My depth and benefits during my students’ days were nothing compared to our students’. I would not have the opportunities to learn in a few years what our students learn in a few days!

            Again, the issue is opportunities. Our students have unbelievable opportunities — opportunities that were unprecedented in all kungfu and chi kung history. But if they do not spend time and effort in their practice, they will only have opportunities.

            Others may be angry at what I am going to say, but even our attainments in a few days of regional or intensive courses are incredibly high. We actually attain in a few days what others may never attain, and even masters in the past would take many years to attain. How do we know our attainments are high? We can attain results that only high level masters could attain as recorded in kungfu classics!

            For example, in a just few days of our Baguazhang course, our course participants could get to the back of opponents easily. In a few days of our Xingyiquan course, our participants could develop tremendous internal force using the Correspondence and the Expansion modes. In a few days of the Dragon Strength course, our participants could acquire the almost lost skills of dragon force, dragon speed and dim mark!

            Even the attainments of our ordinary students are remarkable. How many other practitioners who have practiced chi kung or kungfu for many years can generate a chi flow, have internal force and can use kungfu for fighting? I myself took more than 17 years to be able to develop some internal force. But within three months, our chi kung students can generate a chi flow, and within a year our kungfu students have internal force and can use kungfu for fighting.

            Referring to the Five-Animal Set, what makes it special?

            The Five-Animal Set represents the crystallization of Southern Shaolin Kungfu. Southern Shaolin Kungfu represents the continued development of Northern Shaolin Kungfu. Shaolin Kungfu is the greatest martial art of the world, the justification of which can be found in “Why Shaolin Kungfu is the Greatest Martial Art” at http://www.shaolin.org/shaolin/greatest.html In other words, the Five-Animal Set is the best of the best.

            Kungfu, or any martial art, may be categorized into three levels. At the lowest level, mediocre kungfu is for fighting. In other words, any art that cannot be used for fighting cannot be called kungfu. Shockingly, a lot of kungfu practitioners cannot use their kungfu for fighting, though they may fight well using other martial arts.

            At the intermediate level, good kungfu is for fighting and good health. Kungfu that is effective for fighting but does not contribute to good health is only mediocre.

            At the highest level, great kungfu is for fighting, good health and spiritual cultivation. All kungfu practiced in our school, not just the Five-Animal Set, is great kungfu, as it serves the purposes of combat, good health and spiritual cultivation.

            Besides being great kungfu, what makes Five-Animal Set special, or what differentiates it from other great kungfu sets?

            An outstanding answer is that when we train the Five-Animal Set, we do not merely train skills and techniques for fighting as well as for non-combat benefits like good health, vitality, longevity, mental clarity and spiritual joys, which can be found in other sets in our school, but we also train the internal essence symbolised by the Shaolin five animals.

            The Shaolin five animals are the dragon, the snake, the tiger, the leopard and the crane, and their training manifests mind, energy, internal force, speed and elegance respectively. In other words, when you train a kungfu set like the Shaolin Pakua Set or the Taijiquan Old Eagle Catches Snake, you develop skills and techniques for combat efficiency as well as have good health, vitality, longevity, mental clarity and spiritual joys. But when you train the Shaolin Five-animal Set, besides the wonderful benefits of combat efficiency, good health, vitality, longevity, mental clarity and spiritual joys that you will get from the other sets in our school, you will also train mind, energy, internal force, speed and elegance.

            (Part 3 follows)
            Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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            • #21
              "This itself is enough reason for our instructors and student to attend the course. Just imagine, besides other benefits, they have the opportunity to learn special methods that manifest the Shaolin five animals."

              (Continued from Part 2)

              Would students train mind, energy, internal force, speed and elegance if they train sets other than the Shaolin Five-Animal Set? It depends on where they train and what other set they choose.

              For most other students not only they will not train mind, energy, internal force, speed and elegance, they will not accomplish the main aim of learning any martial art, i.e. self-defence. They submit themselves to generous exchanges of blows, or perform flowery fists and embroidery kicks for demonstration. Some of them may have good health, longevity and presence of mind, or other benefits our students are trained to have, and we sincerely hope so, but these benefits if they have them are not due to their training, but due to other factors.

              For our students, their training will give them good health, vitality, longevity, mental clarity and spiritual joys. Our kungfu students who do not train the Shaolin Five-animal Set but other kungfu sets, will also have combat efficiency. These statements may make us appear boastful, and may make other people angry. As I have said numerous times, that is their business, but I am just stating the truth.

              I would also like to add that our training will give these benefits. If our students fail in their training, like they train wrongly, over-train or do not train, they will not have these benefits.

              Will our kungfu students also train their mind, energy, internal force, speed and elegance if they do not train the Five-Animal Set? It depends on the sets they train. Nevertheless, because Southern Shaolin forms the base of kungfu training in our school, and Southern Shaolin is characterised by the Five-animal Set, our students will also get general benefits of these special aspects, but if they learn the Five-Animal Set they will have special methods to train mind, energy, internal force, speed and elegance.

              If students choose a set like Praying Mantis Eighteen Collection or Drunken Eight Immortals, they will not have special methods to train mind, energy, internal force, speed and elegance as provided in the Five-Animal Set. Of course, this does not necessarily mean that Five-Animal Set is superior to Eighteen Collection or Drunken Eight Immortals. This would be dualistic thinking — a fault many other people may make, but which we know very well. There are other special benefits that Eighteen Collection or Drunken Eight Immortals has over the Five-Animal Set. For example, when students practice the Eighteen Collection, they practice the best 18 techniques of the time. When students practice the Drunken Eight Immortals, they practice the skills of dodging and mobility.

              If students choose a set like Tiger-Crane, they practice the qualities of the tiger and the crane, which are internal force and elegance. As our Taijiquan sets are more of a dragon than a snake, which characterizes Taijiquan sets of other schools, our Taijiquan students have a lot of opportunities to train the manifestations of a dragon.

              But the Five-Animal Set is special. It is not limited to just only one animal, it involves all the five Shaolin animals. Instructors and students attending the Five-Animal Set course will have the opportunity to learn special methods to train the mind, energy, internal force, speed and elegance. For this we have to thank Leo, who made it a point to ask me to teach these special methods.

              Other specialization sets or styles may not provide this opportunity. This itself is enough reason for our instructors and student to attend the course. Just imagine, besides other benefits, they have the opportunity to learn special methods that manifest the Shaolin five animals. I believe that even real masters who have practiced kungfu for many years may not have this opportunity.

              Learning and practicing the Shaolin Five Animal Set, with the opportunity to learn special methods to manifest the essence of the Shaolin five animals, will certainly complement and enhance other specialisation sets or styles. Like what I mentioned before, such as for the Baguazhang course at the UK Summer Camp, even if someone, for the sake of discussion, would not practice the Five-Animal Set again, but because he attended the Five-Animal Set course, the skills, techniques and philosophy acquired at the course will not only complement and enhance his chosen specialised set or style, but also enhance his daily life.

              For example, whatever he does he will have a better presence of mind, and more zest to do it well. He may have this presence of mind and internal force before, acquired from his training in other sets or styles, but his training at the course will surely enhance these qualities.

              <End>
              Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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              • #22
                Wonderful answer. Thank you Sifu and thank you Leo for this opportunity.

                So, it would seem, anyone wishing to learn to train the essence of the 5 main Shaolin animals would be well advised to attend this course - whether they have learned the set previously (as I have been lucky enough to) or not. Checking my diary ..........
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                • #23
                  The series continues with Sifu's answer on Sifu Mark's question on having patterns with one, two or three planes in different styles.

                  Question 3

                  When preparing to teach Baguazhang, Sifu discovered that Baguazhang patterns adopt three planes, whereas Taijiquan patterns adopt two planes and Shaolin patterns adopt one. Furthermore, Sifu has commented that this three-plane facility enhances agility and provides better combat efficiency. How can we apply this development to our practice of the Shaolin Five-Animals Set?

                  Sifu Mark Blohm


                  Answer

                  Discovering that Baguazhang patterns have three planes whereas Taijiquan patterns and Shaolin patterns generally have two and one, I believe, is unprecedented. I haven’t found this being mentioned in any of the classics I have read.

                  I also found, from experience as well as reasoning, that this three-plane feature of Baguazhang patterns enhances their agility and combat efficiency. If a Baguazhang practitioner using the same patterns but keeping himself to only one or two planes, he would be less agile and less combat efficient. This three-plane feature is one main reason why a Baguazhang practitioner can get to the back of an opponent easily.

                  I believe this three-plane feature, like other aspects of Baguazhang as well as other kungfu styles, was a natural development from actual fighting experience. In other words, it was not some Baguazhang masters intellectualising on combat efficiency, came up with the concept of patterns in three planes. Rather, it was Bagazhang practitioners in combat situations discovering that if they moved their body and their hands further from their foot-position, resulting in three planes, they would be more agile and more combat efficient.

                  This three-plane feature applies well in Baguazhang, because Baguazhang techniques are such that employing three planes will result in greater agility and combat efficiency. For example, if an opponent attacks you with a right thrust punch, for example, by using the Baguzzhang pattern, “Green Dragon Returns Head”, you thread his punch upward with your right hand, simultaneously move your left leg diagonally forward and turn round to strike the back of his head with your left palm, all in one smooth movement.

                  If you use Taijiquan, a similar counter would be to ward off his punch with “Immortal Waves Sleeves”, cover his right elbow as you move your left leg forward, then turn around and strike him with your left palm while your right hand floats his right hand in the pattern “Jade Girl Threads Shuttle”. This counter needs two patterns, although you can execute the two patterns in one smooth flow.

                  A similar, though not the same, counter in Shaolin Kungfu is as follows. Lean on his right punch using a right “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave”. Then move your right leg forward in a Unicorn Step using the pattern “Run Unicorn Step”. Move your left leg forward, then turn around to a right Bow-Arrow Stance and strike your opponent’s back with your left palm using “Dark Dragon Draws Water.” This counter requires three patterns.

                  (Part 2 follows)
                  Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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                  • #24
                    Up-level!:

                    "Lean on his right punch using a right “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave”. Then move your right leg forward in a Unicorn Step using the pattern “Run Unicorn Step”. Move your left leg forward, then turn around to a right Bow-Arrow Stance and strike your opponent’s back with your left palm using “Dark Dragon Draws Water.” This counter requires three patterns.
                    Crazy good. I will try this out during tonight's practice with my son.

                    Charles David Chalmers
                    Brunei Darussalam

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                    • #25
                      Dear Papa Cha, I hope Julian is still alive...

                      Here comes the next and closing part of Answer 3:

                      (Continued from Part 1)

                      If all other things were equal, using one pattern to counter an attack is certainly more effective than using two or three patterns.

                      Does this mean Baguazhang is more combat effective than Shaolin Kungfu? Or, if you want to keep Shaolin Kungfu, does adding the three-plane feature to Shaolin Kungfu make it more combat effective?

                      The answer to both questions is “No.” Not only other things are not equal, Shaolin Kungfu as well as Taijiquan have other combat principles to counter the attack.

                      A Taijiquan practitioner may first sink back, without moving his feet, to avoid the full force of the punch, and ward it off with “Immortal Waves Sleeves”. Instead of moving to the opponent’s back, the Taijiquan practitioner may just move his body forward, still without moving his feet, and strike the opponent’s throat using “White Snake Shoots Venom”. These two patterns are executed in one smooth, continuous flow, using the tactic of “defence-cum-counter”, or “lian xiao tai da” in Chinese, which is a frequently used principle in Taijiquan.

                      A Shaolin practitioner, at an advanced level, may not bother to defend. He just responds to the attack with “Fierce Tiger Descends Mountain”, using the tactic of “no-defence-direct-counter”. “No defence” is a misnomer. The defence is already incorporated in the counter-attack. As the tiger-claws land on the opponent’, the Shaolin practitioner’s arm deflects the attacking punch away. “Fierce Tiger Descends Mountain” is found in the Shaolin Five-Animal Set.

                      While the patterns in the Five-Animal Set are generally in one plane, there are also some patterns in two or three planes. However, this is an exception, rather than the rule. “Reincarnated Well-Fed Crane”, for example, is in two planes. “Golden Leopard Watches Fire” is in three planes. Like the Baguazhang patterns, these two-plane and three-plane features were the result of meeting expedient needs, not that of philosophising.

                      So, even when a pattern is normally in one plane, if the combat situation warrants it, we may modify the pattern to two planes or even three planes. For example, as we apply “Fierce Tiger Descends Mountain” on our opponent, he shifts to his left side. Instead of changing to another pattern, we may follow his shifting movement with our tiger claws, resulting in our pattern in two planes.

                      If he shifts further to our back, we can also follow his shutting movement with our tiger claws. In this case we may change into a Unicorn Stance, as the initial Bow-Arrow Stance would not be suitable, thus resulting in three planes. Better still, as it will give us a further reach, we change our tiger-claws to a leopard punch, using the pattern “Golden Leopard Watches Fire”.

                      Hence, we apply this development of having three-lanes, if the combat situation warrants it, to meet expedient needs. To do this well, not only we need good skills, we also need to understand sound kungfu philosophy. Such an endeavour is left for top masters.

                      What about other practitioners who have not reached the level of top masters? We are very lucky. We just practice some good kungfu sets. We ourselves do not have to do any modification, because top masters in the past had done that for us. We just apply the patterns correctly in combat.

                      There are many good kungfu sets in our school. At random, I can mention a few off-hand, like Eighteen Collection, Drunken Eight Immortals, Triple Stretch, Flower Set, Flowing Water Floating Clouds, Swimming Dragon Baguazhang, and Twelve-Animal-Form of Xingyiquan.

                      Shaolin Five-Animal Set is an excellent choice. The patterns are sophisticated, and there are some in two planes and three planes. The course on the Five-Animal Set is an opportunity not to be missed.

                      <End>
                      Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Leo Shaolin View Post
                        Dear Papa Cha, I hope Julian is still alive...
                        Oh, not to worry, Leo. He is well trained and has been doing force training for about six years now. I will perform the movements slowly and see if he can work out an appropriate response.

                        Thanks for sharing Sifu's very interesting and educational answers.

                        Yrs,

                        Cha
                        Charles David Chalmers
                        Brunei Darussalam

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                        • #27
                          Thank you so much, Sifu.
                          少林華南台灣 Shaolin Wahnam Taiwan

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

                          -Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

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                          • #28
                            A wonderful reading indeed! Thank you Sifu!
                            "From formless to form, from form to formless"

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                            • #29
                              Question and Answer No. 4 deals with another prominent type of 5 animals in the energy arts.

                              Question 4

                              In Kung Fu history there have been different collections of 18 weapons and 36 leg techniques. Are there any other collections of five animals too and how did they differ from the classic five animals in terms of combat efficiency and personal development?

                              Dimitri, Austria


                              Answer

                              The other well known “five animals” mentioned in chi kung and kungfu classics are the “five animals” of Hua Tuo’s Five-Animal Play. These chi kung five animals are more well known than the kungfu five animals, and they are also older by more than 1000 years.

                              The five animals of Hua Tuo’s Five Animal Play, which was established in the 2nd century, are the bird, the deer, the monkey, the tiger and the bear. The five animals of Shaolin Kungfu are the dragon, the snake, the tiger, the leopard and the crane. The tiger is common in both, but the tiger in the Five-Animal Play is different from the tiger in Shaolin Kungfu.

                              The five animals of Five-Animal Play come about because of bodily movements of practitioners due to chi flow in their chi kung practice manifested by conditions of their internal organs. A chi kung master teaches chi kung techniques to some students. These students experience a chi flow. Their bodily movements caused by the chi flow are different even when they practice the same exercises. These chi flow movements are due to conditions of their internal organs.

                              There are countless types of chi flow movements, but they can be generalised into five major types symbolised by five animals. Some movements resemble those of a bird, some those of a deer, some those of a monkey, some those of a tiger, and some those of a bear.

                              A practitioner performing movements symbolised by a bird may not look like a bird. But if we consider movements of the five animals, his movements are more bird-like than any other animals.

                              Sometimes, the movements of a practitioner may resemble those of more than one animal. At other times, the movements may not remember any of the five animals’ movements at all.

                              Why are there five animals, and not four, or six or any other number? It is because there are five major internal organs that manifest five different types of chi flow movements. These five major internal organs are the heart, the liver, the spleen, the lungs and the kidneys. These five major internal organs, known as yin-organs in Chinese medical philosophy, are closely related to their yang counterparts, namely small intestines, gall bladder, stomach, colon and urinary bladder.

                              Chinese physicians and chi kung masters have discovered over many centuries that there is a close relationship between these organs and chi flow movements. If a person has a heart problem, for example, his chi flow movements will be like those of a bird. If he has a liver problem, his chi flow movements will be like those of a deer, spleen problem like those of a monkey, lung problem like those of a tiger, and kidney problem like those of a bear.

                              Chinese physicals and chi kung masters also have discovered a close relationship between these chi flow movements and emotions. If a person is happy, his chi flow movements are like those of a bird, angry like those of a deer, anxious like those of a monkey, sad like those of a tiger, and afraid like those of a bear.

                              Hence, from actual experiences over many centuries, Chinese physicals and chi kung masters have worked out a relationship between organ, movement and emotion as follows: heart - bird - joy; liver- deer - anger; spleen - monkey - anxiety; lungs - tiger - sorrow; kidneys - bear - fear.

                              Making use of this relationship, Chinese physicians and chi kung healers have helped many people overcome their illness by practicing appraise exercises, like those from the Five-Animal Play.

                              As these five animals are concerned with health rather than with combat, their contribution to combat efficiency is indirect. A person who is relaxed is more combat efficient than if he is anxious; a person who is confident is more combat efficient than if he is afraid.

                              On the other hand, these five animals are very useful in personal development. If you are unhappy, practicing a bird play from the Five-Animal Play will open your heart and make you happy. If you are sad, practicing a tiger play will flush out the emotion of sadness from your lungs resulting in you not being sad.

                              (Part 2 follows)
                              Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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                              • #30
                                "...developing an attitude to do anything well, is better than doing one particular job well."

                                (Continued from Part 1)

                                There are no other versions of the kungfu five animals in Shaolin or other kungfu styles. Nevertheless, there are twelve animals in Xingyiquan. They are the dragon, the tiger, the monkey, the horse, the alligator, the cockerel, the hawk, the swallow, the snake, the ostrich, the eagle and the bear.

                                The qualities of the animals are different. The dragon can shrink and expand, the tiger has the courage of charging, the monkey has agility, the horse has speed, the alligator has gliding ability, the cockerel has fighting spirit, the hawk has soaring power, the sparrow is swift, the snake has sliding ability, the ostrich has the power of ramming, the eagle has gripping ability, and the bear is stable.

                                Three of the Shaolin five animals are found in Xingyiquan, namely the dragon, the snake and the tiger. The crane in the Shaolin five animals, being a bird, may be associated with the hawk and the sparrow in Xingyiquan. But their characteristics are different. While the dragon, the snake and the tiger of the Shaolin five animals train mind, energy and internal force, those of Xingyiquan exhibit qualities of shrinking and expanding, sliding and charging. The crane train elegance, whereas the hawk soars the sky and the swallow is swift.

                                The Shaolin five animals train qualities that are holistic, whereas the animals of Xingyiquan are localised. If you have presence of mind from training the dragon, or energy flow from training the snake, you can shrink and expand, charge with ferocity or exhibits any of the qualities of the Xingyiuan twelve animals. You may also use any techniques. On the other hand, if you wish to shrink and expand, or charge with ferocity, you need to use techniques of the dragon and of the tiger.

                                Another aspect many people may not realize, and which is closely linked with their holistic aspect, is that the Shaolin five animals involve internal training, not just external forms, though using the appropriate animal form may enhance its internal training. When I first saw a classic showing the Shaolin five animals, which I believe was from the Ming Dynasty many hundred years ago, I was surprised that the forms of all the five animals were similar. In other words, a dragon form looked like the form of any other of the five animals. Later I discovered that the difference is in their internal training, not in their external form.

                                On the other hand, an initiated observer can tell the Xingyiquan animals by looking at their forms. A dragon form, for example, is characteristic different from any other animal form.

                                The combat application of the Shaolin five animals, in my opinion, is deeper than that of the Xingyiquan twelve animals. The two aspects explained above, i.e. being holistic and being internal, enable a practitioner to use any form for any purpose. If you have internal force from training the tiger form, for example, no matter what techniques you use you will be more effective, regardless of whether you charge at an opponent like a tiger in Xinyiquan, be agile like a monkey or apply any of the special features of the Xingyiquan annual forms. On the other hand, if you use the Xingyiquan tiger form to charge at an opponent, it is useful for this particular purpose but not useful for other purposes.

                                Similarly for personal development, the benefits of the Shaolin five animals are superior to those of the Xingyiquan twelve animals. The reasons are similar to the case of combat application, i.e. the five-animal benefits are holistic and internal. If you have good management of energy after training the snake form, you can manage energy well in whatever you do. On the other hand, having sliding ability after training the snake form in Xingyiquan, may enable you to do well in activities where sliding is involved, but no necessary in other types of activities.

                                We can deduce an important principle to enrich our daily life. It is more advantageous to have a holistic and internal development than a localised and external development. For example, developing an attitude to do anything well, is better than doing one particular job well.

                                (Part 3 follows)
                                Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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