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Shaolin Five-Animal Set - 10 Questions to Grandmaster Wong

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  • #31
    "In the course on the Five-Animal Set we shall learn the inner essence of the five animals, as well as apply their sophisticated techniques for combat."

    (Continued from Part 2)

    There are a few kungfu styles that developed from the Shaolin five animals, like the Dragon Style, the Black Tiger Style, and the White Crane Style.

    Dragon Style was developed by Pak Mei, one of the five famous Shaolin grandmasters, in the 19th century during the Qing Dynasty. No one master was credited for developing the Black Tiger Style, but Chee Seen, another of the five famous Shaolin grandmasters, and his two disciples, Sam Tuck and Hoong Hei Koon, were famous exponents. White Crane Kungfu was earlier, and was popularly practiced in Fujian Province (where the two southern Shaolin Monasteries were located), where it was commonly known as Wing Choon White Crane (not to be confused with Wing Choon Kungfu which came later).

    There is another style of White Crane Kungfu popularly practiced in Tibet and Western China. This Tibetan White Crane is different from Wing Choon White Crane. The former is long-reaching, with extended arms like a crane’s wings, whereas the latter is short-range with open palms and kicks.

    Two famous styles of kungfu named after animals, but not from the Shaolin five animals, are Monkey Kungfu and Praying Mantis Kungfu. There are actually many different styles of Monkey Kungfu, which are quite different from one another. Lama Kungfu, the style of kungfu practiced by Tibetan Lama experts, is a style of Monkey Kungfu with long swinging arms. Dong Bi Quan, or Extended-Arm Kungfu, is also another style of Monkey Kungfu, but both Lama Kungfu and Dong Bi Quan are based on the big-sized ape rather than the small-sized monkey. The small-sized monkey is the model for most styles of Monkey Kungfu. It is noted for agility and trickiness.

    Praying Mantis Kungfu was invented by Wang Lang at the Shaolin Monastery in Henan by selecting the best of 18 different kungfu styles with the Praying Mantis as the basis. Wang Lang’s disciples spread the art to many places resulting in different styles of Praying Mantis Kungfu, such as Seven-Star Praying Mantis, Plum Flower Praying Mantis, Six-Harmony Praying Mantis, Emply-Plank Praying Mantis, and Taij Praying Mantis. But all these different styles are the same Praying Mantis Kungfu well known for kicks.

    There is, however, a different type of Praying Mantis Kungfu known as Southern Praying Mantis. There are not many kicks in Southern Praying Mantis, but it uses the phoenix-eye fist.

    The Five-Animal Set is popular in Hoong Ka Kungfu and Choy-Li-Fatt Kungfu, which are both Southern Shaolin. Because of its long history, there are different versions of Five-Animal Set, not only in different kungfu styles but even in the same style. Different schools in Choy-Li-Fatt Kungfu, for example, may practice different versions of the Five-Animal Set.

    The Five-Animal Set practiced in our school was composed by me about 1995 when I wrote my book, “The Art of Shaolin Kungfu”. I consulted many kungfu classics as well as various sources showing the Five-Animal Set. I used the Five-Animal Set as the base of my book because Southern Shaolin, which my book was mainly about, was characterized by the Shaolin five animals.

    Unlike the original Shaolin five animals with their internal development, most of the kungfu styles named after animals today are so-called because their external forms resemble the animals. Even practitioners of the Shaolin Five-Animal Set today may not realise the inner essence of the five animals.

    This is perhaps quite inevitable, as almost all kungfu styles today, not just the Five-Animal Set, have only retained their outward forms but lost their inner essence. Not only many Five-Animal Set practitioners do not use the dragon form to train mind, or the tiger form to train internal force, the great majority of kungfu practitioners today only perform the outward forms of their kungfu sets without being able to apply their kungfu forms for combat.

    We in Shaolin Wahnam are very lucky. In the course on the Five-Animal Set we shall learn the inner essence of the five animals, as well as apply their sophisticated techniques for combat. It will surely enrich whatever kungfu we choose to practice as well as enrich our daily life.

    <End>
    Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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    • #32
      Dear Sigung,

      thank you very much for the wonderful answer. I enjoyed every part of it (and of course the answers before)


      Best wishes,

      Dimitri
      When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
      When the student is truly ready, the teacher will disappear.

      -Lao Tzu-

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      • #33
        Q&A No. 5 is about the 72 Arts of Shaolin and its connection to the Shaolin Five-Animal Set.

        Question 5

        Recently on the forum, there was a thread about the 72 Arts of Shaolin and other "special skills" of Shaolin kung fu. Are there any particular special skills or practices from the 72 Arts of Shaolin that are particularly useful for the Five Animals set application, and conversely, is the Five Animals set conducive towards developing any of the 72 arts or other special skills?

        Fred Chu, USA


        Answer

        Because of its long history there are different versions of the 72 Arts of Shaolin, and each version can be very different from the others. Three versions of the 72 Arts of Shaolin can be found at http://www.shaolin.org/shaolin/72-arts.html. Nevertheless, there are many arts that are common, such as Iron Palm, Iron Shirt, Iron Arm, Iron Sweeping Leg, Golden Bell, One-Finger Zen, One-Finger Gold and Red Sand Palm.

        In general, all the 72 arts, irrespective of which version, are useful to the Five-Animal Set, and conversely the Five-Animal Set is conducive to all the 72 arts. It is because being holistic and internal, the Five-Aminal Set can benefit from any of the 72 arts, even from “hard” and external arts like Twin Lock and Striking with Foot, and conversely any of the 72 arts is conducive to the Five-Animal Set.

        For example, if your wrists are hard and powerful like in the Art of Twin Lock of the 72 Shaolin Arts, you will be more effective in having presence of mind from the training of the dragon form of the Five-Animal Set as you will not be distracted that you may have to clash your wrists with your opponent’s. On the other hand, if you have presence of mind, you will be more effective in using your Twin Lock in combat application as you will be relaxingly focused. The same benefits apply both ways to all the other 72 arts and the Five-Animal Set with better energy management, increased internal force, greater speed, and more elegance of movement.

        Nevertheless, some of the 72 arts are specially useful to the Five-Animal Set, and the Five-Animal Set is specially conducive to some of the 72 arts. Usually, the advantages work both ways, i.e. if one particular art is useful to the Five-Animal Set, the Five-Animal Set is also conducive to that particular art.

        Obviously, dragon claw, and dragon force as well as dragon speed in our version of 72 Shaolin Arts, are useful to the dragon form of the Five-Animal Set. If you have powerful dragon claw, or better still, tremendous dragon force and lightning-fast dragon speed, you will perform the dragon form, or any form, of the Five-Animal Set excellently, even when, for the sake of discussion, your dragon form is not perfect or you lack presence of mind.

        On the other hand, when you have presence of mind from the training of dragon form of the Five-Animal Set, you will be more effective in applying dragon claw, dragon force and dragon speed than when you are absent-minded. It is worthy of note that training the dragon form not only enables you to have presence of mind but also in a relaxing manner. You are not stressful when you are focused — a concept some people, for some odd reasons, one of which is linguistic, find it difficult to comprehend, but which top performers in any endeavour, be it science or philosophy, sports or business management, have discovered from direct experience.

        (Part 2 follows)
        Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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        • #34
          "The Five-Animal Set is very useful and beneficial to any art, Shaolin or otherwise. More significantly, it surely enriches our daily life. The course on the Five-Animal Set is one that should not be missed."

          (Continued from Part 1)

          Running Art and Light Body Art, and in our version, Chi Flow, Self-Manifested Chi Movement and Bone Marrow Cleansing are useful to the snake form of the Five-Animal Set. Training in any of these arts from the 72 Shaolin Arts enables you to manage energy more effectively. On the other hand, being able to manage energy effectively from your training of the snake form of the Five-Animal Set enables you to better perform these arts.

          One-Finger Zen, Lying Tiger Art, Eagle Claw, Iron Plank Bridge, and in our version, One-Finger Shooting Zen, Flowing Force, Consolidated Force, Tiger Claw and Sinew Metamorphosis are very useful in the training of the tiger form of Five-Animal Set. On the other hand, having internal force is particularly advantageous to arts like Twin Lock, Shooting Leg, Kicking Leg, Iron Arm, Lifting Weight, Iron Bull, Art of Falling and Tortoise Back, as the internal force can overcome and minimise pain and injury sustained in these external hard-conditioning.

          Art of Flying Star, Art of Somersaults, Iron Sweeping Leg, Jumping Art and Whirlwind Palm are useful in the training of the leopard form in the Five-Animal Set. These arts of the 72 Shaolin Arts make practitioners agile and flexible, thus enhancing their training of speed. Reversely, when training of the leopard form has resulted in practitioners having speed, they will be advantages in these particular arts.

          In our version of the 72 Shaolin Arts, the Art of Stone Lock, the Art of Flowing Force, the Art of One-Breath Flow and Dragon Speed enhance the training of the leopard form. On the other hand, training the leopard form is particularly advantageous to Iron Arm, Pressing Attack, Through the Woods, Empty Hand Enters White Blade, Tiger Enters Herd of Sheep, and Fighting with Fort Behind.

          The Art of Falling, the Art of Somersaults, and Plum Flower Formation contribute to the training of the crane form for elegance. On the other hand, the training of the crane form is advantageous to arts like Lifting Thousand Pounds, Iron Pearl Bag and Kick Wooden Poles, as it adds elegance to external, hard-conditioning.

          In our version of the 72 Shaolin arts, Smiling from the Heart, Entering Silence, Flowing Breeze, Floating Clouds and Standing Meditation are useful to training the crane form. On the other hand, crane form training is conducive to Pressing Attack, Art of Wooden Men, Plum Flower Formation, Empty Hand Enters White Blade, and Small Universe

          The Five-Animal Set is very useful and beneficial to any art, Shaolin or otherwise. More significantly, it surely enriches our daily life. The course on the Five-Animal Set is one that should not be missed.

          <End>
          Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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          • #35
            Question 6 is about the long term benefits of practicing the Shaolin Five-Animal Set.

            Question 6

            What benefits and skills can a practitioner expect and attain after practicing the Shaolin Five-Animal Set for one, five and ten years?

            Bernhard, Austria


            Answer

            Three factors need to be considered when answering questions of this nature. To better understand what questions are of this nature, here are three other examples.

            What benefits will a student get if he continues to learn in this school for six months, and for six years?
            Can a person learn kungfu from a video?
            Will he become the manager of the company if he works here long enough, say for 15 years?

            The three factors to be considered are the person himself (or herself), the other person (or persons) involved, and the type of task.

            For your question, the three factors are the practitioner, his teacher and the school teaching Shaolin Five-Animal Set.

            For the examples above, the three factors are as follows:

            1st Factor — the student, the learner, the employee.
            2nd Factor — the teacher, the person who prepared the video, the current manager or the boss.
            3rd Factor — the school, the video, the company.

            For convenience, we may classify the three groups of factors above as poor, average and good.

            Obviously, if the practitioner, the teacher and the school are poor, the result is little or none, often irrespective of how long the practitioner may learn from the teacher in the school. Reversely, if the practitioner, the teacher and the school are good, the result will be good, and it will increase, in volume or quality, the longer the practitioner practices.

            These two statements may sound trite, though true, but it is shocking that many, many people do not realise their truth, or apply the truth of the statements in their practice.

            With this understanding we can now answer your question in some depth.

            (Part 2 follows)
            Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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            • #36
              Those who wish to become a master in five years, or at least learn the technique, skills and philosophy that make them a master in five years, should not miss the course on the Five-Animal Set.

              (Continued from Part 1)

              At the risk of hurting the feeling of many people, though of course it is not our intention, most teachers and most schools today teaching the Shaolin Five-Animal Set are poor. Saying that they are poor does not mean the teachers have no money, or the schools are in a dilapidated condition, but that they, the teachers or the school or both, do not produce the results that practicing the Shaolin Five-Animal Set is meant to give. Indeed, most of them, teachers and students alike, may not even realise what results the Shaolin Five-Animal Set will give, or what results the students practicing or the teachers teaching a kungfu style should be obtained.

              Some teachers and schools are average, and a few good.

              An average student taught by an average teacher in an average school can expect and attain the routine of the Shaolin Five-Animal Set in one year, perform the set reasonably well in five years, and theoretically know some combat application of the set in ten years, though they may not be able to apply it in practical combat. Those who have trained for more than ten years will also know and be able to perform many other kungfu sets. Naturally, a poor student will get less result, and a good student will get more, but the result will be the same, and in the category of being average, mainly in being able to perform the set.

              In a good school taught by a good teacher, an average student can expect and be able to attain good form of the Five-Animal Set in one year. In five years, he will be able to apply some of the patterns in the set for practical combat. In ten years he will have presence of mind and some internal force, and his performance of the set will also be elegant. Usually he obtains these benefits not because he trains the appropriate animal forms, but because of his overall Five-Animal Set training. He may not know, for example, or he may not systematically train for this purpose even when he has the knowledge, that the dragon form trains mind. He will also discover that if he can successfully apply combat application of the Five-Animal Set on other martial artists, they will not know how to counter.

              Our school, Shaolin Wahnam, is not only good; it is excellent. Our teachers and students are also excellent. If they are poor or average, they will not be in Shaolin Wahnam. Can we justify our claim? Of course, we can.

              We, both teachers and students, know the philosophy of the Shaolin Five-Animal Set, including what results to get when we train correctly and sufficiently. We expect to have the results practicing the Five-Animal Set will give us. Whether we really attain them will depend on how well, or not at all, we train.

              We differentiate between techniques and skills. More important than using the right techniques, we use the right skills to get the results we want. We also realize that it is the results that we want, not just knowing the techniques. We obtain our results in a ridiculously short time. In fact, our concern now is not to over-train.

              We transfer our training of the Five-Animal Set to enrich our daily life. In other words, we do not just practice the Five-Animal Set, or worse, sustain injury by tensing in solo training, and taking hits in free sparring, as poor and average students do. We employ the Five-Animal Set as an effective means to develop skills that contribute to our peak performance in work and play.

              In one year of successful training of the Five-Animal Set, a typical Shaolin Wahnam student will have presence of mind, energy management, internal force, speed in action and thought, and elegance of movement. In five years, he will be a master of the Five-Animal Set, though out of modesty he himself and others who judge mastership on extended length of time, may not call him such. In ten years, he will have vibrant health and vitality, mental freshness and clarity, and spiritual joys, besides the specific benefits the Five-Animal Set will give. He will find life a joy.

              Those who wish to become a master in five years, or at least learn the technique, skills and philosophy that make them a master in five years, should not miss the course on the Five-Animal Set.

              <End>
              Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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              • #37
                Thank you Sigung for the profound answer and thank you for the other answers too.

                Looking forward to the Shaolin Five Animal Course
                Bernhard
                "No matter what you do, you must be clear in your conscience." - Sitaigung Ho
                "Goodness begets goodness." - Sigung

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                • #38
                  Thank you very much for the enlightening answer, Sifu! I'm certain the course participants are going to make excellent gains from your teaching of the Five Animals set. I'm sure it'll be pretty interesting to see even just the tidbits that appear here and there from future forum posts sharing their experiences.

                  Sincerely with Shaolin salute,
                  -Fred Chu
                  I like making silly videos (including kung fu ones!) every so often on YouTube and taking pictures of weird things on Instagram.

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                  • #39
                    We are incredibly lucky to practice in Shaolin Wahnam, but why exactly are we so lucky?

                    Question 7

                    In the History and Philosophy of Shaolin Five Animal Set you said that

                    “The development of Shaolin Kungfu from Lohan Fist, the prototype at the northern Shaolin Monastery in Henan, to Five-Animal Set, the prototype at the southern Shaolin Monasteries at Quanzhou and on the Nine-Lotus Mountain, represented the development of the best martial art in the world over many centuries.”

                    In the History and Philosophy of Wudang Taihiquan Set you also explain that Zhang San Feng brought

                    “Kung Fu development to an unprecedented height.”

                    Bearing this in mind it can be said that Shaolin Lohan Fist, Shaolin Five Animal Set and Wudang Taijiquan Set are representative of the best martial art of the world in their three stages of development. They are the best of the best in martial art history.

                    Then my question is, if one chooses to specialize in these three Sets, considering the almost unthinkable good fortune that all of them are taught in our school, which results can a practitioner expect in terms of character development, energy management, spiritual cultivation and combat efficiency from the combined practice of these Sets? How do the Sets enhance each other?

                    Davy, USA


                    Answer

                    We are incredibly lucky. There are four progressive reasons why we are so incredibly lucky:

                    1. We have the rare opportunity to practice genuine kungfu which brings us wonderful benefits. We shall appreciate our luck better when we realise that much of the kungfu practiced today is grossly debased. Most other practitioners cannot apply their kungfu for combat.

                    2. Not only we practice genuine kungfu, we practice the best kungfu. The justification for claiming the kungfu we practice is the best can be found in my article, “Why Shaolin Kungfu is the Greatest Martial Art” at http://www.shaolin.org/shaolin/greatest.html Not only we have the very rare opportunity to practice genuine kungfu, we also practice the very best.

                    It may be a matter of opinion, but comparing ourselves practicing genuine kungfu with other people practicing other genuine martial arts like Judo, Karate, Taekwondo, Wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts, we can reasonably argue that we are luckier. Comparing ourselves practicing genuine Shaolin Kungfu and genuine Taijiquan as it evolved from Shaolin Kungfu, with others practicing genuine Wing Choon, genuine Praying Mantis, genuine Baguazhang or any other genuine styles of kungfu, we can also reasonably argue that we are luckier. While the justification can be found in my article mentioned earlier, it may suffice to mention here that Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan are the only two martial arts where spiritual cultivation is an integral part of the training, besides good health and combat efficiency. Some other kungfu styles have good health and combat efficiency, while other kungfu styles and most other martial arts only have combat efficiency, sometimes at the expense of the practitioners’ health.

                    3. Not only we practice the best kungfu, we also have a wide range of other styles of kungfu, like Wing Choon, Praying Mantis, Eagle Claw, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan, that further enhances our wonderful benefits. We do not just practice these other kungfu styles, but we also have reached a very high level of attainment. How do we know we have a high level of attainment? We can compare what we have attained with what is mentioned in the classics of these styles. Our opportunity to practice other kungfu styles to a high level is rare in kungfu history.

                    4. We transfer what we learn in our kungfu (and chi kung) lessons to our daily life. For example, we do not just learn the principle of four arrivals in our combat application, we apply the principle to enrich our daily life. We do not just develop internal force for our kungfu training, but use our internal force for peak performance in our work and play. This great benefit of our kungfu training is unprecedented in kungfu history.

                    (Part 2 follows)
                    Last edited by Leo Shaolin; 15 February 2016, 08:34 AM.
                    Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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                    • #40
                      "As you have rightly said, we in Shaolin Wahnam have almost unthinkable good fortune."

                      (Continued from Part 1)

                      Indeed, Shaolin Lohan Fist, Shaolin Five Animal Set and Wudang Taijiquan Set, if we practice them the way they should be practiced, as we do in our school, and not merely performing their outward forms as it is done by most other people, these sets are the best of the best in martial art history. As I have mentioned many times, my statement here may make us appear boastful to other people, and make many other people angry, but that is their business, not ours. We are sincerely not boastful; we merely state the truth. Practicing these three sets the way they should be practiced not only makes us combat efficient, but more importantly makes us healthy, full of vitality, enjoy longevity, mentally fresh and clear, peaceful and happy.

                      In terms of character development, a practitioner of Shaolin Lohan Fist can expect to be courageous and righteous, of Shaolin Five-Animal Set to be resourceful and accomplished, of Wudang Taijiquan Set to be flowing and forceful.

                      In terms of energy management, a practitioner of Shaolin Lohan Fist can expect to regulate his breathing according to his movement, of Shaolin Five-Animal Set to enhance his internal force with chi flow, of Wudang Taijiquan Set to perform vigorous movement without being tired nor out of breath.

                      In terms of spiritual cultivation, a practitioner of Shaolin Lohan Fist can expect to be confident and morally upright, of Shaolin Five-Animal Set to be mentally alert and happy, of Wudang Taijiquan Set to be peaceful and have a glimpse of Cosmic Reality.

                      In terms of combat efficiency, a practitioner of Shaolin Lohan Fist can expect to be skilful in pressing attack, of Shaolin Five-Animal Set to apply sophisticated techniques, and of Wudang Taijiquan Set to flow with opponents and overwhelm them.

                      These qualities are the hallmarks of the respective sets. If a practitioner specialises in only one of these sets, the qualities of that set will be enhanced. If he specialises in all the sets, he will benefit from all these qualities.

                      On the other hand, because of the great benefit of spread and depth in our school, even when some students may not have practiced any of these sets, they may still have some of these qualities. For example, many of those who attended my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course or Intensive Taijiquan Course might not have specialised in Wudang Taijiquan, but they still could spar for hours without being tired and without being out of breath.

                      As you have rightly said, we in Shaolin Wahnam have almost unthinkable good fortune.

                      <End>
                      Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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                      • #41
                        Thank you Sigung

                        Amazing! Thank you Sigung for the enlightening answers. All of them are true gems!

                        Shaolin Salute
                        Davy

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                        • #42
                          Question & Answer No. 8 handle with the development of Northern and Southern Shaolin, as well as Sifu's teaching methodology.

                          Question 8

                          The Shaolin Five Animals Set is dear to me as it was featured in your The Art of Shaolin Kungfu, the book which first introduced me to genuine Shaolin Kungfu.

                          Please can you talk about the development of this Set in your own experience of training and teaching?

                          Sifu Andy Cusick Thailand


                          Answer

                          Many people have kindly written to tell me that “The Art of Shaolin Kungfu” is the best kungfu book they have read. You may be interested to know I wrote the book in one month, working at the manuscript non-stop from 3.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m the next day, without sleep. Instead of sleeping I spent about 10 minutes on sitting meditation.

                          Apart from teaching in school from 7.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. and teaching in Shaolin Wahnam Association from 8.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m. and time for traveling, shower and meals, I spent the whole day for one month working on the manuscript. It is a great testimony to our chi kung that I could do this. Not only I was fine and taught sensibly in school and at Shaolin Wahnam Association, I produced a book that gave an in-depth and comprehensive account of Shaolin Kungfu.

                          My original manuscript, which I took about a year to write, came to about 150,000 words, but earlier I told my publisher that “The Art of Shaolin Kungfu” would consist of about 75,000 words. The editor asked me to cut down the number of words and kindly gave me a month to do so. I thought I could easily polish another unpublished manuscript and submit it for the book. But when I read the other manuscript I was not satisfied with it, so I decided to write another manuscript. The manuscript of 150,000 words was later published as “The Complete Book of Shaolin”. I am glad that both books, “The Art of Shaolin Kungfu” and “The Complete Book of Shaolin”, not only give a clear picture of their subject but are also a pleasure to read.

                          I chose “Shaolin Five-Animal Set” for the book, “The Art of Shaolin Kungfu”, because the set best described what Shaolin Kungfu was.

                          As many of the Shaolin monks were kungfu experts, like former generals, over time they modified the Eighteen Lohan Hands taught by Bodhidharma, and eventually these modified patterns came to be called Eighteen Lohan Fist. Because of its long history, there were different versions of Eighteen Lohan Fist. Other ways or styles of kungfu also developed at the Shaolin Monastery, but Eighteen Lohan Fist remained the prototype.

                          The kungfu practiced at the Shaolin Monastery in Henan Province was naturally called Shaolin Kungfu. Later two more Shaolin Monasteries were built in the south, one in the City of Quanzhou and the other on the Nine-Lotus Mountain, both in Fujian Province. To differentiate the different styles of kungfu practiced at the different Shaolin Monasteries, the one practiced in Henan Province was called Northern Shaolin Kungfu, and the other practiced in Fujian Province was called Southern Shaolin Kungfu.

                          Because of their long history, the difference between Northern and Southern Shaolin Kungfu was quite obvious. There was also some difference between the Southern Shaolin Kungfu practiced at Quanzhou and on the Nine-Lotus Mountain, but the difference was not so obvious.

                          Although there are many different features in Northern and Southern Shaolin Kungfu, the main features of Northern Shaolin Kungfu can be represented by Eighteen Lohan Fist, and the main features of Southern Shaolin Kungfu practiced on the Nine-Lotus Mountain can be represented by Five-Animal Set. The Southern Shaolin Kungfu at Quanzhou is in between.

                          (Part 2 follows)
                          Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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                          • #43
                            “On a personal note, the teaching of the Five-Animal Set in the coming course in Austria represents the latest and best development of my teaching methodology.”

                            (Continued from Part 1)

                            To have a clearer picture of this interesting point, which many people may not know, we can use an analogy. The type of kungfu practiced in our school, Shaolin Wahnam, is often described by other people as Wahnam Kungfu, though at the beginning I insisted that it was Shaolin Kungfu, but now because we also practice other styles like Taijiquan, Baguazhang, Xingyiquan and Drunken Eight Immortals, I am not as insistent.

                            The Wahnam Kungfu (not accurate, but we may use this term for illustration) I taught at Shaolin Wahnam Association in Sungai Petani in my early years of teaching could be represented by the Four Gates Set. The Wahnam Kungfu I taught at Shaolin Wahnam Ireland, for example, in my later years could be represented by the Flowing Water Floating Clouds Set. This does not mean that my early students in Sungai Petani and my later students in Ireland did not learn other sets. My teaching history is only about 40 years, but that of Shaolin Kungfu is about 2000 years, but it can give a picture of the situation when we say Eighteen Lohan Fist represents Northern Shaolin Kungfu and Five-Animal Set represents Southern Shaolin Kungfu.

                            Just as the kungfu I teach now represents the best of my kungfu teaching, Southern Shaolin Kungfu represents the best of Shaolin teaching, and by extension the best of any martial art teaching. This does not necessarily mean that a Flowing Water Floating Clouds practitioner is better than a Four Gates practitioner, or a Five-Animal Set practitioner is better than an Eighteen-Lohan Fist practitioner, because other factors are also involved. But it means that students who learn Flowing Water Floating Clouds from me will also learn what I knew when I taught Four Gates, and more, and students who learn Five-Animal Set from me will also learn what I knew when I taught Eighteen Lohan Fist, and more.

                            On a personal note, the teaching of the Five-Animal Set in the coming course in Austria represents the latest and best development of my teaching methodology. I did not learn the set from a sifu, I created it myself. But it was not created out of the blue. The creation was based on my experience and knowledge as well as on whatever resources I could get on the Shaolin five animals.

                            The first kungfu set I ever learned was the 36-Pattern Tiger-Crane Set from Uncle Righteousness. At this time (I was only a boy of 10) I knew nothing about the Shaolin five animals nor even the combat applications of its sophisticated patterns. But the set did benefit me much in knowing the external form of the tiger and the crane.

                            The first kungfu set I created was the Dragon-Tiger Set. I still did not know the significant inner meaning of the Shaolin five animals, nor even the dragon and the tiger. I just collected some of the best dragon and tiger patterns from Uncle Righteousness school to compose the set.

                            When I learn Wuzuquan from Sifu Chee Kim Thong, I did not know that the crane was the main feature of San Zhan, the fundamental set of Wuzuquan. I just practiced the set dutifully.

                            But by the time I wrote “Introduction to Shaolin Kungfu” where I used this Dragon-Tiger Set as the core, I knew the sophisticated combat applications of the set. after learning from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam. Some people, like Kai (Sifu Kai Uwe from Germany), told me that they were amazed at the secrets revealed in the book.

                            I had a good introduction to the snake form when I practiced Taijiquan on my own. Later when I taught chi kung to the public in the 1980s, I had a better understanding of the inner meaning of the snake, as expressed by energy flow. By the way our Taijiquan is more of a dragon than of a snake, which characterises the Taijiqusn, or Taiji dance, practiced by most people today. I discovered from classical sources that Zhang San Feng’s Taijiquan, which was called Wudang Shaolin Kungfu at his time, was characterised by the dragon, and not the snake.

                            (Part 3 follows)
                            Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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                            • #44
                              "The Five-Animal Set course is going to be exciting. Whether you are going to specialise in the set, or even just to practice it, you going to learn the latest developmental state of our art."

                              (Continued from Part 2)

                              The leopard is not normally found in our school simply because we perform our kungfu movements with internal force, symbolised by the tiger. If we perform the same movements with external strength, from the perspective of inner meaning of the Shaolin five animals, our tiger becomes a leopard.

                              Another manifestation of the leopard is speed. If your kungfu movements are very fast, you manifest a characteristic of the leopard. However, if you high speed is due to chi flow, where the mind is a crucial factor, we call it dragon-speed instead of leopard-speed. If you are flabbergasted by such terms, remember that kungfu is alive, and kungfu terms are used for convenience, and not restricted definitions.

                              One of my earliest introductions to the inner meaning of the Shaolin five animals was from a classic, “Illustrated Explanation of Genuine Shaolin Kungfu”, released from the past to modern readers by Sifu Li Ying Erng. I bought this book quite early, when I was learning from Uncle Righteousness. But I understood its inner significance much later, after I had learned from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam.

                              This classic was about the Shaolin Five-Animal Set. What struck me impressively was that almost all the illustrations looked alike. One could not tell, for example, a tiger form from a crane form, or any animal form from any other animal form.

                              Then, in a flash of inspiration, I realised its significance. The significance lies not in its outward form but in its inner manifestations. The external form may be similar, it is how the external form is used in training that is important. If the form is used to train internal force, it is a tiger form. If the same form is used to train elegance, it is a crane-form.

                              This realisation adds a new dimension to many other things. I can’t remember now whether this realisation came before or after another realisation that the 12 different types of bridge force in Shaolin Iron Wire, or the 8 different types of force in Taijiquan were the same force but used differently, probably before, but they were closely related.

                              It also led to a later very important realisation that it was not the type of exercise in chi kungfu training, i.e. the technique, that overcame illness, but how the exercise was performed, i.e. the skill, that was of utmost importance. As we know very well, sometimes to the extent of wondering why other people can’t understand it, many other people practice the same chi kung exercises we practice, but they have no result, but we have too much result that we have to tell our students not to over-train.

                              The Five-Animal Set course is going to be exciting. Whether you are going to specialise in the set, or even just to practice it, you are going to learn the latest developmental state of our art.

                              <End>
                              Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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                              • #45
                                Thank you Sifu for this wonderful answer

                                How many people around the world have benefitted from those late hours you spent on the manuscript ...not even to mention those who have learned from you directly after reading the book!
                                I know that reading Art of Shaolin Kungfu along with Chi Kung for Health and Vitality changed my life.

                                Austria is very lucky to be having this course
                                Sifu Andy Cusick

                                Shaolin Wahnam Thailand
                                Shaolin Qigong

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

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