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Shaolin Five-Animal Set - 10 Questions to Grandmaster Wong

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  • #46
    Austria is very lucky to be having this course
    Very lucky indeed!

    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.
    Thank you Sigung for this explanation!

    With gratitude
    Andrea
    Enjoy some Wahnam Tai Chi Chuan & Qi Gong!

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    • #47
      Nice

      Hey Folks,
      I just want to add my thanks for the info in this thread and of course to Sifu's answers. They give a more structured depth to one of my favourite animal sets

      Peace

      Mark
      Sifu Mark Appleford

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      • #48
        The Shaolin Five-Animal Set is extremely versatile, covering differnt kinds of force training methods, combat application on various levels, special skills and of course different animal spirits. Find out more about these features in answer to Dr Damian Siheng's question No. 9!

        Question 9

        The Shaolin 5-Animal Sets (Solo Pattern Set and Partner Combination Sparring Set) cover all categories of combat (strikes, kicks, felling, qin-na , dim-mak), train various essences/spirits, involve tactics/strategies and incorporate force training (eg the repeated pattern of "Dragon Emerges from Sea").

        Comparing the old southern Shaolin temples and Shaolin Wahnam: is the force training (to back up the 5-Animal techniques) similar and may we have a glimpse of the various force training methods?

        And is moving meditation (eg doing swerving dragon patterns with presence of mind) more effective than sitting meditation in training the Dragon spirit (ie mind or shen) for combat? I presume the old warrior-monks were more combat efficient than us because they invested time in both sitting and moving meditation whilst we modern Shaolin Wahnam practitioners do more of the dynamic aspect but nevertheless have more time for leisure like watching kungfu movies.

        Dr Damian Kissey


        Answer

        It may be interesting to give an example each of how the Five-Animal Solo Pattern Set of the Five-Animal Combination Sparring Set to train the special feature you've mentioned in the question. It is easier to use the Solo Pattern Set to train the features, and also easier to name the examples. We can also use the Combination Sparring Set to train special features, especially when we practice the Combination Sparring Set like a solo pattern set, like we do when we practice combination application set such as Black Tier Steals Heart and Fierce Tiger Speeds through Valley.

        However, the Combination Sparring Set is effective for confirming the application of a particular feature after a practitioner has trained it. For example, after training the stickers of a dragon form, he may confirm its application with the Combination Sparring Set.

        The following list gives an example each of a feature and how it is trained using a pattern from the Five-Animal Solo Pattern Set.

        Strike — Golden Leopard Speeds Through Forest
        Kick — Crane Stands Amongst Cockerels
        Felling — Green Dragon Shoots Pearl
        Qin-Na — White Tiger Presents Claws
        Dim-Mark —Swimming Dragon Plays with Water
        Dragon Essence — Dragon’s Chi Across Stream
        Snake Essence — Poisonous Snake Shoots Venom
        Tiger Essence — Hungry Tiger Catches Goat
        Leopard Essence — Golden Leopard Watches Fire
        Crane Essence — Well-Fed Reincarnated Crane
        First Defence Then Counter — Single Tiger Emerges from Cave followed by Black Tiger Steals Heart
        Defence-cum-Counter — White Snake Crosses Valley
        No-Defence-Direct-Counter — Crane Drinks Besides Stream
        Sound East Strike West — Golden Leopard Speeds through Lotus
        Tempt Opponent to Emptiness — Poisonous Snake Strikes Vital Points
        Go Along the Bridge — Fierce Dragon Across Stream
        Force Method — Fierce Dragon Descends Mountain
        Flow Method — Spiritual Dragon Rises Towards Sky
        Triple Stretch Method — Single Dragon Emerges from Sea

        Yes, the force training methods we use in the Five-Animal Set in Shaolin Wahnam are similar to those used in the two southern Shaolin Temples at Quanzhou and on the Nine-Lotus Mountain. The force training methods in Shaolin Wahnam are those I learned from my four sifus — Uncle Righteousness, Sifu Chee Kim Thong, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam and Sifu Choe Hoong Choy. The lineages of my four sifus are traced back directly to the two southern Shaolin Temples. Some of what I learned from Sifu Chee Kim Thpmg and Sifu Ho Fatt Nam can also be traced to the northern Shaolin Temple at Henan,

        Yes, we may have a glimpse of the force training methods. We can use the three force training methods mentioned above as examples.

        (Part 2 follows)
        Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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        • #49
          Sifu completes his answer with force training methods and a comparison to the old scholar-warrior monks.

          (Continued from Part 1)

          The Force Method was learnt from Uncle Righteousness, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam and Sifu Choe Hoong Choy. When I learned Black Tiger Steals Heart from Uncle Righteousness (I used the vertical fist then instead of the level fist), I learned to consolidate internal force at my fists. When I learned Siu Lin Tou from Sifu Choe Hoong Choy, I learned to consolidate internal force at my palms.

          The Flow Method was learnt from Sifu Chee Kim Thong and Sifu Ho Fatt Nam. When I learned San Zhan from Sifu Chee Kim Thong, I learned the Flow Method. My siheng, Sifu Chee Boon Leong who taught me San Zhan on behalf of his father, constantly reminded me not to use muscular strength. When I learned the Seven-Star Set from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, I learned the Flow Method. The nature of the set was such that the movements were flowing and I did not use muscular strength.

          When I learned San Zhan from Sifu Chee Kim Thong, due to my ignorance, I did not have internal force because I lacked the necessary skills though I had excellent techniques. It was later when I could develop internal force after learning from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, especially jn One-Finger Shooting Zen, that I could transfer the necessary skills to develop internal force using the techniques of San Zhan.

          When I was learning the Seven-Star Set from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, I had not crystallised the concept of flowing force. I had flowing force practicing the Seven-Star Set, though I did not understand its underlying philosophy then, because of my skills in performing One-Finger Shooting Zen. It took me many years to formulate the underlying philosophy, but students attending the coming course of the Five-Animal Set will take only a few days to learn and apply the philosophy to develop flowing force and other types of internal force.

          When I learned the Flower Set, the Triple Stretch Set and the Dragon Strength Set from Uncle Righteousness, I learned the techniques of Triple Stretch Method, but I could not develop internal force yet. It was after I had the necessary skills learning One-Finger Shooting Zen from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam that I could develop internal force using the Triple Stretch Method. It took me many years to do so, but students attending the Five-Animal Set course will be able to do so in just a few days!

          I don’t know whether moving meditation or sitting meditation is more effective in training the dragon spirit, i.e. mind or shen, for combat. But I believe that if all other things were equal, sitting meditation is more effective. I recall my sifu, Sifu Ho Fatt Nan, telling me that to reach the highest attainment in mind training, one must practice sitting meditation. I also recall that one of the greatest Japanese swordsmen, Yagyu Tajima no Kami, was invincible in combat not by practicing his sword techniques but by practicing sitting meditation.

          But all other things are not equal. Our Shaolin Wahnam students, I believe, are more skilful in mind training than other practitioners. Moreover, our students understand the underlying philosophy of both meditation and combat, and apply it in their training. So our students have better results using standing mediation than other practitioners using sitting meditation.

          I agree with you that although we may be more cost-effective, old scholar-warriors were more combat efficient than us because they invested more time than us in their training, but not necessary that they practiced both sitting and moving meditation and we practice only moving meditation.

          There are a few good reasons why we do not practice sitting meditation. One important reason is that our purpose and need of our training are different from those of old scholar-warriors. We do not aim to nor is it necessary for us to fight like what the old scholar-warriors did. The purpose and the need of our training are to enrich our daily life, fortunately almost never without actual combat. We also have enjoyment, like watching kungfu movies, which old scholar-warriors did not have.

          <End>
          Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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          • #50
            Many many thanks to our dear Sifu

            and thank you very much Brother Leo

            Best wishes to All in daily life and kungfu
            Damian Kissey
            Shaolin Wahnam Sabah , Malaysia .
            www.shaolinwahnamsabah.com

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            • #51
              Originally posted by Damian Kissey View Post
              Many many thanks to our dear Sifu

              and thank you very much Brother Leo

              Best wishes to All in daily life and kungfu


              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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              • #52
                We are approaching the last of Sifu's answers in this wonderful series:

                Question 10

                How are traditional sets like the Dragon Strength Set, the Flower Set and the Triple Stretch Set related to the Five-Animal Set? Which of the five animals are represented or dominant in the traditional sets mentioned?

                Sifu Roland Mastel


                Answer

                If the traditional sets are from Southern Shaolin Kungfu, they are related to the Five-Animal Set because the Five-Animal Set is representative of these Southern Shaolin sets. If the traditional sets are not from Southern Shaolin Kungfu, like the 12 Sequences of Northern Shaolin Tantui, the Five Elemental Fist of Xingyiquan, the 50 Sequences of Eagle Claw, the Eighteen-Collection of Praying Mantis, the Drunken Eight Immortals of Taoist Kungfu, the 108-Pattern Yang Style Taijiquan Set and the Sun Style Taijiquan Set, are not directly related to the Five-Animal Set though there may be indirect influence.

                The internal force of Tantui, for example, came from Eighteen-Lohan Art of Northern Shaolin Kungfu which later influenced the development of the Five-Animal Set in Southern Shaolin Kungfu. Much of Yang Style Taijiquan adapted the snake form and the snake spirit which were crystallised in the Five-Animal Set. The examples of traditional sets you mentioned, namely the Dragon Strength Set, the Flower Set and the Triple Stretch Set, are from Southern Shaolin Kungfu, and are therefore closely related to the Five-Animal Set.

                It is worthy of note that unlike the Eighteen-Lohan Fist which was the prototype of Northern Shaolin Kungfu, the Five-Animal Set was not the prototype of Southern Shaolin Kungfu, although the Five-Animal Set contained the characteristics of Southern Shaolin Kungfu. As Southern Shaolin Kungfu evolved from Northern Shaolin Kungfu, we may also say that Eighteen-Lohan Fist was also the prototype of Southern Shaolin Kungfu, thought Southern Shaolin Kungfu has evolved so much in its long history that a typical Southern Shaolin kungfu set is very different from an early version of Eighteen-Lohan Fist.

                In other words, the first Shaolin Kungfu set from which countless other kungfu sets evolved from in its long history, was the earliest version of Eighteen-Lohan Fist. Over many centuries, countless other kungfu sets evolved, but these sets were built upon the structure and designs of other earlier sets which eventually led back to the first kungfu set of Eighteen-Lohan Fist. When Yue Fei, for example, invented the 50 Sequences of Eagle Claw, he did not start from scratch. He based his Eagle Claw Kungfu on kungfu sets he had learnt from his teacher, Zhou Tong, and these kungfu sets eventually led to the first Shaolin kungfu set which was Eighteen-Lohan Fist.

                In the Dragon Strength Set the dominant Shaolin animal is, of course, the dragon — in both form and essence. But the other animals are also present, especially in their essence if not in form. This is to be expected as the Dragon Strength Set is a typical traditional Southern Shaolin set, and the Five-Animal Set is characteristic of Southern Shaolin Kungfu.

                There are not many other animal forms in Dragon Strength besides the dominant dragon form. The snake form is represented by such patterns like Circulating Soft Bridge and Beauty Looks at Mirror though the term “snake” is not used in the pattern name. The tiger form is represented in patterns like Black Tiger Steals Heart and Fierce Tiger Pushes Mountain. The leopard form is represented in patterns like Reverse Head Hand Sweep and Hide Flower in Moon. The crane form is represented in patterns like Yellow Bird Drinks Water and White Crane Flaps Wings.

                What is more important is the essence of the Shaolin animals. The most important, of course, is the dragon spirit in the training of mind. The spirit of the other Shaolin animals in the circulation of energy, developing of internal force, speed and elegance of form and movement are found throughout the set.

                All the Shaolin five animals, especially their essence, are also found in the Flower Set. In terms of form, the two most dominant animals are the snake and the crane. You will notice that the snake and the crane are the softest of the Shaolin five animals.

                Taijiquan, especially Yang Style Taijiquan, is also dominated by the snake and the crane. Yet the outward form as well as inner essence of Taijiquan and Flower Set are quite different. Both Flower Set and 108-Pattern Yang Style Taijiquan Set are soft and flowing, but relatively the Taijiquan set is more so. This is because of the frequent presence of the dragon in the Flower Set.

                (Part 2 follows)
                Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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                • #53
                  "Those who attend the course on the Five-Animal Set will learn the philosophy, techniques and skills to derive the benefits manifested by the Shaolin five animals, and in a very short time."

                  (Continued from Part 1)

                  In the Flower Set, the dragon form is represented by patterns like Single Dragon Emerges from Sea and Swimming Dragon Plays with Water. The snake form is represented by patterns like Beauty Looks at Mirror and Leak-Hand Hand-Sweep. The tiger form, which is less frequent, is represented by patterns like Big Boss Offers Wine and Black Tiger Steals Heart. The leopard form is represented by patterns like Golden Leopard Enters Rock and Lift Pot Offers Wine. The crane form is represented by patterns like Phoenix Flaps Wings and Double Continuous Kick.

                  As in all great kungfu, it is the inner essence of the Shaolin five animals that is more important than their outward form. As in all great Southern Shaolin kungfu sets, in the Flower Set all the five types of essence crystallised as training of mind, circulating of energy, developing of internal force, speed and elegance of form and movements are found in the set, with the predominance of flowing energy and elegant movements.

                  This is also an important reason why any kungfu practitioner should not miss the course on the Five-Animal Set. He (or she) will learn how to apply the outward forms of the set to develop all these five types of essence, which he can use for any kungfu sets or to enrich his daily life.

                  While the Flower Set is soft and flowing, the Triple Stretch Set is hard and consolidated. These features are, of course, relative. There is also much hardness and consolidation in the Flower Set, and much softness and flow in the Triple Stretch Set, whereas others who are ignorant of these features, which is the great majority of kungfu practitioners, only perform the outward forms of these sets for demonstration, and use Kick-Boxing for sparring. More significantly, we transfer these features to enrich our daily life.

                  The dominant Shaolin animals of the Triple Stretch Set are the dragon and the tiger, manifested in both their outward form and their inner essence. The form and essence of the other Shaolin animals are also present, though less frequent.

                  The dragon form in the Triple Stretch Set is represented by patterns like Double Dragons Emerge from Sea and Double Butterflies Flying. The snake form is represented by patterns like Beauty Looks at Mirror and Immortal Points the Way. The tiger form is represented by patterns like Single Tiger Claw and Black Tiger Steals Heart. The leopard form is represented by patterns like Hungry Leopard Charges at Fire and Comet Chases Moon. The crane form is represented by patterns like Phoenix Flaps Wings and Lazy Man Waves Fan.

                  It should be noted that assigning a particular animal form to a particular pattern, like saying that the crane form is found in the pattern Lazy Man Waves Fan, is arbitrary. When we are skilful we can use the same pattern to develop other types of essence, like using Lazy Man Waves Fan to train mind, in which case we may assign the dragon to this pattern, or use the same pattern to circulate energy, in which case we may assign it the snake.

                  Even when a particular pattern is characterised by a particular animal form, like White Crane Flaps Wings, we may use it to develop the essence of other animals. We may, for example, use White Crane Flaps Wings to train mind or to circulate energy. In this case we have the outward form of a crane but the inner essence of a dragon or a snake. Not many people have this high level of skills, or even the knowledge.

                  As expected, all the different types of essence as symbolised by the Shaolin five animals are present in the Triple Stretch Set, with the dominance of mind training and internal force as the essence of the dragon and the tiger.

                  Would someone who has no knowledge and experience of these external forms and internal essence gain from these benefits as manifested by the Shaolin five animals? In other words, if a practitioner does not know the philosophy and does not have the skills as manifested by the Shaolin five animals be able to train his mind, circulate his energy, develop internal force, have speed and elegance in his performance by practicing the Triple Stretch Set or any traditional kungfu set?

                  No, he would not. In fact, the great majority of those who practice kungfu do not even know how to apply their kungfu for combat, which is the basic benefit of practicing kungfu. Some kungfu practitioners may be able to perform their kungfu fast and elegantly if they have practiced for a long time, but it is most unlikely they will enhance their mind power, be able to manage their energy or develop internal force.

                  On the other hand, we in Shaolin Wahnam are very lucky. Those who attend the course on the Five-Animal Set will learn the philosophy, techniques and skills to derive the benefits manifested by the Shaolin five animals, and in a very short time.

                  <End>
                  Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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                  • #54
                    What a wonderful series of question and answers!

                    We are very looking forward to dive deeper into the animal spirits at the Shaolin Five-Animal Set course in Vienna next month and reap the manifold benefits of this precious and versatile set.

                    I’m sure the participants of the course will come back to this modern classic after the course and read your answers anew with a totally new understanding.

                    Thank you, Sifu, for your generosity in teaching us and for answering our questions!

                    Best wishes,

                    Leo
                    Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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                    • #55
                      Dear Leo Siheng,

                      Thank you for staring this thread. I'm really enjoying reading the question and answers of this thread and am still reading them

                      Thanks to all those who asked the questions and of course to Sifu for his generosity for sharing his wisdom.

                      I wish ye all the very best for the up coming course

                      Shaolin Salute,
                      Brendan

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                      • #56
                        Thank you Sifu and Leo.

                        I remember a few years back, when the idea was that instructors and seniors would specialise in either Dragon, Monkey, Tiger-Crane, Dragon-Tiger or Shaolin Five Animals, and then Sifu would run a Special Intensive Course for this, I always thought if I ever get that far, the set I will pick is the Five Animals.

                        Watching the video on the website I still love that set, wish I was going!

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