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Shaolin Five-Animal Set - 10 Questions to Grandmaster Wong

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  • drunken boxer
    replied
    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!

    Leave a comment:


  • brendan
    replied
    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

    Leave a comment:


  • Leo Shaolin
    replied
    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

    Leave a comment:


  • Leo Shaolin
    replied
    "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>

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  • Leo Shaolin
    replied
    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)

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  • Andy
    replied
    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


    Leave a comment:


  • Damian Kissey
    replied
    Many many thanks to our dear Sifu

    and thank you very much Brother Leo

    Best wishes to All in daily life and kungfu

    Leave a comment:


  • Leo Shaolin
    replied
    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>

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  • Leo Shaolin
    replied
    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)

    Leave a comment:


  • Mark A
    replied
    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

    Leave a comment:


  • Andrea
    replied
    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

    Leave a comment:


  • Andy
    replied
    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

    Leave a comment:


  • Leo Shaolin
    replied
    "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>

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  • Leo Shaolin
    replied
    “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)

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  • Leo Shaolin
    replied
    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)

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