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10 Questions on Cosmos Palm

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  • #46
    Question 9 deals with specialized arts/skills from one style and if they cross-over to other styles. Sifu's answer highlights the results of training for energy flow vs. energy consolidation, and is a great reminder of how lucky we are in Shaolin Wahnam to often times train both, together. Sifu's answer also is a great reminder not to miss a special opportunity, even if it seems to fall outside of your chosen art (i.e. Taijiquan students taking a special Shaolin course, or Shaolin students taking a unique Taijiquan course). Once learned, the skills can be universally applied, but if you miss the opportunity, the skills may never be learned in the first place!

    Question 9 -
    Has Cosmos Palm ever been taught in an exclusively Taijiquan setting previously?

    Is it possible for Cosmos Palm to manifest over a period of time when training Taijiquan?

    How would Cosmos Palm enhance a Taijiquan practitioners' skills in Pushing Hands?

    Sifu Kevin Barry
    Sifu's answer to question 9 -
    I am very glad that you ask this question for Taijiquan practitioners.

    It is helpful to have some background knowledge so as to better understand the answer to this question. As I have often mentioned, kungfu terms and chi kung terms are for convenience. This realization is of particular importance to Westerners, because some Westerners often think of any terms as being definite, like scientific terms.

    When we talk of Taijiquan setting, for example, we use the term “Taiji1uan setting” for convenience. Different people from different times and places may have different concepts of what a Taijiquan setting is. A Chinese living at the time of Yang Lu Chan, for example, would think of Taijiquan as hard and fast, quite similar to Shaolin Kungfu we practice in our school. A European living in the present time would think of Taijquan as slow and graceful, usually without combat application, like what is commonly practiced as Yang Style Taijiquan. Taijiquan setting to them would be the setting in which their concept of Taijiquan is being practiced.

    When we use a scientific term, like a fish, we define it with certain conditions. Whatever that falls outsides these conditions, we will not scientifically call it a fish. A whale, being a mammal, is scientifically not a fish. But many people, Westerners or otherwise, call a whale a fish, because actually many people use terms for convenience. Yet, it is helpful to be aware of possible different interpretation of terms, particularly in the answer to this question.

    If we take Taijiquan setting as conceptualized by most people today, Cosmos Palm has never been taught in this setting. Many people today, including many Taiji practitioners, do not consider Taijiquan a martial art.

    We in Shaolin Wahnam are in a minority. Not only we consider Taijiquan a martial art, our concept of Taijiquan is also quite different from that of others who also regard Taijiquan as a martial art. At the same time we apply the benefits of Taijiquan in non-martial aspects in our daily life.

    Even when we take this concept, Cosmos Palm has never been taught in an exclusive Taijiquan setting. This does not mean that Cosmos Palm is not useful in Taijiquan. Cosmos Palm is very useful in Taijiquan for both combat and non-combat purposes. It just happens that Taijiquan masters do not, and Taijiquan masters in the past did not, practice Cosmos Palm. Cosmos Palm is a very secretive art. Even less secretive arts like Iron Palm and Iron Fist are not practiced in Taijiquan. We are indeed very lucky in Shaolin Wahnam that our students had a chance to learn it.

    When training Taijiquan over a period of a long time, like after 20 years, some high level Taijiquan masters may develop Cotton Palm, but it is unlikely they will develop Cosmos Palm because they do not know how to consolidate force. In other words, no matter for how long a Taijiquan practitioner trains, he will never develop Cosmos Palm. As an analogy, no matter for how long a swimmer who uses crawl or breast-stroke trains, he will never be able to use butterfly-stroke.

    For the very rare Taijiquan practitioners who know Cosmos Palm, it will certainly enhance his skills in Pushing Hands. He may let his energy flow and be very perceptive not only of this opponent’s movement but also his intention. He is so perceptive that he knows the opponent’s movement before the opponent makes a move.

    He may consolidate his energy so that his opponent cannot even move him. No matter what the opponent does, he remains like a solid rock. By exploding force, he can let his opponent fly back many feet, or be seriously damage on the spot.

    Cosmos Palm is a very high-level rare art. It is not only excellent for combat, but also excellent for health, vitality, longevity, peak performance and spiritual joys. Those who missed the course, irrespective of whether they are Taijiquan practitioners, just missed the opportunity.



    • #47
      Thank you Sigung for the wonderful and enlightening answer.

      And thank you to Sisook Matt for the thread and organising what sounded like an extraordinary course.

      All the best,



      • #48
        Question 10 is general, but is a fantastic way to wrap up this Q&A, and is a great bookend to a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime course. Sifu's answers remind us how special Cosmos Palm is, and how truly blessed we are to have this art in our school.

        Question 10 -
        Would you be willing to talk about the history and nature of Cosmos palm? Was it passed on to us by the Venerable Jiang Nan as his specialized skill? How does Cosmos Palm fit into the grand scheme of Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung?

        Sifu's answer, part 1 -
        The question: Would you be willing to talk about the history and nature of Cosmos Palm?

        My answer: Yes, I would be willing.

        Having answered this question, I can go to the other questions, but I shall spend some time talking about the history and nature of Cosmos Palm.

        I don’t know exactly when Cosmos Palm started. No one knows for sure, because it depends on how he defines Cosmos Palm, even when he takes the consensus of what Cosmos Palm generally is.

        It is quite different from a type of questions like ”In what year Christopher Columbus discovered America?” As many of us know (many may not know, and most may not be interested) the answer is 1492.

        If we want to split hair, or to have fun, we may argue that Christopher Columbus did not discover America; he saw (but did not land on them) some islands in the West Indies. Other people may argue that there had been a lot of people living in America long before Christopher Columbia was born.

        Coming back to Cosmos Palm, I believe it existed long ago, even before Shaolin Kungfu was established in the 6th century CE. Warriors on horseback during the Period of Warring States, which was between the 5th and 3rd centuries BCE, would have used cosmic energy in their hands to hold their heavy weapons, though they probably did not call their skills or abilities Cosmos Palm.

        At the early period of Shaolin Kungfu, which was long after the Warring States, but longer before the present time, some high-level Shaolin monks would have Cosmos Palm, and they called their art Cosmos Palm. But the art was a top secret. Not only it was not taught to kungfu practitioners outside the Shaolin Monastery no matter how advanced they might be, it was taught only to very few selected disciples in the monastery.

        In later years, Cosmos Palm was known as Red Sand Palm. In some kungfu literature in English it was sometimes called Cinnabar Palm, because “red sand” in Chinese means cinnabar in English.

        I also believe that Cosmos Palm was the forerunner of Cotton Palm. Some high-level Taoist priests on Wudang Mountain focused on flowing force when they practiced Cosmos Palm, and eventually subsequent high-level masters just used flowing force in their practice, resulting in Cotton Palm.

        The nature of Cosmos Palm is that the force is flowing, but is consolidated when needed for combat. Hence, the palms of a Cosmos Palm master iaresoft and gentle. In Cotton Palm, masters discovered that they might not need to consolidate their force, their flowing force is powerful enough to cause serious injury to their opponents.

        There may be different methods in developing flowing force and consolidating force. Because of different emphasis, the nature of Cosmos Palm and Cotton Palm may be different.

        As the force of a Cosmos Palm master is generally flowing, it contributes greatly to good health, vitality, longevity, peak performance and spiritual joys. The results are intrinsic. In other words, there is no need for a Cosmos Palm practitioner to be concerned how to use his flowing force for good health, or to be happy. Nevertheless, if he is aware of this fact, and also is able to transfer the force to daily use, as we do in Shaolin Wahnam, his benefits will be much enhanced.

        (Part 2 follows)


        • #49
          Sifu's answer to question 10, part 2 -
          (Continued from Part 1)

          Although my sifu, Sify Ho Fatt Nam, did not specifically mention it, I believe our Cosmos Palm was passed down to us by the Venerable Jiang Nan. Cosmos Palm is a Shaolin art. It is not found in any other styles of kungfu, and certainly not in any other martial arts. The Venerable Jiang Nan was a very high-level Shaolin monk. The two specific exercises that my sifu taught me to develop flowing energy and to consolidate energy – Pushing Mountain and Forceful Big Windmill – are also from Shaolin.

          When one practices Cosmos Palm, he already practices Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung. Said in modern day mathematical terms, Cosmos Palm is a sub-set of the set of Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung. As an analogy, man (of course, that includes woman) is a subset of mammal.

          In terms of benefits, those who have Cosmos Pall will have more benefits, quantitatively and qualitatively, than those who practice general exercises of Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung. Quantitatively, a Cosmos Palm practitioner can injure an opponent without leaving any external mark, but a general chi kung practitioner of Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung cannot. Qualitatively, by practicing Cosmos Palm he has better benefit for health than a general chi kung practitioner.

          While it is not necessary, but it is extremely helpful for a practitioner to practice simpler and more elementary Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung exercises before attempting specific exercises for Cosmos Palm.

          Can someone start practicing Cosmos Palm if he has no previous Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung or any chi kung experience. He can, but he will take a long time to accomplish the art of Cosmos Palm, even if he has learned the techniques.

          By the way, Shaolin Wahnam family members can easily understand this statement, but most other people may not. It is the failure to understand the philosophy of this statement that more than 80% of chi kung practitioners all over the world do not enjoy chi kung benefits, and more than 90% of kungfu practitioners cannot use their kungfu for combat despite having practiced chi kung or kungfu for years. They only practice chi kung and kungfu techniques, but do not have the necessary skills.

          For a fresh beginner, the first few years of Cosmos Palm training is meant to make him healthy, and build up his force for his Cosmos Palm. For another person who is already health, his training starts to build up his force. For a third person who is already healthy and has a lot of force, his Cosmps Palm training teaches him how to apply his Cosmos Palm.

          Can a sick person start Cosmos Palm training? He can if he has a very good teacher. Unfortunately, most teachers, in terms of attaining the purposes of kungfu training, are bad. They teach techniques, which are sometimes injurious to health, but never teaches skills. In practical terms, Cosmos Palm training will aggravate his sickness.

          It is more cost-effective for a sick person to overcome his sickness first by practicing simpler and more elementary Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung exercises, or other medical chi kung exercises like the Eighteen Jewels and Five-Animal Play. Similarly, if a person wants to see his friend across a street, it is easier for him to walk than to drive his car.



          • #50
            Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

            To Sifu - for agreeing to teach this course, even if you said "yes" before intellectually processing my request. Divine guidance at its best!

            To everyone lucky enough to attend the course - course organizers have the amazingly opportunity to think of dream courses, propose them to Sifu, and if they are lucky enough, be able to host those dream courses. However, without Shaolin Wahnam students (veterans as well as first-timers) willing to register, travel across the country/continent/ocean, attend the course, and then practice on their own at home, these dream courses would never materialize. It was a perfect group for a course like this, and it was my pleasure to host you all!

            To everyone that submitted questions on this thread - Life is full of choices and responsibilities. Some were lucky enough, and able, to make the choice to attend this course. For them, your questions and Sifu's answers will be a wonderful reference in their Cosmos Palm training - a guide that can be returned to over and over as new layers of skills are exposed with training. For those that were not able to, or chose not to, attend the course, your questions and Sifu's answers give a glimpse into advanced Shaolin arts, may serve as inspiration to attend future courses, and are just entertaining for anyone that loves Kungfu.

            Thank you everyone that took advantage of this wonderful Q&A and once-in-a-lifetime, amazing course!