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Thread: 10 Question on "Essence of Shaolin"

  1. #31
    Andrew's Avatar
    Andrew is offline Sifu Andrew Barnett - Chief Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Switzerland
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    Klosters, Switzerland
    Many thanks for the insightful answer, Sifu.
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  2. #32
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Austria, Vienna

    Answer 7 part 1

    Dear Shaolin Wahnam Family,

    let's start read the fantastic answers to our question number 7.

    Here we go:

    Question 7

    As you have modified the Dragon Strength Set, did you also modify the Essence of Shaolin? If yes, could you please explain the differences? If no, could you please explain why?

    You have mentioned that you specialized in the Dragon Strength Set, then what about the Essence of Shaolin?

    How did the Essence of Shaolin affect your personal and kungfu development?

    If you would ascribe an animal style to the Essence of Shaolin Set, what animal(s) would it be and why?

    As there is no specific internal force part in the Essence of Shaolin, what kind internal force training, like One Finger Shooting Zen, Cosmos Palm, Iron Wire, Grasping Sparrow´s Tail, Dantien Breathing, would fit best?

    During the Dragon Strength Course we have learned Dim Mark, Dragon Force and Lightning Speed. What skills will be taught during the Essence of Shaolin Course?

    Sifu Anton Schmick


    Yes, I have also modified the Essense of Shaolin set. As I progressed in my understanding of kungfu, I made modifications according to my new understanding. This includes a deeper understanding of the classics. I am lucky to have a little classic on the Essence of Shaolin. Initially I could not understand many of the applications described in this classic. But as my understanding grew, I could understand better. So I made modifications to bring out the applications.

    For example, in Pattern 11, Double Dragons Embrace Pearl, I could understand that the pattern was not just a double punch as outwardly shown, but gripping an opponent’s head even from behind. At first I did not understand the combat application of Pattern 13, Double Dragons Subdue Serpent, but later I knew it was dislocating an opponent’s wrist.

    I also made modifications to meet expedient needs. Originally Pattern 3, Dragons Return to Cave, was performed separately as a pattern by itself, i.e. a practitioner performed just that one pattern. But I incorporated it into the main flow of the set as a continuation of a sequence.

    Nevertheless, tha main structure of the set remains the same as I learned it.

    I specialized in a few sets. Essence of Shaolin is one of them. However if I were to compare which set I specialized more than the other, I would say the Dragon Strength Set. This is relative, and it does not mean that I do not specialize in Essence of Shaolin.

    The combat applications in Essence of Shaolin are very sophisticated, though some techniques may look common-place. When they are used on opponents,
    the opponents have no chance to escape, unless he is very, very skillful So I seldom used them in free sparring or real fighting. I did not need to use them because I could defeat my opponents using simpler techniques like those found in Dragon Strength.

    The Essence of Shaolin have great effect on my personal as well as kungfu development. A main reason why I could know the combat application of any patterns, including those I saw the first time, was because of my training in Essence of Shaolin. The combat applications of Essence of Shaolin are sophisticated or marvelous. Once I know these applications, all other combat applications became easy.

    This ability in kungfu helped me greatly in my daily life. Because I was trained in sophisticated or marvelous applications of techniques in Essence of Shaolin, I could transfer this skill to daily living. Things or events that appeared to be complicated, became clear and easy. Many people were kind to comment that I could see situations wisely. I believe this ability owed much to my training in Essence of Shaolin.

    (Paet 2 follows)

  3. #33
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    May 2015
    Austria, Vienna

    Answer 7 part 2

    Dear Shaolin Wahnam Family,

    let's go over to part 2. Enjoy it.

    With shaolin salute,

    (Continued from Part 1)

    As the Essence of Shaolin set comprise of the best techniques in Shaolin Kungfu, all major Shaolin animals are represented, although the animals may not be mentioned by name. For example, the Snake is not mentioned, but certainly there are patterns manifesting the training of energy as represented by the Snake. In fact, in the hands of a master all the patterns in the set is a training of energy.

    The most commonly met animals are the Dragon, the Tiger and the Crane. The word “Crane” may not be mentioned often, but elegance of movement and good balance, which are characteristics of the Crane patterns, are frequent.

    Describing an animal style to Essence of Shaolin will limit the set to a particular characteristic represented by the animal. It is best that being the essence of Shaolin techniques, the set trains all the characteristics represented by Shaolin Kungfu, Nevertheless, if I had to do so, I would choose the Dragon, which also happens to be the Shaolin animal that is most represented in the set.

    The Dragon trains mind, or spirit. It is the most important and influential of all the characteristics represented by various animals. If a practitioner is good at other characteristics, like energy training represented by the Snake, internal force represented by the Tiger, speed represented by the Leopard, or elegance represented by the Crane, but lacks presence of mind or spirit he will be much compromised.

    Unlike some Southern Shaolin sets like Triple Stretch, Flower Set and Dragon Strength, there is no special section for internal force training in Essence of Shaolin. There is also no special section for internal force training in many Northern Shaolin sets, like Seven-Star, Eighteen Collection of Praying Mantis, and the 50 sequences of Eagle Claw Kungfu. Indeed, for some time I wondered how great masters like Hou Yun Jia and Wang Zi Ping, who specialized in Shaolin Tantui, had so much internal force. Later I discovered that their internal force came from training the Eighteen Lohan Art.

    It is the same for Essence of Shaolin. Practitioners of Essence of Shaolin have to practice other methods of internal force training to develop their internal force. Personally I believe One-Finger Shooting Zen will fit best. If a practitioner practices One-Finger Shooting Zen, by the time he has the rare opportunity to learn Essence of Shaolin, he would have much internal force.

    Apart from One-Finger Shooting Zen, any of the methods you have mentioned – Cosmos Palm, Iron Wire, Grasping Sparrow’s Tail, and Dan Tian Breathing -- will generate internal force. Other useful methods are Bone-Marrow Cleansing at the Muscle Level,, Cotton Palm various styles of Taijiquan, Lifting Water and Stance Training. We are indeed very lucky that we have so many methods to develop internal force.

    The Dragon Strength Course was fantastic. If a practitioner could learn only one of the three rare arts in five years, which were Dim Mark, Dragon Force and Lightning Speed, he would be extremely happy and grateful. Our course participants learned all the three arts in only five days! It was simply ridiculous, but true. Course participants who attended my Dragon Strength Course needed prior kungfu experience, but those who had the chance to learn any of these rare arts in five years also had prior kungfu experience. They were already at a master’s level.

    The special skill I shall teach at the Essence of Shaolin Course is to attain a marvelous level. Not many masters have a chance to attain a marvelous level; they would be happy if they could attain it after 20 years. Course participants at my Essence of Shaolin Course will attain it in 5 days! Again we are simply ridiculous. But we have been used to being ridiculous.


  4. #34
    Anton S.'s Avatar
    Anton S. is offline Sifu Anton Schmick - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Germany
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    Mar 2006
    Hamburg / Frankfurt / Zürich
    Dear Sigung,

    thank you very much for your answer!

    With best regards,
    Engage and maintain joyful practice!

    May all of you get the best benefits from what you do.

    Anton Schmick
    Shaolin Wahnam Germany Nord

  5. #35
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    May 2015
    Austria, Vienna

    Answer 8 part 1

    My dear Shaolin Wahnam Family,

    Sigung has kindy answered question 8 very fast, so let's start with part 1 of it.

    Enjoy and benefit from the answer. Here we go:

    Question 8

    If there is the essence of Shaolin, what is the essence of Shaolin?

    Sifu Roland Mastel


    It is useful to differentiate between “essence of Shaolin” with a small “e” for “essence”, and ”Essence of Shaolin” with a capital “E”.

    Essence of Shaolin with a small “e”. although a capital “E” is used here because it starts a sentence, refers to the best and distillation of various Shaolin arts. Different people following different Shaolin arts may prefer different essence.

    Essence of Shaolin with a capital “E” refers to a kungfu set that comprises the best techniques in Shaolin Kungfu.

    The three best known of the Shaolin arts are kungfu, chi kung, or neigong as known in the past, and Zen.

    Kungfu masters of all styles have referred to three ultimate arts, namely One-Finger Zen, Strike-Across-Space Palm, and Marvelous Fist. All these three are Shaolin arts.

    A One-Finger Zen master can dot the energy point of opponents within 36 steps. A Strike-Across-Space Palm master can injure opponents with his palm within 72 steps. A Marvelous Fist master could damage opponents with his fist within 108 steps. All the strikes are without physical contact.

    One may notice that the numbers 36, 72 and 108 are frequently used in the Shaolin arts. They are multiples of 18, which is in honour of the 18 Lohans.

    Although a Marvelous Fist master can injure opponents at a greater distance, One-Finger Zen is traditionally considered the most advanced of these three ultimate arts, , followed by Strike-Across-Space Palm. No reasons have been given. I believe it is due to kungfu tradition. The fingers are normally considered superior to the palm and the palm superior to the fist.

    Personally I believe that the internal force of a One-Finger Zen master can be used for healing, besides hurting. The palm may sometimes be used for healing. The fist is mainly used for striking.

    There are also three ultimate arts amongst the Shaolin arts. They are dim mark, chin-na and neigong, which are dotting energy points, gripping energy points, and internal arts. As I have ssid before, kungfu terms are for convenience. In this context, dim mark and chin-na are considered external, and neigong is internal.

    The classification here is that one can see the action of dim mark and chin-na, but not the working of neigong. Generally, external arts are concerned with combat, and internal arts with health.

    Hence, if we consider the essence of Shaolin kungfu, most informed people would refer to One-Finger Zen, Strike-Across-Space Palm and Marvelous Fist, or refer to dim mark and chin-na. In this context, neigong is not “kungfu”, i.e. for combat. It is a category by itself under chi kung, or neigong.

    Before we move onto chi kung, it is worthy to note that this description is subjective. Shaolin masters who specialize on their chosen arts will refer to their specialized arts as the essence of Shaolin Kungfu. A master who specializes on sweeping with his Iron Leg, would consider his Iron Leg the essence of Shaolin Kungfu.

    Shaolin Chi Kung, or Neigong, is the biggest school of chi kung known in the world. It has a very extensive range, starting from chi kung exercises like massaging the face and loosening leg muscles to merging with the Ultimate, or in Western terms, returning to God the Holy Spirit.

    Different people, understandably, would have different preference, and choose different arts as their essence. For those who are sick with so-called incurable diseases, their essence of Shaolin Chi Kung is to regain their good health. For those dying of cancer, for example, any chi kung exercise that can help them to recover is the essence of Shaolin.

    For those who have renounced their worldly lives, Shoalin chi kung exercises that can help them to merge with the Ultimate or return to God the Holy Spirit is the essence. For the majority who still live in the phenomenal world, Shaolin chi kung exercises that give them good health, vitality and longevity are the essence. We are indeed very lucky that in Shaolin Wahnam we have a whole range of chi kung exercises that serve our individual needs and aspirations.

    Not many people, including Zen practitioners, know that Zen came from Shaolin. There were six Zen patriarchs. All the first four patriarchs lived and taught at the Shaolin Monastery in Henan. The fifth and the sixth patriarch, Hong Ren and Hui Neng, went south, but they frequently returned to the monastery to pay homage.

    Zen means meditation, or training of mind or spirit. Zen is non-religious, i.e. any person of any religion or of no religion can practice and benefit from Zen.

    (Part 2 follows)

  6. #36
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Austria, Vienna

    Answer 8 part 2a

    Dear Shaolin Wahnam Family,

    good questions = excellent answers. I think that fits really good to our school.

    Why? That's why:

    (Continued from Part 1)

    As Zen is a training of mind, the essence of Zen concerns the best in both the mundane and the supra-mundane dimensions. In the mundane dimension, i.e. in the phenomenal realm, Zen training enables us to have better result no matter what we do! Just take a few seconds to reflect on this statement. Because you have trained your mind, no matter what you do, you will do better than if you had not trained your mind.

    In the supra-mundane dimension, i.e in the transcendental realm, Zen training enables you to accomplish the highest and most noble spiritual attainment, i.e. merging with the Supreme, or returning to God the Holy Spirit. It is not just words. Many of those who attended my advanced chi kung courses accomplished this highest and most noble attainment. But as we still live in the phenomenal realm, we come back to our world. It is very important that one must practice this highest level of Zen under the supervision of a master.

    Besides these three well known Shaolin arts of kungfu, chi kung and Zen, other lesser-known arts include calligraphy, Buddhist scriptures, poetry and Chinese medicine, especially traumatology or kungfu medicine. Perhaps it would be appropriate to use “included” in the past tense rather than “include” in the present tense, because the Shaolin Monastery is now a tourist attraction rather than a collection and distribution centre for the best arts of the Chinese civilization.

    The collection of stone tablets behind the main gate of the Monastery was regarded as the library of calligraphy. Writings of great calligraphers of all dynasties were engraved in the stone tables. One could find stone records of the calligraphy of any great calligraphers at the Shaolin Monastery.

    The monastery library housed a great collection of Buddhist scriptures, which unfortunately were burnt when a warlord attacked the Monastery in 1928, 11 years after the fall of the Qing Dynasty.

    By the way, this burning of the Shaolin Monastery in 1928 had nothing to do with kungfu, chi kung or Zen. The “burniong of the Shaolin Monastery” by the Qing army, often mentioned in kungfu circles, concerned the Shaolin Monastery at Quanzhou and later on the Nine-:Lotus Mountain. Our patriarchs, Jiang Nan and Chee Seen, escaped from the burning of the Shaolin Monastery at Quanzhou, which was associated with the infamous flying guillotines. Chi Seen built a secretive temple on the Nine-Lotus Mountain, and it was also burnt by the Qing army led by Pak Mei.

    Many poets spent some time at the Shaolin Monastery, and composed poetry there. The scenery at the Monastery was exquisite. I happen to have a book on Shaolin poetry.

    Chinese medicine, especially kungfu medicine, was well known, but was kept as a top secret. The medicine was mainly on treatment for internal injuries, dim mark and chin-na. I also happen to have two books on Shaolin medicine.

    What the essence of Shaolin on calligraphy, Buddhist scriptures, poetry or medicine is, will depend on who the seekers are. It can be said without any doubt that the forest of stone tablets at the Shaolin Monastery is the essence of calligraphy. Nowhere else in the whole world can one find a bigger or better collection.

    Let us now come to the Essence of Shaolin with a capital “E” for Essence. It is a kungfu set comprising 108 patterns in Shaolin Kungfu applied in a marvelous way. There is also a small classic accompanying the set. Uninitiated persons will not understand the classic.

    The term, “Essence of Shaolin”, is my invention. In Chinese it is “Quan Shu Jing Hua”, which is literally word-by-word “Fist-Technique-Essence-Beauty”, and figuratively “Essence of Martial Art”. In Chinese, “fist-technique” means kungfu or martial art.

    I don’t know when the set was first composed and by whom. I believe it was composed quite late in the Qing Dynasty. All the patterns in the set are from Southern Shaolin Kungfu.

    There was a reference to the Venerable Harng Yein, the most senior disciple of the Venerable Chee Seen, the abbot of the Shaolin Monastery on Nine-Lotus Mountain, and first patriarch of Southern Shaolin Kungfu. I believe Harng Yein could be the author of Essence of Shaolin.

    (A small bit of Part 2b follows)

  7. #37
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Austria, Vienna

    Answer 8 part 2b

    Dear Shaolin Wahnam Family,

    let's see how this excellent answer ends.

    With shaolin salute,


    (Continued from Part 2a)

    The poetic couplet, “Marvelous techniques beget marvelous techniques, Wondrous skills generate wondrous skills”, is found in the classic. I have adopted this poetic couplet for our school, as it highlights the essence of the highest Shaolin techniques and skills.

    When an opponent applies a sophisticated technique on you, and there is no way you can escape, so it seems, but by a little twist you reverse the combat situation, putting the opponent in an impossible position, it is an expression of “Marvelous techniques beget marvelous techniques”.

    When you accomplish a feat, like breaking a brick without any brick-breaking training, and proceed to a seemingly impossible feat, like breaking the bottom of two bricks one on top of another, it is an expression of “Wondrous skills generate wondrous skills”. I am happy that some of our instructors and senior students have experience of accomplishing this poetic couplet.


  8. #38
    Luo Lang's Avatar
    Luo Lang is offline Sifu Roland Mastel - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Switzerland
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    Dec 2003
    Zürich-Bern, Switzerland
    Thank you Sifu for the wonderful insight answer.
    "From formless to form, from form to formless"

    26.08.17-28.08.17: Qi Gong Festival with 6 courses in Bern:
    Qiflow-Triple Stretch Method-12 Sinewmetamorphisis-Bone Marrow Cleansing-Zen Mind in Qi Gong


  9. #39
    Mark CH is offline Sifu Mark Hartnett - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Ireland
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    Mar 2005
    Thank you Sifu

    This course will be amazing

    Best wishes to all

  10. #40
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    May 2015
    Austria, Vienna

    Answer 9

    Dear Shaolin Wahnam Family,

    if you are lucky enough you will learn this year something very special, find out what it is.

    With shaolin salute,

    Question 9

    If all things were equal, is it more advantageous to use a simple technique against a simple attack (a boxer's jab for instance)? Or is it for an advanced practitioner better to use techniques found in advanced sets such as Essence of Shaolin?

    Sifu Roeland Dijkema


    If all other things were equal, it is more advantageous to use a simple technique against a simple attack. For example, if a boxer at an elementary level were to attack you with a simple jab, presuming all other things were equal, which means you are also a boxer at an elementary level, it is advantageous to use a simple technique likeparrying it with your hand.

    If both of you are equally skillful, it is also advantageous to parry the jab. If you use a more complox Boxing technique, like moving to his side to counter-strike him, because he is equally skillful, he can strike you as you attempt to move to his side. Technically, he has a good chance of hitting you while you are moving.

    However, if you are more skillful than him, which means other things are not equal, you have a good chance of hitting him with this more complex technique. Your less skillful opponent may not know what to do, or even if he knows, he is too slow for your counter-atack.

    If a Boxer were to jab at at you, presuming you are using kungfu, which means that all other things were equal except that he uses Boxing and you use kungfu, it is also advantageous to use a smiple kungfu technique against the jab. If you try to move to his side to strike him with a kungfu teachnique, because he is equally skillful, irrespective of whether both of you are at the elementary, intermediate or advanced level, he can hit you with another jab while you are moving.

    If you try to grip his attacking arm with a complex chin-na technique, he will also hit you with another jab. This is because you need to make 4 movements in chin-na, and he makes only 1 jabbing you. If you use other complex techniques, it is also disadvantageous, simple because as both of you are at the same level, your techniques are complex and his techniques are simple.

    This is what we do at my courses, though the reason may not be the same.. When a Boxer jabs at us, we use a dimple technique to defend against the jab. Normally we use “thread-hand” in Shaolin Kungfu or “lift hand” in Taijiquan at a Box-Arrow Stance from outside in. The reason is not because it is advantageous to use a simple defence against a simple attack, which actually is a good reason, but because we want to have “safety first” before we learn to counter strike our opponents. We use a “thread-hand” or a “lift-hand” because it is simple, direct and effective.

    If you are more skillful than your opponents, which means that other things are not equal, it is more advantageous to use complex counters against your opponent, provide you have the skills to use these complex techniques competently.

    If you move to a side and counter with a strike or a kick, it they are equally skillful, many of your opponents know how to defend or counter. But if you use felling attacks or chin-na techniques, many of your opponents may not know how to defend or counter. This is because there are no counters in their repertoire against such attacks. But you must have the skills to apply these attacks.

    Even when your opponents trained in Boxing or other martial arts apart from kungfu are more skillful than you, unless the difference in skills is overwhelming, if you apply sophisticated attacks on them. As an analogy, a car is a more sophisticated vehicle than a bicycle. Even when a cyclist is more skillful in cycling a bicycle than a driver driving a car, the driver will be faster than the cyclist.

    Similarly, even when your opponents using other martial arts are more skillful than you, because you use kungfu, you will be more combat efficient than your opponent. Of course, you must be able to use kungfu effectively in combat.

    In the Essence of Shaolin course, you will learn sophisticated techniques, or otherwise simple techniques used in a marvelous way.


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