Saturday, 14 March 2015

The Nine Levels of Power (I know a certain girl in Malaysia who will enjoy this post)

These days I am certain that whenever an initiate- especially someone who has not even read anything about martial arts- asks what martial arts can do for you the answer depends on who gets to answer that question. 
If you know me by now and you have been reading this blog for a while I am sure you will know that my answer will differ significantly from the one you'll get from an MMA coach or BJJ instructor.

I shall not say that my answer is the right one, but it shall be different. Here is why:

As shocking as it may sound to some- martial arts were not developed with enlightenment in mind. And no- The Chinese are wrong- Not every martial art under the sun came from Shaolin. :D A lot of martial arts did, but not all. 

What the Chinese forget to mention is that even Chinese people fought before the Shaolin Temple was founded. In Japan history also shows that there was a time when the emphasis and main objective of martial arts training was combat. Only when the feudal age passed did Budo get the opportunity to flourish.

Now- I want to get to the point of this post today before I run out of space to type...

We know kickboxing was developed as a sport, karate as a method of self defense and Aikido as a spiritual exercise, right? These are just examples to show that each martial art has its own history and context and that its teachings shall not have the same objective in mind as the other.

One type of warrior that had even through the feudal age stayed a perfect blend of warrior and mystic was-

Wait for it:


Whereas the rest of the world's warriors had their masters to serve and their kingdoms to protect the Ninja was concerned with the maintaining of a balance that kept everything running. Through rigorous mental training and self denial they were capable of feats deemed impossible by most of us. Sure- Shaolin Monks have the Iron Shirt as well, but nobody could rule the night and people's imagination like the Ninja.

Now- me being an avid reader managed to read two books on Ninjutsu in my entire life. When I read Stephen Hayes' book (The Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art (1981), Charles E. Tuttle Co.)
 I was not looking for a new martial art, because by that time I already had a system that worked for me. I was merely reading, because Ninjas were the coolest and most mysterious thing the martial arts had to offer.
From this book I still remember the basics of shurikenjutsu, kiaijutsu, kenjutsu and of course taijutsu that became inextricably incorporated into the way I train and fight now. This- however- was not the best thing I have taken from the Ninjas.

Ashida Kim's book (Ninja Mind Control) introduced me to Qigong. I actually learnt this Qigong before I even learnt Shaolin Qigong and Taijiquan! The knowledge on how to cultivate one's Qi is a cornerstone of Wenhsiuquan. A while later Wong Kiew Kit's book on Shaolin Kung Fu gave me the knowledge with which to channel this energy into my techniques. 

Kim's book also spoke of something that makes any level of Black Belt pale in comparison: The Nine Levels of Power.

Now- if you have played Tekken 5 chose Raven- and won of course- you would see Raven going through his Ninja hand signs ("Rin! Pyo! To! Sha! Kai! Jin!..."). In fact- many Ninja fans would know these kuji kiri  hand signs to be a Ninja trademark.

Well- Kim had a hand sign for each level of power.I want to discuss each one to give you an idea of how martial arts training can change a person and his circumstances:

First Level: Rin (Chinese "chu")- Strength

You used to be nervous and smoked 12 packs a day and now you forgot that you even smoked! You also don't get bored and have become very patient with a level of focus and concentration that enables you to actually do what needs to be done instead of lazing on the couch thinking about it. You don't get annoyed easily and also feel no need to raid the fridge for comfort food.In fact- you managed to ignore your whims and excuses. You are ready to start serious self improvement!

Second Level: Kyo (Chinese: Shen) Direction of energy

Good for you! Now that you have managed to shut out all the noise from outside your body to tune in on what is actually going on within you- you have met your own energy! Now you learn to channel it into movements, attacks and techniques. You do Qigong exercises effectively and see the benefits of Shaolin exercises like "One Finger Shooting Zen" and Taijiquan forms in which you send your energy flowing through your hands and limbs at will!

Third Level: Toh (Chinese "Tai")

Done playing with yourself? Good! You have mastered your own energy and find that you are in full control of your emotions. In fact- control over your energy gives you immediate control over your emotions without you realising it at first...

Now that you have yourself sorted out your awareness can be tuned into the world around you. Now you can actually notice what your senses are telling you and you can use that knowledge to do whatever is necessary to maintain harmony within yourself and with your environment.

Fourth Level: Sha (Chinese "Sha") Healing (I'm sure it also means killing. The number 4 is also not really a number we associate with "healing", but I am not going to argue with Ninjas...)

So- you realised that illness, pain and discomfort are just disruptions in the harmonious flow of Qi that get fixed when you restore the balance... You are now in tune with your own body and can identify sources of blockages in your qi flow and the qi flow of others. You have the ability to heal yourself from illness and injury and can even help others. The flispside of all this is that you also now know how to disrupt a person's qi flow to upset him, injure him and even kill him...

Fifth Level: Kai (Chinese "Kai") Premonition

Yes! You came to a shocking realisation that psychics are real (In your face, Mr Jane!) because- you found out that you are one! How did this happen? Well- you have spent years going through the previous four levels calming your mind and freeing your energy. Where you used to suppress and ignore the visions you see when you close your eyes or the voices you hear when it is actually dead quiet you realise that these omens actually make sense and you become able to link it with actual events taking place afterward. You have a strong sense of premonition as well and can sense danger and trouble in time to avoid it. But wait- There is more! You may now have the Iron Shirt skill as well. You can take blows without injury(or serious injury- I'm still doubtful as I am not fully invincible yet...). You can withstand, pain, injury, insults and your neighbour's Jazz band without flinching! 

Sixth Level: Jin (Chinese "Jen") Empathy

What? Now you read minds too? At this level the Taijiquan expert has developed "listening jing" and can sense his opponent's movement and adapt thereto. The Aikido expert is now "blended" with his opponent.
You? Yes- you can now sense your opponent's attacks and if you are married you become the envy of all married men you know, because you actually understand your wife! 

Seventh Level:Retsu (Chinese "Tung") Mastery of time and space:


There was a time when you complained that there just is not enough time in the day, but now you have become time's master. You actually get a lot more done. Boredom does not exist in your world. Additional abilities also include being able to slow down your metabolism. This helps to slow down the effect of toxins like snake venom. On the dojo floor you have also found that your mind and body has become really fast and that you strive to move at the speed of your thoughts.

Eighth Level: Zai (Chinese "Hua") Control

Others may complain that they are a product of their environment, but you actually influence those around you. Not the other way around. Depression and despair is not for you. You find opportunities in each situation, bide your time in unfavourable conditions and make your environment work for you. During meditation you also feel a sense of euphoria as endorphin-rich blood course through you. A real natural high!

Ninth Level: Zen (Chinese: "Tao") Enlightenment

The Christian would now be able to say "The Lord is my Shepherd and I shall not want" and truly understand what it means. The Buddhist shall now realise his own Buddha Nature. You? Well- why don't you tell me when you get there...?

Trust me- these levels have no shortcuts and no grading panel or association shall be able to just give them to you. A teacher can point the way, but you are still the one who has to take it. No one will be able to tell you how long it will take.

To me- this is a worthwhile pursuit. Wenhsiuquan itself is most suitable for reaching the first seven levels. The remaining two levels I believe are on the one hand a matter of choice and on the other a matter of  Jodo -"the Will of Heaven". Others may believe differently.

I can tell you now that you are highly unlikely to experience this type of training at your nearest karate dojo, MMA gym or kickboxing club. The type of teacher who teaches these things are not necessarily that keen to advertise. 

Because I believe that it can improve the world if more people learn this art, however, I am willing to make it accessible to as many people as possible. By now you have my email address:

I may not be able to physically travel the whole world, but I am pleased to reach every one of you via this blog. 

Wherever you are- train hard and have fun! 



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