The Shaolin Wahnam Institute
The Shaolin Wahnam Institute was established by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, The name "Wahnam" consists of meaningful Chinese characters from the names of Grandmaster Wong's two masters: Ho Fatt Nam and Lai Chin Wah. The name "Shaolin Wahnam" was chosen to honour these two masters as well as all of the past masters in the Shaolin tradition.
Since its establishment, the Shaolin Wahnam Institute has expanded to an increasing number of countries, bringing the genuine Shaolin arts of qigong, Shaolinquan and Zen to the world. A list of all the certified Shaolin Wahnam instructors all over the world (including Singapore) may be found here.
Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
Grandmaster Wong is the 4th generation successor from the southern Shaolin Monastery of China. He is a grandmaster of Shaolin Kungfu, Wahnam Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Kung. He received the "Qigong Master of the Year" award at the Second World Congress on Qigong held in San Francisco in November, 1997. He also holds an honours degree in humanities, and is one of the very few Chinese masters who speaks and writes excellent English.
Grandmaster Wong, born in 1944, started his life-long training of the Shaolin arts in 1954 when he began learning Shaolin Kungfu from the famous Shaolin master, Sifu Lai Chin Wah, who was popularly known as Uncle Righteousness. Grandmaster Wong became his best disciple.
To further his kungfu training, Sifu Wong later learnt from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, the third generation successor directly descended from the southern Shaolin Monastery when it was burned by the Manchurian army in China.
Sifu Wong also learned Wuzu Kungfu from Sifu Chee Kim Thong, and Wing Choon Kungfu from Sifu Choe Hoong Choy, who were patriarchs of their respective kungfu styles.
Sifu Wong has taught kungfu and chi kung for more than twenty five years, to more than twenty organizations. Regretting that many masters were withholding "secrets" of kungfu and chi kung with the result that these arts might lose their essence, in 1982 he founded the Shaolin Wahnam School of kungfu and chi kung, naming the school after the two teachers who had influenced him most, Sifu Lai Chin Wah and Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, with the aim of transmitting genuine Shaolin Kungfu, Shaolin Chi Kung and Shaolin philosophy.
Having won championships himself, Sifu Wong has trained champions in kungfu (demonstrations as well as all styles sparring) and lion dance competitions. But he has always insisted that while Shaolin Kungfu and Wahnam Taijiquan are exceedingly effective martial arts, their greatness lies in enriching our daily life and in spiritual development.
Since 1987 Sifu Wong has spent more time teaching chi kung than kungfu, because he believes that while kungfu serves as a fascinating hobby, chi kung serves an urgent public need, particularly in overcoming degenerative and chronic illness. Sifu Wong is one of the few masters who have generously introduced the once secretive Shaolin Chi Kung to the public, and has helped literally hundreds of people to be relieved of their so-called "incurable" diseases like hypertension, asthma, rheumatism, arthritis, diabetics, migraine, gastritis, gall stones, kidney failure, depression, anxiety and even cancer.
Now he has devoted more time on writing and teaching overseas, having successfully taught in Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia. He stresses the Shaolin philosophy of sharing goodness with all humanity, and is now dedicated to spreading the wonders and benefits of the Shaolin arts to more people irrespective of race, culture and religion.
Grandmaster Wong has also written several books, which include the following:
· The Art of Chi Kung
· Chi Kung for Health and Vitality (sequel to “The Art of Chi Kung”)
· Introduction to Shaolin Kungfu
· The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu
· Sukhavati: Western Paradise
· The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan (not to be confused with other books with the same title)
· The Complete Book of Zen
· The Complete Book of Shaolin
· The Complete Book of Chinese Medicine
Shaolin Wahnam Singapore
Shaolin Wahnam Singapore was set up with the blessings of Grandmaster Wong in 2008. Singapore is home to several of Grandmaster Wong’s students (graduates of his intensive Qigong, Shaolinquan and Wahnam Taijiquan courses), but for far too long, there was no formal local presence of the Shaolin Wahnam Institute that would allow people living in Singapore to train together regularly or take classes.
This website is a portal for the students of Grandmaster Wong and all sincere prospective students to learn and practice the Shaolin arts together.
Our legacy and our lineage
by Anthony Korahais, Shaolin Wahnam Florida
The Shaolin Temple
The Shaolin Temple. The name itself spells magic to millions of people all over the world. For a thousand years, the Shaolin Temple has been glorified in sagas, parables, literature, and legends. Today, the legend is still glorified across the globe in movies and on television.
Since it was founded in 495 A.D., emperors of every succeeding Chinese dynasty have consecrated the Shaolin Temple as their Imperial Temple. This was where emperors prayed on behalf of their people. It was also the birthplace of Zen Buddhism. Today, every Zen school in the world traces its lineage back to the Shaolin Temple in China.
Over the years, the Shaolin Temple became a haven for China's elite: generals, martial arts masters, classical poets and painters, famous calligraphers, scholars, and spiritualists. At its height, there were over 2000 monks staying in the Temple in Songhshan province. These monks were classified into four categories: administrators, scholars, workers, and warriors.
Hundreds of years later, a second Shaolin Temple was built in Fujian province in the south of China. Though it was smaller than its big brother in Songshan province, this Southern Temple played an important role in the development and spread of Shaolin Kungfu.
The End of Shaolin
The Qing Dynasty in China (1644-1911) was a period of great turmoil, especially during the 19th century when governmental control was weakened. Prosperity declined. China suffered serious social and economic problems in addition a population explosion. Millions of people were dissatisfied with the government.
Although rebellions occurred all over China, the Southern Shaolin Temple had a reputation for being a revolutionary center. In an effort to crush the growing rebellion, the Qing army attacked and burned the Southern Shaolin Monastery during middle of the 19th century. Only the most skilled Shaolin Monks escaped the attack.
Our Shaolin Wahnam school traces its lineage back to two of these monks: Zhi Shan (Gee Sin) and Jiang Nan (Kong Nam). The lineages of these two monks remained separate for over 100 years until they were reunited again in Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit.
The Venerable Zhi Shan
The story of the Venerable (a title of respect given to monks) Zhi Shan is well known in many kungfu schools. It has been depicted in hundreds of stories and dozens of movies. The Venerable Zhi Shan was the founder and abbot of the southern Shaolin Temple.
Zhi Zhan was a revolutionary. His main objective was to overthrow the corrupt Qing Dynasty in order to restore the previous Ming government. His teachings were fast and secretive, with emphasis on kungfu that was hard and combative. Although internal force training was certainly a part of his kungfu, many of his disciples focused on external force training.
Pak Mei (Bai Mei) was a former Shaolin disciple who later betrayed his masters by revolting against the Temple. It was Pak Mei who led the Qing Dynasty army to the Southern Shaolin Temple. Together, they razed the Temple to the ground. The Venerable Zhi Zhan died defending the temple that he built.
Several monks and secular disciples managed to escape. Many of these masters are now legendary (even in Hollywood): The Venerable Herng Yein, the Venerable Sam Tak, Hung Heigun, Lok Ah Choi, and Fong Sai Yuk. Years later, two of Hung Heigun's disciples tracked down and killed Pak Mei in order to avenge Zhi Zhan.
Zhi Shan is often regarded as the First Patriarch of Southern Shaolin Kungfu. The disciples of the Venerable Zhi Shan spread Shaolin Kungfu to Guangdong province. Eventually, these arts spread throughout the world. Most Southern Shaolin styles today, like Hung Gar, Lau Gar, and Choy Li Fut, come from Zhi Shan.
From Zhi Shan, the art passed to the Venerable Herng Yein, then to Chan Fook, then to Ng Yew Loong, then to Lai Chin Wah, then to Wong Kiew Kit.
The Venerable Jiang Nan
Another monk who managed to escape the burning of the Temple was a young master named Jiang Nan. This monk fled south with the Qing army in pursuit. His original name is lost to us. In an effort to hide from his enemy, he changed his name. After crossing a river that marked the edge of China, he chose the name Jiang Nan, which means "South of the River". It was south of this river that he would spend the rest of his life.
For 50 years, Jiang Nan wandered further and further south with only one mission in life: to pass on his art to a worthy successor. One night, near the border between present-day Thailand and Malaysia, he encountered a young medicine-man who was demonstrating kungfu to attract customers to his mobile roadside stall. The monk observed the young man every night for 6 nights. On the 7th night, after the crowd had dispersed, the monk approached the young man. Without any aggression in his voice, the monk said, "Not bad. But despite all the applause, what you showed was not real kungfu."
The young man was shocked. As a traveling medicine-man, he relied on his kungfu to ward off bandits and thugs who would frequently challenge him. And yet this old monk was telling him that his kungfu was useless!
The monk continued. "Don't take my word for it. If you like, we can put it to the test with some friendly sparring."
The young man agreed, eager to prove himself. But to his amazement, the 80-year-old monk beat him easily. Even when the young man stopped pulling his punches and attacked full force, the monk handled him as if playing with a child. Recognizing the signs of true mastery, the young man knelt before the monk and begged to be accepted as a student.
With a smile, the Venerable Jiang Nan said, "Yes, on one condition." The young man bowed lower and said that he would do anything. Raising the young man's head and looking into his eyes with a smile, the monk said simply, "Start from scratch."
That young man was named Yang Fatt Khun.
When Yang Fatt Khun was in his 70s, he accepted a young man as a student. This man was already well trained in the martial arts and earned his living as a professional Muay Thai fighter. That man was named Ho Fatt Nam.
At first, master Yang rejected the young Ho's requests to become a student. But one night, with the help of one of Yang's students, the young Ho snuck into the secret training hall. Prostrating before Yang with the traditional gifts, he begged to be accepted. Taking the gifts and placing them on the altar, Yang said, "This is Heaven's Will."
Each year, master Yang held a grand sparring competition amongst his students in order to choose his top ten disciples. From an unranked position, Ho Fatt Nam gradually rose to a top position. When master Yang announced his retirement, he named Ho Fatt Nam as his successor.
A young Wong Kiew Kit was one of the last students to learn from master Ho. When he first begged to be accepted as a student, master Ho had only one request: "Start from scratch."
The name "Wahnam" consists of meaningful Chinese characters from the names of Grandmaster Wong's two masters: Ho Fatt Nam and Lai Chin Wah. The name "Shaolin Wahnam" was chosen to honor these two masters as well as all of the past masters in the Shaolin tradition.
After over a hundred years of secrecy and exile, these two lineages, one from Zhi Shan and the other from Jiang Nan, were reunited in my teacher, Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit. This reunion is meaningful to us because we now inherit the best of two Shaolin traditions.
Zhi Shan was a revolutionary; his objective was to overthrow the Qing Dynasty. His teaching was fast and secretive, with emphasis on kungfu that was hard and combative.
The Venerable Jiang Nan was a missionary. His main aim was to preserve the original Shaolin arts, with little intention to fight the Qing Dynasty. While Zhi Shan quickly rebuilt a second southern Shaolin Temple after its destruction and taught many disciples, Jiang Nan took 50 years to search for a deserving successor in order to teach him holistically and slowly. Jiang Nan's teaching emphasized internal development and spiritual cultivation. The Shaolin Kungfu from his lineage is comparatively soft and internal.