Pre-Birth Systems

by Daniel Carr


Most Chinese Martial practitioners have no idea that the complete systems of Tai Chi Ch'uan, Hsing Yi Ch'uan, BaGua Ch'ang, and Shaolin Kung Fu are actually organized into a well defined, three-tiered system. The three levels of this system-
  • Foundation: Pre-Birth/Pre-Heaven,
  • Form: Birth/Heaven, and
  • Application: Post-Birth/Post-Heaven,
provide an aspirant with a clearly defined process that insures success in transforming the body, learning martial techniques, and applying them in fighting situations.

Unfortunately, through generations of mistrust and secrecy, many Kung Fu Masters have chosen to hide these complete systems from their students. Specific portions of the system, the most critical portions, have literally become secrets, much like "trade secrets" in any other industry. The result of this prolonged hoarding of knowledge has been rather mediocre results in the way of contemporary Masters and their students- Chinese Martial Artists with relatively low levels of Chi and poor fighting skills.

Why Not Share With The Students?

The immediate question this situation generates is why would a Master hold these "secrets" back from his students. The answer is, hold your breath, that not all Kung Fu Masters are truly enlightened beings. In fact, contrary to the popular myth, becoming a martial arts Master does not mean that one is emotionally or psychologically evolved (does anyone assume this of Mike Tyson? The Eight Levels of Raja Yoga" for further clarification).

Holding these secrets back insures the Master of superiority over his students forever. In this situation, the students stare at the Master in wonder, asking, "How does he do that so well?", assuming that he has some God-given talent that they don't possess. The student resigns himself to live in the Master's shadow, hoping someday for some sort of breakthrough.

This bodes well for the Master, as these students will either always remain his students or, if they are bold enough to quit after years of frustration, they will not present a competitive threat to him economically if they decide to open or join another school. One name for this phenomena is "Iron Rice Bowl," the metaphor conveying the image of a student permanently holding up this incredibly heavy economic offering to the teacher.

Are There "Naturals"?

With respect to the transformation that a human body must undergo to be successful at Chinese Martial Arts, there are no naturals. The system is referred to as "Pre-Birth" for one reason as being that the system intends to return the body to a level of purity that one had before birth. This requires a systematic cleansing and restructuring of the body, one that goes way beyond genetic predisposition.

However, there is one situation in which a Chinese Martial Artist can achieve this and not really be fully aware of how it was done. "Birth" level Shaolin Kung Fu, namely the "Forms" of the system, if practiced perfectly before puberty, can transform the body in this way. An argument can be made that Shaolin was designed specifically for this reason- namely to change the internal structure of the boys that were accepted at the Temple. After puberty, though, this method fails to work, for reasons that will be explained later.

What Does The System Do?

To understand what this system accomplishes, it is necessary to focus on a specific meaning of a word that holds very little interest at present for most contemporary martial artists- "Yoga." "Yoga" literally translates to "union," which has many connotations for physical, psychological, and spiritual understandings.

For our purposes, we will choose to look at the physiological and anatomical connotations of the word: namely, how a system of exercise completely restructures a body so that the anatomy can support enhanced bio-electric flow within the central nervous system. For this to happen,

  • the breathing motion must become powerful,
  • the body must "unify" structurally and muscularly,
  • the three curves of the spine must open up,
  • the organs must be purged of toxins,
  • the minds ability to focus must be perfected,
  • the "shen" that lies dormant in the kidneys must be activated, and
  • the brain's ability to absorb energy/Chi must be enhanced.
It all sounds like a very tall order, but not for someone who understands the true meaning of "Yoga" and can apply it to their martial art practice.

To be continued....

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