Philosophy of the Internal Boxing School

(T’ai Tsu Gie Quan)

The five major temple boxing schools in China, located themselves with surroundings of panoramic viewing of beautiful mountain slopes in peaceful environments of green forests and riverstreams, teeming with fish in clear cold water. One of the most known temple boxing schools in Southern China was built on the top of the Kun Lun Mountains.

Located in five provinces, the monasteries are best known for their martial contributions to the world in spontaneously training through hard practice, as to be found in the Shao Lin schools of Honan, Shantung, Fuekchin, Hokkien and Kwantung. These martial arts centers have produced together well over 3600 styles of boxing, categorized into the Northern and Southern branches of Wu Shu, the military arts of war.

The Northern styles of Shao Lin are highly distinguished by practitioners of the arts for their far ranging powerful kicks and hand-techniques delivered with heavy blows. Northern Shao Lin uses high leaps, done out of positions from very low and wide horse-stances and with rolls to cover distances. When compared, practitioners of the southern styles rely more on their very low horse-stance positions to counter opponents more swiftly with their far-extended leaps and fast short kicks, and the use of short range blocking techniques.

The great majority of the fighting arts practiced in any of the Shao Lin boxing schools could trace their roots back to the Honan monastery, that has housed once 1500 philosophical and soldier monks who were fully trained to the conduct of warfare. These monks were top experts in armed or unarmed conquest of battle and were also known for their healing arts. In addition they were also taught the 8 Internal exercises of Tai Chi Chuan, or Grand Ultimate Fist. This art had originally started out with first the 8 basic exercises before it became later into several branches of Tai chi with 108 movements and shorter sets.

Much of the Chinese leg-maneuvers and hand-grabbling techniques were developed over a long extended time of 1500 years in the Honan monastery. The art of Fut Ga Shao Lin starts out as an external art of combat and later holds the secrets to the three internal arts of Tai Chi, Pa Qua and Hsing Ie. Considered as the monastery for the internal arts, the Fut Ga Shao Lin has influenced all of the main temple boxing schools with their internal arts. Overwhelmingly noticed for their agility in speed and acrobatics, many of the well-trained Shao Lin boxers have spectacled thousands of spectators around the world with their defined martial skills of combat and their arts of healing.

After nearly three decades of intensive studies behind the monastery walls of Honan in the Fut Ga, was sitting peacefully, a well-versed man in meditation by the riverbank. The river was shackled with frozen ice and could hardly continue its path, sloping off into a lake on the mountain top.

The elderly man was Li Tsu the philosopher, and as a scholar was also fully trained in martial skills of the highest derivation. Through his inner vision he found his enlightenment by observing snow falling on the tree branches in the forest, when the snow became to heavy for the branches to hold from the frozen cold, they shattered like little twigs of the trees. The falling branches sounded like ponderous thunder hitting the surface of the Earth.

In viewing his focus during meditation he also has witnessed a large stand of bamboos, these strong, hollow shoots grew together as strong grasses. The stems like the tree-branches had undergone the same stresses of Mother nature by bending to exerted force with unrestrained yielding without cracking.

Li Tzu lived during a flamboyant era, in which fighting arts were molded into erroneous ancient societies. The monk created two internal – external boxing styles, resilient to the nature of the bamboo stems. Po Qua Zen and Po Hsing Ie complement each other with restoring the circulatory systems for an increasing health.

Li Tzu’s search for the truth was based on the theological meaning of Taoism, in which he carefully followed the principles of Chuang Tzu, who together with Lao Tzu formed a religious movement causing an impact on the beliefs of Confucius toward the end of the Han dynasty ( A.D.). Po Qua Zen is a fighting art of passive resistance in self defense, created by Li Tzu upon the idea to aid in practice the yin stylists by countering an opponents attack while yielding at the same time.

The Po style is distinguished by its sophistication, with its own uniqueness as a fighting art for self-defense. It has a large repertory of tools in a fine method of boxing, combining the principles of Tai chi, Hsing Ie and Pa Qua together by complementing each other in harmony. Nearly all of the other internal fighting arts, based their essence on the “yang” principle in which self defense is emphasized by yielding to an opponent’s attack and then countering the opponent’s center of balance with force.

Self defense for one’s own survival requires strength and fine timing through rotation and displacement of the polar axis. In motion, the internal system reacts by countering an opponent’s attack with a continuous counterattack. As a result, the counterattack of an internal boxing expert is unavoidable. It does internal damage almost effortlessly by applying a mass of energy to an opponent, thus causing damage by puncturing the circulatory system and meridians.

Po Hsing Ie is philosophically structured like a rock; its principles based on projections of the mind. The five elements that descended with the “Yin/Yang” principle balance the instincts of nature as a day and night are balanced. They are, in fact, two harmonizing opposites of positive and negative. The Po system applies a yielding and attacking force at the same time. Like bamboo, it yields to force without cracking.

Chuang Tzu, a scholar of Taoism wrote once that a supple attitude constitutes the following passive achievements: (Copied out of “THE GREAT LUMINANT” as translated by Evan More 1933).


“A yielding will has a resposeful ease, soft as downy feathers, a quietude, a shrinking from action, an appearance of it express itself in the natural way in which elements of the universe are mutual forces in coexistence with the changing moods of nature. In other words, the principle of Tao is the life force of existence in the universe and operate in “Yin” and “Yang” are the two balances, positive and negative, male and female.”

Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism, described Tao in a more proper and fitting way:

“The way which can be expressed in words is not the eternal way; the Name which can be uttered is not the eternal Name. Conceived of as nameless it is the cause of Heaven and Earth. Conceived of as having a name it is the mother of all things. Only the eternally free from passion contemplate its spiritual essence. He who is clogged by desires can see no more than its outer form. These two things, the spiritual (yin) and the material (yang), though we call them different names are one and the same in their origin. This sameness is a mystery of mysteries. It is the gate of all that is subtle and wonderful.”

Like a flow of a river, the human spirit is an energetic force of the Yang soul or the positive materialization of desires in man that promote productivity without the understanding of negative feelings such as anger, hate and greed. The subconscious or soul enters the brain by impulse to construct human thoughts. Man has always been dominated by the influence of the subconscious mind; what we know as unknown feelings of awareness and considered by Christians to the inability to do. Placidly free from anxiety, one acts at the opportune time; one moves and revolves in the line of creation. One does not move ahead but responds to the fitting influences.

The essence of Taoism is put forth by Lao Tzu,

“Establish nothing in regard to oneself, let things be what they are; move like water, rest like a mirror, respond like an echo, pass quickly like the non-existent, and be quit as purity. Those who gain, lose. Do not precede others; always follow them.”

Emulating the natural, the well trained practitioner of the Po system has a skillful mind and reacts automatically to actual situations in but a fraction of a second.

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