A Study on ¡§Peng Jing¡¨ Being busy in the struggle for living, I have been isolated from the Taiji community for over six years. Inspired by Dr. Zee¡¦s article on ¡§The Importance of Peng Strength¡¨ (Taiji Magazine, Vol.23, No.5), I feel it worthwhile to transfer some knowledge on ¡§Peng¡¨ as a complement to Dr. Zee¡¦s article and to favor my Taiji friends in the Western world.
What is ¡§Peng?¡¨ ¡§Peng¡¨ is the most important technique in all styles of Taji. It has been mentioned in Dr. Zee¡¦s article that Taiji Quan is also called ¡§Peng¡¨ Jing Quan¡¨ and we may say that no ¡§Peng Jing¡¨ no Taiji. In Chinese, ¡§Peng¡¨ means to ward off people¡¦s attack. However, it is necessary to point out that the direction of ¡§Peng¡¨ is ¡§forward and upward.¡¨ To be able to understand ¡§Peng,¡¨ it¡¦s necessary to know our authoritative Taiji masters¡¦ statements about ¡§Peng.¡¨ Yang, Chen-fu (1883 - 1936) described the method of ¡§Peng,¡¨ ¡§with the palm inside and dropping one¡¦s elbow slightly (in Yang Xiao Jian from Yang, Banhou, the arm is horizontal), using the ¡§Heng Jing¡¨ technique to ward off forward and upward [ Notice here, in Taiji we can only use ¡§Jing¡¨ instead of ¡§Force¡¨, because ¡§Force¡¨ is from the muscle and bone, which can be obtained by muscle training and/or by birth and ¡§Jing¡¨ is generated from the tendon, which will be obtained by the elongation of one¡¦s body through the training of Taiji. Also, being careful here, the order of ¡§forward and upward¡¨ cannot be reversed because it relates with one¡¦s mind (Yi). Xu, Zhi-yi (1892 - 1968), a Wu style Taiji master, Ma Yue-liang¡¦s elder Taiji brother wrote: ¡§Peng¡¨ was the forward and upward movement in Taiji [ The description of ¡§Peng¡¨ by Shen, Jia-zhen (1891 - 1972) and Gu, Liu-xing (1908 - 1990), the two most famous Taiji masters in past several decades of China was: ¡§Peng¡¨ was the ¡§Tan Huang (spring) Jing¡¨ from the elongation of one¡¦s body. Any ¡§Jing¡¨ with one¡¦s mind in the body coiling forward was called ¡§Peng.¡¨ Thus, from the statements of above three styles of Taiji super masters, we can understand that ¡§Peng is a ¡§Jing¡¨ used in Taiji and the direction is forward and upward. While above statements only give us a general idea, to be able to further understand ¡§Peng¡¨ Jing, we had better to know:
What is the application of ¡§Peng Jing?¡¨ A song of ¡§Peng¡¨ says: ¡§Peng like water holding on a boat; fill ¡§Dantian¡¨ Qi first; keep the head suspended from heaven; opening and closing must be in certain distance.¡¨ Feng, Zhi-qiang, one of the top Chen style Taiji masters in recent China says: ¡§the mind of Peng Jing cannot be too narrow and all the outward and upward movements of your body in Taiji can be called Peng.¡¨ That means all of your body can be used to release ¡§Peng Jing¡¨ when you are pressed or attacked. In ¡§Push Hands¡¨ we use ¡§Peng¡¨ more or less when one¡¦s hands, elbow, shoulder or body are touched by his opponent and ¡§Peng¡¨ is used to buffer people¡¦s attack and change the direction of the ¡§Incoming Jing.¡¨
In the routine training of Taiji push hands, with your elbows round (Cheng Yuan) and using the arm to connect your opponent¡¦s push is called ¡§Peng¡¨ and ¡§Peng¡¨ is the prelude of ¡§Press¡¨ (ii) and ¡§Roll back¡¨ (Liu). As mentioned by Dr. Zee, the Peng Jing is never used in excess. However, we should also use enough ¡§Peng Jing.¡¨ That is, we must use the exact amount of ¡§Jing¡¨ when executing ¡§Peng.¡¨ Too much is said resistant (Ding) and not enough is called giving up (Diu), which places you in a negative position. Thus, ¡§Peng¡¨ must be executed based on the incoming ¡§Jing.¡¨ Here, we may consider the executing of ¡§Peng¡¨ as the weighting of an old fashion balance in China, which uses lever principle for weighting and the balance pivot is your ¡§Dan Tian.¡¨ For instance, when your opponent pushes you, you immediately use the ¡§Peng Jing¡¨ generated from your waist (Dan Tian), rounding your arms and sticking on his hands. In Taiji terms, we call it ¡§Nian Shou¡¨ (Sticking on opponent¡¦s hands with ¡§Peng Jing¡¨). At the same time, you sense (Ting Jing) the direction, speed, height and amount of the incoming ¡§Jing.¡¨ Following this ¡§Jing¡¨ you use ¡§Roll Back¡¨ to release his ¡§Jing¡¨ or ¡§Press¡¨ to attack him. Nevertheless, before you use the ¡§Roll Back¡¨ or ¡§Press¡¨ techniques, you already used your ¡§Peng Jing¡¨ to change the direction of the incoming Jing, which changed the ¡§Ying¡¨ and ¡§Yang¡¨ position of you and your attacker and led him into a disadvantaged position (Shi Si) and lose balance (Shi Zhong). Furthermore, when people push your body, you can try to use your body¡¦s ¡§Peng Jing.¡¨ Instead of yielding you use your body to connect to people¡¦s push. We call it ¡§Jie Jing¡¨ in Taiji. While sensing people¡¦s ¡§Jing¡¨ during the ¡§Jie Jing,¡¨ you turn your body to control him using joint locks and cavity presses (anti- jointly), Na Jing. Then your ¡§Jing¡¨ follows his movement anti-jointly sticking on him. In this case you can either throw him out or hurt his joints. Be careful of that; in Taiji push hands we normally never let people touch our body, except the upper part of the chest where you have thick muscles. A well trained Taiji practitioner can turn the joint angle more than a normal person can. If you cannot control your opponent and he uses ¡§Cold Jing¡¨ (Leng Jing), a kind of ¡§Jing¡¨ exposed suddenly from extremely soft, which can penetrate your internal organs and badly hurt you. Of course in a friendly push hand competition, you can try this technique.
In free hand fighting (Shan Shou), when punched, you can use your arm between wrist and elbow to ¡§Peng¡¨ your opponent¡¦s same part. Immediately, when you conduct your ¡§Jie Jing¡¨ you turn your spine and wrist to change the direction of the punch (Hua Jing, releasing the incoming Jing) and use ¡§Cai Jing¡¨ to suddenly make him lose balance. After that you can do whatever you want to do. In the case of people kicking you, you can also use ¡§Peng Jing¡¨, for instance ¡§wave hands like clouds¡¨ or ¡§brush knee and push.¡¨ I prefer ¡§wave hands like clouds,¡¨ because in ¡§Shan Shou¡¨ normally a kick follows a punch. You can brush out people¡¦s knee but not the punch at the same time. This may result in injury to both of you at the same time. Let¡¦s examine the other side. For example, you stand next to your opponent side by side. Step forward with your left foot by half step and lift your right knee kicking with your toe to your opponent¡¦s stomach. On the same time you lift left palm and wave it to your right chest to protect yourself from any possible attack to your up body. Immediately after kicking, your right foot steps forward to beneath your opponent¡¦s groin. In martial arts, we call this technique ¡§Qiang Zhong Men,¡¨ occupying the middle. At the same time, circle your right fist punch striking your opponent¡¦s weakest part of the head (Tai Yang Xue). By using ¡§Wave Hands like Clouds,¡¨ you can use ¡§Peng¡¨ to ¡§Jie Jing.¡¨ Then one hand uses ¡§Cai¡¨ and the other hand uses ¡§An¡¨ Both are anti-jointly. With one hand sticking on your opponent¡¦s ankle and the other sticking on the side of the knee, you can easily throw the opponent out before his hand can reach you. Be careful, when practice this technique. Do it slowly at first until you can control your ¡§Jing.¡¨ Otherwise, you may badly hurt people. It must be mentioned that when practice this technique, your hands only loosely hold on the right points and all of your ¡§Jing¡¨ is from the coiling of your waist (Dan Tian).
There can be numerous examples of the application of ¡§Peng Jing.¡¨ As a whole, when people touch you the first ¡§Jing¡¨ you use must be ¡§Peng.¡¨ ¡§Peng¡¨ is the number one ¡§Jing Fa¡¨ (the method of Jing) in Taiji, which is involved implicitly in all of other ¡§Jing Fa.¡¨ Additionally, with the difference in the direction of movement and ¡§Jing¡¨ point, the name of ¡§Peng Jing¡¨ can be different. Your arm, when you apply ¡§Peng Jing,¡¨ should be extremely soft and fully rounded (Shong Bi Yuan Zhen). Your attention is only on about the half inch part where you will touch with the opponent. The direction from back to forward is in the formal form. To be able to conduct your ¡§Peng Jing,¡¨ it needs power and a well trained sensitivity. Then the next question can be:
How can one develop ¡§Peng Jing?¡¨ A direct way of developing one¡¦s ¡§Peng Jing¡¨ is by the practice of ¡§Taiji Zhuang.¡¨ From my experience, most of serious Taiji students practice it but few are able to develop the power. The thing that makes the difference is where you put your mind. Otherwise, you may only have the benefit of health but not the power of Taiji. The method is: standing with feet shoulder width apart and with your knee slightly bent. The body follows all the basic principles of the Taijiquan practice. Hold the ball at the height between your belly button and eyebrow. At first it can be low and your body will automatically let you to hold the ball higher when you reach a higher level. You can imagine that you are holding a paper ball. If the ¡§Jing¡¨ is too much, the ball will be flatten and it will blow away if it is not enough. In addition, put your mind on a point located about a half inch on your wrist. Another important point when developing ¡§Peng Jing¡¨ is that your thumb and small fingers should be facing each otherly. Normally, it takes two or three months before you can feel a warm current flowing through your two arms and chest and forming a circle. This ¡§Taiji Zhuang¡¨ training will really develop your power. I have a friend who did ¡§Taiji Zhuang¡¨ three or four hours a day. After one year, he went to New Zealand. A street fighter who was practicing boxing always wanted to fight him. After several weeks, he couldn¡¦t stand any more and he said to this guy, ¡§I will allow you to punch me three times on my chest and you let me put my hand on your chest.¡¨ Then this street fighter punched him three times and my friend was not hurt. When my friend put his hand on this fighter¡¦s chest, he used the ¡§Leng Jing.¡¨ The street fighter almost suffocated. When the fighter woke up, he begged to learn from my friend. My friend was not able to teach him because he even didn¡¦t finish his form training. Of course, no reputable Chinese martial artists would like to teach street fighters. This example supports that through the hard training in ¡§Peng Jing,¡¨ your body will be able to withstand a hard strike or attack.
A routine method of training ¡§Peng Jing¡¨ is from the practice of the form. Here, I¡¦d like to suggest to my serious Taiji friends to practice the traditional form (the long form in Yang Taiji), because in China, all of the simplified forms before 1984 were designed for health and not for martial arts. A further question that might be raised is how the practice of such a soft form can produce the power of ¡§Peng Jing.¡¨ Lao Zhi, a famous philosopher in ancient China and Taiji was developed based on his ¡§Yin/Yang¡¨ principle, said ¡§positive and negative were interchangeble.¡¨ It implies that anything in the extremes will become reversed. The extreme soft will become extremely hard, and powerful. Wu, Yu¡X xiang (1812 - 1880 ), the founder of ¡§Wu¡¨ Taiji, also said ¡§one must be extremely soft to become extremely hard¡¨ in the book of ¡§The Explanation of Taiji.¡¨ It indicates that the power of Taiji is from the accumulation of softness. However, to be able to accumulate the softness to become hardness, one has to keep a right mind when practicing the form. There are numerous examples of people practicing Taiji all of their life and never develop real power. Even competitors who achieve championships in national or international competition may have no more power than normal people.
Returning to our topic that how the soft form can give you the power, the secret is also the mind of ¡§Peng.¡¨ During your practice, the mind of ¡§Peng Jing¡¨ should permeate in all of the form. For instance, in ¡§Roll Back¡¨ your palm have the mind of ¡§Peng.¡¨ In the ¡§Ride Tiger,¡¨ your arms separate and turn back softly with ¡§Jing.¡¨ This ¡§Jing¡¨ is ¡§Peng Jing.¡¨ In the ¡§Snake down,¡¨ you withdraw your arm roundly with ¡§Jing¡¨ and it is also the mind of ¡§Peng.¡¨ When you do your form correctly, you can feel ¡§Peng Jing¡¨ like mercury flowing though your arms and ¡§Peng Jing¡¨ like water holding on you. ¡§Peng¡¨ is moving Jing and ¡§Peng¡¨ is live Jing.
[ ¡§Taiji Quan Ti Yong Quan Shu¡¨ by Yang Chen-fu, ¡§Shanghai Dai Dong Shu Jiu¡¨ 1934.
[ ¡§Wu Style Taiji Quan¡¨ by Xu, Zhi-yi, ¡§People¡¦s Sports Press of China,¡¨ 1958.
[ ¡§Chen Style Taiji Quan¡¨ by Shen, Jia-zhen and Gu, Liu-xing, ¡§People¡¦s Sports Press of China,¡¨ 1963