This week in class we were working on Peng Jin (Ward off energy), the fundamental Yang energy (Jin) of Tai Chi Chuan.
A lot as been written and debated about Peng Jin in Tai Chi circles, but I think the following quote sums it up pretty well, for me at least.
“The Song of Peng
What is the meaning of Peng energy?
It is like the water supporting a moving boat.
First sink the ch’i to the tan-t’ien,
then hold the head as if suspended from above.
The entire body is filled with springlike energy,
opening and closing in a very quick moment.
Even if the opponent uses a thousand pounds of force,
he can be uprooted and made to float without difficulty.
I like the imagry of water and a boat floating on water. I also like to use the imagery of a rubber ball when teaching Peng to people. If you imagined that you were punching a large rubber ball then the bounce-back you’d experience is Peng. The hard part is turning yourself into that rubber ball!
To manifest Peng you need to be relaxed (sung) – excess physical tension really spoils the technique. There are various exercises you can do to help you develop the feeling of Peng, one of which I present here: Hold out your arms and get a partner to press down on your arms, then try to compress their force into your centre and bounce them out. The big mistake you’ll make first is to use your arms too much to try to push them off you – that’s not it. In this video you can see that my arms are nice and relaxed. You’re looking for that springy force coming back up from the ground.
This exercises also requires that your partner hold their arms somewhat rigidly. If they let their arms go all soft and floppy as you bounce them then nothing happens. This is just a training exercise after all, and not a martial technique, so it require some co-operation, so give your training partner a hand and don’t be too difficult to work with!