H. WON TAI CHI INSTITUTE
Article: No. 1
On Peng Jing--Internal Power Energy
by H. Won Gim
In modern day Tai Chi Chuan, no one seems to understand or train the Yang family Tai Chi Chuan "Dynamic Pushing Hand", except the students of late Grandmaster Yang, Sau-Chung & their students. As for the "Dynamic Pushing Hand", the original Chinese name is "Pushing Hands". The word "Dynamic" was created & added in order to differentiate from the modern versions of pushing hands. In the absence of "Dynamic Pushing Hand", these modern tai chi practitioners are leaving out the most important principle of Tai Chi Chuan. As for the purpose of "Dynamic Pushing Hand", it develops "Peng Jing energy", the famous internal power of Yang Lu-Chan, Yang Chien-Hou, Yang Cheng-Fu, etc.--the much sought after internal power. If "Chi" is the internal energy, then "Peng Jing energy" is the internal power. As for the kind of pushing hands one sees these days in competitions or in most tai chi schools, they are not the traditional Yang family pushing hands, & they will "NOT" develop the internal power. "Dynamic Pushing Hand" is a time-honored, power training method that all the Yang masters & their disciples have practiced throughout the generations. It requires a lineage & knowledgeable masters. As for the actual attainment & understanding of it, it demands "the time & the perseverance" because of its profound principles. As for the modern tai chi stylists, they have no idea.
Holding the certain postures, performing the various forms, executing the body movements, or feeling for whatever cannot attain Peng Jing energy. Seesawing back & forth doing rollback, push, or whatever, will not serve in attaining Peng Jing energy--in this, one is merely executing the each technique without the understanding of Peng Jing energy. One has to understand the principle of Peng Jing energy before all these things. Therefore, one needs to develop Peng Jing energy first by training in "Dynamic Pushing Hand" in order to establish the foundation for the development of the internal power. In the course of developing Peng Jing energy, other things will simultaneously occur as well. For example, one strengthens the hands, the feet, & the joints throughout the body; as a result, one attains a strong body, understands how to align & relax the body, & learns how to push. Thus slowly, one begins to build "gong li", which is also known as internal strength, not to be confused with physical strength. In addition, as the body gets stronger, it starts to change its physiology. The muscles in the arms, the legs, & the body begin to become softer & sponge like. The tendons become like tree roots. After this stage, they eventually take on the quality of elasticity. For many, the arms become heavier after long period of training.
The principle of the internal connection is not about the body alignment, but rather, it is the presence of Peng Jing energy throughout the body. A reference of moving as one unit refers to this connection of Peng Jing energy. If one executes the movements with Peng Jing energy as one unit, then that person understands the principle of "Stillness in Motion". Therefore, the principle of the internal connection is not about the way the body moves in snapping or waving motion, from feet to hands in a sequential, external "physical" manner which one often sees in other styles. Thus, the "connection" has to be "internal". Moreover, with the presence of Peng Jing energy & as it gets stronger, the stronger the internal connection becomes. As one attains stronger Peng Jing energy, one eventually learns how to yield, listen, discharge, etc. Again, it is therefore Peng Jing energy before the techniques, the velocity, or the postures. Meanwhile, as Peng Jing energy becomes stronger, one continuously refines this energy. With this refinement, there comes the actual, internal power of Tai Chi Chuan, & not some brute force. There is no place for brute force in Tai Chi Chuan, except the steel within one's cottony arms. It is this connection of Peng Jing energy, which makes the power of Tai Chi Chuan soft & effortless. Many people have certain notions that the internal power of Tai Chi Chuan is an effortless power, which comes from training effortlessly. Thinking that one-day this effortless power will appear out of nowhere--thus, such statement, "...tai chi takes long time to learn & because of it, I can't show it even though I've been studying it for 20 years or more..." For the power to be effortless, that particular power has to be very powerful, so when it is released, it seems effortless. Yang Cheng-Fu's power was effortless because he was extremely powerful, & he dedicated his entire life training for this "power". Therefore, with this power, one doesn't have to shove & yank like so-many modern pushing hand practitioners. Imagine Yang, Lu-Chan & Yang, Cheng-Fu becoming "Invincible Fighters" by shoving & yanking their opponents! Not very likely. They simply & effortlessly knocked out their opponents with their steel like arms & hands...now, that's power!
When two traditional Tai Chi Chuan practitioners who have trained in "Dynamic Pushing Hand" interact, one can witness the tremendous explosiveness of the internal power of Tai Chi Chuan. It is so explosive that the whole thing seems to be staged for one's viewing, which is quite understandable considering their ignorance of the nature of Peng Jing energy. But, when a non-traditional practitioner or anyone tries to push one of us, the feeling they experience is like pushing on an oak tree. Recently, I had a 6' 4", 275-pound visitor push my 140-pound student. Result? My skinny Shin stood there with a beaming smile as Patrick shook Shin's hand. Patrick pushed, pushed, & pushed, & he couldn't move Shin! Tai Chi Chuan is about "internal power", contrary to a certain view from Singapore. However, it is not about the unbendable arm of Aikido as I have seen many non-traditional practitioners, who have borrowed this concept to supplement their training. What makes Shin unmovable is the connection of Peng Jing energy. It is the release of this energy that gives Tai Chi Chuan its unique power. The internal power of Tai Chi Chuan is so powerful that one only need to release 4 ounces of power, effortlessly, to cause a severe damage or injury to an opponent, who would feel as if thousand pounds have struck. To oneís opponents, my 4 ounces of power equate to thousand pounds of their power. Therefore, this power comes to exist within one's body. It is not about the mental focus, as in other styles. In Tai Chi Chuan, mental focus enhances the already existing power within. Thus, when the body, the mind, "Chi", & "Peng Jing" are combined with "Time", oneís full potential power is immeasurable. As a result, this manifestation of power is very subtle, fast & unnoticeable, giving the impression that this power is soft all around--again, effortlessness & certain confusions within tai chi community. But, thatís only true to the extent that the Peng Jing energy is soft whereas the internal power itself can be released effortlessly & felt in number of different devastating ways.
Modern versions of tai chi forms will develops "Chi"--then again, any exercise done softly can too as long as there is an emphasis on energy--but, those forms alone cannot give persons the internal power; neither does the modern tai chi pushing hands. Importing the principles of Shaolin, Karate, Yi Chuan, Xing Yi, Western Boxing, etc., which is so frequent, will not assist in developing the traditional internal power of Tai Chi Chuan. The common mistake is that people believe all power is alike; therefore, it is "OK" to combine, but this is not true! Contrary to common understanding, not all styles have originated from Shaolin system. Western boxing will teach you one-two combos, but what is that got to do with Tai Chi Chuan? In Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan, one tries to "minimize the motion while maximize the power", whereas most technique or velocity-oriented styles increase the motion in order to maximize the power, "physical power"--not exactly "Stillness in Motion". While many believe that practicing softly will give power one day, none of these practitioners has ever achieved such status although many believe & strut in illusion. Many are hopelessly awed to the misinterpretations & poorly executed techniques. In fact, having interacted with such practitioners, I found in them virtually no understanding of the internal power. These beliefs by many modern tai chi practitioners are misleading, to themselves & others. In harsh truth, regardless of what one is told by these famous masters or of how long one practice softly, this mythical power will not come. Practicing softly is only effective if it is done with the internal power, in this case, which comes from "Peng Jing energy".
Once the principles are properly understood, then one will realize that the traditional Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan is a very sensible martial art that requires diligent practice. The road to understanding it is often very painful & extremely tiring; but in the end, one can attain the much sought after power. The principles of internal power of Tai Chi Chuan are simple, yet very complex; at the same time, in many ways, they are extremely complex, yet very simple. With the softness comes the hardness of The Tai Chi Chuan power, but it has to be nurtured by "Dynamic Pushing Hand".
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