Peng Jin in Tai Chi
Peng jin is the primary principle in learning Chen Tai Chi. It is a whole body quality that times time, effort and patience to develop within your structure. Once established, it should always be present. Peng in Chen Tai Chi has a slightly different meaning / expression, it is one of the direct martial applications. Read my article on peng, lu, ji, an for more information.
- Peng: Ward off - outward from the centre.
- Jin: Educated / cultivated / trained / skilled - strength / power / force.
- Peng Jin: Expansive, spiralling, elastic, spring-like, rebounding, lengthening, stretching, resilient, supporting, flexible, buoyant, loosening, balloon-like structure and outward force.
Peng jin is present in stillness with the example of standing practice (Zhan Zhuang), and in movement from silk reeling, the empty hand form to weapons training. None of the principles in Tai Chi are effective without peng jin.
Peng jin means your structure becomes like a flexible elastic sphere. The sphere expands from the centre outwards in all directions, like a rubber ball filled with air. Any force applied to your structure is absorbed, transferred to the ground, rebounded, redirected or deflected. An example of applying force to a rubber ball filled with air is that the force rolls off the ball. This enables you to to neutralise or overcome incoming force.
Ken Gullette from www.internalfightingarts.com has a youtube video on peng jin, which is a great visual explanation of the principle and the rubber ball theory.
Your structure must be aligned correctly for peng jin to work.
The principle fang song must be present for peng jin to work. Fang song means applied relaxation, loosening of the joints, release of inappropriate muscle contraction and release of physical tension. This type of relaxation does not mean a collapsed, loose or floppy structure, as this drops peng jin. None of the principles work without fang song.
Expanding, stretching and lengthening does not mean straightening or locking the joints or limbs, as this also drops peng jin. The majority of people have residual tension in the four major joints of the body, the two hips and the two shoulders, both ball and socket joints. If the body is too tight and wooden, you can never establish peng jin. Loosening must be worked on before / and in tandem with the principle peng jin.
There is a fine balance between a collapsed and floppy structure, and an over-expanded and over-lengthened structure. This can be tested in person with a Tai Chi teacher. When peng jin is lost, it is easily apparent in stability, rooting and centre of gravity. Without peng jin, any force applied to your structure will uproot and destabilise you.
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