What Is Peng

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Re: What Is Peng

Postby Taste of Death on Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:01 am

charles wrote:I'd recommend that students spend their time practicing under the direction of a good teacher, rather that spend much time on translations of Classics. The Classics are not a detailed instructional manual.


The classics only make sense to those who already can do what is described in them. And in that case they allow for an aha moment but little more.
Last edited by Taste of Death on Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What Is Peng

Postby Ron Panunto on Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:40 am

I look at the Classics as a road map to keep you on the right track.
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Re: What Is Peng

Postby Steve James on Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:48 am

I don't remember if Chen Xin's book mentions peng or not, but it is central to Chen training.


That was my point.

I don't think we are forced to. I don't think we have to discuss peng at all.


That was my first, and this is my last post on this issue. I only pointed out what the people who described it in writing first said. However, imho, for those in the Yang-influenced or derived styles, the Classics should comprise the oral tradition that is passed on. It's not necessary to learn the "songs" or "sayings," and no more need to know what lu, an, ji, lieh, ... etc., or to connect "look left, gaze right," to the five elements, etc. I do think that any teacher in those lineages should know the Classics well, and be able to show how they apply to what he is doing or teaching. Even so, there will inevitably be differences, but the teachings are there to maintain at least a theoretical consistency.

Afa recommendations, for Chen stylists, the Yang classics don't need to be studied at all. Most of the Yang stuff was created by scholars; but, no one can say that their stuff doesn't work in a very practical way. And, it's true that the classics contain a lot of philosophical theory, as well as concepts from the Art of War, but I think that it's good for some to know and a waste of time for others. It's up to them. If, however, they bother to teach tcc, they should be able to explain how they can make the theories work. Funny, several of the Classics emphasize the need to study and practice. So, again, for those interested, read them all.
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Re: What Is Peng

Postby robert on Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:01 pm

Steve James wrote:Before the internet, people learned of the tcc term "peng" either from a teacher --who probably spoke Chinese and used the term in both the ordinary and martial arts context-- or from a book. Individual tcc teachers were always different or emphasized different aspects of the art, but all referred by or used terminology and phraseology found in the texts called the "Classics." This applies specifically, and some would say uniquely, to the Yang, Wu, and Wu/Hao, and Sun systems. The Chens did have some texts, too, but (iirc) Chen Xin's "Illustrated" does not mention "peng" at all, but focuses on "Chan ssu jin." Anyway, Jarek did much more research on Chen Xin's book, and some can be found here http://www.chinafrominside.com/ma/taiji/chenxin.html. My argument is only that the phrases that most people know when it comes to tcc come via scholarly practitioners of Yang influenced styles. I am not arguing that the principles and phrases don't apply to all variants. I'm only referring to the terminology.

I wouldn't say the focus of Chen Xin's book is chan si jin, that is one of many things he discusses. The idea of neijin is brought up repeated in the book and if we're discussing peng jin as a core strength, neijin is very similar, if not synonymous. Chen Xin doesn't discuss peng, as one of the eight powers, but the term is used in his book.

At end of the section entitled Explanation of Taijiquan’s mechanism of development there is a poem
Verse 1
To conduct such techniques as Ward-off (Peng),
Roll-back (Lu), Press Forward ( Ji) and Push Down (Na),
You must indeed take the Truth to heart.
In order to properly perform such skills as Attracting (Yin),
Advancing ( Jin), Dropping (Luo) and Avoiding (Kong),
You must progress gradually, step by step.
The whole body follows your opponent –
Your closeness creates his difficulties, through which
You can then manipulate the momentum of a thousand pounds
With a force of four ounces!


FWIW
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Re: What Is Peng

Postby wayne hansen on Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:22 pm

SONGS OF THE EIGHT POSTURES

Attributed to T'an Meng-hsien
as researched by Lee N. Scheele

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.

This says it all
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Re: What Is Peng

Postby Steve James on Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:05 pm

Well, ok, the focus of Chen's book is not specifically chan ssu jin. You're right; there's a lot of other stuff. However,

The idea of neijin is brought up repeated in the book and if we're discussing peng jin as a core strength, neijin is very similar, if not synonymous.


This is why I stick with discussing the Yang classics. I don't study Chen or Chen theory. The Classics don't call pengjin a core strength or describe is as such. That's a modern thing. Neijin (or internal jin) is the same "core strength" for peng, lu, an, or ji. Hey, there are people who can explain it as something different; but, I can't and don't.

Secondly, the quote you took from Chen's "Illustrated" describes a technique, not an energy or jin.

At end of the section entitled Explanation of Taijiquan’s mechanism of development there is a poem
Verse 1
To conduct such techniques as Ward-off (Peng),
Roll-back (Lu), Press Forward ( Ji) and Push Down (Na),
You must indeed take the Truth to heart.
In order to properly perform such skills as Attracting (Yin),
Advancing ( Jin), Dropping (Luo) and Avoiding (Kong),
You must progress gradually, step by step.
The whole body follows your opponent –
Your closeness creates his difficulties, through which
You can then manipulate the momentum of a thousand pounds
With a force of four ounces!


He calls it a technique, and that's never the same as a jin. If I were a Chen practitioner, I would probably want to read Xin's book more thoroughly. But, from what I've read, Charles's suggestion to avoid it is probably valid. Well, for one thing, the book was finally translated in 2007. So, as I said, few people knew the contents; and the esoteric parts --that you'll see if you read-- seem far beyond the interest of a casual practitioner. For example, find the text on Googlebooks, and look at the table of contents. I congratulate the practitioner who understands and can transmit the details of the He River or Yellow River charts. I'm not sure how many Chen practitioners know these or know the book in general.

The Yang "Songs" were and can be used as mnemonic devices for students. They're things that were said and written a century and more ago and are (or should be, imo) at the core of the "transmission." They serve a completely different function in the Yang lines as they do in the Chens. That is not a criticism, and not even a disadvantage in terms of practice. Plenty of people know the words. It's easy to say "lead him into emptiness, then use four ounces"... etc. There may even be lots of ways to accomplish it, which will ultimately come down to interpretation, and maybe even translation.

Btw, the main reason I came back to this thread was this part:

To conduct such techniques as Ward-off (Peng),
Roll-back (Lu), Press Forward ( Ji) and Push Down (Na),


I don't do Chen style, but I think the translator made a mistake with "Push Down." It should be "An", not "Na" (grasp, hold). In another oral tradition, there's a saying "Hua, na, da, fa," and I know how that's interpreted. But, I don't speak Chinese. So, maybe "Na" is another way to say push down. Ime, in the Yang/Wu tradition, that's not na. Ymmv.
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Re: What Is Peng

Postby robert on Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:53 pm

Hi Steve, Not a big deal, you said Chen Xin's "Illustrated" does not mention "peng" at all and I just wanted to correct that.
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Re: What Is Peng

Postby Giles on Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:32 am

charles wrote:
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.


The interesting thing about that "song" is that people usually quote the first part of it: the "water supporting a boat" part, and its physical mechanics, qi to the dan tian, head suspended, filled with "spring-like energy". The first part attempts to describe what peng is (like) and how to physically manifest it.

The second part seems to be about how the body is used to uproot an opponent.

It isn't really very clear about what is the relationship, if any, between the first half of the song and the second half: the first is about how to "create" peng, the second is how the body is used to uproot an opponent. The reader is left to make a connection between sinking qi to the dan tian, suspending the head and the entire body being "filled with spring like energy". Chen Xiaowang, for example, defines peng as "qi flowing everywhere [in the body]".

What many seem to miss is the "spring-like energy" part of the song. What is the characteristic of a spring? That when a force is applied it compresses, it mechanically stores energy in proportion to the amount it is compressed; when the force applied is removed, it expands, releasing the stored force. (Note that water is considered incompressible and cannot be spring-like.) Thus, in use, in application, it is not a static situation. Instead, in use, it must compress and expand: "opening and closing in a very quick moment".

If viewed from the perspective of a clear, precise, technical, instructional description, it is pretty poorly written.


To my mind and in my experience, the two halves of this text hang together quite well. It’s true that water is not compressible physically speaking, but very probably the person writing the text didn’t have this knowledge of physics in the modern sense. Date of composition 1930s, 1920s or even earlier?
But nonetheless the image is based on close observation of a natural phenomenon. If one considers the image of the boat floating on the water (or more correctly here, of the water making the boat float) then there is a strong element of elasticity in play. If one pushes down on a smaller boat (e.g. rowing boat or canoe) that is floating on the water then the felt experience of the pusher is that of flexible and resilient elasticity: due to its relationship with the water and the nature of the water itself, the boat yields, accommodates flexibly to the push and at the same time is constantly pushing back up. A person repeatedly pushing the boat down into a water will find it impossible to submerge the boat and will soon tire, while the synergy of water and boat remains “effortless”, “not tense”. And the boat, while in a way “resisting” will never "become hard" nor “overreact” by jumping out of the water and losing its contact with the supporting medium. All precisely like the way a human body with peng quality (one’s arm or potentially any other part of the body) will behave, and how it will feel to a person exerting force against it – be this either through an allergy-causing push ;) or a strike. And the opponent “made to float” then himself begins behaving like someone trying gain a firm footing or handhold on an “unstably” floating boat. Or even better, like trying to sit on a large ball that’s floating on the water.

The starting point for achieving this state of being like “the boat and the water” is to sink the qi to the dantien and to suspend the crown of the head, i.e. to establish a lively, dynamic vertical axis. That’s not the end of the story, for sure, but this body organization is the precondition for the rest of the peng stuff.

That's how I would read this text and how I attempt to train and teach.
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Re: What Is Peng

Postby charles on Thu Apr 20, 2017 7:35 am

Giles wrote:That's how I would read this text and how I attempt to train and teach.


Seems like a good explanation. Thanks for sharing it.
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Re: What Is Peng

Postby cloudz on Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:56 am

How certain are we that it's a mechanical spring and not a water spring?
Just curious, it would be interesting if someone could confirm from the Chinese character.

Spring: a place where water naturally flows out from the ground.
Seems like it could fit quite well, anyway.
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Re: What Is Peng

Postby everything on Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:33 am

I believe it uses a hand radical, not a water radical. Interesting idea and maybe more helpful though.

Some more clarification/confusion is here:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=25586

http://practicalmethod.com/2012/04/peng ... %E6%A3%9A/
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Re: What Is Peng

Postby robert on Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:02 pm

We're talking about taiji, so, of course, I have a different interpretation ;)

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.

There is a question What is the meaning of Peng energy? and an answer It is like the water supporting a moving boat. And then an expansion on the answer and it tells you how to create neijin or the core jin
First sink the ch'i to the tan-t'ien,
then hold the head as if suspended from above.

That general idea is found in taiji, xingyi, and bagua and we know from other writings that that should be maintained while doing internal arts so that is not particular to peng jin as one of the eight jin - all eight jin should have that. If you are doing two hands fixed step push hands that has peng, lu, ji, and an you should sink the ch'i to the tan-t'ien and hold the head as if suspended from above through the whole sequence, not just doing peng jin. Then there is a description of neijin or the core jin
The entire body is filled with springlike energy,
opening and closing in a very quick moment.
And then it tells you what it does.
Even if the opponent uses a thousand pounds of force,
he can be uprooted and made to float without difficulty.

It uproots the opponent and it says that uprooting = floating and the idea of floating ties in to It is like the water supporting a moving boat.

So I see two ideas here - one is the core jin, neijin, and the second is peng jin as one of the eight jin. It tells you what neijin is and how to create it and it also differentiate peng jin from the other seven jin. As one of the eight jin peng is used to uproot or float the opponent and so It is like the water supporting a moving boat. You are the water and the opponent is boat.

My opinion.
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Re: What Is Peng

Postby everything on Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:14 pm

That makes sense. Sometimes (or often) I like to oversimplify as I were explaining this to a kid. You can't say "kid, go off and sink qi for a while and come back". So ignoring that for a moment, we could do a simple demo for the ward off using arm part of it. Have kid:

- hold arms out, deliberately too relaxed
- hold arms out, deliberately too stiff and "muscled"
- hold arms out, with this sort of "bowed" feeling, kind of in the middle.
push something like a large yoga ball on all these "structures". should be easy to feel some kind of difference. arm will flop down, feel stiff and easily tired out, or feel kind of "naturally" strong and "buoyant". good enough for level 0.1
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Re: What Is Peng

Postby robert on Thu Apr 20, 2017 1:16 pm

everything wrote:Sometimes (or often) I like to oversimplify as I were explaining this to a kid. You can't say "kid, go off and sink qi for a while and come back".

Wait, that's what I was told to do ;)
When I started studying Chen taiji I did a private lesson with my teacher and he asked what I wanted to work on. I said peng jin and he said "let's stand". After three years of standing my teacher pointed out that my dantian was full. I continued to stand, but started to work on silk reeling as well. I'm too embarrassed to say how long I trained before I started to really understand neijin. :-\
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Re: What Is Peng

Postby charles on Thu Apr 20, 2017 1:57 pm

robert wrote: I'm too embarrassed to say how long I trained before I started to really understand neijin. :-\


If you didn't do the work, you'd probably not understand it.

I don't think there is any way to understand it without doing the work. As they say, "The map is not the terrain". Intellectual knowledge of a thing isn't the same thing as having or being that thing.
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