Peng, Ground Strength Vector, Wardoff

From: David Poore
more internal definitions
Imagine someone pushes against your outstretched arm. The goal is to channel the incoming force through your body, into the ground. To do this, you must arrange your posture in such a way that this energy transfer can travel through a series of joints. If an angle along this force vector is somehow too acute, or in a 'bad' position, the force will be diverted away from the ground and your center, and you will be unbalanced, and unable to use the peng strength. If, however, your posture is arranged in such a way that the force can go into the ground, then suddenly you have something very powerful to work with.

Consider that if someone pushes your hand, that force must go through many joints to get to the ground: wrist, elbow, shoulder, from shoulder to upper spine, from there to the lower spine, and from there through the hips, to the knees, ankles, and finally to the ground. This is obviously very complicated. However, it can be done, and it can be taught rather easily by a competent teacher.

Here is an experiment.* Get a partner. Take a wide, comfortable stance.
Have your partner give you a VERY gentle push on your hips on either your left or right side. You want them to push more or less parallel to the ground, very gently with both hands against the side of your hip.
They'll be pushing along the long axis of your stance. Be very relaxed and try to feel the force of the push in the bottom of the foot opposite the side they're pushing against. When you can feel this 'line', from the source of the very gentle push to the bottom of the foot, ask your partner to slowly, gradually, increase the force of their push. Once you have established this line, you should be able to relax, sink, and allow the increasingly strong push to be neutralized into the ground, through your opposite foot. If you truely have this line established, you should be able to: 1) Take their full push 2) Slowly and without the use of brute strength, you should be able to follow the line back towards them and push them away from you and 3) They can let go without warning, and you will not lose your stability.

This is a simple, basic method that illustrates the principle, and begins training peng. Consider that the only linkage being made here, is through the waist, and using a stance that is very friendly to the pushee. But this illustrates the principle, and is the basis for training to have this quality in every posture you take. This is what allows you to neutralize force, and emit force in the manner Terry described earlier. And I also believe this is the basis for whole body power, or internal strength.

*[At the risk of making you believe we are already an inbred group, I must give credit where it is due. The exercise I mention here is one that Mike Sigman uses as a very basic introduction to teach a person to understand Peng. I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to attend his class to do so. He's an advanced practitioner and a good teacher.]

From: George Hawrysch 
Subject: Re: more internal definitions (long)

This is exctly right.  However, it sounds as if you're saying that it's all a matter of posture: angles and lines and spatial relations. (Sorry if I miss your point on this.)  While mechanical alignment is absolutely essential, it's only the beginning of internal work.  If you are correctly set up as you describe *and* are very relaxed, you will be able to channel incoming forces into the ground -- but only to a limited degree.  More than a modest amount of push, and most people will be either unbalanced or will lose the relaxation part, tense their muscles against the force, and end up with mere bracing as opposed to true grounding.  What's more, we want the grounding skill to expand eventually into dissipating/redirecting/reflecting the incoming force, not be limited to absorbing it.

To my mind, this is an instance where "real" (tm) internal methods would come in handy.  In this example, I would suggest training to enable the bones at the joint interfaces to move apart and back together again on demand.  That way, instead of relying on a passive structural configuration to deal with the incoming stuff, the pushee can compress or expand *each joint* in the series leading to the floor, individually or in groups.  Joints can be spring-loaded for later release back at the pusher, can dissipate some of the force laterally before it gets to the ground, or just allow the force to transit through them that much more cleanly.

From: Terry Chan 
Subject: Re: more internal definitions

responding to George Hawrysch, above>
Well sure, but wasn't David Poore's original point to demonstrate the ground-strength business in a passive state?  This simplified and contrived situation can help better illustrate what's going on.  Of course, you'll want to be able to dissipate/redirect/reflect the incoming force.

I suspect that the result of a "more than a modest amount of push " unbalancing the person is largely due to either the receiver not adequately maintaining the relaxed and integrated body structure (e.g., not relaxed enough, not as well aligned as originally thought, etc.) and the pusher subtlely manipulating the push to unbalance the person.  If you haven't had the body training, that's what'll happen.  At least that's how I know it. Boy, do I know it.

Hm.  I dunno about this George because what you're suggesting seems to break the unity of the body connection at the points where the "bones at the joint interfaces move apart and back together again on demand."  Those are the trickiest points to maintain the connection.  If I really stretch, I can imagine how flying your bones at the joints apart can sort of dissipate incoming energy but it would seem to be particularly vulnerable to an unexpected level of incoming force because it seems to significantly dilute the structural strength of the body.

Earlier you mention how mechanical alignment is absolutely
essential and yet it sounds like you propose a way that reduces its role.  I feel that a more logical approach to "internal work" would be to train the body to dynamically maintain the optimal body structure in response to external stimuli (oooooo...I love it when I talk dirty).

From: George Hawrysch 
Subject: more internal definitions

responding to Terry Chan, above>
Yes, *logically* it would indeed seem to be just as you say. All I can tell you without a demonstration is that the opposite is what actually happens: connectedness/unity is enhanced when the joints move apart freely.  I distinguish between "loose" joints, where there is above-average range of movement at a joint due to lengthened tendons/muscles, and "open" joints, where the joint is relaxed just as in the "loose" case but can also transfer force through itself while remaining relaxed.  For example, I get dancers and gymnasts in my classes from time to time.  These folks can put a foot behind their neck no problem; their hips are "loose."  But when I put them into a Horse Stance-like posture (knees semi-bent, anyway) they are shaking and sweating after just five minutes.  Why?  Because they are using their leg muscles -- which are very strong -- to transfer the force of their body weight to the ground.  If they let go of those leg muscles, they will fall down: the other connective tissues will not transfer the gravitational force.  Me, I can hold the posture for half an hour no problem.  I simply align, then "sit" on my skeleton while relaxing the surrounding muscles.  My hip joints are "open" to passing my body weight (215 lbs) directly through the bone interfaces.

From: "Walter W. Sigman" 
Subject: Re: more internal definitions

Never one to let a good argument get by [ :^) ], I'd like to interject a couple of comments to the fascia/joint crowd.  When you stretch your arms (or whole body, for that matter) you feel a tensile resistance.  In internal martial arts, this tensile "feeling" augments the core strengths of the internal arts.  What you have to realize is that although the handy word "fascia" covers that whole-body connectedness, there is much more than just fascia involved.  Muscle tissue, skin, tendons, etc., are all part of this "feeling" which is often loosely termed "fascia."

In recoordinating the musculature (coordinative sets) you begin to use the interconnected muscles as larger "sets" which tend to contract... sort of like the fascia would if it could... but it's not the fascia doing the contracting.

From: (Tim Cushing)
Subject: Re: more internal definitions (long)

From: David Poore>
> Here is an experiment.* Get a partner. Take a wide, > comfortable stance. Have your partner give you a VERY > gentle push on your hips on either your left or right > side.... > > *[ that Mike Sigman uses as a very basic > introduction to teach a person to understand Peng....] > I found it very instructive to take this to the next couple levels of pushing simultaneously on hip and shoulder, and pushing lateral-to-down on both arms (wardoff). The "tree hugging" stance, with both arms in front and the fingers slightly separate and the head just right ("tuck the chin"). Not too low, and not narrow, and be sure to point the feet right ("pigeon toed" he said, and it felt, but it looks just straight ahead).

It's interesting how relatively slight changes in posture (tail bone over or under tucked, chin not tucked right, weight too far forward or back, etc.) changes the stance from "solid" to "spongy". It's perhaps most noticeable to the pusher, since you really feel like you're pushing the ground when the stance is right. For the pushee, you have to be honest with yourself and sense when to admit to resisting with muscle rather than the proper use of muscle to simply align the stance.

It was surprising (to me) just how "stiff" a wardoff is to a push, when held right. And pushed right; you can't, of course, support direct down forces like a child swinging on your arms:).

A good test we did was to carry on a conversation while being pushed. The pushee should have no chest or breathing tension, so should be able to chat easily. If the posture sags over time, then you're using muscle to resist. In some ways, It kind of feels like "surfing" the pusher's energy into the ground.

From: "Walter W. Sigman"
Subject: Re: Internal Strength

A circle can be thought of as a closed figure composed of an infinite number of points.  A sphere's surface can be thought of as the end of an infinite series of lines originating from the center... peng jing is similar to *one* of these lines from the center to the surface.  However you can activate any line from the center, depending on where you need it (for ward-off or for power discharge).  Fa-jing will always happen along a peng path.

< Peter Lim replies and Mike elaborates> > Apparently we are talking two different things yet the same thing again. > Yuan jing is also known as luo xuan jing. It is the point where peng jing > originates, the center of the top as it were. All jing originates from the > centre which is located at the tan tien. Thats why we have the phrase, > 'chi zuan tan tien'. :-) > True, that is the normal perspective.  My analogy was not perfect, but let's use it for a moment.  If the tan tien is the center of the sphere, then we must allocate the path directly from the center to the ground in order to access the ground's supportive strength (without the ground, peng jing is lost; local minor jings I'm disregarding).  So, even though the classical Chinese view holds the origin as the tan tien, lifting a practitioner from the ground will take away his power.

Incidentally, in the classical view, peng is said to originate from the ming men.  Again, though, without the ground, there is no peng.

My analogy was imperfect; let me give another (also imperfect) view.
Picture again the sphere resting on the ground.  Now make all the lines reaching the surface of the shpere originate from the point where the sphere is in contact with the ground.  Now all of the lines radiate from the ground and even if the ball is rolling there will always be access to the ground from any point on the sphere's surface.... the taiji sphere.

> I thought I understood somethings, and then suddenly found myself > confused again.  Originally, everyone seemed to agree with Mike that > the peng path is the direct line from the rooting foot to the point > of contact. >
That's correct.

> Fa-jing is to exert the force along this path.
That's correct.

> There are many ways to add more force to it, such as twisting the > punch, closing/opening, pile stacking etc. >
That's correct.  Ft = F1 + F2 + F3 + ....Fn  In other words, adding forces on top of the already strong peng, which is actually a vector force.

> explain the role of tan tien in fa peng jing??
> The main problem is that the Chinese view has the waist driving momentum down the peng path to the rooted foot.... in order to increase the total force through rebound.  Since the waist (center, tan tien, whatever) initiates the motion, the qi is said to go from the tan tien to foot and back up to hand/point-of-contact.

>From a western view, though, the peng path goes from ground to point-of-contact.  Not all jing release require or accomodate the bounce aspect, but all use the peng path.  I prefer to view the peng path as from ground to hand; it's easier for me to monitor.  Some Chinese view it the same way.

> I think it may be a question of timing. At what point does the peng > jing  begin? Does the peng jing start when the mind decides to use it > or when the  rooted foot is ready? I may be *rooted*, but I'm ready to > neutralize. At  this point if I want to peng, the ground-force-vector > needs to expand in two  directions: toward the root and toward the > point of contact. The first thing  I do is *drop* some energy from the > tan tien and establish the *ground*. The  rest is the same. This also > has the effect of internally *bouncing* energy  (from the tan tien) > off the ground, and through the *peng path*. From my  experience this > helps to *smooth* out the release of energy as well  (although I don't > know why). Try it and let me know what you think. > Your peng strength should be present at all times, always forming the framework of every move and posture.  Opening and Closing are powered through the use of peng and the way that you direct it... you direct it with the mind and with the waist.

It is the path along which the fa-jing is issued, but it remains constant before and during the issue.  It may be broken immediately after issue, but is quickly reformed.

Peng is considered solid in one direction only, void in all others.  If I push against the peng in someone's forearm, it should be solid, but I should be able to move the arm easily up, down, or sideways... if I can't, then the person is using muscle.  Likewise, when I push, even though it feels solid, the person should be able to wiggle his, knees, hips, torso, etc.

Most people (statistically) who have an idea of the peng strength, ruin it by the addition of muscular tension.  Stay relaxed.

From: "Walter W. Sigman">
Subject: Re: Peng in Xingyi

My definitions are simplistic and not necessarily correct by precise definition.  However, they do match up with some Chinese writings (so I'm not too far off, by definition) and they help demystify (which is what my main goal is).

Peng is the conveyance of the grond-force vector through the scaffold which is our skeleton.  It is the main power of an opening (expanding) move.

Closing is normally done along pretty much the same path (shortest path from target to ground), but it involves using the entire outer musculature as a unit which contracts (heavy attention on torso and thoracic musculature).

It takes a lot of practice to truly re-coordinate the body to work in this manner; academic understanding is not even close to the truth.

Please note that opening and closing have a close relation with the expansion and contraction of the Tan Tien which is by the way the reason why we do reverse breathing and why it it more effective than normal breathing. The Tan Tien is the origin within the body of the root and power.

> My question, then, is do you *really* mean *straight line* root-to-contact peng vectors independent of a through-the-body path (curvy vector)?
This is where the use of analogies comes back to haunt!  :^)

If the body is a series of scaffoldings which need to support some
object, we can do it in 2 general ways.

(1).  Place the scaffolding roughly between the object and the ground. In this case the supporting "ground force" will flow directly through the "scaffolding" to the ground.  When you push on someones forearm and they know how to use relaxed peng, this is the case.  A native porter carrying a load is another good example of this.

(2).  If the object is lower than the top of the scaffolding, you might put an appendage downward from the top of the scaffolding to support the object.  If you place the appendage just right, you can can direct the incoming force "across the empty air" directly into the supporting base of the scaffolding.

That 2nd analogy isn't too good, but the idea is to show you the two main ways that the peng force can be manipulated.

From: "Walter W. Sigman">
Subject: Re: Question about Tai Chi Weapons

If you hold one end of a staff, say with your right hand near the end and
your left hand out a couple of feet toward the middle; left foot is forward, staff is horizontal.  Let the right hand rest against you just below the ribs on the fight side.

Now have a friend push moderately on the other end of the staff, directly into your waist.  You'll find that it is very easy to relax and ground his push into your back foot.  It's very easy to train into the use of peng with this example.... once you understand the example you can train a similar push into your arm quite easily.  You can alos learn to push outward from the ground,, i.e., your friend will feel the ground-force in your push (you have "brought qi" to the end of the staff).

Weapons can be excellent ways to train in your understanding and use of the internal body mechanics.

From: "Walter W. Sigman" 
Subject: Re: Getting Good at T'ai Chi Ch'uan

But to get to function.... those of you who understand the idea and general how-to's of using peng strength; stop everything and for the next 2 -3 months practice opening doors by pushing with peng that is so pure you use almost no muscular effort.  If you know the closing side, practice it also.  That's all you should do.

From: "Walter W. Sigman" 
Subject: Re: Peng jing question?

On Thu, 27 Oct 1994, David Zhu wrote:
> One of the main principle of Taichi is "bu diu and bu ding" (don't loose > the contact, and don't block with strength).  The Peng Jing seems to > violate the second one.  My understanding of Peng Jing is you use it only > monentarily to make the contact when a attack comes too quickly before you can move your feet or body or both.  Any comment on that?
I think that you could consider peng as the concealed strength (as it says in the classics)... the one which is always there.  To an incoming force, it will "ward off", but you're right... to manifest it aggressively is wrong. 

From: Lim Tian Tek 
Subject: Re: Peng jing question?

Just to add my $0.02 worth on 'bu tiu bu ting'. Translated it means 'no letting go, no resistance' but it doesn't get the full meaning across. 'bu ting' means no hard resistance. In peng, think of it like pushing against a person's arm with a balloon in between, 'bu tiu bu ting' is not to be taken in a passive sense (at least this is the way it was put to me) but in that it will re-direct your opponent's force and in doing so find an openning to attack, not letting go means always maintain contact, not resisting with hardness but with roundness yeilding and redirecting the force and flowing into opennings like water. My English expression is not good enough describe it exactly the way I want to but I hope the above is not too confusing.

From: "Rob Morton" 
Subject: Re: Peng jing question?

 One translation I found useful was "don't lose, don't oppose" - the idea
being that these are two boundary conditions we don't want to go over.
Eg when being pushed we shouldn't let the opponent take control of our motion by acting like wet rags and stepping back in an uncontrolled manner, nor, at the other extreme, should we just heave right back.  It's a useful simple idea to get over to beginners. cheers Rab NB When I say "translation", it was made clear this was one idea "encoded" in the original.

From: Allen 
Subject: Re: Peng Jing?

I think alot of confusion arises when Mike is talking about the core of neijia wushu being the Peng Jing and people immediately think of "Ward off".  In essense they are really the same I guess.  But ward off is a motion, and peng is the essense which the motion of ward-off is based upon.  Without the peng (Tan/Ren), the motion of warding off something would be entirely a muscular effort.  Besides, I think translating Peng to "ward-off" may be simplifying things a bit too much anyway.

Hmm..what else.  Oh the cultivation.  Well, I was told that the quickest way to built up neijing is to do all sorts of standing posts.  In my school, on top of all the standing meditations there's also the Wu square form.  We can take, say, the first half of the brush-knee-and-push and perform it to the point where everything is "open", i.e. everyting is stretched to the limit, and then hold it here for a period of time. Another example would be the Wu's single whip (which is sort of a single whip in horse stance rather than bow stance).  Here one hand is in a beak pointing down, therefore stretching the upper side of the entire arm; the other hand is in a "sitting" palm, therefore stretching the underside of the entire arm.  Now add the opening of the back you get a stretched connection from tip of one hand to the top of the other hand. We hold it there for a while then switch hands.  Things like this.

I realize that "stretching" is probably a bad word to use for it implies muscular effort.  Well, it's hard to describe anyway.  I get all sorts of weird sensations along the "path" of the connection, which I never get when I just "stretch".  Now, all I have to do is just "think" of the connection and a milder version of the same sensation will return.  It's kinda fun actually.

From: "Walter W. Sigman" 
Subject: Re: Yang Family Secret Transmission book

On Wed, 2 Nov 1994 XLTran@UH.EDU wrote: First question:  if I hypothesize that each basic posture of TCC has a peng strength application or training purpose (let's forget about MA application), would you condone my hypothesis.

The hypothesis is basically correct, but will lead to errors if you leave it too simplistic....Shooting the arrow is not that big of a deal; if you "store" (using back, hip, knee, etc.) *along* the optimal peng path to your target, the release is like launching an arrow... storing has the "potential energy" feeling that drawing a bow does.


Ward-Off is usually shown to be in the arms (with Peng strength), however you can bring peng to any *one* place at a time and still call it ward-off.  For instance, if you get through to my chest while pushing-hands, I'll probably bring the peng strength immediately there and either bounce you away or use it as a basis for turning and neutralizing your push.

In case I *do* use peng as the basis for turning and neutralizing your push, it would be a rollback (see, rollback doesn't necessarily have to be in the hands or arms, either).

Push is usually to the palms, as you said, but "Press" or "squeeze" can be to the palm backed by the other hand, as can the wrist, the elbow, or the shoulder.

Split refers to two opposing forces.  For instance, if you apply split to someone's elbow using "Close", the forces to break his elbow are going in two separate directions.  However, you can also split with pure opening, such as when you have a leg behind him and you "open" upward with your arm throwing him over your leg.  Etc.

Elbow is peng jing through the elbow.  What you're calling "shoulder" is "Kao" and is more properly thought of as maybe "bump".  It can be applied not only with the shoulder, but with the hips, ribs, shoulder-blade, etc., etc.

From: Stephen Chan 
Subject: Re: Shaolin and Tai Chi

        The continuous energy of Taijiquan doesn't mean that movements are smooth, and constantly flowing seemlessly from one technique to the next. It means that your body structure is such that when energy comes in, it is transmitted to the ground smoothly, and is then bounced back without interruption - if someone puts 10 pounds of force on you, they feel 10 pounds back. If they put 100 pounds of force on you, then they feel exactly 100 pounds back. You are not resisting with 100 pounds of force, but lining up your body so that all their force is returned to them. Furthermore, the slow training of Taijiquan is not to so much to train fluidity of motion, as it is to train you to maintain this quality of your structure at all times, throughout all movements - WITHOUT USING MUSCULAR TENSION TO MAINTAIN THE STRUCTURE.
        This one of the 2 fundamental energies of Taijiquan, and it is what Taiji people call "peng".

        This yin/yang stuff is totally misapplied within this context.
Authentic, complete Taiji is both yin and yang already. Taiji power is not a "soft, whiplike power", which is fast, but not solidly connected to the ground. It is not like a ball on the end of a chain.         If an accomplished Taiji guy allows you to encounter the peng path directly, you will feel a very solid and almost immovable connection to the ground. If they avoid letting you encounter their peng path directly, you will feel like you're trying to push a basketball into a tub of water; there is a constant and almost overwhelming force keeping you from pushing in, but you are unable to find the line of force to oppose it directly.         This last part involves a little trickery, since it keeps you from really testing the quality of their peng, to see if they need to use tension or not.

From: "Walter W. Sigman" 
Subject: Re: Stances ( was Re: Bajiquan )

On Mon, 14 Nov 1994, Stephen Chan wrote:
>       I am told that the body mechanics of the internal arts are all fairly similar, so that stances and such should be the same.
Roughly so, Stephen, but if you have a comfortable and relaxed propagation of the peng strength through open hips, you'll find that you can vary the stances.... within certain parameters.

>       How do folks account for this variability ?
One good point that I've heard is that stances "should be round, not square, and not triangular."  This means that the crotch area should be rounded like an arch.  If you're doing too low a stance, the crotch is flat and will form a square angle with the knees; if you're doing too high of a stance, the crotch will form a triangle.

You'll notice also, that what happens if you get too low is that you have great difficulty in establishing, maintaining, and manipulating the peng strength... hence "no qi" will be said of a stance too low.

From: "Walter W. Sigman" 
Subject: Re: Occam's Razor and the dreaded Qi

Relaxed, in a rough sense, doesn't mean that no muscle is used... one of the marks of high-level Taiji players is extremely strong legs.  If the legs and lower joints are strong, the upper body can stay very relaxed and need only be a 'transmitter.'

In the sense that peng jing involves deliberately aiming and using the supportive ground force through the skeletal structure (like using a rickety, loose scaffold), they say that this force uses the bones... enough muscle to manipulate and maintain the structure is needed, though.

Because the "scaffold" of the body (the skeleton) does most of the load bearing, the whole body unit is used to support a load.  This is technically the "opening" force... there is still "closing to be reckoned with.

Well, obviously, the scaffolding needs the ground or a connection with the ground at some point.  I can also sit on a barstool and do that trick ... I just direct the incoming push into my bottom and down through the stool leg(s) to the ground; bear in mind that there are always limitations of angle and force magnitude (you can't stop a bulldozer).

From: "Walter W. Sigman" 
Subject: Re: FaKe's Pole-shaking and Mike's Peng

On Wed, 23 Nov 1994, Allen wrote:
> Mike, how does Chen FaKe's "300 Pole-shakings a day to develope his wrist" fit in with your ground vector/Peng/everything-relaxed model?  I am just curious because this pole-shaking stuff seems to be all over the place in many neijia styles.
Peng and the slight tensile body connection (*not* tense) go from the ground, through the torso to about mid-back, up and out the arms to the spear.  Storing and releasing along this path (jing starts in the legs, to waist, to hands), strengthens the connection and the waist.  There are actually anumber of various ways to shake the pole, each concetrating on developing certain areas.

Since the wrist is pretty much the weak link in this "chain", strengthening the wrist and arms to transmit heavy-duty peng-jing and to strengthen the "connection" (what some people crudely refer to as "fascia"), is very important.

Subject: RE: Pole-shaking ?

Chet Braun:
>I was wondering if this type of exercise is similar to what I learned but not by the name "pole-shaking".  Can you briefly describe it?
It's hard to describe this stuff, but roughly you're in a basic bow stance, with the pole held out to the front corner (i.e., if you've got your right leg forward, the pole is towards the left front corner).  The right hand holds the end of the pole, the left hand is towards the middle.  Draw back (as in Rollback) onto the back leg as you "rollback" the pole, cirlcing back then up.  Then shift forward and really DROP your weight into the front leg, extending the left hand out.  The power of the pole is basically going downward.  Some points they emphasize are to hold the pole pretty tightly (at least in the beginning) and try to get the power out to the tip so it shakes (the pole, not you).  Also the hand holding the end of the stick must stay pretty close to the body. In practice, the "power" part of the move can be done either as an Opening or Closing.

As for the name of this exercise, I just called it "pole-shaking" because that's what seemed to be used in previous mails.  My teacher never gives mush of a name to anything.  (I think he referred to this as "learn stick")

From: "Walter W. Sigman" 
Subject: Re: neijia criteria

You can do short power and long power whichever way you train your muscles.  The real "correct" feeling comes from someone who does a lot of standing, though.  Both ways involve using peng jing, in the internal arts.  The only difference is the amount of time over which the projected push lasts.

For instance, a long-jing tends to push you away... it's really a push using peng jing.  Short power, by doing the same push over a shorter time interval can cause injury because of it's sharpness. 

From: "Walter W. Sigman" 
Subject: Re: notes from a beginner keeping that correct alignment, rest a 2-pound bag of sand on the top of the head and let it rest on the top of this relaxed support.  That's very basic peng.

When you do "Brush Knee and Twist Step", stop, let your weight sink down into the back leg, and have a classmate push with 2 pounds into the palm of your forward hand.  See if you can form the same relaxed path again, from your hand to your back to the ground... no effort.  (Keep the shoulder very slightly forward and relaxed; relax the lower back so that it bows incrementally outward).  That's very basic peng, also.  The correct hand position for the "Brush Knee and Twist Step" is that position which allows the propagation of this ground support with the least muscular effort.

From: "Walter W. Sigman" 
Subject: Core Principles Disc.

The Core List: Technique versus Skill

>From Wu Style Taijquan (discussing Wang PeiSheng): "His own training ranged from pilestance-keeping ( a form of traditional Chinese isometric training system) to the solo practice of verious forms of martial arts of Taiji school, the quan (barehand), the sword, the broad sword and the staff, with deep con centration on letting every movement be directed by a tranquil mind in accordance with Taijiquan principles."  page 2, first edition 1983

To me, it is very interesting to pay attention to correct physical development in the internal arts, and to have this continued growth of the odd aspects of qi and qigongs.  However, the physical practice can be done, and skills gained, without having to pay attention to the etheric qi.

In the quotation above, the practice of pilestance keeping is referred to as an isometric training practice.  This is true.

Not only pilestance will do this (if done correctly), but also stopping and holding postures in the taiji form will do it, doing a form very slow will contribute to it, Xingyi's san-ti stance the same, and Bagua's circle-walking is also the same thing (it 's just stances done while moving and training the legs).  All of these practices are said to "develop the qi."  The trick is to do them in the correct way...

All of the practices will build up the body frame-unity that is one of the hallmarks of the internal martial systems.  Incidentally, because of the inseparable definition of Qi and this form of strength, these trainings should be understood as developing this kind of strength, even when a teacher says that stancework "develops qi."

When done correctly, stancework develops both peng and unit-body connection...

From: "Walter W. Sigman" 
Subject: Re: Core Principles Disc.

> Peter suggested using Peng (capital P) to describe a body-power (he calls > it Jing), and peng (small P) to describe a technique (one of the 8 "jings" by others) based primariy on Peng... Jing the body power and jing the technique.

This could get tricky, but let me give it a try.

Peng is always there, except for the momentary break at discharge.  When you see the posture "Wardoff" with the forearm held out in front, you have to realize that that is only 1 posture that represents peng... there are many others.  In a sense, that forearm posture and any of the other myriad ways of employing peng.. represent peng.

Ji and An are pure peng strength... and hence are techniques which employ peng strength.

Lu and Tsai (Cai) tend to employ both closing and peng.

Lieh ("split") can be pure peng, pure "closing," or hybridized... it depends on the application which you are using.

Jou and Kao are usually peng applications, but in sophisticated usages, closing will enter.

For clarity's sake, I don't mind differentiating the jing and a posture, but technically peng is in all postures.  Confusing, eh?  :^) 

From: "Walter W. Sigman" 
Subject: Re: Tendon Question Fighting Observation

> I would contend based on my observation that relaxed power is not really relaxed it is instead using muscle groups other than the arm muscles to generate the energy in the strike and involving the mass of the truck and legs in motion rather than just the arm and shoulder.
The real differentiating factor in the internal arts is gaining sophisticated skills in the control and use of the peng strength... technically you only need the muscles to support *maintaining* the peng structure since it is the structure which does the "work."  In that sense, the body is relaxed.

The idea of "sung" was never that the body was almost limp, since the supporting structure was there.  Technically, the body is relaxed bu it should have peng strength as the core and a *very slight* stretched connection throughout the body to maintain and train unity.

When this frame with "sheath" (I'm being simplistic, so there are some implied errors) is trained (takes a while), the frame of the body itself exhibits some rebound properties (using the ground as base).  It is the idea of the "frame" and its joints providing rebound (while the rest of the body is relatively relaxed) which gives rise to the idea that strength comes from the joints and sinews rather than the muscle.

To add to the cleverness, body momentum, inertia, etc., and other physical addenda add to any strikes.  There are even some very clever additions which add even more to the power delivered.  Without the core of peng strength, thoough, it will just be external training.

Someone who is really trained in "internal strength" parameters will exhibit extraordinary power... not limp magic.  The fully trained body can hit with enormous power (over short distances)without local tension.  The whole body unit begins to feel like a heavy boa-constrictor to an outside observer.  The ability to "close" makes the practitioner feel again like a giant snake contracting with vice-like power.

That's just the power.... the techniques to use the power differ with the style (Taiji, Xingyi, Bagua, I-Chuan, Liu He Ba Fa, etc.).  Also, because of training variations, the different styles will build these strength characteristics with different emphases.  It's a big topic, really.

From: "Walter W. Sigman" 
Subject: Re: Core Principles

If you're letting someone test your peng strength, you often let him push against your forearm while you stand in a very relaxed, sunken state.  If you're doing it well, in this example, let's say that you're bringing his push from your forearm to your back to the ground, very relaxedly.

Without changing posture, let your partner take away his hand and push against your chest... you will have to make your peng path go from the chest wall through to your lower back and on down to your sole.

Wherever your partner pushes you can form a ground path (sometimes slight angular readjustments will be necessary), usually by just mentally forming the ground path.  As your skills get better, this ability gets more sophisticated and pronounced.

At any rate, though, you have to will where you want the peng path.  To use peng is to imply using the mind, the will, the Yi.   It is a skill that differs from normal movement.  The old saying is that "this form of strength is not intuitive, it must be learned."  The same training and use of strength is required in all of the internal arts, for the most part, or they are not internal arts. 

From: "Walter W. Sigman" 
Subject: Re: Core Principles - 6 Harmonies?

The wai san ho (3 external harmonies) are something that naturally happens when you have the body connected, with each motion driven by peng be pused up *into* the back (different areas, different movements result).

One of the best ways to watch the wai san ho is to do a loose Repulse
Monkey, making sure that you "close" inward as the body comes together (just before the pivot, step back).  If you're doing it right, it becomes obvious about the shoulder-hip, elbow-knee, wrist-ankle harmonies.

From: "Walter W. Sigman" 
Subject: Re: Testing Combat Skills

On Mon, 19 Dec 1994 XLTran@UH.EDU wrote:
> Another question based on my ignorance of the peng strength.  If peng is basically structural with minimal tensile to keep the *frame* in place (if I have been mistaken your internet teaching, please forgive and forget it), then would working the internal strength to a higher level be just training for sensitivity and quick alignment??  Or do you mean working on the so-called add-on and closing powers ??
With the efficiency of peng and closing acquired, you can boost your power to extraordinary levels with complementary training (add-on). Essentially, you learn a way of strength which is very strong, yet which puts little demand on the muscualr system.... then you strengthen it with some very coever training devices.

> And why a person with high internal strength doesn't need to rely on technique? S/he can release or absorb so much power at anyplace on his/her body that it seems to be no need to be worry about the technique ??
That's true.

From: Peter Lim 
Subject: Re: Qi Balls and Basics

On Mon, 26 Dec 1994 wrote:
> How _do_ peng and internal strength relate?
Well, internal strength (nei li) in normal chinese usage refers to the ability to store, manipulate and express qi. peng is an expression of qi at work. 

From: Peter Lim 
Subject: Re: Qi Balls and Basics

On Tue, 27 Dec 1994, Rich Shandross wrote:
> Peter -- please explain what you mean by "refined force", as opposed to Mike's"force vector".  I can see that since force is a vector by nature, one needn't state the word vector:  so what I'd like to know is, what's refined about it?
The term refined strength could also be used. Force is a vector by nature but many times it is force without a directed purpose or target. Targeted efficient force could be a better explanation. Normally there is some contention between the antagonistic muscles that drive the motion so a measure of the force is retained in the muscles resulting in tension. Refined strength is when there is no muscular contention resulting in efficient transmission of the force generated. But that is a explanation from a western viewpoint. The chinese have a rather more convoluted and implicit view.

> Also, Mike -- are you referring to the vector at the point of impact, or > the whole series of vectors which comprise the transmission of force from the tan tien to the striking point (a la Peter's higher levels of contact management)?

We are talking about the same thing.  Manipulating this force vector is what Peter *should be* referring to (I won't know until I can get him to hit me whether we are exactly in agreement).  For all practical purposes we are talking about the same thing.

In an earlier post to Eric Hoffman I described how the vector is technically from the sole of the foot to the hand, although the traditional Chinese view has it going from the Tan Tien simultaneously to the hand and the foot.

Technically, you're right.  However, in real life it's a little more complicated than that, and I use the simpler example because it's easier to learn as one complete vector that as a series (the idea of added vectors is then an easy step).

Also, because of the complexity, it *is* quite often only one vector. Consider the example of a loosely-bolted scaffolding frame.  If you push down into it at 45 degrees from a top corner toward an opposite bottom corner, the scaffold may shift slightly in accomodation, but will, for all practical purposes, propagate the load to ground through only one vector.
> On a related topic, since what's happening is opening and closing at the _joints_, isn't the real force transmission from center of the joints outward, the two ends receiving the ultimate sum of those forces being the ground and the victim?  And since the ground ain't taking the energy, the victim does.  That is, back to the springy pole and door frame we have a tensile/compressive force problem (which interestingly enough, the mechanics call an internal force problem) or some other kind?  I think in the interest of simplicity and accuracy and consistency, if we can use terminology which implicitly stays within the framework of this tensile/compressive model, opening and closing will seem obvious as the fundamentals of internal work.
I agree.  And in the same sense, this is one of our two "basics" (the other one being like a "sheath of latex" over the springy pole.  From these two core "principles" all others derive as variations. 

From: "Walter W. Sigman" 
Subject: Qi, Jing, etc.

When you get involved with Oriental martial arts, the idea of Ki or Ch'i or Qi (all the same thing) is usually presented as an intangible "force" that is somehow tied up with the word for "air."

However, many unusual physical displays are described as being done with Qi, also.

I learned how to do many of the same displays.... accessing what was really just an unusual physical skill, Qi be damned. :^)   When I would show my command to several *different* teachers (not related in any way to each other), I would get compliments on my Qi skills and would be shown further ways to improve on them.  So we were talking about the same thing, but they were calling it Qi and I was thinking of it as a ground-vector strength (after talking with my friend Bill Chen).

I began to realize that the word "Qi" also contained this set of physical skills within its definition boundary.

While studying with Liang Bai Ping (a member of the Beijing Chen-style Research Society... one of Feng's students), I was able to talk often with him about this definition.. because his command of English is so good (idomatic level ... he likes puns, too).  He sees where many of the misconceptions have come from, but typically, doesn't want to say anything public.

When my group arranged to bring in Zhang Xue Xin from San Francisco, I was able to listen to Zhang describe some of the very sophisticated Chen-style windings in a way which confirmed this interchangeability of Qi and Jing (as a vector strength).  Zhang would track the driving force from the ground, up the bones and muscles in the exact path that it traveled (it spirals somewhat), all the while referring to it as Qi.
>From an engineering standpoint, he was delineating the path of
load-bearing and connected strength.

When I asked Liang why Zhang just didn't refer to it as a jing path, he just shrugged and said, "Oh, the older generation always refers to that as Qi.

It has to be understood that even though this physical element is actually there, there is also an attendant increase in what can at best be referred to as the "etheric Qi" or "Real Qi."  Unfortunately for my engineering mind, I am convinced that there is something about the etheric Qi that warrants investigation.... it increases as your skills increase in manipulating this jing.

From: "Walter W. Sigman" 
Subject: Re: Re Re Core Principles FAQ

In setting up the ground-path you have established the jing.  What you are getting back to is the release of power along the jing path, i.e., you are getting involved in power as a function of delta (time).  I am leaving out the delta(time) aspect because we are not necessarily discussing jing as a power release.  the Peng jing is the core path over which *all* of the things you are talking about (including "listening jing") are transmitted.   Like I said, this may be different to you. Hard to convey all of this over the net; as I said, I'm willing to meet face-to-face and have a clinicla discussion which we could convey back to the group.

From: Marion Hakanson 
Subject: Re: Qi and FAQ

My own understanding of "martial qi" is that it's used as a metaphor for the physical force vector and the mental intention plus body-mind skills necessary to present & maintain it.  And this also differs from what Mike terms the "etheric qi" which is of questionable martial use (especially at the basic level -- I don't find it helpful, even in an inspirational sense, to spend much time talking about zapping people at a distance).

When I was first exposed to Mike's dichotomy of force-vector vs etheric qi, it fit with my own barely developed understanding of the body mechanics and "qi flow" sensations I've experienced.  At a basic, practical level, they very much seem to be two things.  Yes, at an academic level it's all "qi", but even Chinese make distinctions about the different kinds of qi.

It seems to me that the English term "energy" can be used in just as vague a way as "qi", so it's probably a very accurate translation.

From: "Walter W. Sigman" 
Subject: Re: Math/Physics of Force

Without getting mired in math, let me see if I can simplify what we're talking about.  In the "core basics" sense, we're trying to represent jing as an established path which has one end at the ground and the other end at another part of the body (let's just say hands, but it could be anywhere that you "will" it).  The idea is kept simple because this core "path" is the basis for many of the other skills which you're hinting at.

Even "listening jing" is dependent on this path.  Without knowing how to establish and utilize this path, you have not crossed the threshold into "internal" martial arts.

The Concept of F = Ma in the Internal Martial Arts:

True, Force is related to Mass and how fast that Mass is moving; even the acceleration of that Mass is important.  Often I see attempts to model the "force" of a martial movement based on this Newtonian concept, but it is an incomplete idea, particularly in the "internal" martial arts.

The "path" along which the ground-vector travels is probably the most important "base concept" of the internal martial arts.  Manipulating this path in various ways at various speeds, etc., is the heart of the "skills" of the internal martial arts.  However, this skill which very purely brings the ground-strength itself into play also changes the whole concept of "Force" in the "internal" martial arts.

Although other martial arts use a "good stance", etc., in their performance, they do not specialize in bringing the purest and strongest transmission of the ground into play at all times.  This is why "Kao" can feel like getting hit by a truck. ;^)

So in the "internal" martial arts, while you still consider Force as a relationship to Mass and acceleration, you now have to look at the addition of Forces which are directly related to the ground-strength; in other words, leverage forces, torsional forces, etc., which are more related to angles, elasticity, etc., come into the forefront.

So in the "internal" martial arts, a Force will be related to not just Mass and acceleration factors, but also the purity and stability of the ground force ("standing" helps), the angles of the body (postures which are used in the transmission of force), conditioning factors (they are many, but they generally help in the release of this ground-based strength).

The whole of this type of strength is *far* more sophisticated that this simplistic overview, but still the core remains the same.

Subject: Re: More or Less About Force and Qi

Jonathan Buss writes:
> What makes having peng different from having good posture?
If I may venture into the minefield (that is to say, if I understand your question...)... as Mike has said, the Peng path is dependent on both will (intent) and structure (posture). As the old saying goes, "I Dao, Chi Dao, Li Dao". Without mental involvement (which is necessary to respond to a situation with the appropriate jing) you can't maintain the Peng path as the situation changes.

From: Terry Chan 
Subject: Re: More or Less About Force and Qi

Jonathan Buss:
  > > What makes having peng different from having good posture?

Mike Sigman:
  > I think that this is the area where people are getting confused.
  > *Most* people who are sure that they are using "peng" are just   > using good posture.

"Peng" can be viewed as having the relaxed connection between the ground and any point of contact (or just on your own body if you're working on your own).  What is commonly described as "good posture" is a limited subset of the variety of postures that people can affect.

If one's is skill is high enough, you can have "Peng" in almost any posture which would probably be a far cry from what many consider to be "good posture."

"Peng" allows you to "fa jing" (issuing energy) and to cultivate "ting jing" (listening energy/skill).  If you are familiar with "ting jing," you can probably have some sense that there's more to what's going on than just maintaining "good posture."

Jonathan Buss
  > Can you explain "relaxed connection"?  How is someone with peng
  > different from someone who can relax without falling over?

If you have an arm extended forward and someone applies a great deal of strength into it, through your "relaxed connection" you can channel all the incoming strength into the ground without tensing up or your stance and posture being substantially altered.  This is a simple and stylized example but it illustrates an important property of Peng.

Lots of words have been flung here and in books.  Conceptually it's a simple thing but it can be (and often is) really hard to "get."  I suppose that's why Ma Yue Liang writes that when one understands the nature and the meaning of Peng that one has begun to enter the door to Taijiquan.

From: (mikel evins)
Subject: Re: More or Less About Force and Qi

You should be able to extend your arm and effortlessly accept someone's full weight with it. Increasing the force on your extended arm should directly increase the force of the foot (where the root of the peng path meets the floor) against the floor. If the arrangment of your joints is right then the full force of the push is distributed along the skeleton from joint to joint and the only muscular effort involved is that minimally necessary to hold the jones in the proper position. It ought to be relatively obvious whether you are doing in right or not (although you can get the posture more or less right and still weaken it by holding one or more joints stiffly). If I do it pretty much right in a peng posture then feeling I have is of the peng path being a stick propping the pusher up, and all the rest of my body hanging from that stick.

Mikel Evins' description of peng, while not mechanical, was the most accurate portrayal of peng that I've seen.  If you can duplicate the feelings he described, you will be doing good peng.  The next step would be to learn to move with and by this power.

From: David Poore 
Subject: Re: More or Less About Force and Qi

....The single-most significant idea is peng, in the context of internal martial art. What I have been doing personally, is evaluating things in this context. More often than not, if I really try to distill things, they wind up at peng.

Peng is the process of directing some force applied to some part of your body into the ground. In the simple example of someone pressing on your arm in a classic ward-off posture, you are converting a horitzonal force (applied to your arm) into a vertical force (down your load-bearing leg). Using this scenario as an example, here's how I would break it down:

- Yi (intent) is used to create the path from the point of contact to   the ground.

- The physical requirements are 'standard' neijia postural demands, and   a relaxed body to prevent resisting the push with local muscle force.

- Once the peng path exists, a 'connection' exists between you and the   pusher. This is the same path that is used to fa-jing along: it is just   the reverse connection, from the ground to the point of contact. This is   also the same path or connection that is used to ting-jing.

1) I assume my ward-off posture
2) You push against my arm in a slow, light horizontal direction
3) I am physically relaxed and my shoulder is *slightly* hyperextended
   and create a loose structure
4) I use my yi to create the idea that the the force of your push is    travelling through my arm to the middle of my back, through my waist,    down my leg, into the ground.
5) Because I haven't used local muscular tension to resist your push,    for example my shoulder, the force transfer takes place cleanly.
6) By setting up this scenario with my mind, in my body, I have    converted your horizontal push into a veritcal push that goes into    the ground.
7) I have done this in the space (from a horizontal view) from the point of    contact to my rear leg: the longer this space, the easier it is to do.
8) Once I create the peng path, I can then follow it back by pushing    against the ground into the point of contact.

From: (Tim Cushing)
Subject: Re: More or Less About Force and Qi's the view of peng that I have been developing (in the course of my mere 1 1/2 yrs of taijiquan, of which probably only the last 9 months have been focused on anything much more that choreography:):

   My first experience with peng was in a month or so of "Iron Shirt" chi kung classes. I never got to the iron shirt stuff (decided to spend my free time on pushing hands instead); basic stances and such geared to being pushed on without having to "resist" was where we started. The teacher there asserted that there was "no magic", it was all really just structure. So from that view, I suppose you could say peng is in posture, but since posture is not a very enlightening word I don't think you'll get anywhere that way. You'd have to emphasize "right posture", i.e. posture that incorporates a peng path, so you're right back to "peng". I don't know about Terry's idea that high enough skill could put peng into (almost, he said) any posture; it would seem that many postures we "naturally" use in daily life have a rather "contaminated" (as in un-refined) strength to really work--we use too many muscles working at various (and cross) purposes to really do peng.

   The above chi kung classes did nothing with the mind (which I thought was was strange, since it was the same teacher as for microcosmic orbit stuff, but maybe I just didn't stay long enough). I've since found that using "i" to form the peng path is much easier, although I'm not sure I'm doing anything much different from the chi kung class, in that when someone pushes on you, you sort of instinctively put your mind at the contact point. The key in the classes was to relax/sink, letting the lateral push really push you into the ground. We then played with and learned how subtly the postural structure can call in various muscles, and the pusher could easily feel the difference between a good, stiff peng path and one that incorporated (too much) muscle.
The hallmark of doing it right was to be able to carry on a conversation in a relaxed manner (no puffing, no chest tension, relaxed breathing, etc.).

   In later form and push hands work, and following this list, I've come to a sense that peng in every *taijiquan* posture is essential; without it, the structure is just plain wrong. You have to be relaxed to find it, and you have to be relaxed to make it dynamic. Hugging trees with peng is one thing; carrying peng thru the course of roll-back, press and push is quite another. (I'll let Jonathan post his understanding of relaxed=sung; perhaps another maillist digest is in order here). Also, without someone actively pushing on you the "i" requirement is pretty blatant. You still have to make the point of would-be contact the end of the ground force vector(sum), and you still have to ground somewhere.

   I've found that my posture and structure are simply different when I have the "i" of peng than when I simply try to do the movements "right". In a roll-back, without the peng "i" I tended to overextend to the rear, and when if I remembered to not overextend I tended to tighten up or simply stall out while moving. With the peng, the feeling is of "riding" or "drawing" an opponent's force into my root, which kinesthetically keeps a cleaner path.

   I don't get that just any ol' vector sum that routes your hands to you feet will do. The inner sense I have is that the angles that the various components meet at is important; it's is not sufficient that the vectors add up to get you there, you also have to "flow" the "force" along the path, and the more corners you turn that incorporate muscle the more polluted your peng is (presumably something to do with how the various joints are designed; treating them as hinges is way simplistic for understanding this).

   I also have the sense that there are many variations of peng for a given movement, depending on how the opponent is structured. For instance, you need to align your peng to the opponent's center to bounce them away, but you would probably align differently to snap an elbow. Also, I have the sense that the "shape" (for want of a better word) of the peng path varies with what you're doing; to uproot and bounce away the peng "feels" (to me, but then it's all in my "i" anyway, right?) like there's a bit of an upward direction to the last "segment" of the vector(sum). I believe that Mike (et al) have emphasized that peng is a "straight line" from your root to the point of contact, but have also acknowledged (rewording here) that this is not a mathematical straight line but more of a direct line. I've not yet come away with a sense of clearly understanding their words, so I'm hoping for some feedback on my words. I've found that "show me" doesn't really cover all of learning, since one can flounder forever and never really see what they're being shown. On the other hand, I'm also looking forward to the experience of Mike peng-ing me across the room in Vancouver:).

Mike Sigman writes: about what Terry Chan wrote:
> > "Peng" allows you to "fa jing" (issuing energy) and to cultivate "ting > jing" (listening energy/skill).  If you are familiar with "ting jing," > you can probably have some sense that there's more to what's going on > than just maintaining "good posture." > Ha, rash youth..... you just dug your own grave.  :^)   I'll guarantee that almost everyone has their own definition of "listening", so *that* reference doesn't really help either.   :^)
I'll just lightly toss $.02 of theory in here, in case what I'm working on personally is way off the mark.

The fine art of fa jing (which I'm practicing but not sure I'm really doing) is based on the peng path expanding/contracting along it's length. You do *not* deliberately do a burst of tension like a shot-putter. Rather you rely on your "i" to sharply (or gently, for a push?) adjust the path length without messing with it's curves and such (back to the idea of the path being a straight line). I suppose if I could explain how "i" makes the path in the first place, that might make sense:}. Expanding along the path would be opening, while compressing along the path would be closing (and you can fa jing either way, yes?).

So, taking the Crane's Beak push (in Single Whip) out of Tung's fast set, one would quickly and lightly flow from the push at the end of Grasping Peacock's Tail around and up (closing then opening) and end with a fa jing out the back of the right wrist once you're at the "posture" for that (assuming I've got the application right).

Concerning listening, you need to minimize the muscle tension along the path in order to minimize the "noise level" due to your own muscle activity. With a clean, quiet path you are much more aware of how your peng is interacting with the opponent. I also get the sense that there is some body-feeling feedback involved, however, as though you are unconsciously "trying out" how your structure relates to your opponent. With muscles working, there seems to be a subtle "playing" of fine motor skills that gets swamped out. At my currently meager best of being relaxed and "live" (sung), it's like I can feel a bit of "hunting" (old servo control term) going on that I think is largely due to a poor focus of attention and "i". It seems that to a certain extent you still have to know *what* to "i", which is one thing I think this list *can* do for people.

From: David Poore 
Subject: tec's thoughts on peng

Tim Cushing writes: peng path, so you're right back to "peng". I don't know about Terry's idea that high enough skill could put peng into (almost, he said) any posture; it would seem that many postures we "naturally" use in daily life have a rather "contaminated" (as in un-refined) strength to really work--we use too many muscles working at various (and cross) purposes to really do peng.
This is an important point, don't you think? Clearly the idea is to re-pattern the way you move - naturally - to eliminate this. Then I think there is another component, which is that the examples we're dealing with so far are cases of pretty 'pure' peng usage. There are apparantly ways of overcoming odd angles, bad angles, etc. to still be able to establish peng.

>The hallmark of doing it right was to be able to carry on a conversation in a relaxed manner (no puffing, no chest tension, relaxed breathing, etc.).

You should probably also be able to move your body around freely and still maintain. Wiggle your hips, legs, bend the knees, bend at the ankles, etc.

>you the "i" requirement is pretty blatant. You still have to make the point of would-be contact the end of the ground force vector(sum), and you still have to ground somewhere.

This is why it is probably much easier as a beginner to practice this in zhan zhuang (standing), since there is so much 'less' happening physically.

From: Stephen Chan 
Subject: Re: More or Less About Force and Qi

> Jonathan Buss:
>   > > What makes having peng different from having good posture?
        My take on it is that, _at_best_, good posture will get you as far as the three external harmonies. To really establish the peng, you have to apply the three internal harmonies - otherwise when someone puts a load on your frame, you will be resisting with strength instead of your mind.         There is also the dynamic aspect - guys who have a really clean peng can wriggle their bodies aroung while maintaining a static peng connection to the point of issue (don't ask me, because I can't do it).
This makes it obvious that "good posture" is not sufficient for peng. I'd be willing to bet that among people who are *really* good, a significant amount of peng could be developed even in an apparently bad posture.

My personal opinion (Great!  The conversation is up to the point where I have to begin hedging because sometimes things can go either way) is that the Liu Ho (6 harmonies, which are 3 external + 3 internal) cannot be split like that.  Although I can extrapolate a martial which is external and uses the 3 external harmonies, I would suggest that the coordinating of shoulder-hip, elbow-knee, and wrist-ankle are really the natural result of a body driven by peng and "connected" as a unit-body.

> be willing to bet that among people who are *really* good, a significant amount of peng could be developed even in an apparently bad posture.
This is somewhat true.  If you learn to use the peng strength in your movements, things like the angle of the foot etc., can be varied within reasonable ranges.  "Fine tuning" a form is still sort of necessary, but not as critical, once you understand peng and connection.

I agree with Stephen here but my view is that the 3 internal and 3 external are necessary for proper neijia type "connection" to take place. Excluding the mind from the MA would result in pretty mindless application of structure since the structure derives its effectiveness from proper usage as directed by the mind.

Please bear in mind that in chinese terms, peng through bone structure is just the beginning. Since in the chinese concept, jing is derived from the muscles and tendons, it is theoretically possible and is sometimes a goal to use the msuclature alone to transmit peng jing with only the bones providing the base of the jing to act on. This could provide some explanation on why peng can sometimes be generated even in 'bad' postures. (one recalls an earlier post on William CC Chen whose postures broke alot of rules).

From: Stephen Chan 
Subject: Re: More About Force and Qi

        My current belief is that external stylists also shoot for a
peng type connection, though they use more tension than would be acceptable in the neijia.         As I see it, the critical difference is that in the neijia, the peng path exists throughout the entire range of motion for a technique, whereas for a external stylist, the peng-ish connection only exists briefly at the moment of focus (at which point they often use tension to create a connection to the ground).

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