Now that we’ve begun in my Monday class to explore the possibilities and potential inherent in push-hands, the time has come to discuss “peng jin” or “ward-off-energy.”
Like many Chinese words, “peng jin” is highly contextual. A meaningful direct translation to English is all but impossible. This author comes as close as I’ve seen to describing the essence of peng jin, but it’s difficult even for him:
It’s something better felt than described, and it is essential in understanding how tai chi works – how our physical structure, our “relaxation” (midway between stiff and limp), our “yi” (intent) and our “ting jin” (listening/sensing energy) all work together to keep us rooted, centered and stable – not collapsing – while still being soft, yielding and neutralizing.
This Monday I’ll bring in some “training aids” that may help to explain it. I’ve used these “training aids” in the past and they seem to be effective at communicating understanding of “peng jin” better than words.
I’ll be honest – it’s a challenging concept to grasp and an even more challenging to inculcate into our practice. It takes real work, and it can be frustrating. I got pushed on my keester many times before I even began to understand it. And yet, it can be grasped, can be understood, can be worked into our form and can be applied in push-hands & in the martial aspect. It just takes time and work.