Tai Chi Chuan Method Of Breathing And Chi Direction
The Importance Of Yi And Chi In Tai Chi Chuan
Tung Ying Jieh's Taijiquan Basic Instructions
Yang Style Eye Usage
Talks On The Practice Of Taijiquan
The Ten Essentials of Taijiquan
Tan Jing (Talking About Jing)
On Internal Strength
The Basis And Methodology Of Internal Martial Arts
Chi Chuan Method Of Breathing And Chi Direction
Written by Chen Yen Ling
Translated by Tchong Ta-Tchen
From the book "The Annotated Theoretical And Practical Tai Chi Chuan" by Tchong Ta-Tchen
Some people call Tai Chi Chuan an "inside family fist". There are three reasons for doing so. First of all, Confucianism discriminates against foreign influences. Secondly, the Tai Chi Chuan technique concentrates upon grabbing the joints of the opponent;s body so that whatever bodily harm that is inflicted is internal and invisible to the opponent. Third of al, Tai Chi Chuan concentrates upon directing the chi to circulate inside the body (to cultivate vigour, chi and spirit).
The basic breathing of Tai Chi Chuan uses the nose only, not the mouth. This differs from the common people who use the nose to inhale and exhale through the mouth. After mastering Tai Chi Chuan to a higher level, the chi inside the chest can be separate into two levels (usually people call this "pre-birth chi" and "post-birth chi"). When exhaling the upper level chi (post-birth chi) is breathed out from the nose and, at the same time, the lower level chi (pre-birth chi) sinks to the dan tien. When inhaling, the upper level chi is breathed in from the nose and, at the same time, the lower level chi rises from the dan tien, along the spinal cord, to the area between the shoulder blades. When a person can achieve this technique, we call it "unobstructed chi" (the chi is able to circulate through the body freely). Everyone who practises the correct form of Tai Chi Chuan for a certain period of time and to a certain level may achieve this "unobstructed chi". However, the beginner does not have to concentrate upon this breathing technique, but concentrate instead on the forms for the correct movement and postures. The only requirements for hte beginners are slow moevements, natural breathing, and a relaxation of the entire body. If there is too much pressure to push the chi to sink into the dan tien, it will head in the wrong direction. This may cause interstinal diseases or haemorrhoids may flare up.
After practising to a certain level, we have to know how to breathe. If we do not understand the breathing theory then we cannot strive to attain the highest level of Tai Chi Chuan. The Tai Chi Chuan classic, "Thirteen Postures: Comprehending External and Internal Training", states:"Able to breathe, one may be agile and alive." Meaning that the breathing and movements must be coordinated. When one sould exhale, then one must exhale; when one should inhale, on must inhale since inhalation is insubstantial whereas exhalation is substantial. If performed correctly, the body will be agile and alive. Otherwise, one cannot discriminate the substantial and insubstantial, and the meaning of practising Tai Chi Chuan is lost since Tai Chi Chuan emphasizes the substantial and insubstantial.
Usually a teacher teaches the students to learn Tai Chi Chuan in two parts: the internal and the external. The internal is breathing while the external is the forms. If both parts are taught simultaneously and the student is unable to get it right, then there will be difficulties. Therefore, the beginner should let the breathing be natural and not emphasize the breathing technique. In this chapter, we study the breathing knowledge. Therefore we cannot avoid discussing the breathing technique in detail simply due to the above problem.
The details of the method are: when practising the forms, one exhales when extending the arm and inhales when withdrawing the arm; one inhales when rising and exhales when sinking; to lift is to inhale, to lower is to exhale; when opening up, one inhales, when closing, one exhales. When turning the body and in between movements, there should be a "little breathing". A "little breathing" means taking short breaths quickly and has the quality of relaxation and stoppage. Generally, breathing is used to lead the movement. Themovement must be coordinated with the breathing. The body opens up and the chi closes. The chi opens up and the body closes. In push hands, to push is to exhale; to roll back is to inhale; to ward off is to exhale; to neutralize is to inhale. If one is rolled back by an opponent, there shouldbe a natural "little breathing". This "little breathing" should direct the mind to calmness. When the mind is calm, then one is able to see and hear the opponent's movements and void being caught off guard. If one is pressed or pushed by an opponent, one should inhale. However, if one is unable to inhale, then one should exhale because the chi from inhaling circulates to the hands and legs. Therefore when one exhales to the extreme, there should be conversion to inhalation; andwhen one inhales to the extreme, there should be conversion to exhalation. Inhalation and exhalation can be converted alternately.
In big roll back, to strike the face is to exhale; to push is to exhale; to shoulder strike is to exhale; to roll back is to inhale. If one is shoulder struck by an opponent, one should inhale. If one is rolled back by an opponent, there should be "little breathing". When turning the bodyand just before pushing, a "little breathing" should occur. When performing other footwork and before striking, thre should be a "little breathing" as well so that one is calm and able to see and listen as well as have a sticking power. The method in which the breathing is performed in the use of knives, swords, spears, and sparring is the same as that when practising the forms.
The method to circulate the inner chi is separated into two types: from pre-birth to post-birth and from post-birth to pre-birth. The first is from the front to the back, meaning that the dan tien chi travels down to the hai ti and reverses to the tailbone, travels along the spine to yu zhen up to tian ling, down the forehead and the nose to ren zhong, to the throat, chest, navel and finally back to the dan tien. The second is from the back to the front, meaning that the dan tien chi heads up from the navel to the chest, throat, ren zhong, forehead, reaching tian ling, down to yu zhen and continues along the spine to the tailbone, and finally reaches hai ti and returns to the dan tien. Note, the second is the opposite of the first.
This type of "chi moving method" may seem very vague at the beginning but after a long period of time, one will be able to fully understand and achieve it. These two types of inner chi circulation must be used during solo practice as well as in sparring practice with an opponent and in striking practice. Otherwise, even if the strike is made with much power, it is still not good enough. Tai Chi Chuan masters not only use the inner chi circulation method but can even listen and know the opponent's inner chi: when it rises or lowers, moves to the front or back, move left, right, up and down. This kind of supreme technique is never achieved until after a few decades of good training. Of course, for the beginner, this is difficult to understand.
Thre are two sounds "Heng" and "Haah" produced when inhaling and exhaling (the great masters can also use mouth or naval to do their inhaling and exhaling). The masters, when they practice, whether in solo or with an opponent, their mouths produce these two sounds naturally for three reasons. Firstly, it makes the internal chi smooth and comfortable; the internal organs will not get hurt by the pressure. Secondly, the internal power can be released completely; none of it remains inside. Thirdly, it scares the opponent (if an opponent experiences fear, their movements become loose or scattered, their mind gets lost, their footwork becomes undisciplined and therefore is unable to defend themselves and one has a chance to win). Therefore, the two sounds of "Heng and Haah" are very useful and the learner must pay close attention to them. One make sthe sond "Heng" when one is neutralizing and the inner chi is inhaled. The sound "Haah" is usually produced when one grabs or strikes and the inner chi is exhaled. The Old Tai Chi Chuan Classic of Ching Chyan Long Dynasty states: "Hold the dan tien to practice internal kung fu. The two chis of Heng Haah are wonderful. Move open, quite close, bend and extend to follow your opponent. Slow or fast, respond, follow the thoery and understand thorughtly." Another Tai Chi Chuan Classic state: "To apply (push hands) on forth and back earlier or later, to close or to strike is like an arrow. It cultivates a lot. ONe chi "Haah" then push far away. It needs to be taught by mouth and secretly then open the door and see the sky." From that we can understand the two sounds of "Heng Haah" are marvellous and infinite.
Of Yi And Chi In Tai Chi Chuan
Written by Chen Yen Ling
Translated by Tchong Ta-Tchen
From the book "The Annotated Theoretical And Practical Tai Chi Chuan" by Tchong Ta-Tchen
Yi (mind) and chi (breath) are found inside the human body without form or colour. The eyes are unable to view but the chi has a very important role. Our bodies are full of chi circulating and cultivating the body. The chi is formed with fire from the 'ming men'. The fire refines the 'jieng' to become chi. The Taoists describe it as 'water and fire already present or the 'nei dan'. It is stored in the area of the dan tien. The Taoists value chi very much. Usually, people think the blood is the most important essence in the body, they do not know that chi is even more important than blood. Chi is the chief while blood is the assistant. We need blood that contains the essentials (vitamins, minerals, etc.) but chi is the transportation, making it more important. Chi is heavy while blood is light. If we do not have enough blood, we can still temporarily survive. Without enough chi, we die immediately. Therefore to cultivate chi is very important. The importance of Tai Chi Chuan is to concentrate in order to cultivate the chi. We always say, "External to exercise are the tendons, bones and skin. Internal is the breath." For those who practice Tai Chi Chuan, after practising the forms, push hands, roll back or two-man forms, the breathing is still smooth and natural, the face colour does not change and the internal chi flows through the entire body. The feeling is more comfortable than before the exercise. This is the result of cultivating the chi. After exercise, they never are short of breath or feel tired. When the chi fills up the body, the blood is healthy. As the blood flows through the body, the body is strong. A healthy body strenghtens the mind. A strong mind leads to a great spirit. A great spirit is able to prolong our life.
What about yi? Yi is the heart (mind) and heart is yi. In definition, there is a slight difference between heart and yi. The heart is the chief and the yi, the assistant. When the heart moves (intentions), the yi starts to work. The yi leads and the chi follows. Therefore, the heart, yi and chi are all interconnected. If the heart is troubled then the yi is diffused. If the yi is diffused, the chi floats. On the other hand, when chi sinks, the yi will be concentrated. When the yi is concentrated, the heart is stable. Therefore the three are melded together and cannot be separated from each other. The chi moves and can motivate the blood and the spirit. Then we can use the chi in practice. Chi is the principle and Tai Chi Chuan is the method. If we have a principle without the mthod, we cannot transfer it to the practical. If we have a method without principle, we give up the major and look for the minor. Therefore, yi, chi and Tai Chi Chuan have a interconnected relationship as well.
In Tai Chi Chuan, the use of yi and chi for the beginner is very difficult but not without a way to get to the entrance. When we first practice the Thirteen Postures, or even a single movement, we have to use our imagination. For example, if we use both hands to perform a push movement, we imagine there is an opponent in front of us. Actually, at the time, there is no chi in the palms to release. But when we start to imagine. Our chi rises up the spine to the shoulder, arm, wrists and palms, finally being released to the opponent's body. This kind of imagination, for the beginner is very dull. After practising for a long time, you will know how to use imagination.
The chi has two kinds circulating in the body. There is an upper level chi (post-birth) and lower level chi (pre-birth). When you exhale, the upper level chi exits from the nose while the lower level chi sinks to the dan tien. When you inhale, the upper level chi enters from the nose while the lower level chi rises up the spine from the dan tien to the hands and legs. When the yi moves, the chi follows to any part of the body. Practising Tai Chi Chuan, closing and opening while breathing in and out, is to exercise the chi to fill the entire body, to create the sensitive from the body, tendons, touch and even spirit. This is why "An Internal Explanation Of Training" by Wang Dsung Yueh says, "The mind should be concentrated on the spirit and not the chi. If focused only on the chi, one will be clumsy and not agile. If focused on the chi, one will become powerless. If one does not concentrate on the chi, one will be strong as steel."
Some believe that chi is useless. However, there is a misunderstanding. Such a belief pertains only to certains kinds of chi such as stiff chi, impetuous chi or brutish chi tha arises with anger. This type of stiff, impetuous, brutal chi causes both feet to float adnthe body to become unstable, indicating that both are without li. But the chi in Tai Chi Chuan is the chi from the dan tien. This chi is clear and calm. Because it is calm, the chi is fluid. Because it is fluid, the chi circulates without interruption. There is no relationship with the undesired stiff, impetuous and brutal chi.
In "An Internal Explanation of Tai Chi Chuan", many points can be found that describe chi. It says 'Use the mind to direct the movement of chi. The mind must be calm so that the chi can condense deep into the bones. When the chi circulates around the body, the chi must flow like a fluid and smoothly, then it is able to follow the mind easily,...The mind and chi must interchange and coordinate between substantial and insubstantial such that there will be no harm...The mind is the commander, the chi the flag...The abdomen is completely relaxed and the chi condenses into the bones." It is also written, "The yi and chi are the rulers and the body the subject." These words all talk about the importance of chi. The learner must discriminate between the clear, calm chi and the stiff, brutal chi. To cultivate the clear, calm chi and giving away the stiff, brutal chi.
Generally, the relationship between yi and chi is like the relationshiip between the driver and the engine in a car. The yi is the driver, the chi the engine. We cannot forget either of them.
Tung Ying Jieh's Taijiquan
Use slow, continuous Movements
In learning, do not apply any force in the movements. In practicing the exercise, one will gradually gain strength and know how to apply it.
In learning,use natural breathing through the nose, but keep the breathing slow and gentle. With practice, breathing will be gradually mateched with the movements. Intentional matching of breathing with movements for beginners may, however, be harmful. After about one year's practice of Tai Chi Chuan when the movements become correct, smooth and effortless, the teacher may be requested to give instructions on the method of breathing during the exercise.
In the various movements, pay special attention to the shifting of the body weight between the two feet. This is accomplished by shifting the position of the torso, whether forward, backward or sidewise. This torso should be maintained in a vertical posture.
Pay attention also to the change in the direction the body is facing, through the twisting of the waist.
During the exercise, knees and elbows are always bent, although the extent that they are bent is different and keeps changing.
The knees, when bent, should not be further forward than the toes. This is helps to keep the balance.
Whenever the hands are raised, keep the elbows slightly lower than the hands. This helps to relax the shoulders.
In making steps, lower the heel first. Try to step in the way of a cat or a crane.
Always use the mind to lead the movements. Hence the eyes should lead the movements, although in appearance, it may look as if the eyes follow the movements.
Tai Chi Chuan may be played any time of the day, but the best time is in the early morning before breakfast and one hour before bed time. Avoid doing it immediately after a heavy meal, and do not sit down or take a cold water bath immediately after the exercise.
Style Eye Usage
By Yang Zheng Ji
Translated by Peter Lim Tian Tek
Yang style Taijiquan is very particular about the method of using the eyes. Tradition has it that when Yang Cheng Fu pushed hands or engaged in combat, when emitting jing would look at the opponent and the opponent on receiving the strength would fall in the direction which he looked. Looking at Yang Shao Hou's precious image, his eyes appears to have brightness shooting forth, this is a result of long term training fully concentrating on the eyes as well as the internal qi.
Yang Cheng Fu said: " The eyes though should look forward levelly, sometimes following the body and so shift, the line of sight though may be fixed on emptiness is an essential movement in the change, this compensates the body method's inadequacies."
Yang style Taijiquan's requirements regarding the eyes are:
The eyes should look forward levelly. In normal circumstances, the eyes look levelly forward, looking through the hand in front towards the front, caring for the hand, but not fixed dead on the hand. The eyes can also look downward to the front, it must follow the boxing posture's main hand movement and so determine the direction to look.
The expression of the eyes is in accordance to the movements, the principle of the eyes's turning follows the body's movements. The body moves the eyes follow, the body faces what direction, the eyes gaze towards that direction. Taijiquan's practice has continuous forward advancing backward retreating left and right turns, when forward advancing backward retreating, left turn right rotate depends on the waist and body turning, the eyes in left looking right glancing must follow the waist and body's turning to turn.
The eyes and the intent are consistant. The eyes are the mind's focal point, what the mind is considering, the eyes is concentrated upon, if the eyes and the movements are not in accordance the internal and external are also not in agreement, the usage of the eyes have an important use in push hands, necessary to observe the opponent's upper and lower portions, closely observing the direction of movement of the opponent's back, in the course of movement catching hold of the opportune time to cause the opponent to be in a predicament.
The method of the eyes
must be natural. When utilising the eyes, do not stare, do not close the eyes,
keep the spirit held within. The correct use of the expression of the eyes has
a relationship with the energy at the top is light and sensitive (xu ling ding
jing), the energy at the top is light and sensitive, then the spirit can be raised,
then the eyes will naturally have expression.
On The Practice Of Taijiquan
Narrated by Yang Cheng Fu
Recorded by Zhang Hong Kui
From the book "Yang Style Taijiquan" by Yang Zhen Duo
There are many schools of Chinese wush (martial arts), all with technical skills based on philosophy. Since ancient times, many people have devoted their lifetime and energhy to probing the nature and essence of wush and mastering the maximum skills, but few have succeeded. However, a learner can improve his skill if he keeps on practising and someday he will become an expert. As the saying goes: Drops falling, if they fall constantly, will bore through a stone.
Taijiquan is a part of the rich cultural heritage of China. It is an art in whose slow and gentle movements are embodied vigour and force. As a Chinese saying aptly puts it, "Inside the cotton is hidden a needle". Its technical, physiological and mechanical qualities all have a philosophical basis. For learners, the guidance of a good teacher and discussions of the skills and techniques with friends are necessary, but the most important thing is persistent and untiring practice. Indeed, there is nothing like practice, and learners of taijiquan, men and women, young and old, will get the best possible results if they keep at it all the year round.
In recent years, the number of people studying taijiquan in various parts of China has been increasing. This is an indication of the bright prospects of wushu. Many learners are conscientious and persistant in training, which will enable them to attain a high level of achievement. It should be pointed out that two wrong tendencies should be guarded against. The first is that some some people who are young and talented acquired a quicker understanding than most other people and so become complacent and stop half way. These people can never achieve great success. The second wrong tendency is that some learners are too anxious to achieve quick success and get instant benefits. They want to learn everything in a short time, from shadow boxing to wielding the sword, broadsword, spear and other weapons. They know a smattering of each, but do not grasp the essence and their movements and postures are full of flaws to the expert eye. It is difficult to correct their movements, for a thorough "overhaul" is needed and , as often as not, they might change in the morning and return to the old habits in the evening. Hence the saying in Chinese boxing circles: "Learning taijiquan is easy but to correct a wrong style is difficult". In other words, more haste less speed. And if these people pass on their mistakes to others, they will be doing a great harm.
In learning taijiquan, one should first of all start from the quan jia or frame of boxing; he should practise according to the routines and follow the master's every movement carefully, and keep each action in mind. Meanwhile, he should pay attention to the nei, wai, shang and xia. Nei means using the mind rather than force. Wai means the relaxation of the limbs, shoulders and elbows, making the movements from the foot to the leg to the waist gentle and continuous. Shang means straightening the head, and xia means sinking the breath to the lower belly.
For a beginner, the most important thing is to remember these points, grasp their essence and practise each basic movement correctly over and over again, never seeking quick success and instant benefit. It is advisiable to make slow and steady progress , for this will pay in the long run. In practising taijiquan, it is necessary to keep all the joints in the body relaxed, so that the movements will be natural and unrestrained. Do not hold your breath (that may lead to puff and blow), and do not use stiff strength in moving the arms, legs and waist and body, but try to make your movements gentle and continuous. These two points are well-known among the wushu experts, but many trainees have difficulty putting them into practice.
The learners should bear in mind the following points:
1. Keep your head erect and do not incline it forward or backward. As the saying goes, "Its like there is something on your head, and you should take care not to let it fall". But you should not hold your head in a stiff manner, and though your eyes look straight ahead, they should follow the movements of the limbs and body. Although your eyes look into vacancy, they are an important component of the movements of the body as whole. Your mouth sghould remain half open and half closed, with the nose breathing in and mouth breathing out naturally. If saliva is produced in the mouth swallow it.
2. Hold the torso straight and the backoune and free end of the sacrum vertical. When moving, always keep the chest slightly inward and the back upright. The beginners should keep these key points in mind, otherwise their movements will become mere formality or dull-looking, and they will not be able to make much progress in spite of long years of practice. 3. Relax the joints of both arms, letting the shoulders droop and the elbows curve naturally; the palms should be slightly extended and the fingers slightly bent. Move the arms by conciousness and send qi (breath or vital energy) to the fingers. Remember these key points and success will be yours.
4. Take not of the difference in stance between the two legs which move as gently as those of a cat. When one foot is planted firmly on the ground,the other is in an empty stance. When you shift the weight on to the left leg, then the left foot is firmly on the ground, while the right foot is in an empty stance, and vice versa. though the foot is in an empty stance it is always ready to move. When the foot is firmly on the ground, it does not not mean that you should exert too much force on that leg, for if you do so, your body will incline forward and you will lose your balance.
5. The action of the feet is divided into kicking upward and kicking downward. When you kick upward, pay attention to your toes, and when you kick downward, pay attention to the sole; conciousness of the action will be followed by vital energy, and vital energy will be followed by strength. When you do all this, you should relax the joints and avoid stiffness.
In practising taijiquan, one should first master and practise the "frame" as above mentioned (bare-handed forms), such as Taiji shadow boxing and changquan (long shadow boxing); then one can proceed to single-hand pushing, one-site pushing, pushing with feet moving and free-hand fighting, and after a period one can take exercises with weapons such as taiji sword, taiji scimitar and taiji spear.
Learners should practise regularly every morning or before going to bed. It is preferable to practise seven or eight times during the daytime; if one is hard pressed for time, then at least once in the morning and once in the evening. Do not practise immediately after meals or after drinking. The best place is in the gardens or parks where the air is fresh and the environment conducive to health. Do not practise on windy days or in a filthy place. For when you do exercise, you might breathe in too much dust or dirt which is harmful to your lungs. It is advisable to put on sportswear and comfortable cloth or rubber shoes. When you sweat, don't take off your clothes or wipe with cold towels, lest you catch cold and fall ill.
Ten Essentials of Taijiquan
Narrated by Yang Cheng Fu
Recorded by Chen Wei Ming
From the book "Yang Style Taijiquan" by Yang Zhen Duo
1. Straightening The Head
Stand straight and hold the head and neck naturally erect, with the mind concentrated on the top. Do not strain or be tense; otherwise, the blood and vital energy cannot circulate smoothly.
2. Correct Position Of Chest And Back
Keep the chest slightly inward, which will enable you to sink your breath to the dan tian (lower belly). Do not protrude your chest, otherwise you will feel uneasy in breathing and somewhat "top heavy".
Great force can be launched onlly when you keep the vital energy in your lower belly.
3. Relaxation Of Waist
For the human body, the waist is the dominant part. When you relax the waist, your two feet will be strong enough to form a firm base. All the movements depend on the action of the waist, as the saying goes: "Vital force comes from the waist". Inaccurate movements in taijiquan stem from erroneous actions of the waist.
4. Solid And Empty Stance
It is of primary importance in taijiquan to distinguish between "Xu" (Empty) and "Shi" (Solid). If you shift the weight of the body on to the right leg, then the right leg is solidly planted on the ground and the left leg is in an empty stance. When your weight is on the left leg, then the left leg is firmly planted on the ground and the right leg is in an empty stance. Only in this way can you turn and move your body adroitly and without effort, otherwise you will be slow and clumsy in your movements and not able to remain stable and firm on your feet.
5. Sinking Of Shoulders And Elbows
Keep your shoulder in a natural, relaxed position. If you lift your shoulders, the qi will rise with them and the whole body will be without strength. You should also keep the elbows down, otherwise you will not be able to keep your shoulders relaxed and move your body with ease.
6. Using The Mind Instead Of Force
Among the people who practise taijiquan, it is quite common to hear this comment: "That is entirely using the mind, not force". In practising taijiquan, the whole body is relaxed, and there is not an iota of stiff or clumsy strength in the veins or joints to hinder the movement of the body. People may ask: How can one increase his strength without exercising force? According to taditional Chinese medicine, there is in the human body a system of pathways called jingluo (or meridian) which link the viscera with different parts of the body, making the human body an integrated whole. If the jingluo is not impeded, then the vital energy will circulate in the body unobstructed. But if the jingluo is filled with stiff strength, the vital energy will not be able to circulate and consequently the body cannot move with ease. One should therefore use the mind instead of force, so that vital energy will follow in the wake of the mind or conciousness and circulate all over the body. Through persistant practice one will be able to have genuine internal force. This is what taijiquan experts call "Lithe in appearance, but powerful in essence".
A master of Taijiquan has arms which are as strong as steel rods wrapped in cotton with immense power concealed therein. Boxers of the "Outer School" (a branch of wush with emphasis on attack, as opposed to the "Inner School" which places the emphasis on defence) look powerful when they exert force but when they cease to do so, the power no longer exists. So it is merely a kind of superficial force.
7. Coordination Of Upper And Lower Parts
According to the theory of taijiquan, the root is in the feet, the force is launched through the legs, controlled by the waist and expressed by the fingers; the feet, the legs and the waist form a harmonious whole. When the hands, the waist and the legs move, the eyes should follow their movements. This is meant by coordingation of the upper and lower parts. If any part should cease to move, then the movements will be disconnected and fall into disarray.
8. Harmony Between The Internal And External Parts
In practising taijiquan, the focus is on the mind and conciousness. Hence the saying: "The mind is the commander, the body is subservient to it". With the tranquility of the mind, the movements will be gentle and graceful. As far as the "frame" is concerned, there are only the Xu (empty), shi (solid), kai (open) and he (close). Kai not only means opening the four lims but the mind as well, he means closing the mind along with the four limbs. Perfection is achieved when one unifies the two and harmonizes the internal and external parts into a complete whole.
9. Importance Of Continuity
In the case of the "Outer School" (which emphasizes attack) of boxing, the strength one exerts is still and the movements are not continuous, but are sometimes made off and on, which leaves opening the opponent may take advantage of. In taijiquan, one focuses the attention on the mind instead of force, and the movements from the begenning to the end are continuous and in an endless circle, just "like a river which flows on and on without end" or "like reeling the silk thread off cocoons".
10. Tranquility In Movement
In the case of the "Outer School" of boxing, the emphasis is on leaping, bouncing, punching and the exertion of force, and so one often gasps for breath after practising. But in taijiquan, the movement is blended with tranquility, and while performing the movements, one maintains tranquility of mind. In practising the "frame", the slower the movement the better the results. this is because when the movements are slow, one can take deep breath and sink it to the dan tian. It has a soothing effect on the body and the mind.
Learners of taijiquan will get a better understanding of all this through careful study and persistant practice.
Jing (Talking About Jing)
By Zhang Yi Zun
Translated by Peter Lim Tian Tek
Because Taijiquan expands upon external boxing methods, researching the internal flow of jing, that's why there is the appearence of sticky jing (nien jing), neutralising jing (hua jing), holding jing (na jing), emmitting jing (fa jing), peng jing, long jing (chang jing), short jing (duan jing), etc commonly known traditional names. There are always some people who like to do according to their will and create new names.
In Taijiquan, how many types of jing are there? So many its a mess. And even the explanation of each type of jing are not the same. Because internal jing (nei jing) is a combination of many elements not all visible, and training methods are mostly combined with movements, some are really not easy to explain, and since every one's understanding through practice is not exactly the same, its very hard to come to a concensus.
For example: "what is peng jing?" is already hard to get a simple and clear explanation. One day there will definitely be some hard working compilers of a "Wushu Terms Dictionary". Some people explain it thus:
"Peng Jing is after long periods of sincere practice of Taijiquan and push hands, resulting in a type of sung (no tension) yet not sung, soft but carrying in it hard, active but sunk and heavy, elastic and pliable type of jing, which includes sticking (nien), neutralising (hua), bouyant (fu) and capable of trapping (kun) kind of jing, also called internal jing (neijing)". Also we have from from myrid schools and students who hold "Taiji is peng jing, movement goes in spirals (luo xuan)" as the central maxim.
These two explanations, are all too much on the surface, not able to grasp peng jing's reality. At the very least, with expert's peng jing, its not exactly the same.
If we say "it is sung but not sung", "sunk and heavy" then it is peng jing, then when pushing with teacher Ya Xuan (here he refers to his teacher Li Ya Xuan who was a noted disciple of Yang Cheng Fu), he feels extremely without tension, very soft, insubstantial, only lightly contacting with the skin. Is this kind of jing peng jing? Actually its does not really feel as if he has a pliable characteristic, much less "sunk and heavy". He only feels insubstantial, empty and we can't feel his jing. Does this count as peng jing? If we say that he does not have peng jing, then why is it that we can't get him? Why is it that he always wins?
Saying "Taiji is peng jing, movement goes in spirals", is even less accurate. How can Taijiquan be totally explained by peng jing! If we say that Taijiquan is sinking jing (chen jing), that is also a way to get a taste of it; if we way it is sticky jing (nien jing), we see that it is not necessary wrong either. Spiraling is specifically guided by a continuous rounded shape, only if we say Taijiquan goes by different kinds of curves, and also in straight lines, then we are closer to the truth.
Another saying "the stronger nei jing is, during push hands you can bully your opponent more". This is the saying of beginning students who have have only beginning push hands skills. When one attains the level where "people don't know me" then can one be considered an expert. "Using four ounces to deflect 1000 pounds, strength does not necessarily win" says that great strength is not the correct way of Taijiquan. "Wonderous way is being able to borrow strength", being able to use and express our agile sensitivity, to control the opponent's movement of jing, using lesser strength to beat a greater strength. Using soft and weak to beat hard and strong. This then is the direction we must work hard towards for those of us who practice Taijiquan.
Saying "peng jing is also called nei jing". Rollback (Lu), Press (Ji), Push (An), etc, jings become external jings then? If they are all nei jing. Then why specially point out that "peng jing is also called nei jing"? Isn't this baselessly saying things, creating your own classications?
I have thought about it alot, spent alot of time, then wrote out the explanation:"peng jing is agile, formed in a curve, can neutralise oncoming strength, can also elastically bounce out whilst soft and sticking jing". Such a long winded explanation, many people will definitely shake their heads in disapproval, even I myself am not satisfied with it, but it is very difficult to condense it. Because it is like that, the line of expression was broken earlier. Questioning those famous practitioners within our country, we don't know whether they will agree or not.
Nei jing's large and small, cannot depend on one's own feeling, saying "the stronger nei jing is, during push hands you can bully your opponent more", actually, this is your opponent making the mistake of resisting jing (ding jing). If your opponent is moving, he knows how to remain attached but not resisting, and so is not receiving your strength, then where does the bullying come from? Then stronger nei jing is, doesn't that mean that it makes it easier for your opponent to listen to your jing (ting jing)?
When I was young in my village, there was alot of water and paddi fields, I loved to play with mud. When I got bored, I would sling mud at my companions. The mud also exhibited the bouncing out power like the openning of a flower. If I scored, it can also stick on to the nose of my opponent and remain there for a long time. I have also used a stone to sling at my opponent but it won't stick on to him.
Hard things cannot stick. From observation, we come to understand the theory that only soft things can stick. This then is the reason why Taiqiquan uses soft jing (rou jing).
What Taijiquan researches, mainly is sticking jing (nien jing). How then to get sticking jing to a high level is the goal of our hard training.
The myrid other jings, all are just different uses of sticking jing.
Sticking a result of being sung and soft with sensitivity. Like sticky things, like a stamp stuck on an envelope, causing myself to stick to my opponent, in not letting go and not resisting, listening to his jing, this is the reality of nien jing.
Sticking is the method for understanding completely your opponent's condition.
Only when you have good sung then you can stick well. When you can stick, then you can fully utilise sensitivity's agile characteristic. Agility comes from sung and comes when one is calm and quiet. Not being light means not being able to be sung, this skill is all from practicing the boxing form. Boxing theory is from nature and is so made complete, we need to express it completely when doing the form. The postures in the form have high and low, every person's sung and softness level is different, so sticking jing's sensitivity will come according to each person differently.
When beginning to learn push hands, normally the sticking is very heavy, even if you want to lighten it you can't, the feeling is like having both person's bones against one another, in actual fact it is still resisting (ding). A little more advanced, when you can lighten it, the bones will no longer be in contact, you can only feel the flesh being in contact. High level sticking, the contact is only on the skin surface. The higher the level, the lighter the contact, the clearer and faster you can listen to jing, the easier it is to control your oppoonent.
Sticking is the feeling when both are in contact. Skill levels have deep and shallow, internal jing (nei jing) has large and small, its quality has soft and hard, the feeling of sticking is never always the same. "Not resisting and not letting go" (Bu Tiu Bu ding) then becomes the bridge for getting to a high level.
If we look at the classics, in it there are large sections that talk about being sung and soft, about being light and agile, about coorect body coordination (completeness), because only in this way then you can you train a high level sticking jing with soft and agile qualities.
Sticking jing is one of the big treasures of Taijiquan. Experts need only lightly stick to totally control the other causing him to topple to the east or lean to the west, not be able to stand stablely like a drunkard, causing him to knit his brows and bite his tongue in effort, a big calamity coming down on him, his life feels like a fainting spell. Teacher Ya Xuan has this ability, causing people to call it ultimate, even more causing people to aspire towards it. Where does it have "the stronger nei jing is, during push hands you can bullying your opponent more"?!
In pushing hands, the ward off (peng), rollback (lu), press (ji) and push (an) and in Big Rollback (da lu) the pluck (tsai), split (lieh), elbow (chou) and lean (kao), normally is termed as eight kinds of jing. From external appearances they have obvious differences. Actually it is sticking jing's eight types of usage. Calling them the eight methods of Taijiquan (taijiquan ba fa) is more suitable.
Taijiquan uses soft jing, dissolving hard jing (ying jing); is internal jing (nei jing) and not obvious jing (ming jing). Internal jing cannot be seen. Hard jing and obvious jing can be easily seen; strictly speaking, it is hard strength (ying li), and cannot be called jing.
Ward off, rollback, etc eight methods when in use, mostly use sticking jing, peng jing and sinking jing in combination, in actual fact is a combined jing. Its not individual jings being used alone.
In combat, Taijiquan strongly uses soft neutralisation, very much welcoming the opponent to rush in, and does not aim at making the first attack. Previous generations have created a complete method of training for gaining victory from opponents. With sticking jing, neutralising jing (hua jing), holding jing (na jing), emmitting jing (fa jing) these four types. This is the combat theory that is stored in each of the eight methods, it is the essence of Taijiquan. If internal jing is not soft, we can mostly only get the external structure, without a way of getting to a high level.
Sticking jing is coming into contact and knowing your opponent.
Neutralising jing (hua jing)'s meaning is neutralising to nothingness the incoming force. It emphasizes enticing the opponent to lead him into nothingness, causing his attack to come to nothing.
Holding jing (na jing) is used after neutralising the incoming force, following the opponent's jing path, cause him to come into danger.
Emmitting jing (fa jing) is after determining the weak point of the opponent, focusing available resources, emitting a return attack and gaining the fruits of victory.
We, in sticking, neutralising, holding and emitting, which is wonderfully complex, and always without limits, are learning to understand internal jing. Like climbing a famous mountain or touring a famous garden, every step, every scene, we receive the trueness, causing one to stay even longer and forget the normal world, becoming a boxing lover. But it is because it is so hidden, so complex, so deep, our intelligence limited, our skill insufficient or teacher's undertaking not high, it is like entering a treasure mountain and returning empty handed, and there are many such people. That is why those after learning boxing and training the body, only a few are able to gain effectiveness in combat and are seldom seen. It is because the internal and external requirements are too numerous and too lofty.
Now lets talk about peng jing.
One of the goals of training boxing is to gain the qualities of the whole body being sung and soft and the joints gaining a high level of agility, we can see that peng jing is not hard jing (ying jing).
The original rationale of pushing hands is in sticking circularly we entice into emptiness, following others, not letting go and not resisting. We can also see that peng jing is not using strength to go against (di kang) the opponent, pushing him out the door, instead should welcome the opponent in. When two forces go against each other this is resisting (ding). Resisting (ding) is solid jing (Kang Jing), it is the exact opposite of using soft to overcome hardness. We can see that peng jing is not hard jing (ying jing).
From the above analysis, it is clearly explained that pushing hands only uses soft jing (rou jing). If both parties use soft jing (rou jing), then who overcomes who? In comparison, whose sticking jing (nien jing) level is higher, listening jing (ting jing) ability is higher, sung and soft more complete, is definitely the victor. Natural neutralising jing (hua jing), is nothing but the wonderous usage of a whole body that is extremely soft. Spectacular emitting jing (fa jing), also comese from softness transformed. The boxing classics tell us "from extreme softness comes extreme hardness"!
Therefore, peng jing is a agile, curved structured, can neutralise to nothingness the incoming force and can also bounce out, is soft and sticking type of jing only.
Many people, because they misunderstand peng jing, think that resisting (ding) is peng, and going against the opponent is peng, making this a matter of great importance, causing aspirations of the lovers of Taijiquan to come to nothing. Training hard in boxing for a lifetime, obtaining internal jing (nei jing) that is not soft (rou), sticking jing (nien jing) that is not good. The flavour of their boxing not correct as a consequence, this is something pitiful.
Here we have only analysed peng jing, the rest, the reader in reading it over will not find it hard to conceptualise.
How many types of emitting jing (fa jing) are there in pushing hands?
Looking from external form, emitting jing (fa jing) has many types and different kinds, but in actuality there is only long jing (chang jing) and short jing (duan jing) these two types.
Long and short denotes the time the strength remains acting on the opponent's body.
When beginning to learn emitting jing (fa jing), those who have not developed sinking jing (chen jing) will normally emit long jing. Those with higher levels of development and skill and who know sinking jing (chen jing) can emit both long and short types of jing.
Emitting jing (fa jing) it is important to be fast for emitting jing (fa jing) to obtain satisfactory results. You cannot let your opponent discover your intention before hand. Really spectacular, shocking emitting jing (fa jing), results only after obvious jing is totally gone, it's intent-transmission is very fast and very agile with quick responses. Only when skills reach a fairly high level can it be manifest. Definitely not a normal obvious jing using grasping to prevent his movement, then pushing out the so called 'emitting jing', you can make a comparison.
If obvious jing is not complete gotten rid of, emitting jing will not be as quick, and the opponent can easily neutralise it away; even if the opponent's skill is inferior and cannot neutralise it, he knows its coming and he will not let you have your way.
Long jing (chang jing) is from the back foot directing to the front a thrust to the ground as being the primary source of power, requires all the joints coordinated, from bottom going to the top, following the structure to express out the jing. Because the duration of the execution of strength is long, it is possible to cause the opponent to be thrown a great distance away. The advantage is that it won't injure the opponent. For those who power attainment (kung li) is not deep such as beginning students whose waist (yao) and inguinal region (kua) are not limber, they should use more long jing (chang jing).
Short jing (duan jing) is a very high speed bouncing out strength, like compressing a spring and it suddenly springs (bounces) out. Because the duration is short, the speed fast, internal jing (nei jing) complete, it creates a very great pressure and sudden intentional strength. If we can penetrate into this, we can cause the opponent to panic and make mistakes, hitting him down more often, even scare him till he sweats cold sweat, even fainting, this is a good means of completely defeating the opponent. Those whose power attainment is not deep, or physique is not strong, its best not to lightly emit short jing. If it causes internal injury, doctoring it will waste time and effort and is quite a bother. Experts emitting short jing (duan jing) are able to understand heavy and light application, testing the opponent's ability to take it, and do not exceed it, but for normal practitioners it is very hard to attain this.
Cold jing (leng jing), cold (leng) as in cold without defence in meaning, is an even faster spectacular short jing (duan jing).
Intercepting jing (jie jing) is to receive the opponent's strength and turn around its direction back aganst him and emit jing (fa jing), or when the opponent's jing has not been fully emitted, I use a even faster jing to suffocate his jing back against him. This requires quite a high level of skill then it can be done.
As for hard jing (ying jing), hard soft jing (jiang rou jing), sung and sinking jing (sung chen jing), light and agile jing (ching ling jing), empty without jing (xu wu jing), is what teacher Ya Xuan, in the process of teaching Taijiquan, separated out into five types of jing flow. Its a pity that understanding teachers are always few, boxing theory is obscure and hard to understand. Normally what learners are familiar with may not be the real thing, their real skill is still not enough, most stop between the first two types of jing flow. Those able to enter into the third type of jing flow are already considered quite well skilled. Those able to get to the fourth type of jing flow is even harder to find. If we want to get to the empty without level, it is like refined through fire, a big achievement. In this world it is not easy to get many.
And Internal/External Martial Arts
By Peter Lim Tian Tek
In Chinese martial arts strength and power is divided into two distinct groups: External and Internal. This should be distinguished from the other division in martial arts which divides them into Internal and External martial arts. This second definition divides the martial arts according to their approach to combat whilst the first distinguishes the method by which strength and power is utilised and generated. The two definitions are related but one does not determine the other.
The common Chinese term to refer to strength is Jing or Li, in common usage both terms are interchangeable. It was only more recently that the word Jing was used to distinguish a refined focused, efficient strength as opposed to Li which is used to denote brute strength. This understanding of the terms is only in the context of martial arts, the common usage of these two terms remains interchangeable.
Jing, as referred to in Chinese martial arts, is a coordinated, rooted, efficiently focused strength. A clear definition of this kind of strength is found in Li I Yu's Five Word Formula. At this point, Jing still has not been defined into Internal or External types. This definition of Jing applies both to Internal and External types of martial arts.
There are several pre-requisites for the proper generation of Jing. They are:
For strength to be properly generated, it needs to have a base to provide the resistance to form a base for it to push against. The emphasis on pile standing in many martial arts is to build up this base by lowering the centre of gravity of the body to enhance stability and the efficient transfer of force from the centre of gravity to the ground. This means that the centre of gravity should first be identified by the practitioner and isolated so that it can be distinguished clearly. The stress is on strong support with the minimum of effort utilising the efficient structure. Lowering the qi to the Dan Tien which roughly corresponds to the body's centre of mass helps achieve this.
The different joints and muscles in the body must be coordinated to work together to produced a strength born of the whole body working efficiently together. When antagonistic groups of muscles do not work in a coordinated fashion, tension is created which lessens the resultant force. The coordination is also with breathing which affects the state of the body. Coordination using the centre of mass as a base which is supported by efficient structure allows an efficient path for strength to flow. Hence the importance of the Dan Tien not only as a origin point of the root and the exertion of strength but also as a region where qi is stored and emitted from.
The proper alignment of the bones in the body provides the structure by which the force is transmitted and provides a clear path for strength to flow from the point of focus to the ground. With the bones efficiently bearing the stress of the reaction force, the musculature can work efficiently without unnecessary exertion.
The above three characteristics are dependent on the focus of the strength which determines its efficiency. Focus denotes a point where all the body's potential is directed at and also to the task to be accomplished by the resultant force.
With the above four factors in place, one is capable of generating Jing which means that one can properly Fa-Jing or emit Jing. Fa-Jing is present in both internal and external martial arts and simply denotes an emission of strength. It should be noted that in Taiiquan, the aim is not great strength but beating a great force with a smaller one. The ability to Fa-Jing does not denote ability in Taijiquan or other martial arts since no art is based on Fa-Jing alone. Knowing when and where to appropriately Fa-Jing is far more important. Fa-Jing inappropriately can be disastrous.
External Jing is where the Jing is derived from the three external elements of musculature (jin), bones (gu) and skin (pi). This kind of jing is delivered through the exertion of the muscles, hardness of the bones and the toughness of the skin. It relies on hard physical impact and physical exertion to bring its effects to bear.
Internal Jing is where Jing is derived from the three internal elements of essence (jing), vital energy (qi), and spirit (shen). This kind of jing is effected through the strengthening of the essence to provide the generation of qi which nourishes both the musculature, bones, organs and the mind which is the seat of the spirit.
The body's essence (jing) is built up to ensure a plenteous supply, this is transformed into qi which nourishes and provides the vitality to the musculature, bones, organs and also the mind. Qi in traditional Chinese medicinal theory is the basis of life in the body and its presence and relative volume determines the health and vitality of the body. Qi itself is directed by the Mind/Spirit which is itself dependent on qi for its mental capability.
The Spirit is an expression of the thought, knowledge, feelings and intent (mental focus) of the mind. A strong spirit makes for clear thought, enhanced perception, better intent (Yi) which are assets to all situations, including martial ones. Intent brings about the physiological changes which opens the blood and qi flow along the path and at the point of focus. Hence the theory the mind leads and the blood and qi follows.
With increase circulation and qi flow, the musculature attains better tonus which results in the 'filled' feeling that is experienced by those who do some form of internal work (nei gong). It is this increased tonus and tenacity that serves as the origin of Internal Jing. It gives Internal Jing its 'propelled' and 'hydraulic' characteristics. This increase qi flow is directed by the mind which results in the creation of Internal Jing. The musculature remains relaxed with no undue tension.
Internal Jing transfers the strength smoothly into the opponent, not relying on hard impact to damage. This transfer of energy/force into the opponent's body and structure can cause injuries that are not obvious externally.
Visible Jing is also called Ming Jing. It denotes Jing (internal or external) that is obviously visible when it is utilised. The motion of the limbs and the point of focus is exhibited physically. One can also discern if the jing is hard (ying jing or gang jing) or soft (rou jing).
The opposite of Visible Jing is Hidden Jing which is also called An Jing. Whereas Visible Jing is easily observed, Hidden Jing is hard to discern. It is based on the internal flow of strength within the body rather than the external manifestation. Like the flow of air inside a beach ball, it is certainly present but it is not obvious when observing it externally yet it provides a reaction upon contact. Contact with someone using Hidden Jing often shows that his external movements may not correspond to his internal flow of strength and its focus.
This is jing manifested rigidly to the point of focus. Its path is fixed and exhibits hardness and stiff resistance.
This is jing which has a pliable path which shifts to to accommodate changes in the structure which is in contact without losing the point of focus.
Martial Arts And Internal Martial Arts
Does it mean that a martial art that uses Internal Jing is automatically classified as an internal martial art? Or that a martial art that uses External Jing is automatically an External martial art? It does not. The distinction between the two classes of martial arts has historically always been rather arbitrary but in general its classification is based on the art's approaches to combat.
The earliest distinction between the two is recorded in the 'Inscription For Wang Zhen Nan" (written in the early Qing Dynasty <1644-1911>) where the Shaolin school of martial arts was called the External system because of its techniques focus on attacking the opponent. The Wudang school of martial arts founded by Chang San Feng is called the Internal school because it overcomes its opponents by neutralising his force instantaneously in a tranquil manner.
Later, schools which attribute their origin to the Shaolin school were generally classified as External martial arts and those who are said to have their origins in the Wudang school were generally classified as Internal martial arts. Also, those whose characteristics matched the above description for the External system and emphasized physical exertion were also classified under the External system and those whose characteristics corresponded with the above description of the Internal system and stressed relaxed tranquillity were classified under the Internal system. These are broad classifications, it does not mean that within schools considered in general as external there are no internal elements or vice versa.
Martial arts classified under the external system sometimes also have Internal Jing training and vice versa so classifying them by their Jing usage is inappropriate.
Now that we have defined what is Jing and its basic types. It can be noted that the characteristics of the Jing and its usage determine its name. This has resulted in myriad different definitions of an arbitrary nature. There is no standard system that is used across the board to all martial arts.
For example, Lu Jing (Rollback Jing) is so named because it is the primary type of Jing used in the technique of Rollback. It is considered a Internal Jing because of its mode of generation and also a Hidden Jing at higher levels of accomplishment where its application is not physically obvious.
In the above example it can also be seen that the term Lu can refer to both the technique and the Jing usage in the technique so one must be careful when using such terms and distinguish between the technique and the Jing.
The Importance Of Breathing
In all internal practices, correct breathing is of paramount importance. It ensures that the body receives an adequate supply of oxygen and sufficient ventilation of carbon dioxide created during respiration. This creates an internal body environment that is suitable for training the mind which takes up much of the oxygen in the body. Deep breathing also massages the internal organs, ensuring that there is smooth flow of blood and lymph through them, this aids in the creation of essence (Jing).
Breath itself is intricately tied to the exertion of strength. The body exhales when exerting strength, bringing into play the musculature in the torso in its exertion, allowing the full body to be used.
Some Practices Used To Train Internal Strength
Standing (Zhan Zhuang)
Standing is a fundamental practice in both internal and external martial arts and is an excellent way to build up the pre-requisites of Jing generation. Still standing allows the practitioner to adjust his body so that the centre of mass and hence the weight of the body is efficiently transferred to the ground. This forms the root and so the base for techniques to act from. It allows the body to relax and find its most efficient structure. This adjustments occur within the body and are not always visible externally.
Stillness is condusive to relaxation and the removal of tension to allow musculature to work in a coordinated fashion. It also allows the mind to be still and to train a relaxed focus without mental distractions, the relaxed body with efficient structure also frees the mind from bodily discomfort which can interfere with its efficient function. Breathing is trained to be smooth, efficient and with increased capacity through a relaxed body rather than one in physical tension which can constrict the torso, decreasing capacity and costing more in terms of energy consumption and increase muscular fatigue. This relaxed breathing is carried on into the moving postures of Taijiquan. A relaxed body without tension is also condusive to good circulation as there is no tension to restrict blood flow.
Some standing practices also focus the mind on the flow of qi in the meridians, leading first along the main loop in the body formed by the Ren and Du meridians. This is called the small microcosmic orbit (xiao zhou tian). Later it is extended to the limbs forming what is called the large microcosmic orbit (da zhou tian). There are many types of postures which can be assumed during standing practice, each school usually has its own preferred practice. These postures allow the focus of the mind to bring about the proper jing flow and path in them.
Still sitting (Jing Zuo) is akin to this and shares the same principles except that one is not standing. Still lying is similar except that a horizontal posture is taken.
Moving Exercises (Dong Gong/Xing Gong)
These have the same principles as standing except that instead of still standing, the body is in motion but without losing any of the requirements of the standing. Taijiquan's boxing set is an example of such moving internal strength exercises. These can be trained on their own but full benefit is derived from first attaining the necessary attributes from still standing and then transferring them into moving exercises as it is much easier to cultivate them in standing.
The physical movements themselves can help increase the flow of qi in the body by the points of focus in the movement. Stretching the musculature also brings about increase qi and blood flow. It can also help in training efficient focus which aids in the proper generation of Jing within a moving posture.
A Proper Understanding Of The Term Peng And Its Relation To Tajiquan And Martial Arts
There is a current movement that uses the term Peng to denote Jing and who regard Peng Jing as the core Jing in internal martial arts. This emphasis on Peng Jing did not come into being until the 1963 work by Gu Liu Xin and Shen Jia Ren on Chen style Taijiquan. This emphasis is absent from all works on Taijiquan and internal martial arts prior to that and so it is a new innovation and not a traditional one.
Traditionally, in Chen Taijiquan, Chan Si Jing (silk coiling jing) was considered the Internal Jing in Chen style Taijiquan. The Yang related lineages placed emphasis on correct Jing generation and the usage of the 8 Jings which were in the basic 8 postures of Peng (ward off), Lu (rollback), Ji (press), An (push), Cai (pluck), Lieh (split), Chou (elbow), Kao (shoulder).
Peng Jing in the Yang related lineages refers to a expansive, blending, upward and outward moving type of Jing. The Peng that this movement refers to is actually just simple Jing which has the four pre-requisites. This wrong usage of the term leads to wrong interpretation of the classic writings and the words of the masters. This changes the art and should be curbed.
The Peng Jing used by this movement uses the resistance of a incoming force by alignment to the floor which is at variance with what Master Mah Yueh Liang says should be the correct application of Peng in which one should never hold up against a person's force. This is in line with the Taijiquan Classics which says one should not resist nor should one let go. Their test does show proper body alignment in which the path of the strength goes from the floor to the point of focus but it is certainly not the classical definition or understanding of Peng. It is also present in other martial arts but is certainly not called by that name. The misconception stems from the use of the Peng posture to show rooting by resisting the push of several men. This is not the correct way to use the posture though it does show good rooting.
It should be noted that the understanding of Peng by the Chinese differs from that which is currently expounded by some in the West as can be seen in the above example. So in interpreting the words of masters from China and the East, it is important to take that into account.
Peng Jing is distinctively Taijiquan and it is not a term present or can be correctly applied to other forms of internal martial arts. Though the term Jing applies across the board since it does not denote technique but simply the efficient application of strength. Each of these internal martial arts has its own characteristics and theories which make it distinct from each other. The insertion of Taijiquan theories and terms into their terminology assumes that these internal arts are all the same which is not the case. Whilst they may share some common characteristics, their expression of the is distinctly unique. That is why they are separate arts and not one and the same one.
Basis And Methodology Of Internal Martial Arts
By Peter Lim Tian Tek
The internal martial arts have often been shrouded by much mysticism and some have come to consider the theorems contained therein as being superstitious and even superfluous to these martial arts. The effect has been much like throwing the baby out with the bath water and what remains only has the outward semblance of the original art but its essence has been lost.
To understand the underlying theoretical foundations we must first understand the Chinese world view which is at the heart of Chinese culture and its philosophies. The history of Chinese thought is a long one, stretching back thousands of years. Much of it came through empirical observations made by the Chinese people and distilled to its essential logic. Some of it may not be so alien to the West as it may initially seem.
The Philosophical Basis - Understanding The Point Of Perception
and The Yang
This is probably the most fundamental of the theories that contribute to the Chinese world view. Philosophically speaking this is the theory of duality which is also known in classical western philosophy except that is not used as a basis to explain the nature and composition of the perceived universe. It represents the positive and negative in the perceivable universe. In the martial arts the represent stillness and motion, hardness and softness and other opposites.
The Trigrams And Hexagrams
The 8 trigrams (Ba Gua) and the 64 hexagrams are all derived form the interaction of Yin and Yang. They form the fundamental changes that are possible through these interactions. It was in the Jesuit Priest Father Joachin Bouvet, who did missionary work in China, who showed the sequence of 64 hexagrams to German mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz, the father of calculus. Leibnitz discovered the binary notation system in the hexagrams by taking 0 for each solid line and 1 for each broken line. This system is the fundamental building block of today's computer systems which all work on the binary system. These computers, through the use of the binary system (aka western Yin-Yang notation) are now able to simulate the real world which lends credence to the Chinese theory that the perceivable universe can be explained using the interaction of Yin and Yang. For martial arts these changes represent the possible situations and counters in a combat situation.
The Five Elements
The five elements derived from the ancient Hou Tu diagram which groups the Yin and Yang interactions into five distinct groups is a representation of the 5 material types which the Chinese were able to classify the perceivable universe. Similar to the Western classification of Animal, Vegetable and Mineral, the Chinese classified them into Metal, Water, Fire, Wood and Earth. The five elements also represent the five motions since the interactions of these elements which forms the cycle of matter in the perceived universe have their innate motions. Their creative and destructive cycles and their motions have lent their principles to the martial arts.
Approach To Combat
For all martial arts there is a common set of requirements that need to be addressed when it comes to success in combat. They can be broadly classified into 4 catagories:
These 4 categories are fundamental combat and the different internal martial arts have different emphasis on each but all strive for efficiency in combat with minimum effort to achieve maximum effect. We will deal with them individually.
In addition, in the case of Taijiquan, there is the requirement for sensitivity. In this modern age, information is power and in the world of Taijiquan it is no different. Information about the opponent is instrumental in being effective in combat against him. As the Art Of War states 'know the opponent as you know yourself, a hundred battles a hundred victories'.
The Internal Training Methodology
The Internal martial arts place their main emphasis on training the internal factors of a person as a means of preparing the body to be effective in combat. The three internal elements trained are Jing (essence), Qi (vital energy - akin to life force) and Shen (spirit). The body needs to be strengthened and healthy before it can engage in combat. The internal methods train the body for the improved generation of Jing (essence) through keeping the body at the optimum stress level for its healthy functioning which means also the removal or dealing with destructive stress. This returns the body to its natural relaxed state which encourages the proper smooth circulation. This forms the basis for a regulated and healthy endocrine system which leads to the improved generation of Jing.
This in turn leads to the improved output of Qi which is a result of the improved metabolism through the abundance of Jing. Qi is derived from the nutrients we eat and the air that we breath. Qi itself flows with the blood and both can be controlled through mental focus. Proper mental focus leads the qi round the body improving vitality through improved blood flow and sufficient supply of nutrients, gaseous exchange and vital energy. The breath is very important in qi generation and deep breathing efficiently utilising the capacity of the lungs is important but never to the point where it becomes unnatural. This leads to an improved tonus in the musculature and ultimately leads to a healthy body.
The mind which leads the qi also benefits from this optimum supply of its nutritional and respirational requirements and allows it to function at its best. Coupled with a destressed body and controlled emotions, it is able to develop a relaxed concentration with deep calm. This is used in mental training which supplements physical training resulting in better results in shorter time. It also improves confidence, increased awareness and deliberateness in dealing with situations as well as greater ability to concentrate and be able to maintain it. The Shen (spirit) which is a manifestation of consciousness is thus trained and is an indispensable part of this cyclic system. The West has only just begun to realise the benefits of mental training as a supplement to physical training.
In martial arts, its not how great the power is but how efficiently it is generated and how appropriately it is used that is the key to success. Great power without control, focus and a clear mind having sufficient information to apply it appropriately is quite useless.
The frame work for power generation is a good root born of a lowered centre of gravity for stability and the efficient structure for force to flow from it to the ground to form a base of resistance for the power generated to push against. Also important is proper body alignment so that the force is efficiently transmitted through the structure. We should note that these two factors do not constitute internal strength and are present in most martial arts, both internal and external.
Internal strength is a result of training the Jing, Qi and Shen and is a combination of efficient physical power (Jing - not the same as essence, its a different Chinese character) generated through muscular tonus, appropriate application through mental focus and stability, and a healthy body capable of handling the stress of combat which forms a basis for both of the former. Mental focus determines how efficient this is since it is the focus that defines whether the the action is efficient or not. The resultant motion is smooth because it does not have any retained power in the form of tension and rounded because of the nature of motion of the joints and their efficient usage. Because of its mode of generation Internal Strength (Nei Jing) can flow even without apparent outwardly visible motion.
The speed striven for is effective speed. In internal martial arts, the faster technique may not be the victorious one. Efficient motion is essential for speed, as is a structure that is conducive to quick motion (i.e. no double weighting). There are two main points on speed when it comes to combat. The first is to get out of the way of the attack, the second is to counter the attack with the minimum speed requirement. The speed trained in the internal martial arts is the speed of the whole body which is a co-ordinated whole. In Taijiquan, the speed of training is mainly slow, this allows one to train the body to move in an efficient fashion with no tension. It also allows obstructions to the flow of movement due to structure or tension to be detected and removed.
The placement and position of the body and body structure in relation to the opponents is very important in martial arts. It allows one to be in the optimum position to counter or to attack with minimum effort with maximum effect and to be difficult for the opponent to counter. This minimises the danger to the exponent whilst giving him a good vantage point to initiate his counter or attack.
Proper placement is a result of knowing the opponent(s) centre and structure. It also requires knowledge of effective attacking angles and inherent flaws in body structures in each type of posture. Placement changes in relation to the opponent and so there is more or less constant change in a combat situation.
The technique of the art is how the body is used effectively in combat. A technique is only good if it is applied appropriately. Each martial art has its own set of techniques to deal with the different combat situations. Each conforming to the principles governing and defining each individual martial art style.
In the internal martial arts, the techniques are grounded in efficient structure and motion. The movements are naturally rounded, this turns aside incoming force from reaching and affecting the centre of mass of the body and the body itself to cause damage. The incoming force is either redirected out of its intended focus or turned against itself or to the attacker's disadvantage. This also entails intimate knowledge of the opponent's centre and structure. Most internal martial arts have a set of core techniques from which the rest of the techniques in the system are derived from. In Taijiquan it is the 13 Postures, in Ba Gua Zhang it is the 8 Mother Palms, in Xing-I it is the Five Element Fists. These fundamental techniques embody the principles on which the art is based. Whilst there are common elements in these techniques in all 3 arts, they are distinct in flavour and their application.
The techniques are taught individually and then usually strung up into a pattern for them to be practiced sequentially, the sequence itself showing the flow techniques in combination. Two man practice refines the technique by putting it into action with a live opponent and bringing all the principles and technique together.
Sensitivity is key to Taijiquan as a martial art. The ability to stick and adhere to the opponent allows the Taijiquan exponent to 'listen' to the opponent's structure and to detect its flaws, to locate and effectively control his centre of mass from which all his body motion ultimately relies on. Sensitivity is trained in the form when it is done slowly. This teaches sensitivity to one's own structure and centre as well as sensitivity to the environment as one does 'push hands' with the air, being so relaxed that it can even react and neutralise air. In push hands, one trains sensitivity with a reactive opponent able to take over the initiative. This is knowledge of self and knowledge of opponent from which victory will come.
The training of Taijiquan as a martial art complete with its inherent mental focus which is essential to it trains a healthy, strong and efficient body and mind. While one need not train with the intention of going into combat, the combat focus in the art provides a focus for the postures and the internal flow of energy which brings about the full benefits of the art. Without this focus, one will not fully realise the benefits of Taijiquan.