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TAIJI QUAN’S FOUR PRINCIPLES FOR COMBAT EXPLAINED

Taiji Quan’s four principles of peng, lu, ji and an from my current experience through practice, Peng, Lu, Ji and An give you the basis in which to establish your defence and offence. The grasping sparrow’s tail for example in Yang Style, allows you to drill and understand these four cardinal principles.

At first, most people get lost with the physical aspect of the movement. That is how the peng looks or how the lu (rollback) looks. And worse of all the applications based on how these principles are presented in the form. But I would say one has to look beyond that. Why? To grasp each principle. And as we refine them, we get better and our understanding improves.

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Regardless of whichever Taiji Quan style you practice; these underlying principles are the same. Using the Yang Style form from the Cheng Man Ching lineage whether it is the unknown long-form or his devised short form. When you do the left ward off, the “sinking” on the right foot as you shift your weight into the left forward foot and square up to the left. One would feel an upward reactionary motion from the “sinking” which makes the left-hand rise forming the left peng or ward off posture as the right-hand drops. The dropping of the right hand is yin, and the rising of the left hand is yang, thus taiji. The peng jin aspect should be experienced, that is the rising expansive motion. When applied after yielding and neutralising the opponent, you would then ward them off. They would experience themselves floating and the motion rises from the feet and expands the hands and goes into the opponent, uprooting them.

When one is sinking and letting go of the tension one experiences the above-described motion. And the focus should be on sinking that when the movement is done, one will begin to understand Peng Jin. Same can be said about the other three.

From the left ward-off, one then goes into grasping sparrows tail. From Peng Jin, there is a floating of the arms and then you sink to create the Lu (rollback) there is a yielding and deflecting of the opponent’s force, before you redirect the force back into them using Ji (press), which is you now going on the offence.

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After Ji, when you do the move separate hands, preparing to go into An the right hand deflects incoming pressure as you sit on your left leg sinking all the weight there. This is so that after the deflection is the opponent is adhering or yielding to you, they can now control or be seized, some people describing this as “na”.

With both hands out ready for the execution of An (push), you can then control the opponent. Depending on how good your sinking is, however, once they are just a fraction off balance you can, using the back foot-shift the weight into the front and they will be easily pushed back. And is the downward force or attribute of the peng structure and when applied, your opponent feels like they are sinking.

 Therefore, Lu deflects, redirects, and neutralises the opponent. An makes your opponent once they have lost balance, feel like they are being pushed downward. Peng jin from ward off, makes them feel like they are floating, this is from the expansive aspect of the peng structure. And Ji is the principle of attacking your opponent once you have neutralised their attack. It can also be used as means of straight attack if one wishes to. In the grasping of a sparrow’s tail, it is physically manifested with the right hand held in the ward-off posture. And the left hand’s palm touches the inside of the right hand, placed from the wrist in the “neiguan” acupoint. It can be examined to be a combination of an An and Peng. Ji can also be a straight attack, using a punch. It represents going on the offence.

Written by Narcisse Sadi who is a Tudi (student) of Dr Jeff Lan.  He is a certified 1stDuan Health Qi Gong by the International Health Qigong Federation. And  a 1st Duan Yang Style (Cheng Man Ching lineage) Tai Chi Chuan Instructor, certified by Dr Jeff Lan. 

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