TAIJIQUAN: WHAT IS THE SONG OF PENG?
THE SONG OF PENG
Practising Taiji Quan and with the little, I know. It seems the more I understand, the more I now see the importance of having a Peng structure.
It is not impossible to acquire or understand, but the quality of the peng structure is improved with practice over the years. One of the fantastic methods used to build this peng structure is Zhan Zhuang practice. As it helps in realigning the body and equalising or harmonising the different forces acting inside the body with that of gravity. All under the guidance of the mind or mental force.
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Ultimately this is what is cultivated, the mind, people worry too much at the beginning about the breathing when they do Zhan Zhuang. Or feeling the “chi” or energy. Deluding themselves from actual practice. That is the other thing, you need to practice too really understand, then when you read the classics, the words make more sense.
In one of the Taiji Quan Classics, “The Song of Eight Postures, attributed to T’an Meng-Hsien, there is, “The Song of Peng”:
What is the meaning of Peng energy?
It is like the water supporting a moving boat.
First sink the ch’i to the tan-t’ien,
then hold the head as if suspended from above.
The entire body is filled with springlike energy,
opening and closing in a very quick moment.
Even if the opponent uses a thousand pounds of force,
he can be uprooted and made to float without difficulty.
“It is like the water supporting a moving boat.”-this imagery in the song of peng. Highlights the attributes of having a strong peng structure. All the forces in the body are balanced out with that of gravity. Your body is like a boat floating on water or your opponent if they apply pressure on you.
“First sink the ch’i to the tan-t’ien,” By letting go of the tension and applying the structure needed when performing the form of Zhan Zhuang, one then focuses the mind on the “dantien” a point below the navel, from there to the ground. See Ten Essence of Yang Cheng Fu.
“then hold the head as if suspended from above.” -this part should be the first, your head is held as if suspended from above. The nape is straight and then as you raise the back and simultaneously hollow the chest. All under the direction of your mind without tensing the muscles. Then again, using your mental force, you allow the tension to go down all the way to the ground.
And the subject of sinking the chi, when you breathe, your breath goes below the navel to the dantien. Expanding and contracting there as you inhale and exhale. By allowing all the tension to go down and you will feel your mind have a better focus of this point. This naturally happens with the letting go of tension. The breathing goes down there as you sink. When we startled and anxious we breath up in the chest, this builds up tension.
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The rest of the song, even in the English translation highlights the springlike or elastic feeling one feels as one builds a peng like structure. The last part of the song indicates what happens when an opponent applies pressure on someone with a peng like structure, they usually feel the pressure being exerted back into them or it can be redirected towards them. And then they, “float without difficulty”.