Monday, May 24, 2010

Another letter to my teacher

I have another letter and response from my teacher Master Stephen Hwa. It is in the same tenor as the previous blog wherein I attempt to address the concerns of students who are interested in martial applications, push hands, etc. My thesis holds true: Without substantial training of internal discipline, there is no point in pursuing push hands, applications, etc. Without understanding of the principles behind the 13 methods, postures, movements, there will be no understanding to be had for students who begin push hands, etc., prematurely. Of course this has not stopped many from ignoring this advice, I do not address this to them, what point in arguing or debate...they don't care to understand internal.

Dear Master Hwa,

Hope the recent trip to the mainland was fruitful and that air travel remained healthy.

This has puzzled me since we made "Tao of M.A.". In the DVD you refer to the word "Bing or Peng" as "push". This push you go on to say is either "high" or "middle" which is also known as "one inch punch". I agree whoever it was who said that discussions of Peng are like trying to talk about any color, red, yellow, etc. It will make no sense unless one can give specific examples. As I said in the previous blog as well, the Tai Chi Classics have no tutelage on how to do Peng, Lu, Ji, etc. and of course reading what someone from another style has written most often is interpretation from an "external" point of view, not "internal".

Additionally, it is kind of useless to say to a student (although many teachers do, without referring to these principles) that one can do a specific application for Peng or even Lu, Ji, etc. So in light of what I said about discussing "color" without giving examples, here goes:
  • Peng is often thought of as the application ""ward off" in push hands, etc., it is not "ward off", Peng is merely an intrinsic quality of the application "ward off". People engage in this much the way people say "tingling fingers" are Qi. "Tingling fingers" are not Qi, they are evidence of Qi, much the same way a "red", lit, light bulb is not electricity.
  • Peng is referred to in the Tai Chi Classics as a "spring like" energy, this quality of "spring like" is present in all the other "methods", Lu, Ji, etc. This "spring like" quality sounds remarkably like internal energy which is generated through internal discipline in movement. It is a necessary but not sufficient quality to performing any of the other methods correctly. Hence, one cannot say they uprooted an opponent using "Cai" or "Tsai" (pick, pull, pluck) if the quality of Peng was not present as well.
  • Peng as any application is not a valid quality in for example "ward off" if external force, eg. pushing with legs, extraneous movement at shoulder, disconnect at shoulder, tension in arms, etc.
  • Peng has an intrinsic "rising" quality that is only generated correctly from using internal discipline. The "rising" is referred to in Tai Chi Classics as analagous to "water supporting a boat", etc. I think you referred to this before as Intrinsic "upward quality" that things like "quarter body movement" can induce. Example being, I do one inch punch and I feel that my arm, palm, fist, kind of spontaneously goes upward.
  • Peng as quality of say "ward off" is also rather expansive. It seems to originate at my core and seems to "fill" me up like a tire. When I ward off an opponent (hold them away from me) Peng is in direct line with them, when I move forward, Peng rises at where I touch them, it goes up. I use less force than he does but once he is off balance, I can add more. So Peng has these Yin and Yang qualities however dependent on the quality of one's internal energy.
  • Peng with such Yin and Yang in consideration can keep an opponent from getting to my core and as such is basis for any abilities I have with "Ting Jin". If my arm is too tense for example, I cannot have quality of Peng, since I cannot "ting jin" the opponent. I simply am too tense, therefore cannot "sense" what opponent is doing. Conversely, Peng can with Yang in consideration be essential quality of "one inch punch" and as such have that "rising" quality even in the burst of power.
Hi Jim: What you said about Peng is very correct. Especially the upward motion is an excellent observation. I discuss that in the book as you will see.

Master Hwa

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