What I like about Grandmaster Wei Shuren’s Yang style is its clearcut learning map. In some Yang styles they seem to have too many types of jing or unclear if not confusing learning roadmaps.
For example, I saw a very nice graphic recently outlining the different types of power. The author divided the types of power into :-
a) Structural Power (internal strength)
b) Elastic Power (elastic store and release)
c) Peng Power (internal pressure)
d) Ground Power (ground reaction force)
However, I am a bit confused here because aren’t the 4 powers basically parts of the same type of power?
This is the logic of my analysis :-
i) You first have a body structure. In our Tai Chi we use the Bell Body structure.
ii) When you stand upright your Bell Body structure is connected to the ground.
Note – A characteristic of the Bell Body is inflation of the body like an elastic ball; what we call Peng Zhang (膨胀) as opposed to Peng Jing (弸勁). It is my opinion that Peng Zhang is frequently confused for Peng Jing. Peng Zhang is a quality whereas Peng Jing is a force vector as shown below :-
iii) Your body structure pressing against the ground with the help of gravity leads to ground reaction force as per Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion which states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
iv) That your body is opened up means that the body’s 5 bows can be accessed. This allows you to borrow, store and release the opponent’s strength like releasing an arrow. The process here is just converting potential energy to kinetic energy, basically a type of elastic power.
v) Lastly, the characteristic of Peng Zhang (膨胀) means that the body is rounded. If so, then we can access Peng Jing (弸勁) which is a type of circular force vector.
In conclusion, by using one body structure, Bell Body, we have the 4 types of power mentioned by the author!
In Grandmaster Wei Shuren’s Tai Chi we approach the topic of force differently.
There are many ways to apply force in our Tai Chi. GM Wei’s book on the 22-form has many models of how to apply force. Sometimes I think far too many.
Sure, it makes for fun learning. Tickles the grey cells even. However, for application I feel that you only need something more straightforward, something you can use easily without having to think very hard, something you can pull off even as the opponent is trying to hit you back.
Fortunately, in Grandmaster Wang Yongquan’s book there is a Song of Chaos which he penned based on his practice insights. Note – the book was actually written by Grandmaster Wei but published under GM Wang’s name with his approval. The Song of Chaos is as follows :-
I once asked my teacher to explain the above to me. The moment I heard his explanation I realized how important it is to thoroughly master all the requirements of the 22-form.
This is because the 22-form (or for that matter the 37-form, the 108-form and the 8-step Health Form) is configured to provide the necessary practice for acquiring the physical understanding to actualize the skills outlined in the Song of Chaos.
In today’s post I touched a bit on the training of emptiness.
The training of emptiness is actually simple and straightforward. But it can be maddeningly difficult to catch like trying to grasp water.
I guess this is where the fun of learning is. And when you get there it can be incredibly satisfying because you have something that most Tai Chi practitioners will never understand much less be able to acquire.
You will be able to have a glimmer of understanding why the first two generations of Yang family, Yang Luchan and Yang Chienhou, were said to have high level skill.
This CB lockdown has one good thing going for me – time to practice in the morning before I start work at home.
For some reason, I think it is the way I have to focus on the tons of fine details that is embedded in the Tai Chi form as I move through it, that clears up the mind and help to perceive things more clearly.
Sometimes too clear a thinking is bad, cause I end up writing a post like “WTF” here.
I know some masters are reluctant to demonstrate power, claiming (whether true or not) that they are afraid of hurting the student. I wonder if this is true or they just want to hide the fact that they can’t do it well.
You can’t teach how to use a technique without showing how the power is applied or at the very least what it feels like to be tapped, even if lightly. This method of teaching is known as “feeding power” in traditional circles.
To me the concept of “feeding power” is just hands-on teaching. Nothing mysterious about it.