H. WON TAI CHI INSTITUTE
FAQ & Tips
Is It Resisting or Not? Many Tai Chi Chuan masters offer an arm or a shoulder to push on when they are requested to exhibit Tai Chi Chuan power. What does this have to do with Tai Chi Chuan & why?
Response: As I have said over & over throughtout my writings, the traditional Tai Chi Chuan is about internal power. To those who have it understands the principles & knows its potentials. Moreover, in comparing the principles of the traditional Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan of the yester-years & the present days, one finds that there is absolutely no difference.
The idea of having a bigger person (persons) push on my arm or shoulder with two hands (separated or joined) is as follows:
A bigger person (250 lbs.) is pushing on my arm, and he cannot either collapse my arm or move my body (185 lbs.) The purpose behind this exhibition is to show that the bigger or muscular person is not strong than I. The laws of physics should favor the bigger & muscular person, especailly with speed eliminated, but that is not the case. As for the resistance, regardless of how one might have interpreted, the result should still favor the bigger person who is pushing with two hands on my one arm. And, for my part, I will tell you that I was not resisting. So, if there was no resistance on my part & the bigger person couldn't push me with all his might, then what was going on?
What went on unnoticed by many people who saw or experienced the push, was that of "borrowing energy". If I resisted with any muscular tension or skeletal leverage, then I was not in accord with the internal principles of Tai Chi Chuan. In fact, I would not be able to stay relaxed & last very long if resisted with muscular tension or other; moreover, my struggling to relax would be visible as well. As for the witnesses, since they have no other explanations other than resisting, their conclusions are obvious & understandable. But, if he/she understood the principles of "borrowing energy & peng jing", he/she would appreciate what this exhibition was all about.
"The greater the force with which the opponent attacks, the more severe will be the returning blow or push", this principle makes Tai Chi Chuan famous for its power. As for how this principle is possible, it is the result of having & controlling "peng jing". In fact, the harder one pushes, more "resistance" the pusher would feel. As hard as it may be for someone to believe, the "resistance" that the pusher feels is his "own push" being returned back to him, & not my muscular tension & skeletal leverage. "Borrowing energy" internally diverts the oncoming force, & then, sends it back to the person. When proprerly executed, the knowledgeable practitioner is completely at ease & relaxed. The beauty of it is that I do not waste any of my energy; so, the harder my opponent pushes--the more resistance--the quicker he becomes tired. And most of them, not knowing what is happening, end up trying to push harder as they feel the resistance of their own push being returned.
As much as someone wants to interpret this un-collapsible arm as resisting, it is not resisting on my part. Naturally, one has to understand the internal principles of "peng jing" to be able to grasp "borrowing energy". Something similar to this internal principle of "borrowing energy" is that of a hose filled with water, one end is attached to a faucet & the other with a plug that can be insert into the hose. As one pushes the plug further into the hose, one feels more resistence of the water, but the water is not resisting; in fact, the resistence is not caused by the water; rather, it caused by the force of "push" of the plug being inserted deeper. The harder it is pushed, the more "resistance" there will be felt.
As a footnote: the hand or the forearm should not be raised higher than the shoulder, & the elbow should be lower than the shoulder. If anyone has the arm raised higher than the shoulder, it is because that person does not have enough "peng jing" to stay connected. In fact, one is subtly diverting the push away from his body, instead of taking it into his body (see CMC video - Taiwanese version where CMC is diverting it upward). If the push is not taken into the body, then there is no "borrowing energy". The hand or the forearm should be in front of the chest, & with the presence of strong "peng jing", the arm will not collapse. Moreover, when "peng jing" is very strong, taking on multiple pushers poses no problem. One can also take on multiple pushers by cheating (by diverting the push upward). By diverting the push upward, the closest person pushing is cheated of an opportunity to push straight into the body. If the pusher is physically stronger, the the arm gets raised up even further as the push is applied; moreover, whenever a push is applied, the disconnection of the shoulder also becomes visible. This happens because of a weak shoulder & a weak internal connection ("peng jing").