How To #4
Pushing with Peng Strength: View 2
by Mike Sigman
In the last issue we looked at an analogous description of "pushing" which compared pushing to a joined series of "almost-open" hinges. The important point in this and all descriptions of pushings is that the push along the route that requires the least muscular and structural effort.
Although this view of hinges arranged along the most direct path is mechanically the most simplistic, there are other more complex factors that invite another description.
The constant change within a true "internal strength" sequence of movements relates to open and close. As the body closes upon itself, it contracts as a complete unit; the expansion, or opening, signifies the body expanding as a complete unit along some intentional peng direction, again as a complete unit.
The ascription of the word "Taiji" to Taijiquan refers to the constant progress from open to close in all movements; an opening is not possible without closing, etc. Since the Yin-Yang symbol indicates the "Grand Ultimate" design of things, Taiji can be called the Grand Ultimate fighting art, not because of its fighting worth, but because it goes ceaselessly from open to close as does Yin-Yang.
In closing and opening, the pivotal point around which the body revolves is the Dan Tien, the central (in more ways than one) point of the body near the upper abdomen.
Although we are looking at a specific motion, Push, all motions involve open and close and are related to push. A quick extrapolation and a little experience will show this to be true.
In closing the body, the central hinge in the back begins to store energy (it bends) while the body sinks, causing a bending and storing in the hip and knee joints (see fig. 1). It is critical to associate the storing in the back with a bending of the supportive knee the pelvis does not rotate because of deliberate tucking, it is a side effect of the back and knee bendings. The peng path from hand to foot must be maintained while this occurs.
Storing in this manner involves going back and down along a curve.
In opening the body, the peng path is maintained while the driving force begins with the legs pushing directly into the back and along the shortest path to the target. During this opening, we are seeking the straightest, most efficient path from the curve in which we stored (see fig. 2).
As the body extends, the pelvis rotates naturally out of its closed position, reinforcing the push up the spine. The exhaled breath during this move should result in a slight distention of the lower abdomen, helping power the pelvic rotation.
This physical parallel of the exhaled breath accompanying the distention of the lower abdomen, in turn assisting the impetus of the pelvic rotation, pushing up the spine as it unbends, etc., accompanies the qi path from Dan Tien down between the legs, and up the back.
Notice that, as fig. 2 indicates, there are two paths of power from the unwinding middle, one of which goes down the legs. The opening of the body is powered from the middle torso down; the shoulders and arms are of secondary importance, serving mainly to transmit the powerful forces from below.
To be mechanically correct, even though the ground strength is manipulated by the middle, the source of the strength must necessarily be the ground.
All pushes (and powerful discharges), through any part of the body and in any direction, use the idea of seeking the straight from the curved. The path is always the shortest path from the ground, along the angles that require the least effort to maintain.
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