Sunday, January 15, 2012

Why My Peng-Jing Is Still Weak

Why is my peng-jing still weak after all these years of learning and training zhan zhuang? Here's a list of ways I've self-sabotaged and derailed my progress in peng-jing.

Before I expose my short list of excuses and truths, here's an excerpt from my article, What Internal Strength Means to Me .... just so we're on the same page.
"What sign post are you looking for to confirm that you are NOW on the correct path?"
  1. To be able to "sink the weight" into my legs. To be able to distinguish the feeling of carrying my weight in legs vs in my shoulders or upper torso.

  2. To be able to take an incoming push and run that through my structure and fascia system to ground and at the same time be relaxed and able to move around while maintaining that connection.

  3. To be able to express a large amount of power or force in a minimal distance - the zero-inch punch. I think many people think of this as "fa-jing".
"What measurement or accomplishment would be sufficient for YOU to declare that you have developed at least some internal power?"

The short answer is: When I can feel a clearly identifiable feeling of connection throughout my entire body with a feeling of ease under load, and attain this feeling on my own without set-up adjustments from my instructor, and have my entry-level whole-body connectedness validated by a real master outside the school. This would be a sufficient measurement for me to declare I have developed at least some internal power.
* * *

Now, on to my excuses and truths regarding why my peng-jing is still weak.
  1. My legs are still too weak. I really can't learn any more physically until my legs get stronger. This involves figuring out on my own how to get more "kua in" and relax of the muscles I normally use and developing the muscles I don't normally use.

  2. I practice going to discomfort or long slow torment which is not the same as going to suffering.

  3. I get to the suffer point and then back off. However, eating bitter = enjoying suffering = developing and refining internal connection = peng-jing.

  4. I'm not self-disciplined enough. I don't train hard enough. I don't stick to principle. I try to incorporate other stuff to avoid what I really need to do.

  5. I still train with a beginners training habit (nibble a little bitter here, a little there) but after 20 years, I should be where I can't wait to dig into eating bitter!

  6. I don't train with a beginners mind. I'm still carrying the baggage of "teach me". However, I've entered the Ph.D. realm where I need to do my own research on and in myself. I haven't fully transitioned yet.

  7. I have focused on making knowledge-progress over making physical-progress. I'm out of balance.

  8. I don't practice zhan zhuang consistently and intensely. Sure I'll go at it good for a while but then I back off. This kind of on-and-off cycle has defined my zhan zhuang practice over the years.
* * *
Granted, I do have some peng-jing but not as much as I could have if I consistently train to suffering. What does "train to suffering" mean to me? For now it means:
  1. Figuring out how to elicit and continuously get to feeling the coin size burning in the middle of my quads when I stand in a medium height zhan zhuang (not a low ma-bu).

  2. Figuring out how to quickly get to the point where I feel afraid my legs are on the verge of collapsing underneath me and then push myself until they physically collapse. And then get up and do it again.

  3. And do #1 and #2 above by myself without my sifu, a "personal coach" or a marine drill sergeant in my face.

What will it take to get my physical-level in balance with my knowledge-level so I actually become what I know and think about?

I'm told the suffering we're talking about here might only last a couple weeks and then the body and mind adapt. Most people use the avoidance of suffering as an excuse because they don't want to change. I think I've been in this camp...

How long will it take for me to develop stronger peng-jin? Hmmm....

Writing this article is one of those cathartic experiences...

And be sure to read my follow up article: How Long Does It Take To Develop Peng-Jing?


  1. So, why on and off? You have to do zhang zhuang every day to get results.First movement is ti cha(piercing and lifting). Then is zhang bao[holding the ball].Shi li is next step. Then mocabu ie. friction walking.

  2. Why? Because real peng freaks me out. The kinesthetic experience of peng changes the way I experience daily life which in turn challenges me to make daily life changes that I'm not willing to make. And so I go back and forth.

    Some people might say that they have peng and it does not effect their daily life. I would then ask if they are mistaking bracing for peng. Bracing is a pretty easy mechanical skill to get. But I'm not talking about bracing.

    My teacher says, "You either have peng or you don't." and what I've found is in developing even a rudimentary skill of dropping my weight can feel like peng to someone pushing on me. But even this is not peng.