As with all of the many different styles of taijiquan the one thing that they all have in common with each other is their expression of the Eight Energies of Peng, Lu, An, Ji, Cai, Lie, Zhou, Kao. So this particular blog will look at one specific method of the Taijiquan’s Eight Energies which is the “Warding Off Method” (Peng Jin Fa) as it is used within the Li Style (Lishi) taijiquan form, as there are many students of the Li Style (Lishi) taijiquan who are unaware that the Eight Energies (Ba Jing) of taijiquan even exists as many teachers do not teach them.
The Warding Off (Peng Jin) Energy is an expanding type of energy that moves in all directions and is actively used within the Li Style (Lishi) taijiquan form. The Warding Off Energy is used to meet any incoming force that can threaten the stability of any individual, once the Warding Off Method connects to the incoming force the individual can then yield and neutralise the incoming force away. The Peng or Ward Off Method is properly the most active of all of the Eight Energies of taijiquan and is used extensively throughout the practice of the taijiquan form or sequence, in the accompanying photo of Laoshi Keith Ewers seen performing the “Play the Lute Posture” of the Li Style (Lishi) taijiquan short form, you can see that he uses a forwards moving Peng Jin Ward Off Method.
The Peng Jin Ward Off Method can not only be performed moving in a forwards, expanding direction. It can also be used to move either in an upwards, downwards and even a sidewards direction. The arms must move away from the body in an expanding technique, they should not remain in contact with the body with the elbows touching and the armpits closed. There should be a gap or space created between the armpits and arms which allows the arms to fill up with an expanding type of energy that begins in the feet and travels through the entire body and into the arms.
Because some students of the Li Style (Lishi) taijiquan are not taught the Eight Energies of taijiquan, they then cannot interpret what shape or feeling goes into each particular movement of their taijiquan formwork. For example when moving their arms forwards into the “Play the Lute Posture, their armpits are closed and their elbows are to close to their body, they mainly concentrate on the circling of the wrists and hands with their arms held to low at waist height. There is a guiding principle in the practice of taijiquan that you must “First expand, before you contract” hence you must have a moving forwards, expanding type of Peng Jin Ward Off technique in you both arms, which are then ready to then yield, neutralise and contract backwards.
Although there are numerous amount of massage techniques within the Lishi Energy Bodywork Massage, there are only a few techniques that can actually and directly be used to work on the skeletal system. These particular techniques involve the grasping method (Na Fa) and the Pulling Method (Ba Fa). Obviously these two techniques can be used to gently stretch and open the joints of the upper and lower extremities to allow fresh Qi and blood to enter in between the joints and remove any stagnated blood and blocked Qi that has accumulated in the area due to lack of exercise, injury or illness.
As seen in the accompanying photo that comes with this blog, the practitioner is using a grasping/squeezing technique on the patients wrist which he then gradually begins to pull towards himself causing a tractions within the patients wrist and elbow joints. Very slowly the practitioner then begins to add a little more strength in his Pulling technique so that the traction’s begin to effect the patients shoulder joint and gradually moves upwards towards their scapular and thoracic joints of their spinal column. Not only does the traction and Pulling methods increase fresh blood and nutrients into the space between the joint to help heal and strengthen. They can also be used to release muscle tension within the muscles and tendons that surrounds the joints of the whole arm, again increasing both blood and Qi circulation.
Irrespective of what part of the body the practitioner decides to use either the grasping or pulling technique to cause a stretching, opening, traction of the patients skeletal system, they can then combine other Energy Bodywork massage techniques to subtly cause a change within the patients own Qi to either rise, lower, gather, spread throughout their entire body. For example once 5he practitioner takes a hold of the patients wrist and begins to traction the muscles, tendons & joints within the arm he is holding. He can then begin to do gently add vibrations which will cause waves of Qi to travel through the length of the arm, passing through the spinal column and down into the feet gently invigorating the patients own Qi to flow.
The study and practice of taijiquan can be very diverse for some individuals who not only practice it to develop their own health, fitness and wellbeing. But also to practice it has a method of self defence (Zi Wei) that allows them to protect themselves, family members and friends if they are suddenly involved a violent situation. Obviously not everyone wants to learn a taijiquan as a martial art or as a self defence discipline, they must prefer to study and practice it as a gentle form of exercise. But the way that we choose to look at teaching taijiquan within the LFIAA is that learning the Taiji Self Defence Methods and bringing the Eight Energies of Ward Off, Rollback, Squeeze, Press, Pluck, Split, Elbow, Bump that are all constantly active within the practice of taijiquan wether you choose to practice it for health & wellbeing or self defence alive is all on the same spectrum of looking after your health & life.
Taiji Self Defence that is offered by the LFIAA is the learning and understanding of how to skilfully use the Eight Energies to break free and escape from many types of holds and grips and to possibly then be able to immobilise or subdue them using devastating, painful joint locking methods that also include sealing the breathe & blood using a variety of chokes & strangles, plus using pinching, pressing & knocking the Qi cavities (Qixue) of the attackers vital points.
Learning the methods of taiji self defence to break free and escape from a large variety of holds and grips does not need the individual to be of a certain height or weight, nor do they need to lift weights to gain greater strength. The actual concepts are based upon using what we like to call within the LFIAA taiji self defence as body physics which involves developing a superior knowledge of manipulating the attackers own angles, leverage, gravity, and pressure to apply fast, practical ways of escaping from simply holds like a wrist grip or an attack from behind like being held in a bear hug as seen in accompanying photo that comes with this. Blog.
Alongside the ability to escape and break free of holds and grips. There is also the ability of how to apply, fast, practical and easy to learn techniques of immobilising and subduing of the attacker, that again does not need a tremendous amount of strength to apply them. For example to bend a finger backwards to break free of a choke hold and to then use that same finger lock to subdue the attacker does not take big muscles or a huge amount of strength, any child could do this.
My teacher Master Chee Soo would. call this particular hand method (Shou Fa) as an upwards Sun Palm Ward Off which again he mainly taught to everyone as a defensive technique to block any downwards blow directed towards the top of the head or to deflect any direct punches upwards above the head. The Lifting Palm as Laoshi Keith Ewers likes to call it can be performed in an orthodox and unorthodox way using a single, double or changing hand method. As I have already mentioned above Master Chee Soo mainly taught it as a defensive tool, whereas in the LFIAA version of the Feng Shou-Kung Fu it is taught both as a defensive or offensive hand method.
Offensively it can be used to deliver an uppercut strike to the opponents chin or to use the tigers mouth (Hu Kou) the space between the thumb and index finger to grasp the opponents windpipe to choke them. Not only can the Lifting Palm be used to strike with. It can also be used to guide & lead the opponent into multiple joint locking techniques which can then be easily turned into fast throwing methods. Sadly because the Lifting Palm Hand Method was not taught as an offensive technique to this day there are still many teachers who teach a version of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu who still only look at this hand method as a defensive tool, which to a certain extent limits the full usage of this particular hand shape.
An example of the Lifting Palm Hand Method being used as an offensive weapon need to only look at the first strike that is delivered in the Poison Hand Striking Set Three Method (Du Shou Da Fa) which is an uppercut to the opponents chin, immediately followed up with an upward elbow strike (Zhou Da) using the same striking arm. Obviously the Lifting Palm Hand Method can be used in many ways to manipulate the opponents balance such as the lifting up of their legs to lead them into a takedown method etc.
The ultimate aim of every practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu is to be able to use a particular hand method like the Lifting Palm for example and to them fully utilise it defensively or offensively alongside other striking, kicking, wrestling or throwing techniques. So that every hand method becomes a practical and effective tool that can be used to changed and adapt to any situation that your opponent can. Use against you.