“Peng” or “Ward off” is one of the main forces (energies/techniques) used in the arsenal of Tai Chi Chuan. It has the internal, feeling-awareness, subjective feeling quality of a ball filled with air, or when in use of a boat being floated upon the ocean, in this case, you are the ocean and your opponent is the boat subject to your mercy.
One can approach Peng and its study in one of 2 ways.
The first way is to see Peng or Ward off as a movement in the form that can be applied to accomplish a number of self-defense goals, often with minor tweaks to the movement, in order to defend or attack an opponent.
The second way to approach Peng is as an energetic feeling-state or feeling-quality that undergirds all the movements and techniques of Tai Chi Chuan, but are most readily apparent in the technique of the same name – i.e. “Peng” or “Ward off”.
It is said that the energetic feeling-state of “Peng” is the foundational energy of the internal martial ars and should infuse all styles and techniques of the internal styles. This feeling-state is kin to the energetic equivalent of a beach ball that grows from the centre-point to encompass your entire physical being. There is said to be a certain buoyancy to this feeling-state. This buoyancy lifts your limbs as though they are filled with helium, but simultaneously makes you feel more greatly rooted into the ground through your legs and feet. This juxtaposition of the mutually cooperative dependence of yin and yang, of substantial and insubstantial is one of the primary principles of Taiji.
I believe that it is best to begin approaching Peng (Ward off) from a technical standpoint. Once a certain depth of proficiency and understanding of Peng as a technique and its variety of self-defense applications has been achieved, one has a base from which to begin exploring the more energetic qualities of Pend and approach it as a feeling-awareness that can undergird all of one’s Taiji practice.
Peng requires a relaxed bodily state with an alignment of the joints and limbs to the rootedness of the ground. In all instances, the key to greater physical relaxation as well as mental/psychological calm is the breath. I mean that an awareness of, and a coordination of that breathing with one’s movements goas a long way in helping to achieve the state of relaxed alertness that is a benefit to any martial art, especially Taiji Chuan.