Q: What is the right translation of the word 掤 ‘Peng’ or 掤劲 ‘Peng Jin’ that every practitioner of Tai Chi Pushhands have heard?
A: New dictionaries can’t be used in this context. The character is not even included in most modern dictionaries.
According to the old dictionaries, like Hanyu Da Cidian:
掤 PENG is a noun that means “arrow quiver”. As a verb it means “to burst”, “explode”, “crack open like an arrow quiver that cracks”, or “shoot”.
劲 JIN means “strength” or “force” and in Tai Chi this would, of course, relate to internally produced force as opposed to mere muscle strength.
So 掤劲 Peng Jin means “an exploding force”. Not unlike the word 發勁 Fajin which means “to issue force”, but more in the sense of “burst”.
The Tai Chi Classics say: “Gather energy like drawing a bow, then release it like shooting an arrow”.
The character Peng 堋 means the target in archery.
The character Peng 弸 means a fully stretched bow.
Both also referring to bow an arrow.