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What is Ting Jin? Tai Chi’s SECRET Power

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What is Ting Jin?

Ting Jin, is the ability to sense your opponent’s intent or force, allowing you to understand and redirect it.

It is an innate quality that we all have that is passive. As it was described to me by Tai Chi friend, also of the Chen Man Ching lineage through Huang Sheng Shyan.

Ting Jin, translates to listening energy, like listening to your body when you are letting go of excess tension in the body i.e. “sinking”.

Or when you sense the incoming pressure from an opponent. Also when you use to “listen” to the flaws in your body whether you are doing Zhan Zhuang or the Tai Chi form.

Now just like peng when you listen to something, and maintain that point, that something expands.

Therefore, it has a quality of peng, expanding in all 8 directions. And this is not limited to having  a structure or physical conditioning.

Yi is intent and the listening with the expansion provides the path for the intent to travel.


Qi (pronounced Chee), energy in this case is guided by the intent, yi. If there is not ting jin, the yi does not know where to go.

But for the flow of energy to be effective, you need the shen. And this comes when you can completely “sink” and ground with the earth. Earth is reference to gravity.

The ability to yield. Both the adhering and yielding cannot be done properly if one has a deficient ting jin. So as your ting jin gets better so does your peng and thus your yielding and adhering.

Why is it not intuition?

Intuition is defined as the ability to understand or grasp something instinctively without conscious reasoning. And this term is used to define ting jin, in Western or modern Taiji Quan literature.

It is not necessarily a bad explanation. But, as my Shifu once corrected me, “ting jin is not intuition when you know, you know.” Only a year later from him saying that did that correction start to make sense.

When you see a cat or hear a dog or someone screaming, you know at least with seeing that it is a cat or if you hear a bark, it is a dog. You do not think consciously that you are seeing a dog, you see, and you know it is a dog. This is the same with ting jin.

When your opponent grabs you his force, is a vector, it has direction and magnitude and you can feel it. That is why ting jin is improved with Tuishou or push hands, as you are directly feeling the movements of your training partner.

The feeling of tension is also ting jin, and you use intent to let it go. Some people are not aware that they are holding on to tension. Exercises like Zhang Zhuang reveal that.

So that is your why ting jin can be referred to as “listening energy” because your body can listen to the forces inside of you and the incoming force of the opponents. Or feel it and understand it. And therefore, redirect it.

“The lone wolf does not seek refuge, he is a refuge. He does not seek out the community. He is a community. Now melancholy might settle, and weakness may creep in….”Harmonious Fist

Written by Narcisse Sadi who is a Tudi (student) of Dr Jeff Lan.  He is a certified 1stDuan Health Qi Gong by the International Health Qigong Federation. And  a 1st Duan Yang Style (Cheng Man Ching lineage) Tai Chi Chuan Instructor, certified by Dr Jeff Lan. 

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