Is it Still Tai Chi Without Push Hands?

The Importance of Ting Jin -Sensitivity

by Sigung Richard Clear

Can you do Tai Chi without Ting Jin (Sensitivity) and still call it Tai Chi?

Ting Jin commonly translates as Listening Energy but is actually more like “sensing / feeling.” To me it is one of the most important – maybe THE most important – skills in the art of Tai Chi.


Allow me to explain.

Tai Chi is equally a healing and fighting art. The skill sets that make it a healing art are the same skill sets that make it a fighting art. The difference between healing and fighting is in the application of the skills.

If you are going to heal yourself using your mind, breath, relaxation, etc. then the first requirement is for you to be able to feel the injury and surrounding area. You must be able to discern where the problem is and is not and what the problem feels like to help determine what kind of internal adjustments to make and how much adjustment to make.

To fight with Tai Chi you must learn how to stop an opponent through light force strikes. This skill is important due to many factors including (but not limited to) the likelihood that the opponent will be younger, larger, and faster than you. Along with avoiding conflicts as much as you reasonably can this idea of an unfair fight is a basic understanding of the fighting part of Tai Chi.

Probably the best way to defend against such an attacker is to deliver a fight ending strike that penetrates to the opponent’s spine. The #1 internal target is the spine. If you can strike someone with a focused hit that goes directly into their spine and nowhere else then that will decisively end most confrontations.

To do this you must be either be able to generate incredible amounts of force or you must be able to aim the force you have to a specific area that will end the fight. The ability to feel the spine and into the spine (using your Sensitivity) is the primary requirement to make a hit go into the spine. You must be able to do this the instant that you touch them or that they touch you. In a real situation even a second delay is too much.

The ability to feel inside like this is referred to as Ting Jin. The ability to do it instantly is referred to as Knowing (Dong Jin). These 2 skills are of the utmost importance in Tai Chi Chuan and are specifically talked about in the Tai Chi Classic writings of senior masters from the past.

How do you develop Ting and Dong Jin?

The best way to do this is to play freestyle push hands. You can then use solo form work to practice the skills that you learn from push hands, but playing the freestyle push hands with a focus on the internal qualities is the best way to accelerate your progress. The 2 practices are of equal importance in order to really take your Tai Chi skill to more than just a beginner level.

One more thing. If you commit the “Double Weighted Error” it stifles your ability to properly move and to feel inside yourself and inside your partner / opponent. So, studying what the error is and how to avoid it are essential to your Tai Chi practice. To learn more about the Double Weighted Error please visit my page at .

Until then, keep training. 🙂
Sifu Clear

Additional Resources:
Push Hands Training:

To develop Ting Jin / Knowing:

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