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Ting Jin 听劲 Listening Strength

Ting Jin 听劲 Listening Strength is one of several types of internal strength or internal workmanship. The name literally means “listening.” If I were having a conversation with someone and didn’t quite hear what they said, I might say ‘ting bu jian’ meaning ‘I’m listening and didn’t hear you.’ But listening strength is not only listening with our ears. It’s listening with the whole body, to everything in the immediate area. It requires concentration and the ability to connect with and become part of your environment.

Wudang Taiji, Part 1, with a focus on Ting Jin


What is Ting Jin?

Ting Jin is the ability to see or to sense (in push hands) where the center is, where the balance is, and where a small change could have significant effect. It is also the ability to listen, really listen, to everything in the area. That can be rather uncomfortable sometimes. In that case, focus on one thing only. The ability to engage in focused meditation is also ting jin.

In application, listening is about sensing what could happen before it does. In more subtle use, ting jin shows what the opponent might do. The subtle weight changes, the tension in the wrist, a small adjustment in the shoulder, all portend a possible attack. If I have some idea of what my opponent might do, I can do something to reduce that opportunity.

It’s not an overt skill; rather a quiet skill. Listening strength depends on being quiet. You can’t hear anything if you are noisy, if your mind is full of ‘noise’ or you are emotionally engaged. Quiet the heart and quiet the mind. Then, you can hear.

Yes, these are subtle principles. This is not a beginner-level discussion.

The use of internal energies takes time and practice. Students need time to understand and begin to work with the concepts. Practice is the only way to develop the skill.

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