In Chinese Ting means to listen!
Ting Jin is Listening Jin. When we say listening, we don't mean listening with your ears. We mean listening to your body and your opponents body. We work on building a perfect connection and communication with our opponent.
Ting jin is “listening energy”–sensing the insubstantial as well as the substantial. Knowing that is not entirely depending on the outward appearance of things. It’s the sixth sense that tells you Little Jimmy had a bad day at school, or that the salesman is not telling you something important about that used car. It tells the martial artist that a punch is about to be thrown or an energy healer what points to hold and how long. It tells Yoda that there is a “disturbance in the Force.” Highly developed ting jin gives you a preternatural ability to read what is going on.
In Taiji, after we learn the form, we use push hands to begin developing "sensitivity." We start with single push hands and put in a lot of hours to develop the ability to feel what our partner is doing. Is he tense or relaxed? Is he weak in his movement? Is he collapsing in any particular place? Does he overextend or show other vulnerabilities?
As we practice, and "invest in loss" -- in other words, we get pushed around a lot -- we hope to develop the ability to read tiny changes in force. We hope to be given just a glimpse of our opponent's "intent" with enough time to adjust, adapt, and neutralize an attack.
That's what Listening is. It is not mystical and it does not rely on psychic abilities. It also does not depend upon an invisible "Qi" energy. It is a physical skill of sensitivity that you earn through a lot of hard work.
With proper partner drills and many hours of training, you can develop true Ting Jin. You will learn to feel your partner's body. You will feel muscle changes, gaps in the line, weight distribution, tensions in the body and many more aspects of your training partner.
In traditional Chinese medicine a skilled practitioner can use his or her Ting Jin to diagnose a patient. He or she can touch their patient, us their Ting and know what is going on in the body. Ting is a powerful skill to have and one of the 2 most important skills of Taiji. We tell our students Song and Ting, Ting and Song. Relax and Listen!
When working with your training partner it is important to have a notebook nearby so you can take notes as to what you are feeling via ting. You feel something, you write it down. It is telling our brains that this information is important and that we want more of it. Without writing it down, your brain dismisses it as normal everyday feeling. You must train your brain to become more sensitive to this sort of information.
I hope this article taught you a little something. Thanks for reading and God Bless!