By Richard Clear

The term “sensitivity” is used in many different ways. However, when used in the martial arts, sensitivity means being able to sense the weaknesses, strengths and intentions of your opponent. As such, sensitivity can be very useful in a combat situation. Tai Chi has developed specific techniques for using and increasing your sensitivity. Tai Chi practitioners develop “Ting Jing” which means “listening.” However, Ting Jing has to do with more than just the ears. It means increasing a of the body’s abilities to perceive what is going on around them.

When attempting to sense an opponents’ intentions, a practitioner will develop their sensitivity so that they do not need a lot of stimuli to be able to understand what their opponent is trying to do. Tai Chi teaches students to use all of the body’s abilities to perceive an opponent’s intentions, particularly tactile stimuli.

Tai Chi adds another level of complexity to the issue of sensitivity. It not only addresses the person picking up the stimuli, but also looks at how the stimuli can be modified. Martial artists can not only pick up the intentions of an opponent, but can also send out a signal of intention to an opponent that will mislead the opponent into believing the martial artist has one intention until it is too late to properly counter the martial artist’s moves.


In the same way, Tai Chi teaches how to avoid this kind of trap when someone else sets it up. A good practitioner can sense the real intentions of an opponent and not just the misleading cues that a skilled opponent might send out. A developed sensitivity also keeps the practitioner focused on the opponents’ intention because opponents can change their intent at any time. A person well trained in Tai Chi sensitivity can easily pick up on these changes and adapt to them.

There are many skills that can be developed once powerful sensitivity is achieved. You can learn to feel or capture isolated or systemic tension in the opponent and use that tension to control or move the opponent thereby leading them into emptiness. You can find the opponent’s source of power and cut it off or move it including surrounding it so that only emptiness can be perceived by the opponent.

Not only can you learn to sense the opponent’s mind intent, but you can actually learn to block it, disperse it or mislead it. You can capture the opponents’ breath. You can also find the line of force that the opponent is attempting to use and change that line of force. You can divert it by changing the vector. Divert it and then push it or pull it. You can actually receive the line of force and then borrow from it. You can also simply neutralize the line of force as well. There are also ways to affect your opponent’s line of force with energy.

Sensitivity is a powerful tool in the practice of Tai Chi. These are just some of the skills that can be developed with Tai Chi Sensitivity.

About the Author: Sigung Richard Clear has over 30 years of continuous study in Tai Chi and Chi Kung both in the U.S. and China.


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