3. Developing jin
In fight we may need a lot of power, so how do we increase and use
power? There are two ways: increase absolute force, increase
relative force. To increase absolute force, there are two methods:
build up muscles, and tap our potentials. To increase relative power,
there are also two methods that can be used: find the best angle and
timing to use our force, and borrow force from our opponent. All two
ways or four methods are useful and practiced in Taiji Quan, but they
are emphasized at different priority levels in different stages of
The order these methods are listed above is also their relative order
of complexity. Of the four methods, the simplest way is building up
our muscles. It can be understand and practice directly and easily.
Borrowing force is the most complex way. That requires not only we
know ourself, but also that we know our opponent.
Usually most of the gain from the training for increasing absolute
force happens in wai jin, while most of the gain from the training for
increasing relative force happens in nei jin. Both are necessary for
Taiji Quan, so we need to understand them and practice accordingly.
In Taiji Quan, jin development includes huan jin – how to transform li
to jin, yun jin – how to move jin in the body, xu jin – store jin, fa jin –
releasing jin, and dong jin – understand how to use jin under Taiji
3.1 Features of high level jin
The li that we use naturally in everyday life is actually not all the li that is available to us. A significant portion of
our potentials is untapped. This is because prior to training, our body is not integrated. All of its powers are
localized and fragmented. When our movement is not totally coordinated, when parts of the body is working
against each other, we waste energy. The reason many groups think jin is just a larger li is that with jin, we can
get access to more of that previously untapped potential.
We are not integrated because in our normal everyday lives, we do very few physical things that require
integration. Most objects we need to manipulate are light enough to lift with the right arm alone. So we are
experts at isolation, not integration.
What does integration feel like? If someone is pushing on our right arm with an 100 pound force, and we use just
the muscles of our right arm to resist it, we are using li in a very isolated manner. We are tense because 100% of
the heavy load is supported by the arm muscles alone. When we are integrated, we are use the whole body. We
spread that 100 pound weight all across the body, so that our arm is supporting, only say, 10 pounds of that
weight. Now, since none of our individual body parts is supporting a huge load, overall it is relaxed, even when it
is supporting something very heavy.
This relaxed feeling is one of the most important things in our internal martial art training. Without relaxation there
is no sensitivity, without sensitivity we cannot use any of the high-level skills of internal martial art.
And unlike li, when we really have jin, we should feel like jin is always present in all parts of the body, and can be
expressed in all directions.
The Taiji Quan classics states: jin is initiated from the root of our feet, released from our legs, controlled by our
waist, and finally manifested to our fingers. From the feet to the fingers, the energy must flow through intact,
unobstructed, this requires integration.
Smooth and unobstructed:
We want to have the ability to move jin throughout our whole body smoothly. That, at any time, jin can go
anywhere in the body without any special preparatory movements. Only when we can move jin with this level of
freedom and speed can we really use it in fighting.
Lots of thing can happen in a fight, and happen very quickly. We want to be able to make whatever changes
appropriate to our jin: direction, amount, harder, softer, appear, disappear, etc. Push hand practice is the most
important training for this. To practice and understand how to use all thirty-six jin is also very important. Only we
can do this, can we say we understand jin.
3.2 Huan jin – transforming li into jin
One of the most important practices in Taiji Quan training is to transform li into jin. The goal is whenever we
have to use physical force in fighting, we never use li, we just use jin. To reach this stage, we have to go through
certain required training.
The main method for doing this in Taiji is form training. The purpose of any training is to create a new habit, a
second nature, and a new automatic response to things. The types of responses we are training for in Taiji Quan
are inherently against our natural instincts. So a lot of reinforcements are required. We should practice the form
every day. When we practice, the form should be done in a slow, smooth, relaxed, and agile manner. Our mind
must be engaged in every moment to fight against our body’s natural instincts, otherwise, instead of reinforcing a
new habit, we end up strengthening the old one.
Zhan zhuang – post standing, is very popular supplemental method. Compared to forms training it is much
simplified, we just hold a posture statically. The other popular method is called shi jin – testing force. Here we do
some simple movements repeatedly, acclimating our body to the new way of moving, and let it experience what the
correct jin feeling should be like. We say push hand is one of the best ways for learning nei jin.
In the early stages of our training, we may feel like we are actually losing our power. Do not worry about this,
keep on practicing the correct way. When we eventually feel power coming back, that power is jin. This is a very
long and gradual process, no one can do it right away. For a very long time when we use our power, that power is
a mixture of li and jin. This is what makes Taiji Quan very difficult yet very interesting at the same time.
Very often, if we are tight for some reason, maybe because we are nervous, we will use li more. We are reverting
to our natural instinct. We need to train to completely overcome that instinct. So Taiji Quan training is as much
mental as it is physical. This is the most efficient way to train. This way gradually the ratio of li and jin changes,
our body becomes more and more integrated, we will be able to use more and more of the power available in our
body that we cannot get to before because previously our movements are too inefficient. This is basically what
huan jin is about.
This type of training is more qualitative. The goal here is to increase our jin. It is highly physical, but it does not
increase the size of your muscles too much. Theoretically there is a second way to increase our jin – by training
our muscles to increase li, since li is the basic material for jin. That is more of a quantitative approach. Ideally we
want both: we want to have as much li available to us as possible for transformation into jin, and we want to be
able to develop as much of that li in the form of jin as possible.
Here we must be careful because there are many
inherent conflicts between these two approaches.
Especially in the beginning, when you have little
experience with what the correct feelings of using jin is
like, too much of the quantitative type of training can
easily get in the way of qualitative training. Resistance
training tends to be simple, mostly about li. We may be
reinforcing our natural instinct of using li whenever we
have to overcome a large force. This is the opposite of jin
training. Also, much of the jin training requires our body
to be relaxed, here we are building the habit of tensing
up. In Taiji Quan practice we find many people who focus
on the second approach progress at a much slower pace
in the huan jin process, because they are so used to
using their li.
For these reasons traditionally people believe we should focus on the qualitative training more. First learn to
move in the most efficient manner, learn how to get more out of what is available to us. Some people are totally
against resistance training, but that is too extreme. We just need to carefully balance each type of training. Taiji
Quan is a martial art, resistance training should be a part of all martial art training.
It is important to point out that when we say Taiji Quan practice changing our original human nature, we do not
mean it is something against the law of nature. It still obeys the laws of nature, it just operate on a much higher
level than the very primitive and crude ways we are born with. When we lift a big rock with our bare hands, we are
following laws of nature, when we use a rope and pulley to lift it with a fraction of power, we are still following the
laws of nature. The new way represents our most advanced understanding of nature. We want that new way to
be our automatic response to things. In Chinese philosophy this is called “shun qi zi ran qiu zi ran” – “following
the law of nature to get a new nature”.
3.4 Yun jin
Yun jin means to moving jin through our body for usage. There are two types of movement: one is to move or
collect jin to one or two points of the body for release. This is usually done for wai jin. We want to be able to
move jin quickly to any part the body where it is needed. The other way is to let jin spread in the whole body, so
that at one time jin is everywhere in the body. This is usually the way for nei jin.
3.5 Fa jin
The application of jin is often called fa jin – releasing or launching jin. Fa
means to launch, release, throw away, generate, send out, or issue. In most
martial arts styles, the general idea of fa jin is just to release a very powerful
force. In Taiji Quan it is much more nuanced and detailed.
To understand fa jin in Taiji Quan, we need to discussed the exact
definition of the term fa jin first. There are two definitions for fa jin in
Chinese. The first is “throwing force”. Here the two characters, fa and jin,
are combined together as a noun. It refers to a kind of jin which can be
used to launch something outward, like hitting someone hard or throwing
him far away. When people talk fa jin this way, they are talking about fa jin
as an attacking skill. From this perspective, basically any type of attack can
be called fa jin. Here the most important goal during training is to deliver
biggest power possible.
The other definition of fa jin is “releasing jin”. Here fa is a verb that means
release or launch, and jin the object that means trained force. When people
talk fa jin this way, it is a more general concept meaning to use jin. Since
there are many different kinds of jin in Taiji Quan, there are many different
ways to release jin. It is not restricted to the big explosive type, especially
when nei jin is involved. Here the most important goal during training is to
learn how to control jin, how to use it in the most efficient manner. From this
perspective, fa jin is not just about big powerful forces, it can be many
things, they can be small, soft, or slow.
With two types of jin and two corresponding ways to do fa jin, it means in
Taiji Quan we do not use our force to attack the opponent directly. There
are a lot of detail meanings, especially for nei jin application, which is much
more detailed and complex in Taiji Quan. As the main characteristics of nei
jin are hidden, changeable, and continuous, its fa jin must be like that as
Wai jin, although quick, accurate, and powerful, is difficult to change once
launched. So in Taiji Quan, we only release it when we are very sure we
can hit the target. And even with a powerful type of jin, we do not just hit
with all the power we have, we still try to obtain the maximum effect, meaning
here we still want to use the optimum timing, direction, position, target, and
In Taiji Quan, throwing forces can be wai jin or nei jin but most are wai jin.
People always say if you do not know how to do fa jin (to release a throwing
force), you do not know Taiji Quan fighting skills. These are some of the
throwing forces commonly used in pushing hands and fighting: jie jin -
interrupting force, chang jin - long force, chen jin - sinking force, zuan jin -
drilling force, cun jin – one inch force, fen jin - splitting force, leng jin - cold
force, duan jin - breaking force, dou jin - shaking force, chong jin - charging
force, and chuang jin - rushing force, etc.
Some of these are harder, some quicker, some longer, some abrupt, and some more powerful. Some are easy
to use, and others difficult to use. The common feature to all of these is that they can be used for hard
attacking. It is important to note that hard does not mean releasing the biggest amount possible. It just means
to get the most effective attack. The important skill here is controlling the amount of our force. Even when we
are very powerful, we still care about how much force we really need to use. Always ask if we can reduce more
and still achieve the same effect. This is part of Taiji Quan’s philosophy of “use minimum force to get maximum
Because the process for releasing wai jin is so obvious, so easy to understand and appreciate, many people
mistaking think this is all Taiji Quan fa jin is about. This is one of those common misunderstandings that makes
people concentrate on wai jin training and ignore nei jin training in their internal martial art training. The end
result is our skill stops at that level, and we never understand what high level internal martial art skills are about.
As the name suggests, actually the more important type of fa jin in Taiji Quan is the one for nei jin. Release of
wai jin plays only a secondary, supporting role in fighting. Because nei jin is launched literally inside the body
and usually there is little or no obvious external physical movements involved, people cannot see it clearly.
Sometime they do not even realize a fa jin is happening. This type of practice is much more difficult and complex
than the one for external fa jin. So focus your attention here.
3.5.2 Principles of fa jin
According to Taiji Quan principle, we should not attack
directly, it always happens after we gain control of the
opponent. The first principle of fa jin is timing. This is about
efficiency. Fa jin too early and the opponent is not under our
full control yet (ex. has not lost balance yet), here we will have
to use more energy. If the timing is too late, the opponent
has a chance to change and adjust, causing us to miss or
getting into trouble. To find the correct timing for our fa jin is
called de ji – gain chance. The best timing is the moment
where our opponent is at his weakest - he is off balance, his
body is tight, his root unstable, and his reaction slow.
The second principle of fa jin is position. This is referred to
as called de shi. This happens when our body is in a
comfortable posture and our opponent is not. We are
relaxed, stable, our mind can easily concentrate, and our qi
moving smoothly. We can do anything we want. Our body is
ready to release force. By comparison, our opponent’s body
is in awkward position, he cannot relax, and he cannot make
changes easily. Only when we have this type of positional
advantage over our opponent can the result of our fa jin be
The third principle of fa jin is direction. When we want to throw our opponent away, there is a best direction
and a worst direction. The best direction is the direction where our opponent will lean toward when he loses his
balance. Attack in this direction uses the least energy. The worst direction is the one that, should our
opponent move there, his balance will be restored. Throw in this direction not only wastes energy but could
also put us into trouble. Between the best and worst direction there are many other choices. Unfortunately,
most beginners always choose the worst direction. So one key objective in fa jin training is to learn to pick the
When we can follow these three principles, you are on the right track. This is what is described as “de ji de shi”
– gain chance and position in Taiji Quan Classics. When we practice fa jin, be it external or internal, we need to
follow these three basic principles. This is the way to highest level of efficiency and most refined skill.
Beginners tend to ignore these rules with wai jin, because a powerful wai jin looks good, even it is in fact very
inefficient. When using nei jin, these points are much harder to ignore, we have no choice but to pay attention.
This is how study of nei jin gives people more chance to understand true meaning of Taiji Quan. This is one
reason why in many groups, teachers actually do not allow their students practice release of wai jin for a very
long time. If we ignore these rules, then we are not really using Taiji Quan skill, because these three principles
follow one of Taiji Quan’s central ideas called “zhi ji zhi bi” – “know yourself and your opponent”. To do that
requires sensitivity. And like everything else in Taiji Quan skills, sensitivity plays a crucial role in fa jin.
3.5.3 Features of high level fa jin
In Taiji Quan skill, release of wai jin should be quick, accurate, hard, and amount used optimal. But the real
high level fa jin skill is in nei jin. Compared to nei jin, wai jin is simple, so it is considered a lower level skill in
Taiji Quan training (this does not mean it is not important or useful).
Features of high level nei jin application are that it should concealed, never show our power to our opponent
directly; it should be small, never make the movement too large; it should be fast, never hesitate when we get
the chance; it should be accurate, never do it without know our opponent’s weakness point; it should be smooth
and continuous, having no interruptions; it should be changeable, never be tight and stiff so that the amount,
direction, touching point, etc cannot be changed at any time; it should appear and disappear suddenly, making
opponent confused and paralyzed with indecision; it should mix xu – insubstantial, and shi – substantial; when
real and fake force are mixed together; and it should mix yin and yang, meaning we never just use a pure yin or
pure yang force.
Here we need to talk a little bit more about concealing our fa jin. This is one of the most important concepts in
Taiji Quan, and source of much confusion. What many people think of as fa jin is actually just one type of fa jin
(wai jin). So they think when a power is released, it should always be displayed outward. To onlookers this
seemed impressive, especially when there is a very loud noise involved.
This may be right in some other martial arts styles, but not always right in Taiji Quan. In Taiji Quan, that is okay
for release of wai jin, but wai jin is not the major skill in Taiji Quan. The most emphasized skill for us in nei jin.
Since nei jin by its nature should be concealed, the release of nei jin must follow the same principle. This is part
of concept of wu xing - no movement or posture. It is said “you xing jie shi jia, wu xing fang wei zhen” - “all jin’s
that can be seen are false, only the jin that is hidden is real”. Of course, in the beginning everyone shows
something outside. However with practice, this should be minimized. The most important thing here is to never
think showing a big force outside is the major skill of Taiji Quan. Real high level skill is where our opponent
feels nothing until he is on the ground, and he does not know what force we used to beat him.
3.5.4 Common misconceptions
Fight like we train:
When we practice, the more jin we build up the better. But when we use jin in fighting, actually the less the
better. The biggest misconception about fa jin is people think it is about releasing the biggest force possible.
That does not sound like internal martial art does it!
One of the important things we are training for is to learn control, to know exactly how much force is needed in
any situation. To use just minimum force to get maximum effect is the goal of our Taiji Quan practice.
Ignoring the opponent:
The other big misunderstanding is that we do not need to care about the opponent’s reaction, just release the
force blindly checking if the current situation is suitable. The best way for reaching high efficiency is to exploit
the opponent’s reaction.
We can still win if we ignore these rules. It does not mean other types of skills cannot work. It just mean they
are not Taiji Quan skills, or at least they are very low-level Taiji Quan skills, as they do not follow Taiji Quan
principles. Before we really mastered Taiji Quan skill, maybe these skills worked well for us and won our fights,
but if mastering Taiji Quan is our goal, we should stop doing them.
Yin Cheng Gong Fa Association North American Headquarters
Copyright © 2000 YCGF_NAH. All rights reserved.
2 of 3
2 of 3
Great Master Wang Peisheng
demonstrates throwing force
in Taiji fighting
Shun Qi Zi Ran Qiu Zi Ran
Master Zhao Zeren shows the
use of exploding force in Taiji
Master Lu Shengli (right)
teaches the use of Peng Jin
Master Zhao Zeren teaches
the use of Taiji throwing skill
Zhi Ji Zhi Bi
You Xing Jie Shi Jia
Wu Xing Fang Wei Zhen
Zhang Yun demonstrates how to use
Taiji Jin in his push hands seminar