Tai Chi sensitivity or Ting Jing is a very important tool for the martial artist. This article will discuss some ways of developing sensitivity. You might want to read the article "Tai Chi Sensitivity: What It Is and How It Can Be Used" to learn about the basic ideas of Tai Chi sensitivity.
In general, the best way to develop sensitivity is to practice sensing the intentions of opponents while also sending out your own intentions. This can be done through push hands exercises. In other aspects of Tai Chi, forms are very important. However, when developing sensitivity, it is important that students avoid set patterns. This way, students will have to learn to sense each other's intentions rather than simply anticipating the next step in a set of movements.
Often students want to rush these exercises, but in order to develop real sensitivity, students should go very slowly at first. Unless you start very slowly, you will not develop the sensitivity you will need to be able to perform master level feats. Students should only increase their speed when they have absolutely mastered sensitivity so that increasing speed is really the only thing they can do to develop their skill.
Instead of moving quickly through these exercises, start by learning to feel or sense with your body and mind. Then learn to interpret what you are feeling. Next look for many different ways to respond to an opponent's actions. Talk to your partner and work through a scenario multiple times to find different actions you could take. Think about how you could respond using less physical effort. Only after you have worked through all these other areas should you consider moving faster. If you have really developed all the other aspects of sensitivity, you will find that speeding up is very easy.
In addition to practicing with a partner to sense what they are doing, you will also need to be able to sense and control what is going on in you own body. For one thing, you will need to be able to achieve a deep level of relaxation. Since this relaxation is being practiced as a part of a martial art and not, for example, as a part of a sitting meditation, you will actually need to be able to relax while keeping your body structure properly aligned, accomplishing physical goals and moving energy in specific ways. In order to be able to achieve this kind of balance, you will need to have a great deal of mental and physical stamina. However, if you develop the ability to be soft and relaxed where you need to be, you will much more easily be able to overcome opponents.
So, there are two basic aspects of developing your sensitivity: deep relaxation and following your opponent. However, there are many things you can learn to sense within your opponent. For example, follow your opponent, feel inside them and feel where the energy wants to go and how deeply are they connected. If they are only connected to the level of pushing with their shoulder then perhaps the rest of their body and energy is moving away in response to their own tension. Learn to feel that split in the opponent's internal intention and where the energy is and is not and where it is going and you will begin to see where the real training starts. If you go far enough with your Tai Chi practice, you can actually learn to feel the tension or split in an opponent's energy without having to make physical contact with that opponent.
and Chi Kung both in the U.S. and China.