What Do We Mean by the Tai Chi Principle of "Jing?"

The Tai Chi principle of jing (sometimes spelled “jin”) can be very confusing. There are numerous meanings and interpretations of jing. I will cover a few of them.

Jing has been described as the Chinese word for mental quietness. This definition refers to putting your mind in “quiet mode.” Remember “jing” as a key word when your mind wanders, as it will help bring you back to a quiet mental state. This is quite different from other interpretations or definitions I encountered in my research.

One interpretation is that jing energy is chi/qi that is directed by the mind. There are 36 basic types of jing energy and even more methods, combinations and expressions of energy, both physical and energetic. No wonder it is so hard to pin down a single definition.

Some authors assert there are two major definitions of jing energy.. The spiritual definition is an energy that is created by your essence. Medically, jing relates to a biochemical characteristic found in our fluids which originates from our center. Poor lifestyles deplete jing, while healthy lifestyles increase and strengthen jing.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there are three types of energy (also called jewels or treasures) which sustain human life. These are jing, qi/chi and shen. You are born with a fixed amount of jing (or essence). Jing is considered the nutritive essence, carried in sperm and blood, and stored in the kidneys. We consume it throughout our lives, and when we are depleted, we die.

Jing forms the essence of who and what we are. Life’s primal energy, so to speak. It is this energy that determines your vitality, and the quality/quantity of your lifespan. Jing is believed to be the “supreme ultimate treasure to be nourished, protected and preserved in the Taoist tradition.”

By now you probably realize that jing is extremely hard to define. It can be referred to as resilience, sensitivity or internal power. In fact, jing can be expressed without any physical movement on the part of the advanced practitioner

Many definitions of jing are related to Tai Chi as a “fighting art”. The Gin Soon Tai Chi Chuan Federation recognizes four different types of jing: listening, doing, yielding and fa jing (an explosive strike). Jing is  the key to victory and mastery in Tai Chi as a martial art. Accordingly, a practitioner’s understanding of jing is key to controlling the opponent or being controlled. Without jing, your Tai Chi is an ineffective method of self protection.

Along with a healthy lifestyle, Tai Chi and qigong will help you develop jing energy.  However, building a large quantity, of high quality jing takes a lot of time and work. You don’t want to deplete it because it does sound like your life depends on it, doesn’t it? 

Time to practice, practice, practice!