<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Louis Swaim:
Here, I would have to disagree. An art with no medium would be no art. Quite apart from whether zhuo means touch, touch is more than incidental in taijiquan. If the essential is independent of physical reality, that would be so rarefied as to be the very definition of intangible. </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Well, you can insist on whatever way you want to see things. I’d say an ‘art’ or the essential in itself is a physical reality, like the relationship between two tangible physical entities is as real as the tangible physical entities. More accurately, an art with no medium would not have a venue for its expression. The essential depends on a medium for its manifestation but does not depend on a medium for its existence. To be more directly relevant to the study and understanding of Taichi, look at this example. Music is definitely dependent on the tangible physical entity of sound for its expression. No sound, no music to be heard. But few of us would mistake a sound engineer for a musician, nor would students in music class think they are studying acoustic engineering. So be careful on what you are studying. Music or acoustics, there is a choice. But unless you can see the difference you have no way to make the choice.
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You wrote: “Another way of looking at it is that techniques of other arts also depend/involve touch, sensitivity, and response to the opponent. So how is Taichi different from the other arts?”
In this regard, I would say it’s no different. </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Well, then, the Taichi you know/understand/practice is not the same as mine. So, expect that we will talk over each other’s head a bit.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I think that I know the “what”—that tingjin refers to sensing/perceiving the jin of the other—but I don’t know where the term came from, </font>
Like the several remarks on tingjin that you have cited, this is head knowledge – based on common knowledge of what this phrase may mean rather than the actual function or operation this phrase represent in Taichi. Meaning derived from head knowledge has no assurance that it is relevant to Taichi, since it is basically an empty concept without specific correspondence to the reality of Taichi operation.
I agree with you that most parts of the texts in Taichi classics are commentaries reflecting the experience of the authors. They are about how it feels or looks like when the authors have done it right. They can be used as training aid but are far short of being prescriptive or definitive of what Taichi is. Similarly the extra-classics terminology comes into being for the masters to communicate what they can feel but don’t really know that is going on. In this regard tingjin is basically the same as juejin – a label for something equivalent to a Taichi operation or skill that is not well defined/understood. It is my speculation that tingjin becomes more popular because ting is more action oriented than jue and ting is also a better sounding word for verbal use.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">... why the aural sense is privileged over the other senses in this strange technical usage. How did it come into taijiquan? </font>
I think it is most likely a matter of coincidence that tingjin has been chosen but, nevertheless, ting happens to be intricately linked to Taichi. Here is the rationale for the linkage. If we treat ting/listen as a general term for senses then when we listen with the ears it is hearing, with the eye seeing, with the nose smelling, etc. When we exercise these senses actively we have a purpose – we want to know something. Translate into Taichi, tingjin is the operative term for dongjin – ting is action oriented while dong connotes more a state of mind. Therefore, tingjin is dongjin in action/operation – whatever we must do to get to the state of dong is ting. So to understand what is tingjin we have to know first what we are supposed to dong (know/understand) in Taichi.
Aural and visual senses are the two primary senses with which we gather information. Visual is more or less unidirectional while aural is omnidirectional – perhaps this is why ting is used in Taichi instead of kan (see/look). Interestingly kan/see/look is commonly used in phrases for checking out things in other activities including all other martial arts. This is yet another indication of Taichi being different from all the rest of our activities.