We can describe “Chi” as the life force found throughout creation. The ability to collect Chi from the universe and to move Chi throughout the body to every tissue is something Tai Chi and Chi Kung practitioners learn to do. It happens naturally, simply by practicing. We have also touched on the idea of cultivating Shen, meaning spirit, which requires a mastery of both the emotions and the intellect. This is part of the century old secret of moving energy that is brought out of the closet and revealed in the SomaMotion Certification program.
There is a third force, known as “Chin”. Together with chi and shen, chin forms a trinity known as the internal energies. From these basic energies, a number of other forces are generated by the SomaMotion practitioner. In fact, it is believed that more than 35 distinct energies can be cultivated and used in SomaMotion (Chi Kung) applications.
Chin (also called jin or jing) is another force like chi and shen that can only be used effectively through practice. When practitioners use chin, they are using a substance created by the action of shen in relation to the chi. Once practitioners of SomaMotion can move chin through their bodies, they can begin to apply it in different every day situations
To understand how chin might be applied, we must first identify its characteristics. Chin is an internal force unlike the external force called “Li” generated by the muscles. Chi Kung theory maintains that li is related to and generated from the bones and muscles. In particular, it is related to the area of the upper body around the shoulder blades. Li is the raw yang energy Chi Kung practitioners try to avoid using since it is antithetical to chin energy.
Chin, on the other hand, is a special energy that is formed when the tendons and sinews around the bones are actually relaxed. This is one reason why Chi Kung theory stresses the importance of relaxing the many different muscle groups in the body and eliminating any unnecessary tension. Chin energy has often been likened to the energy that issues from the tip of a bullwhip. Following a spiral movement of delivery, the energy is concentrated along an ever-narrowing ribbon of leather until it is expressed with great force and flawless precision at the delicate tip.
Another principle difference is that li is the strength derived from the upper body, whereas chin is the force native to lower body. Exactly how we are to summon chin and how we can direct its flow is described in this paraphrased fourth verse of Chan San-Feng’s Tai Chi Chuan Ching.
The root of the chin should be in the feet
It flows upward following the legs
Chin is presented through the fingers
Understanding this short verse, however, is not as straightforward as it might seem, and it has prompted endless commentaries. Interpreting it properly presupposes a certain knowledge of Chi Kung basics. Root, for example, is an idea related to a special sense of balance. When a practitioner is: “said to be rooted.” The image conveyed is one of the deep roots of a huge tree extending far below the surface of the earth. These effectively ground the person practicing SomaMotion , making a stable platform for the forthcoming action.
The root is related to the Youngquan acupoint, which is located where the ball of the foot meets the soft part, which is one of the 12 main acupuncture channels, the Kidney Channel. The point name means gushing spring, and imagery associated with it describes the flow of Chi either into or out of the body, and people who visit Chi Kung masters often experience the chi as a breeze moving out of their bodies at the youngquan point.
As we have seen, though, chi is not chin. Chin does not exist unless it is created by the practitioner, and it is dependent upon the forces both chi and shen as well. So the practitioner must first create chin by using the spirit-shen and the life force-chi. Movement and special breathing helps create Chi and Movement and special music helps create Shen. It takes the combination of Chi and Shen to create Chin.
The verse does not specifically mention that it is only at the command of the mind, known as the “I” in Chinese; that the chin can begin to circulate. But, in fact, it id at the practitioners mental direction that the chin is first created and then moved from its root in the feet, up through the body.
As it moves upward, the chin gains momentum, like the energy moving along the ever-narrowing bullwhip. When it reaches the hips, the waist begins to move at the exact moment when it can gain the most leverage. Like a pivot, it swings into the position decided upon beforehand by the practitioner. Continuing upward, the chin gathers yet more momentum as it moves up the spine, though the back and shoulders, along the arms, past the elbows and finally out the fingers. The entire movement is coordinated, so that each part of the body acts together with the others. Used properly in self-defense, sport fighting, or in any sport, it can make the practitioner almost unbeatable, providing they have the basic training in those areas.