I’ve always thought that it’s funny how people can use the term, character or concept “qi” in ways that have never been intended. One problem is of course that the Chinese is very flexible and subjective. You can use any term for almost anything if it makes sense for you. Or just because you want to. You should not expect that other people could make sense of it or agree, but there’s very much subjectivity in play when it comes to Chinese language or chinese thought in general. Of course “qi” is used mostly when something can not be explained properly, when a teacher does not understand really what is in play, or when the teacher just want to use a fancy word that he or she can use to impress people. Therefore, less tai chi people who consider themselves serious practitioners use this term today than they did for twenty years ago.
So what happens when people have become allergic to the word “qi”? They have to replace it with something else. But do they still understand the mechanics in play? No, of course not. So what do they do? They replace qi with other fuzzy, pointless nonsensical words. A very popular term is “Jin”. When there are discussions about what and how teachers do what they do, the explanation is often “Jin”, and just Jin. There are whole discussion groups dedicated to “jin”. So what is jin? In the martial arts it be used to describe a quality or translated as energy or technique like tingjin/”listening skill”, dongjin/”understanding strength” or pengjin which is the developed quality of peng. So can jin be meant both an energy or technique? Aren’t those very different things? Yes they are. So it’s nonsense. In modern chinese, jin is mostly meant something that you do a lot or intensively, or something you feel a lot or intense, like shangjin, 上勁 which means energetically; with gusto; with great vigor, or 醋勁, cujin, the feeling of jealousy (especially in love), or songjin, 鬆勁, to relax one’s efforts; to slacken off.
If you read the tai chi classics or any old text about Tai Chi you can never find the term “jin” as a stand alone word or as a single concept. You can read about pengjin, dongjin, tingjin etc. But never about just jin. Why? Because like in the modern use of this character it can not be used a stand alone concept or term. It’s used to describe a certain type of concept. It’s used to label something else that becomes a quality if you do much of it, or something that requires practice to achieve. One popular definition nowadays on just “jin”, as a single stand alone nonsense term, is that jin is a bunch of different mechanics or “energies” used together. Que? Yes, people use jin about many dfferent things, when people can not understand the mechanics, leverage and forces (in a scientific sense) that are brought into play. But different thngs in Tai Chi and other martial arts are used with very different kind of mechanics. Some techniques, methods or concepts use following and guiding, others use purely leverage, while others could use a structure to dominate another structure in many different ways. What’s the jin? Where? I don’t know. If you speak about tingjin, dongjin or pengjin, these are different kinds of jin I do understand. But they are very, very different terms and describe very different things. So you always need to label the jin, or explain what jin you mean. Otherwise it’s nonsense. So nowadays we have whole societies that scold and ridicule “qi”. Yet they use an, in some respects, even more fuzzy and nonsensical term that don’t even exist as a stand alone word. People are funny when they don’t understand something and don’t want to admit it. And just like people who use the term “qi”, they really don’t know what they are talking about. Still, they think they are better and less diluted. Funny, isn’t it?