Ting Jing is the Chinese martial art of Listening.
There once was a famous rat, renounced for its ferocity, that defeated many neighborhood cats in the house in which it lived. The owner, a rich warlord, demanded the most powerful cats be brought in to destroy the pest.
Four cats were eventually summoned, each renowned for their abilities. The first cat was a master of stalking, fighting, and subduing rats. It boasted that it had trained all its life to strike quickly with its paws, and powerfully with its bite. Its balance and technique were beyond compare. When it tracked down a rat, it could follow the smallest clues. No rat had ever escaped or hidden from this famous cat. However, against this ferocious rat... it was defeated and forced to flee.
The next day, another cat made the attempt. This one was a master of fighting spirit. It boasted that it could crush the resistance of a rat with its stare and kill it with just its intention to strike. This cat, it was said, needed only to enter a room, and its opponent would break down in despair. Such was the reputation and spiritual power of this cat, that rats would flee from it at the merest mention of its name. However, against the great rat, even this cat was soundly defeated.
On the third day, an aged cat was put up against the beast. This cat was a master of experience. It boasted that it had fought and defeated a thousand rats over its long life, in battles across the land. There was no technique or ability, neither in defense nor in offense, that this cat had not seen and learned to counter. Whatever tricks the rat had, this cat explained, it would be seen through and defeated. The ancient age-less cat was thus famous throughout the land. Sadly, this cat was also sent fleeing by the terrible rat.
Finally, a fourth cat came to the Warlord's home. This cat was neither very athletic, nor ancient, nor powerful in spirit. Yet with apparent ease, she entered the room and returned with the rat in her jaws. Later, the other cats came to this master to ask how they could improve themselves.
Each of the three cats represents an aspect of martial arts. The first cat is our physical conditioning; its weakness is fear and doubt. When you hesitate or when you are unsure, you can not use your strength efficiently. The second cat is our ki, or battle spirit; its weakness is ego. When you believe yourself to be invincible, you leave openings and lose effectiveness. The third cat is experience; it is weakened by laziness and complacence. When you have done and seen many things, the tendency is to respond in predictable, comfortable ways, and to forget that others are always striving to overcome you.
These are the three aspects of martial arts, in a very broad sense. However, there is a forth aspect as well. In the story, this can be seen in the rat, that all three of the cat masters fell before. This rat is not technical skill, immense power, or great experience. It is instinct. And instinct is the glue that holds the other three aspects of martial arts together. The fourth cat, the one who could understand instinct itself, is the one who has mastered The Way and become at peace with itself and the world. In this way, it has overcome its limitations, mastering not just the three attributes but itself as well. We, as martial artists, strive towards this: to perfect The Way.
The meaning of the tale is that we master techniques. Any technique can and will be countered or made into a liability. Though you could say the means of achieving The Way differs greatly between schools and styles.
tian jing, teaches one to listen, not with their ears, but with their body and their natural instincts. Nothing is a substitute for being pushed to your limits and approaching the edge of life and death, but Ting Jing will help prepare you for that moment. By listening, user will find they can overcome far more powerful opponents by matching their ki and reflecting it. In addition to the simpler exercise in sensing danger.
By taking this principle and applying it with ones own internal energies they may even be able to match and reflect ki attacks. One must not be intimidated by physical strength. Strive for mastery of The Way, and to be the best. That is how a martial artist lives and dies.
You must put aside the idea of strength, speed, or technique, that means no planning what you are going to do. Do not try and anticipate or outsmart opponent. Empty your mind, momentarily, of all preconceptions. You must feel the reaction, the moment before opponent’s body moves, and then let your instinct guide you to match it. Listen with the body and the mind's eye; that is the true power of tian jing."
It is not simply me reacting to stop opponent or to intercept their attack. By striking at the weakest moment in space and time, when opponent’s intention is ill defined, their muscles unready, and their mind unfocused, you hit them with their own force. At a lower level, practice will allow you to sense an attack coming virtually the moment it enters your opponent's mind. By learning to read intent, you will develop your sakkijutsu first, and then your mastery of resonant ki.