Phil: I would love to know what the Nim Tao state means to you Eddie, and what one would expect to feel when or if we attain it? Many thanks.
Me: Maybe I go straight to directly describe how I feel when I want to do the Wing Chun way. These things, though described in sequence, can actually happen altogether.
Start from connecting the shoulders inward to the central and down to the upper centre. At the same time, the pelvis is switched on at the lower centre by slightly aligning the two vertebrae there, so that connection through the hip joints down into the legs is felt. This is the start mode. When more power is needed, I make the upper centre more distinct by aligning the two vertebrae there. The upper and lower centres are now connected more clearly and the linkage easily runs up into the forearms and palm-wrists if desired. When I move the arm, I actually move it from the hip-to-knee part, and directly, which itself is now ready for stepping or kicking. That is, when I move my arm, I am also ready to step and kick. When I step or kick, the arm is directly further empowered. When more power is further needed, I try to soften-melt as many muscles as possible deep into reaching the bones of the skeleton. I can actually “feel” (not in the ordinary sense) the skeletal structure. The connection links are becoming thinner running along/inside the bones (more or less). When again still more power is needed, I “drop” (make them act) the front and back muscles to the arms and legs to add further momentum upon the skeletal linkage which is still operating on its own.
I seldom define a distinct state for concluding whether or not I have attained the Nim Tau. To me, whether I have got Nim Tau is irrelevant – it might be just a label denoting the extent and depth of my internal linking. Whether my spine has risen to the top of the head and whether Tai Gong has been done are irrelevant too – they might just be parts of the linkage: One day I felt the linkage reaching and staying at the top of the head pretty much as willed, then gradually became sure; the other day the linkage started to bring the tailbone tip towards and help soften-melt the anus (not the other way round), then gradually (though significantly longer) became sure. I just work towards soften-melting deeper and deeper, linking joints and skeletal parts clearer and clearer by exploring and diffusing away blockages along the way. This is the way I have been improving my Wing Chun.
Nevertheless, you may regard the following as an indicator: When you can already perform some movements (usually there are one or more moves you find yourself can harness, otherwise, you are still remote) in the effortless way, you should see whether you can keep “that way” steady and stable, ie not suddenly increase or decrease something in the mind. This is an ability of the mind which I think can be regarded as the entry to Nim Tau. The higher control on this, the closer to Nim Tau.
Hope this can help!