I have been using Energy Testing for a long time to show the huge difference between crude muscular force and the coordinated power derived from a whole-body energetic connection (energetic coherence). Energy testing is called “muscle testing” in Applied Kinesiology and has been used for decades to diagnose and treat a wide variety of illnesses. When something jams up the smooth flow of energy in the body/mind, there is a significant weakening of the muscle being tested.

I don’t use energy testing to diagnose, but rather as a teaching tool. It’s easier to feel your arm abruptly getting weaker against a gentle push than it is to sense a disruption in energy flow. You can develop energy sensitivity over time, but it really helps to have some physical way of confirming what you are sensing.

If you are using energy testing to diagnose, it really doesn’t matter much if your clients understand what’s going on. They primarily care about getting better. But if you are using it as a teaching tool, it’s crucial that both of you have confidence in it’s effectiveness. That comes from practice…and knowing what you’re trying to accomplish.

There are lots of ways to do it, but the one I use most often involves having a subject stand (or sit) and extend an arm to the side with elbow locked. You put one hand on the opposite shoulder and press down slowly on the extended arm.

You want to use as little force as possible to bring the arm down, slowly and smoothly. This is an important part of establishing confidence. You are establishing a base line of resistance that you both can agree to. So when that changes it’s readily apparent to both of you. I usually use one finger to make it clear how little force is being used. (This takes a lot of practice!) You want your partner to feel the point where the arm starts to weaken.

This is where most tests fall apart: no baseline is established, so there’s nothing to compare. If you push down too hard or too abruptly your partner doesn’t get a real felt sense of what is happening. So take your time. You are doing this in cooperation with your partner. It’s not something you are doing TO your partner.

Once you establish a baseline you can see if something weakens or strengthens the energetic coherence. In the picture above, I have Jeffrey touch his thymus point to test the immune system. He’s a bit tired, so the arm comes down quite easily. I have him tap the point several times with his knuckles to stimulate the thymus gland and then retest. His arm easily resists the downward pressure. It’s an old trick in Chinese medicine to thump the thymus to restore your energy.

You can screw up the test by pushing too hard or too abruptly on the second part too. So keep the force even and predictable.

It’s also crucial to establish the intent of the test before you start. Sounds obvious, but unless both know nothing is demonstrated by the test. If I’m testing the coherence of a Taijiquan posture, I ask a student to assume the position and have it do what the posture does.

For instance, if I’m testing a Ward Off posture I ask the student to ward off a certain amount of force with their forearm. If that cannot be done easily, then we look for a “kink in the hose”—a place where energy is not flowing freely. If we can correct that energy block, then the Ward Off will indeed ward stuff off. If it doesn’t, then I look for another kink and correct that.

If my hidden intention is to show how powerful or clever I am, then that will corrupt the process too. I have to park my ego and do what I can to help my partner discover something new and important.