Applying mind

In order to use mind rather than force, you need to stop using tension.
Having studied taoism, physics and human biomechanics at length, it is pretty obvious why brute force is not recommended.
If you have neglected your study, then your mind and body will be slow to change...

Training countless sensitivity drills in class will encourage you to stop relying on tension, but progress will be slow if your mind remains entrenched in old habits of body use.
Engaging your mind from the onset of training will speed things up considerably.
Read the classics, contemplate their teachings and then apply them in class.