Taking the initiative

Postby Bob Ashmore » Mon Aug 11, 2008 1:41 pm

Audi,
Let's put this another way:
If my opponent isn't actively attacking me, what is there to defend myself from?
Why would I defend myself from inaction? Why initiate anything at this point?
If he's just standing there doing nothing, why would I kick him?
If you have that much freedom of movement you have a clear and easy option. Leave.

Brings to mind the old saying:
What if they had a war and no one came?
Bob Ashmore
 
Posts: 603
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Postby Audi » Sat Aug 16, 2008 1:07 pm

Hi Bob,

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Bob Ashmore:
<B>Audi,
Let's put this another way:
If my opponent isn't actively attacking me, what is there to defend myself from?
Why would I defend myself from inaction? Why initiate anything at this point?
If he's just standing there doing nothing, why would I kick him?
If you have that much freedom of movement you have a clear and easy option. Leave.

Brings to mind the old saying:
What if they had a war and no one came?
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I think different answers apply depending on what situation we are talking about.

Some people are called on to defend not only themselves, but others. In that situation, you may not be able to wait for the opponent to initiate an attack against you personally.

In some situations, time is not on your side. Imagine you are alone and are surprised in a lonely by an attacker. Imagine the attacker starts to yell for reinforcements. Waiting patiently for the first attack might be a very bad idea.

In other situations, the escape path that would allow you to "leave" may lead right through your attacker. Imagine being attacked on an elevator or in a room with one door. Sometimes, you must clear your escape path and cannot wait for your attacker to oblige you.

As for training, recall how in the Association we are supposed to begin the vertical circling. Either party can take the Yang role, which automatically puts the other party in the Yin role. Either side is fine, because you are already sticking and exchanging energy even without overt motion. Notice also that you begin with a spiral You go left to go right or go right to go left. Spirals are somewhat amibiguous as to direction. Spirals also start small and grow. These two qualities make it easier not to reveal your full and empty.

Also recall that an important part of our Push Hands training is learning how to make the opponent give you the energy you need for your technique. In other words, we do not view all our techniques as "counters," even though they always require an interaction with the opponent's energy. You can actually initiate techniques using only the opponent's intent to interact with you.

When you are training through sparring, you do not start with your energy sticking, at least physically. In this case, you are still supposed to stick mentally and move as if you were sticking physically. Either party can assume the Yang role and assign the other party the Yin role. Both should still mentally "stick," if they are following our definition of the Tai Chi principles. If one party persists in inactivity, he or she is either using a non-Tai Chi approach or tending towards being double weighted and vulnerability.

Put another way, you either stick to the opponent's movement or force him to stick to your movement. Either way is fine, just as in Push Hands, as long as you hide your full and empty and try to make the opponent reveal his.

My reference to kicking the opponent in the behind was just an attempt at humor and an attempt to show how easy it actually is to make your opponent move. In actuality, you would not use big definitive moves, but would usually start with small ambiguous moves, just like the ones we use to begin our Push Hands circling.

Take care,
Audi
Audi
 
Posts: 1131
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Postby 59200 » Wed Aug 20, 2008 1:56 pm

(Once again I must apologize for a rather late response!)

Bob Ashmore: Free sparring at my school is just pairing off with someone else and sort of just "going at it". Either party may spontaneously be switching between attacking or defending depending on the situation. My current school is the only one I've ever been in so I'm not very familiar with the different approaches to this.

Audi: Your posts have been very insightful, thank you for that. I have been thinking over what you've said and will have to try and apply it.
59200
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu May 29, 2008 6:01 am

Postby shugdenla » Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:47 pm

When I would explain tuishou (both hands) I would tell student to attack the others throat and they would explain what they would not before they actually did it.
It would ususlly come down to (I am trying here to explain a process but not sure how to accomplish it):
1. Turning waist and deflecting (1 as opposed to 1 and 2)
2. tsai (pulling down) with leading or back palm. Since I am prone to shuaijiao, I would grab shirt at neck and push/pull then throw! It is still within tuishou.
3. pushing and trapping foot or both
maybe a 1 count ot 1 and 2 count).

Both parties take turns cooperating then go free style! I do not take the stance of "If my opponent does not move, then I do not move" at its face value because it can decieve.
Scenario:
i am walking down the street, someone attacks me. I look around and stop! Does the opponent stop at this junction? Heck no! At least, in my part of USA, it does not happen.....
shugdenla
 
Posts: 209
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2005 6:01 am
Location: USA

Postby Bob Ashmore » Wed Aug 20, 2008 8:22 pm

Shug,
Ah, but why would you stop? If your opponent is moving to launch his attack there would be no need for you to stop. If he is not moving, then how is he attacking you? An opponent who is not moving or holding a weapon isn't really "attacking" you, he is just standing there. If he isn't just standing there he is moving.

Audi,
I do understand your points, especially as pertaining to multiple attackers.
As you know, I do agree, believe and practice the idea that there are scenarios, such as multiple opponents or opponents with weapons, in which the best defense can often be the use of swift and blinding violence.
It has been more than a little while since these types of things have occured but at one point in my life my location sort of required knowing how to get from point A to point B even if it meant going directly through an attacker to get there. And it often did. At that time in my life I often resorted to the use of said violence and am still here to talk about it.
I guess I have mellowed more than a little with age and current location, however. Let's face it, Frankfort, KY aint Detroit, MI nor does it require the same level of alertness and martial ability to take a walk to the corner store and back with life and limbs intact.
As I've mentioned, I don't know how to go about "initiating" an attack using TCC principles, but that certainly doesn't mean that it can't be done. What I don't know abuot TCC would fill entire libraries. So I'll ask...
How would you go about doing this?
Let's say two very large men have stepped out of the proverbial dark alley and are standing in front of you, one is holding a knife. He asks for your wallet, watch and jewelry or he is going to go to your house and kick your bed after he fills you full of holes with his knife. Neither of them is moving, just waiting for you to hand over your goodies.
The one with the knife is standing with his feet spread shoulder width apart, parallel foot stance, his hands are loose and at his sides, he does not have his back to a wall, the knife is in his left hand, he is wearing jeans and a wife-beater shirt, sneakers.
The other is standing behind you, having stepped out after you passed his location, blocking your retreat. He is unarmed, similarly attired. However he is standing with one foot in front of the other, in a classic boxers pose, hands moving slowly in front of his chest.
Both are twice your size, weight and have the advantage of reach.
Now what?
What initiating move are you going to make to join with these attackers and finish them with superlative TCC skill?
All of my scenarios are based on first one of them lunging at me. Either with that knife, or at the very least reaching for me with a free hand. I honestly cannot tell you how I would go about getting one of them to do these things without at the very least saying, "If you want them, come and get them, big-ugly dudes" and waiting for them to come after me.
I know of no way beyond that, other than possibly faking an attack against one of them which leads them to do either of those things, to join with them for hand to hand combat.
I guess I could run at one of them and attack him, however that seems to violate what I know about the maxim being discussed.

Any ideas?
Bob Ashmore
 
Posts: 603
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Postby DPasek » Thu Aug 21, 2008 3:37 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Bob Ashmore:
<B>...I don't know how to go about "initiating" an attack using TCC principles...
How would you go about doing this? </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

But you presumably do know how to initiate movement using Taijiquan principles, either without or with contact with someone else. How is initiating movement different from taking the initiative in a confrontation? To me, the act of moving relative to adversaries that you are not in contact with shares basic principles with moving while in contact with someone else. Reading, listening, keeping you own center while attempting to expose a deficiency in the adversary, etc, etc, etc, are all similar.

In your scenario (assuming that you want to oppose those confronting you), would you just stand there or would you start moving to attempt to obtain a better position relative to them? If you move, wouldn’t your adversaries also move to keep you from getting away? If the movement continues without them letting you get away, then wouldn’t contact eventually be made? When contact is made, your movements should already have set up an advantage for you, rather than waiting until after contact to try to establish an advantage. We want sensitivity and awareness of the situation even prior to contact.

Dan
DPasek
 
Posts: 183
Joined: Mon Aug 30, 2004 6:01 am
Location: Pittsboro, NC USA

Postby DPasek » Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:02 pm

Bob,

Perhaps I should elaborate on my last post since we seem to have significantly different interpretations of the phrase:
"If my opponent does not move, I do not move. If my opponent moves I arrive first."

To me, any opponent with the intent to engage me (whether we are in contact or not) has already issued energy towards me, and I should respond to that issued energy. If they are not in contact, then the issued energy is very small, and I can respond with correspondingly small movements – but I should already move into an advantageous response prior to them moving into contact with me. This is what allows me to ‘arrive first’. If you wait until they have made contact with their issuing energy, then you are already late, and how can you then ‘arrive first’?

Solo practice develops proper postural dynamics (e.g. following the 10 essentials…) so that one does not have inherent weaknesses or deficiencies in their structure or movements. Partner practice not only reveals where and when these principles are not satisfactorily being adhered to, but also allow us to practice maintaining an advantageous position relative to our partner/opponent. If we maintain an advantageous position relative to our opponent, then we can ‘arrive first’ when attacked.

In my view, once the opponent is made vulnerable relative to you, then you can issue attacking energy against them. Often we use their movements, their issuing energy, their aggressiveness, postural defects, etc against them to make them vulnerable prior to following up with our own issued energy, but I feel that anytime that we have made an opponent vulnerable, then we can issue energy (whether they are moving or not).

So, to me the phrase “if my opponent does not move, I do not move” means that I should respond to any action of an opponent even prior to contact. That response should be correct relative to their movements (or posture if stationary). Since their movements to get into confronting position dictate the appropriate response, then “if my opponent does not move, I do not move” holds true. Just as we do not want parts of our body to move independently of other parts of our body in solo form practice, we also do not want movements independent of the relationship with our adversary in partner work. To me, this is the point behind that phrase.

If they moved into position to confront you and then became stationary, then you should have already moved into proper position to respond while they were moving into position (again, even prior to contact). If you did not, then I would consider that to be a lack of awareness of the situation. If you are subsequently already in a superior position relative to them, then you can wait on them, if desired, and only make additional movements after they resume motion. But I do not think that the principal underlying the quoted phrase should prevent us from moving into an advantageous position or changing our posture to gain superior postural alignments relative to our adversary. The advantageous dynamics relative to our adversary (obtained at the earliest opportunity, including prior to contact) is what I think leads to the ability to put the principle behind the phrase “if my opponent moves I arrive first” into practice.

Dan
DPasek
 
Posts: 183
Joined: Mon Aug 30, 2004 6:01 am
Location: Pittsboro, NC USA

Postby Audi » Mon Aug 25, 2008 12:23 am

Hi Bob,

Interesting scenario. I think Dan has some good ideas that I could add to. What would I do?

First I think you must "listen," then try to "understand," and then act. You have maybe three seconds or less to "hear" whatever there is to hear, and then certain options begin to disappear. In those three seconds or less, you have to decide whether those options are important.

What would I "listen" for?

What do they really want? My money? My life? My dignity? In what order?

How do they really feel? Are they committed? Cockey? Pressured? Scared? Drugged up? Ashamed?

What are they planning? To intimidate me? To disable or kill me? To grab and run? To attack simultaneously? To scare me into fruitless flight?

What is the terrain like? Are there objects I can use to even the odds? To make noise? Can I use the space to my advantage?

What is the larger environment like? As time goes by, is help more likely to come to me or to them? Would onlookers intervene? Could help be in earshot? Might my attackers care?

As I understand Tai Chi principles, you fight not only with Jin and Qi, but also with Shen and Yi. Even if there is no contact, the attack has already begun and your defense must already be underway. One of the reasons for not moving until your opponent moves, is that you need their movement in order to stick and affect their full and empty. But in Push Hands, you really don't need their movement, you just need their pressure. From their pressure, you can create movement to your advantage.

In you scenario, are the attackers not already exerting pressure? Are they not already using psychology to intimidate you and intention to eliminate your options for excape? If so, then you have something to "stick" to. You can affect their full and empty on the level of Shen and Yi. You can affect when they attack and when they defend. You can affect which attacker is full and which is empty. You can plead, you can threaten, or you can act indifferent. You can shift the battle to one over time, to one over space, or to one over objects or positions in the alley.

I actually know how I would likely react to your scenario, but rather than give such a specific and perhaps useless answer, let me address more directly the issue at hand: must you always wait for your opponent to move?

I believe that you do not have to wait for your opponent to move. What you have to wait for is commitment. Commitment to anything. Sunzi teaches us that no fixed defense or offense is certain. If you are confronted by someone who is committed to not moving, then move in such a way that stillness becomes a liability. Do not launch a direct attack, but attack their stillness. Stick to whatever energy their stance and arm positions imply and then slowly advance. At a certain distance, everyone must either stick, launch an attack, or withdraw. If the slow advance on your part is enough commitment to fatally reveal your full and empty, then you are completely out-classed and no technique or skill can save you.

It has been some time since I have sparred. The last time I did, my partner was one of those people who did not always move first. What I did was simply move to stick with his outstreched arms. If he refused the contact, I simply punched without withdrawing my arm and simply using the Jin in my waist and legs. As he learned that he had to "block," I then knew that my attacks would result in a block that I could stick to.

As an exercise, try sparring or pushing hands while trying not to let a reasonably skilled opponent stick to you. Do you like the result?

Take care,
Audi
Audi
 
Posts: 1131
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Postby Bob Ashmore » Mon Aug 25, 2008 5:06 pm

Sorry folks, I've been out of it due to illness. I'll read your posts and make some comments as soon as I am able.

Bob
Bob Ashmore
 
Posts: 603
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Postby yslim » Mon Aug 25, 2008 7:56 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Bob Ashmore:
<B>Sorry folks, I've been out of it due to illness. I'll read your posts and make some comments as soon as I am able.

Bob</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hi Bob

It is ok Bob. Take your time and get well soon BUT hurry back. We hold up the board for you Taiji chop!

Have a speedy recovery
yslim
yslim
 
Posts: 134
Joined: Wed May 24, 2006 6:01 am
Location: Monterey,Ca. USA

Postby Bob Ashmore » Tue Aug 26, 2008 6:20 pm

Ugh! I caught the creeping crud that's going around this area.
I don't recommend it.
I'm back up and running though.

Gentelmen,
I believe we are talking apples and oranges here.
I'm talking about physical confrontation strictly, it seems you are talking about a war of the minds.
I feel that while integrally connected they are not the same thing.

I will have to step back and take a look again at the scenario.
Bob Ashmore
 
Posts: 603
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Re: Taking the initiative

Postby UniTaichi » Thu Nov 10, 2011 3:53 pm

Just to give what my PH lessons does for ''taking the initiative'' is first we train according to the maxim by having one partner the attacker and the other the listener. For training of '' T T I '' we have 2 method of doing. The Initiator will entice the partner by applying a slight pressure or small movement. The Attacker will then attack once the move is detacted. The Initiator then emit his partner. This is a higher level skill than just waiting for the attacker to moved IMO.

The Initiator need to fake or entice a move from the partner(my teacher used to said - give him something) and when the attack comes, goes back to empty and emit him. So you need to > initiate move - empty - attack(before he empties, which is in the next method - sort of free style PH to move first or initiate) This skill is 3x(just a corresponding figure only) what it needs to execute the ''attack'' Hope my descriptions are clear. :?

One more thing is about the maxim '' if my opponent do not move, I do not move. If he moves, I arrive first " Perhaps the members already know as the OP was quite some time but just to share. My opinion is that the translation should be '' if my opponent do not move, I do not move. If he moves, I move first '' as according to the chinese wording '' dong''. Taichi is about Respond, so the ''move first'' correspond to the principle or theory.

In Bagua Zhang, we have a similar maxim '' if my opponent do not move, I do not move. If he moves, I arrive first '' And as according to its principle, it is about Speed The chinese word is ''dao''

Maybe, some confirmation from the masters and teachers and members are in order ? FWIW. :?:

Cheers,
D
UniTaichi
 
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2011 4:27 pm

Re: Taking the initiative

Postby Audi » Thu Nov 24, 2011 5:10 pm

Greetings D,

Thanks for your interesting post.

Just to give what my PH lessons does for ''taking the initiative'' is first we train according to the maxim by having one partner the attacker and the other the listener. For training of '' T T I '' we have 2 method of doing. The Initiator will entice the partner by applying a slight pressure or small movement. The Attacker will then attack once the move is detacted. The Initiator then emit his partner. This is a higher level skill than just waiting for the attacker to moved IMO.

The Initiator need to fake or entice a move from the partner(my teacher used to said - give him something) and when the attack comes, goes back to empty and emit him. So you need to > initiate move - empty - attack(before he empties, which is in the next method - sort of free style PH to move first or initiate) This skill is 3x(just a corresponding figure only) what it needs to execute the ''attack'' Hope my descriptions are clear. :?

Your description is pretty clear, and these sound like fun exercises.

What we are taught is that you cannot attack unless the right chance presents itself; however, you should be able to create the circumstances to make that chance likely to happen. An example is that we have a "standard" way in which we first teach a Ward Off application. To do this application, your opponent must push your right arm as part of a horizontal circle. We usually begin our push hands application from a vertical circle, and so a beginner's first challenge would be to change this circle into a horizontal circle during which the opponent will naturally push the right arm. As you get better and better, you can make the changes quicker and quicker to the point that you may need no more than a half circle from any position to do the technique.

All of our techniques can technically be viewed as counters; however, what we are "countering" can be something so minimal that they do not feel like counters.

The Initiator need to fake or entice a move from the partner(my teacher used to said - give him something) and when the attack comes, goes back to empty and emit him.

As for our equivalent of this, so far what I have experienced is learning counters to counters. In other words, no matter what my opponent does, I should be able to counter him, and he should be able to counter me. Some of these involve exchanges of a whole series of techniques that have no logical conclusion. Some involve fights over understanding/control of a single point or position that is likely to produce a winner. So far, I have not done many exercises involving simply faking techniques.

One more thing is about the maxim '' if my opponent do not move, I do not move. If he moves, I arrive first " Perhaps the members already know as the OP was quite some time but just to share. My opinion is that the translation should be '' if my opponent do not move, I do not move. If he moves, I move first '' as according to the chinese wording '' dong''. Taichi is about Respond, so the ''move first'' correspond to the principle or theory.

In Bagua Zhang, we have a similar maxim '' if my opponent do not move, I do not move. If he moves, I arrive first '' And as according to its principle, it is about Speed The chinese word is ''dao''

Maybe, some confirmation from the masters and teachers and members are in order ? FWIW. :?:


From what I currently understand, there are two different sayings with slightly different meaning and usage. One goes:

彼不动,己不动;彼微动,己先动。
If the other does not move, you do not move: if the other moves even slightly, you move first.

Examples of where I have been taught to apply this saying include the following. You cannot stick to an opponent until she tries to move or give pressure. If she refuses such movement, you have to force her to move before you can use sticking. Another example is that some techniques involve attacking after the opponent has mobilized his energy (运 yun4), but before he has actually moved (动 dong4).

I do not remember the Chinese of the other saying, but I think it is something like 后发先到 or maybe 后发先至, which both mean: "Launch later, but arrive first." An example of where I have been taught to apply this is that certain counters require that you first wait to fully understand what the opponent intends. You must allow him to set out first. Sometimes, you will realize that your opponent needs to pass through a certain point in a certain state in order to complete his technique. If you understand this, you can sometimes join his energy and occupy that point first to counter him. It is not a matter of moving faster than the opponent, but rather taking advantage of his movement constraints.

I actually had some fun trying to explain this principle in my push hands practice a month or two ago. I had a student demonstrate a good Press application from an open position, and he launched me backwards (with respect to me) in nice dramatic fashion into the air. I then said I could counter using the principle of "Launch later, but arrive first." It is probably too tedious to describe how you must really think to do this in real time, but it basically involves making your opponent shift too much energy to the rear and become too full. I now did this, and it looked from the outside that the student was suddenly too weak to Press me. Everyone said they could see no other difference from the outside, even though my partner could clearly feel the difference. I then switched positions with my student to make the technique more visible and to talk everyone through it. Unbeknownst to me, he didn't quite understand the technique I wanted and decided to add an almost invisible waist circle (which we had talked about earlier) to the counter. When I tried to Press him, I landed backward on by bottom as if I had hit a brick wall.

Take care,
Audi
Audi
 
Posts: 1131
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: Taking the initiative

Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Nov 24, 2011 6:52 pm

Greetings Audi,

Regarding "彼不動,己不動; 彼微動,己先動," it's true that 己 is a reflexive pronoun meaning "oneself" that depending on the context can be translated "you." But translating it "you" in this phrase gives it a prescriptive voice. In my view, it's not prescriptive, but descriptive of the personal experience from a master's perspective. So I prefer to render it: "If the other does not move, I do not move; if the other moves slightly, I move first."

In my notes to the classics in Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan (p. 193, and p. 203, n. 46.), I pointed out the semantic simliarity between this phase and the phrase in the Sunzi: "後人發, 先人至" (set out after the other, arrive before him), and in turn, that formula's similarity to a phrase in the Discoursing Swords chapter of the Zhuangzi: "後之以發,先之以至" in the larger statement, "The wielder of the sword makes a display of emptiness, draws one out with hopes of advangtage, is behind-time in setting out, but beforehand in arriving."
Take care,
Louis
Louis Swaim
 
Posts: 1344
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:01 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Re: Taking the initiative

Postby Audi » Fri Nov 25, 2011 11:27 pm

Greetings Louis,

Thank you for your references. I own three of your translations (two of one copy); however, the one I keep by the computer was not the one you referenced. :cry: Having now searched out Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan, but failing to find my copies of Sunzi or Zhuangzi :evil: , I went ahead and downloaded an app for the Art of War.

But translating it "you" in this phrase gives it a prescriptive voice. In my view, it's not prescriptive, but descriptive of the personal experience from a master's perspective.

I would think that our default should be to take the classics as prescriptive. Why do you take this phrase as merely descriptive of one master's optional experience?

As I mentioned, I have been taught applications of this saying and so must treat it as prescriptive, at least in that setting. The explanation I received from my teacher does seem roughly to match what I understand of Sunzi, even if I have elaborated upon it on my own.

故迂其途,而诱之以利,后人发,先人至,此知迂直这计者也。
Therefore, circuitous in his route and so enticing with the prospect of gain, setting out after his adversary, but arriving first, such a man is one who knows this tactic of the interplay of the circuitous and the direct.

In Tai Chi terms, I would say it as:

Therefore, willing to follow the opponent out of his way in order to understand what the opponent plans to gain, acting after the opponent, but arriving first at a key point, such a one is a person who understands this stratagem of the interplay of giving up the self and following the opponent to gain the advantage.

Again, I was taught this in a different context from "If your opponent does not move, you do not move; if he moves even a little bit, you move first" and so need to apply the sayings to different contexts and use the to guide my movements differently.

Take care,
Audi
Audi
 
Posts: 1131
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

PreviousNext

Return to Tai Chi Theory and Principles

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron