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:
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.