Push Hand Strategy

Postby Thong » Thu Jul 14, 2005 12:09 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by goto:
<B>Thank you for your explainations, which help me a lot.You have written too much, so it will take me much time to absort them.

(Thats why Yang Lu Chan quoted only 3 kinds of people he cannot defeat; a dead man (because a dead man is 100% stiff), a wooden man (exactly like dead man)and a baby. Take your time and concentrate on listening and you will get it)
It is a very interesting thing that i have never heard of.Could you tell me more about it?</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I believe "the three kinds of men were those cast of bronze, pounded of iron, and those made of wood " !
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Postby psalchemist » Thu Jul 14, 2005 1:52 pm

Hi All,

Goto,

Thank you for your thoughts and explanations. It is always usefull to keep the development and origins of TaiChi in mind. The fact that it was designed for a war already in progress, "the battlefield" explains much about the tendancy of the art.
I do, in fact, seem to have a heavy leaning towards the taoist realms, but know next to nothing of its teaching. I find it always interesting, personally, to learn something new about its views, and how it fits in with TaiChi.
I also enjoyed the advice from your master, I shall ponder this. It sounds like one should be full??? in practice, but empty in confontation...?

QUOTE:
<<I think in daily life if no one attack us, most of us will not do at first for it is illegal and also break the principle of taiji.
However, if there is a match between two people,both of them remember this principle and do not want to attack first,how to avoid this situation?

At hand-pushing who attack first will have some disvantages,because one must use his own force, and easily be trapped.The defender will take advantage of his own softness and emptness to neutralized the force by the opponent, and easily break the opponet's balance. Therefore, what can i do in this situation,that a stronger or not stronger man is unwilling to attack, only hopes that i attack first and then count me with softness and then break me balance and then throw me away or tackle me,which i want to repond the same to him.Does this strategy mean hand-pushing is a martial art which is only waiting to be attacked beacuse who attack fisrt, who failed.>>GOTO

Is there no effective method of feinting in Tai~Chi without sacrificing his or her own stable center?
I suppose the only other way I can think of, (this having next to no ph experience~ so forgive if I sound ignorant) would be to use a chess~like method. If there is a stagnancy, then it sounds like one will have time to actually think~it is not the typical match, let's say...
Could one deliver energy to the opponent willingly in anticipation of a certain reaction which one would have already considered and prepared ones own reaction...this method though, sounds like it might violate taichi principles of listening, adhering following and leading....but that method obviously does not work in this circumstance
In other words could one provoke and prepare himself for an anticipated reaction...perhaps by first feinting and seeing what reactions one gleans from the opponent?

*********************************************
QUOTE:
<<I believe "the three kinds of men were those cast of bronze, pounded of iron, and those made of wood " !>> THONG

This is very interesting, I too would benefit from an explanation on this...can anyone distinguish the differences, especially between the pounded iron and cast of/from bronze...well....also of those made of wood Image All three seem to hold qualities of stiffness or hardness, but beyond that what would be the distinctions?

Thank you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist




[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 07-14-2005).]
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Postby Bamenwubu » Thu Jul 14, 2005 1:56 pm

Cheefat,
I am no expert on PH's skills, that's for sure. However I do want to comment on something you have posted.
You stated "taiji PH is not to win or loss. It is to develop tingjin, to know your opponent".
I agree wholeheartedly with the first part of that statement. PH's is not a contest, it's a learning exercise. Just as form work or single posture training are exercises to learn proper movement and fluidity in movement, PH's is an exercise to train listening, following, sticking and adhering while in contact with an opponent. In this context it is not a contest between two opponents but rather a learning experience between two students. There is no winner or loser because if you practice PH's with this in mind there are only two winners, two people learning skills with each others mutual cooperation can't help but "win" every time.
I understand that just as with any other endeavor this can be made into a "match" or "challenge" of some kind, however I am speaking of the more day to day type of push hands in a learning environment not about a couple of people out to test each others skill for the purposes of settling a grudge or proving a point.
However the second part of your statement does not seem to hold up to what I have been told. I could be wrong, heck I usually am wrong so it wouldn't surprise me a bit, but the way I understand PH's as I have learned it from the Yang family school is that it's not an exercise to learn about your opponent primarily, it's first function is as an exercise to learn about yourself.
Or at least that's how I've been lead to think of it as I've practiced in the Yang Cheng Fu Center here in KY.
Maybe I'm in a different place then you are at this time and we're looking at the same thing from two different perspectives. Maybe you have moved beyond the need to learn more about yourself and are up to the point of learning instead about your opponent. I don't know how it works later on down the line. I am only mentioning this as my instructor made it very clear to my PH's partner and I that we were not there to learn to knock each other around, we were there to learn to hold our own center, to know ourselves and be in control of ourselves.
To that end when we push hands we at first co-operate with each other completely. We push gently and slowly, helping each other to know where we are stiff today, where we are loose today and give each other time to loosen the stiffness and loosen the loose even more. After we have become more aware of ourselves we ramp it up a notch and begin to be a tad more unforgiving to each other, but still not enough to knock anyone down or throw anyone out of the match. We work more on allowing the other person to become aware of the point where he lost control of himself and learn to correct it than we do to simply be able to toss each other around.
I find it much more condusive to learning and understanding when we help each other than when we oppose each other.
When we oppose each other we simply find out who can throw the other around right now. My partner and I practiced this way for a year or so, our PH's would become downright wrestling matches as we both came from schools of TCC with different thoughts on the subject. But Bill, our Center Director, spent quite a bit of time working with us to slow us down and get us to understand that we were wasting a lot of time and energy by doing that. Instead he showed us that by slowing down and listening to ourselves we could more easily find our center and learn to control it and that this skill was paramount to our greater understanding of the dynamic of TCC.
Since we began to listen to his excellent advice we have moved into a whole new realm of understanding of TCC. We're both just now beginning to find our own center and know how to control ourselves.
As soon as we began to understand that it was more important to understand our selves and control our own bodies than it was to prove we could toss someone across the room we both began to understand our opponent in ways that had never been possible before, because we didn't know ourselves we didn't really know our opponent either.
So while I think what you are saying is perfectly true, I don't think that the mindset you mentioned may be the best one to approach PH's with. Instead of thinking of it as an exercise to learn to control an opponent, instead view it as an exercise to learn to control yourself.
From this type of understanding will come the understanding of your opponent. Just as surely as extreme softness will lead to extreme hardness, so the total understanding of yourself will lead to the ability for you to totally understand your opponent.

Merely my experience and current viewpoint on the exercise of PH's from my understanding of it as taught by the guy who knows. I am not saying this is an absolute or even a best practice for everyone.
Bill's understanding of TCC is profound and his teaching subtle and skillfull. I've learned more from him and with deeper understanding in just over three years then I've learned from any other instructor I've ever had. I have at least learned to listen to what he has to say as he has never steered me in the wrong direction.
I could go on, but Bill will probably pound me headfirst into the ground like a tent stake for saying this much allready. He's a pretty humble guy but I like to sing his praises as much as I can to repay him a touch for his excellent training.
I hope he and all the International Association Members lucky enough to go are enjoying themselves in China for the GM's birthday celebration and that Bill is learning new and excellent skills to bring back over here for us to learn!

Cheers.
Bob

[This message has been edited by Bamenwubu (edited 07-14-2005).]
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Postby laopei » Thu Jul 14, 2005 4:03 pm

Bob:
One of the well known “classics” - The “Essentials of the Practice of Form and Push Hands” by Li I-yu, as translated by Lo/Inn/Amacker/Foe states:
Quote:
.....”Practicing the form every day is the Kung Fu (way of practicing) of knowing yourself.....
Push hands is the kung fu of knowing others.....
Know yourself and know others: in one hundred battles you will win one hundred times.”
end of quote.
Cheefat statement shows his practice follows the “classics”. I think that is good. It saves time (the wheel does not need to be reinvented by each generation)

Now, my two cents:
Many years ago I learned a simple, very useful -for me- lesson:

It is better to say - when refering to someone else’s statement or comment or “teaching” about something-
“I understood so and so said......”
Instead of saying: “so and so said”
I observed -in my case, many years ago- that one usually does not hear clearly, objectively what other person says but a translation of what one oneself understands from what was said.

You stated:
“...the way I understand PH's as I have learned it from the Yang family school is that it's not an exercise to learn about your opponent primarily, it's first function is as an exercise to learn about yourself.
Or at least that's how I've been lead to think of it as I've practiced in the Yang Cheng Fu Center here in KY.”

Ask again, may be you misunderstood - you interpreted according to your present understanding.
May be Bill expressed it according to his present understanding, may be he said something different -(I don’t know Bill), may be he would like to -jokingly- “Bill will probably pound me headfirst into the ground like a tent stake for saying this much allready” Image
Your statement leaves the impression that what you have learn is what the Yang family school teaches about push hands. (May be just in Kentucky)

I know that is not what I understood teacher Yang Zhenduo taught, show -lucky me- while pushing hands in China in 1992.
If you come to San Antonio you could see the video tape -Just Teacher Yang Zhenduo, me and the translator. It was only 2 hours but I am still learning from that event....

Bob, Please understand I don’t feel personal about this. In actual conversation this would be much easier and clear to explain and probably it would sound friendlier.
take care
Horacio
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Postby bamboo leaf » Thu Jul 14, 2005 11:48 pm

(Just as surely as extreme softness will lead to extreme hardness, so the total understanding of yourself will lead to the ability for you to totally understand your opponent.)

I find statements like this to be somewhat confusing.

Softness never leads to hardness unless it is softness with out awareness in this case weather one is soft or hard doesn’t matter there is no change.

The idea of change is that what is changing is the relationship to the other, not that suddenly one becomes hard or ridged.

Just as water coarsening down a stream never changes its nature and suddenly becomes hard when it encounters obstacles and such. Taiji is not soft or hard its both at the same time, this is key.

A metal sphere supported by a string when touched might feel very soft yet its own nature has not changed. Hitting water at 100 or so MPH the water feels very hard its nature has not changed.

Or has it? The sphere represents outer change, water represents inner change. You need both.

[This message has been edited by bamboo leaf (edited 07-14-2005).]
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Postby Kalamondin » Fri Jul 15, 2005 12:52 am

Hi Bob,

Sounds like your teacher gave you some excellent advice that was very useful for you and your push hands partner at the time.

However, I concur with Horacio. I too have been taught that push hands is more about learning about your opponent and the form is for learning about yourself.

That said, there are still many things one can learn about one's self in push hands that can be taken to individual forms practice and hammered out there. And things one learns about one's self in form practice can then be used to good effect in push hands practice. Push hands and the hand form dovetail and feed each other.

So I don't think you or your teacher is incorrect, but generally I have been taught that push hands is for learning about the opponent--even though I have been given push hands corrections that relate directly to me learning about myself, like, "Give up more." (Which I interpret as: Give up what's not working and go on to the next thing. Invest in loss.) So that's what I'm working on so I can improve how I listen to my opponents.

Cordially,
Kal
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Postby cheefatt taichi » Fri Jul 15, 2005 3:30 am

Hi Bob and others,

Form is to know self, PH is to know others is very true in older days but what you said which contrary to the above statement is also true. Here's why; in older days one will have to fully master the form before going into PH. Minimum of 3-5 years will be spent on form. One has to get everything right to the strictest standards required in the form which is aimed at knowing self i.e.correct posture, structure, balance, center and etc. Once he has mastered 'self' he then moves into PH. In PH he has to learn tingjin which basically is to know the opponent.

However, in present time many of us will go into PH at very early stage before we can master `self' sufficiently. Therefore, we have to deal with self and opponent simultaneously. Hence, it is not wrong in your statement that you mentioned in PH we are working on knowing self. We just have to acknowledge that everyone of us progress differently and at different level, our experience is our understanding and our understanding turns into our truth. This truth will progress with more experience and the wheels keep turning so in taiji there is no ending.
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Postby goto » Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:59 am

Hi
Psalchemist

The advice from my teacher is to want me to concentrate on what i have practice and develop my courage.It is a chinese proverb commonly used in a lot of other chinese martial arts, including shaolin, and xinyi,nan quau.The main idea of the proverb is understood that when praticing forms, people should maintain sharp vigilance. while at fighting ,people should be brave and fearless when facing your opponent as if he or she was not existed.The second point is:To familiar with the application of each movement.Each movement have the technique of attacking and defending.Suppose an opponent attacks you,every posure you practiced is used to attack or defend your imaged enemy.By using this kind of exercise,it can lead your each postures to a real practical and fighting martial art,even in a slow rhythm or fast rhythm,rather than taichi dancing.There is also a similar training exercise in other martial art, such as boxing ,karate.

And my teacher also told me i should have clear intention to attack and defend in each movement .It is the same meaning to the above proveb.

(Is there no effective method of feinting in Tai~Chi without sacrificing his or her own stable center?

(I suppose the only other way I can think of, (this having next to no ph experience~ so forgive if I sound ignorant) would be to use a chess~like method. If there is a stagnancy, then it sounds like one will have time to actually think~it is not the typical match, let's say...
Could one deliver energy to the opponent willingly in anticipation of a certain reaction which one would have already considered and prepared ones own reaction...this method though, sounds like it might violate taichi principles of listening, adhering following and leading....but that method obviously does not work in this circumstance
In other words could one provoke and prepare himself for an anticipated reaction...perhaps by first feinting and seeing what reactions one gleans from the opponent?)

I like this method very much.Maybe i will try this with somebody.IN my oponion, tinjing is a tool which is used to detect and sense opponent action.
AS you said, i willingly deliver energy to the opponet, then use tingjing to detect his reaction.If he attacks,then i count with softness and break his balance:if he fall back and want to neutralize my force,them i also soften my
hand and stick to him,let him neutralize nothing.However, if his reaction is nothing, what can i do?--deliver again and again until he react.Maybe it means his level of pushing hand is better than me. I should make a experiment to verify whether it is useful.
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Postby Bamenwubu » Fri Jul 15, 2005 4:39 pm

All,
I am currently pressed for time so I will have to be brief. I will try to squeeze as much in as I can before I must dash.
I think I made it clear that I was saying that this is how I, me, myself and only me, myself and I understood the practice.
Maybe I did misunderstand what Bill had to say about it. I have misunderstood things before and will again in the future, that's for certain. I will ask for clarity when he returns.
However...
I think Cheefat may have hit the nail pretty squarely on the head with his assesment of the situation. My understanding of form requirements to know myself was, and still is, less than perfect. Learning to pay more attention to myself quickly lead, as I stated, to knowing my opponent more clearly.
So the practice was to get to know my opponent, just from inside myself out to him.
I was speaking only of the mindset of the practice of PH's as I was lead to understand it, not how PH's should be viewed by every person on the planet at all times, again I tried to make that clear but apparently failed.
If you pay attention to yourself, how you are standing, how you are thinking, what you are feeling, and become clear on those things first, then you will learn to understand your opponent better.
No?

I bow to the classics, certainly. However, they are subject to interpretation and I've heard quite a few differeing translations and interpretations of the one you mention, some which seem to contradict themselves. I would not dream of making a judgement on the matter myself. I will leave that for those with the knowledge and understanding to do so, which I do not have.
But...
If knowing yourself leads to a better understanding of your opponent... and in my experience and seemingly that of others it does, then we're working towards a common goal but from a different angle.
Since the goal is the same and only the path of understanding to reach the goal is different, we are certainly not that far apart.

I was most assuredly joking when I spoke of any impending danger to myself by Bill. I intended to place a smiley face there so that would be clear to others, but I forgot.
Bill has never pounded me into the ground like a tent stake, though I'm sure he's been tempted to on more than one occaison... Image
We joke around about that kind of thing, between ourselves, and so I joked here.

I hope I made myself clear, and will mention it again in the hopes of further clarity...
The above is how I understand this concept.
I tried to be clear that my understanding is imcomplete and suspect. Some of you seem to have missed that...

From extremem hardness comes extreme softness. This is a common expression. I believe it, but that in no way makes it true.
Form your own conclusion on the subject.
The second half of the statement was unequivocably mine and not a classic.
While I study the classics, I find that in terms of reality they only form an underlying philosophy and are often suspect to use as a firm, unequivocable guide for action.
I'm not disparaging the classics of TCC, I'm more making the point that if you fix your mind on one interpretation of them, and slavishly follow it without question, you are likely setting yourself up for a long, hard row to hoe.
Those who can speak and interpret Chinese have a hard time using the TCC classics as a guide, so I would fail miserably in any such attempt. Every single person has their own version of what they believe the classics say, much less what they mean. So the question you are left with when it comes to the classics is this:
Who do you beleive?
Unfortunately, since I can barely converse coherently in my native language, I must go the route of reading every last translation and even more interpretations of each translation to my native language in a search for clarity.
But this falls short of the intended goal for many reasons, not the least of which is because the classics are steeped in chinese culture, so while they may make perfect sense to someone who is in tune with that culture, those of us who were raised in other places, with a differing culture, sometimes cannot even imagine what they are trying to convey.
The process of translation in and of itself is an inexact science, at best. One person claims it translates to this set of words, another claims it says something entirely different. Each of these translators will then offer his unique interpretation of his own translation and claim that his is certainly much more correct than any other, and then others come behind them and interpret that same translation to English or French or Spanish or Japanese or Russian or Slavic, in their own way. Each of the people who then read a translation to a different language than Chinese will find an entirely different meaning in the classics, as well. So an English translation will convey an entirely different meaning to an English speaker than say a French translation will to a French speaker. The Chinese stays the same, but even two interpretors of the same language will come up with differing translations, how do we reconcile the fact that a Frech translation will convey an entirely different meaning of the exact same classic because it's in yet another language and being interpreted differently by a different culture?
It goes on forever and, unfortunately, I don't believe any of them are accurate. Not one. Not even a translation and intreptation to Cantonese from Mandarin will render you an entirely accurate picture.
I have limited time at present, so I will stay away from the fact that even two people who can read the original text in it's original language will interpret the same thing differently...
Oh, I just did that. Sorry.
So while I pay attention to the classics, I have found it much more conducive to real life practice to stick with what my instructor tells me. I have much less problems with interpretation that way. He speaks English, I speak English, so translation is not a problem. However, interpretation may be and that's where some problems lie.
I don't think I misintepreted what he told me, my PH's partner certainly sees this the same way I do, mostly, and I don't think we're both misreading the instruction.
I saw what Bill was teaching from the perspective I mentioned above. To learn through PH's how to understand myself while performing TCC. I concentrated on that and amazingly enough I found how to understand my opponent better, not completely by a long shot as I'm not even completely understanding myself yet, but better.
So the exercise worked in this fashion to reach the goal we are all stating, to come to a greater understanding of an opponent through training PH's. My interpretation of what I was taught to understand may be faulty, but if it was and is then it was a fortunate circumstance that I misunderstood, because it lead to a greater understanding of my art.

I did my best to pass on to you my mindset, my experience and how I reached that understanding and also did my best to convey that I felt that my understanding may be suspect but if so it worked.
We all have to decide for ourselves what is best. I only mentioned it in an endeavor to help others to maybe come to a better understanding as well.
Take my advice or don't as you see fit.

Thank you all for your comments and insights. I truly enjoy learning with you.
Please understand and never forget, I am a mere rank amateur at Yang family TCC. Take anything I say with a grain of salt and the understanding that I can only express my opinions and understandings, not that of others.
In no way is anyone to ever interpret what I say as carved in stone, now or ever. My understanding will change with time, as will everyones, and what I think is accurate today will turn out to be only one layer of the onion that I have managed to peel back. Later on I will peel back another layer and from that my understanding will change.
This is natural and expected.

Cheers,
Bob
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Postby bamboo leaf » Sat Jul 16, 2005 7:09 am

(Who do you believe?)

Its not a question of belief, it’s a question of experience and skill. Understanding is relative to experience, things that are to far out of ones own will either not believed or understood.

On the net I have noticed, that some how people asking for advice or experiences of others tend to try to fit them within their own instead of trying to expand their minds to understand them. I say this only as a gen observation not directed at anyone.

I find this odd as most come with a question but actually seem to want some type of affirmation of a belief or understanding that they already have.

The classics will change as ones understanding grows, there is really nothing to interpret about them. You can only understand them relative to your level of practice.


[This message has been edited by bamboo leaf (edited 07-16-2005).]
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Postby Thong » Sat Jul 16, 2005 8:56 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by bamboo leaf:
<B>(Who do you believe?)

Its not a question of belief, it’s a question of experience and skill. Understanding is relative to experience, things that are to far out of ones own will either not believed or understood.

On the net I have noticed, that some how people asking for advice or experiences of others tend to try to fit them within their own instead of trying to expand their minds to understand them. I say this only as a gen observation not directed at anyone.

I find this odd as most come with a question but actually seem to want some type of affirmation of a belief or understanding that they already have.

The classics will change as ones understanding grows, there is really nothing to interpret about them. You can only understand them relative to your level of practice.


[This message has been edited by bamboo leaf (edited 07-16-2005).]</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I have to agree.....it's easy to talk the talk but to walk the walk needs a lot of hard yakka............when one can master just the "ward off technique " one's martial art skills is very good.....there is no need for any explanation.....it's all there (in TCC) for all to see (understand).....so start training and experience the pleasure of the many "breakthroughs" in your TC journey....
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Postby psalchemist » Sat Jul 16, 2005 1:40 pm

Greetings Goto,

Thank you for your elaborations on that Chinese proverb, your teachers advices...I shall try to broaden my thoughts on this rather than make it fit into my present thought, as Bamboo leaf mentions in the post above, good observation and advice.

And I would indeed appreciate any feedback you might glean through experimenting with that feinting technique I proposed. I appreciate your taking my suggestions into consideration.

Best wishes,
Psalchemist.

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 07-16-2005).]
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Postby goto » Mon Jul 18, 2005 2:22 pm

I think pushing hand is not only to know youselves , but also to know your opponent. Lack of knowing one of them will decrease to improve the skillness of push hand.

Stabilize your center and destroy your opponenet's center is a basic element on pushing hand. When following ,and sticking your opponent, your center(in my understanding it means gravity of cener) will change which is basic on your action and your opponet's reaction.

At the same time, your opponent will do his best to break your center.If you only want to stabilize your center,you will be controlled by opponent. If you want to attack for the purpose of stabilize your center ,you will lose your balance.I supposse,the best way to work with this situtation is to break your opponent's center by stabilizing your center.The process contains two points: one to know yourselve, the other to know your opponent.I think following , and sticking and ahering your opponent does not mean to only know one of two people,but to know not only yourseves, but also your opponent.It is merely my understandings on what i learned and experience on pushing-hand.

Thank your for your advice on my opinion
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Postby Bamenwubu » Mon Jul 18, 2005 2:33 pm

Please disregard this post.
Thanks.


[This message has been edited by Bamenwubu (edited 07-18-2005).]
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Postby Kalamondin » Mon Jul 18, 2005 7:35 pm

Hi Psal,
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
Is there no effective method of feinting in Tai~Chi without sacrificing his or her own stable center?...
Could one deliver energy to the opponent willingly in anticipation of a certain reaction which one would have already considered and prepared ones own reaction...In other words could one provoke and prepare himself for an anticipated reaction...perhaps by first feinting and seeing what reactions one gleans from the opponent?
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

As I understand it Image : Yes.

My teacher has told me I must make my own chances, create my own opportunities if none seem to exist.

As I interpret it, this means that one can create "traps" and "feints" in order to lure an opponent into a position where they can be easily unbalanced. One can stick, listen, and follow until the cows come home, never attacking. But when one uses these principles to "lead" the opponent, one can lead them into an unstable position. He demonstrated this for me by providing a seemingly stagnant (stiff) place for me to push, waited for me to commit/overextend, then suddenly changed hardness to softness and made his move.

Best,
Kal
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