Concealing Intent

Postby Kalamondin » Thu Nov 10, 2005 1:34 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>

When you have no intention there can be no conflict of interests, when intention is removed from the body the chi is not stagnent and their is no point that cannot change. The body is sung and empty. Being empty it cannot receive force. You are not like a heavy bean bag - you are like a cloud - and your opponent cannot know you.

One state provides both understanding and being unknown.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Anderzander,

Thank you for your analogy of understanding solidity in different objects. I liked it very much, but I have been struggling with the idea of the cloud analogy. I don't think this is what you were saying at all, but I keep thinking that the "cloud" must have a center.

I'm not sure yet if it's a solid center that is completely moveable (like a needle wrapped in cotton) or if it's a condensation of intent, a more charged area that would be the path lightning would follow when streaking through a cloud. Perhaps its both. After all, there is body, mind, and spirit. If they are one, then intent could have all different aspects when separated into these categories, and a still different aspect when these three are united.

Releasing energy does have its lightning bolt-like aspect and ideally it follows the central core of your intent.

I understand what you are saying about giving up intention in order to follow the opponent. I can do that part OK. What I cannot do yet (well) is turn the following into leading (them into emptiness). So I am not convinced that giving up intention is the way to go--because if there's no intention, how does anything happen? And where does yi come into it? If I give up my intent to push, how does it happen?

Perhaps this is just the mystery of doing without doing that I am still figuring out.

Thanks,
Kal
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Postby Kalamondin » Thu Nov 10, 2005 1:45 am

Hi Cheefatt,

Thanks for your answers. I am still training my sensitivity and ability to be song but I do understand that they are very important.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
Fangsong relies on the ability of the mind to concentrate and calm down. To do that, we need to be focus and concentrated (shen).

A concentrated mind will gives rise to strong intent (yi).</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Can you speak a little more about concentration? It seems like this is more than just paying attention closely. Does it seem like a kind of solidification of mind energy to you? The root of concentration (just off the top of my head) has to do with density, and compaction through distillation.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> and you need to have the intent of not been detected (yi). </font>


Hmm, good one. I'll set that intention.

Thanks for your good advice,
Kal
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Postby Kalamondin » Thu Nov 10, 2005 1:48 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B> Rather you should be unknowable in the sense that the surface of Mars is unknowable by a child with a magnifying glass.
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I agree. But I would add that the child should be at the surface of Mars with his/her magnifying glass. That is, one is hidden in plain sight. Perhaps the opponent can observe one small piece, but they cannot see the whole.

Kal
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Thu Nov 10, 2005 8:53 pm

Maybe not exactly to the point, but while reading this thread and think of concealing intent, for some reason I started to think of the passage by Sun Tzu, in Art of War, Use of Energy, called Decision Releases Force (as translated by Lionel Giles).
Of course, Sun Tzu wrote Art of War for combat between armies, but it has always seemed to me to be at leasat somewhat applicable to TCC, from a certain point of view:

Decision Releases Force
Energy may be likened to the bending of a cross-bow; decision, to the releasing of the trigger.
Amid the turmoil and tumult of battle, there may be seeming disorder and yet no real disorder at all. Amid confusion and chaos, our array may be without apparent head or tail, yet it will be proof against defeat.
Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline; simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength.
Hiding order beneath the cloak of disorder is simply a question of subdivision; concealing courage under a show of timidity presupposes a fund of latent energy; masking strength with weakness is to be effected by tactical dispositions.
Thus one who is skillful at keeping the enemy on the move maintains deceitful appearances, according to which the enemy will act.
By holding out baits, he keeps him on the march; then with a body of picked men he lies in wait for him.
The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals. Hence his ability to pick out the right men and to utilize combined energy.
When he utilizes combined energy, his fighting men become as it were like unto rolling logs or stones. For it is the nature of a log or stone to remain motionless on level ground, and to move when on a slope; if four cornered, to come to a standstill, but if round shaped to go rolling down.
Thus the energy developed by good fighting men is the momentum of a round stone rolled down a mountain a thousand feet in height. So much on the subject of energy.

If you think of "decision" as "intent", that might help you see where I was going with this.
Or maybe my mind just works in weird, inexplainable ways. Actually, that's more likely it....
;-)

Bob



[This message has been edited by Bob Ashmore (edited 11-10-2005).]
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Postby Kalamondin » Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:59 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>...for some reason I started to think of the passage by Sun Tzu, in Art of War...
Or maybe my mind just works in weird, inexplainable ways. </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Well, Bob, I think that's par for the course when playing this game (tai chi). I believe the inexplicable is the province of the Tao. In fact, my teacher often advises that I stop thinking when pushing hands because it interferes with my capability to respond quickly and appropriately.

Moreover, what I didn't tell you when I started this thread was that Yang Jun sent me home with explicit instructions to read the Art of War to study strategy. Go figure.

And thanks for the excerpt--it made a lot of sense to me and I will seek to think on it...erm, experience it further.

Best wishes,
Kal
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Postby cheefatt taichi » Fri Nov 11, 2005 3:39 pm

Hi Kal,

quote:
[Can you speak a little more about concentration? It seems like this is more than just paying attention closely. Does it seem like a kind of solidification of mind energy to you? The root of concentration (just off the top of my head) has to do with density, and compaction through distillation.]

Maybe alertness will give a clearer picture. Extreme concentrate will close-up other faculties which is not what you want. In taiji, the stage of a cat preying on its prey is always used as the analog of concentration. When a cat is sneaking closer to its prey, it is extremely vigilant to the surrounding and the prey, the slightest disturbance will be noticed by the cat. This is unlike the concentration when we are focusing on reading a book, our other faculties are closed. At times we don't even hear people calling us.

the cat's concentration is alertness. Our concentration as mentioned above is focus. In taiji, we want alertness more than focus. Alertness is attain when we can calm down the mind and become detached to emotion, i.e excitement, eagerness etc. Its difficult to describe it by explaining, you need to experience it yourself. Zhangzhuang and meditation will help.
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Postby Anderzander » Fri Nov 11, 2005 7:02 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>Originally posted by Kalamondin:
</B> Thank you for your analogy of understanding solidity in different objects. I liked it very much, but I have been struggling with the idea of the cloud analogy. I don't think this is what you were saying at all, but I keep thinking that the "cloud" must have a center.</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Glad the analogy made some sense for you. For the cloud think of something that has no form that you can interact with, you can exert no pressure on it, nor gain leverage on it. Essentially you can't gain phyical understanding of it's form.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>Originally posted by Kalamondin:
</B> I understand what you are saying about giving up intention in order to follow the opponent. I can do that part OK. What I cannot do yet (well) is turn the following into leading (them into emptiness). So I am not convinced that giving up intention is the way to go--because if there's no intention, how does anything happen? And where does yi come into it? If I give up my intent to push, how does it happen?</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

There are some big questions in there Kal!

How to lead into emptiness? I think Mr Leaf posted on here about bones, muscle and skin and then Qi, Yi and Shen. I think he could correct my terms here.... but

If you only understand their force when they are aligned and pushing, or when their energy is in the muscles and they are about to align and push, or when it is in their skin and they are feeling prior to gathering and aligning it's usually too late to create a gap and lead them. You can only follow at this point.

You need to receive their intention and you do that by giving up your own. Cheng Man Ching likened it to leading a bull by the nose. When you have received them in this way there is no need to change to push - you are not deflecting them and counter attacking. Your defence is the same as your attack - your emptiness draws their centre out, you just change from following to leading. Their movement will suggest where to lead them.


[This message has been edited by Anderzander (edited 11-11-2005).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Nov 11, 2005 7:53 pm

Greetings Anderzander,

Re: “Cheng Man Ching likened it to leading a bull by the nose.”

I posted this a long while back, but since it’s come up I’ll post it again. It does indeed bear on the subject of preventing the opponent from knowing one’s intentions.

Here is my translation of Zheng Manqing’s Thirteen Chapters, Chapter 13, Section 12, which he presented as coming from Yang Chengfu’s oral instructions. Existing translations are those of Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo (Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on T’ai Chi Ch’uan, pp. 93-94), and Douglas Wile (Master Cheng’s Thirteen Chapters on T’ai Chi Ch’uan, pp. 78-80) I translated this as a personal exercise, and post it here, not as a criticism of received translations, but for the sake of comparison. The writing is finely nuanced. Since Zheng’s “Note” emphasizes the need to carefully understand the two words “qian” and “bo,” I endeavored to track these very closely using the respective verbs “lead,” and “deflect.”

~~~
13 Chapters, Chapter 13, #12:
“Four ounces deflect one thousand pounds.” How can four ounces deflect one thousand pounds? People all disbelieve this. What is called “Lead his movement, using four ounces to deflect a thousand pounds” [means that it is] only necessary to use four ounces of energy (jin) to lead (qian) the movement of one thousand pounds, and then deflect (bo) it. This “lead” (qian) and “deflect” (bo) are two [separate] matters. It is not a case of actually using “four ounces to deflect one thousand pounds.”

Note to this section: Separately analyzing these two words lead (qian) and deflect (bo) will enable [us to] see their subtle effects (miao yong). As for the method of leading (qian), supposing we pierce the nose of a thousand pound ox, [using] a cord of no more than 4 oz. [strength]. Using a cord of four ounces, [one can] lead (qian) a thousand pound ox to the left or right as one wishes. She may want to flee, but she cannot succeed. Now in leading, [one must] lead precisely [by] the nose. If one leads by her horn or her leg, it won’t do (or, ‘she won’t move’: bu xing ye). This leading is done in accordance with its method (yi qi dao) and in accordance with its location (yi qi chu). Hence, the ox can be lead with a four ounce cord. If it were a thousand pound stone horse, could one still lead it using an old rotten four ounce rope? Impossible! This is a difference in effect between the animate and the inanimate. Humans have a natural intelligence (ling xing). When one wants to use one thousand pounds of strength to attack another person, his advance has directionality, for example coming straight on. I then use four ounces of energy (jin) to lead the end of his hand, going along with his tendency (shun qi shi), then setting it off obliquely (xie chu zhi). This is what we call leading (qian). Therefore, after leading the movement (qian dong zhi hou), and the other’s strength has already fallen on emptiness (luo kong), then at this time I use energy to deflect him (yi jin bo zhi). He will certainly be thrown out a great distance. Nevertheless, the energy [used] to lead him (qian zhi zhi jin) need only be four ounces to be sufficient! The energy [used] to deflect him (bo zhi zhi jin) is entirely up to my consideration. However, the energy used to lead him must not be excessive. [If it is] heavy the other will know it, and will be able to transform to withdrawing. Or perhaps [he] will avail himself of the energy of [my] leading, changing his directionality to get in a surprise attack. Otherwise, the other may know I’m leading him, then reserve his strength (xu qi li) and not advance. Reserving his strength, his position has already become a retreat. I quickly accord with his retreat, then abandon the energy used to lead him (she qian zhi zhi jin) and reverse to issue (er fan wei fa fang). Then the opponent falls down without a hitch. This is counter-deflecting (ci fan bo ye).
~~~

One more thing I’d like to point out is that the metaphor of leading an ox is from a very old literary tradition. The earliest occurrence I’m aware of is in the early Han compendium, the Huainanzi. (I think it appears in the Lushi Chuqiu as well.) One of the prevaling themes in the Huainanzi is a critique of the reliance upon strong-arm tactics in government and in warfare, and a promotion instead of understanding and exploiting the disposition/strategic advantage/political ‘purchase’ (shi) of one’s circumstances. Here is a quotation from Roger T. Ames’ translation of HNZ chapter nine:

“Now, even if Wu Huo or Chieh Fan [famous strong guys] were to attempt to lead an ox by the tail from behind, they would pull the tail off without budging the ox because they are acting contrary to the way of things. But if one were to pierce the ox’s nose with a sprig of mulberry, even a half-grown boy could lead it around the country because he is following the way of things [shun ye].”
—Roger T. Ames, _The Art of Rulership: A Study of Ancient Chinese Political Thought_, (SUNY, 1994, p. 197.)

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Kalamondin » Sat Nov 12, 2005 7:11 am

Thank you Cheefatt, Anderzander, and Louis for your posts. The translation of the excerpt from Zheng Manqing's 13 chapters was very useful. I feel like I'm getting a better handle now on this business of awareness/giving up intent/following the nature of things.

I am very happy with your explanations because I have experienced, to some degree, each of these things at various times but was unable to link them together to understand how to conceal intent...or rather, how to be aware, empty, and go along with the natural flow of events.

I really liked the description of emptiness attracting the opponent's center or intent and drawing it out. I have noticed that when I stop pushing or trying to lead people will often try something that I can turn to gain the advantage.

I'm getting much better at this business of receiving intent before the action starts--my trouble has always been knowing what to do with it and responding appropriately. I understand my error now: as soon as I perceive the opponent's intent to move, I have countered it excessively. That is, I use more than 4 oz. of strength or intention, and thus create a fullness where there was relative emptiness before.

The cat stalking a bird in the grass is aware but does not project its intent outward at its prey. That would allert the bird and allow it to fly away. It's a focused yet diffuse attention to everything all at once and yet also a particular focus on the bird.

Projection of intent is tantamount to loss of center. Emptiness at center is not the same thing as no center. It means only that the center is so fluid it moves effortlessly--there is no solidity where an opponent can gain purchase.

I have had, for lack of a better phrase, moments of grace where I have experienced this state. I do best at pushing hands when I don't care about the outcome. I can think of a small handful of instances where I have been so calm, so carefree, that my partner is unbalanced or tossed out effortlessly, seemingly of his own accord.

But I did not understand how to get back to that state, or why some days it worked, but mostly it didn't. So thank you all--I am closer now to understanding how to do that more often.

Best wishes,
Kal

PS Yay! Image
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Tue Nov 15, 2005 5:45 pm

Kal,

That Yang Jun has set you to reading Art of War is no surprise to me. It is the penultimate classic book for learning strategy.


Bob
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Tue Nov 15, 2005 5:52 pm

Kal,

There are many, many applicable passages in Art of War on concealing intent.
There is the chapter on using spies, it has a lot to say not only about concealing intent, but about sending baited, or misleading, messages to the enemy in order to force him to move in response to a false threat, after which you can take advantage of his weakened position.
There are all kinds of things like that in Art of War.
Have you read it yet? It's not a very long book, but you will find yourself going back to it over and over again to re-read certain passages as their meanings will suddenly jump out at you after a time.
The one I posted above is one of my personal favorites, but there are many others that appeal to me as well.

Bob
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Nov 15, 2005 6:07 pm

Greetings Bob,

I agree that the Art of War is a valuable book to study. The passage that you quoted is one of my favorites too. I would suggest that you consider upgrading from the old Giles translation to one of the newer, better informed ones. Ralph Sawyer’s is very good, and Roger T. Ames’ is in my opinion the very best. The word Giles renders as “energy” in the crossbow metaphor is “shi,” which Ames translates as “strategic advantage.” Ames has written quite a bit about the word “shi,” and Sawyer has several pages of notes on it in his book. The taiji saying, “deji deshi” (seize the opportunity and the strategic advantage) resonates deeply with the crossbow analogy in the Sunzi.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Nov 15, 2005 6:37 pm

Here's a link to a brief interview with Roger Ames on his translation of Sunzi. By the way, the Sonshi site has quite a bit of info about the Sunzi.

http://www.sonshi.com/ames.html

--Louis
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Tue Nov 15, 2005 7:10 pm

Louis,
I only have the Giles version at this point. I've been "meaning" to get a newer version, but you know how that goes.
I guess I should, as Giles translation is a tad lacking compared to others.

Bob
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Postby Kalamondin » Tue Nov 15, 2005 9:00 pm

Hi Bob,

Yes, I read it a few years ago and agree that it would be useful to re-read repeatedly. I have the Ralph Sawyer translation...but on account of moving recently, it's buried in a box. Until I get around to my own archeological dig I think I'm better off hunting down the Ames version.

Louis,

Thanks for the recommendations and the link to the Ames interview.

This is a digression, not aimed at either of you nor anyone in particular, but sparked by the Ames interview. I liked what he said about trying to understand the text on its own terms without imposing Western ideas of the Other.

It reminded me of the seeming split in much of the tai chi world between those who proclaim the wonders tai chi for its miraculous spiritual, metaphysical, and meditative aspects and those who argue that tai chi is a purely practical, efficient fighting art that involves force vectors, and biomechanical analysis with an emphasis that "there's no such thing as qi."

IMO, neither approach is balanced, but each is valid as any entry point into the tai chi circle can lead to balance eventually. Tai chi encompasses all of the above and more. To say that tai chi is only this or only that is an error reflects only the speaker's current yin/yang position with regard to the whole. The attempt to engage with tai chi on its own terms requires that we make our minds more flexible.

Kal
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