The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Aging Budoka


I just ran across a new blog that resonates with me, "The Aging Budoka." Boy, can I identify with that!

If you click on the title of this post, or look for the link over at the right, you'll be directed there. Please pay a visit.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wu Style Taijiquan Push Hands Applications


I've just been introduced to push hands. I've been told that there are 12 types of push hands practiced in the Wu style, from very basic, to free style. I've been introduced to the first two.

This clip, which came from Youtube, shows a senior Wu style teacher, Tony Chan, demonstrating applications from push hands. Enjoy.




Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Studying, Not Just Reading, the Classics


There is an article on the blog, The Collaborative View, entitled Learning Leadership from the Amateurs, when quotes an article entitled The New Mandarins. The topic has to do with not simply reading a classic book (in this case it was The Art of War), but truly studying it. It's a very good read on what it is to really study something.

Below is an excerpt. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to the whole thing. Please pay a visit.

December 16, 2007
Phenomenon
The Newest Mandarins
By ANNPING CHIN

Lei Bo is a philosophy graduate student in China whose faith is in history, and by habit he considers the world using the thousands of classical passages that live in his head. Three years ago he was studying in an empty room in the School of Management at his university in Beijing when students began to amble in for their class on Sun Tzu's "Art of War," a work from either the fifth or the fourth century B.C. Lei Bo decided to stay. He had taken two courses on "The Art of War" in the philosophy and the literature departments, and was curious to see how students in business and management might approach the same subject. The discussion that day was on the five attributes of a military commander. Sun Tzu said in the first chapter of the book, "An able commander is wise (zhi), trustworthy (xin), humane (ren), courageous (yong) and believes in strict discipline (yan)."

The students thought that a chief executive today should possess the same strengths in order to lead. But how did the five attributes apply to business? Here they were stuck, unable to move beyond what the words suggest in everyday speech. Even their teacher could not find anything new to add. At this point, Lei Bo raised his hand and began to take each word back to its home, to the sixth century B.C., when Sun Tzu lived, and to the two subsequent centuries when the work Sun Tzu inspired was actually written down.

On the word yong (courage), Lei Bo cited chapter seven of The Analects, where Confucius told a disciple that if he "were to lead the Three Armies of his state," he "would not take anyone who would try to wrestle a tiger with his bare hands and walk across a river [because there is not a boat]. If I take anyone, it would have to be someone who is wary when faced with a task and who is good at planning and capable of successful execution." No one ever put Confucius in charge of an army, said Lei Bo, and Confucius never thought that he would be asked, but being a professional, he could expect a career either in the military or in government. And his insight about courage in battle and in all matters of life and death pertains to a man's interior: his judgment and awareness, his skills and integrity. This was how Lei Bo explored the word "courage": he located it in its early life before it was set apart from ideas like wisdom, humaneness and trust. He tried to describe the whole sense of the word. The business students and their teacher were hooked. They wanted Lei Bo back every week for as long as they were reading "The Art of War."

Scores of men and women in China's business world today are studying their country's classical texts, not just "The Art of War," but also early works from the Confucian and the Daoist canon. On weekends, they gather at major universities, paying tens of thousands of yuan each, to learn from prominent professors of philosophy and literature, to read and think in ways they could not when they were students and the classics were the objects of Maoist harangue . Those inside and outside China say that these businessmen and -women, like most Chinese right now, have caught the "fever of national learning."

Monday, December 17, 2007

Shogun


One of my favorite books is the novel by James Clavelle. It is set in the 1600's in pre-Tokugawa Japan. Much of the story revolves around the historical incident of an Englishman and his shipmates being washed ashore.

There was a lot going on in Japan at that time and the addition of the foreigners (at least in the novel) only stirred the pot. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to the page on http://www.answers.com on the novel Shogun.

If you go here: you'll find a scholarly (and long) paper on Shogun.

http://www.columbia.edu/~hds2/learning/

Finally, here is a link to the book on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Shogun-James-Clavell/dp/0340839945/ref=pd_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1197928328&sr=1-1

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wu Ming, the Cucumber Sage


Some recent absurdities of life reminded me of this Zen story. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to the website I got it from. Enjoy.

THE RECORD OF THE LIFE AND TEACHINGS OF WU-MING

Compiled by Master Tung-Wang
Abbott of Han-hsin monastery in the
Thirteenth year of the Earth Dragon period (898)

My dear friend, the most reverend master Tung-Wang,

Old and ill, I lay here knowing that writing this note will be my last act upon this earth and that by the time you read it I will be gone from this life.

Though we have not seen each other in the many years since we studied together under our most venerable Master, I have often thought of you, his most worthy successor. Monks from throughout China say that you are a true lion of the Buddha Dharma; one whose eye is a shooting star, whose hands snatch lightning, and whose voice booms like thunder. It is said that your every action shakes heaven and earth and causes the elephants and dragons of delusion to scatter helplessly. I am told that your monastery is unrivaled in severity, and that under your exacting guidance hundreds of monks pursue their training with utmost zeal and vigor. I've also heard that in the enlightened successor department your luck has not been so good. Which brings me to the point of this letter.

I ask that you now draw your attention to the young man to whom this note is attached. As he stands before you, no doubt smiling stupidly as he stuffs himself with pickled cucumbers, you may be wondering if he is as complete a fool as he appears, and if so, what prompted me to send him to you. In answer to the first question, I assure you that Wu-Ming's foolishness is far more complete than mere appearance would lead you to believe. As for the second question, I can only say that despite so benumbed a condition, or perhaps because of it, still more likely, despite of and because of it, Wu-Ming seems to unwittingly and accidentally serve the function of a great Bodhisattva. Perhaps he can be of service to you.

Allow him sixteen hours of sleep daily and provide him with lots of pickled cucumbers and Wu-Ming will always be happy. Expect nothing of him and you will be happy.

Respectfully, Chin-Mang

After Chin-mang's funeral, the supporters of his temple arranged for Wu-Ming's journey to Han-hsin monastery, where I resided, then, as now, as Abbott. A monk found Wu-ming at the monastery gate and seeing a note bearing my name pinned to his robe, led him to my quarters.

Customarily, when first presenting himself to the Abbott, a newly arrived monk will prostrate himself three times and ask respectfully to be accepted as a student. And so I was taken somewhat by surprise when Wu-ming walked into the room, took a pickled cucumber from the jar under his arm, stuffed it whole into his mouth, and happily munching away, broke into the toothless imbecilic grin that would one day become legendary. Taking a casual glance around the room, he smacked his lips loudly and said, "What's for lunch?"

After reading dear old Chin Mang's note, I called in the head monk and asked that he show my new student to the monk's quarters. When they had gone I reflected on chin-mang's words. Han-hsin was indeed a most severe place of training: winters were bitterly cold and in summer the sun blazed. The monks slept no more than three hours each night and ate one simple meal each day. For the remainder of the day they worked hard around the monastery and practiced hard in the meditation hall. But, alas, Chin-mang had heard correctly, Among all my disciples there was none whom I felt confident to be a worthy vessel to receive the untransmittable transmitted Dharma. I was beginning to despair that I would one day, bereft of even one successor, fail to fulfill my obligation of seeing my teacher's Dharma-linage continued.

The monks could hardly be faulted for complacency or indolence. Their sincere aspiration and disciplined effort were admirable indeed, and many had attained great clarity of wisdom. But they were preoccupied with their capacity for harsh discipline and proud of their insight. They squabbled with one another for positions of prestige and power and vied amongst themselves for recognition. Jealousy, rivalry and ambition seemed to hang like a dark cloud over Han-shin monastery, sucking even the most wise and sincere into its obscuring haze. Holding Chin-mang's note before me, I hoped and prayed that this Wu-ming, this "accidental Bodhisattva" might be the yeast my recipe seemed so much in need of.

To my astonished pleasure, Wu-ming took to life at Han-shin like a duck to water. At my request, he was assigned a job in the kitchen pickling vegetables. This he pursued tirelessly, and with a cheerful earnestness he gathered and mixed ingredients, lifted heavy barrels, drew and carried water, and, of course, freely sampled his workmanship. He was delighted!

When the monks assembled in the meditation hall, they would invariably find Wu-ming seated in utter stillness, apparently in deep and profound samadhi. No one even guessed that the only thing profound about Wu-ming's meditation was the profound unlikelihood that he might find the meditation posture, legs folded into the lotus position, back erect and centered, to be so wonderfully conducive to the long hours of sleep he so enjoyed.

Day after day and month after month, as the monks struggled to meet the physical and spiritual demands of monastery life, Wu-ming, with a grin and a whistle, sailed through it all effortlessly. Even though, if the truth be told, Wu-ming's Zen practice was without the slightest merit, by way of outward appearance he was judged by all to be a monk of great accomplishment and perfect discipline. Of course . I could have dispelled this misconception easily enough, but I sensed that Wu-ming's unique brand of magic was taking effect and I was not about to throw away this most absurdly skillful of means.

By turns the monks were jealous, perplexed, hostile, humbled and inspired by what they presumed to be Wu-ming's great attainment. Of course it never occurred to Wu-ming that his or anyone else's behavior required such judgments, for they are the workings of a far more sophisticated nature than his own mind was capable. Indeed, everything about him was so obvious and simple that others thought him unfathomably subtle.

Wu-ming's inscrutable presence had a tremendously unsettling effect on the lives of the monks, and undercut the web of rationalizations that so often accompanies such upset. His utter obviousness rendered him unintelligible and immune to the social pretensions of others. Attempts of flattery and invectives alike were met with the same uncomprehending grin, a grin the monks felt to be the very cutting edge of the sword of Perfect Wisdom. Finding no relief or diversion in such interchange, they were forced to seek out the source and resolution of their anguish each within his own mind. More importantly, and absurdly, Wu-ming caused to arise in the monks the unconquerable determination to fully penetrate the teaching "The Great Way is without difficulty" which they felt he embodied.

Though in the course of my lifetime I have encountered many of the most venerable progenitors of the Tathagata's teaching, never have I met one so skilled at awakening others to their intrinsic Buddhahood as this wonderful fool Wu-ming. His spiritual non-sequiturs were as sparks, lighting the flame of illuminating wisdom in the minds of many who engaged him in dialogue.

Once a monk approached Wu-ming and asked in all earnestness, "In the whole universe, what is it that is most wonderful?" Without hesitation Wu-ming stuck a cucumber before the monks face and exclaimed, "There is nothing more wonderful than this!" At that the monk crashed through the dualism of subject and object, "The whole universe is pickled cucumber; a pickled cucumber is the whole universe!" Wu-ming simply chuckled and said, "Stop talking nonsense. A cucumber is a cucumber; the whole universe is the whole universe. What could be more obvious?" The monk, penetrating the perfect phenomenal manifestation of Absolute Truth, clapped his hands and laughed, saying, "Throughout infinite space, everything is deliciously sour!"

On another occasion a monk asked Wu-ming, "The Third Patriarch said, "The Great Way is without difficulty, just cease having preferences." How can you then delight in eating cucumbers, yet refuse to even take one bit of a carrot?" Wu-ming said, "I love cucumbers; I hate carrots!" The monk lurched back as though struck by a thunderbolt. Then laughing and sobbing and dancing about he exclaimed, "Liking cucumbers and hating carrots is without difficulty, just cease preferring the Great Way!"

Within three years of his arrival, the stories of the "Great Bodhisattva of Han-hsin monastery" had made their way throughout the provinces of China. Knowing of Wu-ming's fame I was not entirely surprised when a messenger from the Emperor appeared summoning Wu-ming to the Imperial Palace immediately.

From throughout the Empire exponents of the Three Teachings of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism were being called to the Capitol, there the Emperor would proclaim one to be the true religion to be practiced and preached in all lands under his rule. The idea of such competition for Imperial favor is not to my approval and the likelihood that a religious persecution might follow troubled me greatly. But an order from the Emperor is not to be ignored, so Wu-ming and I set out the next day.

Inside the Great Hall were gathered the more than one hundred priests and scholars who were to debate one another. They were surrounded by the most powerful lords in all China, along with innumerable advisors, of the Son of Heaven. All at once trumpets blared, cymbals crashed, and clouds of incense billowed up everywhere. The Emperor, borne on by a retinue of guards, was carried to the throne. After due formalities were observed the Emperor signaled for the debate to begin.

Several hours passed as one after another priests and scholars came forward presenting their doctrines and responding to questions. Through it all Wu-ming sat obliviously content as he stuffed himself with his favorite food. When his supply was finished, he happily crossed his legs, straightened his back and closed his eyes. But the noise and commotion were too great and, unable to sleep, he grew more restless and irritable by the minute. As I clasped him firmly by the back of the neck in an effort to restrain him, the Emperor gestured to Wu-ming to approach the Throne.

When Wu-ming had come before him, the Emperor said, "Throughout the land you are praised as a Bodhisattva whose mind is like the Great Void itself, yet you have not had a word to offer this assembly. Therefore I say to you now, teach me the True Way that all under heaven must follow." Wu-ming said nothing. After a few moments the Emperor, with a note of impatience, spoke again, "Perhaps you do not hear well so I shall repeat myself! Teach me the True Way that all under heaven must follow!" Still Wu-ming said nothing, and silence rippled through the crowd as all strained forward to witness this monk who dared behave so bold a fashion in the Emperor's presence.

Wu-ming heard nothing the Emperor said, nor did he notice the tension that vibrated through the hall. All that concerned him was his wish to find a nice quiet place where he could sleep undisturbed. The Emperor spoke again, his voice shaking with fury, his face flushed with anger: "You have been summoned to this council to speak on behalf of the Buddhist teaching. Your disrespect will not be tolerated much longer. I shall ask one more time, and should you fail to answer, I assure you the consequence shall be most grave. Teach me the True Way that all under heaven must follow!" Without a word Wu-ming turned and, as all looked on in dumbfounded silence, he made his way down the aisle and out the door. There was a hush of stunned disbelief before the crowd erupted into an uproar of confusion. Some were applauding Wu-ming's brilliant demonstration of religious insight, while others rushed about in an indignant rage, hurling threats and abuses at the doorway he had just passed through. Not knowing whether to praise Wu-ming or to have him beheaded, the Emperor turned to his advisors, but they were none the wiser. Finally, looking out at the frantic anarchy to which his grand debate had been reduced, the Emperor must surely have realized that no matter what Wu-ming's intentions might have been, there was now only one way to avoid the debate becoming a most serious embarrassment.

"The great sage of Han-hsin monastery has skillfully demonstrated that the great Tao cannot be confined by doctrines, but is best expounded through harmonious action. Let us profit by the wisdom he has so compassionately shared, and each endeavor to make our every step one that unites heaven and earth in accord with the profound and subtle Tao."

Having thus spoken the Son of Heaven concluded the Great Debate.

I immediately ran out to find Wu-ming, but he had disappeared in the crowded streets of the capitol.

Ten years have since passed, and I have seen nothing of him. However, on occasion a wandering monk will stop at Han-hsin with some bit of news. I am told that Wu-ming has been wandering about the countryside this past decade, trying unsuccessfully to find his way home. Because of his fame he is greeted and cared for in all quarters with generous kindness; however, those wishing to help him on his journey usually find that they have been helped on their own.

One young monk told of an encounter in which Wu-ming asked him, "Can you tell me where my home is?" Confused as to the spirit of the question. The monk replied, "Is the home you speak of to be found in the relative world of time and place, or do you mean the Original Home of all pervading Buddha nature?"

After pausing a moment to consider the question, Wu-ming looked up and, grinning as only he is capable, said, "Yes."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Passing on a Meme


I’ve been tagged by Zen from Zen’s Sekai I (http://zensekai.wordpress.com/).

Zen is an interesting guy. Martial arts of course (Tai Chi Mantis and kyudo), but also Zen, Music, Sailing, and Art. He’s planning on moving to Japan in a couple of years and teach Tai Chi Mantis there.

So I’ve been tagged, and I’ve accepted. These are the rules:

  • link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
  • share 7 random or weird things about yourself.
  • tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs
  • let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.


1. I’ve been interested in martial arts since I was 15 or 16, and have trained on and of over the years. With my youngest daughter now driving, I have more time to myself and have begun studying the Wu style of Taijiquan. I am also lifting weights and spending time on a treadmill.

2. I’m a voracious reader. I tend to get more reading done in winter than any in summer. I used to get all bunched up about this, but I’ve learned that is is just the rhythm of the seasons.

3. While I am a practicing Catholic, I am also very much interested in Zen and Daoism.

4. My plan for retirement is to live in a house on a lake, in between wherever my kids end up settling, so I have an attractive nuisance to draw them back to me.

5. I work for a Japanese company, and have been studying the Japanese language. I can understand the meaning, if not always able to remember the pronunciation of about 500 kanji.

6. I used to be a software engineer. Now I am in the sales and business development of semiconductors in the automotive industry. It’s not so much the technology I enjoy (although it is very interesting), but dealing with the people.

7. Another topic that I find utterly fascinating is the study of strategy. I have recourse to apply what I learn in my capacity of sales and business developemtn.


I shall tag these 7 people. I hope they find the time to join the game at some point.

Anthony at http://www.wujimon.com

John at http://MartialViews.blogspot.com

Chris at http://www.MartialDevelopment.com

Lisa at http://PeoniesFrogsWine.blogspot.com

Michael at http://Collaboration360.blogspot.com

Shang Lee at http://www.ShangLee.com

And Robert at http://www.taikiken.blogspot.com

Let’s see what happens.

Beijing


Below is an excerpt from a travel article in the New York Times, on Beijing. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to the full article. Do yourself a favor and take a look, the pictures that accompany the article are great.

December 9, 2007

36 Hours in Beijing

BEIJING can feel chaotic and sprawling, especially as it races to finish Olympic construction before the Games begin on Aug. 8. But there's an ancient order to the place, a cosmology, and you can follow it. The palaces and temples line up like stars on the city's south-north axis. The government chose to build the Olympic Stadium on the axis, too. All over town there are digital billboards with a countdown to the Games. Down to the second. But wait. Besides the cranes and compact cars and floating particulate matter, everything essential about the city — its tall vermilion walls, its septuagenarians flying kites on bridges, its pigeons — has been there all along.

Friday

3:30 p.m.
1) GREEN GETAWAY

Once the private garden of Ming and Qing emperors, Beihai, set beside the Forbidden City, may be the most beautiful public park in China. There are Buddhist temples by the lake, the footpaths lined with willow trees, and the provincial tour groups wearing identical baseball hats. The northern entrance to a private garden called Jingxinzhai (24 Dianmen Xidajie; 86-10-6406-2279; www.beihaipark.com.cn) closes at 4 p.m. in winter and an hour later in summer, so first visit this private world of pavilions, fish ponds and rock gardens. Sometimes an orchestra gathers by the big lake, and the locals sing songs, drink tea from thermoses and read about the stock market and price of eggs in the Beijing Evening News. There is an inward tendency in the Chinese character, and these walled gardens were designed to shut away the outside world.

5:30 p.m.
2) THE CENTER OF THE WORLD

After your respite, see the heart of the city on foot. After taking in the scale of the Forbidden City from outside the north moat, follow the narrow street, Beichang Jie, under the dark leaning scholar trees. You'll pass by What? (72 Beichang Jie; 86-133-4112-2757), a tiny rock bar that affords sidewalk wicker chairs and a glimpse of street life: migrant workers, high school students, young soldiers and black Audis with tinted windows keeping watch over the sealed leadership compound of Zhongnanhai. At the southern end of the street, turn left onto the Avenue of Eternal Peace, and walk east along the boulevard, past past the soldiers clearing Tiananmen Square, and the lovers in the shadows of the big trees . You are in the center of the city, which, in the Chinese mind, is at the center of the world. And it feels that way.

8 p.m.
3) DUCK FOR DINNER

The headless ducks hang from black hooks, ready for the brick ovens. Eleven Chinese cooks in dark pinstriped pants handle them with long poles, with a grouping of little porcelain ducklings looking on. The dining room of the Dadong Roast Duck Restaurant (22 Dongsishitiao; 86-10-5169-0328) is rowdy, as Chinese restaurants are supposed to be, and the braised eggplant is sweet and good. The skin of the lean bird is crisp, and its meat — wrapped in a thin pancake with spring onions and a sweet dark sauce — washes down nicely with red wine or beer.

10 p.m.
4) ANTIQUES AND SANGRIA

Beijing's best known bar strip, the Sanlitun neighborhood, is a playground for hookers, expatriates and Nigerian drug dealers. Instead, take a cab to the Drum and Bell Towers, and slip into the hutongs, or historic alleys, heading north, toward Bed Bar (17 Zhangwang Hutong; 86-10-8400-1554). Look for a red lantern down a long, quiet lane. A converted machine-parts factory decorated with antique furniture and paintings of the old city, Bed is a pleasant place to drink sangria, talk with friends, and drink more sangria. If you're with a group, reserve a private room overlooking the courtyard.

Saturday

9:30 a.m.
5) RITUALS, OLD AND NEW

Built by the Ming emperor Yongle in 1420, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is a masterpiece of Chinese religious architecture. The hall was one of many altars inside the kingdom's largest complex for ritual sacrifice, the Temple of Heaven, or Tiantan (86-10-6702-8866; www.tiantanpark.com/cn). Twenty-two emperors came here to make sacrifices to heaven, affirming their divine role as ruler and shaman. Nowadays, in the Long Corridor through which ritual offerings once passed, crowds of retirees play poker, Hacky Sack and the two-stringed erhu.

Noon
6) DOSE OF REALITY

The government understands that the sacred axis of the imperial city will also be the axis for tourists this summer and is preparing accordingly. Go north from the west gate of the Temple of Heaven and you will be impressed by the tidiness, the fresh paint, the grassy lawns. But wander down any of the hutongs of the Qianmen area, south of Tiananmen Square, and you may have a different — and more textured — impression. A battlefield between developers and conservationists, this famous neighborhood of provincial guilds, opera houses, bordellos and hot pot restaurants is in epic flux. Some hutongs have been razed, and some still bustle with cheap restaurants, backpackers, butcher shops and crowded courtyard homes. The nearby Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall (20 Qianmen Dongdajie; 86-10-6702-4559; www.bjghzl.com.cn) puts the conflict in context.

Friday, December 07, 2007

What a Blast!



I had a great time at my Taiji class last night. As usual, the first 30 minutes was a group warm up, the next hour was spent on either learning the sequence of the form, or on form refinement if you had already learned the whole sequence. Finally, the ongoing class took up the last hour.


The first hour of class was spent on form refinement. One of the senior students asked me if there was a sequence I wanted to work on. Most people who have just learned the form want to go over the last several movements, because they simply haven’t been practiced as much.

I said I wanted to work on a sequence that appears many times in the form, that I was having a little trouble with. My thought was that since it appeared several times, it contains a lot of fundamental movement that has wide application throughout the form. I was right.

There is a sequence called Wave Hands Like Clouds, that ends with a movement called Single Whip. Getting from WHLC to SW seemed sort of awkward to me. Sure enough, there were some details in the footwork of which I was not aware, as well as some body parts moving and stopping at the same time.

Also, as a more advance detail I learned about how the hip folds during WHLC. This relates directly to one of the warm up exercises. I can see how this relates to many movements in the form.

I doubt that I was doing it right, but just being aware of what was going on with my hips made a difference. I’ll be working on it on my own.

Several weeks ago, the school purchased some mats to work on throwing techniques. Even the senior students have only been working on falls and rolls for a few weeks. Having only a few weeks of practice, many of them don’t look half bad.

When the mats were laid out on the floor, I had to take shot at doing rolls. I hadn’t done any rolls or breakfalls in about 15 years. This was something I was really looking forward to.

My first half dozen or so were a little creaky. I didn’t roll straight, and I was a bit like a wheel with squared off edges. After that though, I was hitting on all cylinders. Towards the end, before they took the mats up, I tried a few advanced falls from my memory, and did them just fine. It really is like learning to ride a bicycle, or maybe falling off of one. What a blast.

Finally we got into push hands practice. I worked with two different partners on the same beginning style of push hands I learned last week. Each of them were pretty senior students, so I got to work with people who knew what they were doing.

What was driven home to me again and again was how relaxed and loose each of them was in comparison to me. I consider myself to generally have a pretty relaxed body, but there are levels and then there are levels. Also, again, the hip folding that I worked on during form refinement became even more clear in this application, because it was precisely because of the hip action that made the push hands technique work.

What a good class. Man! Did I have a lot of fun, and did I ever get a lot of things to work on in my own practice.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The 36 Strategies: # 24 Borrow the right of way to attack the neighbor


The 36 Strategies: # 24 Borrow the right of way to attack the neighbor

You secure the temporary use of another party's facilities in order to move against a mutual enemy. After having used these facilities to prevail over the enemy, you then turn and use them against the party from whom you borrowed them.

This is really kind of cold blooded, and it’s just the sort of thing that you don’t want to happen to you.

The examples from old Chinese wars used for this strategy usually discuss a situation where A is at war with B. A has an ally C, from whom A borrows some valuable resource to finish off B. However, in lending A the resource, C becomes weaker, and A takes advantage of the situation to take over C as well.

In much simpler terms that we can relate to in a modern setting, imagine a co worker asking you to some sort of work as a favor. He then uses the work to advance himself …at your expense.