The sixth lesson touches on how mastery of the self leads to understanding of the use of opportunities by exploiting time and space.
Sun Tzu’s famous Art of War, Chapter III – Strategic Attack states that :-
It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.
This tells us the importance of knowing our strengths and weaknesses by training our mind and body. This can be accomplished by training the 22-form carefully over a period of time.
Training a form is not just remembering the sequence in their correct order. Training a form involves knowing the form inside out, how the sequences can be re-ordered, played differently in tempo, timing and emphasis.
Practice, research and experimentation go hand-in-hand to deepen our understanding. After a period of time you can then know yourself. Further on, to know your opponent you need to as the first step learn push hands.
Push hands training will by exposure to pressure, timing, resistance, changes and adaptation further your knowledge and understanding of yourself.
Tightening your defenses makes you a more difficult target. However, over tightening your defenses make obstruct you from using your own techniques quickly.
To free yourself from such obstacles you need to understand how to receive by giving. This means not just seizing opportunities in your opponent’s defenses or creating the windows of opportunity.
Instead, this means to manifest the opportunity by by giving the opponent an opening. This is not an easy principle to practice because it requires you to be mentally calm, open and acceptable of the opponent’s pressure and resistance. The traits of calm, open and mentally in harmony can be achieved by training the 22-form to diminish your ego in wanting to fight back.
When you stop fighting the opponent and become one with him then you can borrow his movement and energy, exploiting his timing and space to gain control of his movements and balance.
As stated in Chapter I – Detail Assessment and Planning, Art of War :-
All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.
When you assiduously train to sung prescribed by the 22-form you will attain a state of emptiness at which time your touch will become light yet heavy, compliant yet resistant. You do not seem to move much yet every time the opponent applies pressure you seem to be empty space everywhere. He tries to move faster but though slow you are always a step faster.
You will no longer feel you have to attack aggressively but to attack indirectly, eating away at your opponent’s ability to move, encircling him bit by bit like a game of physical Weiqi.
When he wants to attack you, you always seem far away yet you are near. When you attack him it seems like he cannot shake your even though you seem far but you feel near.
By attaining a physical understanding of yourself and implementing combative strategies you increase the probability of prevailing in an encounter by understanding simple game theory.
The training of sung is an exact process of transformation in the 22-form. The process of internal change is governed by four keywords :-
松 (loose / relax)
The four keywords are really two formulas which states :-
Formula 1 : 松 (loose / relax) is a function of 散 (scattered)
Formula 2 : 通 (through) is a function of 空 (empty)
The four keywords provide the necessary and sufficient conditions for entering the door of mastery to the use of intention in Grandmaster Wei Shuren’s system of Tai Chi Chuan. It may sound like a lot of fancy, theory talk but there is a scientific basis and reasoning behind the four keywords.
The understanding of the four keywords can be accessed by practitioners who diligently and faithfully follow this path. In this respect, breaking through the hidden meaning of the four keywords will unlock the cultural treasure of the use of intent on the other side, allowing us a glimpse into the genius of whoever designed this pugilistic method.
Note – information on Art of War from Wikiquote’s The Art of War here