Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Fallacy Behind the World Taiji and Qi Gong Day

(updated at 11:10 hr)

Today is World Taichi (or Taiji) and Qi Gong Day.  It is one of those "kumbaya" scenarios where everyone wants to feel good because they are all following a certain practice.

They all assemble together, hoping that they could change the state of the globe.  One wonders if it could decrease world hunger and diminish the threat of global warming.  . . . Hmmmm!? 

Ruminations and Afterthoughts 

How many Taiji players do you know, really comprehend the technicalities on how it really works!? 

From our observation, the majority of the "Taiji" masses  are always concentrating on a few "big picture" technicalities and the final outcome without understanding the true connection between the grand fundamental points.

There are some knowledgeable people who could explain to you on how the fundamentals worked from a ground up perspective. The numerous messengers usually dominate this entire group and delineate the newbies on how it all works from a top down view in terms of the "imaginary results."  . . . 

Interestingly, a few of them could barely transform their Taiji experience into their daily life on a 24/7 basis. Humorously, they are the salespeople of the group.

The rarity during one's learning of Taiji or any other internal martial arts is to discover the skilled person who could patiently explain to the novices- the connecting "balancing point" between the general perspective and the wide array of specific points with real examples. 

The challenge is that the "skilled person" must determine whether it is worth his/her time to explain that "balancing point" to them. 

The commonality of the novices is that some of them are studying it for the purpose of finding some level of self-enlightenment. 

Some might get lucky in receiving the benefits from practicing it correctly. The rest of them are just saying that it does help them without personally specifying the long-term benefits. 

The Assessment Points 

In any niche, the ratio between the group of messengers-pseudo specialists are greater than the experts. To filter the competent instructors from the masses of amateurs, assess their skills carefully.  

Use their advanced students as the measuring gauge. Study if they are able to integrate the attributes of breathing, balancing and rhythm into their practice. Examine if they can stay "relaxed, grounded, centered, calm and whole" in each and all of their movements.  Those two grand perspective are what most "current and future" students have always missed.

Following are other assessment points:
  • Are the advanced students able to stay focused on their movement without being distracted?
  • Are the advanced students able to practice in isolation?
  • Are the advanced students able to utilize their Taiji skills outside of their practice?
# Click here for a good list of errors that most novice Taiji players usually displayed in their practice.

The knowledge of knowing what factors to look for, is what the serious Taiji players are focused on.  

# The Chief Benefit of Taiji 
Building and augmenting the skill of one's mindfulness is the name of the game.   The state of mindfulness could enable the desktop strategists to understand certain Chinese strategic classics in a different light. 

One could build this unique skill through the practice of integrating the state of relaxation, the state of grounded, the state of centered, the state of calm and the state of being whole through the control of the breath. Regardless of the difficulty, it could be done 

The other options to building the skill of mindfulness are: Six Harmonies and Eight Methods System; Aikido; Baguazhang; Xingyiquan, and Yiquan.

Suggestion to the Serious Taiij Players
It is difficult to learn "real" Taiji in a group setting unless one is interested in the social aspect of the activity.   . . . Those who are seriously interested in learning Taiji, should seek a competent instructor who is patiently experienced in teaching them on an one on one basis before ever seeking an expert.  

Final Points
So, what is the fallacy?  ... The day and the time for practice does not matter to the serious Taiji players. They could practice in isolation or with a group of technical equals who understand the Big Tangible Picture behind their practice and will practice with a purpose.  One of the most significant tradition that counts is the daily practice of their personal exercises.

Side Note
The ultra class experts are usually staying away from the ranked amateurs who have publicized themselves as the true specialists.  They isolated themselves from the masses for the purpose of staying focused to their practice to the nth degree.   ... In some rare instances, some of these experts usually privately trained their most dedicated students behind the closed doors for the purpose of preserving the essence of the system.  ... 

You could learn more about this topic by visiting the following sites

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dr. Ralph Sawyer on the John Batchelor's Radio Show

updated on 4.23.14

We have heard through our sources that Dr. Ralph D. Sawyer, a famous Chinese Military History expert and the translator of Sun Tzu (Sunzi) Art of War, have been recently interviewed by John Batchelor's.  This future radio interview will be focused on his recent book on the Zhou era and the Martial version of Dao De Jing. 

Notes on the John Batchelor Show
The John Batchelor's show usually focuses on a multitude of national and international issues that matters.  Mr. Batchelor does a superlative job in transforming an issue into a well-thought out story. Their "book review" portion of the show is always fascinating.  

Some of us preferred the weekly "Hotel California" segment that focuses on the state of California or the Tuesday segment on the conservative view of the economy while I personally preferred the topic of "NASA and space travel."

Those who are engaged in the "moderate to high risk, high reward" strategy game, could learn something unique from this show.

Click here  if you are interested in listening to any of John Batchelor recent radio shows.  

Comments From the Compass Desk 
Those who have complied with the essence of the Dao De Jing, know that the challenge in life is to manage the on-coming changes while maintaining their virtue. 

One of the most challenging tasks for anyone  is to connect their personal experiences to one of the 81 chapters of Dao De Jing.  Our experience tells us that this feat could only be achieved by consistently possessing and maintaining a center of mindfulness.   ... We will expand our view on this matter in a future post.   

Side note: You could learn more on the basics of centerness by visiting Cook Ding's Kitchen.

We highly recommended this translation of the Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching) especially for those who are involved in a highly competitive situation.   . . .  We also highly endorsed the D.C. Lau's  and  the Dr. Roger T. Ames translation of the Dao De Jing  . 

# # #

Friday, April 18, 2014

Humor: An Tactical Advice For Those Who Are Involved in Worst Case Scenario

When you are in deep trouble, "center" your being and look straight ahead. Keep quiet. Move with the flow. Say nothing.   ... Stay focused on getting home while being mindful of your terrain.  The mindfulness will enable you to make the proper adjustment. Avoid any feeling of emotional outburst by compartmentalize it until you have safely arrived in your home terrain. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Assessing the Low-Tech Weapon of Terrorists (and Understanding Chapter 12 of Sunzi's The Art of War)

updated on 04.15.2014 5:55 am

One of the most popular sites for understanding the political-economic side of our global economy is Stratfor. It publishes many interesting articles on different global events.

Click here for their view on the utilization of fire from a terrorist perspective .

Incendiary measures only work in the right terrain. Assessing the situation properly is the first step by viewing the configuration in terms of the possible danger, the given constraints, the complexity, the distance and the projected outcome. 

In an extreme setting, the fanatic amateurs usually implemented it with no regards of the after-effects.  Their perception of reality justifies their decision in spite of their own misconception.

The successful strategists who have also utilized this option, always understood the configuration of their Big Tangible Picture before ever concluding this category of decision.  They also know the circumstances for employing this option and have the experience to control it by "assessing, positioning and influencing" their situation.

The focused comprehension of the Big Tangible Picture have always enables the successful strategist to be mindfully one step ahead of the competition.

Our Perspective on the Chapter 12 (Incendiary Attack) 
While being obsessed with the specific tactical side of a strategic situation, most people rarely understand the specifics of their Big larger picture.  They do not know try to connect their situation to their larger picture and beyind 

So, how does this chapter fits into the grand schema of things?

Chapter 12 emphasizes on understanding the five main targets and the five specific tactical situations that one could encounter.  . . .  It also focuses on the decision management process of the chief decision maker.

In summary, this chapter is about the art of strategic targeting. 

Comprehending the strategic readiness and the state of maneuverability of the opposing competitor, their leadership qualities and the strategic state of the terrain is the path to triumphing with minimum resistance. 

In military history, fire has always been combined with the element of "surprise" as a grand tactic.. Fire does not win conflicts.  The implementers occasionally get hurt while the chief decision makers become victorious. 

The proper implementation of this volatile element in the offensive sequence of steps is how the successful strategists always win.

Our unofficial survey tells us this chapter is quite popular for those who liked to win their situation with one macro move.

Our Art of War's Perspective  (Chapter 1-6) 
Click here on our view on Chapter 1 
Click here on our view on Chapter 2
Click here on our view on Chapter 3
Click here on our view on Chapter 4
Click here on our view on Chapter 5
Click here on our view on Chapter 6


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Will to Prepare To Win is Greater than The Will to Win

"The Will to Prepare To Win is Greater 
than The Will to Win.  . . ."
- Bobby Knight 
(updated at 15:15 hr.)

There are many variations of the mentioned quote. The gist is based on the significance of proper preparation in any strategic situation.  

The initial concept of this quote is similar to the "preparation precedes performance."  But the latter does not touch on the psychology of being prepared and how to stay focused on the current objective.  

From our professional experience, the understanding of "the psychology of preparation" usually enables the budding strategist to accelerate their performance of preparation.

Comprehending the reasoning behind the preparation and how to adjust to the situation is the essence of why certain strategists succeeds. 

While knowing the approach to seeing the configuration of one's Big Tangible Picture is the key to a smooth preparation session, defining the specific factors behind the configuration is the real challenge.

Whether the current objective is to prepare oneself for writing software programs or brewing tea or playing Bagua zhang,, he/she is always aware of the next current situation, based on the configuration of their terrain (the priorities, the time of day, the resources, etc.). 

Reading the situation means understanding the importance of assessing, positioning and influencing before ever pursuing an objective.

The low attention people usually have the need for immediate gratification, are usually in trouble in complex situations that require multiple steps. Any encounter of complex obstacles usually frustrate them first and then deter them from continuing.   They are living in the moment.

To strategize well, focus on increasing one's attention span while decreasing the need of immediate gratification 

Psychology is Strategy
A quote could only motivate someone for a limited period of time. But the constancy and the consistency of positive preparation increases one's will to win .

Those who rely on their "emotional will", have occasionally prevail in situations that is driven by short time intervals. But they will burn out in a long time-driven situation.

Methodical By Style: Be Deliberate

(It is presumed that the planning strategist has properly collected the information.)

The first step of planning and preparation begins by methodically outlining each specific objective with a timeline and the approach. Connecting them in a sequential order by the prioritization of objectives while being mindful of the timeline, the allocation of the resources, the economics, the risks, etc. Building the script is the name of the game

The next step is the performance of each step efficiently until one could see the following step while doing the current step. Follow the script. Do it deliberately and slowly until one gets into the flow and ebb of the script.

Side note:  The assessment of one's own tangible situation (including the risk factor and the rewards factor) usually determine the amount of preparation 

This leads to one of our favorite Compass Strategic Principles.  . . .
"The amount of quality time and effort spent in assessing and positioning (through planning and preparation) is inversely proportional to the amount of time  that it takes to influence the circumstance of the objective while implementing through the plan.  .."

We will touch on that specific principle in a future post.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Succeeding in the Information Economy By Identifying the Profile (of the Intention)

Source: Bloomberg
updated at 0:16

Click here on how the U.S. intelligence agencies are attempting to "understand" the predominant paradigm of Putin's. 

The Objective
"Concentrate every effort on subduing its heart and mind." 
- Sun Bin C33  [Military Methods]

The Tactic 
"The expert in using the military has three basic strategies which he applies: 

  • the best strategy is to attack the enemy's reliance upon acuteness of mind; 
  • the second is to attack the enemy's claim that he is waging a just war; and 
  • the last is to attack the enemy's battle position (shi). 
  - Sun Bin , Chapter 34 (Fragments),   [ Sun Bin's The Art of Warfare ] 

For What it is Worth 
Their target is an above average chess player (he knows how to get past the first 20 moves without any self destruction in his opening moves and his middle game.), a former military intelligence operator, and a former leader of the country's intelligence agency.  Do you think that he was strategically prepared for some sort of psychological manipulation from his competitor? 

What do you think is the immediate counter to that approach? ... Click here for a hint.  

By seeing the configuration of the given Big Tangible Picture, the successful strategists know the gist of the approach and the executable of the means.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Definition of Competitive Darwinism in the Information Economy

Never enter into a conflict without
 a durable clipboard, with  the right set of notes!  . . . 
(updated at 12:00 noon)

No one really gets killed in a competitive business setting unless it gets personal and extreme.  That is usually a rarity.   The weaker businesses are usually closed and/or bankrupted while some lives could be interrupted and/or be ruined. Dreams are usually smashed. Partnerships are broken and some relationships become irreparable.   Reality hurts.  But life goes on.

The underdog company might win once in a blue moon.  It is rare but the reasons are numerous.  But people rarely care. 

The after-effects become obvious after "Competitive Darwinism" is properly implemented. 

If you still don't understand what we are talking is about, spend some time, reading The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The Investor Business Daily, the business section of NYT, Business Week and some other news sources, find articles with similar content, compare the articles and try to read between the lines with some of the stories.  

Ask the following questions:

  • Did the losing chief decision makers really err on disinformation or on mis-information?
  • What are the odds that the losing chief decision makers committed the error of third kind?
  • What is the probability of the losing side (especially the underdog) returning to the marketplace as a formidable competitor?  (This is a subjective question that is based on the circumstance of the situation.)
A Recommendation 
We highly recommend Douglas Ramsey's Corporate Warriors (1987) for an unique view of competitiveness. 

At that level of business competition, there is no such thing as accidental loss.  Coincidence-based events could be re-assessed after the situation is over.  The tardy implementation of a viable contingency plan is irrelevant in some instances because of the limited time line and the availability of resources.

You cannot find this type of analysis in most translations of The Art of the War (except for Mark McNeilly's Sun Tzu book on business). Mr. Ramsey's did a superb job in analyzing each business case. 

A 1987 Book Review From The NY Times 
By ANDREW FEINBERG; Andrew Feinberg writes frequently about business.
Published: April 12, 1987

THE CORPORATE WARRIORS By Douglas K. Ramsey. 261 pp. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. $17.95.

WHILE this breezy and generally entertaining chronicle of six corporate battles of the 1970's and 80's is not subtitled ''In Search of Expedience,'' its amoral tinge can be disturbing. Perhaps this is inevitable when an author seeks, as Douglas K. Ramsey does, to apply the principles of warfare to modern business management. Still, it is jolting to realize that once a reader has mastered the finer points of ''Iacocca'' and become a gifted one-minute manager, the next item on the agenda is total war against the competition.

Mr. Ramsey, a business correspondent for NBC News, got the idea for this militaristic view of commerce while working in Japan for The Economist. Most Japanese managers he knew could quote from ''The Art of War'' by the ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu, and Mr. Ramsey sought to understand the value that executives found in those teachings. What, he wondered, was strategy like before strategic planning?

From military experts such as Karl von Clausewitz, Machiavelli and Sun Tzu, Mr. Ramsey culls nine key points for corporate generals: ''maneuver'' (flexibility), ''objective'' (a clear goal), ''offense,'' ''surprise,'' ''economy of force,'' ''mass'' (concentration of strength), ''unity of command,'' ''simplicity'' and ''security'' (secrecy).

Strangely, most of the business leaders analyzed in ''The Corporate Warriors'' have recently suffered blows to their reputations. Among Mr. Ramsey's heroes are Donald Burr, the founder - and destroyer - of People Express; Roger Smith, the chairman of General Motors; Ted Turner, the media mogul; and William McGowan, the head of MCI, the telecommunications company. Only Bob Guccione of Penthouse magazine and Roberto Goizueta of Coca-Cola are still riding high. Unfortunately, Mr. Ramsey ignores the failings of his business paragons.

Nonetheless, the military perspective that he employs provides some enlightenment. After decades of watching Pepsi narrow Coke's lead in the soft-drink market, Coca-Cola finally realized that perpetual defense does not work. (For decades the company had ignored Clausewitz' contention that ''the defensive is a relative state, and consequently impregnated more or less with offensive principles.'') Bob Guccione did not take on Playboy in the United States until he had gained sufficient strength abroad to be confident of victory. During his initial success in England, in fact, he tried to prevent copies of Penthouse from reaching America, correctly reasoning that any premature sallies would only help the enemy. Ted Turner, on the other hand, is portrayed as a skilled guerrilla fighter, winning battles that opponents only belatedly discover are worth fighting. One of his greatest weapons may be his buffoonery, for he has been consistently underestimated by his competitors. AS for Donald Burr, Mr. Ramsey surprisingly overlooks the real militaristic messages of Mr. Burr's ultimate failure. People Express abandoned some of the strategies that had made it successful, and it never got to know its enemies. By deciding to attack American Airlines and United Airlines in the vital and hugely profitable Chicago market, Mr. Burr invited retaliation he could not withstand.

The final disconcerting element of ''The Corporate Warriors'' is that four of its leading players - Messrs. Turner, Burr, McGowan and Guccione - are autocrats, men who, Mr. Ramsey suggests, would not dispute the conclusion of the French World War I field marshal Ferdinand Foch: ''Battles are lost or won by generals, not by the rank and file.'' If that's the message some managers take away from this provocative book, we might soon have even more economic problems than we do now.

The Quality of Information Determines the Quality of Planning  
The quality of information that one possessed at the beginning, allows the chief decision makers to determine where to concentrate their efforts and where to position their resources.  

Defining the configuration of the situations and identifying the category of the specific situation in the beginning of a grand situation do matter.  The quality of the specificity usually enhances the quality of the decision.  This presumes that chief decision makers know how to decide strategically.

Having that hybrid skill to assess strategically, to decide strategically and to plan and execute strategically is a different matter. ... Most people are lucky to have that one skill that enables them to survive another day. 

Comments From The Compass Desk
Influencing the chief decision makers away from their intention is the idealistic approach to subjugate the predominant paradigm of the competition. 

We have always emphasized that one should anticipate competitive darwinism from the other side, not to implement it. 

To prevail on the long run, the "smart" underdog must immediately focus on pursuing the strategic gain that would immediately lead to the advantageous gain by focusing "the singularity point" while controlling the counterpart from executing "the exception point."  ... We will outline the definitions of "Strategic Gain" and "Advantageous Gain"  in a future post  

# # #

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fantasizing in the Information Economy with The "Art of War "Cult (1)

The Cult of The Art of War are in love with the concept of preaching and teaching the principles from Sunzi The Art of War (AoW).  ... They reminded me of a Sunday school's bible class where the teachers constantly recite the individual quotes without ever discussing the specifics behind the quotes in terms of a particular situation. 

An inspirational message can only go so far. ... Heaven helps those who are following these idiots. 

Beside not knowing the approach to connecting the right practices to the principles, these pseudo experts do not know how to assess a situation in terms of risk, uncertainty and volatility. 

Q: So, why are they teaching this fluff to their flock? 
A: No one cares about their reasoning. They just wanted to inspire their flock.

Side Notes
We have personally felt that there are numerous bogus experts who have tainted the true message of the Art of War.

Some of these bogus experts believed that the Art of War essay (or The Prince essay) is the absolute answer to outwitting their competitors. They also spent an abundance of time, emphasizing on the message of  "rah-rah" leadership  and self-empowerment while presenting an amateurish view of planning. 

This perspective indirectly means that these people could barely assess the predictability and the complexity of a situation without ever knowing how to assess its disposition, its momentum of change and the reality from the abyss of illusions.

Some of the serious strategy professionals quietly viewed this perspective as a moral hazard.  . . . However, these "thoughtless carbos" have served the immediate wants of the mindless masses. 

Why do some of these pseudo experts claimed that they know the Art of War when they do not comprehend the process of assessing their strategic settings?  After awhile, we stopped wondering about the reasons of that behavior.  ... In the information economy, deception is the norm.  ... The masses love the message of a "simple but irrelevant"  solution in a complex world.   ...  The flock that followed these pseudo experts, deserve the obvious  

Happy April Fools Day!