Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Right Speech: Active Listening as Verbal Sticky Hands and Its Application to On-Line Communication

In Wing Chun (詠春) a major part of training is chi sau (黐手),  which as Wikipedia notes:

Chi Sao (Chinese 黐手, Cantonese chi1 sau², Mandarin chǐshǒu) or "sticking hands". Term for the principle, and drills used for the development of automatic reflexes upon contact and the idea of "sticking" to the opponent. Although, in reality the intention is not to stick at all costs, but rather to protect your centerline while attacking your opponent's centerline.[19] In Wing Chun this is practiced through two practitioners maintaining contact with each other's forearms while executing techniques, thereby training each other to sense changes in body mechanics, pressure, momentum and "feel". This increased sensitivity gained from this drill helps a practitioner attack and counter an opponent's movements precisely, quickly and with the appropriate technique.
Chi Sao additionally refers to methods of rolling hands drills (Luk Sao). Luk Sao participants push and "roll" their forearms against each other in a single circle while trying to remain relaxed. The aim is to feel forces, test resistances and find defensive gaps. Other branches do a version of this where each of the arms roll in small separate circles. Luk Sao is most notably taught within the Pan Nam branches where both the larger rolling drills and the method where each of the arms roll in small separate circles are taught.
In some lineages (such as the Yip Man and Jiu Wan branches), Chi Sao drills begin with one-armed sets called Dan Chi Sao which help the novice student to get the feel of the exercise, each practitioner uses one hand from the same side as they face each other. Chi Sao is a sensitivity drill to obtain specific responses, it should not be confused with sparring/fighting, though it can be practiced or expressed in a combat form.

The practice of 黐手 is fundamental to developing the relaxed and calm yet mindful mind needed to act effectively when some guy might try to beat the snot out of you.  It is a form of mindfulness with, uh, really practical application. (Yes, I'm told many of my sifu's senior students do meditate.  As do I.)

This mindset, once experienced, can be applied in other areas. In effect,  黐手 is a kind of "active listening" but using the senses of touch and proprioception instead of hearing.  And to tell you the truth 黐手   has  been very helpful for me to improve my active listening skills and to try to get to agreement, which, as I noted elsewhere, is useful in business settings.  It's also useful in other settings too, I've found, for example, in communicating on the internet.  I've used this with a wide variety of fora. It doesn't work against everyone of course; there are people who will not have an open mind.  But if there is "right speech"  - and I think there is - it contains the skill of trying to be empathetic towards the views of others, even if their views are expressed in satire or ideology.

It's the lack of the ability to do this by Kenneth Folk that convinced me that whatever he's been doing, it's not really so deep - he hasn't figured this out. Instead of specifically responding to specific charges made against his practice, he did indeed deflect away from those charges.

Go read the link on active listening from Wikipedia and other sources on the 'net.  Try it with a person you find "difficult" to whom to communicate.  Unless they're entirely shut down, you'll be surprised at the results.

1 comment:

Al said...

I don't know how I managed to do it (so embarrassing as an engineer) but I deleted our e-mail conversation and, therefore, your email address. Please send me an email when you have a chance (and delete this).