A Feint Within A Feint Within A Feint

Knowing where the trap is — that’s the first step in evad­ing it. This is like sin­gle com­bat, Son, only on a larg­er scale — a feint with­in a feint with­in a feint…seemingly with­out end. The task is to unrav­el it.

—Duke Leto Atreides, Dune

A feint can be used as a test, to gath­er infor­ma­tion, or a trap, to get some­one to do what you want them to do, or both.

The most impor­tant part to under­stand is that the oppo­nent is inher­ent­ly involved in the sit­u­a­tion. You can only gain advan­tage from a feint depend­ing on the way he or she (re)acts.

A savvy per­son will react with exact­ly the right amount of effort, espe­cial­ly impor­tant because a feint is only a mock attack. In Tai Chi terms, they bal­ance an oppo­nen­t’s yin (expan­sion) with yang (com­pres­sion), and vice-ver­sa1. In Taoist terms, they act like a mir­ror, reflect­ing only that which is in front of them, noth­ing more and noth­ing less. With a savvy per­son, the feint fails, and noth­ing is gained.

An igno­rant per­son will fall for the trick. They over­re­act and unbal­ance them­selves2, expos­ing their vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties. Without under­stand­ing true inten­tion, with­out see­ing the big pic­ture, they get played like a suck­er.

And the more they react, the more ridicu­lous they look.

  1. Hence the empha­sis placed on stick­ing and yield­ing; a phys­i­cal con­nec­tion is need­ed to know where the cen­ter of an oppo­nent is at all times []
  2. In Tai Chi terms, this is con­sid­ered overex­tend­ing or col­laps­ing the struc­ture of the body or limbs []


  1. Hi! vis­it your com­ments from May 24, 2005. Thanks

  2. If only I were smart enough, I could’ve incor­po­rat­ed these into my lat­est (bad sto­ry).

    It’ll be post­ed tomor­row. I play Zelda: Wind Waker tonight instead!

  3. Is that first com­ment some kind of weird spam or some­thing? You have no post on May 24, 2005…

  4. @Kali — Hi! I replied on my com­ments from May 24, 2005. Thanks.

    @Maeko — Wow, I haven’t played Wind Waker in a long time. I should pull that one out again. I’m sure I’d appre­ci­ate it even more now. Unfortunately, I think it would make me want to buy a Wii + Twilight Princess even more.

    @trolley — He/she was refer­ring to my post on the 29th of May that year about the May 24 camp­ing trip. I’ve been get­ting some real­ly weird com­ment spam late­ly though. Spam that does­n’t link to any­thing, or does­n’t say any­thing, or uses rel=“nofollow” tags in the links. And check this com­ment out. What the hell?

  5. I think it’s an attempt to train spam fil­ters to allow cer­tain com­ments, then once the fil­ter’s guard is down the spam­ming will begin again. That’s just my the­o­ry though.

  6. I read some­where that seem­ing­ly innocu­ous com­ments are made so that the blog own­ers will leave them up, and spam robots can search for these com­ments to see which ones haven’t been fil­tered. That way, they’ll get an idea of which ones are still around, open­ing the door for more spam.

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