Friday, February 17, 2017

'We're all familiar with the "fight or flight" response of animals in danger' - are we?

Came across a fascinating study which found that the heels-down posture in great apes and humans confer a fighting advantage. The commentary in an article on the study quotes Emily Carrington, a program director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Integrative Organismal Systems which funded the research. She said, 'We're all familiar with the "fight or flight" response of animals in danger.' Are we?

So many refer to the FoF concept to explain our natural responses to a threat. So many have a limited and flawed understanding of the FoF concept. In fact, the FoF concept is itself limited and flawed. Those that refer to the FoF concept to explain our natural responses to a threat are so often doing so based on a limited and flawed understanding of the FoF concept and are unaware that it is itself limited and flawed in that respect.


Has anyone bothered to actually read Walter Cannon's 1915 book on the subject before referring to the FoF concept to explain our natural responses to a threat?

I recently had cause to read a module that an organisation involved in providing cognitive behavioural therapy offers to those suffering some mental health issues. The condition of interest was anxiety and panic disorder and the first module described our natural responses to a threat with reference to FoF. They, like so many others, got it wrong. They, like so many others, assume and use the FoF concept in an attempt to provide credibility for their offerings, however, it is frustrating when they get it wrong.

The correct and complete understanding of the FoF concept and our inherited survival mechanism is the subject of my second book. That understanding will enable the reader to dissect much of what is mistakenly explained in response to our natural responses to a threat.
Emily Carrington, a program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Integrative Organismal Systems, which funded the research

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-02-heel-down-posture-great-apes-humans.html#jCp
Emily Carrington, a program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Integrative Organismal Systems, which funded the research

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-02-heel-down-posture-great-apes-humans.html#jCp
Emily Carrington, a program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Integrative Organismal Systems, which funded the research

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-02-heel-down-posture-great-apes-humans.html#jCp

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Is Ude Garami a Shoulder Lock or an Elbow Lock?







Image result for ude garami

I am currently working on the joint-locking chapter in my book on the science behind fighting techniques. I've come across this rather interesting situation with regards to ude garami (arm entanglement).

The image to the right is the ude garami as taught by the late Shihan Jan de Jong OAM 9th Dan and his descendants. It is considered by them to be a shoulder lock.

Before we proceed, let's have a precise definition of joint-locks/kansetsu waza. Joint-locks/kansetsu waza are techniques where forces are applied to an opponent's body to move a joint towards or beyond the limits of its range of motion.

Ude garami, as the above parties would suggest, is a joint-lock where forces are applied to move the shoulder joint towards or beyond the limits of its range of motion.

Image result for ude garamiUde garami is most often shown in judo as being applied when both parties are grappling on the ground (see right). Many (e.g., see Jigoro Kano, Kodokan Judo) explain that ude garami targets the elbow. This is why ude garami is allowed in judo competition because only kansetsu waza that target the elbow joint are permitted in judo.

Does ude garami target the shoulder or elbow joint? Does the 'ground' technique differ in the consequences of the applied forces, i.e., targets the elbow rather than shoulder joint?
What are the anatomical consequences of the applied forces in both of those techniques?

Even though some distinguish between ude garami and gyaku ude garami in judo, more often then not the two techniques are referred to as ude garami. Should they be considered different techniques and not the latter a variation of the former if the anatomical consequences are different in both?

There are many more anomalies once you actually begin to study joint-locking/kansetsu waza techniques. Anomalies that throw up confusion and debate in martial arts circles but cannot be answered due to the lack of information and informed discussion.







Sunday, January 22, 2017

Throws and Takedowns

I'm finally finalising my book on the science behind fighting techniques.

One chapter in that book is on throws and takedowns. Despite the common meaning of the terms provided by the Oxford Dictionary, it appears the martial arts has managed to confuse the meaning of the terms as applied to marital arts techniques.

I provide a biomechancially based classification for all techniques that are designed to cause a person to fall to the ground. It's based on the biomechanics of balance and stability. A person is stable if their centre of gravity (CoG) is located over their base of support (BoS) and balanced if they possess control of their CoG with respect to their BoS.

It was interesting reviewing the literature on the throws and takedowns of various martial arts. Books dedicated to throws and takedowns of various martial arts did not distinguish between the two, and in fact often only referred to throws.

Judo, according to Kano's classification of Judo techniques, does not teach takedowns.

A throw is a technique were forces are applied to cause both of the opponent's feet to leave the ground. The biomechancial target of the applied forces is the opponent's BoS.

A takedown is a techniques were forces are applied to cause an opponent's CoG to fall outside of their BoS and a balance recovery is prevented. Takedowns can be subclassified as 'one-legged' or 'two-legged' (for want of a better description) takedowns. The biomechancial target for one-legged takedowns is a person's foot in contact with a support surface. For instance, a foot sweep is a one-legged takedown.

The biomechanical target of a two-legged takedown is an opponent's CoG. Forces are applied to cause an opponent's CoG to fall outside of their BoS and a balance recovery is prevented. A hiki-otoshi (elbow drop) is an example of a two-legged takedown.

Irimi-nage and Mukae-daoshi are good examples of the confusion held within the martial arts over this issue. Irimi-nage is 'entering throw' taught by aikido.



Image result for irimi nage

Mukae-daoshi is 'meeting takedown' taught by Yoseikan Budo/Aikido and Jan de Jong.


Using Kano's division of judo techniques (kuzushi, tsukuri, kake), the same kuzushi and tsukuri result in different kake depending on the direction of the applied forces in the kake phase. The same unbalancing and positioning results in a throw or takedown depending on the direction of the applied forces in the execution phase of the technique.

The irimi-nage/entering throw is in fact a takedown while the mukae-daoshi/meeting takdown is in fact a throw. What that also means is that the latter is entirely dependent on the momentum generated during the kuzushi phase of the technique.

It also means that the applied forces for a throw are upward whilst the applied forces for a takedown are downward. A biomechanical understanding of these techniques enables a student to know what to look for in learning and training these techniques as does the instructor. It makes better students of students and better instructors of instructors.





Saturday, December 10, 2016

Courage or Fearless


Image result for courage war 
Which would you rather be when engaged in a violent encounter? Courageous or fearless?


Many confuse the two. Many use the terms interchangeably. Some even use the terms together to describe a medal of whatever winner as courageous and fearless. Often the use of the terms are to express our admiration for the actor with no regard to the inner state of the actor.

Courage is generally defined in terms of acting in spite of fear. Acting in spite of fear cannot by definition be described as fearless.

What do you train for in a violent encounter: courage or fearlessness? In order to answer that question we need to take one step back.

When writing about fear and war, Ardant du Picq in On War wrote: 'Nothing is changed in the heart of man.' The heart of man (and woman) to which du Picq refers is fear. Fear was selected for in nature because it conferred a survival advantage on an individual. Now we need to take another step back.

Colonel John M. House wrote in Why War? Why an Army? that soldiers must overcome their fear of death and injury in order to act and survive on the battlefield. Fear was selected for in nature because it conferred a survival advantage on an individual. Why then do soldiers need to overcome their fear of death and injury in order to survive on the battlefield? The answer to that question lies within House's ordering of military priorities: act first, survive second.



This priority is seen in the pledge associated with the U.S. Army’s Medal of Honor – ‘I will always place the mission first’ – which is also a part of the U.S. Army’s Soldiers Creed or Warrior Ethos. Nature’s priority is survival first, which is facilitated by fear, the instinct for self-preservation. The instinct for self-preservation and its priority for survival is often at odds with the military priority of mission first. For instance, French explains that ‘The core motivational challenge for warriors to overcome is that they must counter the (perfectly natural) fear of death (or desire to remain alive, to give it a more positive frame) when necessary in order to successfully complete their martial mission.'

General Sir Peter de la Billiere, in the preface to Lord Moran's classic The Anatomy of Courage, explains that 'Courage conquers fear' and that without courage in battle all is lost. The underlying assumptions here is that (a) fear is present, and (b) fear interferes with the priority of mission first. Courage, acting in spite of fear, is needed in order to resist the instinct for self-preservation in order to promote the military priority of mission first.

What about fearlessness? The lack of fear, which means there is no need for courage. The samurai trained for mushin no shin, mind of no mind, which means no emotion. No fear, nor anger. By the by, anger is an empowering emotion which has been used since time immemorial to motivate people to overcome fear in order to fight. Why don't our modern-day military and law enforcement train for mushin no shin? De la Billiere, House, and many others have said that a person who does not fear death and injury in battle are stupid. Were the samurai stupid?

De la Billiere said that anyone going into battle must understand courage. I disagree. They must understand fear. In fact, they must understand emotion full stop. In the AFL they say that 90% of the game is played above the shoulders. What they are referring to is that emotion determines the outcome of the game. Miller in The Mystery of Courage refers to military training as an exercise in fear management. Keegan in The Face of Battle suggested that the study of battle is always a study of fear and usually of courage. Study fear; study emotion; if you are training to engage in a violent encounter.

My current work on my current work is such a study.



Monday, August 8, 2016

Real Fear vs Intellectual Fear

I'm currently working on a chapter in my book which applies the theory I've developed by integrating the theories of fight-or-flight, stress, and emotion to understand such things as fear and courage.

Many refer to the fear of failure, dishonour, shame, letting your mates down as being a bigger fear than the fear of death and injury and which motivates a person to fight rather than flee in military combat. Based on my research, I wondered if the first mentioned fear is a 'real' fear, one that involves an appraisal, subjective feeling, automatic physiological reaction, and impulse to act? Searching for an answer to that question led me to the work of Jon Elster.

Elster distinguishes between visceral (emotional) and prudential (rational) fear. Visceral fear is an emotional experience whereas rational fear is an intellectual exercise.

How does the rational fear of failure, dishonour, shame, letting your mates down overcome the fear of death and injury and turn flight into fight? The answer to that lies within the decoupling of stimulus and response in emotion. The decoupling of stimulus and response means that emotion is more than simply stimulus-response, e.g. danger-run away. It provides an opportunity for other actions to be considered and/or enacted other than the emotionally motivated action, e.g. fight instead of fear although fearful.

So how does the rational fear of failure, etc, promote fight rather than flight when fearful? That rational fear motivates willpower or the exercise of intellect to fight rather than flee even though fearful. That rational fear is part of the 'courage process.'

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Courage and the Samurai

Were the samurai courageous?

Courage is most often defined as acting in spite of fear. Therefore, in order for an 'actor' to be courageous they must first be fearful.

I've written previously how the term 'courage' and fearless' are most often used by a third party to express their awe of another person's actions with no regard as to their inner state, that is to say if they acted even though scared. However, by definition those who are not scared are not courageous.

Courage, as Lord Moran wrote in his classic The Anatomy of Courage, is will-power. This means the intellect being used to check emotion, in this case fear. Do the samurai use will-power/intellect to check fear and therefore act on the battlefield?

The samurai train for mushin no shin, mind of no mind. It is a state in which the samurai do not experience emotion or thought and act anyway. Therefore, by definition, the samurai at least aspired to be non-courageous.

This brings into question fearlessness, which I have also written about. General Sir Peter de la Billiere in Moran's book, Colonel John M. House in his Why War? Why an Army?, and Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith, winner of the VC, all state words to the effect that anyone who says they were not scared in combat is either a fool or lying.

Are the samurai fools or are they lying if mushin no shin training is successful? Is mushin no shin/fearlessness something the modern military should be aspiring to and therefore should be studied in order to teach to their trainees?