Saturday, December 29, 2012

School Violence By Firearms

The Sandy Hook tragedy is a tragedy. There is now a debate about a gun control debate. What can be done to prevent and control injuries from school violence by firearms? First, how can we study the problem? Second, how can we brainstorm possible interventions to prevent and control injuries from school violence by firearms?

Injury science (my chapter nine) provides the answers through the use of Haddon's Matrix. This goes far beyond the simplistic single cause, single solutions that are being offered to a simple public. Far, far beyond. It goes beyond mere prevention. It also focuses on what can be done to minimise injury and the impact of injury when prevention measures fail and injury occurs. Not just physical injury, but also psychological injury.

The Haddon Matrix is a three by three, or three by four, matrix. It provides nine or twelve intervention possibilities to prevent and control injury. The National Rifle Association's suggestion to insert armed police officers in every school in American is a simple intervention aimed at only one cell in Haddon's Matrix. Barrack Obama's possible attempts at gun control is a simple intervention aimed at only one cell in Haddon's Matrix. Haddon's Matrix suggests that there is far more that we can do to prevent and control injuries from school violence by firearms.

Has injury science and Haddon's Matrix been turned to school violence by firearms. Yes it has! See here for the application of Haddon's Matrix to the issue of injuries (fatal and non-fatal) arising from school violence by firearms. All those responsible for possible or potential solutions to this problem NEED to approach this problem from an injury science perspective. This perspective exemplified in the Haddon Matrix which goes beyond mere prevention, and looks at ALL the factors that contribute to an injury over the ENTIRE time frame of an injury.

Friday, December 28, 2012


There was a very odd moment last week. I finished the first draft of a chapter in my book and I sat back and thought, 'I'm done.' I've finished the first draft of my book (with the small exception of getting some physiological information on joint techniques that target the wrist). Done. No more finding and developing theory, it's now editing. It was a very odd feeling.

The book had over 170,000 words which equates to over 300 pages. The editing process over the past week has reduced that to just under 100,000 words and 265 pages with no loss of information. I expect that number to reduce even further.

The book has 17 chapters:

Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 Core of All Learning
Chapter 3 Kaizen: Analyse Tactics and Techniques
Chapter 4 Force
Chapter 5 Balance and Unbalance
Chapter 6 Stances and Motion
Chapter 7 Throwing and Takedown Techniques
Chapter 8 Joint-Locking Techniques
Chapter 9 Injury Science
Chapter 10 Striking and Kicking Techniques
Chapter 11 Blocking Techniques
Chapter 12 Nature's Breakfalling Techniques
Chapter 13 Martial Arts Breakfalling Techniques
Chapter 14 Strangulation Techniques
Chapter 15 Pain
Chapter 16 Survival Process Pt 1
Chapter 17 Survival Process Pt II

I have a friend who is the headmaster at a school helping me edit the book. He has no background nor interest in the subject matter. If he understands what I am writing about and his interest is retained, I must have done a good job. So far that has been achieved and he has informed me that he is excited by the content. That it is like no other book written for the martial arts and other activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter. He is right.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Chinese Proverb

Facilitating the Understanding and Study of Fighting Methods is about teaching the reader how to ‘fish’ so they can feed themselves for a lifetime. It is also about teaching the reader how to teach others to fish so that they can feed themselves for a lifetime.
I'm still working on the title of the book.

Facilitating the Understanding and Study of Fighting Methods is written for both teacher and student alike. It is written to assist teachers in understanding and teaching their methods. It is also written to assist students in understanding and learning the methods taught by their teachers. A fallacious assumption in our education system is that students inherently know how to learn. They may do to varying degrees but not necessarily efficiently or effectively. Greater efficiencies and efficacies are achieved when the student is first taught how to learn. Facilitating the Understanding and Study of Fighting Methods empowers students by enabling them to take responsibility for their own learning experience. It encourages students to become their own teachers or at least to manage their learning experience. In this way, Facilitating the Understanding and Study of Fighting Methods also challenges teachers to be better teachers.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Our Hands Evolved For Punching & Isshinryu Karate Fists

A study was published this week in The Journal of Experimental Biology which argues that human hands evolved for punching and not just dexterity. The complete paper can be read here. The researchers were associated with the University of Utah and a copy of the University's reporting of the paper can be read here.

I'm only going to touch on one small aspect of the paper.

Humans buttress – strengthen and stabilize – fists in two ways that apes cannot: The pads of the four fingertips touch the pads at the top of the palm closest to the fingers. And the thumb wraps in front of the index and middle fingers, and to some extent the ring finger, and those fingers are locked in place by the palm at the base of the thumb.

The second and third experiments found that buttressing provided by the human fist increased the stiffness of the knuckle joint fourfold (or reduced flexing fourfold), and also doubled the ability of the fingers to transmit punching force, mainly due to the force transferred from the fingers to the thumb when the fist is clenched.
The authors of the report are describing the common garden variety fist configuration and the biomechanical benefits of this configuration (see figure at top). However, Isshinryu karate teach to place the thumb not wrapping in front of the fingers but to the side of the fingers (see image right).

Based on the abovementioned study, it could be argued the Isshinryu karate fist configuration is biomechanically less efficient than nature's configuration which most other martial arts have adopted. Is there any explanation why Isshinryu karate may have adopted this unique fist configuration?

A possible explanation lies within an obscure but interesting paper published in American Anthropologist. The researchers investigated the relationship between commonly occurring types of violence and those that are popular in sport. They found that common injuries to the hand in modern society where boxing is popular is to the little finger and ring finger bones in the hand, which is commonly known as a boxer's fracture.

The researchers gained access to the 857 bodies when a cemetery was being excavated in England. The bodies were buried between 1750 and 1850. They found significantly more fractures of the thumb than boxer's fractures. This puzzled them because boxing was popular during that time.

They suggest a possible explanation might be found in the style of fighting employed by boxers during the period when the burials were made. Boxing was bareknuckles and boxers used vertical fists rather than the horizontal fist of the modern day boxer. A boxer's fracture often occurs then the little finger side of the fist impacts rather than the intended pointer finger side of the fist. A similar argument applies the to ancient boxers using vertical fists. If the boxer misses with the intended part of the fist the thumb impacts resulting in an injury.

Isshinryu karate may be sacrificing biomechanical efficiency in order to reduce the risk of injury when using a vertical fist to punch. Now there is support if any Isshinryu karate exponent argues the safety aspect of their unique fist configuration.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What Does A Green Belt Mean?

I've written two posts on the question - What does a black belt mean? - in my Kojutsukan blog: #1 and #2. I've also recently posted a similar post on my The School of Jan de Jong blog.

I've been discussing this issue with a very knowledgeable, albeit relatively lowly graded, martial artist. He was awarded a green belt in Jan de Jong jujutsu. He brilliantly posed the question, 'What does a green belt mean?'

Do we get defensive or judgemental when we ask or answer the question, 'What does a green belt mean?' Do we talk about 'journeys' and how it doesn't mean much to us? Do we get all esoteric or philosophical over a green belt? Not so much.

We start to talk about progression. We start to talk about a level of achievement. Now we are starting to talk about things that matter.

I suspect there are very few people who would get all philosophical or esoterically wax on if they were asked what does a Bachelor degree means. They would not get defensive in actively pursing this milestone as a goal. They would not be condemned because they wanted to get a Bachelor of whatever.

Asking what a green belt means encourages us to suggest the martial artist needs to 'get over themselves' when answering the question, 'What does a black belt mean?' It encourages us to suggest that the martial arts in general needs to get over itself.

Asking these two questions encourages us to specifically understand and articulate what each grading/belt means. It encourages us to examine the content of the gradings in order to see if they are actually achieving what they are designed to achieve. Is there progression? If so, how?

Interestingly, what does a green belt mean comes to become a far more important question than what does a black belt mean.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

What Does A Black Belt Mean?

The final two questions in my redesigned theory grading are:(a) what does a black belt mean to you?, and (b) what does a black belt mean for Kojutsukan (me)? I put these questions to two shodan candidates. Their responses demonstrated that this question - what does a black belt mean? - is a very important and revealing question.

One of my more popular posts concerns this issue with reference to Jan de Jong's shodan gradings. In that post I refer to a number of authorities who describe the black belt as the beginning of the study of that martial art. That a minimum proficiency is gained prior to shodan and then the study really begins.

I recall a senior instructor of De Jong's (who now has his own school) telling me how his 'eyes were opened' when he trained shodan. Why were this instructors 'eyes opened' by the shodan gradings? Because he was learning the 'patterns that connect.'

When I discuss this issue with the abovementioned shodan candidates, I will explain that up until the shodan gradings they were 'trained monkeys.' They know some 'tricks,' otherwise known as defences. Shodan teaches them the patterns that connect so that they can see a system rather than a collection of techniques.

The difference in thinking is between analytical thinking and synthetical thinking. Analytical thinking involves identifying differences and learning single defences. Synthetical thinking involves identifying similarities and learning a fighting system. Remember, the core of all learning is the identification of similarities and differences. The kyu grades are about differences, analytical thinking. The dan grades are (or should be) about similarities, synthetical thinking.

It has been said that with analysis you gain knowledge but with synthesis you gain understanding. The dan grades should be about gaining understanding.

The mon grades that De Jong developed and installed at the front of the kyu grading system introduced the student to a synthetical view of his jujutsu. They offered the potential of gaining understanding through their study. These lessons were lost on novice students. In fact, the lessons were lost on many of the shodans and instructors as well. Possibly they were lost on the novice student because their instructors had not gained the understanding offered by the mon grades.

The consideration of the question, what does a black belt mean?, raised a number of issues. The abovementioned former De Jong senior instructor with his own school has dropped the mon grades from his grading system. He explains that decision as going back to the original Tsutsumi Hozan ryu jujutsu. The issue of original or Tsutsumi Hozan ryu is another issue, but, was dropping the mon grades a good thing or a bad thing?

You could argue to train in the traditional manner. Teach the monkeys tricks in the kyu grades, then teach them to see the essence of the system in the dan grades. Whether or not the dan grades of most martial arts teaches the person to see the essence of their system is another matter.

Should you be teaching analytical and synthetical thinking from day one? Another interesting question. My approach is to teach a person to 'think' and then teach consistently using this way of thinking. This produces efficiencies and efficacy. Rather than giving the student a fish, this approach teaches them how to fish.

My theory grading goes beyond anything ever produced in the martial arts. It could be used to understand and study any martial art, and would produce greater insights into those martial arts. If shodan is the beginning of a student's study of their martial art, should this theory grading be distributed over a number of dan grades?

It was often suggested that most martial arts consider shodan to be the commencement of a student's study but the De Jong shodan signified mastery. That was because the shodan grading was one of the most comprehensive in the martial arts world and focused on a systems view of his jujutsu (although the latter was not explicitly appreciated until now). If this view is adopted, then my theory grading should be retained in the shodan grading as it provides a way of thinking and viewing not only the martial art being studied, but all martial arts.

It could of course be argued that this level of understanding is not required at shodan, but can be gained when studying higher dan grades.

'What does a black belt?' is a question that raises a good many questions. There are no right or wrong answers to this question, only the opportunity of gaining a deeper understanding of a martial art being studied.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Shime Waza, Neck Restraints and Neck Holds

I'm writing a chapter on shime waza (strangulation techniques). Law enforcement use these techniques to varying degrees but do not refer to them as strangulation techniques for obvious reasons. They refer to them as neck restraints or neck holds. I will refer to these techniques as neck restraints (NR).

There are two basic types of NR: those that apply pressure to the front of the neck and those that apply pressure to both sides of the neck. The former targets the airway and the latter target the vascular structures of the neck. The former are referred to as respiratory neck restraints and the latter as vascular neck restraints. I will refer to them as respiratory neck techniques (RNT) and vascular neck techniques (VNT) respectively.

What is the mechanism of injury with NR? I'm referring to a Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission report into the use of a VNT by Queensland police officers which resulted in a suspect experiencing serious brain injury, i.e. a vegetative state. The independent medical opinion (Dr Hoskins) annexed to the report considers the mechanisms of injury associated with a NR.

There are four basic mechanism of injury associated with a NR:

1. Occlusion of the airway.
2. Occlusion of the carotid arteries.
3. Occlusion of the jugular veins.
4. Stimulation of the carotid sinuses.

There is no suggestion that the VNT turned into a RNT in the struggle with the mentally disturbed suspect when attempting to restrain him. So the pressure was applied to the sides of the neck and not the front of the neck. It is disturbing that the occlusion of the airway was ruled out as being responsible for the injury for reasons other than an understanding that a VNT does not apply pressure to the front of the neck.

It is a common explanation that a VNT is designed to occlude the carotid arteries and thereby stop the supply of oxygenated blood to the brain causing unconsciousness. The vertebral arteries which transfer blood to the brain along the cervical spine vertebrae continue to feed the brain with enough oxygen to stave off brain damage but not enough to maintain consciousness.

The occlusion of the jugular veins is often overlooked as a mechanism of injury. Dr John Pi (who is also an FBI Special Agent) organised and led a panel of medical personnel to research the carotid restraint (VNT) and, among other things, create a better understanding of the medical explanation for its effectiveness. The results of the study were also published in Advanced Concepts in Defensive Tactics: A Survival Guide for Law Enforcement. The panel considered the effectiveness of the technique was due to occlusion of the jugular veins and stimulation of the carotid sinus rather than occlusion of the carotid arteries. The reasoning includes the relative amounts of pressure that needs to be applied to occlude the veins and arteries. Two to three times more pressure is required to be applied to occlude the carotid arteries than the jugular veins.

Occluding the jugular veins has the effect of stopping the deoxygenated blood from returning to the heart. Dr Hoskins explains that it is an over-pressure phenomenon where blood is being pumped to the head while its exit is blocked by pressure on the veins. He suggests that it is thought, but lacks experimental corroboration for obvious reasons, that it takes 20 to 30 seconds for this phenomenon to develop. The obvious evidence of occlusion of the jugular veins is a blood engorged face.

Is it an either/or proposition? Is either the occlusion of the carotid arteries or the jugular veins the cause of injury? Dr Hoskins refers to blood bleeding from the nose and ears, and pinpoint bleeds over the eyelids and the whites of the eyes when the jugular veins are occluded. But what if the carotid arteries are occluded at the same time? The only blood trapped in the head is the blood that was in the head at the time the carotid arteries were occluded.

Research has demonstrated that unconsciousness from a VNT results from a lack of oxygen to the brain. Dr Pi's panel suggest that occluding the jugular veins has the effect of stopping the forward flow of blood into the brain. Studies have shown that VNTs result in unconsciousness in approximately 10 seconds. Does occluding the jugular veins result in unconsciousness slower or faster than occluding the carotid arteries? Were the aforementioned studies also occluding the jugular veins?

These questions have not be considered let alone studied.

Now lets turn to the carotid sinus mechanism. Dr Pi's panel suggest stimulation of the carotid sinus is also responsible for unconsciousness when applying a VNT. Dr Hoskins eventual determination as to cause of injury was the stimulation of the carotid sinus (after a process of elimination). Stimulating the carotid sinus causes a reduction in heart rate. This has been referred to as an 'interesting theory' by noted forensic pathologists when it's referred to in connection with deaths from strangulation (including NR).

I've tried it. Yes! I've tried to stimulate my carotid sinus in order to render myself unconscious. I've used manual and mechanical means to stimulate my carotid sinus. I've had my GP who is trained in carotid sinus massage, massage my carotid sinus in order to reduce my heart rate (and hopefully render me unconscious). Nothing!

Law enforcement love VNTs:

When included in the force options available to police officers, these techniques have been described as providing 'more protection to the officer than any other known method of control, and it concludes physical resistance without injury to the subject faster than any other restraint means known.' They are techniques that are capable of being 'used effectively regardless of the size of either the person to be controlled or the size of the police officer,' and being the only safe way to subdue very violent offenders or those who are not responsive to pain compliance techniques, such as those under the influence of drugs, emotionally disturbed or mentally ill persons, and those experiencing an adrenalin rush.
(taken from the draft of my chapter)

The Canadian Police Research Centre (CPRC) has produced a number of reports on the use of NRs by law enforcement. They love them. However, deaths have been associated with the use of NR. This association is a matter worthy of its own post, however, the CPRC and many other authorities tend to lay the blame for any fatalities on RNT while favouring VNT. They favour VNT because they are so effective.

There is a serious flaw in the logic. VNT are capable of stimulating the carotid sinus. You do not need to stimulate both carotid sinus like you do with occlusion of the carotid arteries. It takes less pressure to stimulate the carotid sinus than it does to occlude the carotid arteries or jugular veins. And once the carotid sinus has been stimulated it cannot be unstimulated. If stimulating the carotid artery results in a slowing of the heart rate, sometimes too much and death, then VNT are inherently more dangerous than RNT. I am staggered that this logic has not been considered by any who have considered the use of NR by law enforcement.

The stimulation of the carotid sinus mechanism exists. A senior student of Jan de Jong shared an experience with me where he was nearly rendered unconscious when Maggie de Jong performed a technique on him during a demonstration. It was a defence with a jo (4ft staff) that applied force with the forearm and jo to the neck to cause the attacker to fall to the ground. The technique was held on for the barest of seconds and therefore his experience could not be attributed to occlusion of the arteries and/or veins. As it turns out, he has a slight heart condition, which some authorities suggest puts him at in a high risk category of injury with VNT. I have since advised this student that he is not to have any VNT or similar neck techniques applied to him because of his underlying heart condition.

What is the conclusion from this study of NR. They are very effective, but the exact mechanism for their effectiveness and their inherent risk to life is not known.

There is a duty of care issue here (a part of another chapter in my book). If you don't know the mechanism of injury, how can you prevent or control injury if teaching these techniques? Ignorance is no defence.

When I've discussed my work with other martial artists, many have expressed scepticism and suggested that people are only interested in the 'how' and not the 'why.' The same instructors are then often seen supporting their how instruction with a why explanation. Any instructor who explains the how of NR are doing so on flawed information.

If any instructor attempts to explain the why behind the how, they had better do the leg work to understand the why. Based on experience, the why is not easy to come by within the literature associated with activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle

When attempting to explain ubiquity theory, Mark Buchanan refers to an example of building a pile of sand one grain at a time until there is an avalanche. It was the final single grain of sand that was placed in a particular position that caused the avalanche.

I have been thinking about this when following the furore that has erupted over the suicide of a nurse working in the UK after a prank call from two Australian radio personalities.

More reasoned heads have explained that suicide is a complex issue involving many factors. The phone call may have been the one little grain of sand placed in the right place at the right time on a pile of sand in a critical state that was the nurse.

This then reminds me of a quote that may or may not have come from Philo of Alexandria: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

The nurse may have been fighting a great battle which put her pile of sand in a critical state. Many people are.

The prank call was made as a joke. It's a sad indictment on society when we gain so much pleasure at the expense of others. One person's joke may be another person's grain of sand that causes an avalanche. One person's unthinking comment can be another person's grain of sand that causes an avalanche.

The radio announcers did not know the nurse was a pile of sand in a critical state. How much more aware of what we say should we be if we know a person is in a critical state? The answer is obvious. Or is it?

Bono of U2 wrote 'Stuck in a Moment' as a conversation he would have liked to have had with his friend, Michael Hutchence, lead singer of INXS who took his own life:

It's a row between mates. You're kinda trying to wake them up out of an idea. In my case it's a row I didn't have while he was alive. I feel the biggest respect I could pay to him was not to write some stupid soppy f--king song, so I wrote a really tough, nasty little number, slapping him around the head.
Bono is trying to place a grain of sand that reduces the critical state of his friend's pile of sand. However, people don't feel depressed or anxious because they want to. They would change the way they feel if they could. This tough love, or even positive thinking-type approaches can be tough to take. It can reinforce a sense of failure - which becomes another grain of sand placed on a pile of sand in a critical state.

As people generally, but particularly as instructors who come into contact with survivors of violent encounters, we have to be very aware of where we are placing our grain of sand on the person's pile of sand which is in a critical state. The intention of the placer of the grain of sand is of little comfort to the destroyed pile of sand when an avalanche occurs.

We should think like sand-people and be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

Friday, December 7, 2012

'It really broke me': Jill leaves a fighting legacy.'

I have not posted for some time because I'm now in the process of redrafting. Fair enough, this week I've decided to include a chapter on shime waza (strangulation techniques) within the proposed book. This chapter provides the 'why' behind the 'how' which many think they understand but very few do. In the mean time, I came across this newspaper article concerning women self defence:

The video accompanying the article includes certain statements by a women's self defence (WSD) instructor. She explains that teach their students about the 'physiological factors that affect their bodies when they are under that stress and which helps then understand it and use it to their advantage.'


The founder of stress theory, Hans Selye, got it right when he famously said that everybody knows what stress is, but nobody really knows what it is. If you think you know what stress is, you don't.

Stress inoculation training and stress exposure training are training methodologies used by law enforcement and the military to prepare their personnel for operational service. Surely the very foundation of these courses has to be based on an understanding of what stress is. Surely the very foundation of these courses is undermined when stress is an ambiguous concept.

I have been confronted by a knife-wielding attacker on two separate occasions. On both of these occasions I did not experience a 'stress reaction.' I did not experience the physiological factors associated with stress. What does the information presented in the abovementioned WSD courses have to offer me in terms of turning these physiological factors to my advantage? In fact, their absence could become a source of concern eliciting their own physiological and cognitive responses which I need to deal with in addition to the external threat posed to my well-being.

We need to move beyond the ambiguous concept of stress. We need to understand emotion. We need to understand the survival process. We need to stop 'dising' nature's survival mechanism. WSD courses are often predicated on the fact that women are defenceless. THEY ARE NOT! They would not have survived throughout evolutionary history if they were defenceless. However, by indoctrinating women into believing they are defenceless runs the risk of changing them into being defenceless. It runs the risk of negating nature's survival mechanism.

The WSD courses and all other survival activities' courses that I am considering starts out with an understanding of nature's defence mechanism. What has nature given us that promotes our survival when threatened? It then goes on to understand how the methods developed by survival activities are designed to be improvements on nature's survival process. This understanding is no mere academic exercise. Research has shown that this understanding can help manage and support the survival process.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Coping With The Reality Of Violence

I've been struggling with a part of my chapter concerning injury science. I've written about the history, theories and concepts of injury science, and I'm trying to apply the theories and concepts to activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter ('Survival Activities'). It has such potential to shine a very bright light on Survival Activities that I do not want to prejudice its potential by a poor application the first time it is introduced to Survival Activities.

This morning I read: A world of illusion: Coping with the reality of violence. It is an essay concerning violence and what we can do. The author asks, 'What can we do?' He suggests, 'The best we can do is take those measures that are prudent,' and 'The best you can do is take whatever measures are reasonable in your particular environment.' Injury science offers ways and means of operationalising this advice.

It takes a chapter to get to this point, but we'll start at this point in this blog - Haddon's Matrix. William Haddon provided a matrix that is designed to analyse any injury, harm or damage event. It takes all the factors that contribute to injury, harm or damage into account and over the time frame associated with said injury, harm or damage. The factors and phases are cross tabulated to form a nine cell matrix.

The factors are based on epidemiology. They are host (person injured), vector or vehicle (animate or inanimate object inflicting the injury), and environment (physical, social, cultural, etc). The phases are before the interaction of host and vector (before assault), during interaction (assault), and after interaction (after assault).

Injury science is about prevention and control. The control aspect refers to minimising injury and the effects of injury should prevention measures fail. The simple prevention model abandons you if prevention measures fail - as do most Survival Activities teachings.

This matrix is an analytical tool and a strategy brainstorming tool. It aids us in analysing an injury event (act of violence). It aids us in analysing the risk of an injury event. It provides multiple intervention points to prevent or control injury in the case of a violent event. The traditional martial arts model tends to focus on the host-vector cell alone. There are eight more cells where interventions can be introduced to prevent or control injuries arising from a violent event.

The Haddon Matrix forces you to think about all the factors and all the phases in an injury/violent event. It then encourages you to consider interventions at the different stages and with the different factors that contribute to the event. The author of the abovementioned post quite rightly referred to environment. However, it is the interactions between the host (victim or potential victim), vector (aggressor), and the environment that define the injury event. All three and their interaction have to be considered. Typically, this is poorly done in the martial arts and self defence courses.

This topic is far too detailed and large for a blog post. This post is designed to (a) inform the reader there is a tool that assists in developing strategies to counter the effects of violence, (b) introduce the reader to the Haddon Matrix concept, and (c) interest the reader in my work.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Duty of Care

Injury and pain are two phenomena that are at the very heart of all fighting methods. They are a major feature in the definition of offensive and defensive aggression and violence. Explicit explanation of them are also noticeably absent in the literature associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter.

I'm currently writing a chapter on injury referencing the theories and concepts of injury science. Injury science is a relatively new science that studies injury and the causes of injury. It is also a science that has hitherto not been explicitly referred to within the literature associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter.

The following is one section of that chapter which deals with duty of care. Duty of care is a concept that is often referred to by lawyers and non-lawyers alike but which many non-lawyers have never actually studied. Lawyers only know it from a legal standpoint, not from a practical standpoint.

Duty of Care

The modern concept of duty of care was first defined by Lord Atkin in the famous landmark case of Donoghue v. Stevenson. This case was an appeal to the House of Lords England by Mrs Donoghue who became ill after drinking a bottle of ginger beer that was contaminated by a decomposing snail. She subsequently sued Stevenson, the manufacturer. Finding in favour of Mrs Donoghue, Lord Atkin said: 'The rule that you are to love your neighbour becomes in law, you must not injure your neighbour; ... You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour.'

How does a person or organisation discharge their duty of care? By taking reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions that would likely injure a person to whom a duty of care is owed and which are reasonably foreseeable. The Donoghue v Stevenson case focused on who the 'neighbour' is, who a duty of care is owed to, however, let's get back to core of the problem – injury and the cause of injury.

If you want to avoid injuring a person, surely it behoves you to first understand what causes an injury. Injury science not only provides the means to understand what causes an injury, it provides means and ways of understanding and identifying means and ways of preventing and controlling injury. In this way, the theories and concepts of injury science have a great deal to contribute to the discharging of a duty of care.

The Japan Judo Accident Victims Association (JJAVA) was established in response to 108 student (aged between 12 and 18) fatalities in Japanese junior and senior high schools from 1983 to 2009 as a result of judo accidents. Their mission is to 'support victims and find ways to reduce death and serious injury among students in Japan through introduction of effective safety measures as standard practice in the sport of judo.' The first thing that injury science would offer in support of the JJAVA mission is: injuries are not accidents.

Sommers explains that 'the term "accident" denotes an unforeseen, unexpected event that is the result of chance, fate or destiny. It is also used to describe human error or mistake, which thereby excludes the person from the consequence of injury' (emphasis added. If the above fatalities are the result of an accident, then by definition they are unforeseen and there is no breach of a duty of care. There would be no legal obligation for the instructors or school authorities to take reasonable care to avoid these injuries because they are unforeseen 'accidents.'

When arguing for the need to discontinue the use of the word 'accident' when referring to unintentional injury events, Langley refers to a survey of women whose children had been injured. The results showed that many of them had not taken any action to prevent a reoccurrence of the event resulting in injury. The findings suggested this was not because such events were perceived as being too difficult to control, or action was inappropriate, or that the event was useful education for the child. Rather, many mothers saw the incidents as something which by definition could not be prevented – an 'accident.'

'Accidents will happen' – this was a post on an internet forum by an internationally renowned (but unnamed here) martial arts authority discussing the JJAVA experience. What impetus is there to find ways to reduce death and serious injury among students if the fatalities and serious injuries are the result of accidents, and accidents will happen? By definition they are unpredictable and unpreventable.

Sommers suggests that a better understanding of the nature of injury in the past few years has led to a reconceptualisation of injury as a largely preventable event. The JJAVA mission of preventing future fatalities and serious injuries is supported by the injury science mantra that injuries are not accidents. The JJAVA mission would be further supported by reference to injury science theory. The duty of care espoused by Lord Atkin only refers to preventing injuries. Injury science goes beyond mere prevention. Injury science offers solutions to prevent and control injury should injury occur. Injury science offers solutions that limit the exposure to legal liability associated with a breach of duty of care. Injury science goes beyond the mere legal to our moral and ethical duty to prevent and control injury generally.


The above is a first draft. After reading it in this post, I am struck with the emphasis that duty of care is NOT just a legal duty. It is not something that is dealt with by purchasing insurance. It is a moral and ethical duty before it is a legal duty. It is not a risk that is transferred to a third party via insurance; it is a risk you address youself in order to discharge your moral and ethical duty of care. And how can you address your duty of care if you don't know what causes an injury?

Secondly, surely your public liability insurance premiums should be reduced if you can demonstrate your comprehensive efforts at discharging your duty of care. Much the way health insurance premiums should be reduced if you do not smoke. By definition, injury science offers the means and ways to address injury risk issues, which the insurance companies could adopt to reduce premiums for those who utilise these ways and means.

Thirdly, injury science's mantra, injuries are not accidents, makes a mokery of coroner's 'accidental death' rulings. There is no accidental death. One-punch deaths, which have been a subject of previous posts on this blogs, are not accidental deaths. The legal system defined them as so up until, in Western Australia, specific legislation assigned responsibility for one-punch deaths to the aggressor who initiated the process that led to the death. The legal system is slowly catching up with injury science.

Lastly, while locating an image to insert at the top of this post, I noticed that a number of martial arts organisations offer services to the public, particularly the corporate public, that are designed to assist in discharging their duty of care. Even the school I previously taught at offers these services. Given Lord Atkin's explanation of duty of care, surely it compromises the ability to assist in discharging a duty of care if one is unaware of the causes of injury. To put it another way, surely it enhances the ability to assist in discharging a duty of care if one is aware of the causes of injury.

My book will be the first in the literature associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter that will address this issue directly.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Plan a Violence Prevention Program

There is a saying about writing a book: it's like drinking an ocean and pissing a cup. That is so very true in my experience. I have drunk the ocean, and pissed a barrel. I'm now in the process of drinking the barrel in the hope of pissing a cup. This is a rather crude way of saying I'm in the redrafting process.

In Hostility and Aggression, Zillmann defines aggressive behaviour as being 'any and every activity by which a person seeks to inflict bodily damage or physical pain upon a person who is motivated to avoid such infliction.' He distinguishes between offensive and defensive aggression. Offensive aggression is when a person seeks to inflict injury or pain upon a person who is not attempting or has not been attempting to inflict injury or pain upon him or her. Defensive aggression is when a person seeks to inflict injury or pain upon a person who is attempting or has been attempting to inflict injury or pain upon him or her.

Zillmann is describing the very essence of all activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter. Injury and pain are at the very heart of those activities. What are the two subjects that are never explicitly studied in any text associated with these activities? Injury and pain. My current work uniquely studies both injury and pain.

I came across a relatively new science that studies injury when attempting to understand the science behind striking and kicking techniques. The martial arts and biomechanics literature do a very poor job of relating biomechanical principles to technique in any meaningful way. It was when I decided to tackle the problem from the opposite direction and asked, 'What causes an injury?', that I discovered injury science.

No text associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter has referred to injury science to date.

To give you a taste of what is to come, and what is possible, the following link is a good example of what injury science has to offer. It uses injury science theory to develop a violence prevention program for emergency departments.

The Haddon Matrix is a powerful tool to help us consider all factors that contribute to a non-fatal or fatal, unintentional or intentional injury. The above is an example of its use.

Anyone who is teaching self defence (contrasted with martial arts) and are not referring to the Haddon Matrix is doing themselves and their students a disservice. Anyone who is teaching scenario based training or reality based training that is not referring to the Haddon Matrix is doing themselves and their students a disservice. Anyone who is teaching security, prison service, law enforcement or the military and are not referring to the Haddon Matrix are doing themselves and their personnel a disservice. Anyone teaching a women's self defence course that does not refer to the Haddon Matrix are doing themselves and their students a disservice. Anyone developing any course or training for any of those activities that do not refer to the Haddon Matrix are doing themselves and their students a disservice.

This tool not only assists in developing strategies, tactics and techniques, it can also be used to satisfy the 'duty of care' associated with teaching and training those strategies, tactics and techniques.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mushin No Shin

Mushin no shin; mind of no mind.

The image to the right is of Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai where many Japanese martial arts cliches were part of the story line, including mushin no shin; mind of no mind. I particularly like this mushin no shin inspired message - train to act without thinking. Not a lot of training is required because most people act without thinking anyway.

Mushin no shin is often associated with behaviour that is reflexive or instinctive requiring little or no thought or cognition. Nature beat the mushin no shin originators, advocates and philosophers (or would-be philosophers) to the punch. Emotion is evolutionarily designed to motivate and support survival behaviour with no thought process. Emotion includes action tendencies that require no thought process, and nature even supports this instinctive behaviour by making physiological changes that support the motivated behaviour. Mushin no shin would appear to be reinventing a poorer version of the wheel.

Mushin no shin is more than mind of no mind. It is also emotion of no emotion. Mushin no shin is designed to circumvent both the amydala and neocortex, both emotion and cognition. Mushin no shin is arrogent in that way. An underlying assumption of mushin no shin is that millions of years of survival experience can be improved upon.

A part of mushin no shin would be described as 'overlearning.' Overlearning refers to the training of a skill such that it becomes instinctive. This behaviour will be elicited in a particular situation with little or no thought, and mostly without the necessity of any motivation from feelings. Overlearning, in and of itself, can have the effect of intervening in the appraisal process which defines a stimulus in a particular way. The appraisal process is responsible for an elicited emotion. Overlearning, in and of itself, can result in the appraisal of a life-threatening stimulus to be irrelevant rather than a threat thereby not eliciting a fear or anger emotion.

Problem solving 101 - identify the problem. Fair enough. We have developed combat behaviours that have improved on nature. But these behaviours are affected to varying degrees by emotions. Your particular activity may teach you learned tactics and techniques (aka behaviours), but they have to be supported or at least not thwarted by emotion. What emotion does your activity teach?

Mushin no shin teaches no emotion. You then should analyse the cost-benefit relationship. The benefits will be espoused, but what is the cost? There is always a cost. The cost is that the individual does not experience the physiological and motivational benefits that evolution instilled in emotion. You do not get increased strength, speed, endurance, pain tolerance and mental focus that are designed to increase your chances of survival.

Do not write off emotion so quickly. Firstly, we are here because of emotion. Secondly, a three thousand, cross-cultural warrior tradition, 'berserkers,' has been used to empower warriors to engage in fight behaviour. It involves enflaming emotion rather than negating it. Women self defence courses often teach to turn fear into anger. Anger is evolutionarily designed to support fight behaviour. It is now you and evolution against your attacker. What survival activities often fear is fear.

Major Greg Mawkes (retired), when explaining how he went about improving the close combat capabilities of the Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SAS), explained that troopers were trained to have controlled aggression. Firstly, aggression is an emotion. No mushin no shin. They are trained for an emotion so they receive the survival benefits bequeathed by Mother Nature. Secondly, aggression, according to Plutchik, is a blend of anticipation and anger. A positive and negative emotion. Both are approach behaviours, which you encourage in a fighter. The negative emotion narrows the behaviour-thought repertoire, while a positive emotion broadens them. The SAS want the fight action tendency of anger and the broadened behaviour-thought repertoire of a positive emotion.

The basic message of this post is - DO NOT train to act without thinking. Think about your training.

Friday, October 12, 2012

What is Courage? Do you Train for Courage?

The following is taken from US Army FM 6-22, Army Leadership: Competent, Confident, and Agile (2006):

When SGT Leigh Ann Hester and members of her Kentucky National Guard military police company set out for a routine convoy escort mission in March 2005, she did not know what challenges awaited her and her team.

SGT Hester was the vehicle commander riding in the second HMMWV behind a convoy of 26 supply vehicles when her squad leader, SSG Timothy Nein, observed the convoy under attack and moved to contact.

When she arrived at the ambush location, she saw the lead vehicle had been hit with a rocket-propelled grenade. A group of about 50 insurgents seemed determined to inflict devastating damage on the now stopped convoy. She immediately joined the fight and engaged the enemy with well-aimed fires from her rifle and grenade launcher. The intense engagement lasted over 45 minutes. When the firing finally subsided, 27 insurgents lay dead, six were wounded, and one was captured.

Despite the initially overwhelming odds and battlefield clutter, SGT Hester and her Soldiers persevered. They effectively quelled the attack, allowing the supply convoy to continue safely to their destination. Throughout the situational chaos, SGT Hester and her comrades had remained resilient, focused, and professional. The fearless response by Hester and SSG Nein had helped the Soldiers overcome the initial shock of the ambush and instilled the necessary confidence and courage to complete the mission successfully.


For her actions, SGT Hester earned the Silver Star. She is the first female Soldier since World War II to receive this award. SSG Nein and SPC Jason Mike also won the Silver Star; several other unit members were awarded Bronze Stars for valor.

The manual describes the values of the US Army soldier, which includes personal courage. Personal courage is defined as being 'not the absence of fear. It is the ability to put fear aside and do what is necessary.' Many define courage in similar terms, as acting in spite of fear.

Fearless implies no fear being experienced. By definition, being fearless, as SGT Hester is reported as being, is not courage. If she was awarded the Silver Star for being courageous, or brave (similar/same concept), it was awarded incorrectly. SGT Hester did not act in spite of fear.

Many in survival activities (martial arts, military, law enforcement, etc) refer to courage and its opposite, cowardice, but do they actually know what they are talking about? I would suggest it is doubtful.

This is no mere philosophical discussion (or it shouldn't be). Those who study violence and aggression often classify violence and aggression as being emotional/affective or instrumental. They differ in terms of the emotion being experienced (and motivating behaviour) in the former and no emotion in the latter. The latter form of violence and aggression can be described as being fearless.

Emotion involves a physiological response. The physiological response, with respect to fear, is evolutionarily designed to increase our chances of survival when threatened. The cascade of hormones increase speed, strength, pain tolerance, blood clotting, etc. Being fearless, engaging in instrumental violence or aggression, does not gain the benefit of these evolved physiological survival responses. Acting in sprite of fear still gains the benefit of these evolved physiological survival responses.

Training should be tailored to the desired outcome. Are the trainees being trained to be fearless and to engage in instrumental violence (as many martial arts profess to do) or to be courageous and to act in spite of fear? These outcomes require different training methods. One may lead to the other (the latter to the former), but the if the former is the desired state, different methods can be designed to achieve that outcome. The samurai did just that with the adoption of Zen Buddhism. This changed intervened in the appraisal element of their survival mechanism (which I've discussed in previous posts) such that a stimulus that is a threat to a samurai's wellbeing is appraised as being benign.

Many martial arts train technique. They may train emotion by default, but they do not explicitly understand they are doing so. All 'reality' and scenario based training is actually emotion training. Stress training, including stress inoculation training used by law enforcement and the military, is in fact emotion training. Emotion is often the determining factor in an aggressive or violent encounter. It behoves survival instructors to understand emotion ... which is the focus of the chapter I'm currently working on.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Blocking Techniques

What is a blocking technique? The Overlook Martial Arts Dictionary defines blocking techniques as 'any technique that hinders, checks, neutralises or nullifies an opponent's attack, using any part of the body'

That definition, it has to be said, is a very broad and vague definition of blocking techniques. It is broad and vague by necessity given certain ambiguity surrounding blocking techniques. An ambiguity that only comes to light when the various conceptualisations of blocking techniques that are espoused by different martial arts are studied.

Moclair, in Jujutsu: A Comprehensive Guide, defines blocking techniques in terms of the use of an arm or arms to stop an attacker from striking a person with a blow from their hands, fists, knees or other parts of their body. Moclair’s definition explicitly, and with clarity, refers to the common and traditional conception of blocking techniques as being techniques that are used to stop an attacker from hitting or kicking a person.

In The Textbook of Modern Karate, Okazaki and Stricevic provide the following definition of blocking techniques: 'A block is a karate technique directed at a certain target – the opponent's hand, foot, leg or arm – for the purpose of arresting or deflecting his attack.' Okazaki and Stricevic’s definition informs us that blocking techniques are directed at the opponent's body part that is attempting to hit or kick the blocker. It also provides a description of how blocking techniques stop the opponent from hitting or kicking the blocker: by arresting or deflecting the attacking body part.

It should be noted that some martial arts or martial artists distinguish between blocking techniques and deflection or parrying. In this case, blocking techniques are isolated to those techniques that arrest an attack to avoid being hit or kicked. Deflection or parrying serve the same purpose but by a different means.

Blocking and Evasion

In Mastering Jiu-Jitsu, Gracie and Danaher distinguish between evasion and blocking to avoid being hit or kicked. Evasion does not involve contact with the opponent's attacking body part. Evasion can be basically subdivided into two types: those that involve moving the feet and those that involve moving just the upper body or head. Japanese martial arts refer to the former as taisabaki (body movement). Boxing teaches both methods with the former referred to as footwork and the latter bobbing and weaving.

If a body movement of any description is used in conjunction with a blocking (or deflection) technique, there are two questions that should always be asked. Firstly, was the body movement not sufficient to qualify as an evasion. Secondly, if the answer to the first question is affirmative, what was the purpose of the blocking technique. After all, the evasion took care of the problem of getting hit or kicked.

Blocking Possibilities

Nakayama, in the karate classic Dynamic Karate, suggests that, while blocking, you must attempt to seize the initiate and turn the opponent's attack to your advantage. He provides six methods that he suggests illustrates the various possibilities in blocking:

1. Block the opponent's arm or leg with sufficient force to discourage further attack. In a sense, this kind of block can be called an attack.

Nakayama does not define block. If we assume it involves a technique that is designed to avoid being hit or kicked, then this type of block serves two purposes. Firstly, to avoid being hit or kicked, and secondly, to apply sufficient force to cause pain and/or injury. If the block is used in conjunction with an evasive movement then it only serves the latter purpose. This is a possible answer to the question posed above.

2. Block the opponent's attack with only enough force to parry or deflect it. This
would be termed a light block in #1.

A deflection or parry changes the direction of the attack. If an evasive movement is used to avoid being hit or kicked there is no need to change the direction of the attack. If the attack is deflected in these circumstances, the question has to be asked and answered, why?

A 'brushing block' refers to a technique where the attack is brushed past the defender with no change in direction of the attack. This implies an evasive movement was used to avoid being hit or kicked. The question has to be asked as to the purpose of the brushing block.

3. Block and attack. Block the opponent's attack and immediately counter-attack. It is also possible to block and counterattack at the same instant.

Nakayama's solitary example of blocking and counterattacking at the same instant is unconvincing. The pencak silat I studied contained wonderful examples of the use of this strategy. However, it also contained wonderful examples of the use of brushing blocks in conjunction with evasive movements. Each brushing block now bears investigation as to purpose.

4. Unbalance the opponent with your block.

Jan de Jong jujutsu makes extensive use of taisabaki to avoid being hit or kicked, as well as to reposition to attack. It also makes use of blocking techniques which is explained by their use to unbalance the opponent.

The unbalancing is physical and 'mental.' The physical unbalancing involves applying forces to cause the opponent's centre of gravity to be located outside of their base of support. The 'mental unbalancing' involves applying forces that do not physically unbalance an opponent but stuns, causes sudden loss of motion, or pain. In this way, they are similar to Nakayama's blocking possibility #1.

5. Block the opponent's attack as it is about to begin. To do this you must anticipate his attack.

6. Block and then retreat to a safe position until a chance to counter presents itself.

Blocking possibility #5 is the very definition of seizing the initiative, whereas blocking possibility #6 is not so much.

Direct and Indirect Blocks

In two books dedicated to the mechanics of martial arts, Starr distinguishes between direct and indirect blocks. Direct blocks are described as being applied directly against the force of the opponent's attack. Starr suggests that this form of blocking often requires the blocker to be physically stronger than the opponent, and the risk of injury to the blocking body part is high if the opponent's attack is very powerful. Indirect blocks are described as being sometimes referred to as deflections. Starr suggests that because indirect blocks do not directly oppose the opponent’s attacking force, they require very little strength to apply and the risk of injury is minimised. Starr is correct, in so far as it goes.

Starr's examples of indirect blocks includes the standard karate, high, middle and low blocks. These blocks do not involve applying force directly against the force of the opponent's attack. They do not involve applying force in the opposite direction to the force of the opponent's attack. You will find that the vast majority of karate's blocking techniques are designed to apply force to the opponent's attacking limb at an angle to the force of the opponent's attack. They apply a force to an attacking body part at an angle which results in a deflection rather than the attack being arrested.

This is a common misconception, that and traditional blocks are designed to oppose force directly, espoused by many who attempt to extol the virtues of their soft blocking methods over hard blocking methods.

Given that deflections generally require less force than techniques designed to arrest an attack, why then do karate practice applying a great deal of force in their blocking methods. The answer's may lay in Nakayama's blocking possibilities #1 and #4.

Absorption Blocks

Gracie and Danaher refer to blocks absorbing the forces of the attacker's attacking body part. This is typical boxing style blocks, and can be seen in shin blocks etc. In this case, the blocking techniques are not so much designed to avoid getting hit or kicked as they are to manage what body parts are hit or kicked.

Karate style blocking techniques do not tend to absorb the force of the attacker's attacking body part as they are designed to apply forces to an opponent's attacking body part.


Forces cause all bodies and objects to change direction or shape. Forces applied in different ways result in different outcomes. Even when the points of contact between two bodies (defender and attacker) are similar, the direction and magnitude of the force can produce a different outcome. It is important for the martial artists to understand specifically what they are trying to achieve, and why they are trying to achieve that, in order to better understand how the forces are to be applied to achieve that outcome.


PS: Dear Reader

Okazaki and Stricevic make the following statement when discussing the forces involved in blocking techniques: 'The amount of force necessary to deflect an object is generally less than the force needed to initiate its motion.'

I am having some difficulty in supporting or correcting that statement in mechanical/physics terms. If any reader has mechanical or physics background and can help out in this regard, I'd be very grateful.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What connects the 2012 AFL grand final to Kodokan Judo to Kojutsukan?

How is the 2012 AFL grand final related to Jigoro Kano's Kodokan judo and Kojutsukan?

For the international readers of this blog, 'AFL' refers to the Australian Football League. Australian football is the most exciting football code in the world :).

Hawthorn (Hawks) and Sydney (Swans) battled out the 2012 AFL grand final on Saturday. The Hawks were favourites with a couple of out-and-out stars playing for them. The Swans were the underdogs with no stars of the same calibre as the Hawks. The Swans playing list was generally acknowledged as being inferior to the Hawks.

The Hawks won virtually every statistical category, and lost. The Swans lost virtually every statistical category, and won. This result can be explained as the triumph of systems thinking over analytical thinking.

Analysis is about breaking things down to understand them. Systems thinking is about synthesis, putting them back together, and understanding their interconnections. Analysis is about seeing the trees. Systems thinking is about seeing the trees and the forest.

Systems thinking is about understanding that everything is connected. The connections are what is important.

One of the fathers of systems thinking, Gregory Bateson, implored us to look for the 'patterns that connect.' Genius has been described as being able to see the patterns that connect things.

Jigoro Kano was frustrated that his jujutsu instructors simply taught a collection of techniques with no understanding of their relationship with one another. He sought the 'essence' of all jujutsu techniques. While he did not find the essence of jujutsu techniques that connected them together, he developed an essence which he applied to select jujutsu techniques to be included in his Kodokan judo. By default and design, Kano's essence is what connects all judo techniques.

Kojutsukan philosophy is all about understanding the patterns that connect. Not only the techniques taught by Kojutsukan, but techniques taught by all activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter and those used in violence generally.

Look for the patterns that connect.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Shoulder Locks Master Class

The core of all learning is the identification of similarities and differences. One of the four methods of identifying similarities and differences that has proven to be highly effective is classification. I have developed a classification of shoulder locking techniques.

A joint is where two bones meet. The glenohumeral (GH) joint, or shoulder joint, is where the head of the humerus of the upper arm meets the glenoid fossa of the scapula. The bony arrangement of the shoulder joint consists of a shallow socket (glenoid fossa) to which is joined the one-half-spherical head of the humerus. It has been likened to a golf ball (head of the humerus) on a golf-tee (glenoid fossa). Less than half of the humerus is in the socket at any one time, and the bony arrangement is therefore weak.

A mobility-stability continuum has been proposed for joints. The stability refers to the amount of force required to dislocate the joint. The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body and is therefore the least stable joint in the body.

What do hammer lock, figure four lock, reverse figure four lock, key lock, reverse key lock, kimura, ude garami, gyaku ude garami, ude garami henka waza, stappado and 'Palistinian hanging' have in common? They are all techniques that are designed to move a subject's shoulder joint towards or beyond the limits of its range of motion. What are the differences between these techniques? This is where classification comes in.

The classification of shoulder locking techniques is based on the intended movement of the humerus. The initial principle of division is rotation or extension. Rotation refers to the turning of a bone around its own long axis. Extension refers to moving the arm straight back behind the body. The rotation locks can be subdivided into internal and external rotation. Internal rotation refers to rotary movement towards the midline of the body. External rotation refers to rotary movement away from the midline of the body. The internal rotation locks can be further subdivided into adducted and abducted arm positions. Adduct refers to movement towards the midline of the body. Abduct refers to movement away from the midline of the body.

Where do we start? We start with the Apley scratch test. The Apley scratch test is a test that is used to measure shoulder flexibility. The subject reaches behind their back from the top and bottom and tries to get the fingers of both hands to meet behind their back.

The lower hand in the Apley scratch test is used to test the internal rotation of the humerus in the shoulder joint. This position describes a basic shoulder lock that is often referred to as a hammer lock. It is also the classic police 'come along' technique. With this shoulder lock, the person’s hand is forced up between their shoulder blades.

Jan de Jong was not a fan of the abovementioned shoulder lock because of the flexibility of some people. Some people can reach up behind their back and touch their hair line without experiencing pain. In addition, the method of holding a person in this technique is relatively insecure.

De Jong taught what he called ude garami henka waza (variant arm entanglement). In this lock, uke's (person who the technique is done on) hand is placed in the crook of tori's (person doing the technique) elbow, and tori's hand is placed in the crook of uke's elbow. Tori then moves uke's hand away from uke's back while keeping uke's elbow stationary. This movement internally hyper-rotates uke's humerus in their shoulder joint.

As it turns out, De Jong's ude garami henka waza is relatively unique within the martial arts world. The more common technique is a variation of this technique taught by Jan de Jong but which was little understood in his school.

The variation is similar to ude garami henka waza because it goes by the same name and has similar hand positioning. It is different in that tori's hand is placed on uke's shoulder and uke's upper arm is lifted away from uke's back. This movement hyper-extends uke's shoulder rather than hyper-rotates it.

In both variations of ude garami henka waza, the forces applied encourage uke to move in a particular way. Rotate back towards tori in the original version and to bend over in the variation. In both cases, additional forces are applied to resist this tendency and maximally stress uke's shoulder joint.

Hyper-extending a subject's arm is a common method of torture. It was known as strappado during the medieval Inquisition and has mysteriously been called 'Palistian hanging' even though torture monitors say it is used neither by Israel nor the Palestinian Authority. The same techniques are seen in some jujutsu systems where the opponent is lying on the ground as both arms are hyper-extended above their shoulders.

The top hand in the Apley scratch test resembles what De Jong taught, and many others, as ude garami (arm entanglement). The arm is abducted, the elbow is flexed 90 degrees, and the hand is superior (above) the elbow. It's in a position that resembles waving 'hi' or signalling to stop. With this technique, uke's hand is rotated to the rear while the elbow is held stationary resulting in an external rotation of the humerus in the shoulder joint.

This ude garami is referred to by the same name in judo, and is also referred to as key lock and figure four lock. Reverse key lock, reverse figure four lock, kimura, and gyaku ude garami (reverse arm entanglement) are similar to ude garami in that tori's hand position is similar, uke's arm is abducted and their elbow is flexed at 90 degrees. They are different in that uke's hand is inferior to their elbow and movement when applying the lock results in an internal rotation of their humerus in the shoulder joint.

The abovementioned gyaku ude garami is similar to De Jong's ude garami henka waza in that both techniques result in internal rotation of the humerus in the shoulder joint. They are different in that in the former uke's arm is abducted while in the latter their arm is adducted.

When teaching these techniques in my 'shoulder lock master class', I have found it useful to use a maglite torch to simulate the humerus. The bulb represents the head of the humerus and cupping the bulb represents the shoulder joint. I then move the torch in the direction of the internal or external rotation, or extension, to illustrate the intention of the technique to the students. I have found this visualisation assists the students in applying the forces correctly when they execute the technique.

Four further things to note. Firstly, judo competition rules forbid any kansetsu waza (joint-locking technique) that targets any joint other than the elbow joint. They consider these techniques too dangerous for competition. They specifically allow ude garami and suggest it targets the elbow joint. Given the same arm configuration and force application is used by clinicians of various disciplines to test shoulder flexibility, it would appear the technique is designed to target the shoulder joint and not the elbow joint.

Secondly, there have been some, relatively few, who have attempted to anatomically describe certain locks. They incorrectly refer to hyper-flexion as being a mechanism of dislocation of the shoulder and/or elbow.

Thirdly, the classification is an ideal. When the techniques are applied, they may include both extension and rotation.

Lastly, other injuries other than shoulder dislocation have been reported. The kimura is named after a famous judoka who beat one of the founders of Gracie jiu-jitsu using this technique (gyaku ude garami). It is said that he broke Gracie's radius and ulna, and dislocated his elbow using this technique. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira's humerus was reported to have been fractured by Frank Mir in a UFC match when the latter applied a kimura to the former. A person trained in Jan de Jong jujutsu engaged in security work applied the variation of the ude garami henka waza which resulted in a fractured humerus in the subject.

The last point is intended to head off criticism of the above classification and description based on reported injuries other than shoulder dislocations. Unfortunately, accurate and detailed reporting of injuries while executing these techniques has not been forthcoming to date. Given the shoulder flexibility tests, it is safe to assume the shoulder joint is the target of these techniques. It is open to correction, based on future studies, if other injuries are more likely when executing these techniques.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Real Heroes Walk Away

A friend commented that I hadn't written a post recently. He is right. A lot of things have been going on that have left me bereft of inspiration, or interest in writing a post on anything. Today I thought I'd address this situation with a meditation on a newspaper article in relation to the one-punch deaths. is running a campaign against one-punch deaths called: Real Heroes Walk Away. Today's article is

Why refer to heroes? Why refer to someone who hit another person without the other's knowledge of the threat as cowards? After all, one of the most applauded military strategies is the ambush. The answer is the need to feel moral superiority.

Mystery of Courage should be mandatory reading for all. In this current militaristic age, is a pacifist or dissenter a hero or a coward? Given human beings' desperate need to belong and be accepted, these individuals are 'brave' in going against the common consensus. Those that follow the mob, often led by manipulative governments and common opinion, could be described as being not brave, or indeed, cowards.

I tend to adopt Oscar Wilde's viewpoint: Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. This is not a bad litmus test to apply to one's opinions; as long as one has a modicum of intelligence that shapes their opinions. After all, as the saying goes, opinions are like arseholes; everyone has one.

The terms hero and coward say nothing about the person they are used to describe, but they tell us a great deal about the person who is using those words to describe others(or themselves). A hero walks away is telling others that we respect their behaviour if they walk away from violence. The underlying assumption behind the use of this phrase is that other's seek our respect and approval. It is a strategy that is not without merit, for us emotionally driven human beings. After all, the military have been using this strategy since time immemorial to get people to fight when nature implores them to flee. Warriors seek the approval and respect of their peers which overcomes their fear of injury or death. The military and the government use this need for approval and acceptance to fuel their military campaigns. And it is a very effective tool. But what happens when a person does not seek the approval or acceptance of society? What happens when they seek the approval and acceptance of their peers who applaud violence? Will the reference to heroes walking away reach them? Or will it drive them further away?

It is estimated that nearly 3500 Australians are hospitalised every year with brain injuries caused by assaults. The direct cost to the nation is $25 million a year. This is how you gain action in today's society. It's not by referring to the human cost, it is by quantifying the financial cost. This is not simply a cynical statement. Yesterday I read an article on the lack of funding for a particular neurological condition. An authority in the field explained that death happens so fast with the condition that it didn't have enough time to have a large financial impact on society. Consequently, very limited funding is provided to solve the 'problem.' After all, there is no problem; 'problem' being defined meaningfully in financial terms.

Six years on from the king hit death of his son, Matthew, Brisbane father Paul Stanley is still grappling with the reason why a young man chose to end his son’s life with a single, devastating punch. Stop wondering. The young man more than likely did not 'choose' to end anyone's life. 'Do I think that Matthew's killer actually meant to do it? I reckon probably not. That never went into his mind. They just do these things.' He probably didn't even 'choose' to throw the punch. Once we stop the emotional and judgemental discussion we can start to find real causes and real solutions.

Professor Gordian Fulde is head of emergency at St Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst. He's spent his whole adult life repairing the bloodied heads of battered and drunk young men. He remembers a time when a man would knock a man down in a bar then shake his hand, commending him on his efforts. That was that. He now operates on young men who have been kicked 12 times on the ground by 12 different boots. "We are not nice," Professor Fulde says. "We are animals. We kill each other."A psychologist friend uses the phrase 'cavemen in suits' to describe human beings. My research into our evolved survival process, along with an evolutionary perspective, confirms that we are indeed primitive beings who do not 'fit' with the modern environment we have created.

A stimulus in the environment is first appraised which can then elicit an emotion. So we need to look at how the stimulus is appraised. Now we are identifying an intervention that may control this type of anti-social behaviour. And now we also understand the full extent of the problem. The appraisal process is shaped by so many things, including societal and family values, norms, etc.

Should society intervene? Should society attempt to shape behaviour? A strong argument in favour of the affirmative would be based on the fact that the only requirement needed to be a parent is working sexual organs. Religious fundamentalists, political extremists, emotionally vulnerable and flawed human beings, can all produce children which they then play a major part in shaping who the adults these children become.

Movies and video games, violent rap music, etc are often blamed as causes of anti-social behaviour. It is suggested they shape the way we view environmental stimuli. But are they causes or are they mere reflections of society? I would argue the latter, but also that they can reinforce anti-social behaviour. They may not be the initial cause, but over time they can come to be. A self-fulfilling prophesy if you will. If we address the anti-social messages, we may not address the underlying issue(s) because the situation that caused these movies, video games, etc to reflect society may still exist.

An understanding of the evolved survival process identifies another possible intervention. The appraisal elicits a feeling response with an associated action tendency. The 'impulse to act' decouples the behavioural response from the feeling response and provides 'latency time' according to Scherer. This means that we are suppose to not be mere amoeba with a stimulus-response chain. The decoupling of feeling and behaviour responses is evolutionarily designed to provide us with the opportunity to consider an array of behavioural responses rather than just our primitive urge. Obviously, for some, they are more amoeba then they are the evolved human beings with decoupled feeling and behavioural responses. They have, in the modern vernacular, very limited impulse control.

The issue of choice, or the lack there of, goes to the very heart of the deterrence debate. You can have the most severe punishment in the world which is intended to deter certain types of behaviour, but if cognition does not influence behaviour it reduces the deterrent effect of harsher punishments. Anybody who argues differently simply has to answer the question: did you not king hit the innocent, unsuspecting person because you feared being sent to prison, or did you not hit the person because that is not who you are? If the answer is in the affirmative to the first question, there are more serious questions to be asked and answered than the deterrence value of harsher penalties.

What sort of environment turns little boys who want to grow up to be builders, firemen and aeroplane pilots into monsters and violent thugs who hide in dark corners like trapdoor spiders, striking out at and killing innocent people for no reason?"
They are not monsters nor thugs. Those are terms we use to describe others which says more about the describer than the describee. We may not understand or agree with their reasons, but they had reasons that made sense to them at the time. Lazarus emphasises that emotions are always logical and reasonable - to the person experiencing and acting on those emotions. If we understand that fact, and respect that fact, we then gain the possibility of addressing the issue that arises out of emotional responses. If we simply judge and demonise, we become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Now the Buddhist philosophy of being non-judgemental is raised. Being judgemental satisfies an emotional need in people, but it doesn't necessarily address the problem. However, a Buddhist approach cannot adopt the supreme moral high ground on this issue. Us cavemen in suits are driven by emotion. Shaming a person is a time honoured, cultural and proven method of shaping 'acceptable' behaviour. The Japanese culture was shaped in part by Buddhist philosophy, but it is also considered the archetypal shame culture.

Now let us in the West look down upon the primitive cultures that use shame to control their member's behaviour. Gilligan explains that based on his more than two decades of experience in prisons and prison hospitals, that the cause of most violence is shame. Shame arising out a lack of respect shown by others. The chain of causality is that a person or society 'disrespects' an individual which produces shame that is so painful that anger is used to cope with the pain resulting in violence. You can hardly watch an American movie these days without 'respect' being a core theme. 'Dis'ing someone is considered just cause to engage in violent behaviour.

Now we can have the conservatives looking down upon the morally repugnant, violent individuals who engage in violence to gain or defend respect. The same conservatives that engage in violence to defend honour, pride and patriotism.

The Navy SEAL instructor in GI Jane quotes D.H. Lawence: I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A bird will fall frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself. Courage, bravery, cowardice, respect, disrespect, honour, pride, patriotism - all man-made constructs. They are used to describe behaviour for our own benefit, or to control the behaviour of others. Belief in their moral virtue is essential for their effectiveness; but it is also the cause of violent and aggressive behaviour in itself. To point the finger at others is to point the finger at ourselves.

"It is my belief that if you decide to unlawfully assault a person, and that person dies ... the prosecution should not have to prove that you were reckless or negligent. They should not have to prove it wasn't an accident." Oh how I would love to be a lawyer. I would produce experts in the relatively new field that studies the cause of injuries. The mantra of injury science is often quoted as being: there are no accidents. Injury science originated with William Haddon and his work on injuries arising from car crashes. Note I referred to car crashes rather than car accidents. Injury science is objective and recognises that injuries do not occur by accident.

I've raised this issue before. A coroner suggested that all 'neck holds' used by law enforcement officers should be considered lethal weapons because they have the potential of lethality whenever they are used. The same can be said, with more authority, with punches and kicks. Now consider the consequences of this viewpoint. Lethal force can be used in response to lethal force. Therefore, if neck holds, punches and kicks are considered to be lethal force, lethal force can be applied to defend oneself. You punch me and I am legally entitled to kill you in my defence. In addition, all combative sports would have to be terminated because modern society, for the most part, does not condone gladiatorial, death sports.

What about the 'doctrine of consent'? We are allowed to punch the living daylights out of someone in a boxing ring or mma octongon. We are allowed to assault someone on the football field. Neither of these incidents will result in an assault charge due to the doctrine of consent. Leigh Matthews, one of the greatest AFL football players of all time, was convicted of assault when he king hit a Geelong player during a football match. What many do not know is that Matthews' conviction was overturned on appeal, due to the doctrine of consent. King hits are not part of the rules of football, but the law, in its infinite wisdom, has deemed them to be acceptable as part of the game. They game may be self regulated by the game authorities, but the law accepts this behaviour.

What message does the courts send to society in relation to king hits? It's ok to king hit someone as long as the person doesn't die. Even if they do, the punishment will be minimal because often it wasn't your punch that killed the person. It was their head hitting the ground that killed them. This is the reason for specific one-punch legislation.

How absurd is that argument? It reminds me of the explanation by Tom Cruise's character in Collateral when he is asked by Jamie Fox's character if he'd killed a particular individual. 'Max: You killed him? Vincent: No, I shot him. Bullets and the fall killed him.'

Western Australia is one of the few Australian states, if not the only one, that has specific one-punch legislation. Former state attorney general Jim McGinty said: If you throw a punch that results in death then that ought to be severely punished. So throwing a punch that has the very real potential of killing someone is ok-ish as long as they don't actually die? Isn't this rather a confused message? Is it simply bad luck if the person dies after you punch them, and therefore you get punished due to your bad luck rather than a criminal act?

Education is everything, says Bill McCormack. "Get at them in pre-school," he says. "These kids haven't got the skills to equip them for life. Once they get to grade six, you've lost them. "Most of them come from broken homes. Learning difficulties. They've been in trouble from the time they were 11 years old. "We need to educate a whole generation." I agree. But education comes from knowledge, and who has that knowledge? Many have the moral, judgemental opinion, but who possesses the objective, informed facts?

What can martial artists and martial arts instructors do? Educate themselves. Educate themselves on emotional intelligence (for want of a better term) in addition to the tactics and techniques of their martial art. They can also provide leadership to not only their students, but to society in general. This will not come about through sanctimonious, pious attitudes and superficial references to Taoist, Confucius or Buddhist philosophy, but to deep reflective study of emotion and the issues.

Just my thoughts for the day.