Friday, May 31, 2013

Strengthening the Weak Link in Combat

There is an article in The Age concerning a UN meeting on killer robots. One of the arguments in favour of using killer robots in combat was:

"LARs will not be susceptible to some of the human shortcomings that may undermine the protection of life," his report said. "Typically they would not act out of revenge, panic, anger, spite, prejudice or fear."

In a book that deals with soldier stress and soldier performance, Krueger explains that people on the battlefield haven't changed but the military tactics and technology of waging war have. Consequently, he suggests that the human combatant has been called the 'limiting element' in military systems and are often labelled as the 'weak link' in the harsh environments of battlefields.

Siddle makes a similar comment when suggesting our evolved stress response interfere with modern survival skills such as close quarter combatives, firearms and evasive driving.

When stress inoculation training is discussed in terms of preparing a person for operational experience by the military or law enforcement, training and stress training are often distinguished. To put it simply, training is learning to fire a gun, stress training is learning to fire a gun when someone is firing at you.

Grossman explains how the fire rate at the enemy increased from 20% during WWII, to 55% in Korea, and 95% in Vietnam. What changed? Stress training, albeit not under that name.

I don't like the word 'stress.' The father of stress research, Hans Selye, said that everybody knows what stress is, but nobody really knows. Emotion and stress guru, Richard Lazarus, argues that stress should be considered a subset of emotion. Why? Because the ambiguous and limited concept of stress is actually referring to the emotion of fear-anxiety. If 'stress' has detrimental effects on fighting performance, why not study what the real issue is, emotion.

Many women self defence courses tackle this issue head on - turn fear into anger. Anger reduces inhibitions to aggress, has an action tendency of fight, mobilises the body to fight, and avoids flight, tonic immobility and fainting which are only associated with fear.

Stress inoculation training and stress exposure training for law enforcement and the military would be better served if they focused on emotion. The martial arts is often criticised for not teaching self defence. One of the biggest failings is in not addressing the emotion issue. They are the training methods of WWII when self defence requires the training methods of the Vietnam War.

The last two chapters in my book are unique in integrating the theories of stress, emotion and fight-or-flight to develop a survival process model. This is our evolved mechanism that was selected for in nature because it provided a survival advantage on an individual. All of the methods developed by all activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter are actually interventions in this survival process.

A better understanding of the survival process provides a better understanding of violence generally, whether it be offensive or defensive violence. It has the potential of producing better fighters or those who want to defend themselves simply by an academic understanding of the survival process. This has been demonstrated with respect to stress training whose first stage is informational.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Understanding All Fighting Methods

This post is an update on Understanding All Fighting Methods - the book I have been working on full-time for the past 4-5 years.

The book is tentatively titled: Understanding All Fighting Methods. If any reader has a better suggestion for a title it'd be gratefully received.

The book is aimed at all activities that prepare a person to survive a violent encounter (Survival Activities). This includes martial arts, combat sports, self defence, security, law enforcement, and the military.

It is a unique contribution to Survival Activities and the general body of knowledge. All of the chapters contain information that has never before been used to understand Survival Activities methods.

It has 16 chapters plus a preface.

Chpt 1 Introduction
Chpt 2 Core of all learning
Chpt 3 Kaizan: Analysing techniques to continually improve
Chpt 4 Push and pull explains all techniques
Chpt 5 Balance and unbalance
Chpt 6 Stances and motion
Chpt 7 Throws and takedowns
Chpt 8 Joint-locking techniques
Chpt 9 Injury science
Chpt 10 Striking and kicking techniques
Chpt 11 Blocking techniques
Chpt 12 Nature's and martial arts breakfalling techniques
Chpt 13 Neck restraints and shime waza
Chpt 14 Pain
Chpt 15 The survival process
Chpt 16 The survival process applied

From an original 180,000+ words, the editing process has reduced the number of words to 77,000+ which equates to about 211 pages.

A graphic designer has commenced work on the illustrations. Permission is being sought for reproduction of figures and tables from other publications.

My editing of the vast majority of the chapters has been completed.

The chapters on neck restraints and shime waza, nature's and martial arts breakfalling techniques, and pain have been reviewed by experts in those fields. When I say experts I mean non-martial arts researchers in those fields.

There is one small piece of information I am still seeking. An anatomical description of a wrist twist. Among the many unique features of this book is an anatomical description of joint-locking techniques applied to the upper limb. No other book provides that information.

If any reader can direct me to any information or person that could assist in explaining a wrist twist, I'd be very grateful.

Each chapter is heavily referenced with authoritative sources. Studies that have hitherto been hidden away in academic journals are used to provide a deeper and more complete understanding of the methods taught by Survival Activities and those used in violence generally.

The final two chapters are unique in all literature in that new theory has been developed that explains all the strategies, tactics and techniques of Survival Activities and those used in violence generally.

Many misconceptions, misunderstandings, myths and errors that are commonly espoused in the martial arts are exposed and clarified. They are clarified with the aid of science, professional research, and hard work.

Soon the tedious task of submitting the manuscript to publishers will commence.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Teach the Essence of All Martial Arts Techniques

What is the essence of all martial arts techniques? What makes them work?

Forces account for the changes in motion and shape of all things in the environment, including the body and body segments (collectively body).

Any time a body starts, stops, speeds up slows down or changes direction, a force has been applied. A change in shape refers to deformation. Deformation of body tissues can cause pain and injury. Think about all the techniques taught in any martial art and you will see that they are designed to change the motion of an opponent or deform their tissues to inflict pain or injury.

The beauty of it all is that force is a biomechanical concept that is easy for the layperson to understand and apply.

Without providing the full explanation, the following is how you teach and learn by referring to forces, the essence of all techniques:

1. Identify the points of application of the forces - all contact points between the two bodies.
2. Forces are a push or a pull. Determine if it is a push or a pull at each point of contact.
3. Determine the direction of the force.
4. Determine the relative magnitude of the force.
5. Determine the objective of the combined forces (change the motion or shape (deformation) of the opponent's body).

First teach students about forces, then consistently teach using a force based approach. Students will be taught to, and will, focus on the essence of techniques; what actually makes them work. When they come to correct errors in their performance they will go directly to the essence of the technique.

While the above might appear to have limited potential to improve on teaching striking and kicking techniques, it does not when the third law of motion is also understood. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Action refers to forces. When we hit a body, that body 'hits' us back with a force that is equal in magnitude and opposite in direction.

When we hit or kick an opponent or some training devise, or block an opponent's attack, we must deal with reaction forces. What is being done in terms of posture and stance to increase our stability and ability to absorb those reaction forces?

Those martial arts that describe their stances in terms of mobility (which means less resistance to forces), what are they doing to increase stability when contact is made and forces are experienced?

Everybody understands what a push or a pull is. If a student is told to push or pull in a certain direction they will do so. If that instruction is not an accurate or complete description of the forces involved in the execution of a technique, do not be surprised if the student experiences difficulty in performing the techniques. A force-based approach 'forces' us to consider each and every point of contact where a force may be applied. All of those forces contribute to, or at times hinder, the execution of a technique. A complete analysis of the forces involved in the  technique avoids these issues and demonstrates a thorough understanding of the technique. And a complete analysis of the forces involved in a technique is so simple.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Nobody Can Make You Feel Inferior Without Your Consent

Eleanor Roosevelt, a far wiser person than her philandering Presidential husband, said: Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

A champion indigenous Australian Rules footballer was racially abused while playing on Friday night. He was very upset and explained how he was 'gutted.'

The person who racially abused him was a 13 year-old girl who escorted by security out of the grounds, and quite rightly so. The footballer, who is the epitome of grace and dignity, did not blame the young girl and did not see retribution. Rather, he sought support and education for the young girl and questioned the environment in which she was taught it was okay to racially abuse another person.

It is human, apparently, to be upset by what another person says. The footballer was made to feel inferior, or upset, because he gave the racist 13yo girl consent. What would have happened if he hadn't have given the racist 13yo girl consent?

Other people's words have no meaning until we give them meaning. It is only when we give them meaning that they affect us. Her calling him an 'ape' could have taken on the meaning of being called a 'tiger' if he had chosen to do so, irrespective of what she actually intended it to mean.

I was training two people who have had a falling out. One of them reacted to something the other person said. He felt he had to 'stand up' for himself, which means he felt he was being threatened in some way. Not physically, but in some other ego defined way.

Whether or not the other person means it in a particular way is largely irrelevant to how we respond. We have to interpret their words in a particular way in order to elicit a particular response from ourselves. We have to consent to feeling inferior. We have to consent to feeling offended. We have to consent to feeling threatened. We have to consent to feeling attacked.

In addition to attempting to address what people (e.g. bullies, racists, etc) say, shouldn't we also be attempting to empower people by teaching them how to take away consent. Shouldn't we be teaching people that what people say can be considered to be just 'white noise.'

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Samurai Leader

Correction. I am not a servant leader as my last post suggested. I am a Samurai Leader.

I am in a process of applying for senior or middle management positions. Most of those jobs in any organisation call for leadership abilities and examples of your leadership abilities. When I've thought how I'd address these requirements based on an organisational setting, I was stymied.

Leadership is a vexing topic. To paraphrase the father of stress research, Hans Selye, everybody knows what leadership is, but nobody really knows. I have determined what leadership is. Leadership is an ambiguous concept. There are many, many different definitions and explanations of leadership with no consensus. Above all else, leadership is an industry. Countless books and articles are produced on the subject, and countless courses, seminars and programmes are offered all in the name or producing or improving leaders. It is a multibillion dollar global industry. Leadership is also a cult. It is a religious movement where leadership is idolised and revered. Every one is to be or aspire to be a leader.

To cut a long story short that forms the basis of an article I wrote that is going to be published in at least one business magazine, I developed the concept of the Samurai Leader:

'When I considered my leadership abilities and leadership style, I found the focus on leadership distracting and misguided. Why would someone want to be a leader? There are many answers to that question but most involve satisfying personal desires such as power, ambition, prestige, status, material benefits etc. Are these the attributes we want of our ‘leaders’? As Douglas Adams wrote in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: ‘It is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.’

When I considered how I would respond to questions concerning my leadership abilities, I found that I didn’t want to talk about leadership, rather, I wanted to talk about service. To serve means to be of use in achieving or satisfying something, in this case organisational goals. There is a scene towards the end of The Last Samurai where the Emperor asks Algren about the death of Katsumoto: ‘Tell me how he died,’ Algren replies, ‘No, I will tell you how he lived.’

Tell me how you lead. No, I will tell you how I serve. I am more proud of my service than my leadership, and I believe the organisations I served benefited from my focus on serving rather than leading.

Samurai is a Japanese term that is used to refer to the professional warrior of medieval Japan and is translated as, ‘to serve.’ ‘Samurai leadership-management’ is a concept that I have developed to refer to a focus on service and 'getting the job done' to advance organisational goals. Is it a leadership or management style? Who cares? It is a way of getting the job done and advancing organisational goals. ‘Leadership-management’ merges the concepts that some say are different, some say are different sides of the same coin, some include leadership within the functions of a manager, and some use the terms interchangeably. Now the focus is simply on how a person gets the job done and advances organisational goals. 

Do not confuse service for servitude. Samurai serve, but they are not servants. Robert Greenleaf developed the servant-leader model of leadership in 1970. The focus of the servant-leader is nurturing those who are served, generally those within the organisation, and generally those in subordinate positions. That is an idealistic, socially biased model of leadership. It is idealistic and biased because Greenleaf was a Quaker advancing a religious/social agenda. The samurai leader-manager is focused on serving the organisation and advancing organisational goals, not being a servant to other organisational members. This does not suggest sacrificing others for the sake of organisational goals as the US military ‘nobody gets left behind’ philosophy in Black Hawk Down exemplifies.

How does a samurai leader-manager serve? Ideally, through the application of jujutsu. Jujutsu is a Japanese martial art that was derived from the hand-to-hand fighting skills of the samurai. It is made up of two ideographs: ju meaning gentleness or giving way and jutsu meaning art, so jujutsu can be translated as ‘the art of giving way’ with the implication of first yielding to ultimately gain victory. The idea of yielding to gain victory is a philosophy that permeates East Asian culture and the East Asian martial arts, from judo to Mao Zedong’s (Mao Tse-tung) military strategy have recognised and implemented this principle.

The Taoist analogy of the yielding nature of water to overcome obstacles is often used to explain the principle of ju: ‘Nothing in the world is softer than water, but we know it can wear away the hardest of things. The supple overcomes the hard, and the so-called weak, the strong.’ How soft was the Boxing Day tsunami or the 2001 tsunami of Japan? How soft are the monster waves at Teahupoo, Tahiti or Pipeline, Hawaii? Another translation of ju is adaptable or flexible. This is a more useful interpretation of the principle of ju. The most efficient way of overcoming an opponent is to not resist their force but to use their force against them. But efficiency and effectiveness are two different things. Sometimes you simply need to use force to overcome your opponent. The attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbour fits in with this expanded idea of the principle of ju.


Shouldn’t we be more focused on service rather than leadership? Shouldn’t we be more interested in samurai leader-managers. Tell me how you lead. I’ll tell you how I serve. Domo arigato gozaimashita.'

What do you think about the concept?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Servant Leaders

The martial arts are often promoted in terms of building 'self perfection' rather than self protection. It is often promoted in terms of developing character, confidence, etc.

Let's look at the leadership issue. Modern Western society values leadership. I know. My business education focuses on leadership. I'm currently seeking a job and most I'm looking at require leadership abilities. What is leadership? If you know, then you don't know.

If everybody you employ is a leader, isn't there 'too many chiefs and not enough indians?' This issue does not appear to be considered by recruiters nor management.

What does leadership imply? Followers. Please, please forward me an advertisement that asks for applicants to demonstrate good follower abilities. Please, please forward me an advertisement or any organisational documentation that values followership abilities. What MBA program has a unit dedicated to followship?

Different leadership styles do achieve success. The authoritarian leadership style is much maligned, but it does achieve success in a particular environment. The transactional vs transitional style of leadership is often compared with the latter being described ad the more appropriate. It is more successful depending on the environment.

What leadership style do I adopt? The servant leader (research it). This is the only leadership model that incorporates followship. It is said that to become a good leader you need first to be a good follower. This is but one model of leadership, because dictators have often been successful leaders. The question becomes, what sort of leaders do you want to be and produce?

Many martial arts instructors are dictatorial. Why? Think about what you are trying to produce. Particularly, when you are producing instructors, what type of instructors are you producing and what have they been trained to produce.

Monday, May 6, 2013

'Researchers have found karate masters can anticipate where an attack is coming from before their opponent has even moved'

It was reported that researchers are studying karate 'masters' in order to improve cricket technique because they had found that said masters can anticipate where an attack is coming from before their opponent had even moved.

Is this ability magic? Is it mystical? The martial arts abounds with such magical and mystical myths. What are these magical and mystical myths? They are simply our inability to explain natural phenomenon.

The above article reminds me of Gary Klein's work on intuition. Klein was tasked by the US military to find out how veterans made decisions in high stress environments. His initial ideas were debunked when he observed veteran firefighters and asked them how they made life saving decisions. They responded by saying they didn't know, they just 'knew.'

Eventually, Klein deduced that intuition was a process of pattern recognition. It involved comparison, classification, and analogy - the core of all learning (see my book). Unconsciously, the individual compares the outside experience with the inside experiences which are conveniently classified. This becomes a process of analogy. When a similar experience is identified, action is then initiated. This is all an unconscious process, and is a cognitive ability that was selected for in nature because it conferred a survival advantage on an individual.

Why is it that more experienced people have better intuition? It's because they have more patterns to compare to experiences they experience.

How do karate masters anticipate an opponent's action before they have moved. It's because they unconsciously can see certain stimuli that indicate the attack. This is the real subject of the above study. How can you improve 'intuition.' More experience of course, but also, more specific type of experiences. If you know what the unconscious cues are you can rearrange training around providing more patterns associated with these unconscious cues. Simply training more is an inefficient way of improving intuition. More targeted training with the aid of understanding produces an efficient training model that produces effective practitioners faster.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Crazy Accident

It was reported today that a five-year-old boy accidentally shot dead his two-year-old sister. The rifle was given to the boy as a gift. The rifle used in the accident is a Crickett designed for children and sold under the slogan “My First Rifle,” according to the company's website.

The coroner said it is just one of those 'crazy accidents.' An autopsy was set to be conducted on Wednesday, but the coroner said he expected the shooting will be ruled accidental.

One of the chapters in my book is dedicated to injury science. Injury science is a relatively new science that studies injuries. The main focus of injury science is the prevention and control of injuries, however, as the father of injury science explains, it can also be used to study the infliction of injuries. What does injury science have to say about this incident?


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 consequences of injury. 

When arguing for the need to discontinue the use of the word 'accident' when referring to unintentional injuries, 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 that 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.

I've written before about the Japan Judo Accident Victim's Association which has been established in response to 108 deaths from training judo in school. An internationally renowned martial arts authority discussing the JJAVA experience commented, 'accidents will happen.' What impetus is there to find a solution to prevent and control fatal and serious injuries among students training judo if they are the result of accidents and accidents will happen? By definition they are unpredictable and unpreventable.

You often see coroner's findings as to the cause of death being accidental, even though there is an entire discipline that studies injuries, fatal and nonfatal, intentional and unintentional, whose mantra is: 'injuries are not accidents.' Findings of accidental absolve all involved of any responsibility. Is nobody responsible for the death of that young girl? Are not the parents for buying a four-year-old at the time of purchase a rifle? Is not Crickett for manufacturing firearms for children? Are not the law makers for allowing children to possess lethal weapons? Apparently none of them are responsible because it was an accident. By definition, nothing can be done to prevent or control injuries from similar events in the future because they are accidents and accidents are unpreventable.

Here is another idea. Direct coroners to study injury science - the science that is dedicated to the study of injuries. The science whose mantra it is - INJURIES ARE NOT ACCIDENTS.