Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Unbalancing - Physical and Mental(?)
In Kill or Get Killed, Rex Applegate suggests 'there are a number of fundamental principles in hand-to-hand combat ... [and that] the most basic fundamental of all is that of balance.' He applies this insight strategically when he advises:
Balance must be retained by the attacker and destroyed in the opponent.
Applegate, like so many, refers to physical balance/unbalance and mental balance/unbalance.
Socrates said the beginning of wisdom is a definition of terms. Let's take the first step on the path to wisdom regarding this most basic fundamental principle of hand-to-hand combat with an understanding of what these terms mean.
Unbalance is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as: (1) Make (someone or something) unsteady so that they tip or fall; (2) upset or disturb the equilibrium of (a situation or person's state of mind). The equivalent definitions provided by Cambridge Dictionaries are: (1) Cause someone or something to not be firm but likely to fall or change position suddenly; (2) to make someone mentally ill.
Physical unbalancing can then be described as causing a person to tip, change position suddenly, or fall. This is a pretty straight forward concept and can be explained in biomechanical terms as I do in my tentatively titled Throwing Techniques and Takedown Techniques of ALL Martial Arts.
Presumably we can safely ignore Cambridge Dictionaries' definition in the context of hand-to-hand combat tactics. Therefore, based on Oxford Dictionaries' definition, mental unbalancing can be described as upsetting or disturbing the equilibrium of a person's state of mind. But what does that actually mean?
Equilibrium means 'calm state of mind' (Oxford Dictionaries) or 'a state of mental calmness' (Cambridge Dictionaries). So we’re back to state of mind. Finding a precise meaning for 'state of mind' has proven quite elusive. 'Frame of mind' is often listed as a synonym for 'state of mind' and has proved a little more accommodating in terms of finding a meaning for the phrase. Oxford Dictionaries defines 'frame of mind' as 'a particular mood that influences one's attitude or behaviour' while Cambridge Dictionaries defines it as 'the way someone thinks or feels about something at a particular time.' Thus, mental unbalancing can be described as upsetting or disturbing the way a person is thinking or feeling about something at a particular time.
Does this accord with your conception of mental unbalancing?
Physical unbalancing is a concrete concept which can be explained in objective terms. Mental unbalancing, as we will see in future blogs, is a far more nebulous concept. A nebulous concept that appears to be a 'catch-all' phrase which is used to refer to everything that is considered unbalancing but is not physical unbalancing. Including tactics which have a dubious claim to being unbalancing of any description at all in certain cases.
This catch-all phrase is used to describe strategies and tactics which can be described in far more accurate, precise, terms. We can do so much better in explaining and conceiving the strategies, tactics, and techniques of the martial arts. One, diplomatically un-named author, suggests unbalancing cannot be understood but has to be experienced. Whenever these type of comments are made, and they are made often in regards to numerous subjects in the martial arts, I suggest the author of those comments simply does not have the wherewithall to explain the concept. We can do better.
I would be grateful for any references which provide authoritative, supportable, explanations of 'state of mind' or mental unbalancing.
The next couple of blogs will continue to explore the concept of mental unbalancing with reference to various explanations of the concept which have been provided. This exploration will be conducted with reference to the above definition of mental unbalancing and/or any alternative conceptualisation of the concept which is provided which has some authority.