In my last blog, I explained how Kano looked for a universal theory of jujutsu techniques that applied at all times in every situation. I also explained that the 'theory' or 'principle' he ultimately came up with was not so much a universal theory or underlying principle of all jujutsu techniques, but came to be the universal theory and underlying principle of the techniques he selected for his judo. The blog then went on to suggest that I'd identified the mechanical concept of force as being the universal theory or underlying principle of all physical techniques in every martial art. I explained that the next few blogs would test the veracity of this very broad claim.
The last blog introduced my veracity argument. A former student, with a great intellectual capacity, was kind enough to provide some feedback. She wrote that she 'was surprised to find how clear and understandable your biomechanical explanation is.' I've chosen not to take umbrage to her 'surprise' at my abilities or application of biomechancial principles to illuminate martial arts methods. She went on to write, 'What isn't clear to me yet, though, is whether your explanation is too broad. But then, I suppose you have an entire book to go over how useful it is as an explanation.'
In response to her last comment; no, I don't have an entire book to go over how useful it is as an explanation. The book I'm currently working on is regarding injury science and the science of pain and how these sciences can, and do, facilitate the understanding and study of the physical techniques taught within the martial arts and used in violence generally. The chapter where the subject of force is introduced is intended to show that while injury is defined by injury science in terms of tissues being exposed to physical energy in excess of their tolerance levels, many others conceive of injury in terms of force being absorbed in excess of tissue tolerance levels. I then go on to reconcile the two mechanical concepts of kinetic energy and force and show how both are involved in the injury process and how both illuminate different aspects of physical techniques taught by the marital arts or used in violence generally.
But force is an important topic. One that facilitates the understanding and study of every physical method taught within the martial arts or used in violence generally. I don't have a book planned to explore this all important subject. It is obviously included to a certain degree in my book, Throwing Techniques and Takedown Techniques of ALL Martial Arts, but only with respect to a subsection of martial arts methods. It doesn't really have a place in my as yet un-named planned book on 'the stress process', or 'the evolved response to threats, challenges, and harm.' I was attempting to verify the veracity of, what the abovementioned students appreciated, this very broad claim. I was attempting to do so in the abovementioned chapter, but, it didn't really fit in with the subject of the chapter. It wasn't an 'interesting' side note; it distracted the reader from the subject of the chapter. The other morning I awoke with the answer. Put it in an appendix and do justice to the subject. This is what often happens. After working for days on an issue, I awake with the answer.
The abovementioned student kindly referred to the clarity of my argument. I constantly work on that aspect of my writing. After working on the veracity argument, I've discarded the Sun Tzu and Arabian proverb references (at least initially). While poetic, they are unnecessary. So, lets start again. Here is the first small section of my veracity argument in Appendix 1: Ubiquitous Forces and Martial Arts Methods.
Note: Ubiquitous means 'present, appearing, or found everywhere.' Aka Kano's universal theory that applies at all times in every situation.
Ubiquitous Forces and Martial Arts Methods
Forces are ubiquitous within the martial arts and physical violence. Forces are involved in every physical method taught within every martial art and used in violence generally. They are the principle driving 'force' behind the development of all the physical methods taught within every martial art. If these statements are true, it stands to reason that an understanding of forces provides an insight into all the physical methods taught within every martial art or used in violence generally. Let’s take a look at the veracity of this very broad claim.
The father of modern-day combative, Colonel Rex Applegate (1976), suggests there are a number of fundamental principles in hand-to-hand combat and the most basic fundamental of all is that of balance. He suggests that 'physical balance must be retained by the attacker and destroyed in the opponent' (1976, 11) . The internationally-renowned Japanese master of Shotokan karate, Masatoshi Nakayama, states in the very first line in the very first chapter of his now classic text, Dynamic Karate: 'If the body lacks balance and stability, offensive and defensive techniques will be ineffective' (1966, 23). Balance must be retained by the attacker in order to execute effective offensive and defensive techniques, and balance must be destroyed in the opponent so they cannot execute effective offensive and defensive techniques.
In Sport Mechanics for Coaches, Carr defines balance as, 'the ability of an athlete to control his movements for a particular purpose' (2004, 222). In this case the athlete is the combatant and the particular purpose is the execution of effective offensive and defensive techniques. Carr explains that 'athletes with great balance are able to neutralise those forces that would otherwise disrupt their performances' (2004, 98). What are the forces that would otherwise disrupt their performances? He explains that the enemy the athlete must fight in order maintain their balance is any external force: 'Gravity, friction, air resistance, and forces applied against them by opponents can all destroy their performance' (2004, 98). The enemy the combatant fights in order to execute effective offensive and defensive techniques is any external force – gravity, friction, and forces applied against them by opponents. Ways and means have been developed to neutralise these forces that threaten to compromise a combatant's ability to execute effective offensive and defensive techniques. Ways and means have been developed to utilise these forces to compromise an opponent's ability to execute effective offensive and defensive techniques.
One of the enemies the combatant must fight to maintain their balance in order to execute effective offensive and defensive techniques are the forces applied against them by opponents. These forces include both action and reaction forces. Recall from chapter two that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. When a force is applied to an opponent when executing an offensive or defensive technique, an equal and opposite reaction force from the opponent is experienced. Kreighbaum and Barthels (1996) advise in Biomechanics: A Qualitative Approach for Studying Human Movement that the reaction force on the body must be anticipated when a force is applied to a body. Applying this idea to the martial arts, Watkins suggests in An Introduction to Biomechanics of Sport and Exercise: 'The boxer needs to ensure that he has adequate stability so that he can apply a large force without losing his balance as a result of the equal and opposite force exerted on his fist' (2007, 30). Nakayama provides the same advice with respect to karate techniques: 'All parts of the body must harmonise to provide the stability necessary to sustain the shock of delivering a kick or punch' (1966, 15). Kanazawa (2006), 10th dan founder of Shotokan Karate-do International Federation, follows suit when he explains that stances which are not performed properly leave the body unprepared for the reaction that accompanies an attack. Ways and means have been developed within the martial arts to deal with the reaction forces experienced when executing offensive and defensive techniques.
1. I won't include the details of the references in this blog. Please contact me if you'd like the details.
2. Within my work, I incorporate numerous references. I do not have the credentials to make certain claims or to support certain arguments, so, I support these claims and arguments with references to authoritative sources.
3. My work is also aimed, as my MBA was described to me as being aimed, at using theory and research to inform practice. Hence, frequent reference to biomechanical authorities is made. These biomechanists 'flirt' with the martial arts, and there is a lot of flirting going on, its just that the practitioners never get to reap the benefits of this flirtation - until now.
4. Two of my heroes are Kano and Nakayama. In their books they flirt with mechanics to facilitate the understanding and study of certain aspects of their martial art. Kano, the original martial arts biomechanist, uses the concept of forces to explain kuzushi. Nakayama uses force-related concepts of balance and stability to explain stances and footwork, or ways of moving. Jan de Jong also flirted with mechanics when he'd ask 'what are the forces involved in a particular joint-locking technique' in his jujutsu theory gradings. It is these giants upon whose shoulders I'm attempting to stand in order to see further.
5. I received a phone call last night from a former fellow student who is a keen martial arts practitioner and aficionado. While she was very interested in my work and applying science to understand and study the methods of the martial arts, when it came down to the specifics of applying mechanics to understand and study these methods, she was 'unconvinced'. This is a common response I've received to my work. She, and others, suggest that my explanation of certain methods in terms of mechanical forces is 'my opinion' which she and they, amicably, disagreed with. 'My opinion' is based on the irrefutable laws of nature. I don't have an 'opinion' in this regard. The laws of nature are what they are. For instance, the force of gravity and its effects on bodies and objects is not my opinion. I am constantly astounded at the resistance that experienced and knowledgeable martial arts practitioners put up to having their concepts and explanations of techniques clarified (and sometimes corrected) with the use of the concepts of science. Interestingly enough, I also note the same martial arts practitioners often refer to 'science' (often poorly conceived) to explain the 'why' of their 'how-to' instruction in order, presumably, to increase the depth of their how-to instruction. I perversely enjoy these conversations as they direct me to the areas that I should direct my 'controversial' work. The areas that will most challenge the experienced and knowledgeable martial arts practitioners.
6. I watched a program this week on fractal geometry, a subject which I have the minutest of knowledge about. Interestingly, the program was about how fractal geometry was being used to better understand and study a vast array of natural phenomena. They showed how fractal geometry was being used to better understand and study the rhythms of the human heart, and they tellingly suggested, this science provided a 'deeper understanding then ever before.' Not a bad introduction to my books.
7. The next blog concerning my veracity argument will look at how forces are responsible for the stances taught within every martial art. This will be followed by how forces are responsible for the methods of motion that have been developed within the martial arts, unbalancing (kuzushi), the principles of ju and ai, throwing techniques, takedown techniques, joint-locking techniques, percussion techniques, and strangulation techniques (shime waza).
8. You might check out SueC's latest blog (kickasssuec.blogger.com) and her explanation of the use of the term 'art' to describe the martial 'arts'. Very insightful if I do say so myself.
Forces are ubiquitous within the martial arts and violence generally. An understanding of forces provides a deeper understanding of these methods than ever before.
PS: Feedback is gratefully appreciated and invaluable in the writing of my books.