Sunday, January 22, 2012


Catharina Blomberg is an academic that was (or is) with the University of Uppsala (Northern Sweden). I accompanied Jan de Jong and taught with him in Uppsala. (1) A big hello to the wonderful people I met in Uppsala. (2) I'd appreciate it if anyone can inform me as to Blomberg's current whereabouts.

Blomberg wrote: The Heart of the Warrior: Origins and Religious Background of the Samurai System in Feudal Japan. We need to encourage professional academics like Blomberg, Karl Friday, Cameron Hurst III, and Paul Varley to study and write about warrior traditions, Japanese and other countries/cultures. We have enough poorly (or nil) researched texts dealing with various aspects of the martial arts.

Blomberg describes fudoshin as 'immobility of heart', and explains:
The warrior stood in special need of an unperturbable mind which could remain calm and collected regardless of his surroundings and circumstances or the pressure of events, and fudoshin became a central tenet of swordsmanship.
Referring to the writings of Miyamoto Musashi and Yagyu Tajima no Kami Munenori, both celebrated Japanese swordsmen of the 1600s, Blomberg explains that 'technical skill without the correct mental attitude was a waste of time.' You can hear this sentiment echoed in the commentary of the Australian Open (tennis) being played now. Emotion is the thing that wins and loses matches; emotion is the thing that wins and loses violent encounters. When you become attuned to emotion words, the aforementioned commentary is very often focusing on the emotional state and its effect on performance. Is this suggestive of what to focus on when preparing someone to survive a violent encounter?

Technical skill is about biomechanics. Mental attitude is about emotion. Most people involved in preparing a person to survive a violent encounter know a great deal about technical skill. What do they know about emotion?

Fumon Tanaka, in Samurai Fighting Arts: The Spirit and the Practice, explains that the essence of fudoshin (unmovable heart) is having no fear. That is to say, that no matter the circumstances (stimuli), the appraisal of that stimuli does not elicit the emotion of fear.

Emotion is a process. A stimuli is appraised, and if that stimuli is appraised as being harmful, threatening, or beneficial, it elicits a subjective feeling, physiological reaction, and an impulse to act which may or may not result in a behavioural response which is intended to deal with the initiating stimuli. Fudoshin training is targeting the appraisal process in the emotion process. Modern fudoshin training is termed stress training, stress inoculation training, or stress exposure training.

Gavin De Becker's (author of The Gift of Fear) organisation offers Combat Fear Inoculation training. 'Stress' is such a nebulous concept. It does not explicitly identify the emotion it focuses on, fear, and its close cousin, anxiety. Becker gets to the heart of the matter. He also highlights the fact that the stress discipline and emotion discipline are studying the same survival process, but the stress discipline does so in a limited way. As Lazarus suggests when arguing for the integration of the two disciplines, stress should be considered a subset of emotion.

Lawrence Kane and Loren Christensen are two well known authorities on use of force training, with a particular emphasis on law enforcement in the latter case. In Surviving Armed Assaults: A Martial Artist's to Weapons, Street Violence, and Counterveiling Force, they discuss 'combat mindset necessary to carry you through a battle.' They suggest there is a concept called 'the fearlessness of no fear' which is 'the quintessential martial mindset.' They provide a Japanese tale which they suggest is 'an example of what the Japanese call fudoshin or indominable spirit.' In the same 'breathe', they advise:
When your life is on the line, fight not only for yourself but also about those who care about and depend upon you - your children, your spouse, your family, and your friends.
Firstly, this is not an example of fudoshin. Fudoshin is instrumental violence which is violence involving no emotion. Kane and Christensen's advice concerns turning fear into anger. One emotion into another emotion, but emotion-based violence nonetheless.

In violence and aggression literature, violence and aggression are often categorised into affective or instrumental violence or aggression. Affective violence or aggression involves motivating emotions, hence why it's also called emotional violence or aggression; instrumental (also referred to as predatory) violence or aggression involves no emotion, and the violence or aggression is instrumental in realising a non-violent goal, e.g. economic reward, food.

Secondly, why turn fear into anger, IF, fight is a behaviour associated with fear? Read Siddle. Grossman, and others who refer to the fight-or-flight concept, and academics who refer to evolved mammalian defence strategies, and the fight response is associated with fear. Why change the emotion? The action tendency of fear is flight, but the aforementioned authorities are suggesting fight is also associated with fear. The more serious authorities refer to a sequence where fight is only undertaken when flight is frustrated. So, why not advise to think that you cannot escape and you are going to die? That should, in theory, turn flight into fight without having to generate a new emotion, i.e. turn fear into anger.

Thirdly, note that the abovementioned advice is about providing your own mental stimuli in order to elicit an emotional response, which, if you recall, includes a behavioural tendency. Fudoshin is concerned with the appraisal process within the emotional process, and not with the stimuli that initiates the process. Emotion is about personal meaning; change the meaning, change the emotion, or even the very elicitation of an emotion. The 'dramatic plot' of fear is a 'concrete and sudden danger to our physical well-being' (Lazarus). If you embrace the Zen philosophy that life and death are one and the same, the appraisal of a threat to your well-being is to deny any personal meaning to that stimuli, and therefore, no fear is experienced.

Fourthly, Kane and Christensen's advice echoes the advice I've heard and read relating to women's self defence. Turn fear into anger. Anger's action tendency is fight; and the fight response is supported by a physiological response designed to mobilise our body to fight. However, does not suggesting a person think about the worst thing the attacker can do run the risk of turning fear into terror rather than anger? If you believe that people, males and/or females, will always fight to protect their love ones, you are naive. 'Always' does not exist in the real world when dealing with human behaviour. We need to know more about anger. What is the 'dramatic plot' (Lazarus) of anger? Most involved in activities that prepare a person to survive a violent encounter know something about fear, and focus on fear, but what do they know about anger? Stress training, by whatever description including scenario or reality training, focuses on fear. What do they know about any other emotion, including no emotion? Very little, I'd suggest. They know where they don't want to be, but do they know anything about where they want to be?

Fifthly, what is the cost of fudoshin, or instrumental violence? Everything has a cost. What is the cost of none emotional violence? Fear and anger have a physiological reaction which results in a 'cascade of hormones' that are designed to help us fight or flee when threatened. That includes shunting blood to the muscles associated with the behaviour in order to increase our fight or flight capabilities. It includes adrenalin to help us become stronger and faster. It includes hormones that increase our pain tolerance so we are not distracted if injured when we are fighting or fleeing. Blood is shunted away from the periphery so that limited bleeding is experienced while fighting or fleeing. No emotional experience means all these evolutionarily designed advantages in fighting and fleeing are not received. That is the cost. Nobody mentions that cost - do they understand that there is even a cost to fudoshin/instrumental violence?

Lastly, we have emotionally-motivated violence and fudoshin/instrumental/no emotion violence. It is suggested that fear can produce 'defensive violence' - that proposition is under investigation. Women's Self Defence teaches to turn fear into anger; anger having an action tendency of fight which is supported by a physiological response. We can experience the evolved defence emotion that is designed to help us survive; or we can manipulate our evolved defence emotion turning fear into anger; we can control the intensity of the emotion, and while feeling fearful, our training can use will to fight instead of flee; or we can train to achieve fudoshin. Are there any other options? Yes there is. One which tends to go against all the conceived wisdom. One which has been successfully used by warriors from different cultures for millennia. What is that approach, that tradition?

That is the topic of the next blog.

PS: Rafael Nadal was just asked what he thought about Australia's Bernard Tomic. His very first comment concerned his emotions. He ended the interview with a comment linking emotions with champions.

Do you really want to neglect emotions in your training? You study technical skills, you may even study biomechanics to understand technical skills better; do you study emotion? Stress looks at fear and anxiety, but this is what you don't want; do you know anything about what you do want?

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