Friday, June 29, 2012


In combat, the fear of injury or death poses a severe handicap. Fear distracts, destroying concentration, reactions and timing. Technical virtuosity with weapons is useless to a warrior who cannot control fear.
That is a quote from Karl Friday in Legacies of the Sword (1997). Friday is writing about how the spiritual training in the bugei(Japanese military disciplines) originated as a practical military consideration. He is writing about how the bugei developed ways and means to deal with the effects of emotions on combat performance.

As part of my writing about the 'survival process,' I came across the final report by the Victoria Law Reform Commission on the 'Defences to Homicide.' In particular I was interested in the defence of provocation. Provocation is a controversial subject in general let alone in the legal domain. Provocation is better understood when one understands the survival process, and in particular the appraisal process. How we appraise a particular stimulus determines how we respond to it.

My post, Being Called a Cocksucker Isn't Personal, discusses the appraisal process and the appraisal of stimuli. Being called a 'cocksucker' is only a provocation if we appraise it as being such. Until then, it is only a noise; a stimulus we are at liberty to interpret in any way we choose to see fit.

Appraisal is at the very heart of all training designed to better prepare a person to survive a violent encounter. Friday's comments are testament to that fact. If you or your instructors are not focussed on your or your students' appraisal of stimuli that may be appraised as threatening or insulting, then you or your instructors are not preparing you or your students to survive a violent encounter.

'Passion or anger is seen to unseat reason, rather than being in accordance with it. This is why provocation is often referred to as a 'concession to human frailty'.
Human frailty. Do we accept human frailty? Or do we train to go beyond human frailty?

Originally, the required loss of self-control had to be the result of anger. It has now been expanded to include loss of self-control due to fear or panic. The central question is 'whether the killing was done whilst the accused was in an emotional state which the jury are prepared to accept as a loss of self-control'. Historically, it was also necessary for the killing to occur suddenly or immediately after the provocative conduct, in order to show such a loss of self-control. This is no longer the case.
Control of an aroused emotion is the issue here. A stimulus is appraised in a particular manner which elicits a feeling that motivates a behaviour. The lack of control is defended due to 'being human', or human frailty.

Before we get high and mighty, provocation does not only refer to the weak willed who cannot control their emotions. In fact, the defence of provocation arose out of more 'noble' motives.

The development of provocation can be traced back to 16th and 17th century England when drunken brawls and fights arising from 'breaches of honour' were commonplace. The notion of honour was of great importance to society. A major breach of honour occurred, for example, if a man’s wife committed adultery, as this was regarded as 'the highest invasion of property.' But honour could be breached by other means. If insulted or attacked, it was seen as necessary for a man to 'cancel out' the affront by retaliating in some way. An angry response was expected and the failure to produce such a response would be considered cowardly. Anger was considered to be a reasonable and rational response in the circumstances.'
Honour is often an attribute that is 'honoured' in the military, law enforcement, martial arts, and other 'manly' pusuits. Honour is a man made construct. It is often designed to get us to do things that nature does not want us to do. We fight for honour rather than fleeing as our instincts scream at us to do, even though our instincts are born of nature and are only interested in our well-being. We fight for an ideal that nature is far too pragmatic to even consider.

The final element of the test is whether the provocation was such that it was capable of causing an 'ordinary person' to lose self-control and act in a manner that would encompass the accused's actions. There are two aspects to this test: (1) the gravity of the provocation; and (2) whether the provocation was of such gravity that it could cause an ordinary person to lose self-control and act like the accused.
What do we expect of the ordinary person? When discussing the criticisms of provocation, the authors refer to provocation as being seen as offending against one of the fundamental assumptions of the criminal law: 'that individuals ought at all times to control their actions and to conduct themselves in accordance with rational judgment.' Again we return to control. Control of emotions, control of behaviour motivated by emotions.

The report recommends against provocation being used as a defence:

[Provocation] suggests there are circumstances in which we, as a community, do not expect a person to control their impulses to kill or to seriously injure a person. ... In our view, anger and a loss of self-control, regardless of whether such anger may be understandable, is no longer a legitimate excuse for the use of lethal violence. People should be expected to control their behaviour — even when provoked. The historical justification for retaining a separate partial defence on the grounds of compassion — a 'concession to human frailty' — is, we believe, difficult to sustain.
Community standards expect us to control our behaviour. Behaviour is motivated by emotions. There are two options: (1) control our behaviour that is motivated by our emotions, or (2) control our emotions. The bugei were not interested in controlling their behaviour. They were interested in controlling their emotions so they would not have to control their behaviour (and their physiological response to a threat). Intervening in the appraisal process, how we view the world, changes the emotions that are elicited which in turn elicits a physiological and behavioural response. No emotion, no maladaptive behaviour or physiological response to control.

How are you dealing with fear and anger? Are you focusing on tactics and techniques and thereby ignoring the most fundamental element in surviving a violent encounter - emotion? Are you assuming fear and/or anger as being a given and focusing on controlling the aroused emotion and it's behavioural tendencies? Are you focussing on managing the arousal of the emotion? If so, are you focussing on the initial interpretation of the stimulus, or are you focussing on the perception of the resources and abilities that are designed to cope with the appraised threat stimulus?

The final word will be left with the very insightful Eleanor Roosevelt: Nobody can make you feel inferior unless you give them permission.

Nobody can make you feel anything, fear or anger, unless you give them permission.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tactical Breathing to Enhance Tactical Performance

Bruce Siddle, an international authority on use of force and training and the effects of survival stress on combat performance, argues that breath control should be a mandatory component of survival stress management. He suggests that the relationship between breath control and the ability to concentrate or focus has been recognised for centuries, and that ancient philosophies and martial arts texts abound with references drawing parallels between combat performance, breath control, and the ability to focus and concentrate when exposed to survival stress.

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman (ret.) refers to this voluntary breath control as 'tactical breathing.' He explains that it can be used in a stressful situation to slow your thumping heart beat, reduce the trembling in your hands, and to bathe you with a powerful sense of calm and control. Grossman provides a convoluted explanation of why this simple breathing method quickly restores your calm and control. It is more easily understood with reference to the 'survival process.'

The survival process is a concept I have developed. It is based on the integration of the theories and concepts of the stress and emotion disciplines. The survival process refers to our evolved defensive mechanism. If a stimulus is appraised as a threat, that appraisal elicits a subjective feeling response that motivates an urge to act, or action tendency, that the body is prepared to enact by a physiological response. The urge to act may or may not result in a behavioural respone that is designed to deal with the threat-appraised stimulus that set of the chain of events in the first place. The very interesting thing about this survival process is that all of the components are intimitely interconnected. Change one and you can change them all.

A stimulus is appraised as a threat eliciting the feeling of fear and an associated physiological response. Part of that physiological response increases the heart and breathing rate in order to increase the supply of oxygen to the muscles that are used to flee which is the action tendency motivated by fear. By 'intervening' in the natural survival process through controlling our breathing, we are intervening in the fear physiological response. This can change the appraisal, feeling, and other physiological responses as well as the nature of the urge to act.

I instruct my students that when they are doing a free fighting grading or exercise, when they feel like things are overwhelming them or going too fast, back off, take a couple of deep breaths, and everything will calm down and slow down. It works. I've employed this technique myself. Now I understand why it works.

The interconnectedness of all of the survival process components can explain certain methods that are taught within 'survival activities' (those being those activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter). 'Facial feedback hypothesis' refers to the notion that amplification or inhibition of facial expression of emotions can modify the intensity and possibly change nature of subjective feeling. For instance, smile when you are sad can reduce the feeling of sadness or change it to happiness. I've written a post about the putting on of a war face in the past. Putting on your war face could be, in addition to communicating a threat message to your enemy, an attempt at turning fear into anger and thereby changing the associated action tendency from flight to fight when in combat. 'Putting on a brave face' may lead to becoming brave (although brave is not an emotion but rather a moral judgement we impute to certain actions, as is heroism, courage, and cowardice).

When I was training pencak silat with Richard De Bordes school in London (under an extremely capable instructor I only knew as 'Randy'), we were instructed to smile when hit. A feature of emotions is their communicative function. An expression of pain tells the opponent you are hurt. A smile tells your opponent that his efforts were not effective, possibly leading to some self doubt in the opponent. It could also be argued that by not expressing the pain, it could be intervening in the pain experience. Pain is not 'felt' but experienced and relies on the various centres of the brain involved in emotion that shape the pain experience. Don't show it, don't feel it.

Knowledge is power. The mere academic understanding of this survival process has practical benefits for surviving a violent encounter. Research suggests that preparatory information about a potential threatening event can lessen negative reactions to that event. Driskell et al (2008) suggest that preparatory information reduces negative reactions to stressful events by enhancing familiarity, predictability, and controllability. Understanding the survival process, and the benefits of tactical breathing and why it works, increases confidence. And developing confidence is what Siddle suggests is the primary goal of survival instructors.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

No Fear

In my previous post, Pain Tolerance Paradox, I referred to two incidents where I was confronted by a knife-wielding aggressor. On both occasions I did not experience the physiological fight-or-flight response that is evolutionarily designed prepare my body to fight or flee. I also did not experience any fear. Why? The answer to this question is contained in appraisal theory.

I'm using a model that I refer to as the 'survival process' which explains our evolved survival process. All the methods developed by the activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter are interventions in this evolved survival process. For instance, the tactics and techniques developed, taught, and trained by these activities are learned behavioural responses that are designed to replace our instinctive behavioural responses to a threat.

In simple terms, a stimulus is appraised. If that appraisal results in a threat appraisal it elicits a subjective feeling and associated physiological reaction and action tendency that may or may not lead to a behavioural response which is intended to affect the initiating stimulus. For instance, a man holding a knife is appraised as a threat to our well-being. This appraisal elicits fear and a physiological response that is designed to prepare our bodies to flee, which is the action tendency of fear. If we do flee, that behaviour is intended to put distance between us and the stimulus, thereby reducing the threat appraisal and the attendant responses.

The appraisal process is made up of three components: primary appraisal, secondary appraisal, and reappraisal. The primary appraisal concerns the personal significance of the event to our well-being. The secondary appraisal concerns the evaluation of our resources and abilities to deal with the perceived stimulus. Reappraisal refers to changing the primary and secondary appraisals based on new information.

The primary appraisal initially categories the stimulus as irrelevant, benign-positive, or stress. Irrelevant means no significance to us; benign-positive refers to enhancing our well-being; and stress is categorised as harm, threat, or challenge. Harm is injury or damage that has happened; threat is the possibility of harm; and challenge focuses on the potential for gain or growth.

Challenge and threat appraisals have a lot in common in that they both call for the mobilisation of coping efforts, i.e. the activation of the survival process. The main difference between threat and challenge is that challenge focuses on the potential for gain or growth and is characterised by pleasurable emotions such as eagerness, excitement, and exhilaration. Threat, on the other hand, focuses on the potential harm and is characterised by negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, and anger.

My survival response was not activated when I was attacked by a knife-wielding attacker on two separate occasions. Was that because my primary appraisal categorised the attackers as irrelevant (we can ignore benign-positive)? Or was it because my primary appraisal categorised the attackers as a threat but my secondary appraisal determined that I had sufficient resources and abilities to cope with the threat leading to a reappraisal of the stimulus as being irrelevant?

One incident involved a 'customer' holding a large hunting knife to my throat when I served him in a shop. A primary appraisal of this event as irrelevant might be because, (a) my wellbeing held no significance for me, or (b) I did not believe the assailant would go through with his threat to cut my throat. Alternatively, I could have appraised the attacker as a threat but determined that I had the resources and abilities provided by my martial arts training to deal with the threat and reappraised the stimulus as irrelevant.

The other incident involved the confrontation of a would-be thief attempting to steal backpacks from a train compartment while travelling in the south of France. After pushing the would-be thief down the corridor, he picked himself up off the carriage floor, drew a knife, and advanced on me. The same appraisal analysis can be applied to this incident to explain why I did not experience the activation of a survival response.

Bruce Siddle, an international authority on use of force and the effects of 'survival stress' on survival and combat performance, suggests that developing confidence in training should be the primary goal of survival instructors. He explains that confidence implies a mental state which is void of fear, anxiety, or self doubt. The lack of confidence implies a mental state that produces anxiety and stress (an ambiguous term that confuses rather than clarifies issues). All his methods proposed in 'survival stress management' training are designed to intervene in the secondary appraisal of the appraisal process. Experiencing different attacks in training allows us to better evaluate their threat potential and therefore are designed to intervene in the primary appraisal of the appraisal process.

Zen Buddhism was adopted by the Japanese Samurai during the Kamakura era (12th-14th centuries). The study and practice of Zen was designed to 'set them free from the fear of death' by changing their perception of death. This belief/faith system was designed to intervene in the primary appraisal stage of the appraisal process so that a life-threatening stimulus was not appraised as a threat to their well-being.

The reciting of Psalm 23 - 'Yea, though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me' - by soldiers in combat is designed to intervene in the secondary appraisal of the appraisal process. It is designed to increase the perception of their resources to deal with a threat to their life by enlisting the support of their Christian god.

The ways and means of managing fear can all be better understood by understanding and studying our appraisal process.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pain Tolerance Paradox

I received the following comment to Increased Pain Tolerance of Martial Artists: 'How does this address the effects of the adrenaline dump regarding pain?' Interesting question.

Stress-induced analgesia (SIA) refers to the well established phenomenon that exposing humans or animals to a wide variety of stressors induces the suppression of pain perception. We’ve all heard the stories of the soldier who continues to fight, the athlete who continues to compete, the hero who continues their heroic efforts, all despite injury and all of whom report feeling no pain until the completion of their task. An explanation for this seemingly painless injury, at least at the time, is SIA.

SIA involves beta-endorphines being released from the pituitary gland. The term 'endorphin' is a contraction of 'endogenous morphine,' so named because it affects the body like morphine does. In fact, beta-endorphin has been found to be 48 times more powerful than morphine and even more addictive. Like opiates, endorphins are known for their painkilling, sedatory, anti-anxiety properties and for producing euphoric, trance and dream-like states.

From an evolutionary perspective, SIA can be regarded as a component of the evolved fight-or-flight survival response. It would not be highly adaptive if pain from injuries could prevent us from fighting or fleeing when our lives depended on it. But once the threat of death has passed, our normal pain-sensing mechanisms have to do their work in order to immobilise the injured part of the body and prevent the injury from getting worse.

When I was studying SIA, I recalled two separate incidents where I was confronted by an attacker armed with a knife. According to conventional wisdom, my evolved fight-or-flight response is suppose to be activated when my survival is threatened. This response is designed to increase my chances of survival by, among other things, the release of adrenaline to increase my strength and speed in order to fight or flee, and the release of hormones to decrease my sensitivity to pain so that I will not be distracted from our survival tasks. On both occasions, I did not experience the activation of the fight-or-flight response.

Two questions were raised. Firstly, why wasn't my evolved survival mechanism activated when my well-being, and possibly my life, was threatened? Secondly, was it a good thing or a bad thing that my evolved survival mechanism was not activated? Needless to say, I survived both encounters.

The martial arts' methods are designed to reduce or manage our fear (stress) to increase our chances of survival if attacked. So are the various stress training methods, such as stress inoculation training and stress exposure training used by law enforcement and the military to train their personnel and increase their chances of survival when operational. These methods are designed to reduce or negate the effects of our evolved survival response. If these methods are successful, no survival response, and no SIA. That means no increased tolerance to pain which is evolutionarily designed to increase our chances of survival.

I cannot tell you if my training was responsible for the non-activation of my survival response when confronted with knife-wielding attackers on two separate occasions. I cannot tell you what my pain experience would have been given I was successful in avoiding any injury on both occasions. All I can tell you is that I now appreciate the SIA paradox associated with martial arts training and the various forms of stress training adopted by law enforcement and the military.

Another Survival Response Paradox

Bruce Siddle, internationally recognised authority on use of force training and the effects of survival stress (fight-or-flight physiological response) on combat performance. He provides ways and means of managing the 'catastrophic' effects that survival stress has on motor and cognitive functions that are deleterious to combat and survival performance. Many in the activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter refer to his ideas, although whether they acknowledge or even know the source of their wisdom is another matter.

One of the things that Siddle advocates is the selection of gross motor skill techniques over fine or complex motor skill techniques due to the effects of survival stress on motor functions. He states that 'the sympathetic nervous system will control and dominate all motor action when a student is confronted with a spontaneous deadly force threat.' He also states that 'stress is a matter of perception, and perceptions can be changed through the training process.' (I'm currently writing an article on this subject)

Follow the logic. You've selected techniques based on the deleterious effects of this physiological response to a threat. This physiological response is elicited due to your perceptions. Your training is aimed at changing your perceptions. Changing your perceptions means that this physiological response is no longer elicited or its intensity is reduced. The training negates the reason for selecting only those types of techniques.

I'm not suggesting Siddle's advice is flawed. I'm just intrigued by the paradox that arises from it. An appreciation of this paradox forces those who are so strident in their opinion as to technique selection, training methods, and violence experiences to understand and explain the underlying assumptions of their arguement and to ensure internal consistency.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Increased Pain Tolerance of Martial Artists

I've just completed the first draft of my final article. The subject matter is pain. Pain is ubiquitous in all activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter. Avoiding it, inflicting it, threatening to inflict it, tolerating it, and using it as a learning tool. Pain and the threat of pain are major tools in law enforcement's less-than-lethal armory. However, you'll be hard pressed to find any explanation of pain and the pain process in the literature related to the activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter.

I thought I'd share two studies which found that athletes have a higher pain tolerance than non-athletes, and contact athletes have a higher pain tolerance than non-contact athletes who have a higher pain tolerance than non-athletes. The following is an extract from my draft article:
There is evidence that athletes have higher pain tolerance levels than non-athletes. To live with minor or major injuries and to practice or play with pain seems to be almost certain and acceptable experiences in the life of sportsmen and sportswomen. Studies have shown that athletes seem to have similar pain thresholds but higher pain tolerance when compared to non-athletes. The exact cause of their higher pain tolerance is unknown. Ryan and Kovacic (1966) compared the pain tolerance levels of contact athletes (football players, boxers, and wrestlers), non-contact athletes, and non-athletes. They found that the contact athletes had a higher pain tolerance than non-contact athletes who in turn had a higher pain tolerance than non-athletes. They discussed three possible explanations for their findings:

1. Two culturally determined attitudes influencing pain perception: pain expectancy and pain acceptance. Pain expectancy is anticipation of pain as being unavoidable in a given situation and pain acceptance is the willingness to experience pain. The contact athletes, and to a lesser extend the non-contact athletes, have frequently been in situations where pain was unavoidable. For these athletes, the ability to tolerate pain is seen as being essential to successful performance and is socially valued. On the other hand, non-athletes have much less often been in situations where pain was unavoidable and thus have not associated ability to tolerate pain with socially desirable traits or characteristics.

2. The realistic evaluation of the significance of pain with contact athletes having a more realistic evaluation and less fear of pain than non-athletes. Previous experience with pain allows the contact athletes to distinguish between harmful pain and non-harmful pain. The non-athletes, having limited experience with painful stimulation, would be less apt to know how ‘serious’ the pain actually was, and thus, due to apprehension, tolerate less.

3. Certain individuals tend to reduce the intensity of their pain perceptions subjectively while others tend to augment the intensity of their pain perceptions. The reducers tolerate pain well, the augmenters poorly.

Kolt (2000) suggests two general explanations for higher pain tolerance in athletes compared to non-athletes:

1. Athletes have a greater exposure to physical training and increased fitness, resulting in higher levels of circulating endogenous opiods.

2. Athletes, as part of their physical training and performance explore boundaries in relation to extreme physical activity and pain experience, giving a perception of control over the pain-physical activity interface.
This is possibly one of those benefits that may arise from training martial arts that is applicable to other realms of our daily lives. A more realistic understanding of pain and a greater acceptance of pain influences the experience of pain in other non-martial arts areas.

I recall a student who went on to become involved in the security industry. He once shares with me his surprise at how much punishment he could absorb and put it down to the falls that he experienced in his jujutsu training. Constantly impacting the mat with varying degrees of force. His higher tolerance of pain resulting from this type of training could be explained by the above explanations.

I 'borrowed' the pain image to the above right from a martial arts related blog whose post was discussing the conquering of pain. While the blog provides some information about how to conquer pain, it does not provide information on what pain is or the pain process. Information that provides us with the opportunity of more effectively managing pain.

Stress training, stress inoculation training, and stress exposure training are all methods used by law enforcement and the military to enhance operational performance. The typical stress program involves three stages with the first being an informational stage where stress and its effects are studied. 'Research suggests that preparatory information regarding a potential threatening event can less negative reactions to that event' (Driskell et al 2008: 274).

Stress is an ambiguous concept. I've integrated the concepts and theories of the stress discipline and emotion discipline, which are studying the same concept but focusing on different elements in the process and not referring to each other's work, to develop an understanding of our evolved survival process. Pain is part of our evolved survival process. It can be a reaction to a stimulus (stress) or it can be the stimulus (stressor) that generates its own responses. It is beyond the scope of this post, indeed any typical post, to fully explain this concept, but the same ideas that are used to manage stress, e.g. information provision in stage one, are applicable to managing pain.
In Explain Pain, Butler and Moseley (2003) suggest we remember that ‘knowledge is the great liberator!’ (111), and explain that education and understanding is the primary step in the management of pain. They refer to various studies that have shown that education results in changes in pain beliefs and attitudes, alter pain conditions and physical performance, and increase pain thresholds during physical tasks. Moseley (2005) provided a case study which demonstrated that pain physiology education markedly reduced widespread brain activity characteristic of a pain experience.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Producing Better Teachers and Students

I received a couple of comments with regards to my Best of Kojutsukan Posts. They requested that I link the posts referred to in that post to the actual posts. As you can see from my linking of the Best of Kojutsukan Posts, I have learned the technique to do so, and the previous post has been likewise updated.

Number three in the top ten was: What Does a Black Belt Mean? This suggests to me that there is a lot of interest in understanding what a black belt is suppose to signify. I came across the following again while editing my articles to be submitted for publication:

In virtually all martial arts, black belt denotes the highest level of achievement. ... By the time the student attains a black belt his [or her] knowledge and skill are of the highest class. In addition, his [or her] depth of knowledge makes him [or her] a fully qualified teacher. Rather than merely knowing how to perform the moves, the black belt is expected to know why a given move works. That is, he [or she] understands the biomechanical principles that underlie the move. ... The deeper knowledge makes him [or her] a far better than someone who merely recounts a series of moves. Moreover, such knowledge allows him to invent new moves and combinations and so develop a more personalised [martial art].
(Gracie and Gracie, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Theory and Technique, 2001: 17)

The Gracies' principle is sound, however the practice falls far short. If the black belt does understand the why of techniques, the biomechanical principles that underlie techniques, they did not obtain their knowledge from current biomechanical or martial arts texts.

Jigoro Kano, the founder of Kodokan Judo, when explaining his motivation for developing judo lamented that the many eminent jujutsu masters he studied under did not know the underlying principles of there methods and that they just taught a collection of techniques. I'd suggest not a lot has changed from then to today. This is evident when I am greeted with the bemused question, 'why bother,' when discussing the difference between throwing techniques and takedown techniques. The difference goes to the very essence of these techniques, which I'd suggest is not understood by the question raisers.

The Gracies principle that a black belt denotes a qualified teacher, and that the teacher should know the why-to in addition to the how-to is the mission that is crystallising for me and my kojutsukan.

I am writing four (at the moment) articles that I intend to submit for publication in the Journal of Asian Martial Arts (JAMA). JAMA is a semi-academic journal, and my work is designed to be at that level. The purpose of an MBA, as it was explained to us in our first lecture, is to bridge research and practice. To advance practice by applying research and theory. This is my goal. To have theory inform practice so practice is better. As McGinnis writes in Biomechanics of Sport and Exercise, 'the best outcome of studying and using biomechanics will be improved performances by your athletes or the accelerated learning of new skills by your students' (2005: 1).

Carr, in Sport Mechanics for Coaches (2004), suggests that coaches are reluctant to study sports mechanics because it means tackling dry, boring texts loaded with formulas, calculations, and scientific terminology. Further, he suggests that these texts have failed to explain the relationship of good technique to the principles of mechanics in a manner that is meaningful to coaches and sports enthusiasts. All too true and more so when it comes to the martial arts. In fact, in certain instances, those who have attempted to explain the science behind striking and kicking techniques (the article I'm currently working on) have either confused the issue or misdirected the reader.

I am not interested in the science for the sake of the science. I am not interested in using science to support a particular way of doing things. I am not interested in using science to try and differentiate my teachings from others, such as some do in order to sell books in an over saturated market. As a teacher and student of the martial arts, I am only interested in the science in so far at it facilitates the understanding and study of martial arts techniques or those used in violence generally in a practical way.

I have just had one of my articles reviewed by the head of a sports biomechanics faculty at a prestigious university, who will remain nameless for the moment. He commended me on using biomechanics to inform practice for the general public, and more importantly that I had got the science right. Given I am a self taught biomechanist, that was a huge relief.

The four articles cover the science behind stances, movement (footwork), throwing, takedown, striking, kicking, breakfalling, and unbalancing techniques. They also cover the most fundamental principle that applies to all techniques, forces, and this facilitates the understanding and study of joint techniques. Referring to biomechanical principles is looking at the very essence of the techniques; what actually makes them work. As Carr explains, 'all the fundamental actions an athlete makes in technique are founded on mechanical principles. In other words, technique is based on mechanical laws' (155). All the techniques taught in the martial arts or used in violence generally are based on biomechanical laws. Understanding these laws, or principles, allows the teacher and student to focus on what is important from the get go.

The articles provide a few simple biomechancial concepts that can be used to focus on what actually makes the techniques work. They also provide a method of analysing techniques that can facilitate their analysis to improve performance and to teach the techniques. I always say, first teach the student how to learn, then teach them the subject matter. Teaching a student how to learn accelerates their learning, a goal that McGinnis identified when explaining the benefits of studying biomechanics.

These four articles are now forming the basis for a book on the science behind the tactics and techniques of the martial arts or those used in violence generally. What would be added is the information I have gathered on strangulation techniques, our evolved survival mechanism (Beyond Fight-or-Flight), and pain. What is missing is the physiology explaining joint techniques, but that is difficult to obtain authoritative information given that more than 85% of all injuries to the upper arm are as a result of falls on outstretched hands where forces are applied very differently to the forces applied when executing a joint technique.