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.

1 comment:

  1. Oh boy, I would not accept this particular research report. First, what and who do they classify as a master? The current flood of master's on the martial arts world is pretty iffy at best and plain ego pride driven self-promoting phenomenon that has not authorized or recognized a governing body that provides such criteria and credentials accepted by the martial art community as a whole that would give a master its foundation, etc.

    Second, then there are the methods used to determine how a person could anticipate where an attack is coming from before one has moved. That one is simple, pretty much by their experience and the knowledge that an assumed posture and stance, etc. will tell you what attack is coming then all you have to do is beat that person's OODA loop. It ain't rocket science.

    Third, then how do you test this and how did they test this, i.e. master or so-called master against a martial artist? Are both of equal mastery and how did they determine that to get a solid scientific model to test, etc.

    I appreciate the article once it leaves the fist and second paragraph. I would also allude to the pattern recognition parts as I mention above, i.e. what stance we assume, the posture, the positioning of hands, arms, etc. tell a lot. Did they look for said patterns and tells in the test and did they actually create a test model with all the fundamental principles of martial systems addressed properly?

    Nice post and good theories on your part but the researchers (who were they and were they actually scientists with a scientific model, etc.) and their unpublished paper that drives this article are missing and it would be more enlightening to read that first but I would not expect that to come about to quickly.

    Oh, and are there studies already jaded by their ultimate goal of finding what would improve the cricket game, i.e. that in and of itself gives a slant to the process because humans with that in mind will be looking for what they want to achieve what they want.


Your comments make my work all the more relevant as I use them to direct my research and theorising. Thank you.