Thursday, March 23, 2017

We are not afraid

The following image and narrative were posted on Facebook by NewsThump following the attack in London on 22 March 2017:

Don't give them the anger they want. Focus on the amazing job done by the public and emergency services. Don't look at the apparent carnage, look at the people rushing towards the unknown to help others. Make the story about the resilience of London and its citizens. They want your anger, they want your fury - and they want you to focus it on anyone different from you. Don't hand them an easy victory.

I find this fascinating given the work I've done on my second book concerning our natural and learned response to a threat. It integrates the theories of fight-or-flight, stress, emotion, and cognition to explain our evolved survival mechanism and the survival process. It also helps understand our learned responses to a threat as they are all interventions in the survival process.

Given the above narrative shouldn't the image say, 'We are not scared'?

Isn't terrorism associated with terror, an extreme form of fear?

This raises the question, what is the relationship between anger and fear?

Many refer to the fight-or-flight concept to describe our natural responses to a threat. They explain that in response to a perceived threat, fear motivates instinctive flight or fight behaviours that an automatic physiological response prepares the body to enact. That is a limited and flawed understanding of the F-o-F concept, and in fact the F-o-F concept itself is limited and flawed.

The issue I will focus on hear is that the F-o-F concept refers to two emotions not just one. It associates fear with flight and anger with fight. That small but important detail is important because there would be no need to counter/overcome fear if fight was the desired behaviour.

Given the above narrative, how do the terrorists intend to elicit anger rather than fear by killing indiscriminately? And is the reason terrorists want to elicit anger is to motivate the 'enemy' to fight?

Anger has been used since time immemorial to counter/overcome fear in order to fight in war. But so has hate and spite, different forms of anger but with a different focus and different outcomes. A news report today of the exposed civilian Afghan casulties following a NZ SAS raid refers to the troopers being angry at the killing of one of their own. No insurgents were killed, only civilians and in the main women and children. Were they angry, or did they hate the enemy and wanted to inflict pain and suffering to alleviate their suffering? The same may be asked of the Vietnam massacre at My Lai.

It should be noted that anger is nature's go-to response to get things done. For instance, the initial response to a threat is fear and flight, however, if flight is obstructed, nature goes to anger and fight in order to provide the opportunity to flee. Two psychologists associated with US prisons and prison hospital concluded after more than 20 years experience that the greatest cause for violence is shame. The shame is so painful that it elicits anger and its action tendency of fight in order to alleviate that pain. As the director Ang Lee once said, 'Sometimes you have to get angry to get things done.' Nature agrees.

 These are all fascinating issues that I hope to cover in my book. Issues that enable us to better understand our natural and learned responses to a threat.


More force needed to stop an attack than to start one

I'm still working on the chapter on blocking techniques in the martial arts in my book on the science behind fighting techniques. It is not as straight forward a subject as one might initially think.

My last post, Magnitude of Force to Change Direction or Stop a Moving Object, appealed to readers for technical information concerning the amount of force required to deflect a moving object (e.g. a punch). That appeal is still current, for the time being.

I'm working on Okazaki and Stricevic's 'Principles of Motion' in The Textbook of Modern Karate, that they say is helpful to understand in order to deal with a punch a kick. The second principle is:

To stop an object's motion requires a force greater than the one that set the object in motion. This has special relevance to blocking techniques when the objective is to arrest [(stop)] an attack.

An exploration of the concept of blocking techniques in the martial arts requires a chapter, so, I will only focus on the above PoM.

Firstly, Okazaki and Stricevic leave out one vital piece of information when explaining their second PoM. Force has magnitude, direction, and point of application. The direction of a force applied by a blocking technique has to be applied in the opposite direction to motion of the object/opponent's attacking body part in order to stop its motion. That is an important but often overlooked detail when many distinguish blocking techniques into two types: hard-soft, arresting-deflection, blocks-deflection, direct-indirect, etc.

Secondly, magnitude. Okazaki and Stricevic suggest more force is required to stop a moving object/opponent's attacking body part, than was needed to start it in motion. I initially thought that this might not be true; that only an equal an amount of force as that needed to initiate motion in an object was required to be applied in order to stop that object. In fact, I thought that if you applied more force to an object in motion than was applied to initiate its motion that it would cause the object to move in the direction of the greater force, e.g. backward. What do you think? Sounds reasonable.

As is so often the case in developing the theory in my book, I didn't rely on my assumptions/opinions and went in search of an authoritative answer to this question. I didn't find one per se, however, I was able to develop one from an equation for how much force is required to start an object in motion.

Force can be calculated by the equation change in momentum divided by time. Momentum is calculated as the product of mass and velocity. Force is measured in Newtons (N). What force is required to get a 10 kg object moving at 12 m/s in 5s?

Momentum at start = 10 x 0 = 0 kg m/s
Momentum at end = 10 x 12 = 120 kg m/s
Change in momentum = 120 - 0 = 120 kg m/s
Force = change in momentum/time = 120/5 = 24 N

How much force is needed to stop the above object in motion nearly instantaneously, say in 1s?

Momentum at start = 10 x 12 = 120 kg m/s
Momentum at end = 10 x 0 = 0 kg m/s
Change in momentum = 0 - 120 = -120 kg m/s
Force = change in momentum/time = -120/1 = -120 N

The time was chosen for an instantaneous stopping action. The negative value reflects force applied in the opposite direction. Five times as much force as initiated the motion of that object/attack is required to to be applied to stop that moving object/attack in that time frame.

This equation is also used to describe Impulse and explain how increasing the time that force is applied decreases the average amount of force required to stop an object. E.g. pulling your hands back as you catch a moving ball.

Now, working on how much force is required to deflect a moving object. Anyone?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Magnitude of force to change direction or stop a moving object.

I am researching an issue I need explained in my chapter on blocking techniques in my book on the science behind fighting techniques.

I am calling to all readers of this blog and beyond.

Please explain in biomechanical/mechanical/physics terms why it takes less force to deflect an object than to stop an object. Please be technical in your explanation. If you wish privacy, please email me at

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Mushin No Shin or Turn Fear into Anger

Self-defence, fighting, combat sports, close quarter combat, etc, and every sport - the question always is, emotion or no emotion.

Mushin no shin is the Japanese term for an idea where you fight with no emotion. No fear, no anger, no nothing. Is that the best approach?

Nature didn't think so. Nature provided emotion for the exact reason to promote an individual's survival. It does so cognitively and physically. The latter I refer to as 'nature's performance enhancing drugs' which is the physiological reaction that accompanies emotion.

Women's self-defence typically teaches to turn fear into anger. Emotion into emotion. They don't teach mushin no shin. Why?

I was watching my 12yo step-daughter train Australian Rules Football yesterday and was thinking about this issue. How do you coach these kids to play? Emotion or no emotion? If emotion, then what emotion?

There is a trade-off. No emotion means no physiological and psychological benefits, but it also means that your performance is not effected by the emotional physiological and psychological automatic responses.

What is the best way to go? That is not something I am considering in my second book. What I am doing is providing the means to understand the question in the first place.