One of the books that I have enjoyed reading over the years is the book of five rings, the original book was written in 1645 by Miyamoto Musashi.
Musashi used a very old form of Japanese text and the trouble is when you come to translate this book into English, depending on who translates the text it can have a slightly different connotation, for example the Autumn leaves cut becomes the red leaves cut.
I know of over half a dozen translations of this book, you can find subtle differences within each book even though the people who did the translation all looked at the same copy of the original brush strokes.
I can think of times in the Dojo when we have listened to one of our teachers explaining how a technique works, and then when he asks you and a training partner to demonstrate the pattern that has just been outlined you end up with a slightly different interpretation than what the teacher explained and so he corrects you, and you try again until you get it how he wants you to do it.
Then a few months later another teacher would arrive at the Dojo and show you the same technique with the same basic outline and structure but a slightly different outcome, it’s the same pattern, the same name, the same initiation just a slightly different feel to the interpretation.
This happens throughout the martial arts, and life in general.
Some people get hung up on which one is correct, or what’s right or wrong, they are both right!
In the 1990s I became interested in the system of Chu Fen Do, a chap by the name of Tony Blaur had developed it, then I started to look at his spear system.
I never directly trained with him, because of my other training commitments but I read everything that I could get my hands on or borrow, the Blaur tactical systems training manual his behavioural tactics the panic attack psychology, all good stuff, I was lucky enough to get first hand information from an old friend who was with him on a police instruction tour, I also know one of his representatives in the UK.
In 1995 I read Geoff Thompson’s book Animal Day, in 1997 he brought out three second fighter and then I picked up a copy of The Fence, again all good stuff, I couldn’t help notice some striking similarities, even though the information overlapped from one book to the next there was some remodelled information, not necessarily different or new just remodelled, it was how he had remodelled the information that helped me understand the connection.
I became interested in the British Combat Association and started attending their courses, I met people from all sorts of different styles and backgrounds, training and looking for practical information or just a fresh look at what we already have, listening to other points of view.
I attended courses run by Mr Dennis Martin of CQB services, it was while on one of his winning edge course,(the guest instructor was Mr Marcus Wynne) that again I noticed that they had
borrowed old quotes from the South African police, French special operations forces the SAS and an old Gunfighters motto that had been adapted by Dennis, all the quotes used had the same message to inspire and connect the group, even though we all came from different martial arts backgrounds.
I think the point that I am trying to make is that there is nothing new in martial arts and it shouldn't matter where the information comes from so long as it makes sense and it is practical to use in a situation.
Everyone uses everyone else's stuff in one way or another, isn’t it time we were honest and just give credit where credit is due?
Every now and again someone comes along and puts a new slant on old information, there is nothing wrong with this, it can be like a breath of fresh air.
The trouble starts when an over inflated ego rubs shoulders with the narrow minded among us and starts arguing over the same point.
I have noticed that in the self defence and martial arts community some groups appear to try and justify a particular lack of knowledge with the use of formula such as Hicks law as an excuse to follow what has become the norm in our modern training culture, (less is best).
This could translate as, if the only tool in the box is a hammer every problem looks like a nail.
What I mean is that these groups offer a small selection of generally excepted response options to fit every situation.
Hicks Law was initially proposed in 1952, the formula he came up with is – reaction time = movement + processing speed. Where processing speed is the time taken to come to a decision.
Hicks Law revealed that reaction time increased by the number of possible responses until it gets to a point where the response time remains constant despite the increasing number of possible choices.
This I believe to be a specific observation, his research didn’t take into consideration the candidates mood or mental disposition, or if the candidate was trained over a period of time in any form of coordinated movement, and how that would affect an outcome.
if the only tool in the box is a hammer every problem looks like a nail
To be fair it depends what response options you are offered, your brain logs and hard wires things that we do over and over again, these movements eventual become natural actions and require hardly any conscious response.
In a high stress situation I can appreciate that we need a good tried and tested initial response, however once we have used that initial option we have to be able to expand our options to fit our immediate needs.
The main factor that affects the response time is the number of possible stimulus that are presented, (each one has its own response) isn’t that why we train?
Think for just a minuet a violent encounter is not static, its fluid the situation changes every time your attacker moves or attempts to attack you, the response changes every time he changes direction.
Your attacker can change his mind about what he thinks he can do to you in a split second, so again the stimulus changes.
I am not talking about a match fight in a ring, even in a conflict that lasts just a few seconds, action and response are in a state of flux, so you could say that Hicks Law also identified how unstable and uncertain some situational outcomes could be by only having a limited set of response options, especially if you are presented with a situation that you have never encountered before.
Was Bruce Lee right when he wrote. By an error repeated throughout the ages, truth becoming Law or a faith places obstacles in the way of knowledge, method which is in its vary substance ignorance encloses truth within a vicious circle we should break such a circle, not by seeking knowledge but by discovering the cause of ignorance.