Daily Failures, Part 5

One can compile long lists of basic motor control problems in martial arts and still, wrong internal models and their underlying reasons will always be on top of it. It seems that the human body is not meant to live and cope with an ever-changing environment that alters its state too fast. Martial arts have found their own ways to deal with these problems. The following example will prove this point.


Wrong internal model and transmission approach

Punching a road sign


At the beginning, this example doesn´t show anything new. A guy is beating a road sign and fails due to his wrong internal model of the road sign. He cannot change his movement, since his punch is too fast to recognize the error. So he is trapped in his action, and has no way to compensate for the error. So far, so good.

Now we take a look at the road sign. One of the first blog entries “Examples to get you started, Part 1” presented an excerpt from Alan Watts. In that text, he described “a wooden rod that rotates around its center of gravity”. If you haven’t already read that blog entry, please do so. Otherwise it will be hard to follow along. The road sign in this video is a perfect example of this metaphor. Even though it cannot move its center, it is still capable of redirecting forces in a transmission-like manner. The force is applied to its mechanical structure, passes through it and shifts the different parts in such a way that the force has a defined exit point. So, the road sign and its transmission-like manner transform a straight into a round movement. The road sign even hits his “attacker”; a nice bonus.




An environment that changes too fast cannot be understood completely. Collecting the needed traits and patterns is slow in comparison to the attacks you have to deal with. A transmission approach is completely different. It doesn’t have to collect sensory information, interpret it and act accordingly. It has a defined way to deal with things due to a fixed structure. Thus, the big advantage of a transmission approach is its´ “reaction time” to an input force. A simple reaction or even a reflex still need some time for their execution. An ideal transmission doesn’t need this time. It has no delay and begins exactly at the very moment when the input force affects it. This approach delivers a solution to the motor control problems of delayed or wrongly-perceived sensory information and the wrong internal models built upon them.

This introduces new problems, like how you should construct a transmission. A standard transmission is fixed in terms of force, torque and movement transfer. Think of a transmission in an engine block, say the piston rod and the crank shaft [1]. It works perfectly for the chosen application, but you cannot use it for the gear transmission that is used for shifting gears in your car.

So, there is still a long way to go to successfully construct usable transmissions for martial arts. The road sign delivers some basic boundary conditions, like the firm structure, joints and some predetermined breakout points for torque and forces. But, you cannot simply form a kind of transmission with your weapon or arm and hope for an opponent to fall for this trap. Transmissions in martial arts are far more complex.

The post was published 4. January 2014 related to the category Miscellaneous and tagged with , , .