The dimensional demarcation of a martial art

The COSTAC Method has been devised to make the identification (and importantly DEMARCATION) of behaviours much more explicit. As a predicate for any academic discussion of Combat Systems, it is essential that the kinds of behaviours and objectives of that system are identified in order to facilitate cross-comparison.

The COSTAC Method is part of the framework used to generate better understanding of a Combat System by recognising all levels of it’s composition. Some Martial Arts make use of naming conventions which at the same time refer to aspects of all dimensions, such as those recorded by Musashi Miyamoto in Go Rin No Sho (五輪書), or the mnemonics present in most East Asian Martial Arts (EAMA).


What are the circumstances of the combat? We must consider the relativity of the opponent, predict his strengths and weaknesses immediately by assuming an Assessor Role. We must also anticipate the Risk of the combat using the Risk model.


Once we have identified ‘State A’, or the present state of affairs, we must then reconcile them with a desired or ideal state – known as ‘State B’. State B is defined by Outcomes, and these outcomes (potentially positive or negative, but most desirably Positive) define the further elements of the COSTAC method.


The reconcilation of State A into State B is made via a Strategy. ‘Where are we at’, and ‘where we want to be’ have already been established as per the components above. In which case, Strategy defines the rules upon which the outcomes are achieved.


Using anticipation and prediction of the kinds of resistances met, as well as taking into account the tools at our disposal, we must then consider the Tactics of the combat – or how the Strategy will be carried out in practice. Tactics are derived from the functional problems of both Force (i.e. an attack), and Resistence. In summary, there are four cases derived from the Presence or Absense of each:

  1. Presence of Force, Presence of Resistence
  2. Presence of Force, Absense of Resistence
  3. Absense of Force, Presence of Resistence
  4. Absense of Force, Absence of Resistence


These are the technical level of performance of behaviours based upon the parameters outlined above. This is by far the most complex dimension because it contains all the variables derived from physical movement of the human body. The aspects of its study are anthropometrics, homokinetics, biomechanics, physics, kinematics, plyometrics etc. Based upon these studies some of the most salient components may be defined Eskirmologically as follows:

  • Postural Orientation
    • Anterior
      • function: to offer equal application of the limbs at close distance
      • features: stable posture, often internally rotated
    • Lateral
      • function: to present reduced target area at long distance
      • features: dominant (fencing), or subordinate (boxing) hand lead
  • Relative States
    • Standing
    • Kneeling
    • Sitting
    • Lying
  • Action Modes
    • Percussion (Mode 1)
    • Non-percussion
      • Extremities (Mode 2)
      • COG (Mode 3)
  • Types of Mode 1 (defined by trajectory)
    • forehand blow (Type A)
    • straight blow (Type B)
    • hammer blow (Type C)
    • upper blow (Type D)
    • backhand blow (Type E)

The variables which may be found in all Combat Systems on a technical level may be reduced back to the types of categorisations found in Eskirmology, a sample of which are shown above.


Even the best laid plains might fail when exposed to the unpredictable behaviours of an adversary. Considering a hierarchy of Strategy and behaviours with their own conditional subrules allows for complete control over an opponent, and therefore mastery of combat.

This very brief outline of the COSTAC Method is intended merely to example one of the many potent theoretical components underpinning the Eskirmological approach to understanding combat.