The entirety of fighting comes down to the interaction of two organisms within Time and Space, as well as the intention within each of the organisms to cause damage to the other.  No single attack or defence can be made unless the organisms are in reach of each other. Therefore the fundamental requirement of fighting is the proxemical positioning of the organisms in order to cause damage and exact Force.


We can all accept that Space exists without any substantial objects in it, but there has been an often stated belief that the true definition of Space can be found in the objects within it. For example, the space inside a cup is known because of the sides of the cup. The usefulness in the cup is in its emptiness, yet the sides of the cup define it’s emptiness. Space and time are uniquely linked, and for this reason, the Japanese call Space (in the combative sense) the Ma-ai, or “interval”. In other words, it is the Space-Time interval between two points.


Space is therefore (like the cup mentioned above) defined based upon the relationships of the bodies within it.  It is considered an important study in Eskirmology to cover the positions and ranges in which fighting takes place.  It is worth remembering that any and every technique or movement made within space takes time (for example, if I were 2 steps away from coming within reach of the opponent, then the time it would take to make the attack would be the time of the attack, plus the time to make the steps in approach). We shall consider Time and it’s relation to space afterwards, but first we shall break the subject down most simply.


To consider this better, we make use of a sub-division of the science which I call “Combative Proxemics”. The term “Proxemics” was coined by Anthropologist Edward T Hall, who wrote a book called The Hidden Dimension (1966).  The term stems from the word Proximity, meaning “distance between bodies in space”. As an athropologist, he studied the social interaction which humans made with each other, and how different levels of social intimacy reciprocated a certain spatial range. To sum up the consideration of Proxemics, Hall gave the following definition:


“Like gravity, the influence of two bodies on each other is inversely proportional not only to the square of their distance but possibly even the cube of the distance between them.”


Hall’s works were based upon the considerations of Spatial distancing discussed in the ethological research of Heini Hediger.  In 1955, Hediger published a study upon the behaviour of captive animals, and identified certain proxemics involved in physical conflict between those animals. He identified 4 boundries which animals allow in interaction with other animals. These distances were Flight Distance (Run/escape boundary), Critical Distance (attacking), Personal Distance (distance for animals of a similar species) and Social Distance (the distance in which communication between different species is made). Hall made a similar distinction between distances when he applied the ideas to human society.


Hall identified similar boundaries which he listed as Intimate Distance (like that of personal space, which is a close space for lovers), Personal Distance (in which close friends and family are comfortably admitted), Social Distance (in which acquaintances or colleagues are separated), and finally Public Distance (the distance in which utter strangers are comfortably sharing the same space).


Hall made a consideration that the Critical and Flight distances had all but been forgotten in Human interaction – only in very few situations do these evolutionary distancing mechnanisms come into play.  Fighting, I believe is one of those few situations of human interaction and thus we may create an amalgam between both Hediger and Hall’s theories to describe the kind of distancing involved within combat. It is for this reason that Combative Proxemics is quite different from orthodox proxemics.

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