The following post is an excerpt from The Martial Arts Delusion (Third Edition 2012, 166-173).

All Combat Systems are the product of a range of choices. These choices define the system and each individual choice which makes up a system make it individual relative to other systems which might have made very different choices. Because of the many and varied levels of choice which can be made in this process, we can witness a great many systems, yet all are based upon the exact same range of choices.

The choices which can be made are based upon the logic of fighting as a phenomenon. This means eskirmologics is the sum of all the choices which can be in any and all Combat Systems. By identifying these choices, we can trace a picture of the code which contributes to the existence of a martial art.

Consider that the Architect of a Combat System experimented, inquired and theorised about fighting and what works as a solution to the problems imposed by fighting. He theorised that, in order to successfully beat an opponent, he must be able to wait for an opponent so that we may apply less of our own energy to undermine his movement. Perhaps this opinion was informed by the local world-view (such as Wu-wei in China, or Laissez-faire in Europe; more on this later).

THEORY Unilaterality Bilaterality
Before (U¹)

Against (U²)

After (B¹)

With (B²)

A

P

P

L

I

C

A

T

I

O

N

Percussion Non-percussion
 

TYPE
A

Skillset

TYPEB

Skillset

 

TYPE

C

Skillset

 

TYPE

D

Skillset

Ballistic Tactile Gross-bodily
T

E

C

H

N

I

C

A

L

AFFECTORS
 

Upper Limbs

(A¹)

 

Lower Limbs

(A²)

Applicators

Figure 15 – Range of Choices in the composition of a Combat System. A Combat System may be made up of multifarious choices, and those choices define it and make it unique. A Combat System can be described using the symbols offered above, for example;  ∑ Boxing = U¹U²(A{A¹}), or ∑ Tae Kyon = U¹U²(A{A²}), or ∑ Aikido = B¹B²(CD{A¹}), or ∑ Judo = B¹B²(D). I have outlined these formulae elsewhere.

Nevertheless, he made a choice about his intended behaviour. Perhaps he was aware of the other decisions which might have been made, but he has identified and chosen one. This choice, isolated from the other choices, defines his Combat System – the more specialised the choices, the more partitioned the data of the Combat System becomes.

The experience of fighting often dictates the kinds of solutions which can be found in a Combat System. Although Eskirmology contains the entirety of all possible experiences, the intelligent subjective being (the human) is only capable of experiencing a small portion of them, and that small portion will:

 

  1. affect the way in which he will approach future encounters
  2. influence the kind of solutions he will generate.

 

This means that his solution, in the form of his Combat System instantly tells us about 1) the kind of experiences the founder of the System has had of fighting, and 2) his opinion about the best solutions to the problems exhibited in those subjective experiences. Coupled with this, we also find his cultural ‘frame’ impacting upon his choices.

Every topic and understanding made by the human is based upon this concept of subjectivism. Understanding the types of subjectivism which exist will help us to understand the reasons behind the formation of Combat Systems. In fact, understanding these types can even explain the reasons behind the development of all human topics; including religion and the sciences.

The kinds of choices made are based upon;

 

  1. Prediction of a potential range of choices
  2. Prediction of a potential sequence of choices

 

The actual choice made is based upon the founder’s discernment of fighting, and so he can only make choices relative to his understanding of fighting. He must predict the range of choices which might have to be made in an actual fight-event, and supply his students the rule-set (the Theory) required to navigate those choices. Hence, the Combat System and its techniques are a macrocosmic and long-term representation of any fight-event. It provides a portfolio and rules upon which decisions may be made by an individual, or rather how decisions do not need to be made on behalf of the individual.

The Architect’s observation was partial, their enquiry was not systematic, and as a method, it is inevitable that any truth discovered could only be a partial truth (Little, 2001), with the result being that the data comprising the Combat System is a partitioned part from the possible whole. Their enquiry did not reveal the entire map of combat-logic, and they did not have the benefit of having assessed the problem from the perspective of modern science.

For example, say that we were investigating numbers, and we were attempting to identify a range of basic numbers 1 to 10. Assume the basic premise that these numbers are unknown to us and that civilisation, up to this point of our investigation, has no concept of the numbers 1 to 10.

Now work on the premise that we may liken these numbers to the whole of Eskirmologics. By a process of experience, and limited observation, some masters were capable of discerning the odd numbers 1, 3, 5, 7, 9. Considering that they had identified all that might be identified, they settled on a selection from this partial range and formed a partial truth. We may consider Aikido as an example of this, whose teachings propose that a Bilateral Strategy is the best to use. Ueshiba  (the Architect of Aikido) has subjectively discovered the bilateral skillsets, but not the unilateral skillsets. Eskirmologics makes no discernment of bilateral or unilateral; both exist in Combat Logic and therefore Combat Logic is impartial to both – it is human beings who place importance on either due to individual attributes.

Other arts such as Western Boxing have discovered punching to be most practical; which we could liken to the discovery of 1, 2, 6 and 8 – only even numbers. But it has missed the bilateral methods which Aikido has discovered. From a range of unilateral options, Boxing has been predetermined to make a selection of unilateral solutions, and therefore generate a unilateral Combat System.

So the entire truth of Combat Logic contains all numbers 1 to 10. Furthermore, it is merely incidental that one nation of people should know the numbers as “yap, yee, saam”, or “uno, dos, tres” etc, the numbers are universal, only their linguistic expression is local. In order to discover the entirety of Combat Logic, masters of Combat Logic were forced to become impartial, observant of the root and the branches, accepting of the truth of Combat Logic for what it is and not what they believed it “should be”.

Logical deduction from observable data should also be important, in other words, there should not be any logical jumps, or gaps in progression. So if we start with 1 we may easily find 2, and from 2, 3, 4, 5 etc. If we have observed 1, 5, and 10, then by means of a process of interpolation, we may further deduce the existence of 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9. Masters who did not have the benefit of this kind of interpolation process were liable only to discover 1, 2, 4, 7, etc, which allows us to recognise their findings as Pre-Scientific.

Using a simple mathematical formula, taking into account the kind of variables involved in fighting due to relative size and relative strength (as per the Simple Assessment Model), we can propose that there are as many as 160 different match-ups possible in VARE. This means that, even before we begin to get into the permutations of particular tactics and specific sequences of tactics being used in each of those prospective fights, plus the many thousands of variations in technique used, there are already a massive range of possible experiences to account for when generating a system. Even with this relatively small number of 160 possible fights, we can suppose that the founder of the system devised it without experience nor prediction of all these 160 types of fight. He would consequently have created it based upon the limited experience he had accumulated. For example, even a master who had 1,000 duels in his lifetime would commonly have combated against males in a dueling environment; in which case, his 1,000 duels still represent only 1/5 of the entire range of combats possible.

Even the perception of specific combative events may be highly subjective. It stands to reason that in any event, there will be many different observers, but there remains only one truth; a truth common to all observers and therefore definable as a Truth. What happened, happened – that is the fact and the truth. But ask any observers and each version will be slightly different. Thus, the very meaning of the truth, suggests that an individual truth (as per Lee’s famous dictum) is impossible – a mere illusion. The truth lies in seeing past the “versions”; the perception, to see the totality; the truth. Each Martial Art is a version of the truth, a perspective. Tae Kwon-Do teaches that kicks are the answer, Judo demonstrates that throwing is the answer; Muay Thai promotes elbows and shins as the answer.  Does this mean that the question is different for each answer? Of course not, the answer must fit the question. In the words of Lee on the “Choiceless Observation[1]”:

 

“The consequence is quite understandable, for a person cannot see a fight “as is” – because he is so often blinded by his chosen segments from the point of view of a kung fu stylist, a boxer, a karate man, a wrestler, a judoka, or anyone who is trained in a particular method, and naturally he will interpret the fight according to the limits of his particular conditioning.” (Little, 2001, 134)

 

In fact, he interprets it relative to that which he already knows. According to the Schemata Theory of Learning (Hewstone, et al 1997, 112-117), each new data set is compiled into the mind, wherein it is structured, filed and encapsulated into data-sets. The ability to assimilate new data into that Schema is determined by one’s capacity to relate that data to the existing data within the schema. The result is, of course, that in approaching new phenomena the mind must “interpret” (or reference) it based upon an existing database of knowledge. Psychologists note that, in assessing risk, one has a natural process of recalling examples of risk to back up a decision. Such a decision is therefore based upon inconsistent or inaccurate data with which the individual has had contact. “Interpretation” is natural, and we can only ever understand the world around us based upon the database of information in our mind.

Needless to say, some deductions have a cultural influence. Asian Combat Systems have a pre-disposition for selecting Bilateral strategies due to influences from the Major Schools of Thought. Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism all have doctrines of passivity, compliance and harmony. Moreover, these doctrines affected the composition of the major works of Combat System literature in the Far East. When two sides exist, it makes sense that the smooth interchange and non-resistance by both sides of the polarity, in a state of equivalence, may be assigned the name Harmony. This principle is of utmost importance to the Martial Arts and exists in most (if not all) Asian styles. Aikido, Taijiquan, Hapkido etc all have an equivalent use of this phenomenon. Yet the compliant element of eskirmologics was not discerned to this extent in Europe, where direct force was the primary range for selection of behaviours.

The range of options available to an Architect in building his system is outlined in the “Systemical Map” diagram, wherein we can see Lee’s analogy of the branches and the roots illustrated fairly aptly. So if we consider these ideas as the roots of the Martial Arts, which admit all possibilities, it accepts that Unilateral or Active strategies and Bilateral, or Reactive strategies are two extremes of the same approach. When a Martial Art makes a choice between one or the other, it becomes Partial and the result is a partisan’s truth. Subsequently, each branch represents a preference based upon the principle of Polarity.

So it seems that the truth in combat cannot be different for each individual, merely the experience of that combat is unique. Lee (Little, 2001) in fact mentioned that “the way of combat is not based upon personal choice or fancies. Truth in the way of combat is perceived from moment to moment…” Our truth, as a component of that combat, would be entirely individual; the experience is unique and subjective, yet the components of combat (as two human bodies exerting force upon each other) is entirely universal, and it is for this reason that Lee stated that it is different for each individual, but that I have reason to define Eskirmologics.

With the institutionalisation of fighting, a master long ago stated that “in a fight, use your palm against the opponent’s chin”, or “in a fight, use your knee to the opponent’s groin”, which is the inception of ritualisation. With a ritualised condition, the fighter is so pre-occupied in his attempt to apply this teaching that he fails to react to the situation, which we have already defined as spontaneous and unplanned. Moreover, the problem with ritualised fighting is the fact that there is so much of this kind of teaching, which builds, layer upon layer, that a white belt will only have a few techniques to use, and will therefore be most pre-occupied in his attempt to apply the minimal techniques which he has learned.

So in endeavouring to create a new Combat System, he decides that although his training had focused upon both kicking and punching, his success in a fight on one or several occasions due to his kicking ability makes him believe that the best method to use is kicking – and will go all-out to focus upon this particular aspect of training. In teaching this method to others, he will dictate the use of the legs, and by consequence his school will be a school of kicking specialization; and so all his students will be specialists in kicking. The personal expression of fighting in this way, which of course can be applied to any kind of specialization, means that his preference has decided the difference between his and other art forms. This fact is shown in the development of Tae Kwon-Do from Karate-Do, or Aikido from Aikijutsu, or Modern boxing from Bare-knuckle fighting.

A Combat System’s behaviours must therefore be capable of being applied to multifarious circumstances within a given range of previously observed data. It must have a set of behaviours, strategies and tactics which are universal. By “universal”, we mean a set of statements which can apply to all potential specific occurrences with which it might be expected to cope. The terms “universal” and “specific” are readily used by Popper (1959, 42-47) in his definition of abstract theories and hypothesis generation, as well as the categorical examples from which those hypotheses have been drawn. “Universal” therefore must mean that it applies to all considerations which might occur, in which case we must consider the examples in our experience (induction), and outside of our own specific experiences (deduction) as well as hypothetical occurances which we may predict (by means of interpolation and extrapolation).

 

[1] The meaning of “Choiceless observation” is ambiguous – perhaps he meant that due to one’s conditioning, he cannot view it any other way – a lack of choice due to the system? Or perhaps we might better consider it “subjective observation”. Or perhaps a state whereby we make no choice but attempt to observe “as is”? These are the two connotations of this piece.

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