Practitioner opponent interactions


Martial Arts practitioners continually interact using models based not only on environmental conditions, but also the behaviors, skills and styles of their opponents.  For example, they generally attempt to conserve energy and minimize personal damage or impact during an engagement.  They may even try to foster synergy or leverage the actions of an opponent to accomplish their goals.  This approach can be viewed as similar to the ways members of human population groups seek to constantly leverage their interaction with the natural environment to acquire resources or otherwise accomplish goals.  The continual evolution of the environment, much like the adaptation of an opponent, forces personal and collective adaptation.

Martial artists symbiotically engage to perfect each other’s techniques.  Interestingly, techniques that are optimal (effective and efficient) early in the engagement process tend to become less effective as they are comprehended by opponents.  The ensuing evolution of technique, required in order to maintain an effective engagement, is based on both past experience and continuous trial and error.

Participant synergy is an important feature of the interaction between martial artists and their opponents.  The actions and interactions of participants are not viewed as isolated events.    Rather, the specific actions of participants are inseparable components of the engagement model (itself a component of the broader natural environment).  From this point of view, martial artists and their actions, are basic components of the environment (like those of everyone else).  As they modify their environment by existing in it, it adapts.  The subsequent environmental adaptation forces changes in the participating population and the related interaction model.

Timing is a key facet of these interaction models.  If Martial Arts techniques, such as blocks or counters, are not successfully adapted to the evolving capabilities of an opponent, they not only fail to work, but their application can have an exaggerated opposite impact.  This kind of exaggerated stimulus- response can strain the abilities of both participants and environment to continuously adapt in an efficient and productive manner.  A sense of timing is especially critical to transitional moves or events.  For example, if a block counter is being executed and the block is a transitional phase en route to an offensive attack, the counter cannot be executed if the block fails.  This failure can result in disastrous consequences, including serious injury, or even, the loss of life.

Image 13 shows a downward knife attack that is being redirected to change the techniques direction and movement of the opponent.

Ideally, problems would be solved before conflict arises so physical confrontation is avoided.  However, if action must be taken, in certain cases stopping a technique before it can fully develop is preferable.  Another way to deal with techniques is to add directional movement/energy into these techniques to change the direction of the technique or completely change the technique into something different.  One of the least ideal moments to interfere or attempt to stop a technique is midway through to its completion.  It requires large amounts of force greater than that of the force being put into the technique.  The interaction models comprised by these techniques evolve as the martial artist ages and are continuously aligned with the adaptive cycle.

Click Here to Continue to Introduction to Martial Arts, Aging, and the Environment

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