Dedicated to the professional military and ethical competence of the original Order of Knights Templar towards developing the same for the challenges of the modern world, specifically the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (OSMTH)and of the Grand Priory of St Joan of Arc of Mexico and Latin America
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Mind-Body and Battle
MIND-BODY & BATTLE
In animals as well as
man, there is a default choice of courses of action and reaction. But it is a
bit more complicated than Fight-Flight-Freeze.
Initially a REVULSION REFLEX inhibits what might be an all-out murderous
mutual massacre. This serves two
purposes: maneuver for advantage and the appearance of overwhelming force
(INTIMIDATION). Once one side turns
away, the Revulsion Reflex is erased and replaced by the RUN-DOWN REFLEX in
which the loser is run down killed, captured, eaten or sold on the slave
market. The end status is submission,
even though such results in certain death.
The initial stages of
a confrontation include the posturing, growling, snarling and puffing up hair,
all of which are signs of aggression. In humans as well. The controlling factor in intimidation is
eyeball to eyeball, or the appearance of it.
Most animals in nature carry body markings to
camouflage the female against discovery during nesting, resting, or child raising. On the other hand, body markings that make
the males competitor appear more ferocious. Some is carried over in human
threat displays, Tall hats and capes make the contestant appear larger than
life, body markings exaggerate combative appearance. The male lion has a big mane while the female
does not, the mane is the main sex display while other body differences between
male and female are not as apparent.
The combat response
of the “Freeze” is based on the fact that a moving target attracts the eye,
standing still under the right circumstances clouds the predator’s mind (as in
Hide). This is a standard response at
night when the enemy lights up the night with searchlights and/or flares. Hiding in the umbra of taller objects also
The Peacocks feathers
all full of eyes, or the accentuated eyes of Owl or Orca are there to
intimidate in this psychological preparation of the battle. Few animals can face down a pair of human
eyes, so I avoid eye contact in sparring and take in the whole person for
balance, stance, guard, vulnerable spots and movement.
THE BODY AT RISK
Like the tank or
aircraft, the human body has vulnerabilities which must be protected. These include the BRAIN, EYES and
VITALS. That which connects and protects
these (MEANS) includes the skeleton, skull, and body operating systems the
defense of which life depends: Nervous, Gastro-Intestinal, Respiratory and
Vascular. The nervous system includes several subsystems of interest to the
The most common human
fighting technique is battery by hand and foot, mostly by hand. There are only two targets worthy of battery,
and that is to affect the Brain and the Lungs.
The skull protecting the brain is a hard target so it must be struck
with something soft in order to induce concussion. Conversely, the lungs must
be hit with something hard in the guts so as to push the diaphragm upward
constricting the lungs. Plain battery
elsewhere is defeated by muscle, bone, and fat.
The skeletal system puts bone to protect the
soft parts, and provides a mobile firing platform and weapons system. The “soft parts” inside the body are
protected by the muscles and bone, and are the subsets of the Body regarding
Tactical Imperatives. One versus the
Similar to a tank,
aircraft, and car engine, the animate require oxygen and fuel to transfer
energy to, lubricate, and operate the various components of the body. In vertebrates this requires lungs to take in
air and transfer the oxygen to the blood, which blood picks up nutrients and
agents from the various glands and organs.
Together, this constitutes the vitals.
The process of
breathing without which life gets short, involves the transfer of oxygen from
the lungs into the heart which pumps the oxygen and nutrients throughout the
body. While the rib cage provides
considerable protection of damage by blunt instrument, compression of the guts
often knocks the breath out of the breather.
Behind and below the guts (intestines), certain vital organs that filter
and deliver the chemicals into or out of the blood and digestive systems. These
are located in an ellipse with the long axis across the belly from kidney to
(Belly) Breathing brings in more air in to get more energy out, and relaxes the
body (and mind). Chest breathing is
rapid and shallow, and tightens up the body (and mind). Deep “belly” breathing is the counter to
stress. One must calm down to fight.
THE CENTER LINE
This provides two
references, the Center Line from nose to groin which is both the center of
vulnerabilities, but also the Center Line of the body’s defensive and offensive
firepower. Consequently, a direct
face-off between humans place the greatest firepower mutually opposed to the
CENTERS OF BALANCE
The terms COG, Center
of Gravity ad Center of Mass are often used interchangeably rendering both moot
in battle. It is certain (IMHO) that all
nature knows its balance, centers and all.
In this rendition, the center of
mass of any creature only moves when the cargo shifts, and the “bone centers”
are fixed by the joints which include the shoulders and knees.
The Center of Gravity
is the net result of all the forces influencing the body including the force
exerted in standing and running, and includes the forces of any external object
that yanks, pulls, or trips the body.
While one bleeds just
anywhere, getting to the heart of it is more precise.
The command and
control of the animate body goes through several nets and systems.
THE NET CENTRIC BODY
The Central Nervous
System ties the parts together via several subsystems, some you know, and
others operate behind the coded door.
Medicine was unknown to the West and likely the Middle East, but so were the
ones we know about today. Recent work in
the martial arts community is making progress In associating the elements of Chinese
Traditional Medicine (TCM) with what we know of the body today. The pressure points of TCM normally are found
where a nerve comes to an end, crosses another or divides. Additional work is being done in affiliating
TCM with the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) according to the Dragon Society
(Grand Master Rick Moneymaker, under whom I have studied).
We usually associate the nervous system with motor and sensory nerves,
but well below the conscious level the ANS works in response to the threat as
perceived by the Biology of perception which follows two paths into the brain to the
switchboard of the Amygdala, Smell and
Audio‐Visual, which produces chemical changes to
make things happen or not. Smell is the
oldest of senses and is routed through the Thalamus to activate the Limbic
System while Audio‐Visual is routed through the Hypothalamus which goes to the
Cortex. Smell (Stink) produces action without reflection.
system appears to be operating in diametric opposition to each other. The Sympathetic system cranks up under
perceived threat, and the Parasympathetic backs off. The Sympathetic reaction,
however, is counter-productive to efficient fighting, in particular the heart
rate. Pupil dilation is accompanied by a
narrow field of view which does not see or sense attacks coming from the sides.
The Oriental system of belly breathing, deep and slow, also slows down the
heart rate, increases the field of view, and relaxes the body. A tense body not only hurts more when hit,
the range and speed of the limbs are retarded.
RELAXATION RESPONSE (Calm
down to fight)
This leads to an
apparent, but necessary paradigm shift: One must calm down in order to fight
efficiently and effectively. The foaming
at the mouth, wild eyed, emotional fighter won’t fight long in the face of deadly
calm. Shouting is targeted and timed to
freeze the target at the right time and way.
This calming down effect has many names in the East, but is also found
in Western athletics and performance arts.
It is sometimes called the Relaxation Response. When relaxed, the athlete or artist’s mind
becomes detached from the fury of the moment, but operates in a more strategic
fashion. A chattering mind invites
battery to the body.
In Close Order Combat
at Close Quarters (spear or pike range), one reads of forces who advance with
shouts in unison, like “God Wills It” or singing a battle song are also ridding
the body of tension, creating a bond within the ranks, and elevates the mind
from dwelling too much on what could go wrong.
THE REVULSION REFLEX
credible research has established that the default behavior of humans when
faced with the choice of killing don’t kill, don’t shoot, miss deliberately,
never forget, and vomit once done. It is
clear that the initial behavior during the initial face to face confrontation
is to threaten, posture and maneuver for advantage. Recent
studies of the casualty rates of battles back to antiquity also show abysmally
small numbers of casualties or both sides, provided the other side didn’t
Since killing is an
integral part of life on the planet, there is a question as to why do humans
react against killing even when being killed is a clear and present
danger. This reaction is also common to
the animal kingdom, few animals launch into an attack without some intimidating
(or sneaky) maneuvers. If the object of
their intimidation does not back off, the confrontation can end as both sides
back off This is nature’s way of
limiting aggression to issues of dominance (Social Status) or dinner. The
lions, gazelles, buffalo, and other wild creatures who are subject of being
eaten or beaten only do so when needed.
Otherwise, they share the same space.
Humans don’t settle
for that. Usually.
During WW 2, only 15
to 20% of infantrymen fired their weapons.
The change from paper targets at known ranges to popup silhouette
targets at random distances raised the odds in Vietnam to 90-95%. Realistic
training, that is the replication of all the sensory inputs normally associated
with a given task. That is why we
invented the infiltration course after Korea, to get accustomed to overhead
machinegun fire, tracers and all, in a controlled situation.
The routing of
sensory inputs by way of the Amygdala, Thalamus and Hypothalamus that is not overloaded
with emotions, allows a calmer more trained mind to sort these stimuli and
select an appropriate response. The
Trained Mind is where the coded reflexes activating muscle memory and learned
responses that can fight on automatic, leaving the relaxed mind to make
strategic observations and directions.
This occurs in athletes, dancers, fighter pilots and Friday Rush Hour to
function without burning up energy in conscious decision making as that mind is
From a broader point of view, control of the
Revulsion Reflex which is primarily driven by the Sympathetic Nervous System
(SNS), is to counter with activating the Parasympathetic System in addition to
reducing the fear factor of external stimuli, like incoming rounds. Taking learned responses to cope with the
actual physical threats includes digging in, shooting back, wearing protective
gear at all times.
The Knights Templar slept in their combat gear,
something that I learned my first week in combat. And they did so without
regard to any specific threat assessment.
Unit morale due to the unit replacement system in US forces today has
elevated the sense of camaraderie between buddies to a level far above any
achieved before or so wide. Likewise the
bonding of the Knights Templar and the other holy orders coupled with a shared
set of values, rituals, and combat training worked to override any errant
stimuli so they could fight effectively and efficiently.
TACTICAL AND TECHNICAL PROFICIENCY
The Temple and the
Hospital only recruited those who were already MOS qualified (knights, men at
arms, sergeants) and bonded together by faith, ritual and hard collective
training. For a unit to function as a
unit in combat, they must have trained tougher under simulated combat
conditions, and some that aren’t battle.
This includes hunger, exhaustion, confusion, extreme heat and/or cold,
rain, snow, and/or dust, all of which are available at Ft Hood Texas often at
the same time.
There is little known
about the training schedule, program of instruction, of Mission Essential Task
List used to train the Order. The fact
that the holy orders and other well trained outfits could assemble on day, or
show up in the middle of battle and be able to be deployed effectively means
that there had to be a shared and clearly understood way to fight for each of
the components and for the leadership.
The Western knights of the 12th Century were far superior to
Islamic forces, and particularly at higher levels of command. Saladin started the reversal of the trend
which ended in the 13th Century.
One fatal difference influenced operations was the incessant bickering
of the various political components of either side.
See the Crusade through
Arab Eyes, by Amin Maalouf, which shows how screwed up the Muslim side was
during the First Crusade until the Third.
During that period of time, Muslim rule passed from Arab to Turk, which
did not reverse again until after WW 1.
The recent studies of
modern combat and firing rates, show that any form of distance between the
enemies eyes and our own reduces aversion, and can activate the Run Down and
Chase Reflexes. This distancing applies to officers, non-commissioned officers,
crew served weapons crews, and those at a distance from the threat. Knights of the day from Far East to Iceland
operated as a crew served weapon, as the knight rarely went unaided or
alone. Except when showing off.
Kingdom of Heaven, Kerak. Balien (Right) intercepts Saladin's host (dust in background)
Flags and Bugles.
The noise, dust and
confusion of Close Order Battle makes giving verbal orders problematic. The high notes of the trumpet operate at a
frequency that the human ear registers full attention, and bugles are still
used (out of respect) today. Likewise
banners, flags, pennons, and Guidons are the default visual means of
controlling forces afoot, afloat, or a riding.
The soul that carried the banner of a band of brothers did so without a
weapon in hand, and for whom dropping the flag was a major disgrace. It still is, even though following the flag
in current battles would draw fire.
Units lacking the sense of camaraderie and shared
experiences have a short shelf life. Once
the enemy turns to run, runs or acts in a panicky way, the Rundown or Chase Reflex
automatically reverses the Revulsion Reflex, and the chase Is on.
THE RUNDOWN REFLEX (THE
Once the enemy looks
away, turns his back, or demonstrates weakness, another equally powerful gut
reaction to chase down and kill the enemy without any sense of revulsion. In battles between forces in close order
(side by side, shoulder to shoulder, etc.) turning and running resulted in mass
casualties due to aroused avarice by the attacker and suppressed defensive
capabilities while running backside to front.
It is no accident or
insidious capitalist warmongering plot that children play “hide and seek”, or
running games like “keep away” which goes professional in soccer, football
(both), basketball, or hockey. This
behavior like most childhood games is practice for what comes later in life,
and is driven by coding in DNA.
Socialization only provides the details.
Some of kids play is
not play but training, and it occurs naturally without any external input.
More serious “games”
factors reduce or counter revulsion reflex include those activities where the
mind is occupied with conscious engagement with a complex piece of hardware,
like a laser range finder. Or upon rote reaction of certain responses that
require the brain to focus on a few important things such as in calling for and
adjusting fires like Fire Missions and Tank Gunnery Commands. Those have to be done right despite foggy
brains and fear.
This is the part when the loser is massacred
on the run even if not edible.
Basketball, Soccer, Rugby, and Hockey (field and ice) are running games
with the puck or ball representing the game’s game. This is the part when the
family chows down on the defeated, the wounded are bayoneted, and the dead are
stripped. In Medieval warfare, the casualties of the side that ran were
horrific while in those battle with no panic, or run, American Football is more
King Guy of Jerusalem
surrenders to Saladin at the Battle at Hattin 1187