Sunday, June 15, 2014

Mind-Body and 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 works

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.
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 warrior.

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 other’s.

THE ENGINE (Cardio-Vascular-Lungs).  
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 kidney. 


Deep Diaphragm (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.

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 opponents vulnerabilities.   

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 Central Nervous System ties the parts together via several subsystems, some you know, and others operate behind the coded door.  
Chinese Traditional 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).

George Dillman Pressure Point Seminar

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.

9The Parasympathetic 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. 


Substantial and 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 run.  

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 too slow.


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. 


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. 
Crew Served Weapons,

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.

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”

Several important 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 lethal. 

King Guy of Jerusalem surrenders to Saladin at the Battle at Hattin 1187


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