Martial Arts Human Technology

This weekend was a very interesting one for those of us who study the Martial Art Choi Kwang Do as it was the 25th Anniversary festival and seminar. (I have written, and talked a lot about how I arrived at CKD via technology, as in the Flush The Fashion Article but as with all journeys there are always new discoveries). People from all over the globe arrived and took part in a variety of activities. Most notable was the presence of the founder of CKD Grand Master Choi.
He presented several times to various groups of us. At the age of 71 he is still incredibly flexible, physically fit and sharp of mind. Not to mention blindingly fast with his techniques.
Whilst I have been considering (as have others in CKD) the use of technology to aid training and perfecting of the techniques we use it struck me just how important our human biology is in the whole art. The way we learn, how we train, our motivations for training all need to be looked at.
That is obvious at one level, you can’t have a martial art of blocking, punching and kicking without humans. It can seem from the outside, as with many martial arts that the formality and structure is making everyone the same. Uniformity being an apparent goal. This is not the case though as I heard many times that everything has to be relative to the individual.
During the seminar we got to meet Jordan Leiva who has been practicing CKD for a long time, but who clearly also likes to use tech to improve and analyse and share his movements. To see the precision of years of practice in slow motion even if you are not part of a martial art is very poetic.

CKD is often described as being based on scientific principles but as I heard explained a few times in various ways the science has almost followed what was a gut feeling that Grand Master Choi had with a maverick view of doing things a better way. This is probably the other reason I gravitated towards this tribe of people. If the founder is a bit of a maverick, challenging the way things are done it it a natural fit.
Clearly the science of biomechanics feature a lot in being able to move and defend oneself from any attack, but it seems that the mere fact of learning the sequences, slowly and without pressure or tension offer range of other benefits to the brain and systems around it, with the ability to also ramp up the same patterns and moves to achieve different physiological effects. So how will technology help us adjust and train things going on inside our minds and bodies? I am still looking at kinect for the motion of the body, but I think I need to roll in the Neuorsky and alike to deal with mental state too.
I had always looked at exercise as something that was pretty binary. You put a lot of effort in, or you were not doing it right. I was aware that different heart rates altered the effect of exercise but still that seemed a very mechanical. Seeing the ease with which experts and Masters in CKD performed their patterns, and hearing Grand Master Choi point out that over training was not a good thing started to put my attitude to us as human pieces of technology in a different light.
A quick google to start to look at a bit of the brain science and the chemical changes we cause ourselves, which ties in with some of the anecdotal pieces of information I got to hear this weekend. This paper (though many academic papers are locked behind a paywall). It would appear there are some great chemical balancing acts that excercise causes. All related to BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). Physical activity at the right level for the age and abilities of the person increases brain function and grows new neurons. However too much and it damages the ability to learn. So you can reach a tired state, just at the right level for you as and individual and then be more receptive to new information.
I have been interested for a long time in people’s motivations and why they engage with certain tasks, games etc. How something feels is as important as what something is.
I think as we blend ourselves more with technology we are all going to have to start understanding the deeper impact it may have on our physiology which means there is a lot more room for a Cyber Martial Art that CKD could become aiming at improving all our experiences of life. It is another exciting avenue to investigate, whilst also not trying to over analyse and just enjoy the journey.

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