Sunday, November 11, 2007

OODA and aikido

For a while, particularly since the seminar I taught in Starkville last Saturday, I've been talking and writing about metsuke (proper use of eye contact) during a conflict. It turns out that there is a model and a terminology that has already been in use for years dealing with some of what I've been talking about. It's called the OODA loop. OODA is an acronym for Observe-Orient-Decide-Act, the theory being that all actions are based on decisions which are predicated on observations that are filtered through our individual mental models (orientation). It turns out that the orient and decide stages usually take up the most time and you can even get stuck in a feedback loop in the early part of this model such that you never get to decide and act. You freeze up.
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I wrote in a couple of recent articles about the phenomenon of proper metsuke (eye contact or gaze control) seeming to slow combat down. I talked about an example training exercise in which two partners are doing randori with one constantly shifting his gaze back and forth from the partner. The partners find that the combat seems much slower to the man that properly uses metsuke and much, much faster to the man that is shifting his gaze. In OODA terminology, with a moving opponent, every time you change your gaze angle you create a completely new observation. You start the loop over. And since the second step, orientation, takes so much time, you are restarting with a new observation before you can ever orient, much less decide and act.
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For more info on OODA, check out Chiron's series of excellent articles (especially the earlier ones) and also check out this Wikipedia artcle. OODA has a lot of varied applications to aikido and judo - not only related to eye contact.
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Even more on this topic here and here.

1 comment:

  1. I've noticed this and I read an article about it in use of hypnosis and conversation a long time ago.

    As far as combat, I feel this constantly when working with people better than I am, who do the "Hand gently in the face" move when you don't expect it.
    That sudden change of focus from just catching up/staying standing, to suddenly concentrating on the hand in your face, causes that huge off-balanced feeling that the skilled take advantage of.
    It isn't just the veering away from the hand in fear, I'm pretty over the "Oh lord it's a hand in my face!" reaction.

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