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Rob Watson
12-04-2009, 07:35 PM
For your consideration: Some scientific explaination of an aspect of aiki. Kiaijutsu in some arts has techniques and/or methods to exert psychological influences upon a person. One example would be to instill confusion or a type of invisibility. This is a subtle disruption of certain motion sesing abilities of the subject. A paper from SCIENCE magazine may demonstrate how such a thing can happen.

I present to abstract to pique your interest.

Science 15 December 2006:
Vol. 314. no. 5806, pp. 1786 - 1788
DOI: 10.1126/science.1133197
Greater Disruption Due to Failure of Inhibitory Control on an Ambiguous Distractor

By Yoshiaki Tsushima, Yuka Sasaki, Takeo Watanabe

Considerable evidence indicates that a stimulus that is subthreshold, and thus consciously invisible, influences brain activity and behavioral performance. However, it is not clear how subthreshold stimuli are processed in the brain. We found that a task-irrelevant subthreshold coherent motion led to a stronger disturbance in task performance than did suprathreshold motion. With the subthreshold motion, activity in the visual cortex measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging was higher, but activity in the lateral prefrontal cortex was lower, than with suprathreshold motion. These results suggest that subthreshold irrelevant signals are not subject to effective inhibitory control.

The full article pdf can be had from


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My shot at an 'executive summary' would be that our brain does a pretty good job of filtering out the irrelevant visualy stimuli that we are constantly bombarded with using very sophisticated means that are not well understood. We are then able to concentrate and act on the 'important' visual info that gets past this filter-the inhibitory control. "Subthreshold irrelevant signals" get past the filter but are below our concious level of awareness so they sneak in and disrupt brain function (like the ability to concentrate on what we believe to be important).

For example in a field of battle, or the hunting ground, there are bushes and trees with leaves. We know about leaves in the wind and expect even a certain pattern to this rustling and we filter this out to a certain degree automatically via the inhibitory control (the visual signals are inhibited). When there is a pattern in the rustling leaves that does not match our expectation it becomes quite obvious and we notice. Experienced squirrel hunters may appreciate this and it really helps identify ones prey in the branches. Snipers in trees may stand out as the Ghilly suit does not quite fit the pattern either.

The trick is to 'become the ruslting leaves' and thereby become invisible. The ability to generate context relevant "subthreshold irrelevant signals" to affect disruption of the subject is the task at hand. One does not need to lurk in trees and shadow for this to work.

Those practiced in the arts of kiajutsu or aiki that involve subtle psychological elements to influence a subject may wish to consider how the content of this article applies to their understanding of this aspect of their art. Whether this info is helpful in ones study or not it is interesting to know such things can be studied at many levels. Training under the guidance of experts will always be the most effective method on the path to mastery.

I only know the smell of smoke in the air but not how to make fire nor the wind.

12-05-2009, 12:53 PM
I had a post with some example I thought fit the abstract, but now I'm not so sure. The abstract basically says (please correct me if I'm wrong) there is stimulus which the subconscious picks up which somehow diminishes the actions of the conscious intent...like a kind of second-guessing subconscious stutter?

Just as the squirrel hunter learns to discern irregular patterns (i.e. the background stimulai of the waving leaves suddenly emerges into the foreground/consciousness), I imagine one could train to cue in one these subtleties. Personally, I think this usually has more to do with self-defense than being able to perform technique...and I imagine this has a lot to do with why it is so important in some traditions to be able to anticipate the needs and wants of the people around you (e.g. what I've seen of traditional uchi-deshi systems).
I also imagine this subconscious stimulai has to do with the "tanker" phenomina by which uke swears to being thrown, but in fact throws himself or herself?