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Old 06-26-2004, 02:26 PM   #1
Elrond
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to look at opponent's eyes or not?

My sensei and my dojo mates always advises me to look at my partner's eyes in order to estimate his forthcoming attack. Frankly it has rarely worked. And recently I have heard of a word which is " do not look at your opponent's eyes, otherwise your spirit will be drawn in." I am not sure whether it belongs to O Sensei or not; but I think it has some true aspect. However accepting this word arises another inevitable question; that is " if not to opponent's eyes, where to look?"
I wonder your comments and experiences.
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Old 06-26-2004, 02:59 PM   #2
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

Quote:
Mehmet İsmail wrote:
My sensei and my dojo mates always advises me to look at my partner's eyes in order to estimate his forthcoming attack. Frankly it has rarely worked. And recently I have heard of a word which is " do not look at your opponent's eyes, otherwise your spirit will be drawn in." I am not sure whether it belongs to O Sensei or not; but I think it has some true aspect. However accepting this word arises another inevitable question; that is " if not to opponent's eyes, where to look?"
I wonder your comments and experiences.
What O-sensei said was essentailly not to look at your opponent's eyes because he could take you spirit. However, what O-Sensei himself did was to look at his opponent's eyes and take his spirit. So what it really comes down to is who has the stronger spirit. If the other guy is intimidating and you are frightened by him in any way, then it's better not to look in his eyes. But if your spirit is strong and you can't be intmidated by him, then look him in his eyes.

Actually, I was taught by a high ranking Kendo instructor to look in his his left eye; this has to do with effecting the right hemishpere of the brain.
Quote:
"Similarly, the right hemisphere is not just the seat of intuition. Perhaps it is more intuitively oriented than the left, but in most cases it also identifies patterns and performs spatial analyses. This hemisphere tends to process information in non-linear ways, looking at the whole instead of all the parts that make it up." from www.mauraandterry.com
An alternative is to look at the spot between his eyes. It can be very disconcerting because it looks as if you are looking at his eyes but he can't connect to you through his eyes. This can be very effective in psyching him out if he is used to using his eyes to communicate with his opponents.

If not looking at the eyes then either place them on the mid-section of the opponent or just over his shoulder. In both cases a "soft focus" is used to maximize peripheral vision.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 06-26-2004, 03:09 PM   #3
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

I'm with George on the soft focus thing - in a fight your vision really starts to go out, and you get tunnel vision. Having that wide view, and being used to operating with it, is akin to learning how to breathe well for me.
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Old 06-26-2004, 03:20 PM   #4
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

I was always taught to look at the opponents upper chest area. Actually, right around the sternum(sp?). It really is easier to anticipate the opponents intent when you can see their body as a whole. I'm sure the eyes thing probably works well if you have a lot of experience...but if you don't I think you would probably get tunnel vision looking them in the eyes. Much like when someone has a weapon and you watch the weapon instead of them. I say whatever works best for the individual.
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Old 06-26-2004, 04:24 PM   #5
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

hey all, love this topic!! i agree and strive to incorporate all mentioned. It is easy to understand that there are different situations for different uses of vision, as are with techniques. Just want to add emphasis on the 180 degree "soft vision"; with bokken work especially , can you feel/sense/observe when uke is inhaling? great time to strike! WHO DARES WINS.
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Old 06-26-2004, 05:09 PM   #6
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

Well, the only thing that causes tunnel vision is exhaustion, your eyes aren't getting enough o2 and their abilities decline.

When you focus on something (say the tip of your nose) your eyes cross to get good 3d vision. As you focus on something further away, they uncross progressivly until they are as wide as they can get. Focusing on someone who is a few feet away will not uncross them all the way, so you are (by sheer mechanics) limiting your vision.

So, when I say soft focus (this might not be entirely what george means) I mean uncross your eyes as much as possible into that distance focus thing. Focus through your opponent and into the wall behind them, then see how it feels to watch them.

I think, in actual practice, I shift my focus a lot. Usually it's aimed at the guy's center, but a few feet behind him, and shifting depending. Try it out for a while, it really grows on you.

In a more esoteric sense, I believe this sort of vision is refrenced as being compatible with many philosophies, the Tao, Zen, etc... but I don't know so much about that.

//

I just wanted to add some things from a mechanics standpoint - as an argument against soft focus, you would be depriving yourself of one way of judgeing 3d, ie stereo vision. But that's not the only way to judge 3d, and how fast is it?

Also, in multiple person situations, I find this to be all the more useful. What good is looking at person A when you cant see person B? It's possible to see them both at once, though not as clearly, and this is the way to do it.

Last edited by Chris Birke : 06-26-2004 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 06-26-2004, 05:58 PM   #7
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

George S. Ledyard is right...

Hard stare initially, 目付け , to gain intuition and dominate them.
Soft focus on your part with hard focus on their part, 眼 力 , if 目付け does not do the trick.

Zoli Elo
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Old 06-26-2004, 06:31 PM   #8
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

I've always been trained to maintain initial focus on the third eye, that is that space slightly above and in between both eyes.
It's pretty simple to test. Just stare at someone at some point on their body, be it a leg or an arm or their eyes or whatever. Then ask them to quickly attack you with random attacks. Nothing serious, just in an attempt to get in. Tell them to include both kicks and punches. Feel how long it takes to respond. Then do the same thing while staring into their third eye. See if it's any different. It always seemed to be to me.
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Old 06-26-2004, 06:37 PM   #9
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

As an ammendment to my last comment, I think Mr. Ledyard's response is far more complete. Obviously it's a bad idea to get too locked into any one idea. So I don't mean to propose that my assertion is the only means of approaching this. I was simply stating that that's the default behavior that my school has indoctrinated in us.
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Old 06-26-2004, 08:25 PM   #10
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

yeah David right on, great idea to be flexible. I have heard that we are composed of approximately 70% water, so becomming more fluid is nice to realize. My eyes are grateful for much of the above advice. Also, watching your pets eyes can teach one much and is relaxing too.
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Old 06-26-2004, 09:39 PM   #11
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

good thread!

my sensei says to keep my attention on a triangle formed by the opponents forehead and shoulders. he has not said anything about "soft focus", or "eagle vision" as my tai chi instructor called it, but keeping an eye on all points of the triangle at the same time forces this eagle vision in a way. and I do recall my sensei saying that most movements can first be spotted on the shoulders.

in real situations I always look a potential troublemaker straight in the eye so I can see his mind change before he (or she) makes a choice to either attack or withdraw. in the few cases where I've been assaulted I honestly cant remember where I was looking, only that the adrenaline sharpenes every sense there is
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Old 06-27-2004, 10:38 AM   #12
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

I generally try to look my opponents in the eye, I think in our culture it's not generally done so much because it can be misconstrued as rude which really throws people off sometimes. When I started naginata, we were taught to always be looking our opponent in the eye which can be hard if you're not used to it, but now it's not so bad. I find now when I'm sparring in karate, I do look into my opponents eyes but also let my peripheral vision take over some too.

A real man does not think of victory or defeat. He plunges recklessly towards an irrational death. By doing this, you will awaken from your dreams.
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Old 06-27-2004, 02:08 PM   #13
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

Quote:
Mehmet İsmail wrote:
My sensei and my dojo mates always advises me to look at my partner's eyes in order to estimate his forthcoming attack. Frankly it has rarely worked. And recently I have heard of a word which is " do not look at your opponent's eyes, otherwise your spirit will be drawn in." I am not sure whether it belongs to O Sensei or not; but I think it has some true aspect. However accepting this word arises another inevitable question; that is " if not to opponent's eyes, where to look?"
I wonder your comments and experiences.
I use to train with a guy who used the half eyes technique you use in meditation. That way he would defuse the opponent's image and just see the body move while not being distracted by superficial movements.

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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Old 06-27-2004, 04:02 PM   #14
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

Call "Crane Technique". When do right, no can defense.
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Old 06-27-2004, 05:17 PM   #15
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

Yes, I agree, you must look in a way that you see the whole body - so to speak. This, generally, puts my own eyes in the upper chest area (if we are facing each other). Other body to body relationships have the eyes placed elsewhere. In a front to front positioning - if I go higher I tend to lose the feet (which is a big deal when your practice includes facing kicks but not so much when you don't). And, of course, one's gaze must be flexible enough to move as needed but without losing sight of the whole for the part (e.g. it is generally not a good thing, in my opinion, to stare at the oncoming weapon - such as a sword coming for your head - though it is quite common to see in such cases).

The key is to have a penetrating gaze (not a wandering or catching-up kind of gaze) that does not become fettered by that which it is resting upon.

Still, generally, I tend not to look at the eyes of the opponent because the eyes, like the hands for example, can lie. When a person is set to rest his/her gaze within my own (which is something I check for and can always tell by what they do not see (coming from the bottom), I will always use my own gaze to hide my true intentions - assuming gaps are not closed immediately (which is often the case - and which then pretty much negates all practicality of this question except for the point of letting your gaze penetrate without becoming fettered by that which it is resting upon.)

dmv
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Old 06-27-2004, 06:12 PM   #16
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

I was reading, and I was wrong in saying tunnel vision is only caused by exhaustion - it is also caused by going into shock, but not simply severe stress.

Quote:
Sigurd Rage wrote:
good thread!
in the few cases where I've been assaulted I honestly cant remember where I was looking, only that the adrenaline sharpenes every sense there is
This had me wondering, and it turns out you're right as far as I can tell.

Why I wondered, although I am not a neuroscientist by any means, is because I read and it seems that the stress hormones trigger a part of your brain responsible for deciding what should be remembered, and it tells the part of the brain which organizes those memories get its butt in gear.

The end result being, although your eyes don't see better, you remember everything with an unparalleled
clarity.

Though you state you can't remember where you are looking, I'd bet you remember certain things in vivid detail. This incomplete activation hasn't been fully explained to me (if anyone even knows).

This, by the way, is espoused as one of the benifits of alive training.

But, that potential illusion aside, an argument can still be made for visual clarity during stress, because the stress response causes pupil dilation, (as we all know anyone frightened has huge pupils) and thus maximizing the visual field of each individual eye. (thus unfortionately placing this fact outside the realm of the where to look discussion)

It follows likely, the sympathetic nervous system does what it can for the other senses as well. So, not only are you remembering things like mad, you are perceiving them with utmost sensitivity.

Does this sensitivity equate accuracy? (this I think is debatable, I know any sense of time goes out of wack, for one...)

After the fight, or in worst case...

If the stress response continues for too long, the pupil muscles will eventually wear out and one loses control over their eyes dilation (eventual tunnel vision). To compound this, shock will lower the bloodpressure (despite a rapid heartbeat) and hinder the eyes even more. (But, at this far point, you were in no way going to fight anyway)
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Old 06-27-2004, 09:37 PM   #17
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

IMHO, soft focus through the eyes or chest to relax and use the periphery vision.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 06-28-2004, 02:40 AM   #18
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

Quote:
Chris Birke wrote:
I was reading, and I was wrong in saying tunnel vision is only caused by exhaustion - it is also caused by going into shock, but not simply severe stress.



This had me wondering, and it turns out you're right as far as I can tell.

Why I wondered, although I am not a neuroscientist by any means, is because I read and it seems that the stress hormones trigger a part of your brain responsible for deciding what should be remembered, and it tells the part of the brain which organizes those memories get its butt in gear.

The end result being, although your eyes don't see better, you remember everything with an unparalleled
clarity.

Though you state you can't remember where you are looking, I'd bet you remember certain things in vivid detail. This incomplete activation hasn't been fully explained to me (if anyone even knows).

This, by the way, is espoused as one of the benifits of alive training.

But, that potential illusion aside, an argument can still be made for visual clarity during stress, because the stress response causes pupil dilation, (as we all know anyone frightened has huge pupils) and thus maximizing the visual field of each individual eye. (thus unfortionately placing this fact outside the realm of the where to look discussion)

It follows likely, the sympathetic nervous system does what it can for the other senses as well. So, not only are you remembering things like mad, you are perceiving them with utmost sensitivity.

Does this sensitivity equate accuracy? (this I think is debatable, I know any sense of time goes out of wack, for one...)

After the fight, or in worst case...

If the stress response continues for too long, the pupil muscles will eventually wear out and one loses control over their eyes dilation (eventual tunnel vision). To compound this, shock will lower the bloodpressure (despite a rapid heartbeat) and hinder the eyes even more. (But, at this far point, you were in no way going to fight anyway)
Actually, this isn't true, I don't believe, in situations like a sudden violent encounter . The adrenaline dump that goes with sudden stress triggers a number of physiological symptoms, one of which is tunnel vision. Another is loss of fine motor control and loss of feeling in the extremities from the blood supply being directed to the core. Loss of depth perception is common.

But one symptom is especially interetsing and that is lack of memory function, not enhanced memory. It is extremely common for people who survived life and death violent encounters, like fights, to not remember what they did. They will frequently have no memory whatever of what they did during the encounter.

This is different than the "time shift" that one can undergo in situations like an accident in which one can see it coming and can remember every minute detail of an event which took only seconds to occur but which you experience as much longer.

For a great discussion of this issue read Peyton Quinn's book REAL FIGHTING: Adrenal Stress Conditioning Through Scenario Based Training. See his webiste at:
Peyton Quinn's Website

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 06-28-2004 at 02:55 AM.

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Old 06-28-2004, 03:55 AM   #19
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

Quote:
Aleksey Sundeyev wrote:
Call "Crane Technique". When do right, no can defense.
Until second movie when you get your ass handed to you

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 06-28-2004, 11:02 AM   #20
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

I find that if I look at somone in the eyes my focus becomes on that activity and become distracted by it.
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Old 06-28-2004, 12:24 PM   #21
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

Quote:
But one symptom is especially interetsing and that is lack of memory function, not enhanced memory. It is extremely common for people who survived life and death violent encounters, like fights, to not remember what they did. They will frequently have no memory whatever of what they did during the encounter.
i remember exactly what I have done, down to technique, and I will never forget a single incident as long as I live. visually I remember glimpses like they are photographs, especially eye contact, I remember movements continually and also strong presence of spirits.
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Old 06-28-2004, 02:32 PM   #22
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

In the tradition of Hikitsuchi not looking in the eyes is one of the important goals in training for tori.
It is not so easy in the beginning, but it avoids awaiting the attack and prepares for drawing in uke.
In my experience looking at uke while doing the technique often results in unsufficient movement and positioning. I.e. the shoulder facing away from uke is often not in the correct position, if tori looks even only from the corner of his eye. In kote gaeshi and nikkyo this makes the difference between correct and incorrect technique especially when one doesn't rely on pain or muscling through the technique.
Not looking also may help to "forget" uke.

Regards Götz
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Old 06-28-2004, 06:28 PM   #23
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

I'm new to aikido compared to most of you guys, I used to do kendo and looking in your opponents eyes is essential for kendo. So its almost automatic for me to look in ukes eyes, i give him the stare and he returns it. Its almost as if the battle has already begun.
But the highest ranking student in my dojo (a blue belt) does this thing when hes just about to attack (im a white belt). I was just wondering if its a technique, because as he attacks he opens his eyes wide and glares, I found this distracting at first but after a while ignored it and don't let it distract me anymore.
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Old 06-30-2004, 07:09 AM   #24
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Smile Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

Hello Mehmet,


Like you I have received this information of concentratng on looking in to the eyes of opponents etc.

Like you it just does not work.

However Osensei stated that we would lose our souls should we practice this way.( death??)

Certainly practicing with the major use of periphery vision does work. The use of the core of the eye produces tunnel vision and a lack of suble or direct response. I feel you have received some good answers to your question. Thank you.
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Old 06-30-2004, 08:36 AM   #25
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Re: to look at opponent's eyes or not?

Quote:
Geoff Flather wrote:
Hello Mehmet,


Like you I have received this information of concentratng on looking in to the eyes of opponents etc.

Like you it just does not work.

However Osensei stated that we would lose our souls should we practice this way.( death??)

Certainly practicing with the major use of periphery vision does work. The use of the core of the eye produces tunnel vision and a lack of suble or direct response. I feel you have received some good answers to your question. Thank you.
What is the basis for your translation of O-Sensei's admonition to the deshi not to look at the eyes? I have never heard it translated as "taking the soul". This has a sort of ghoulish, semi magical flavor which I do not believe is in the original meaning. But I am not fluent in Japanese so perhaps you could explain why you have used this terminology?

Also, to make a categorical statement that it just doesn't work to look at someone's eyes is wrong. It clearly does work for some people. I think it is always a mistake to take a simple statement from the Founder and cast it in stone like something God gave to Moses on the Mount. It is better to simply take that instruction and realize that you are not receiving it "in context" the way the original students were and therefore can't necessarily judge exactly what the Founder may have meant by it. So you need to take it as an area of investigation for your training.

As I mentioned in my post, it is my understanding that O-Sensei, while advsisng his students not to look at the eyes, often did so himself in order to take his opponent's "spirit".

The use of focal vision does not, in itself, produce "tunnel" in the way that most of the posters have meant the term. Tunnel vision is the result of a physiological process that has to do with how the body hadles the adrenaline dump that comes with high stress. The problem with "focal vision" is that it connects to the part of the brain that has to do with pattern recognition and categorization. This is a relatively slow process. The motion receptors in the eyes connect to a part of the brain that contrtols rections which by-pass that slow process of thought and can result in spontaneous reactive movement which is faster.

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